The riff for today’s lesson comes courtesy of Finnish death metal group Adramelech. Adramelech was perhaps most famous (to use the term loosely) for having several former members of Demigod at various points in its line-up. Demigod was most famous (again, loosely) for releasing the cult classic Slumber of Sullen Eyes. Adramelech never released any classics, cult or otherwise, but the band did produce three albums of solid death metal. The focus of our lesson is the main riff of the track “Evercursed” from Adramelech’s second album, 1999’s Pure Blood Doom.
Much like “Black Sabbath” from our last lesson, “Evercursed” features one riff for almost the entire song. Take a listen:
Having one strong riff as the focus of a song is a fairly common practice for certain styles of metal, but death metal compositions tends to be more complex and rhythmically focused, and therefore less likely to be based around one main theme. This makes “Evercursed” somewhat of an anomaly and is likely one of the reasons that this particular track is such a standout for Adramelech.
Again, like the “Black Sabbath” riff, the “Evercursed” riff is not a lengthy musical statement, taking up only two measures. That said, the riff is fairly busy, with thirteen notes crammed into eight beats. Opening with a D power chord (The guitars are tuned down one whole step), the riff descends rather smoothly through a handful of notes, from a D on the fourth string to an E-flat power chord at the first fret the on the sixth string. The riff then makes more concisely punctuated intervallic leaps as it ascends from the E-flat power chord to an A –flat power chord and then to a B-flat power chord. The band then slips in a few obligatory chugs on the open sixth string before starting the whole thing over, and over, and over, again.
Truthfully, I think the genius of the “Evercursed” riff might just lie in the repetition, repetition to the point of hypnosis. The riff is repeated, with only a brief and slight variation after the verses, forty times (yeah, I counted) over the course of four minutes. Maybe it is just because it has been drilled into my head so many times that this riff stands out amongst the millions of others that have passed through my ears. I would like to think, however, that a riff that bears so much repetition without growing stale is, in fact, a strong riff. In any case, The “Evercursed” riff has been stuck in my head for weeks now. After reading this, with any luck, it will be stuck in yours, too.
Unfortunately, our lesson has a sad epilogue this week: Adramelech’s Pure Blood Doom is out of print, and has been for years. I myself do not even own a physical copy, nor have I ever seen one anywhere, not even on eBay. I am not normally one to advocate illegal downloading, but I have always felt that out-of-print albums were fair game. So, if you decide you need Pure Blood Doom in your life, you will have to scour the internet. Good luck.
Post a song in the comments section that is extremely repetitive, yet still enjoyable.
Since Pure Blood Doom is out of print, listen to some Finnish death metal of your own choosing.
Learn to play “Evercursed.”
I have tabbed the main riff out for you as best as I can figure it. You will have to get the rhythm by ear, because I got a D in music theory, and I have a shitty sense of rhythm.