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Pale_Pilgrim
Metalhead

Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:01 pm
Posts: 971
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 1:23 pm 
 

Something that's been bugging me for a while, I notice these terms used separately a lot. But aren't they really the same thing? Maybe I'm just underexposed, but I've heard very, very few black metal bands that take influence from the actual ambient genre (or its subgenres). A lot of the bands described as 'ambient' sound just like other bands described as 'atmospheric'. We all know the words themselves can be interchangeable. "The ambience of the setting" and "the atmospheric quality of the setting" are the same thing. Let's look at a few similar bands. So is this ambient/atmospheric thing arbitrary or am I just missing something?

For example, Astral Luminous ('ambient') and Lustre ('atmospheric'):

Astral Luminous
Lustre

Or Altoriu Seseliai ('ambient') and Agalloch ('atmospheric'):

Altoriu Seseliai
Agalloch

It'd be nice if this could start a discussion rolling around these kinds of bands as well - favorite releases, obscure gems and the like.
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samekh
Metalhead

Joined: Sat Sep 02, 2006 11:36 am
Posts: 1104
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 1:37 pm 
 

I don't think there will be much agreement on a clear definition of each. I think it's two of those subgenre names that are often used interchangeably. I usually think of "ambient black metal" bands as having elements of ambient music, like a strong use of synth pads and such (ie: Coldworld), while atmospheric black metal bands may use synths but often create their atmosphere with the guitars, drums, and vocals (ie: Skagos or October Falls). I'm not the most well-read on the subject, though. I mainly avoid using the term "ambient BM" and instead will use "atmospheric BM" pretty much exclusively for these types of bands.

Personally, I never thought of Altoriu Seseliai as being ambient anything. I think of it more as folkish black metal. Same with Agalloch (except with less black metal, I usually describe them as folkish atmospheric metal).

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MGSX666
Metalhead

Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2009 10:26 pm
Posts: 1214
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 5:59 pm 
 

I feel like atmospheric can almost apply to any genre and many bands. For example, Incantation are atmospheric; they create at atmosphere. However ambient is a lot less ambiguous so I feel it is a better term to define the genre. Hell, even non "atmospheric" black metal bands are atmospheric. Look at Mayhem, Dissection, Darkthrone, etc.
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Ilwhyan
Metel fraek

Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 1:41 pm
Posts: 7834
Location: Lifeless shadows
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:38 pm 
 

MGSX666 wrote:
I feel like atmospheric can almost apply to any genre and many bands. For example, Incantation are atmospheric; they create at atmosphere. [...] Hell, even non "atmospheric" black metal bands are atmospheric. Look at Mayhem, Dissection, Darkthrone, etc.

Absolutely. It's merely a tag which implies that the music's greatest goal is to evoke atmosphere, as opposed to being catchy, brutal or immensely technical and so on. Much music other than technical death metal is technical, after all, and yet it is considered a viable tag due to said style's unifying elements.
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However ambient is a lot less ambiguous so I feel it is a better term to define the genre.

Ambient black metal is a term that only applies to some of the bands, to some extent only, and not every ambient black metal band is considered atmospheric black metal either. Therefore it cannot be used interchangeably with the term atmospheric bm. Darkspace is certainly an ambient black metal band, yet it has stylistically little to do with, for example, the Cascadian black metal sound, which is quite frequently considered atmospheric black metal. Coldworld is certainly atmospheric black metal (although they represent a certain end of the spectrum that actually evades the definition of black metal in every other way but the most superficial) but not ambient at all.

My personal favourite single atmospheric black metal is The Ruins of Beverast, however, the greatest atmo-bm moment of all time is by the raw black metal band Horna on the second half of their album Sanojesi Äärellä, the song Liekki ja Voima.

A recent discovery: Nordlicht - Nebelmeer. Excellent sounds are one of the most important elements in ambient black metal, and this band has got its right. Nebelmeer sounds quite like if Wrath of the Weak had passable sounds and actually had riffs and not merely walls of noise with simple two-chord progressions.

If this thread gets decent responses and activity, I will most certainly frequent it, giving some recommendations and receiving some.
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