Portland’s music scene has always sought to remain firmly planted in the roots of different genres, and been deathly afraid of watering anything down. With punk rock, the scene has always had a “meta” sort of feel in that a lot of music that other communities would call “punk” would be called “mainstream” by Portland punk rockers. Portland’s metal scene is like that. What’s brewing in Portland is a heavy blend of doom and black metal. The bands here strive to capture the origins of those genres while injecting the atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest into mix. Here are 5 bands that do that well:
Death Metal/Black Metal
Portland has had its finger on the pulse of black metal since the mid-90s. Interesting fact: Michael Moynihan, author of the “Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground,” worked in Feral House Publishing’s Portland office when it released that seminal book on the Scandinavian black metal underground. Leviathan’s mix of suicidal despair, agonizing screams and triumphantly brutal arrangements produces something distinguishable from other American black metal greats, something which has made Leviathan both a crucial part of the Portland metal scene while setting it apart at the same time.
Death Metal/Black Metal
Pillorian is the new band from Agalloch guitarist and vocalist, John Haughm, and features members of Maestrus and Uada. When Agalloch broke up in May of 2016, everyone anxiously waited to see which direction the band’s members would take their new projects, if they did any projects at all. Agalloch became somewhat of a mystical force in modern black metal, and Pillorian certainly carries on the tradition.
YOB have released seven excellent albums and have long since established themselves as one of the most progressive acts of their generation. Although YOB’s singer/guitarist lives in Eugene, Oregon, and the drummer in Corvallis, YOB is largely considered a Portland band. YOB somehow manage to reshape traditionally-forlorn moans and groans of the doom metal genre into an uplifting experience, no matter how hellish the music sounds. This positive overtone is evident in the way that the band interacts with their audience, showing nothing but love and a hope for our future.
Eight Bells have refined a totally unique sound, fusing black metal, prog, and doom. They seem to create an otherworldliness with their use of vivid soundscapes and songwriting brilliance. Metalheads of all different stripes will certainly appreciate this band’s efforts at creating something new-but-familiar. Eight Bells’ entire approach to songwriting, with the emphasis on arpeggios and melody has allowed the band to carve out a niche and fill a void that is hard to detect.
Progressive Black Metal
Burials have been called one of the most overlooked groups in Portland metal scene. The progressive black-metal quartet, which features members of Humors and Hang the Old Year, produce a noxious blend of brutality and sophistication that is, well, rare in Portland. Think Enslaved-meets-Converge. Expect a lot of action from these guys in the future.