On the surface, the trumpet and saxophone are two instruments that might seem totally incompatible with black metal, yet they actually go together quite beautifully. Remember, the trumpet can be used to sound doom, war, or glory, while the saxophone can be sexy and subversive. Or in the case of depressive black metal, a good saxophone section can add a languorous and trippy quality while running our blues.
Some examples that didn’t make our list include the respected Håkon Kornstad’s playing on Satyricon’s “Dissonant” from the progressive yet blackened Deep Calleth Upon Deep (2017). New York’s genre-defying Imperial Triumphant is one of the most obvious examples of a band with BM elements that incorporates sax. Similarly, the polarizing Pensées Nocturnes, which has been loosely described as avant-garde black metal, makes use of sax, trumpet, and other unexpected ingredients like bassoon, horn, oboe, calliope, cello, accordion, etc. And who can talk about strange instrument choices in black metal without mentioning Sigh and their love of the sax, trumpet, and much more?
The Soviet Union once considered the saxophone a sign of degeneracy in the West — and maybe they were right. After we present our list of the most eargasmic black metal songs that feature sax and/or trumpet, you may agree yourselves.
Kall — “Fall”
The psychedelic majesty of Kall’s “Fall” murders us instantly every time. Gorgeous and velvety, “Fall” is the final track on Kall’s sophomore effort, Brand (2020). Yes, saxophonist Sofia Hedman is in fact a member of the band, not just a guest contributor. As a result, she has remarkable chemistry with the team.
Shining — “The Ghastly Silence”
“The Ghastly Silence” hails from the eighth album by Sweden’s Shining, Redefining Darkness (2012). Andreas Huss, the younger brother of Shining’s brilliant long-time guitarist, Peter Huss, contributed guest sax to this terribly haunting and beautiful track. The result is pure excellence.
Kvarforth told Ave Noctem that he would have liked Jørgen Munkeby — vocalist, saxophonist, etc. — from the Norwegian band also named Shining to have appeared on Redefining Darkness. Norway’s Shining is not a black metal band, but they released albums with titles like Blackjazz (2010).
Den Saakaldte — “Drikke ens skål”
The intoxicating “Drikke ens skål” follows the instrumental opening on Den Saakaldte’s stellar debut album — Øl, mørke og depresjon (2008). Rune Eide provided guest trumpet here, whereas Peder Øyseth played trumpet on Den Saakaldte’s next album, All Hail Pessimism (2009). Øl, mørke og depresjon boasts an all-star lineup: Niklas Kvarforth, Honey Lucius, Sykelig, and S. Winter.
The story behind the supergroup is quite interesting. Sykelig founded Den Saakaldte after moving to Norway from Greece. Dødheimsgard’s Vicotnik kindly allowed Sykelig to stay at his apartment. Sykelig’s time there overlapped with that of Niklas Kvarforth, which led to the pair collaborating.
So Much For Nothing — “Suicide-Syndrome”
So Much For Nothing’s Livsgnist (2012) features sax and trumpet on “Suicide-Syndrome” and “New Life — New Beginning,” respectively. The sax on “Suicide-Syndrome” was performed by Drekka Dag of TrollfesT, while Renton, a.k.a. Trollbank, of TrollfesT and Nattverd added trumpet to “New Life — New Beginning.” Both songs are equally entrancing.
Koldbrann — “Stolichnaya Smert”
“Stolichnaya Smert” is a nice little song about Stoli vodka from Koldbrann’s Vertigo (2013). Renton, in this case known as “Renton of Death,” provided the guest trumpet. Koldbrann is a phenomenal group, and the frenetic energy of “Stolichnaya Smert” is sure to hook you. The lyrics are mostly in English, but there’s also some Russian thrown in. Odessa, Moldova, and Transnistria are mentioned, so you can’t complain that it only promotes negative stereotypes about Russians. Renton also contributed trumpet to Koldbrann’s 2009 Коррозия Металла cover “Russian Vodka,” so we’re sensing a theme…
Carpathian Forest — “Cold Comfort”
Performed by Arvid Thorsen, a.k.a. “Mötorsen” and “Arvid Mötorsen,” saxophone appears on Carpathian Forest’s Strange Old Brew (2000), Morbid Fascination of Death (2001), and Defending the Throne of Evil (2003). “Cold Comfort” is an ominous track that also includes keys. At the time of its recording, Carpathian Forest’s lineup included the sensational talents of Nattefrost, J. Nordavind, Tchort, Vrangsinn, and A. Kobro. Fortunately, Nattefrost and Vrangsinn remain with the group.
Sarkom — “Passion for Suicide”
Sarkom’s nearly nine-minute “Passion for Suicide” hails from their debut album, Aggravation of Mind (2006). Boasting sax by guest artist Daniel Meyer Grønvold, this pick includes trumpet by — yes, the multi-instrumentalist strikes yet again on our list — Sarkom’s founding drummer Eirik Renton.
Renton’s trumpet is also featured on the album’s second track, “Embraced You Shall Be.” Renton likewise played trumpet on Sarkom’s EP To Ruin Something That Was Never Meant to Be (2009).
Fleurety — “Face in a Fever”
Formed in 1991, Fleurety is an avant-garde duo consisting of Svein Egil “Zweizz” Hatlevik and Alexander Nordgaren. Mari Solberg played guest saxophone on Fleurety’s EP Last-Minute Lies (1999). She likewise appears on four tracks on Fleurety’s sophomore album, Department of Apocalyptic Affairs (2000). Our pick, “Face in a Fever,” is the second song on this effort.
One thing that we love about “Face in a Fever” is that Arcturus’ Sverd makes an appearance on keys. The song also features Infernö’s Einar “Necrodevil” Sjursø on drums and Tritonus’ Carl August Tidemann on lead guitars. It delights us that Svein Egil sings on “Face in a Fever,” since a lot of the vocal work in Fleurety’s work is done by guests.
Dødheimsgard — “Aphelion Void”
Dødheimsgard’s fifth album, A Umbra Omega (2015), incorporates saxophone, trumpet, and other unexpected elements at different points. The fifteen-plus-minute “Aphelion Void” — and its use of sax — is totally unreal. Thanks to both Vicotnik’s compositional and lyrical abilities, I feel this track and the album as a whole represent black metal at its finest and most artistic.
Kråbøl — “Fundaments”
“Fundaments” is an absolutely sublime track and one of my favorites of 2023 so far. This one slays with its awe-inspiring atmosphere, splendor, and fire-breathing aggression.
Kråbøl is not only a family project, but also a supergroup. It features Brage Kråbøl on vocals, guitars, and synths, which his father Terje, of Katechon and Killing for Company, handles drums. Meanwhile, Terje’s brother Stian, known elsewhere as “Crowbel,” acts as Kråbøl’s bassist. He plays with Khold, Tulus, Funeral, and Minas.
Both siblings received a Spellemann / Norwegian Grammy nomination for Sarke’s Bogefod (2016). Terje earned another nomination this year for his work with Khold.
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