Sunday Sesh: Strung-Out


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While perusing through the unassailable mountain of saved videos I accrue each week I stumbled upon this excellent upload from Gorguts frontman and metal’s #1 Good-Guy™ Luc Lemay. The link was accompanied by this description for those who missed it:

“Hi everyone!

This past January I was invited to join the annual Composer’s Forum from the Music Faculty at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Québec. This year was the last forum and I’m very glad and honored I was part of it.

The Composer’s Forum was created by teacher / composer: Andrew Paul MacDonald. Mr. MacDonald is one of Canada’s greatest composers and he held this forum for about 30 years.

Here’s a video of the performance of my composition, a String Trio for Violin, Viola and Cello.

Thanks for your time and I hope you enjoy the music!
All the best,

Similar to the incredible interlude ‘The Battle Of Chamdo’ on 2013’s Colored Sands, the piece is a cryptic and almost cinematic affair, which again shows Luc is more than capable of transposing his ability to craft deathly dynamics and metallic menace across to the string section’s softer soundscape.

During the one of the discussion threads Antoine (Chthe’ilist|Serocs) mentioned to me that Luc had a bunch of his classical work uploaded to MySpace from back when he was studying at uni. Unfortunately the page I found had the file names but they seemed unplayable for us (maybe someone here knows where we could find them?). Anyway, hearing this kind of metal-adjacent chamber music sent me down a vortex, digging through some of my old favourites in the style. As I alluded to in Spear’s Altars Of Madness First Impressions earlier this week, the p2p file-sharing explosion of the early 2000’s allowed the metal community access to an unheralded amount of oddities and obscurities for the time. Stuff you probably wouldn’t have ever come in contact with solely relying on your generic-ass local record store. After seeing the popular Apocalyptica versions of Metallica‘s classics appear  in errant search results, I decided to check if other bands had similar treatments performed for them.

One of the few that had enough seeders to latch hold of was the vaguely titled ‘String Quartet Tribute To Slayer‘. For years I had this album on MP3, with scant other information. No cover art, no performer’s names, nothing but the tunes. Now, this wasn’t as incredible as it perhaps could have been with more suitable source material, but when they weren’t replicating a ceaselessly galloping low E note, some of the parts sounded really fucking tight played in this format. However, the one track that I found the most interesting was the band’s own composition, ‘Mindless Death’. Dug around on YouTube today and pulled this up, replete with the band’s actual name and something resembling an album cover. Thank fuck the haphazard uploaders of yore were not always so comprehensive with their file folders. Otherwise, the combo of seeing that name and *shudders* cover, would have likely tainted my listening experience. And youth. Nevertheless, I often tried to imagine the sound of Hanneman’s ESP ripping through these riffs while Tom sneered out the overtly hook-laden vocal lines.

Another more recent example of metal-inspired string composition which came to mind was Portland group Disemballerina. While the trio typically evoke plaintive pastoral and dirge-like moods, their most recent record Poison Gown has an undeniably metal undercurrent. As I mentioned once upon a time back during the early days of this-here-bowl, the ominous atmosphere the band manage to create without the aid of distortion or conventional percussion is incredible. Check out ‘That Is The Head Of The One Who Toyed With My Honor’ and I’m sure you’ll agree. Unless you classify a scraping machete blade as conventional percussion, that is.

Still feeling sore for more? Interested in something with a little more of that Eastern/Phrygian flavour? Then look no further than Kamancello. Raphael (cellist from Canadian act The Visit) combining his percussive shreddy style with Iranian Shahriyar Jamshidi, on a traditional stringed instrument called a Kamanche. Apparently this whole album was improvised and recorded unedited in one take. Insane. As if I didn’t make it painfully obvious when covering Hashshashin a while back, this is extremely my shit. The duo basically invoke Melechesh somewhere after the 3:00 minute mark, it’s that mad.

Need some tasty tapping and ethereal vocal adornments? Well then hit The Visit.

I could probably drop some more in here but I’ve gotta go and die somewhere now. The shitty drugs I’m taking for my chronic back pain do nothing and I don’t wanna become strung out on opioids for no therapeutic benefit.

Did any of these hit for you?
What are some of your favourite examples of strings being performed in a metal-ish context?
How about groups that use them in tandem with metal to good effect?
Let’s hear what you’ve got in the comments below.

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