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12.19.23 Cloak's best of 202310.19.23 Technical melodeath
07.07.23 So my band put out our debut EP recentl 04.07.23 Ok post-grunge
01.09.23 Keyboards in extreme metal part 211.22.22 Melancholic prog
11.16.22 Autumn gloom09.30.22 Heavy gaze
08.02.22 Keyboards in extreme metal06.20.22 Bands I wish would reunite
06.07.22 Keyboardists in hard rock/metal12.03.21 Frog albums
01.15.21 Great UK core bands10.25.19 Melodic Mathcore recs?
02.04.19 Great bands that became awful later, pa01.03.19 Rec me spacey alt-rock
08.31.18 Some of my favourites so far this year04.16.18 Cloak's mathcore digs
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Keyboards in extreme metal

Done a list like this before but this time round I'm focusing specifically on extreme metal. Feel free to let me know of any good players/bands I've missed out
The Key

Arguably the first death metal band to have a full-time keyboardist. Louis Panzer helped to elevate their already space-themed death metal with his expansive synth parts.

Samael has had keyboards in their music since the very start, but it wasn't until Ceremony of Opposites that this keyboard work, coupled with sampling, really shone through in a way that was rather unique in the black metal scene. Passage was probably the peak of their musical output, with a unique combination of symphonic black metal and industrial music.
3Rotting Christ

Rotting Christ have had a few keyboardists over the years, with frontman Sakis Tolis taking over the role in 2004. Whilst this means the band no longer have a live keyboard player, the synths still undoubtedly play a big role in their signature Greek black metal sound.

Legendary Greek death metal band that have applied synths and keys to their sound in a gothic, industrial and symphonic way throughout their long and almost consistently solid discography.
5Fleshgod Apocalypse

Fleshgod Apocalypse started out as a technical death metal band, but they introduced some symphonic sections on their Mafia EP before hiring Francesco Ferrini as their full-time keyboardist. They have steadily improved their unique style of symphonic death metal since Agony, with Veleno being the latest and best example of that sound.
Ghost Reveries

Opeth started experimenting with keyboards on Blackwater Park when Steven Wilson started collaborating in the writing process, but it wasn't until Ghost Reveries that Opeth got themselves a full-time keyboardist. Per Wilberg's key sections are a cool mixture of hammond organs, moog synthesizers, mellotron and acoustic piano, clearly much more influenced by progressive rock and hard rock bands like Deep Purple, King Crimson and Yes. It's just a shame that after just two albums of this unique combination of progressive rock and death metal, Opeth dropped the extreme elements altogether and went full prog rock.
7Edge of Sanity

After two albums of pretty much straight death metal, Dan Swano started adding progressive rock elements into the sound on The Spectral Sorrows, including keyboards. Crimson was the epitome of this prog-death sound.
8Dan Swano

Speaking of Dan Swano, his only solo album Moontower also has some great synth parts for a death metal album.
Khaooohs And Kon-Fus-Ion

Honestly Swano's projects could just occupy half this list. Same as the above two plus wacky avant-garde sections.
10Oranssi Pazuzu
Mestarin Kynsi

This is a wacky band that fuses black metal with psychedelic rock, dark ambient soundscapes and a bunch of other crazy stuff. Their keyboardist creates some utterly warped soundscapes.
11Hail Spirit Noir
Oi Magoi

Similar to Oranssi Pazuzu but much more of a focus on melody.
12Fear Factory
Soul of a New Machine

Similar to Nocturnus in that this is a very early example of death metal with keyboards, except here they have a much more industrial sound. Underrated and groundbreaking.
Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire...

Emperor's swansong record was a bombastic combination of progressive black, death and symphonic metal with some truly other-worldly keyboard sections that Ihsahn would incorporate into his solo material.
14Cradle of Filth
Dusk... and Her Embrace

Cheesy as hell, but one of the earliest examples of fusing gothic synths with black metal.
15Carach Angren

A more modern take on symphonic black metal, Ardek is a phenomenal player and arranger. Shame the band kinda sucks now but their first 3 albums are great.
16Dimmu Borgir
Enthrone Darkness Triumphant

These guys eventually added real orchestras to their albums, but their early albums feature all orchestration arranged on keyboards.
Lepaca Kliffoth

Before this band became the legendary symphonic metal band they're now known for, they were much more death/doom in style. Although they've always had a keyboardist, this is the transitionary album where they started adding symphonic elements into their original death/doom sound before abandoning that on later releases.
18Children of Bodom

Alexi was a legendary frontman and guitarist, but it was Janne Wirman's keyboard parts that really won me over when I first heard Bodom. Warheart is still a killer opening track.
Immense, Intense, Suspense

Another early example of keyboards in extreme metal, but the playing here is much more mournful, coupled with some great violin playing.
Above the Light

Phenomenal Italian tech-death band with some great synth sections. Above the light takes a lot of cues from horror music with its synths, whereas Season in Silence adds Christmas sounds to the mix.
21Dark Tranquillity
Damage Done

Dark Tranquillity didn't introduce a keyboardist into their lineup until 1999, but that added atmosphere has helped to give them a higher and more consistent quality of post-2000s output than any of the other gothenburg bands from their era.
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