Does this piece need a topline? (kind of a Black Metal / Prog hybrid?)

TLDR: Opinions needed!

  • Yes, needs more melody / a topline
  • No, feels complete as it is

0 voters

Longer version: I started writing this thing with the idea of doing something quick and simple with some free Loudstakk drum loops that a friend suggested
(“let’s get it finished and recorded in a week or so” — which I managed exactly ZERO times in my writing).

Initial idea was just to play around with minor chords separated by a half step (Black Metal style), but then I developed other ideas around it, and now I’m not sure what it is :-D.

Anyway, I thought I was kinda finished and that the piece it could work in its current rather “stripped down” form: some riffs, a couple melodies here and there and a solo.
But then I started sending it around to gather some feedback (including some rock / metal songwriting YT channels like Audio Bros and Trey Xavier), and some people commented “yeah cool. But it needs a clear melody / topline / something extra”.

I’m struggling a bit to come up with a topline that would add to the piece, and the few melodic ideas I tried… made it worse.

Edit 1: Maybe some creepy choirs over the riffy parts? Dunno!

Edit 2: Another idea could be to just work on the mix / production so the riffs are more upfront in the mix (except for the part where there is a topline, like the solo).

Any input welcome :slight_smile:


I don’t know who Trey Xavier is, but Trey Azagthoth would probably think it doesn’t need anything else! :laughing: And neither do I.

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Haha I didn’t know him, looks like there’s a new band I need to familiarize with :slight_smile:

Note: when writing this I actually did not know much about black metal, just that it seems to use a lot of minor chords :smiley:

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I will be flippant here and say that (black metal == chromatic mediant i → bvi). Then I will flee the wrath of half the forum.

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Firstly, cool piece! I think it could totally stand the way it is. However…

This could be a neat idea, maybe around the part starting at :29 (though I’d leave it just as the riff to start).

Here’s a Scar Symmetry song, timestamped to a particular riff. On the repeat of the riff, there are these keyboard choir stabs that are really badass, imo.

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Aside from Chuck, and it’s debatable, there was no more creative Death METAL!! guitarist than Trey. I tuned out in the late-90s but they had some killer records back in the day.

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minor chords, modulations between two minor chords a half step away, tremolo picked minor chord melody arpeggios. To me what makes black metal is the orchestral esque riff writing and overall grandeur atmospherics of the sound.

Ihsahn from Emperor, probably the best guitarist to ever grace the BM scene

Ulver’s first three albums


There isn’t really one style of BM riff writing and early on there were several songs by “classic” BM artists with a slower sludgier type of riff here are a couple.

Thulcandra is a good modern band
Steffen Kummerer is awesome at writing riffs

@DC11GTR I’d rate Chuck, Trey, Bill Steer, and Mike Amott as my DM big 4 guitarists. Trey afaik was the first to use 7 strings in DM and possibly one of the earliest in metal in general. Covenant came out a year before Korn’s debut.

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Agreed! Bill and Mike are my favorites of those 4, by far, but I always forget about them in lists like these, haha. I still listen to Descanting The Insalubrious on an almost weekly basis.


Bill’s my overall favorite as Carcass got me into DM and I think his riff and melody writing is unparalleled in the genre. I love Mike’s melodic soloing style, loads of Schenker influence on display and Arch Enemy are so dang consistent I like how they’ve branched out a bit recently and let Alissa utilizer her cleans.


Do you think it needs a topline? This is your composition, not Trey Xavier’s :slight_smile:

In my opinion, it sounds awesome! I really like some of the riffs you’ve got there!