By: Damian Bloor Historically, duos have been music industry oddballs, existing as either wincing surf bands blinded by their Zach Morris bangs or incoherent garage rockers who had to register with the police every time they moved to a new practice space. That changed about 20 years ago as metal duos proliferated in music scenes around the world. Employing technical skill and generous amounts of atmosphere, the best metal duos sound not like their crude rock brethren but entire armies of guitarists and drummers (if a black metal duo, those armies have painted faces, which is all the better). We list our 10 favorite metal duos below.10. Bölzer
Thanks in part to their psychedelic touches, this Swiss death/black metal band has earned scenester approval and festival slots around the world. They also make music critics giggle like little girls. While we are reluctant to call ourselves "music critics," we are not reluctant to say that Bölzer makes us giggle like little girls.9. Mithras
The experimental death metal band from the UK hasn't released new material since 2007's Behind the Shadows Lie Madness but their Facebook says they're in the studio right now.8. ANAAL NATHRAKH
These British critical darlings somehow incorporate industrial influences into their sound with zero annoyance. Their latest release,Desideratum
, appeared in October.7. Faustcoven
Norway's Faustcoven plays somber mid-tempo metal with more than one riff borrowed from Tony Iommi (never a bad thing). We like their latest, 2012'sHellfire and Funeral Bells
, the best.6. Cronian
These guys are alternately called "symphonic" and "avant-garde," which means they supplement their harsh vocals and guitar parts with icy synth and drum programming. They do it well, so we will allow them and their fans to keep throwing around the big words.5. Black Cobra
Here's a party trick for all you music nerds: Play some Black Cobra and ask everyone how many people they think are in the band. The average response should be five. Since Black Cobra is in this article, you know the San Francisco doom band produces its giant sound with a measly two people. You can share your secret and irritate everyone, as music nerds often do, or you can be a sociopath and keep it to yourself. Tough call.4. Inquisition
Inquisition began as a 4-piece but pared down to a two-man operation, a move that counterintuitively saw their songwriting complexity increase. As outspoken devotees of Satan and Baroque composers, they embody the excesses of black metal that chronic masturbators on Reddit love to ridicule. We like Inquisition's commitment to overkill and so do their fans, because the band has been around for 20 years. Take that, ugly guys on Reddit.3. Jucifer
The alleys surrounding a venue where Jucifer has just finished a set are reportedly littered with the corpses of small animals and homeless men. Fans of this doom band are not homicidal; it's the enormity of Jucife's live sound that is hazardous to the frail and unknowing. We have witnessed people collapse at a Jucifer show, only to stand back up, ecstatic for it to happen again (it did, and they loved it).2. Darkthrone
This formative black metal band's crusty wall-of-sound aesthetic appeals to the usual fans of Norwegian villainy along with enthusiasts of low-fi production ingenuity. Imagine if Phil Spector only fantasized about killing people, had only three instruments at his disposal, grew up in Norway, and - okay, we realize that analogy is going nowhere. Other reviewers like to say Darkthrone is what Satan plays at the gates of hell. We imagine Satan, being a true sadist, would subject hell's newcomers to whatever hyperventilating dimwit wins this season of The Voice. Darkthrone is actually what Satan listens to in his rec room.
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We could cough up a few lines about how these guys use corrosive, relentless guitar feedback to create pungent atmospheres that make the concept of "songs" seem outdated, but fancy-pants writers at the NY Times beat us to it years ago. We hate to be left out of the literary posturing game, so here's our attempt cleverly describe Sunn O))): "They are the sonic soulmate to the nihilistic monologues in True Detective." No good? Better to use your slacker uncle's lingo, then. Sunn O))) kicks ass.