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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)

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

4.21 | 1117 ratings
LATERALUS
Tool
4.23 | 529 ratings
TERRIA
Townsend, Devin
4.23 | 552 ratings
PART THE SECOND
Maudlin Of The Well
4.20 | 461 ratings
ZILTOID THE OMNISCIENT
Townsend, Devin
4.32 | 95 ratings
IMAGINARY SONICSCAPE
Sigh
4.17 | 556 ratings
JUDGEMENT
Anathema
4.26 | 137 ratings
THROUGH SILVER IN BLOOD
Neurosis
4.18 | 247 ratings
LEAVING YOUR BODY MAP
Maudlin Of The Well
4.16 | 220 ratings
BATH
Maudlin Of The Well
4.16 | 235 ratings
IN A FLESH AQUARIUM
Unexpect
4.60 | 29 ratings
KHAOOOHS & KON-FUS-ION
Pan.Thy.Monium
4.12 | 284 ratings
LIGHT OF DAY, DAY OF DARKNESS
Green Carnation
4.19 | 117 ratings
SOMEWHERE ALONG THE HIGHWAY
Cult of Luna
4.19 | 107 ratings
SOL NIGER WITHIN
Thordendal's Special Defects
4.07 | 686 ratings
ÆNIMA
Tool
4.08 | 491 ratings
ALTERNATIVE 4
Anathema
4.12 | 195 ratings
PANOPTICON
Isis
4.67 | 23 ratings
FEA JUR
Lye By Mistake
4.09 | 279 ratings
MABOOL - THE STORY OF THE THREE SONS OF SEVEN
Orphaned Land
4.08 | 290 ratings
THE MANTLE
Agalloch

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

A NEW WORLD?
Drawn
SHEDDING
Apokatastasia
THE TELESTIC DISFRACTURE
5ive
SPOILS OF FAILURE
Buried Inside

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Latest Experimental/Post Metal Music Reviews


 Z² by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.78 | 74 ratings

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Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Alucard Draco

4 stars Well what can I say about possibly one of the busiest guys in music! I have pretty much most his music including the Strapping Young Lad years, so could this be a biased review or an honest one? Recently I have been following three bands - meaning pretty much getting all their back catalogue. Glass Hammer, Magma and Devin Townsend to me have created original sounding music and consistently keep releasing albums that never sound like they are sounding samey or not creating a new sound. When people say Glass Hammer are a modern day Yes, well does that mean they do good sounding Symphonic keyboard led sounds? Because the tunes themselves are vastly different from Yes which is a very important point.

So back to Devin's Z2, and yes unmistakably it is rather than any new type of sound it continues the same Townsend signature which is the Wall of Sound over many layers, but tune wise it's just so obviously different. Disc 1 is Sky Blue and any Epicloud fan will lap this up straight away as Pop Metal made like this is always going to be awesome. His style just keeps on being refined and tweaked to feel new but always that epic layered and addictive energy I so love in Devin's music.

So Disc 2 Dark Matters or Ziltoid the Omniscient part 2 is of the crazy and scary preference like the first Ziltoid the Omniscient album. One has to listen to this style so many times as I am just in awe at how much he crams into his songs - I mean the amount of instruments, samples, effects and background music in most of these songs is just incredible and hard to appreciate unless you listen to it multiple times and the fact that all this is thought up by pretty much one man is just mind blowing.

There are no unessesary fillers and you are just absorbed into his mind for Two hours and are just left breathless and wonder how a guy who seems to have written so many songs over the last couple of years and countless albums before them can keep on succeeding with quality of such a high standard just baffles my mind. So I should give this album five, but the problem is and it's a good problem is that his earlier albums like Terria and Ocean Machine and all of the Infinity experience is what I call perfect in every conceivable way stops this being a five, but believe me when I say this shows that Devin Townsend is definitely not slowing down and dipping in quality in any way.

I'll be seeing him on the Z2 tour and to hear this album live is going to be a mind blowing experience! So just keep on Progging and may good music live forever.

 Z² by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.78 | 74 ratings

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Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by progbethyname

5 stars If I were you I wouldn't hold back one little bit in order to explore and listen to this wonderful, detailed and creative piece of music that Mr. Devin Townsend has so spectacularly laid out here. It has become very clearly to me that Devin Townsend really uses his creative music guises to represent and showcase his unbelievably layered personality...or personalities I should say through his music. Townsend simply doesn't hold back on the emotional front. Certainly, the kind of music Devin has created with the Ziltoid series can deliver goose bumps and flat-out make you laugh all at once! That is what is so special and unique about his music, especially with the Ziltoid creation.

Z2 is a treasure and certainly one of the very best albums to come out in 2014. Expect that true Heavy-Devy loud sound where it seems everything on the sound console is set on "high". Not a big fan of that sound recording approach, but somehow for this particular record(s) "sky blue" and of course "Dark Matters" it works oddly enough.

Top honors for Z2. It simply just has that "ludicrous speed" to it that chugs in your brain for hours. You'll find yourself humming this album even in the most weirdest of places.

5/5

 Free by OSI album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.39 | 165 ratings

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Free
OSI Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Kevin Moore from Dream Theatre, Jim Matheos from Fates Warning, guests Mike Portnoy also from Dream Theatre, Joey Vera from Armored Saint.....sounds like a powerhouse lineup that could produce some excellent heavy prog doesn't it? Well, in this case on this album, it doesn't produce the fireworks you would think it would. The songs here are good, but sort of lackluster for the most part.

Where the first OSI album was more guitar based, this one brings in more keyboards. Nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, there isn't really much wrong with most of the instrumentals other than there just isn't enough of them on this album, and the tired sounding, non-dynamic vocals from Kevin only bring down the mood and sound of the music. What you end up with is a bunch of mid-tempo, mostly lackluster songs when you should be getting a bunch of hard hitting music considering who is involved in this album.

Moore stated that this album feels more focused. Well, it is more focused and consistent, that is for sure. But that really is the downfall to this album. There are a few highlights where the music sounds like it might just take off, but something always seems to restrain it from doing so. This is also not an experimental album, the music is really quite straightforward, with not much in the way of dynamics or innovation. Vocals sound tired and the instrumentals sound restrained. The vocals have a strange processed sound to them and that comes from the doubletracking that is used.

The album was put together by Matheos sending Moore guitar parts that he made up and Moore would arrange them to fit into the songs. I can't help but think that the guitar parts might have had a little more life to them before they hit the chopping block. Now, it's not that I have anything against using more keyboards, I'm all for it in fact. But all the life just seems to be taken out of the music just so it matches Moore's vocals. I don't know why he decided to double track his vocals either, yes it does give a certain atmosphere to the music, and if the vocals were more dynamic, then it might work, but all it does here is deaden the music twice as much.

There are a few highlights here, the ones that break the mold of the same sounding songs like "Go", "Home Was Good" (which actually uses some very nice atmospheric keyboards to break up the usual sound), and "Better", but those tracks get lost in the sameness of the majority of the songs here. As much as I wanted to love this album, I am disappointed in that it seems that I can't wait for it to be over whenever I play it. I don't think this album is really worth the effort it might take to locate it, so I have to consider it a 2 star album. It's just too flat, boring and there really isn't anything that progressive about it.

 Physicist by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2000
2.95 | 118 ratings

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Physicist
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Whenever I get into a band or artist and like them to the point that I decide to get all the studio albums I know there will be an album or two that fail to grab me. With other favourite bands like Rush, Yes, and Deep Purple, those albums tend to have been released between 1987 and 1990. With Devin Townsend, the album I like least is this one, an album that is almost unanimously one of his least impressive a midst a catalogue rife with impressive albums. The man himself counts this as his biggest solo effort flop and the backing band (the Strapping Young Lad guys) are also unanimous in their dislike for the album.

The problem is mostly with the production and not the music itself. Devin's early albums are not as fine tuned production wise as his later stuff; however, "Physicist" is really a muddied effort. The project was initially conceived by a joint venture with Jason Newsted who was with Metallica at the time, but Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield did not want any member of Metallica involved in projects outside the band. Devin decided to continue on his own and called in the members of Strapping Young Lad, Devin's flagship band, to record the music. His desire was to combine the bright pop metal of Def Leppard with thrash metal. The thrash element is there without a doubt. But the bright pop metal appears only in the form of some keyboards which in most cases do not work well with the rest of the music. Devin would later get the sound right on his Devin Townsend Project albums like "Epicloud", which features a much better version of the "Physicist" track "Kingdom".

If you listen to this album along with some other Devin Townsend albums or other modern prog albums, you will instantly notice that the sound quality is severely lacking. The other day, though, I listened to this album first thing in the morning while commuting to work and it sounded better than when placed against a background of superior recordings. The thrashier tracks likes "Namaste" and "Death" don't sound too bad if you like thrash metal. I also rather like how the keyboards add some melody to songs like "The Complex" and "Jupiter". "Kingdom" is good here. It's just that the song sounds so much better on "Epicloud" which I heard first.

The big "prog epic" here is said to be "Planet Rain". As the longest track it does have room to move and change rhythm and atmosphere, which it does in roughly four distinct parts, but I don't feel that it is anything particularly exciting. Perhaps for those who don't care for thrash too much this is a welcome respite. But compared to Devin's "Terria" and "Synchestra" or even "Biomech: Ocean Machine", this song needs some help.

Ultimately, this is a thrash metal album and there's not much here that illustrates Devin's more prog or post metal side. As a thrash album it's okay but the bright keyboards don't always improve the song quality. As a progressive album it seems that this is more of an experiment that didn't work out as well as it was intended. From time to time it's alright to listen through on its own. But Devin Townsend has much better music with much better production elsewhere.

 The Last Note in God's Magnum Opus by SCHIZOID LLOYD album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 3 ratings

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The Last Note in God's Magnum Opus
Schizoid Lloyd Experimental/Post Metal

Review by gothicelk

4 stars This is a message to ALL prog/avantgarde rock/metal funs. Don't miss this band! SCHIZOID LLOYD is an absolutely new name for me but its great that i found them. Seriously. In all these waves of 2-3nd tier prog bands its pretty hard to find something really interesting in our days. I just found. In case of this band 'SCHIZOID' (or better to say "a bit crazy, but not too agressive and unsocial") is a core word. Not enough insane like mighty Unexpect. Not so fun and lightweight as Diablo Swing Orchestra (and this is good). Far not so serious as Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. Sometimes sounds like a heavy version Samla Mammas Manna... Its pretty hard to describe their music and there are a lot of bands to compare with. Their sound is not unique but it shouldn be. This is just very good music. First of all abt their strong points. This is a very resolute debute. Looks like these guys exactly know what they are wanting to reach. But you as a listener might need to listen this album twice (at least) to understand their train of thoughts and do not miss all (sometimes very small) details and music's nuances. Like sitar's sound and good acoustic guitar work on Prodigal Son, that sometimes reminded me Hackett's music. Influence from other avant-gard bands? Sure! But this time its not just copy-pasting or mimicry. This is avant-garde with its own but still human face. Is it fun? You can be sure. Just look at track list. Suicide Penguin, Chicken Wing Swans etc. Music is even more jolly. Is it boring? Nope. Stylistics is changing from song to song and inside almost each song but in complex they are moving in one direction. Weak points. Not too much to note from my point of view. For me their music is not enough wierd for avant-garde. A bit raw material and sound but it a debute so its may be ok.

Well, this is NOT strong 4 stars, i think 3.75 is the better level for them if take this album as it is, without any excuse that it was debute. But it was. Moreover I still think that this debute is granting us some upside for band's future works. I hope so. So my verdict - 4 of 5 and good luck. P.S. sorry for my Engrish

 Falling Deeper by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.79 | 345 ratings

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Falling Deeper
Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Rodrigo Andrade7

4 stars At first, I wasn't scared of listening to this album, but I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical if this album would live up to the hype it had back in the day. Now that I've listen to this album so many times I think I could sum it up and just say that this is a masterpiece of our modern times (which it is) But it's way more than that, this album reaches your heart and doesn't go away. Everytime I hear this album, all kinds of good things comes up to my mind...good memories or not...this album inspires calmness everywhere, makes life seem beautiful. This album is a living proof that is possible to arrange kinds of music that are so opposite to each other, such professionalism and high level musicians, it's just brilliant. I'm a fan of light Anathema over dark Anathema, so it's no surprise that this album would be a highlight for me, I just simply love modern Anathema and this album is a fantastic vision of it for sure. A unique album.

4* Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.

 Beware the Sword You Cannot See by FOREST OF STARS, A album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.04 | 5 ratings

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Beware the Sword You Cannot See
A Forest Of Stars Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Beware the Sword You Cannot See' - A Forest of Stars (85/100)

(Originally written for Heathen Harvest Periodical)

With each new offering by British innovators A Forest of Stars, there comes the promise of challenge and reward in roughly proportionate measure. There's arguably more initial charm to them than many of the other sonic artisans that earn the 'avant-garde black metal' label, but the depth and density they've injected into their work since The Corpse of Rebirth demands each of their albums be approached with a patient, attentive ear. Beware the Sword You Cannot See is no exception in this regard; swirling layers of black metal once again form the foundation beneath an angel's choir of eccentric howls and violins. Now moreso than ever, their audacious grasp of composition pays homage in no small part to classic progressive rock. A Forest of Stars are psychotic, but accessibly so; while many of their tricks are shared with others in the avant-metal sphere, they navigate these treacherous waters with a sense of personality and coherence intact. Given that I know quite a few people who normally steer clear of the avant-garde for the perceived lack of those two things, A Forest of Stars have made a distinguished contribution to the experimental landscape.

Beware the Swore You Cannot See may very well be the most ambitious and monumental work A Forest of Stars have done to date too; possibly even better than their third full-length A Shadowplay for Yesterdays, a playful near-masterpiece that stole my heart a few years back. At this point in particular, calling A Forest of Stars a black metal band would be as fitting as referring to a poutine as 'french fries.' There's no question where the fundaments of their sound are coming from, sure, but the experience itself is different enough to warrant the description irrelevant. Though the same could be well-said for each of the four AFoS records to date, Beware the Sword You Cannot See sounds like the natural amalgamation of a number of influences, progressive rock not least of all included among them. My first listen had me placing them somewhere the capricious barrage of uneXpect, the dark wit of The Meads of Asphodel and the playful anxiety of Sigh; hell, it would be just as well to imagine them as the kind of music Comus might have made, had they formed as a metal band this side of the new millennium. Fortunately, in the case of A Forest of Stars, direct comparisons only go so far; they've carved out a distinct identity for themselves over the course of four records. Their destiny is not linked with any particular influence. Even in a genre so presumably forward-thinking as avant-garde metal, it's a lamentably rare thing to see.

Beware the Sword You Cannot See begins on one of its brightest moments. "Drawing Down the Rain" ranks among the best songs yet heard in 2015. Taking no time to get started, A Forest of Stars begin sounding closer to post-rock than the avant-garde. The soaring post-black atmosphere is complimented further by the violin, an instrument avant-metallers love to use but few ever manage to do so successfully. Especially early on in the album, much of the implication of AFoS's relative 'weirdness' lies in the eclectic styles and off-kilter vocal performance of Mr. Curse. With regards to the former, it is not uncommon for the band to shift gears several times throughout a song. Frantic bursts of black metal (replete with blastbeats and all else the term entails) are contrasted with slower passages that often recall Pink Floyd. The eclecticism culminates here on "Pawn on the Universal Chessboard", a would-be epic that, on top of the previous comparisons, conjures everything from Van der Graaf Generator to Moonsorrow. Variety alone would not have been enough to impress me, but the band's adventurous charisma manages to tie these strange bends in a way that sounds coherent and structured. Once again, that's not something you see everyday in avant-garde metal.

Although A Forest of Stars' performance is as well-rounded and powerful as ever, my highest praise is reserved for the album's vocals. Even amidst the music's most tender moments, Mr. Curse sounds like he's at the brink of a nervous breakdown. There are times when he nears the misanthropic rumblings of Metatron from The Meads of Asphodel; at others, he evokes the surreal sprechgesang of Current 93's David Tibet. Evocative lyrics remain a staple quality in A Forest of Stars' work. It is vulgar poetry of an obsessive sort, at once eager to immerse you in psychosis and anxiety.

A Forest of Stars are one such band that really benefits from their surrounding mythology and image, even though it doesn't have a particularly staunch impact on the music itself. Just like I can't listen to Akercocke without thinking of aristocratic upperclassmen, or The Meads of Asphodel without thinking of Medieval heretics obsessed with the nuances of Biblical apocrypha, A Forest of Stars have an undeniably British personality to them that is only amplified by their manufactured pseudo-Victorian image. Though the late 19th century is usually looked back upon as a time of apparent prudishness, it was probably better defined by its anxieties and confusion. Victorian England was a mania of new ideas and new experiences. It was a time where scientific elucidation was growing at a far greater rate than the education of the common man. It was a perfect time for ghosts and ghouls to be born. While I don't think A Forest of Stars have ever captured the Victorian era in their music (there weren't too many bands playing black metal in the 1890s anyways) but the visual and conceptual aesthetic compliments the creepy atmosphere perfectly.

2015 has already been rife with some incredible albums, and Beware the Sword You Cannot See is already poised to rank among the most memorable of them. A Forest of Stars have conjured another near-masterpiece, composed of equal parts horror and euphoria. Admittedly, the collection of styles they're playing with is a grocery list of what I like most in music, but it takes a special sort of band to get this eclectic and eccentric without losing sense of themselves. Beware the Sword You Cannot See is a marvellous piece of work, and even then, I don't think A Forest of Stars have hit their peak yet.

 Tellurian by SOEN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.37 | 19 ratings

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Tellurian
Soen Experimental/Post Metal

Review by aapatsos
Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

3 stars Where Opeth, Tool and Katatonia meet

The title more or less sums it up for Soen's second album ''Tellurian'', which shows evolution compared to their debut ''Cognitive'' in a sense that the sound has escaped the ''I want to become Tool in the place of Tool'' character. In addition, this release sounds much more progressive to my ears, contrary to the largely alternative rock found in Cognitive. Unfortunately, what has not changed is the derivative nature of their music: in this release they seem to be borrowing heavily from Opeth (e.g. 'The Words' and 'Ennui') and Katatonia, rather than only Tool. The mix is pleasant atmospheric, progressive/alternative experimental metal with well-worked melodic vocals that would satisfy the progressive metal fan but shows some serious pitfalls. Mikael Arkefeldt, Jonas Renske and Maynard James Keenan would be proud of a number of compositions in ''Tellurian''.

Granted, the compositions are worked to detail, the production is spotless, the balance of melody and heaviness is well-struck and there are some absolute killer riffs (see 'Kuraman', the latter part of 'Koniskas' or 'The Other's Fall') that take this release above the average and leave significant hope for the future. On the other hand, this is something I have heard before and would prefer to revert back to the original material if I had the chance. The heavier moments suit Soen better; the mellower could sometimes sound a bit too... mellow. The next release might prove if Soen have some more original ideas to take their career further.

Recommended listening: Kuraman, Void.

Thanks to Freeman Productions for the promo.

 Sol Niger Within by THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.19 | 107 ratings

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Sol Niger Within
Thordendal's Special Defects Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Coming at ya with the complexity of a calculus equation on a physics exam in the rocket science department at MIT, the mastermind himself behind the extreme metal band Meshuggah unleashes his first solo outing to the world under the moniker FREDRIK THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS. Apparently not satisfied with the strangeness and angular extreme metal that Meshuggah delivers on a regular basis, THORDENDAL really lets it all loose on SOL NIGER WITHIN, which not only takes the jazz elements and high tech metal approach of Meshuggah but increases everything exponentially and adds all kinds of delicious ingredients to make one uniquely strange and satisfying edition in the world of djentology.

Some of this music itself doesn't sound too overly different than the jazz metal fusion that i have heard from Buckethead on occasion but on this release we get a lot of diverse elements that incorporate a djent based guitar riffage with shrieked black metal type vocals that remind me a bit of Cradle Of Filth's gothic take on the subgenre. Although the album is broken down into 29 tracks on the original release and include two extras on the 1999 re-release titled SOL NIGER WITHIN: Version 3.33 with a few changes like the organ missing, the album really comes off as one continuous track that morphs and evolves from one phase to another. The track listings are fairly unimportant as it really seems like they were randomly imposed on the musical flow.

While this is usually complimented to THORDENDAL as a solo project, this is in fact very much a conglomerate of musical talents that create some interesting avant-garde metal. Amongst others the most notable talents on board here include Morgan Ågren (drums) and Mats Öberg (keyboards) who were both performing with Frank Zappa at one point. Other non- metal instruments include the sax, church organ and yikaki, which is a long wooden instrument played by Australian Aborigines. While most tracks have their feet in the extreme metal world, some such as "Cosmic Vagina Dentata Organ" do not. This all church organ track was nixed from the 3:33 version for whatever reason. I own the first release and find the jettisoned track to be a very interesting intermission in the flow of the album.

While the subject of the lyrics involved seems to be based in the sci-fi world reminding me of the world of Voivod, there is an alien theme i detect going on here as well and the term SOL NIGER, which means the black sun, was referred to by alchemists to reflect the psyche's feeling tone under the frigid and unrelenting influence of the planet Saturn. Some tracks like "Sensorium Dei" are just sublime in how it utilizes strange mathematical timings with tripped out guitar solos and deftly balances silence with extreme noise. This is a highly recommended slice of avant-garde metal heaven if you are seeking the strange, unorthodox and built-by- intelligent-design world of FREDRIK THORDENDAL which utilizes philosophy, mathematical musical construction and all the extreme metal brutality you would expect from his output.

While i don't own the 3:33 version, i did find myself impressed enough with this album to check out the two extra tracks on this version for the sake of comparison. The two extra tracks are "Missing Time" which clocks in at 11:31 and "Ooo Baby Baby" which is only a mere 1:15. This version also emits "Painful Disruption" which is merely a 29 second freaky guitar frenzy that sounds like something Steve Vai would conjure up with a Zappa type of feel. "Missing Time" sounds more like a more recognizable jazz-fusion guitar piece with some narration about alien abductions. "Ooo Baby Baby" is a highly aggressive dent guitar assault that is short and to the point. It has a nice strange ending. Overall, i say stick to the original. The extra tracks are nice but i like the omitted ones more.

 Of Whom I Always Think by DAMASCUS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2011
5.00 | 2 ratings

BUY
Of Whom I Always Think
Damascus Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Luís de Sousa

5 stars This was the second of two EPs recorded by the band in 2011, released late that year. It features only 3 tracks, little over 20 minutes of music.

The EP opens with a short track entitled "Ambition" that does not really stand out, but kindly accommodates the listener to what is to come. Along comes "Schematics" and everything goes up in flames; "Interference" only throws more wood into the raging fire. With these two tracks the band confirms that the outstanding bits of the first EP (e.g. "Mokujin") did not happen by chance.

Sitting somewhere between Math Rock and Heavy Metal, Damascus' sound is remarkably fresh, projecting a sense of vanguard that is hard to come by these days. And all is created with the traditional Heavy Metal line up: drums, bass and two guitars; vocals is the only thing missing.

Most striking in Damascus' sound is its subtleness. It is not straightforward, but not complex either, and the musicians seem totally uninterested on bare displays of musicianship or technical skill. Songs are composed by a series of riffs and melodies that gently morph from one into the following, where often one guitar takes an head step with the second insisting on the previous phrase a while longer. Occasionally, a more refined melody breaks unexpectedly this scheme, charmingly surprising the listener. The kind of songs that can be listened over and over again.

With "Of Whom I Always Think" Damascus definitely created a sonorous identity of its own, opening the paths the band would trail with its LPs.

[i]P.S.: The LPs recorded by Damascus (in 2013 and 2014) are not featured in the ProgArchives databased, but are a mandatory listen to appreciators of heavier Math Rock.[/i]

Data cached

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
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
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
APOCALIPSIS Mexico
APOCRYPHAL VOICE Finland
APOKATASTASIA Switzerland
APSE United States
THE ARKITECHT Mexico
ARKTIKA Germany
AS LIGHT DIES Spain
ASIDEFROMADAY France
ASPIRATION Norway
ASTROHENGE United Kingdom
ASTRONAUT DOWN United States
AT THE SOUNDAWN Italy
THE ATLAS MOTH United States
THE ATOMIC BOMB AUDITION United States
ATROX Norway
AUSSITÔT MORT France
THE AXIS OF PERDITION United Kingdom
AZIOLA CRY United States
BACK WHEN United States
BAK Australia
BARONESS United States
BAT CASTLE United States
BATTLE OF MICE United States
BATTLEFIELDS United States
BAUDA Chile
BEAK United States
BEECHER United Kingdom
BEFORE THE EYEWALL United States
BEHIND THE SUN Israel
BEING United States
ADRIAN BENAVIDES United States
BIRUSHANAH Japan
BISON B.C. Canada
BLACK MATH HORSEMAN United States
BLACK SEA Brazil
BLACK SHEEP WALL United States
BLACKWAVES Germany
BLINDEAD Poland
BLOOD & TIME United States
BLUT AUS NORD France
BOBEL Costa Rica
BOSSK United Kingdom
BOTANIST United States
BRIDGES TO DREAMS Canada
BUNKUR Netherlands
BURIED INSIDE Canada
BURN DOWN ROME United Kingdom
CAINA United Kingdom
CALDERA France
CALLISTO Finland
THE CANCER CONSPIRACY United States
CANDIRIA United States
CAPRICORNS United Kingdom
CAPTURE THE SUN United States
CARNIVAL IN COAL France
CARONTTE Spain
CATACOMBE Portugal
CAVE IN United States
CELEBRITY SEX SCANDAL United States
CELESTINE Iceland
CHASE THE SUNSET United Kingdom
THE CHRONICLES OF ISRAFEL Canada
CHRYST Austria
THE CIRCLE ENDS HERE Italy
CIRUELO CILINDRICO Spain
CLERIC United States
CLOUDKICKER United States
COALESCE United States
COLD BODY RADIATION Netherlands
A COLD DEAD BODY Italy
COLDWORLD Germany
COME SLEEP Sweden
COMITY France
CONIFER United States
CONSECRATION Serbia
CORMORANT United States
COSMONAUTS DAY Russia
COUNTERVELA Ireland
CRIB45 Finland
CULT OF LUNA Sweden
D.U.N.E. Italy
DAKRYA Greece
DAMASCUS United States
DARK CASTLE United States
DARK SUNS Germany
DARKESTRAH Germany
DARKSPACE Switzerland
DAUGHTERS OF FISSION United States
DAY WITHOUT DAWN United States
DE OMEGA United States
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DEAFHEAVEN United States
THE DEATH OF HER MONEY United Kingdom
DECORTICA New Zealand
DEEP IN THOUGHT Germany
DETERIOR United States
DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL United Kingdom
DIESTO United States
DIGRESSION ASSASSINS Sweden
DIRGE France
DISAPPEARER United States
DIVINA ENEMA Belarus
DØDSVERK Norway
DORNENREICH Austria
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DR. SLAGGLEBERRY United Kingdom
DRAWN Norway
DREARINESS Italy
DYING SUN United States
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ECHOES United Kingdom
ECHOES OF YUL Poland
ECHOSILENCE Estonia
EGOIST Poland
EHNAHRE United States
EIGHT BELLS United States
EINNA France
ELLIPSIS France
EMPIRES United States
EMPTY YARD EXPERIMENT United Arab Emirates
ENDER New Zealand
ENDNAME Russia
EPHEL DUATH Italy
EPISTASIS United States
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ETHERSENS France
EVIL INSIDE Spain
EX CURIA Australia
EXOTIC ANIMAL PETTING ZOO United States
EXTINCTION ALGORITHM Romania
FALL OF EFRAFA United Kingdom
FALLOCH United Kingdom
FALLS OF RAUROS United States
FEN United Kingdom
FLEURETY Norway
FLOOD THE DESERT United States
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A FOREST OF STARS United Kingdom
FORMLOFF Norway
FOUNTAINHEAD Germany
FROM OCEANS TO AUTUMN United States
FUTURIAN Canada
THE GABRIEL CONSTRUCT United States
GANON United States
GARDEN OF SHADOWS United States
GARY SUICIDAL KIDS COMMANDO France
THE GATHERING Netherlands
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GIRE Hungary
GNAW THEIR TONGUES Netherlands
GODSEND Norway
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GOSPEL United States
THE GRASSHOPPER LIES HEAVY United States
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GRAYCEON United States
THE GREAT OLD ONES France
GREEN CARNATION Norway
HAIKU FUNERAL Multi-National
HAIL SPIRIT NOIR Greece
HALCYON Australia
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HAND United Kingdom
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HEIRS Australia
HELLAS MOUNDS United States
HERETOIR Germany
HIPOSPADIA Spain
HUMANFLY United Kingdom
HYDRA Mexico
HYPNO5E France
IDENTIFIED United States
IDIOT SAINT CRAZY France
THE ILLNESS United States
IN THE WOODS... Norway
IN.OVO Canada
INCOMING CEREBRAL OVERDRIVE Italy
INDUKTI Poland
INTER ARMA United States
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IO United Kingdom
IREPRESS United States
IRONWOOD Australia
IRREVERSIBLE United States
ISIS United States
ISTHMUS United States
IZAH Netherlands
JAKEL Canada
JANVS Italy
JESU United Kingdom
JEWY SABATAY Serbia
OLIVER KAAH Finland
KAILASH Italy
KALKI AVATARA Italy
KARABOUDJAN Sweden
KEELHAUL United States
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KHOMA Sweden
KHUDA United Kingdom
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KRUGER Switzerland
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MOMENTUM Iceland
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NIHIL Serbia
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NORTH United States
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NUCLEUS TORN Switzerland
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THE OCEAN DOESN'T WANT ME South Africa
THE OCEAN Germany
OCOAI United States
THE OLD DEAD TREE France
OLD MAN GLOOM United States
OMB Israel
THE OMEGA EXPERIMENT United States
OMEGA MASSIF Germany
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ORDO DRACONIS Netherlands
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ORPHANED LAND Israel
ORTHODOX Spain
OSI United States
OSTROVA Spain
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SKY United States
OUTOPSYA Italy
OVERMARS France
PAN.THY.MONIUM Sweden
PANOPTICON United States
THE PAX CECILIA United States
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PELICAN United States
PET SLIMMERS OF THE YEAR United Kingdom
PIKE Sweden
PINKLY SMOOTH United States
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ROSETTA United States
ROUTE NINE Sweden
RWAKE United States
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SALVICTION Poland
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SCORCHED SHORE United States
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SENMUTH Russia
SENSUAL NOISE Belgium
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SEVEN United States
SEVEN NAUTICAL MILES Sweden
SEVENTH EVIDENCE / KA.MMEN Ukraine
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SHELTER RED United States
SHELVING Switzerland
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SHRINEBUILDER United States
SIGH Japan
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SKAGOS Canada
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SMALLMAN Bulgaria
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SNOWBLOOD United Kingdom
SO IS THE TONGUE United States
SOEN Multi-National
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SPRING & YOUTH Serbia
STANDING OVATION Finland
STATS United States
STEAK NUMBER EIGHT Belgium
A STORM OF LIGHT United States
SUBROSA United States
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SUFFOCATE FOR FUCK SAKE Sweden
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SWARM OF THE LOTUS United States
A SWARM OF THE SUN Sweden
SWITCH OPENS Sweden
TACOMA NARROWS BRIDGE DISASTER United Kingdom
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TEPHRA Germany
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TESA Latvia
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THENCE Finland
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THY CATAFALQUE Hungary
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TOOL United States
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TRANSMISSION0 Netherlands
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WE MADE GOD Iceland
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WHAT THE BLOOD REVEALED United Kingdom
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ANDY WINTER Norway
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A WORKING MODEL United States
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