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:
  • Bosh66
  • siLLy puPPy (leader)

avant-garde metal top albums

Showing only albums and EPs | Based on members ratings & MMA custom algorithm | 60 min. caching

KAYO DOT Hubardo Album Cover Hubardo
4.62 | 19 ratings
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SHINING Grindstone Album Cover Grindstone
4.60 | 8 ratings
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ARCTURUS The Sham Mirrors Album Cover The Sham Mirrors
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FANTÔMAS The Director's Cut Album Cover The Director's Cut
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SIGH Gallows Gallery Album Cover Gallows Gallery
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SIGH Imaginary Sonicscape Album Cover Imaginary Sonicscape
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DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA The Butcher's Ballroom Album Cover The Butcher's Ballroom
4.25 | 25 ratings
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THY CATAFALQUE Rengeteg Album Cover Rengeteg
4.24 | 13 ratings
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KAYO DOT Choirs Of The Eye Album Cover Choirs Of The Eye
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SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM Of Natural History Album Cover Of Natural History
4.14 | 37 ratings
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DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious Album Cover Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious
4.14 | 24 ratings
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AKPHAEZYA Anthology II : Links from the Dead Trinity Album Cover Anthology II : Links from the Dead Trinity
4.32 | 6 ratings
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avant-garde metal Music Reviews

AKPHAEZYA Anthology II : Links from the Dead Trinity

Album · 2008 · Avant-garde Metal
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MMA Reviewer's Challenge: Album selected by adg211288.

Avant-garde metal is usually an interesting listen, as you never quite know what to expect. It's home to bands that exceed the boundaries of other genres, often incorporating many elements of non-metal music beyond the usual classical music and jazz fusion technique of instrumentation. Now, interesting doesn't always mean good, and I often find avant-garde metal to be a mess of ideas. Because of this, it can either be fantastic when those ideas are all incorporated into a cohesive whole, or very painful to listen to when those ideas are scattered all around with nothing to put them together.

French avant-garde metal band Akphaezya unfortunately ends up sounding like the latter in the first song after a sort of ambient intro. "Chrysalis" sounds like separate jam sessions placed over each other in a smorgasbord of styles that lack the cohesion that could put all the pieces together. One second there will be a calm and serene folk melody, then without warning black metal blastbeats and growls come in like you just turned on a different album. This keeps repeating throughout the song with various styles. It's a real shame, as I love the jazzy lounge/swing metal moments when they come in, but nothing lasts long enough to get the listener really invested.

The album isn't entirely like this however. Thankfully, there are several songs that each stick to one style for the most part. I think this is what generally works better. Mixing a slew of ideas is great, but it can be much more rewarding when each song uses one or two of those styles rather than trying to stick as much as you can into one song. "The Golden Vortex of Kaltaz" is the highlight of the album, and it takes on a somewhat thrashy symphonic metal sound. The guitars have a gritty crunch, while the vocals range from melodic clean vocals to growls a couple times within the song. "The Secret of Time" is another one of the best tracks, this time with a middle-eastern vibe.

Besides the lack of cohesion on several tracks, what often kills the album for me are the vocals. The instrumentation is very often great when it all fits together, but Nehl Aëlin's thick accent and eclectic use of vocal techniques end up ruining some songs that would otherwise be great. Take "Reflections" for example. There's some killer guitar licks, but I find it's easy to get distracted and annoyed when the vocals are switching from bouncy J-pop, to maniacal squealing a la The Mars Volta, to simply average melodic vocals. While vocalists who have this eclectic range of tones and styles to their voice are often lauded, I often find the multiple singing styles works better overall when multiple singers are applied, as usually the singers can play off of one another, making them all blend well. However, I will give credit where credit is due, as her vocals on the two songs I mentioned in the previous paragraph are pretty great.

Akphaezya's Anthology II: Links from the Dead Trinity is certainly an acquired taste. While it will probably be an excellent album for the staunch followers of the genre, this may be a bit of a tough listen at times for those who like a bit more cohesion in their music. It's nowhere near the worst of the genre, but nowhere near the best either. If they focused in on one or two styles for each song and didn't include crazy vocals, I think this could be a great record. Hope you found this review helpful, feel free to comment!

SHINING Grindstone

Album · 2007 · Avant-garde Metal
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Having started out playing an eccentric style of flute-focused jazz fusion, Shining had undergone a long evolution, and Grindstone represents the tipping point where the metal components of their music shifted from being occasional influences (as in the preceding In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster) to being a central plank of the group's sound. Though the group had yet to grab onto the industrial influences which would bring this formula to perfection on Blackjazz, this off-kilter mashup of black metal, prog rock, and eccentric fusion will appeal to anyone interested in weird genre mashups. If Mr Bungle's Disco Volante is your idea of a good time, this might well be your jam.


Album · 2015 · Avant-garde Metal
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Dødheimsgard had offered up industrialised black metal on 666 International, went dark for a good number of years, and then re-emerged offering blackened industrial metal on Supervillain Outcast. Now, after another long break, the project has offered up A Umbra Omega, which sees Vicotnik and his new lineup taking Dødheimsgard back out of the industrial realm altogether to produce an album which retains a black metal foundation but gets extremely weird with it. With proggy synthesisers, jazzy brass sections, and a vocal performance from Aldrahn with a theatrical, eccentric delivery that puts me in mind of the sort of thing Devil Doll get up to, A Umbra Omega represents an avant-black puzzlebox which will reward patient listeners.


EP · 2011 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Sandwiched between their albums “Finsternis” and “Occult Rock,” the French experimental rock act ALUK TODOLO released a few nonconventional items. Firstly they were included on the split album “On The Powers Of The Sphinx” with Nihil Nocturne, Nightbringer and Saturnialia Temple. Then there was the collaborative effort with Der Blutharsch and the Infinite Church of the Leading Hand. And then there was this tiny two track EP titled ORDRE which was essentially some unreleased material from the “Descension” era and was excavated from the caverns of creativity to be resurrected onto they vinyl 10.” The two tracks are simple called “Side A” and “Side B.”

“Side A” sounds very much like the “Descension” album where their mesmerizing and transcendental opiate grooves combined with spooky atmospheres create nightmarish visions of cold ethereal visions of lost worlds. This track is characterized by a repetitive marching of the cymbal heavy drumbeat that works in tandem with the bass line as the guitar performs horrific distorted and mangled dissonant antics around them. As it continues the percussion becomes somewhat sloppier and erratic as some kind of buzzing sound swarms in and out while swirling ambience effervescently haunts the soundscape. Towards the end the percussion picks up speed and becomes quite solid as the no wave ostinati pummel the senses.

“Side B” continues imperceptibly with the chaos continuing in full force and continues to ratchet up the nightmarish tension with the instruments falling increasingly out of sync with one another generating true occult mystic psychological assaults as the pummeling percussive drive seems to be at war with the atmospheric swarms of sounds. ALUK TODOLO really blur the genre lines here as it sounds like a form of black metal no wave with Krautrock type psychedelia. While the earliest albums weren’t very metal oriented yet, this release is actually the first one that has enough drive and distortion of the guitars to be classified as part of the metal universe.

Despite being some leftovers they seem to have gotten the royal treatment and elements of blackgaze were unleashed to steer ALUK TODOLO towards the more metal oriented “Occult Rock” sound. While they’ve always been on the verge of being somewhat metal, the intensity fell just short enough to actually feel like they would fit in. On ORDRE that thin grey line was crossed and there is lots of energetic noisy distortionfests at hand although the song structures are nonexisistant and simply relies on free form meandering down a torturous sonic path into oblivion. Pretty cool stuff if you like dark ambient distorted no wave with Krautrock and traces of black metal chaos.


Album · 2016 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
After four long years the mysterious ALUK TODOLO finally releases a followup to their attention getting breakthrough (well in the underground freakazoid’s world anyway) album “Occult Rock.” While the first three releases were primarily based in the bizarre world of noise and Krautrock with dark ambient and psychedelic accoutrements, the band added black metal elements on their fourth album and continues those same characteristics on their fifth album VOIX which is French for “voice” however there are no vocals on this as are there on any (unless some weird spoken gibberish counts) ALUK TODOLO album. This music lies outside the confines of language and takes the listener to some far corners of some remote corner of the sonosphere, so dark and daunting that no one has ever dared explore.

On paper VOIX sounds much like what was established on “Occult Rock,” namely black metal type tremolo picking with distortion galore with a frenetic and repetitive bass and drum to infinity while the guitar has little freak out dances around the main groove. Despite that similarity something sounds a bit different on this one. Whereas on “Occult Rock” it seemed like there was no sense of melodic development and in reality a very sophisticated take on the no wave sound that emerged in the early 80s by acts such as Swans, VOIX seems to have melodic developments albeit minor compared to the energetic performances that accompany each and every note that is played. In fact i think there is a slight surf rock type of thing going on at times but it is so obfuscated and drenched in hypnotic and chaotic time signatures that it is very hard to distinguish. But the fact that there is a variation in actual notes means that this album isn’t nearly as meditative and mesmerizing as previous offerings even though it is!

Another aspect that makes this different from previous albums is the fact that the drums have gained some independence. While in previous offerings it was customary for percussion to be tied to the activities of the bass guitar, here it breaks free from its constraints and acts more like a jazz drummer would do and creates complex drum rolls that create a rhythmic backbone of the droning lysergic dissonant guitar distortions that venture into pure atmospheric space that can result in extended humming sprees. All tracks bleed into each other and this is really one long sonic journey through the noise filled halls of the jittery and distortion fueled head trips of ALUK TODOLO’s wildest dreams. This type of music is in effect a psychedelic black metal free form extravaganza in a universe where no song structures exist and snippets of melody come and go as they please offering not a scant trace of rhyme or reason or any predictability whatsoever.

These sounds are solely for those who love noise, chaos and cold, dark places. This “music” may contain more elements of melody that the listener can latch onto in order to have some point of reference but they are equivalent to the bio-lantern of a deep sea angler in the crushing pressures of the deepest recesses of the Mariana Trench. This is bizarre music that is equally evocative as an active listener as a passive one. Much like the mathematics of a fractal, you can zoom into the details of your temporal comfort zone or not. This is music that is equally bizarre if you fully focus upon every detail or simply sit back and shop for new shoes on your favorite internet site. There seems to be a slight step up in the evolution of ALUK TODOLO and even though it took four years, it is excellent to hear their distorted reality coming into a new phase as it gradually and reluctantly takes on more melodic aspects of music and twist and distort them into their own bizarre concoctions.

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