In the previous iteration of The Anatomy Of, I spoke about the three different ways I might enjoy an entry in the series. This one is very much about the opportunity to peer into an artist’s head and get a chance to glimpse some of the influences which swim around there and eventually inform and make up their sound. This is especially the case because Dessiderium‘s music is so challenging; it’s brand of progressive death metal sounds like little else out there, modern, dark, urban, and complex. So to get a chance to query them on the influences that lead them to this sound is especially rewarding.
Lo and behold, many of the choices below make a lot of sense. Especially the first one. If you asked me, Opeth’s My Arms, Your Hearse is the “loneliest” of their records. Its sound sort of stands alone, neither tied to the albums that came before nor hinting towards what might be coming next. It’s also Opeth’s darkest album, which connects with the same adjective I used to describe Dessiderium above. Make no mistake, there are definitely heavier Opeth albums but this one is just decidedly dark. This darkness can also be used to describe Maudlin of the Well’s brand of bizarre experimentation; there’s a strain of depressiveness and moroseness that runs through it and defines it.
Add in Yes’s progressive masterpiece and Wintersun’s epic style of death metal, and you have a perfect facet, like a piece of a fractal, of Dessiderium’s music. Especially on their upcoming release, Aria, which releases on the 10th of December and is decidedly a more progressive, and darker, piece of music. So, scroll on down below to explore the influences behind this fascinating project and make sure to pre-order the album. You won’t regret it!
Opeth – My Arms, Your Hearse
There isn’t a single band out there that has influenced my sound as much as Opeth, and within their timeless discography, there isn’t a single album that impacted me as much as My Arms, Your Hearse did. It has this perfect blend of prog, black metal, doom, and jazz, all coated in a grimy, exquisitely raw production. But what really gets me is its soul. It’s so deep and moving in a way I can never manage to describe. It’s almost surreal. I remember listening to this album religiously as a teenager and feeling this intense, almost emotionally painful longing. It was so melancholic yet addicting. This feeling it gave me became the ultimate emotion I sought to expand upon with my own music, and even named my own project after this sensation (desiderium: an ardent desire or longing, or feeling of grief for something lost).
Beyond the emotional aspect, the writing style on MAYH totally changed the way I approached writing for Dessiderium. I could never get over how perfectly Opeth was able to save the most golden moment of each song for the very end. The ending sections for “April Ethereal”, “When”, “Demon of the Fall”, or “Credence”, for example, all give this deep sensation of reflection and finality, a sort of equivalency to the ending credits of an epic, tragic film, or waving goodbye to a loved one for the final time. It’s a compositional trick I learned from this album that I will never tire of. This album really showed me the value of storytelling in music, and the fragility of song structure. These climactic moments described above wouldn’t be nearly as potent if they weren’t used as the climax of their respective songs. Context is everything, and that idea is with me constantly when writing.
Standout tracks: “April Ethereal”, “When”, “The Amen Corner”
Wintersun – Wintersun
If Opeth inspired the emotion in my music, then Wintersun inspired the fantasy driven escapist quality of it. I’ve always adored video game soundtracks and movie scores, so discovering Wintersun was like finding an extreme metal band version of those two passions of mine. I don’t click much anymore with the melodic death metal that influenced my sound in the earliest stages of my writing, but Wintersun is an eternal source of inspiration for me. They did everything that I loved about the genre, but dialed it up to the max in terms of extremity, technicality, and originality.
Typically, symphonic metal bands use keyboards to either hold down chords to cheaply make everything sound epic, or dumb down their guitar parts to showcase over the top, Hollywood-esque orchestrations. On Wintersun’s debut the keys are very orchestral, but in a unique way that only enhances the madness happening on the traditional rock instruments. The keys are so rich to the point where you could strip away the metal instrumentation and have a zen-like album with the orchestrations alone. This album inspired me to treat orchestrations with the attention they deserve, instead of using them as simple enhancements to the mix.
The guitar playing on Wintersun’s self titled album is still the best metal guitar playing I’ve ever heard in my life. The riffs are intimidatingly complex, yet are always engaging and insanely catchy. The lead parts have this majestic, oriental touch to them. The solos are complete journeys in and of themselves. Every aspect of Jari’s guitar playing helped shape my own style. This is the album that taught me that getting good at my instrument wouldn’t be a waste of time, because the better you can play, the less bound you are by skill and the more you can allow your creativity to flourish without limits.
Standout tracks: “Beautiful Death”, “Starchild”, “Sadness and Hate”
Maudlin of the Well – Bath/Leaving Your Body Map
Dreams have long been an inspiration for my music. The new Dessiderium album Aria, for example, is entirely influenced by my experiences with dreaming and lucid dreaming. With that said, it should come as no surprise that I was absolutely floored when I first discovered Maudlin of the Well’s Bath/Leaving Your Body Map albums. It was like a spiritual awakening.
I was always struck by the gravity of this band’s vision. The music on Bath/Leaving Your Body Map is completely disconnected from the material world. Listening to it is an actual trip to somewhere far off and obscure. It leaves you as a different person from who you were before you heard it. It’s that idea of creating music that you can exist inside of that inspires me, and no other band has guided me to that dreamscape as strongly as Maudlin of the Well.
Musically, these albums disregard any concern for what genre they could be tagged under. There are elements of jazz, doom, thrash, prog, etc, but none of that matters because at the end of the day it’s just a totally dedicated sound to the vision that Maudlin of the Well had. That perceived mentality has stuck with me when writing for Dessiderium. It’s not about what genre or style it is, or how impressive it can be. It’s about composing music that transports you to a world you’ve created from your imagination.
Standout tracks: “Riseth He, The Numberless, pt. 2”, “Bizzare Flowers / A Violent Mist”, “Stones of October’s Sobbing”
Yes – Close to the Edge
At the very beginning of my musical escapades, just as I was starting to write my first batch of songs, I swore to myself to only write songs that keep you fully engaged from start to finish. Not a single moment could be wasted, otherwise it would ruin the song. In reality, this goal is quite impossible. But, if there is one album where not a single second is misused, it’s Close to the Edge by Yes. Perfection from start to finish.
I had listened to progressive rock before I had heard this album as a teenager, but Close to the Edge just knocked me out cold. I could never get over how complex the music was without sounding tiresome. The musicians were brilliant, clearly, but their talents weren’t rudely smacking me in the face. I remember listening to specific sections across this album over and over again, trying to study what each instrument was doing to create such magic. It was the first time I understood that I didn’t have to be confined to writing pure riffs. Instead I could write a motif or theme on guitar, an independent bass line, drums that glued everything together in a distinct way, and keys also playing something powerful on their own, yet serving the other instruments. Simply put, this album taught me how to compose in an orchestral manner, rather than in typical metal guitarist fashion.
Standout tracks: The whole damn thing. All three tracks.