Avant-garde Metal

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Avant-garde metal, experimental metal, or art metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music characterised by the use of innovative, avant-garde elements, large-scale experimentation, and the use of non-standard sounds, instruments, and song structures.

The term avant-garde metal refers to bands and musicians who "incorporate new and innovative elements in metal, who break conventions, tear down walls, violate borders." The genre has also been described as "the art of creating deep and strange atmospheres by experimenting with new instruments and sounds, strange vocals, unconventional song structures, rhythms and harmonies, unusual lyrics or uncommon artwork" or alternatively, "progressive, psychedelic, surrealistic, phantasmagoric, expressionistic, dissonant or extravagant interpretations of extreme metal."

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avant-garde_metal

Sub-genre collaborators (shared with Progressive Metal):
  • siLLy puPPy
  • DippoMagoo
  • Sisslith
  • adg211288


avant-garde metal top albums

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SIGH Imaginary Sonicscape Album Cover Imaginary Sonicscape
SIGH
4.48 | 28 ratings
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KAYO DOT Hubardo Album Cover Hubardo
KAYO DOT
4.49 | 20 ratings
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DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious Album Cover Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious
DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA
4.40 | 27 ratings
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ARCTURUS The Sham Mirrors Album Cover The Sham Mirrors
ARCTURUS
4.33 | 55 ratings
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GUAPO Black Oni Album Cover Black Oni
GUAPO
4.64 | 5 ratings
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KAYO DOT Choirs Of The Eye Album Cover Choirs Of The Eye
KAYO DOT
4.24 | 54 ratings
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ARCTURUS La Masquerade Infernale Album Cover La Masquerade Infernale
ARCTURUS
4.21 | 42 ratings
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SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM Of Natural History Album Cover Of Natural History
SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM
4.21 | 38 ratings
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MAUDLIN OF THE WELL Leaving Your Body Map Album Cover Leaving Your Body Map
MAUDLIN OF THE WELL
4.16 | 50 ratings
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MAUDLIN OF THE WELL Bath Album Cover Bath
MAUDLIN OF THE WELL
4.15 | 56 ratings
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GUAPO Five Suns Album Cover Five Suns
GUAPO
4.43 | 5 ratings
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SHINING Blackjazz Album Cover Blackjazz
SHINING
4.17 | 23 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy MMA!

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The Absurdist's Cookbook
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Mastermind
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TARDIGRADE INFERNO
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Hollowed
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HELIUM HORSE FLY
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avant-garde metal Music Reviews

TARDIGRADE INFERNO Mastermind

Album · 2019 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Coming from the musically rich city of St Petersburg, Russia is the extraordinarily zany and creative band TARDIGRADE INFERNO which formed somewhere around 2016 and released one self-titled EP and has been somewhat quiet for a few years. The year 2019 has barely had time to warm up and the band finally unleash the very first debut full-length MASTERMIND which displays the band’s unique mix of alternative metal with dark cabaret circus music. Add in sprinklings of death metal, thrash and power metal and you have one of early 2019’s most promising new acts.

The word “TARDIGRADE” can refer to either a variety of slow-moving microscopic invertebrates or it can simply be an adjective that means slow-moving or slow in action. I have no friggin’ idea how this applies to this band since this is high energy metal and there is relatively little info about this band on the net as i can’t even find any sort of biography whatsoever, however i can say that this band has found a unique sound right off the bat. However if i had to compare TARDIGRADE INFERNO to any other band it would definitely be Diablo Swing Orchestra as it has the same cartoonish feel and the singing style of lead vocalist Darya Pavlovich sounds a lot like both AnnLouice Lögdlund and Kristin Evegård of DSO.

Musically though this band doesn’t break out the jazz instrumentation or even circus accordions but rather delivers a metal music heft piled on top of dark cabaret and circus melodies alongside the bouncy festive rhythms that are associated with the greatest show on Earth. The metal bombast is mostly carried out by the power chord slapping staccato style accompanied by circusy keyboard runs but different metal variations come into play however mostly in an alternative metal down-tuned power chord rampage. While Darya Pavlovich’s vocal range stays more in clean vocal cabaret mode, she occasionally screams in metal style reminding me of Arch Enemy for short stints but unfortunately not nearly enough! The circus bounces are always under the surface despite heavy metal thunder stomping fast numbers or slower subdued moments.

While i’m constantly reminded of Diablo Swing Orchestra, TARDIGRADE INFERNO isn’t nearly as daring and out there and is rather restrained in comparison. While the music is definitely quirky and playful it doesn’t change the sound up nearly often enough although there are moments such as on the title track where death growls and guitar solos enter the picture, otherwise Darya is pretty much on cutesy Gwen Stefani mode and reminds me a bit of the 90s band No Doubt only with more metal bombast. While a band to look out for as the members become more comfortable with this stylistic fusion approach, this debut is a great start with elements of ska, gypsy swing and the dominant dark cabaret sounds keeping the album infectiously catchy and light-hearted without skimping on the metallic angst.

Favorite song: “We Are Number One”

HELIUM HORSE FLY Hollowed

Album · 2019 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
While it seemed as if they had fallen off the face of the Earth, the Belgian based HELIUM HORSE FLY from Liege returns after a six year gap following their 2013 eponymous debut and returns with an even noisier, darkened atmospheric hardcore and experimental slice of avant-garde post-metal with another disturbingly weird album cover and sound to match. This second full-length album HOLLOWED finds three members: Marie Billy (vocals), Stephane Dupont (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Dimitri Iannello (bass) returning for a reprise however original drummer Bastien Dupont has been replaced with new percussionist Gil Chevigne.

HELIUM HORSE FLY emerged at the beginning of the decade with an extremely dark and disturbing sound that takes a spacey angular approach on post-metal with intense emotionally scarring atmospheric dark clouds blocking out the sun for a very surreal journey into some sort of tortured soul’s bleakest emotional outlook and with the black and white album art makes me think of the movie “The Elephant Man” for some reason. HOLLOWED picks up exactly where the band left off but takes all the elements into ever more extreme territories.

Musically speaking, the avant-garde elements remind me most of early Kayo Dot especially the twisted cacophonous dissonance of “Dowsing Anenome With Copper Tongue” as ominous guitar chords create a wall of frightening sound that finds Marie Billy’s half-sung lyrics in a state of anxiety in weirdly off-kilter counterpoints from the instrumental backdrop that finds the guitar, bass and drums all existing in their own little worlds while conspiring to create a very ruggedly dangerous greater sum of the parts. The title HOLLOWED is perfect as the music sounds like a rock band where all members have experienced lobotomies and only shades of black, white and gray remain after all the colors of the rainbow have been extinguished.

Rhythmically the band progresses like a fairly normal rock band with soft sensual clean guitar driven intros with darkened atmospheric backdrops but proceed to heavier alternative metal climaxes, however the dissonant noise angst that comes from the provoking alternative tunings and oddly juxtaposed angularities adds intense layers of industrial bleakness creating a post-punk sounding style of math rock sputtering around in an atmospheric post-rock sort of trajectory. This is indeed downer music but the kind that envisions a sense of profound beauty lurking under the surface below. The hard-hitting harshness is smoothed out by mystery and melancholy with ambient swirls and echoey guitars or jazzified drum outbursts in the company of raging guitar and bass noise. The production is excellent.

HOLLOWED contains two behemoth tracks “In A Deathless Spell” and “Monochrome” that exceed the eleven minute mark with the remainder rating form near three to over eight. The musical style is surely a grower but has a weird perverted seduction as the slightly off tune melodies exude a logical melodic progression without actually explicitly existing as if the music is a mere shadow of an unheard underpinning. While the textures and timbres remind me a lot of early Kayo Dot, the music itself has a more pseudo-melodic post-rock progression with Marie Billy’s vocals adding a frigid fresh blanket of frost to the already wintry abstractness. It’s hard to explain what makes this band so addictive but it’s like a bitter chai without sugar. It stimulates and slightly disgusts at the same time. Dark and dreary. Perfect for a rainy day!

SIGH Heir to Despair

Album · 2018 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
Mirai Kawashima's come over a little Ian Anderson. Not to a full Jethro Tull-ish extent, mind - but there's an outbreak of flute and piccolo on this Sigh album that's just as interesting an addition to their sound as when Dr Mikannibal first brought her saxophone onboard. For a good long while, the sound of Sigh has been guided in part by the particular direction that Mirai's wanted to take his multi-instrumentalist experimentation in; just look at the credits for this and their past few albums and you'll see how much he's changed his portfolio from release to release. So the addition of flute this time around may sound like a small thing, but as an extra ingredient in Sigh's bizarre mashup of classic metal and black metal and progressive rock, it ends up being an interesting through-line which ties the album together.

BUCKETHEAD 5-13 10-31

Album · 2018 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
.

Only three years ago in 2015, BUCKETHEAD released a whopping 118 albums that year with another 60 coming out the year before but beginning in 2016, the chicken lover slowed way down having only released a mere 24 and 30 in 2017. The year 2018 has been the other extreme as BH spent most of the year touring and released only 2 albums as of September.

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However, if there’s one thing that can coax the eccentric one out of the coop, then that would be Halloween. While no countdown to Halloween has occurred since 2015, the holiday seems to be the season for the reason to do that BUCKETHEAD thang and lo and behold on Halloween 2018, BH released his third album of the year titled 5-13 10-31.

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What also caught me completely off guard is that this album does not have a Pike tag on it which i assume signifies that it is the first BUCKETHEAD album NOT released as part of the Pike series since 2012’s “Electric Sea.” Oh, that darn BUCKETHEAD is always throwing a monkey wrench into the dens of the database keepers!

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TRACK 1 (14:32) is best experienced as the first official video in a long time as the music fits perfectly with the visuals. The video was created, animated and edited by Byan Theiss at Frankenseuss Laboratories with live action footage from tours and includes paintings from BUCKETHEAD incorporated into the journey. This track was produced by Don Monti and Albert and pretty much seems like a separate entity from Track 2 despite musical similarities. The music starts off a bit funky as three trick-or-treaters accidentally end up falling down a well into the underworld of BUCKETHEADLAND. The video and musical journey coincide in amusement park fashion with hairpin turns that hop, skip and jump all over the damn place. Musically BUCKETHEAD juggles his entire career on this one as it includes everything from funk, alternative metal riffing, virtuosic solos, dark ambient, avant-garde metal weirdness as well as other experimental elements that have dotted the massive canon of this freak of nature. The video is absolutely brilliant and one of the best music videos i’ve seen in a long time. The music is perfectly paced to run the gauntlet of BUCKETHEAD-isms and eke out all the proper mood setting responses. The visuals through BUCKETHEADLAND convey the surreal fantastical world in dreamscape weirdness as if taking a cue from Roger Rabbit with animation and live footage coinciding side by side. While pulling out all the tricks and trinkets from the past, BH still manages to find new creepy and surreal ways to play his guitar as more familiar passages pause for a freakfest moment. I love this track! 5 stars. BUCKETHEAD at his absolute best!

(Go to BUCKETLAND to watch the video!)

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Track 2 (14:33) begins with a little funk, followed by some industrial grind and then back to funk and then a little metal guitar. Yep, it’s another shapeshifter as every few measures the mood, tones, timbres and tempos change it up as funk, metal, rock and the avant-garde dance together like ghouls in a graveyard. Add to that the same kind of dark ambient interludes with creepy church organ and freaky shred wankery and this is another guaranteed wild ride in BUCKETHEADLAND. This one pretty much copies the template of “Track 1” with all the bells and whistles displaying BH’s career in summary as he juxtaposes dark ambient creepiness next to sizzling hot face melting guitar solos. I guess i prefer the first track better since it has a video accompaniment that works oh so well in conjunct, however this experimental freakfest is my absolute favorite style of BUCKETHEAD madness, so it totally works for me! Yeah! It was worth the wait but this one is a winner. The video is the best Halloween present of all!!!

ULVER Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell

Album · 1998 · Avant-garde Metal
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UMUR
"Themes From William Blake´s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" is the 4th full-length studio album by Norwegian experimental metal/rock act Ulver. The album was released through Jester Records in December 1998.

"Themes From William Blake´s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" is a 2 Disc conceptual release and as the title suggests the lyrical theme revolves around the novel "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" by William Blake. The album probably came as a big surprise for most fans of the band when it was originally released. The three albums that preceeded this one are all rooted in black metal and Scandinavian folklore. The acoustic folky second album "Kveldssanger (1995)" probably also came as a big surprise when it was released as the debut album "Bergtatt (1994)" is a black metal album. Most fans still saw Ulver as a black metal act though and when they returned with their third album "Nattens Madrigal (1996)", which also saw a return to the black metal style of the debut (but adding a grimmer more raw sound), that seemed to hold true. "Themes From William Blake´s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" takes Ulver music in a whole new direction though and while they probably lost a few of their most conservative black metal fans they gained new more experimental minded music fans with this release.

Ulver´s music on "Themes From William Blake´s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" can no longer be called metal. There are sections with distorted guitars but metal it ain´t. Instead there´s much focus on vocals (both male and female, and quite a bit of narration), ambient electronic elements, and a strong emphasis on dark atmosphere. Ambient and atmospheric industrial tinged rock/metal could be a valid description. It´s an album which is all about atmosphere, and listeners craving riffs and hard rocking parts should look elsewhere.

"Themes From William Blake´s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" is both well performed and well produced, and to those interested in dark atmospheric and ambient music, it´s quite an interesting and obviously well composed album too. Personally I find it lacking memorable moments and it´s a bit overlong too. When the band finally break the ambient monotony and play some louder more rock/metal oriented parts, it´s still pretty monotone and just goes on and on an on with little to hold on to. Subjective opinions and taste in music aside, it´s still obvious that "Themes From William Blake´s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" is a quality release performed by skilled and passionate performers, and therefore a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

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