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EXPERIMENTAL/POST METAL

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Experimental/Post Metal definition

 

Experimental Progressive Metal

Experimental progressive metal is a sub-genre of progressive metal characterized by the incorporation of innovative, eclectic elements, large-scale experimentation and the use of non-standard and unconventional sounds, instruments, song structures, playing styles, and vocal techniques. Experimentation in the music is a major criteria to define the genre where artists often add unique elements to the overall sound, while progressive metal usually has more focus on traditional metal instrumentation and higher levels of technical complexity.

It's nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact origin of Experimental Progressive Metal since experimentation is common in all music genres. Still it is clear that experimentation in the progressive metal sub-genre has slowly but steadily grown in popularity ever since its humble beginnings in the early 1980s.

Just like any other style, Experimental Progressive Metal has a few defining moments that have changed the rules for its sub-genre for years to come. Two of such moments are the releases of the debut album by MR.BUNGLE of August 1991 and its iconic follow up "Disco Volante" of 1995. MR BUNGLE became notorious for their heavy sound and mid-song shifts of musical style. The band has later spawned an array of established avant-garde side projects such as FANTÔMAS, SECRET CHIEFS 3 and ESTRADASPHERE but also inspired new Experimental Metal acts to take the music scene to new heights.
Another crucial artist in the development of Experimental Progressive Metal was the leading Avant Metal band of the 80s, CELTIC FROST. Their eclectic mix of Thrash, Doom, Symphonic and Goth Metal created a dark theatrical mystique that became a major influence among the experimental Extreme Metal bands of the 90s such as MY DYING BRIDE, ULVER, ARCTURUS among others. These bands served as an important source of inspiration for the experimental movement within extreme metal.

The bands listed under Experimental Progressive Metal have all, in various degrees, shed their extreme heritage in favor of embracing influences of the eclectic style going from art rock and ethnic up to free-jazz and even modernist music.

Art Metal
Art metal is a direct continuation of progressive metal but with the longing to expand the themes and styles of music while maintaining the technical complexity of the sub-genre.
These bands are more artistic than their progressive metal peers and tend to experiment, to a certain extent, but not as openly as the bands of the eclectic and avant-garde metal styles. Art metal comes in many shapes and forms. The virtuosity and complete unpredictability of DEVIN TOWNSEND, OSI and TOOL always manages to draw attention of both fans of traditional metal as well as the progressive music audience, while bands like ANATHEMA, DEADSOUL TRIBE and GORDIAN KNOT attract many fans of groove and atmospheric music into their vibrant soundscapes. Other notable acts include GREEN CARNATION, DARK SUNS and ANTIMATTER.

Eclectic Metal
These bands often add unconventional elements to their metal sound, whether it's experiments with various new sounds and styles that are otherwise uncommon in metal or by blending many styles, with metal being the referential core. Whether it's the ethnic elements of ORPHANED LAND's music that combines Middle Eastern folklore with the more traditional progressive metal sound or a completely unique mix of atmospheric, almost ambient, elements fused with metal that can be found in the sound of THE GATHERING, eclectic metal artists will always certainly bring a host of different styles and ideas to the table. Experimental metal can be found in numerous forms while featuring notable acts like INDUKTI, IN THE WOODS... and MAUDLIN OF THE WELL.

Avant-garde Metal
This style is generally considered to be more extreme in both its arrangements but most importantly extremely complex and unpredictable song structures. Compositions have the ambition of trying to breach boundaries of music and generally have significant experimental approaches to metal music. Most of this music borders on the realms of pure avant-garde while still maintaining a solid foundation in metal with technical instrumental prowess. Notable acts include UNEXPECT, EPHEL DUATH and VIRUS.


Post Metal

Post metal arose following the subsequent emergence of numerous newer, grittier metal genres like sludge, stoner, doom, and drone in the late 80's and early 90's, as well as the budding post-rock scene that emerged in the early 90's in Europe and North America. The scene's origins can be heard in several distinctly like-minded, moderately experimental groups in the early 90's, ranging from the noisy grind of GODFLESH, the sludgy, melodic, sometimes punk-like riffs of the MELVINS, and the proggy time signatures and grungy riffing of TOOL or HELMET, to the textural work of DON CABALLERO and the more melodic moments of early BARK PSYCHOSIS.

Arguably the first true and definitive realizations of post-metal emerged in the mid 1990's. The most concrete example was NEUROSIS, who moved farther away from their crust-punk origins and into more atmospheric territories with releases like Souls at Zero and Through Silver in Blood, the latter album in particular being regarded as one of the most definitive releases in the genre even to this day for its revolutionary blend of dark, spanning atmosphere and massively heavy sludge, something that would later come to define the post-metal genre as a whole (indeed, post-metal is often called "atmospheric sludge" as well). It wouldn't be until the early 2000's, however, that the genre's capacity would be fully realized, with releases like ISIS's "Oceanic", CULT OF LUNA's "Salvation", and PELICAN's "Australasia" paving the way for a true scene to emerge, and post-metal has since become a widespread phenomenon that has captivated the attention of many adventurous listeners worldwide.

Post-metal's unique sound is often very long and extremely drawn-out, utilizing oft-repetitive and simple riffs and guitar texturing to create massive buildups and musical climaxes. At times very emotionally evocative, it can be equally soft and soothing as it can be massively dense and crushing. Vocals are used sparingly, if at all (instrumental post-metal is a popular genre, with groups like PELICAN and RUSSIAN CIRCLES even achieving some degree of mainstream credibility), and when they are, they're usually gruff and barked as opposed to growled or screamed, a signature trait of the genre's hardcore roots.

Variations of Post-metal

While it should be noted that many post-metal bands have their roots in sludge metal, there are many post-metal bands that are rooted in other genres of metal. While post-sludge was an almost uniquely American phenomenon, a number of European doom-influenced post-metal bands have risen to fame, namely groups like ANATHEMA, YEAR OF NO LIGHT and CALLISTO; their slow-churning riffs and depressing mood of doom metal fit very well into the post-metal formula. These groups later gave way to more western post-doom-metal projects like JESU, GIANT SQUID, and MINSK.

A number of post-metal bands are significantly influenced by hardcore and post-hardcore, crafting the melodic elements of modern hardcore into their own brands of textural and atmospheric post-metal. This is exemplified by groups like ROSETTA, THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE, CAVE IN, MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT and BURST.

A subgenre that has emerged to a considerable degree in the last decade is an amalgamation of post-rock and black metal. Black metal has traditionally not been a stylistic influence on post-metal over the years, but bands like ALCEST, FEN, AGALLOCH and ALTAR OF PLAGUES have used the more atmospheric qualities of black metal and the tremolo riffing and incorporated it with a shoegaze-like affinity for heavy, dreamy sounds and guitar effects to create a unique and evocative subgenre that shares many visional and sonic characteristics of post-metal. While the explosion of bands exploring this style is a rather recent phenomenon, there are some instances of this occurring very early in the lifespan of the post-metal genre as a whole. ULVER's debut could be seen as possibly the first album to fall under this definition. For clarification's sake, these post-rock influenced bands are placed in the post-metal subsection of ProgArchives as opposed to the black metal subsection of Tech/Extreme because they eschew much of the harsh tonalities, minor modes, and shrieking vocals of black metal and add a melodic and emotional aspect that makes it much more accessible than their progressive black metal peers in the tech/extreme section.

Today, the most popular post-metal groups are much of the genre's godfathers like ISIS, NEUROSIS, PELICAN, and CULT OF LUNA, though a number of newer bands have risen to fame in metal and prog circles within the last 5 years like INTRONAUT, ROSETTA, and THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE.


--- Definition by Alex and Kevin and the Progressive Metal Team, February 2012 ---

The Progressive Metal Team
Karl (bonnek)
Kevin (Necroncommander)
Alex (Rune2000)
Thanos (aapatsos)
Dave (Prog Sothoth)
Louis (rdtprog)

Experimental/Post Metal Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Experimental/Post Metal | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.22 | 1294 ratings
LATERALUS
Tool
4.23 | 632 ratings
PART THE SECOND
Maudlin Of The Well
4.22 | 585 ratings
TERRIA
Townsend, Devin
4.34 | 109 ratings
IMAGINARY SONICSCAPE
Sigh
4.27 | 157 ratings
THROUGH SILVER IN BLOOD
Neurosis
4.19 | 523 ratings
ZILTOID THE OMNISCIENT
Townsend, Devin
4.16 | 630 ratings
JUDGEMENT
Anathema
4.19 | 288 ratings
LEAVING YOUR BODY MAP
Maudlin Of The Well
4.17 | 257 ratings
BATH
Maudlin Of The Well
4.17 | 249 ratings
IN A FLESH AQUARIUM
Unexpect
4.15 | 330 ratings
THE MANTLE
Agalloch
4.14 | 304 ratings
LIGHT OF DAY, DAY OF DARKNESS
Green Carnation
4.19 | 132 ratings
SOMEWHERE ALONG THE HIGHWAY
Cult of Luna
4.57 | 30 ratings
FEA JUR
Lye By Mistake
4.09 | 777 ratings
ÆNIMA
Tool
4.08 | 548 ratings
ALTERNATIVE 4
Anathema
4.10 | 299 ratings
FABLES OF THE SLEEPLESS EMPIRE
Unexpect
4.29 | 62 ratings
SOULS AT ZERO
Neurosis
4.42 | 39 ratings
KHAOOOHS & KON-FUS-ION
Pan.Thy.Monium
4.11 | 227 ratings
PANOPTICON
Isis

Experimental/Post Metal overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Experimental/Post Metal experts team

THIS GRAND SHOW
Grayceon
SHEDDING
Apokatastasia
TERRAFORMING
Postman Syndrome, The
THE SECOND PHILOSOPHY
Nahemah

Latest Experimental/Post Metal Music Reviews


 Mayhem in Blue by HAIL SPIRIT NOIR album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.02 | 14 ratings

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Mayhem in Blue
Hail Spirit Noir Experimental/Post Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Mayhem in Blue" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Greek progressive metal act Hail Spirit Noir. The album was released through Dark Essence Records in October 2016. It´s the successor to "Oi Magoi" from 2014. Hail Spirit Noir was formed in 2010 by three members of Transcending Bizarre?. The band released their debut full-length studio album "Pneuma" in 2012.

Stylistically the music on "Mayhem in Blue" continues the psychadelic/space rock tinged progressive extreme metal style of the first two albums by the band. It´s music which owes as much to artists like early Pink Floyd and Hawkwind as it does to an act like Darkthrone and their ilk. The black metal element is relatively restrained here though, but there are a couple of pretty raw moments featured on the album (including a few blast beats). Mostly though we´re treated to a more mellow, dark, and twisted progressive rock/metal sound. Keyboards and especially organ play an important role in the band´s music, and you can add The Doors to the list of influences as keyboard player Harris often sounds like a bizarre dark carnival version of Ray Manzarek.

"Mayhem in Blue" features 6 tracks and a full playing time of 40:29 minutes, and all tracks featured on the album are high quality compositions. The tracks are adventurous, memorable, and dynamic. The catchiness of the material is one of the great assets of the album, and even the 10:52 minutes long "Lost in Satan's Charms" is instantly catchy. It´s probably because the band don´t go overboard with complex song structures and technical playing, but instead keep it relatively simple and focused on atmosphere. Simple doesn´t mean regular vers/chorus simple though and the band often break away from that tried and true formula to create more adventurous structures, but they still manage to keep things accessible.

The musicianship is strong on all posts, and the playing tight yet organic. Lead vocalist/guitarist Theoharis has a powerful raspy black metal style vocal delivery, but the pleasant warm clean vocals by guest vocalist Dimitris Dimitrakopoulos are even stronger. The combination of the two vocal styles bring much to Hail Spirit Noir´s music. "Mayhem in Blue" features a raw organic sound production, which brings out the best in the music, and upon conclusion it´s another really strong release by Hail Spirit Noir. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

 Winter by FEN album cover Studio Album, 2017
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Winter
Fen Experimental/Post Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

— First review of this album —
5 stars Formed in early 2006 with the goal of producing Atmospheric Black Metal that incorporates elements of post-rock, Fen have, since then, found themselves at the vanguard of a resurgent UK Black Metal scene. With an EP, four full length albums, several splits and compilations to their name so far, this their latest full-length album (released March 2017) is their most ambitious to date, as they have combined Black metal with many other styles to create something that is very special indeed. Conceptually, they have returned to the roots of their ideology, seeking to embrace and distil all that inspired them when they first set out on this path over a decade ago ? that is, to invoke the ambience of bleak reflection and ancient sorrow that permeates the mysterious landscapes of the fens of Eastern England.

According to singer/guitarist The Watcher this album "very much describes a journey towards sanctity and redemption across a landscape steeped in mystery, hints of forgotten darkness and sorrows long since drowned in the distant past." There are six songs, but the only real way to play this album is to put it on at the beginning and be prepared for seventy-five minutes of music that will take you well away from the comfortable world you reside in, to a place that is far more barren and bleak, filled with foggy atmosphere and danger. How just three guys (The Watcher is joined by Havenless on drums and Grungyn on bass and vocals) can produce something as majestic and over the top of as this is just beyond me. It shows that although the Scandinavian countries seemed to have very much a stranglehold on this type of music for a long time, that is no longer the case. Fen have been going for ten years now, and they are just maturing and getting even better with age. The record label describes this as "atmospheric Black Metal and delicate, spacious cleans, married with aspects of 70s progressive rock, shoegaze and doom metal". I can make it much simpler than that. This is genius, nothing less.

 Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry by BLUT AUS NORD album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.96 | 9 ratings

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Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry
Blut Aus Nord Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry' - Blut aus Nord (84/100)

It may have been disappointing as a true successor to Dialogue with the Stars, but Vindsval's third statement in his Memoria Vetusta series kept in touch with its goals more than listeners generally cared to notice. Starting with Fathers of the Icy Age and certainly culminating on Dialogue with the Stars five years before this, a Memoria Vetusta album releases Blut aus Nord swirling guitar trademarks from a context that is typically dissonant and mechanical. Even if he's only travelled this path a handful of times in his career, each MV album is a proud testament that Vindsval's vision is totally compatible with the organic, warm and melodic.

Saturnian Poetry had the impossible task of following up one of my favourite albums of all time. Dialogue with the Stars was there for me at a rough stint in my life, and I don't think it would be possible for another Blut aus Nord album to strike me so hard. With the perfection of MVII in mind, it was a clever move to forego a standard sequel and instead push the series towards its expressed goal as a whole. A small but monumental decision to go forward is the inclusion of a real drummer-- the first in Blut aus Nord history. Drummer Thorns has sown his oats on everything from Acherontas to Frostmoon Eclipse records. Here, he shows a strong understanding of what Vindsval typically wants out of his percussion. Take the unprecedented live drummer with the gorgeous artwork and warm production, and you can really tell Vindsval opened his music to its potential humanity.

Gone are a lot of the distinct melodies and keyboard arrangements from Dialogue with the Stars. In making Memoria Vetusta appropriately organic, Blut aus Nord have also gone more straightforward and traditional. That's not to say that Saturnian Poetry is less challenging; the jarring chord progressions are still every bit as unpredictable. The songwriting on Saturnian Poetry is actually some of the most consistently realized I've ever heard on a BaN album. If there's ever an issue with it really, it would simply be that the vision is narrower. Vindsval doesn't clamber for the same outlandish high points that Dialogue with the Stars was rife with. Saturnian Poetry draws from a standard atmospheric black metal template. The undermixed vocals and signature guitars still make Saturnian Poetry unmistakably BaN, but it's understandable that some fans would be let down by this decision.

If Saturnian Poetry is a less ambitious Blut aus Nord album, in a series that is usually seen as cornerstones of their career, I wouldn't know the criticism when I'm actually listening to it. While it didn't hit me with the same instant awe as Dialogue with the Stars, the homogeneous black metal swirling here has some of Vindsval's best riffs. While the smaller scope probably justifies Saturnian Poetry as a "lesser" MV album, it arguably enjoys better flow and execution than its predecessors. Saturnian Poetry is a special grower in a storied career full of them. Each time I hear it, I think I enjoy it a little bit more.

 Khaooohs & Kon-Fus-Ion by PAN.THY.MONIUM album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.42 | 39 ratings

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Khaooohs & Kon-Fus-Ion
Pan.Thy.Monium Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The bizarre close to Pan.Thy.Monium's concept album trilogy finds the Edge of Sanity side project going out on a high. The running time here is pretty brief, with only the first two tracks really offering the sort of full bore avant-death metal the group is known for and the last two providing an ambient coda to the sequence, so perhaps they realised that their weird house style was running out of steam, but what a high to go out on, rampaging though a Mr Bungle- esque calvacade of musical styles with sometimes only the "burping frog" vocals to retain the death metal connection.
 Times Of Grace by NEUROSIS album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.77 | 58 ratings

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Times Of Grace
Neurosis Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Although it can be enhanced by listening in synch with the Tribes of Neurot album "Grace", even by itself Times of Grace is still an extremely solid followup to Through Silver In Blood which builds on the atmospheric sludge metal sound of that album impressively. The title track's titanic closing riffs melting away to reveal the plaintive brass instrumentation of album closer The Road to Sovereignty is a particular revelation. Between this and its predecessor, I would actually give this one the edge and say that it's the best release since the magnificent, genre-defining Souls At Zero. (Those especially keen to try the "Grace" experiment may want to bear in mind that a compilation of both albums was issued for your ease of buying.)
 Värähtelijä by ORANSSI PAZUZU album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.11 | 26 ratings

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Värähtelijä
Oranssi Pazuzu Experimental/Post Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Värähtelijä" is the 4th full-length studio album by Finnish, Tampere based extreme metal act Oranssi Pazuzu. The album was released through Svart Records in February 2016. It´s the successor to "Valonielu" from 2013.

Stylistically the material on "Värähtelijä" is a continuation of the style the band introduced on their debut full-length studio album "Muukalainen Puhuu (2009)" and further developed on "Kosmonument (2011)" and "Valonielu (2013)". It´s a a psychadelic blackened extreme metal style, which is strongly influenced by 60s/70s psychadelic rock (I hear quite a few 1968-69 Pink Floyd influences in the music and some early Hawkwind too) and 60s/70s Krautrock artists like Faust and especially Can. It´s slow building and hypnotic music featuring repetitive beats and bass lines, raw noisy and some atmospheric mellow guitars, swirling psychadelic synths, and a raspy black metal voice in front. The atmosphere is dense and dark, and even in the most mellow atmospheric parts there is an underlying ominous mood to the compositions, which works really well for Oranssi Pazuzu.

Although the material on the 7 track, 69:13 minutes long album, is obviously composed featuring structures (not regular vers/chorus ones though), which develop throughout the tracks, there is a loose organic feel to how the band perform their parts, which provides the music with an unpredictable jam type element. It´s actually one of their strongest assets, although they sometimes seem to get lost in their jams and let them last a bit too long. That´s of course an aquired taste, so I won´t hold it too much again them, and I am greatly entertained throughout most of the album. I´d like to mention the 17:39 minutes long "Vasemman Käden Hierarkia" as one of the highlights of the album, but all tracks are high quality compositions.

"Värähtelijä" is a well produced release too, which features a dark, gritty, and organic sounding production, which suits the material perfectly. So upon conclusion "Värähtelijä" is another strong release by Oranssi Pazuzu. It´s not a revolution of their by now trademark sound, and maybe a bit of development is in order by now, but it´s hard to deny the great qualities of the release and it doesn´t completely feel like Oranssi Pazuzu have stagnated and don´t have anything new to offer either, so a 4 star (80%) rating is still deserved.

 Melancholie² by COLDWORLD album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.41 | 16 ratings

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Melancholie²
ColdWorld Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Winter-themed atmospheric black metal isn't novel to ColdWorld - Paysage d'Hiver have focused on it for much longer - but Georg Börner's black metal project distinguishes itself by its depressive take on the microgenre, borrowing the morose lyrical obsessions of depressive black metal and setting them in the stark, frigid landscape of the musical offering here. Georg reveals himself to be a highly capable multi-instrumentalist, and like the best atmospheric black metal the overall presentation really sparks the imagination and conjures up vivid images of white-out snowscapes. Atmospheric black metal is a crowded little niche, but this album establishes a place for ColdWorld in the wake of predecessors such as Paysage d'Hiver and Burzum.
 Terrapin by OUTRUN THE SUNLIGHT album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Terrapin
Outrun The Sunlight Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
3 stars US band OUTRUN THE SUNLIGHT was formed back in 2011, and from their base in Chicago they have launched a good handful of EPs and singles since then, as well as two full length studio albums. "Terrapin" is the most recent of the latter, and was self released in 2014.

It's always interesting on some level or other to come across bands that mix and blend elements in a more or less unusual manner. This instrumental band from the US is a good example of that, and while I do suspect that their variety of progressive metal is one with more of a niche appeal, they are well aware of what they want to do, how to achieve it and executes it with good quality as well.

Wandering, ever changing and constantly developing compositions is the forte of this band. The compositions ebb and flow in pace, intensity and mood, only rarely exploring a set theme or lead motif extensively, instead opting to constantly move forward. Classic progressive metal combinations of guitar riffs and keyboards do have their place just as much as delicate interludes of a more ambient nature. Dark, almost oppressive chugging riff cascades alternate quite nicely with sequences with a lighter, flowing expression with plenty of leeway for keyboard textures and delicate guitar fluctuations, and the rhythm department chimes in with appropriate backing at all times.

The peculiarities of this band is that they also add in a few additional elements. Nervously echoing, plucked guitars as well as the more dramatic, swirling light toned guitars layers that both have a strong post-rock aesthetic to them are recurring elements throughout, and on a lesser scale there are also some instances of the darker, bouncy guitar riffs that I mainly associate with djent. That these two also combines from time to time merits a mention, and also that the band blends those two expressions rather nicely indeed.

Personally I didn't get all that much out of this album, as I didn't really find any of the compositions to be that appealing. This perhaps because I get the feeling that this is a production that operates out from a more technical foundation than an emotional one, where the greater majority of the material is dominated by a constantly changing nature. Those find of quirky, technical progressive metal should find this album to be of general interest however, and then especially those who find themselves intrigued by a band that adds post-rock and djent flavoring to the proceedings.

 For This We Fought the Battle of Ages by SUBROSA album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 3 ratings

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For This We Fought the Battle of Ages
Subrosa Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Another solid doom metal release from SubRosa, enriched as always by distinctive vocals and the twin violin sound of Pack and Pendleton. This time around, it seems to me that the band allow more post-rock influences to creep into their sound, in terms of production style, songwriting, and overall performance and aesthetic. This is not a radical departure - a slight post-rock influence by way of sludge metal has been present in their music for a good long while - and whilst it's not the sort of thing which will win over doom metal purists, SubRosa have never been an entirely purist doom metal act anyway. It is, however, just enough of a twist to keep things interesting, despite SubRosa ploughing this particular furrow since No Help For the Mighty Ones.
 Brain Tentacles by BRAIN TENTACLES album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Brain Tentacles
Brain Tentacles Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars BRAIN TENTACLES is a newer breed of hardcore bands that strives to create the ultimate fusion effect by tackling the disparate styles of metal and jazz and making them swirl around and dance together like a ballerina in a Russian palace. This Chicago based trio is comprised of three music veterans with Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Blloodlest, etc) contributing horns, vocals and keys, Dave Witte (Discordance Axis, Municipal Waste, etc) on drums and Aaron Dallson (Keelhaul) on bass, vocals and synth. It's been over 25 years since John Zorn and his project Painkiller first unleashed the creative possibilities of mixing avant-garde jazz with metal elements and although a few bands like Mr Bungle, Zu and Diablo Swing Orchestra tackled the jazz meets metal thing in their own unique ways, it has not exactly been a highly tackled type of fushion and even rarer that BRAIN TENTACLES reverts back to the original Zorn formula by leaving out any trace of metal guitar whatsoever.

Despite the bass being the only stringed instrument on board here, it somewhat adequately covers the metal stomping grounds as it pummels along with the intense percussive workouts and creates a relentless rhythmic drive while Lamont channels his inner Zorn to deliver the sax lines that provide the melodic structure of the compositions. He's also quite the accomplished soloist however he doesn't delve into the freakazoid zone like Zorn tends to with pig squeals and unearthly torturous timbres. The music on this one tends to stay within the accessibility zone with mostly short and to-the-point tracks but delivers a few progressive treats such as the lengthy "Cosmic Warriors Girth Curse" which sounds like the disparate sounds of doom metal meeting surf rock (think Dick Dale & His Del-Tones in the horn department) and one of the few tracks to contain vocals which happen to sounds frantic enough to come from the extreme metal underground world of grind or metalcore. It's actually one of the best tracks as it even ventures into psychedelic Krautrock meanderings while the drums churn along in their own world.

Tracks like "Hand Of God" start out sounding like a high school marching band really wanting to be a doom metal band instead and since the album was produced by Sanford Parker of Minsk and Yob fame, it's no wonder that some doom metal aspects made it into the mix. "The Spoiler" is probably the most intense and closest to metal with screaming vocals, crushing bass and drums except for a sax instead of a guitar! The grooves are fast and frenetic. "The Sadist" is another metal monster with black metal raspy vocals and the usual bass and sax shtick however the drums are on fire on this one and perhaps the best percussion on the entire album. "Fata Morgana" takes on a post-metal type of flavor with sultry speakeasy sax ostinato that takes on a Swans type of vocal style. "Palantine" is the longest track clocking in at over 12 and 1/2 minutes and begins as a monotonous jazzy groove that extends to over 4 minutes and then turns into a lame telephone conversation that goes nowhere and seems like it will never end. I absolutely HATE these types of things tacked on to the end of the album. It's another attempt to add some humor but fails to do so and seriously cheapens the serious effect of the rest of the album. This whole track should have been chucked. A total waste of time.

While i wouldn't call the sound of BRAIN TENTACLES revolutionary or anything since the idea has been around for well over two decades, they do manage to create a much more melodic take of Zorn's vision and de-emphasize the chaotic aspects to a certain degree and tame them into more digestible forms. The hypnotic repetitive parts add a solid foundation to the rhythm while the conservative solos are dished out only occasionally for contrast's sake. Several aspects water this interesting album down for me a bit. First are the childish conversational bits such as on "Gassed" and "Palantine" which sound like some teenage funk rock bands from the 80s. Secondly is the band isn't always adventurous enough to keep the ideas interesting. While the Zorn influences are aplenty, there is never any larger than life moments that transcend the listener into another dimension like excellent avant-garde and experimental music should. While the overall songs are themselves well composed, BRAIN TENTACLES just doesn't go beyond an established comfort zone. A little more hot sauce on the plate please. Having said that, this is a decent debut album that shows great potential and has a great variation of styles on display. I do however think they would sound better with at least some guitar supplementation on board or even some other instrumental contribution as the music seems a little sparse at times.

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Experimental/Post Metal bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
11 AS IN ADVERSARIES France
19 A.D.D. United States
21 EYES OF RUBY Netherlands
THE 3RD AND THE MORTAL Norway
413 United States
5IVE United States
6:33 France
A((WAKE)) United States
AABSINTHE France
ABANDON Sweden
ABYSSE France
ACROSS TUNDRAS United States
ACYL France
ADMIRAL BROWNING United States
ADRIFT Spain
AFTER MY OWN United States
AGALLOCH United States
AGES GONE Germany
AKPHAEZYA France
AKROMA France
ALASKAN Canada
ALCEST France
ALTAR OF PLAGUES Ireland
AMARA United States
AMATERAZU Portugal
AMBEON Netherlands
AMENRA Belgium
AMESOEURS France
AMIA VENERA LANDSCAPE Italy
ANATHEMA United Kingdom
ANCESTORS United States
AND HARMONY DIES Italy
ANGEL EYES United States
ANTIGUA Y BARBUDA Spain
ANTIMATTER Multi-National
ANUBI Lithuania
AORIA Sweden
APOCALIPSIS Mexico
APOCRYPHAL VOICE Finland
APOKATASTASIA Switzerland
APSE United States
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