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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

4.24 | 556 ratings
PART THE SECOND
Maudlin Of The Well
4.22 | 1136 ratings
LATERALUS
Tool
4.23 | 536 ratings
TERRIA
Townsend, Devin
4.20 | 468 ratings
ZILTOID THE OMNISCIENT
Townsend, Devin
4.33 | 98 ratings
IMAGINARY SONICSCAPE
Sigh
4.27 | 139 ratings
THROUGH SILVER IN BLOOD
Neurosis
4.17 | 563 ratings
JUDGEMENT
Anathema
4.18 | 250 ratings
LEAVING YOUR BODY MAP
Maudlin Of The Well
4.16 | 222 ratings
BATH
Maudlin Of The Well
4.16 | 236 ratings
IN A FLESH AQUARIUM
Unexpect
4.12 | 285 ratings
LIGHT OF DAY, DAY OF DARKNESS
Green Carnation
4.60 | 29 ratings
KHAOOOHS & KON-FUS-ION
Pan.Thy.Monium
4.19 | 108 ratings
SOL NIGER WITHIN
Thordendal's Special Defects
4.08 | 695 ratings
ĆNIMA
Tool
4.18 | 118 ratings
SOMEWHERE ALONG THE HIGHWAY
Cult of Luna
4.08 | 501 ratings
ALTERNATIVE 4
Anathema
4.12 | 200 ratings
PANOPTICON
Isis
4.09 | 294 ratings
THE MANTLE
Agalloch
4.09 | 282 ratings
MABOOL - THE STORY OF THE THREE SONS OF SEVEN
Orphaned Land
4.67 | 23 ratings
FEA JUR
Lye By Mistake
4.03 | 749 ratings
WE'RE HERE BECAUSE WE'RE HERE
Anathema
4.27 | 53 ratings
SOULS AT ZERO
Neurosis
4.05 | 295 ratings
SYNCHESTRA (THE DEVIN TOWNSEND BAND)
Townsend, Devin
4.08 | 162 ratings
OCEANIC
Isis
4.06 | 225 ratings
S.U.S.A.R.
Indukti
4.17 | 75 ratings
SUSPENDED ANIMATION DREAMS
Subterranean Masquerade
4.01 | 731 ratings
WEATHER SYSTEMS
Anathema
4.05 | 235 ratings
OCEAN MACHINE: BIOMECH
Townsend, Devin
4.04 | 248 ratings
ÉCAILLES DE LUNE
Alcest
4.06 | 171 ratings
WAVERING RADIANT
Isis
4.02 | 279 ratings
FABLES OF THE SLEEPLESS EMPIRE
Unexpect
4.09 | 110 ratings
THE PAINTER'S PALETTE
Ephel Duath
4.22 | 51 ratings
WRITTEN IN WATERS
Ved Buens Ende
4.55 | 22 ratings
TűNő IDő TÁRLAT
Thy Catafalque
4.08 | 102 ratings
OMNIO
In The Woods...
4.00 | 258 ratings
EPICLOUD (DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT)
Townsend, Devin
3.99 | 236 ratings
OFFICE OF STRATEGIC INFLUENCE
OSI
4.42 | 24 ratings
OPPORTUNISTIC THIEVES OF SPRING
Forest Of Stars, A
4.04 | 98 ratings
IF_THEN_ELSE
Gathering, The
4.30 | 29 ratings
THE GALILEAN SATELLITES
Rosetta
4.15 | 48 ratings
THE MALEDICTION FIELDS
Fen
4.04 | 75 ratings
LEAVING EDEN
Antimatter
3.96 | 135 ratings
EPOCH
Fen
4.64 | 14 ratings
MYSTER MÖBIUS
Myster Mobius
3.91 | 344 ratings
DECONSTRUCTION (DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT)
Townsend, Devin
4.19 | 32 ratings
UNDERSTANDING CONSEQUENCES
Day Without Dawn
3.96 | 111 ratings
NIGHTTIME BIRDS
Gathering, The
3.90 | 259 ratings
THE NEVER ENDING WAY OF ORWARRIOR
Orphaned Land
4.04 | 56 ratings
OI MAGOI
Hail Spirit Noir
4.77 | 11 ratings
ELIL
Fall of Efrafa
4.00 | 67 ratings
PREHISTORICISMS
Intronaut
3.89 | 270 ratings
ADDICTED (DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT)
Townsend, Devin
3.90 | 183 ratings
ACCELERATED EVOLUTION (THE DEVIN TOWNSEND BAND)
Townsend, Devin
3.99 | 68 ratings
PRECAMBRIAN
Ocean, The
4.10 | 37 ratings
PAINTING ON GLASS
3rd And The Mortal, The
3.95 | 86 ratings
THE FIRE IN OUR THROATS WILL BECKON THE THAW
Pelican
4.31 | 20 ratings
THE LOCUST YEARS
Hammers of Misfortune
4.20 | 26 ratings
A SHADOWPLAY FOR YESTERDAYS
Forest Of Stars, A
3.93 | 102 ratings
SOUVENIRS D'UN AUTRE MONDE
Alcest
4.36 | 18 ratings
ABSOLUTE ZERO
Tetrafusion
3.94 | 92 ratings
VERTIKAL
Cult of Luna
4.50 | 14 ratings
TERRAFORMING
Postman Syndrome, The
3.90 | 140 ratings
GORDIAN KNOT
Gordian Knot
4.00 | 55 ratings
TEETHED GLORY AND INJURY
Altar of Plagues
4.10 | 34 ratings
SEA OF THE DYING DHOW
shels
3.85 | 454 ratings
A NATURAL DISASTER
Anathema
3.90 | 131 ratings
HOW TO MEASURE A PLANET?
Gathering, The
3.97 | 63 ratings
A SUN THAT NEVER SETS
Neurosis
4.00 | 49 ratings
RÓKA HASA RÁDIÓ
Thy Catafalque
4.03 | 41 ratings
THE BEES MADE HONEY IN THE LION'S SKULL
Earth
3.84 | 396 ratings
A FINE DAY TO EXIT
Anathema
4.08 | 34 ratings
EVE
Ufomammut
3.83 | 721 ratings
10,000 DAYS
Tool
3.84 | 292 ratings
GHOST (DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT)
Townsend, Devin
3.90 | 96 ratings
PELAGIAL
Ocean, The
4.30 | 18 ratings
MANTIIS
Obsidian Kingdom
4.60 | 11 ratings
MICROCOSMOS
Thy Catafalque
3.94 | 65 ratings
ANTHROPOCENTRIC
Ocean, The
3.88 | 124 ratings
THE ACOUSTIC VERSES
Green Carnation
3.85 | 183 ratings
ALL IS ONE
Orphaned Land
4.00 | 43 ratings
PLAINS OF THE PURPLE BUFFALO
shels
4.01 | 41 ratings
HEART OF THE AGES
In The Woods...
3.86 | 144 ratings
MANDYLION
Gathering, The
3.83 | 260 ratings
KI (DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT)
Townsend, Devin
4.71 | 9 ratings
MELANCHOLIE˛
ColdWorld
3.92 | 66 ratings
THE EYE OF EVERY STORM
Neurosis
3.84 | 172 ratings
LES VOYAGES DE L'ÂME
Alcest
4.17 | 22 ratings
CARHEART
Virus
4.03 | 34 ratings
RENGETEG
Thy Catafalque
4.27 | 17 ratings
NOIR
Callisto
3.83 | 184 ratings
ASHES AGAINST THE GRAIN
Agalloch
3.81 | 335 ratings
FALLING DEEPER
Anathema
3.96 | 44 ratings
THE IMAGINARY DIRECTION OF TIME
Winds
3.98 | 39 ratings
WHITE TOMB
Altar of Plagues
3.91 | 62 ratings
GRAVE HUMAN GENUINE
Dark Suns
3.83 | 169 ratings
MARROW OF THE SPIRIT
Agalloch
3.89 | 69 ratings
EXISTENCE
Dark Suns
4.26 | 16 ratings
CENOTES
Giant Squid
4.19 | 19 ratings
THE RITUAL FIRES OF ABANDONMENT
Minsk
3.97 | 39 ratings
BLESSED ARE THE BONDS
Pax Cecilia, The

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

THE SECOND PHILOSOPHY
Nahemah
POWER HÖR
Lesbian
A NEW WORLD?
Drawn
THE TELESTIC DISFRACTURE
5ive

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Latest Experimental/Post Metal Music Reviews


 Hummer by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2006
2.50 | 63 ratings

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Hummer
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This album is worlds apart from most of DT's other albums and is an entire spectrum separated from any of the Strapping Young Lad albums. This one is completely ambient and utilizes low frequency noises to create atmospheres of mostly electronic processed sounds. Don't expect any rhythm and the vocals here are spoken word or added as effects. As Devin himself said, this album is not for everyone. It was created as a sort of cooling down period for him, and it acts as a very meditative album for sure. It is relaxing and works fine as that sort of album. The soundscapes here approach the same ambience as the ambient droneworks of Bass Communion which is the side project of another excellent prog rock giant, Steven Wilson. The difference is that Bass Communion recordings, at least to some extent, have more of a meaning or direction overall.

These tracks on The Hummer are mostly uneventful, especially the first 2 very long tracks, the title track at over 15 minutes and "Arc" which is over 23 minutes long. Not much happens here, there is no percussion, only long drawn out drones or pitch sounds which build and ebb over their long durations. There are a few other added sounds such as morse code type sounds that add a timely element to the tracks, but don't do much to give it direction. This goes on for way too long. In comparison to the best Bass Communion tracks, at least they tend to have direction, some percussive noises and more variations in pitch. Track 3 on The Hummer is "Consciousness Causes Collapse" which actually has more action than the first 2 tracks starts out with a beautiful flute solo, which eventually gives way to electronc sounds again and a spoken word reading by Leonard Cohen of part of the Tibetian Book of the Dead. This works well enough and adds to the recording, but it is a long, long span to get to this point.

This music flows into a more structured track, the comparatively short "The Equation" which makes for a strong track, even though it still stays with the overall sound, it continues in a direction that was started in the previous track. "The Abacus" actually finally introduces some percussive sounds to the ambience which still doesn't distract from the meditative nature of the album, but actually adds more to the album and it actually becomes as interesting as the best Bass Communion works. Last of all, "Cosmic Surf" starts off interestingly enough, but soon descends to sounds of waves with very little else. Eventually some bad spoken word clips are thrown in talking about corny new age book of life topics and that just seals the fate of the album. Meditative, yes, but except for a few interesting shorter tracks that make up the middle part of the album, this is overly long and not good for much else but meditation. As good as other Devin Townsend albums are, it was expected that at least the ambient works would have been better than this, but overall, this is a disappointment. 2 stars only.

 Jesu by JESU album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.97 | 15 ratings

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Jesu
Jesu Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars JESU is the creation of Justin Broadrick who needed a new project after the breakup of Godflesh. While on the debut EP "Heart Ache" it was a one man show, on this eponymous debut album he created a post-metal power trio by inviting bassist Diarmuid Darmuid (Cable Regime, Final, Iroha, Greymachine, Council Estate Electronics) and drummer Ted Parsons (Swans, Prong, Buckethead, Legendary Pink Dots, Killing Joke) to join the feedback and fuzz distortion party. The band adds extra bassists and drummers for touring to fill the thicker than reality sound spectrums heard on their studio albums where they achieve atmospheres that i never dreamed possible.

JESU creates an interesting hybrid of various strains of post-rock and industrial metal rhythms wrapped up in a sludgy drone feedback fuzz that more often than not bleeds into harsh shoegaze. While the first track "Your Path To Divinity" sounds like the drone metal band Earth meets Mogwai song structures, on the second track "Friends Are Evil" we hear a total change of sound bringing the industrial metal Godflesh ties to the forefront. This track is even more distorted and has interesting intermittent guitar squeals. The third track "Tired Of Me" takes another completely new sound altogether beginning with an ethereal and detached Sigur Ros type of sound. It moves on to a slow distorted march with Broadrick belting out his buried depressive lyrics from the suffocating din.

The beautiful thing about this album is how diverse the rhythms and melodies are despite the tones, timbres and distortion being fairly uniform. Post-rock and industrial doom metal trade places while a steady brutally dissonant melody is usually keeping the echoes and grungy noise in its proper boundaries. The vocals tend to be of the same style but there is a surprise on "Man / Woman" where they are more of a Neurosis type death metal growl. The tracks are quite lengthy with the shortest around the seven minute mark but somehow it all unfolds in a rather satisfying manner. Actually i feel like i hear some Kayo Dot influence on here as well especially from "Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue" album where power chords pummel the senses. The only difference is the dissonance and prog time sigs aren't as prominent.

While the distortion reminds me a lot of the drone metal Earth meets the sludge metal of Boris, JESU manage to incorporate enough variety throughout the 74:30 long album to keep me happy. The production is noisy as hell but professionally done as to eke out every possible note and rhythmic dynamism. This album has a hellish doomy feel like few others and seems only to get better as it progresses towards the final tracks. This is my first encounter with JESU but after discovering this excellent debut release, it certainly won't be my last. Don't let the post-rock packaging fool you. This is full-fledged shoegazy atmospheric post sludge metal all the way.

 Liberty Bell by GATHERING, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1998
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Liberty Bell
The Gathering Experimental/Post Metal

Review by thwok

4 stars To my way of thinking, there are two purposes for a single or EP release. One is to give casual listeners a short introduction to the music; the other is to give listeners familiar with the band something extra to enjoy. The Gathering is one of my favorite bands, so I appreciate this EP consisting of alternative versions. My only complaint is that "Shrink" and "Frail" are too similar in sound and mood, considering they make up more than half of the running time.

I think this EP is terrific. If you've already listened to How To Measure A Planet, you're already familiar with these songs. I really like these alternative versions. I also don't object to the edited version of "Liberty Bell", which drags on a bit in the album version. This is a good representation of The Gathering, and I'm giving it four stars.

 Journey to the Stars by WIDEK album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.83 | 3 ratings

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Journey to the Stars
Widek Experimental/Post Metal

Review by JohnNicholson

4 stars Widek's second full-length album, Journey to the Stars, is a twelve-track journey of sonic dynamics and contrasts set against a generally spacey atmosphere that runs throughout the album.

Being almost entirely instrumental album (except for the closing song), Journey to the Stars naturally relies heavily on guitars to drive the album. Though this may sound a bit limiting, Widek and the team of guest contributors he invited are able to work their way around this and create something cohesive and interesting that keeps the audience engaged.

Widek constantly plays with structures and dynamics in songs, not only to try to keep things fresh, but also to create new moods and atmospheres to further develop each individual track and give it more character.

One thing that knows how to be pretty annoying about instrumental albums is the lack of control and restrain, as the guitarists often try to put more zeros into their riffs or more notes into their solos. However, Widek doesn't fall into this pit. He demonstrates tasteful restrain and knows when to play melodic passages of riffs. The guest appearances from Chris Letchford, Plini, Gru, Sithu Aye, Owane and Per Nilsson show two things: 1) how quality this album is, and 2) Widek has a damn good taste and knowledge when it comes to pick soloists. All of these guys are top notch performers, and they add another dimension to Journey to the Stars. Together with Widek, they are also able to belt out solid riffs and tasteful lead-guitar playing, often placing the two together to create more interesting colors of mood.

Fans of guitar-driven instrumental music should definitely consider checking this release out. There is a lot of going on, and after his 2014 debut, Widek is proving that the genre's destiny is in good hands.

 Ultima Thulée by BLUT AUS NORD album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.78 | 11 ratings

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Ultima Thulée
Blut Aus Nord Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars The French black metal band BLUT AUS NORD has always pretty much been the project of Vindsval which began all the way back in 1994 with a couple demos under the Vlad moniker being released, but soon after the name of the project was changed to the grammatically incorrect German phrase meaning "Blood From North." On this debut album Vindsval handles all vocal and guitar duties but he also employs the percussive and keyboard skills of W.D. Feld, so this debut is more or less a duo rather than a solo project. ULTIMA THULÉE (a term that denotes any place beyond the known borders of the world in medieval geography) finds Vindsval and Feld riding the second wave of Norwegian black metal like a gazillion other bands of the era. Before BLUT AUS NORD cemented itself as more of a real band project and before the extremely avant-garde jangly and nightmarish atmospheric dissonance that the band would become famous for, we get a couple of more or less standard second wave black metal releases.

This debut sounds to me a lot like early Enslaved meets Darkthrone with the aggressive guitar delivery complete with blastbeats, gnarly tortured shrieks and muddy lo-fi production with only meagre progressive leanings. The band's knack for atmospheric embellishments also begins here and includes lots of scary keyboards however on this one they haven't quite found their unique niche and sound a lot like early Burzum especially from the "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" and "Filosofem" era. The album flows fairly well throughout its entirety and despite not dripping in originality is quite competently performed and a decent listen that i personally find appealing. Of course, this album gets overlooked for the very reason of not holding a candle to the more sophisticated developments which begin on "The Mystical Best Of Rebellion" but ULTIMA THULÉE is a solid black metal release that lovers of atmospheric black metal with heavy doses of dark ambient and dungeon synth should check out and is an interesting chapter of this unique band's musical history. 3.5 rounded down

 What Once Was... Liber II by BLUT AUS NORD album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2012
4.00 | 1 ratings

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What Once Was... Liber II
Blut Aus Nord Experimental/Post Metal

Review by CassandraLeo

— First review of this album —
4 stars The What Once Was series (which shares a name with infamous black metal band Burzum's second album) is self-styled as Blut aus Nord's 'back to basics' series of EPs, intended to throw in some old-school death metal influence into their unusual mix of black metal, industrial, and progressive metal. For all that it's intended to be more primitive, the series still throws the band's signature odd time signatures and dissonance everywhere, and it's still unmistakably the work of Blut aus Nord.

Of the three releases in the series thus far (more are evidently planned), Volume II is probably the strongest. It's also likely to be the most interesting to fans of progressive metal, what with the nine-and-a-half-minute opening track (the longest track on any of these releases to date). The other tracks are quite solid as well, especially the last one, which to my estimation has one of the best riffs on any Blut aus Nord release (right up there with the riff in Memoria Vetusta II's 'The Formless Sphere').

The release still has the odd textures, tremolo picking, blast beats, harsh vocals, and warped dissonance one would expect from any of the band's non-Memoria Vetusta/Ultima Thulee releases, so black metal-phobic fans are forewarned. It may also be difficult for people who don't own a vinyl player to track down a digital recording of this release, because there isn't an official one (although vinyl rips do circulate the internet). But for those who are open to such things, there is quite a bit of enjoyable listening to be found here.

 The Grey by AGALLOCH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2004
2.05 | 26 ratings

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The Grey
Agalloch Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I definitely wouldn't call this Agalloch's worst album or E.P. simply because it doesn't really represent their sound. This is a band that has always been open to experimentation and not to remain locked into a certain particular sound like Doom Metal. They are definitely inventive and explorers of their genre and that is what elevates them above the norm. That is also part of what makes them progressive.

The tracks on this E.P. are both long and are both instrumental reinterpretations, or breakdowns if you will, of 2 tracks from The Mantle LP. "The Lodge (Dismantled)" is an excellent rehash of the original that starts out exploring the main riffs and feeling of the track. This is a more straightforward track that starts out sort of repetitious but soon develops into quite a moody dark piece that echoes the color of the title of the EP. This is a heavier piece than the 2nd, but it is still quite light compared to some of their other music and is still an experimentation of an already established piece. The heaviness is still quite blissful and strangely relaxing in a way. There are touches of dronework here, but not quite, more in the feeling of the piece then the actual performance.

The 2nd track is completely experimental. It is "Odal (Nothing Mix)" which is an appropriate name for this version. The sounds are electronic and ambient, quite a change from the previous track here, but it is still dark and brooding, a lot like a Bass Communion track but not as minimalistic. There is some structure to the track, but not much. It is still a great track for listening to on a stormy afternoon as it matches the mood.

This is not a very representative recording of the band as it is too experimental. But that is what keeps things interesting for me. Not my favorite exploration either, but still good enough when the mood is right. The music is dark and matches the title of the album. Not for everyone, but still interesting enough, I would have to rate this at 3 stars, but I love the fact that the band keeps things interesting. If this is your first Agalloch album, don't base your opinions about them solely on this album. Just be ready for experimentation and ambience here.

 Ghost (Devin Townsend Project) by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.84 | 292 ratings

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Ghost (Devin Townsend Project)
Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is what Devin Townsend sounds like with the wall of guitar layers taken out, lush, beautiful, soothing, relaxing. You could call it ambient, but it's not minimalism because most of the tracks here are very full and layered. The vocals are similar to the sound you hear in the song "Deep Peace" from his masterpiece album "Terria" but this time instead of one song, you get a full album of music that sounds like this. Some compare it to Enya's sound, and I suppose it is to some extent, but not as much as what others have suggested. The layering effect here is what reminds one of that Enya sound. Others call it New Age-y, but I disagree with this completely, except for the one throw away track "Monsoon" which is the one embarrassing track on here. This, for the most part, is music you have to be in the mood for, but when you are, it is some of the most heavenly music you will find, and it's coming from the same guy that plays music that puts your speakers and eardrums in danger, though always in an immensely pleasing way.

It's true that there isn't a lot of progressive metal here or progressive rock for that matter. But it is inventive and it's some of the best mellow music I have heard in a long, long time. Well produced and orchestrated, it floats along freely, sometimes surprising the listener with a few upbeat passages and songs, like in the title track (after an ambient opening) and "Blackberry" (which also incorporates a banjo and a driving Americana type beat) , but mostly soft with some of the most beautiful harmonics imaginable. Devin still incorporates layers in his vocals and occasionally uses female vocals in there too.

The atmosphere remains through the album, and even though I would rather hear an album from him that utilizes his various types of music because I would rather have variety, I still find this very enjoyable and relaxing. This album is part of a series of albums where Devin concentrates on one style throughout, and, in fact, this was released at the same time as the album "Deconstruction" which is the exact opposite of this album full of noise and over the top metal. Other albums in the series include a more poppier side or more experimental. I would rather hear them interspersed on an album together and then linked together inventively through ingenious composition methods. This is not driving music, and is really at it's most effective if you want to relax to lush soundscapes that really approach early Porcupine Tree instrumentals a lot more than it does new age music. I also hear some similarity to the more ambient works of Ulver, which anyone who has heard them knows that their music is much more inventive than just plain new age music, and that is the case with this album.

Simply beautiful is how to describe this album. Listen to it and let yourself get lost in it's lushness and layers of atmosphere. I can't quite give it 5 stars, because it is missing variety, but it is one of the best atmospheric albums I have heard that concentrates one type of music. 4.5 stars rounded down to 4 because of the variety issue. But I still love this!

 Part the Second by MAUDLIN OF THE WELL album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.24 | 556 ratings

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Part the Second
Maudlin Of The Well Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Horizons
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

5 stars 'When I left the sea and the brine and the undulating waves, the slight glow and shock still brushed against my flesh.'

That lyric serves as a poetic outline to this work of art. Part the Second invokes beautiful imagery with its ability to set the listener in a place of elemental dominion. Whether it is the music or lyrics on this album, I can't help but see myself on an island experiencing life in a totally new way. That's the power of Part the Second, it moves you.

Maudlin of the Well somehow both embarked on a new journey with this album as well as bringing another to a close. Previously unleashing the albums Leaving the Body Map and Bath, Maudlin of the Well were artistically established and were hitting their crest. But as shown with this release and the unpredictable evolutions that Kayo Dot would go on to experience, Toby Driver likes to progress, change, and experiment. This album would mark the end of the powerful Maudlin entity, giving the band another chance to blow listeners away, as well as signal the creation of the soon masterful Kayo Dot.

As on albums before, Toby Driver effortlessly weaves styles and genres together to make unique compositions and give Part the Second a harmonious identity of its own. Though you won't hear lengthy metal passages, growling, and the like the heavier influences still reside on this album, they're simply reined in a bit and are used as equally beautiful contrasts and turning points to the orchestral rock music found flowing throughout Part the Second. And like an orchestral piece, I feel this is one of those few albums that must be listened as a whole. While the songs don't so much flow together obviously, the emotions and recurring themes and sounds just build upon each other and just have a much stronger impact when you hear how the album dances and sings as a single piece of music.

The instrumentation on Part the Second is flawless. The violin and guitars that lead on this album are evocative, melodic, dark, inspiring, and interesting. You'll hear the mastery that is expected of progressive music. Drums illustrate and match the mood of every piece, giving the music the jolt it sometimes requires when the guitar takes a step forward, or being weightless when the violin cries and the music is more orchestral. The additional instruments including piano, flutes, and cello give Maudlin of the Well a wider arrangement of textures and touches to brighten the music. It's thanks to this kind of instrumentation that the music here has such an elemental feeling to it. All the compositions and structures can be easily compared to that of a stormy night, a relaxing sunrise, a cold rain, an August fire, anything. Part the Second becomes your own personal canvas.

A personal part of Toby Driver that I absolutely love and find sometimes overlooked, is his lyricism. Wonderfully poetic, Toby Driver's lyrics on this album enrich the music because of the similarities they share. Being focused on the natural world and the supernatural experiences with it, the relationship between the lyrics and music shine not in a parasitic way, where one dominates and relies on each other but rather a beneficial symbiosis. The vocals are sung with emotion and conviction. They sometimes are intimate and quiet as they speak to you or they can echo with an eerie pride. The strengths and balance of these parties elevates each other and add the journey of Part the Second's imagery.

All in all, Part the Second is not something that a Toby Driver fan should hear, a post-metal fan should hear, a progressive music fan should hear, no ' it is an album that any music fan should hear. Imagination and brilliant execution to back it up, Part the Second is a auditory experience that will bleed into every other sense.

'Like a stone I fell, and was engulf'd in winter darkness , silence filled each sphere that from my lips escaped and ceas'd but for a breath before rising to the surface and waves.'

 Z˛ by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.81 | 73 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.

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413 United States
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A COLD DEAD BODY Italy
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CRIB45 Finland
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