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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KAYO DOT Hubardo Album Cover Hubardo
KAYO DOT
4.50 | 23 ratings
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SIGH Imaginary Sonicscape Album Cover Imaginary Sonicscape
SIGH
4.41 | 34 ratings
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ARCTURUS The Sham Mirrors Album Cover The Sham Mirrors
ARCTURUS
4.31 | 60 ratings
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KAYO DOT Choirs Of The Eye Album Cover Choirs Of The Eye
KAYO DOT
4.28 | 59 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
4.26 | 31 ratings
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SHINING Blackjazz Album Cover Blackjazz
SHINING
4.24 | 27 ratings
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ARCTURUS La Masquerade Infernale Album Cover La Masquerade Infernale
ARCTURUS
4.19 | 46 ratings
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MAUDLIN OF THE WELL Leaving Your Body Map Album Cover Leaving Your Body Map
MAUDLIN OF THE WELL
4.18 | 54 ratings
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SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM Of Natural History Album Cover Of Natural History
SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM
4.19 | 39 ratings
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MAUDLIN OF THE WELL Bath Album Cover Bath
MAUDLIN OF THE WELL
4.16 | 61 ratings
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SIGH Hail Horror Hail Album Cover Hail Horror Hail
SIGH
4.31 | 11 ratings
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DØDHEIMSGARD A Umbra Omega Album Cover A Umbra Omega
DØDHEIMSGARD
4.42 | 7 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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avant-garde metal Music Reviews

ASHENSPIRE Hostile Architecture

Album · 2022 · Avant-garde Metal
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bartosso
When you can't see the stars, you stop dreaming of space

For a band to not only reach the bar set for avant-garde metal by Kayo Dot and maudling of the Well, but to also put another brick on this wobbly Jenga tower of a genre, without making it fall apart, is no small achievement. To simultaneously turn the whole thing into a poignant left-wing manifesto borders on a miracle. And yet here we are, looking at a perfectly fine Jenga tower.

Conceptually, Hostile Architecture is a searing critique of late capitalism and its urban manifestations, brutal and classist by design. You will both bang your head and shake your fist at the nearest anti-homeless bench. Musically, it's a festival of masterfully repurposed influences (notably KD and A Forest of Stars) that ends up being way more than the sum of its parts. You will recognize the elements but also appreciate how fresh they sound together. Emotionally, it's a furious protest against injustice, oppression and chauvinism of all kinds. The ferociousness of black metal is given new meaning here and chamber music arrangements provide it with gravity.

Personally, I feel like Hostile Architecture reopened wounds that had already started to scar up with indifference and I feel strangely thankful. The world may be doomed, but music like this is a reminder that social resistance is not only necessary. It can also be beautiful.

VED BUENS ENDE Written in Waters

Album · 1995 · Avant-garde Metal
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SilentScream213
Might be controversial, but I’m of the opinion that Ved Buens Ende…’s best material was on their EP, Those Who Caress the Pale, and the tracks from there that made it here are the best. I’m usually not a huge fan of overly Avant-Garde stuff, but that EP was pretty much a perfect mix of Blackened Prog Metal with insanely quirky and disturbing Avant-Garde touches.

As to be expected, this album goes further into the Avant-Garde, focusing more on incredibly ominous and bizarre atmospheres, and the Black Metal plays second fiddle to the Avant-Garde Prog Metal. Songs change around in style, and interestingly there’s a lot of vocal variation here as well. The atmosphere is pretty great, a culmination of all things bad and ugly, captured very well in that unnerving album art. Don’t let my opening statement fool you; this is still an awesome record, and one of the best Avant-Garde releases of its time. However, it’s not as consistent as the EP, and the softer moments (like track 7) just don’t work as well as the heavy, ominous oppression. The hidden track is a weak way to end the album as well, though no weaker than the overlong outro on penultimate Remembrance of Things Past would have been.

SIGH Scenes from Hell

Album · 2010 · Avant-garde Metal
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UMUR
"Scenes from Hell" is the 8th full-length studio album by Japanese progressive/experimental metal act Sigh. The album was released through The End Records in January 2010. It´s the successor to "Hangman's Hymn: Musikalische Exequien" from 2007 and features one lineup change since the predecessor as Sigh welcomes a fifth member to their ranks in female vocalist/saxophonist Dr. Mikannibal...

...and just as you thought Sigh couldn´t get any weirder or more boundary seeking, they turn the symphonic black metal style of "Hangman's Hymn: Musikalische Exequien" (2007) on its head (or at least twist it), and returns to a more raw basic speed/thrash/black metal style on the guitars, bass, and drums, but everything else is kept weird to the maximum. Somehow maintaining the occasional symphonic edge to their music, but using a lot of brass instrumentation/orchestration. As always it´s almost impossible to describe Sigh´s music in a way which ensures that the reader gets a good picture of what´s going on. I apologize in advance...

Few other artists are able to combine as different stylistic elements as Sigh do and make it work. It´s pretty bizarre listening to classical orchestration mixed with aggressive blackened speed/heavy metal and harsh snarling blackened vocals. Acts like Dimmu Borgir and their ilk have released symphonic black metal before Sigh started doing it, but it´s the unpolished rawness of the metal part of the music and the almost organic sounding classical orchestration which create a major contrast to the more polished and clean sounding symphonic black metal acts, and make Sigh stand out as unique.

"Scenes from Hell" features a raw and organic sounding production job, which suits the rawness of the music well, and the musicianship is on a high level on all posts, so upon conclusion it´s another intriguing, original, and distinct sounding release by Sigh, who continutes to be one of the most unique acts on the scene. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

TRAUN Part III: The Lilac Moon ( as The Deserts of Träun )

Album · 2003 · Avant-garde Metal
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UMUR
"Part III: The Lilac Moon" is the debut full-length studio album by avant-garde rock/metal act The Deserts of Träun. The album was released through Bruhtal Shocks Music in 2003. The Deserts of Träun consists of former Estradasphere drummer David Murray, who plays most instruments and sings most vocals on the album, although Murray has enlisted several guest musicians to provide various additional instrumental and vocal parts. "Part III: The Lilac Moon" was up until 2017 the sole release by The Deserts of Träun, but Murray returned in that year with no less than 4 EPs of material, renaming the project Traun.

"Part III: The Lilac Moon" features 24 relatively short tracks ranging from about 1 to 4 minutes in length. Stylistically the music on the album is very eclectic featuring elements from everything between jazz, fusion, classical music, black metal, death metal, electronic music, and rock. The album is a sci-fi concept album where the titles of the tracks often reveal the flow of the story. The music has an almost cinematic soundtrack quality to it, but the short song lengths and variation between tracks ensure that the listener is kept on his/her toes at all times. This is not easy listening background music.

On a funny sidenote I noticed a conceptual continuity detail. I´ve been listening a lot to another one of David Murray´s projects this last year (Tholus) and I noticed a The first couple of minutes of "Battle Upon The Space Galleon" (from "Part III: The Lilac Moon") are also used on the Tholus track "Short Forevers" from the technical/progressive sci-fi themed death metal album "Constant (2007)". An album written by guitarist Mike Johnson who is also credited for additional composing on "Part III: The Lilac Moon". Most of the music on the album is composed by David Murray though and given the wide range of styles he is quite a talented and adventurous composer.

The album is almost an hour long, but there´s not a dull moment insight and the music is interesting throughout the album´s playing time. It´s all packed in a relatively well sounding production job (slightly below what I expect from a professional sound production, but still decent), and "Part III: The Lilac Moon" is a quality release in all departments and definitely recommended to those with an open mind and a taste for eclectic avant-garde/progressive rock metal. A 3 star (60%) rating is deserved.

O.L.D. The Musical Dimension of Sleastak

Album · 1993 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
By the time the band that began as Old Lady Drivers got to its third album THE MUSICAL DIMENSIONS OF SLEASTAK, not only had they abbreviated the moniker to O.L.D. but dropped the punctuation altogether and was simply OLD. Add to that the comedic grindcore of the first two albums had been totally replaced by a bizarre new style of progressive psychedelic space rock. Along for the ride from the second album “Lo Flux Tube” where the industrial elements that ebbed and flowed. Add some post-rock / metal elements to the mix and what OLD dropped was one of the strangest metal albums in the year 1993. In retrospect these albums by OLD would point the way to the more extreme experiments of James Plotkin’s future band Khanate. This album is a bit on the long side at over 66 minutes but nobody could ever accuse OLD of not being adventurous.

For those not in the know, SLEASTAK is a misspelling of the lizard men called the Sleestak from the early 1970s kid’s show “Land of the Lost,” a live action show with animated dinosaurs and other strange creatures narrating the tale of a man and his two kids who canoed down a waterfall and ended up in a prehistorical world only also filled with aliens and magical devices. A bizarre show which seemed to inspire a bizarre album from this trio that consisted of James Plotking (guitars, keyboards, programming), Alan Dubin (vocals) and Herschel Gaer (bass). Everything on THE MUSICAL DIMENSIONS OF SLEASTAK went for the extremely experimental realms with industrial music sounds presented in off-kilter progressive time signatures and freaky electronic sounds oozing out of every nook and cranny of silence.

Like the extra-dimensional reptile race from the 1970s Saturday morning entertainment world, this album is very much like navigating multiple dimensions. Even though the grindcore elements had been completely replaced with a less frenetic style of psychedelic post-metal, Dubin still retained the blood curdling high pitched raspy screams from the grind era. The guitars on the other hand mostly provide the subordinate sounds to keep the album firmly in the metal world but the main gist of the album is to craft freaky psychedelic electronic sounds that often erupt into a cacophonous din of swirling turbulence while the guitar performs some angularity from the outer limits. Like post-rock bands such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, THE MUSICAL DIMENSIONS OF SLEASTAK is a slow drifting kind of album that features an oft monotonous march through time with various jittery elements bursting in and then fluttering out and sometimes changing musical styles completely.

This album is abrasive as hell. Sure the metal guitar is smooth as silk but the album exceeds in crafting an unnerving mix of space freakery with shrill tones and unexpected sonic assaults. I can only presume that the mood setting for this album was to create an air of horror as if one were really stranded in some extra-dimensional prehistoric realm and encountered a group of the Sleestak in their natural habitat. The TV show is available on YouTube for viewing and although a bit cheesy by today’s standards was actually quite innovative as it was crafted by Gene Roddenberry of Star Trek fame. In many ways this album reminds me of the Japanese band Boredoms would find success in with albums like “Super æ” and “Vision Creation Newsun” except OLD still retained extreme metal aspects which would be dropped altogether on the band’s final release “Formula.”

This is avant-garde metal all the way and utterly uncategorizable as well sounding like nothing else in the metal universe that i’m aware of. Whether this appeals to someone or not will depend entirely on one’s open-mindedness and ability to navigate the interdimensional sonic highway that OLD has constructed on this bizarre psychedelic freak show. This is the kind of mind-warping music that i love the most so i am certainly the target audience although i’ve only come to explore this band in recent years. This album was way ahead of its time as this style of metal mixed with electronica and psychedelic rock wouldn’t become accepted for another two decades or so. All in all i find this one to sound like a metal band that fell into a wormhole and this is the soundtrack to such an interdimensional journey. Personally i love this!

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