Professor applies theoretical work to his metal music

LAWRENCE – People say to Brad Osborn all the time: You seem like such a nice, clean-cut fellow. Where does your bludgeoning black-metal music come from?

And the truth is, it comes from being true to himself.

“EVILSIZOR,” the University of Kansas School of Music professor’s fifth album of black metal under the one-man band name D’Archipelago, has just become available through all major streaming services.

“My wife also has a hard time listening to me scream because I think, for her, it connotes a sort of angriness,” Osborn said. “But if you're steeped in metal like I am — I've been listening for 30 years — then it's just a feature of the way people sing.”

Osborn notes that country artists tend to have a twang or Southern accent. Black metal artists are influenced sonically by the pioneering Norwegian band Mayhem.

“If you talk to a real metal musician, there are, like, 27 different subgenres of screaming and 250 subgenres of metal. But the particular style of screaming I adopt, as well as the overall aesthetic, is called black metal, and it comes from Norway in the '90s.”

In addition to screaming, Osborn plays all the guitar, bass, drums and keyboards on the four-song, 10-minute album. A Nashville pro helped him mix and master the recordings he made in his home studio.

Osborn said he is playing characteristic, high-speed “blast beats” and double-kick patterns on the drums in most places on the record. The guitars are doubled for “thickness” of sound, which is also aided by keyboards.

And yet the record mixes its black metal with a bit of shoegaze (“tons of reverb everywhere,” Osborn said) and even some tinges of pop.

The lyrics, which are unintelligible given their speed and processed delivery, (“everyone looks them up,” Osborn said) concern an unrequited love affair.

“We all think from time to time about the love who got away, right?” Osborn asked rhetorically. “So it's this narrator imagining whether to go after a long-lost love, but they're imagining that decision as a war between two medieval factions. And so, on the one hand, you have these very typical metal lyrics about people being jabbed with spears and fire and battles, but it's really the internal conflict of this person trying to decide whether or not to get back with somebody.

“And those little moments of lucidity in the album are usually where I'm singing rather than screaming ... The narrator is sort of coming to his senses and actually singing about the loss, love and missing her, wanting to go back and find her or whatever.”

Osborn said D’Archipelago’s music has changed over the eight years he’s been producing it.

“If there's one thread that holds all five records together, it's the vocoder,” Osborn said. “But on this record, the vocoder is actually pretty buried. It's mostly screaming on this record. It's also the first concept album I've made. There's kind of a story throughout the four songs.”

Osborn said “EVILSIZOR” follows the pattern he wrote about last year, in that the songs have no real chorus.

“Every song form is what is called through-composed,” Osborn said. “Instead of a verse-chorus form, which can be characterized as A-B-A-B — or whatever abstract letter names you choose — all these songs just go A-B-C-D, done. Next song. A-B-C-D, done. So nothing repeats. There's one tiny guitar riff that repeats, and that's it. So I know it’s only four tracks long, but there's enough raw material in these four tracks to make 12 songs.”

Thu, 05/30/2024


Rick Hellman

Media Contacts

Rick Hellman

KU News Service