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

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KAYO DOT Hubardo Album Cover Hubardo
4.49 | 22 ratings
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SIGH Imaginary Sonicscape Album Cover Imaginary Sonicscape
4.40 | 33 ratings
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ARCTURUS The Sham Mirrors Album Cover The Sham Mirrors
4.31 | 58 ratings
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KAYO DOT Choirs Of The Eye Album Cover Choirs Of The Eye
4.28 | 58 ratings
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DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious Album Cover Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious
4.26 | 31 ratings
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SHINING Blackjazz Album Cover Blackjazz
4.24 | 27 ratings
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SIGH Hail Horror Hail Album Cover Hail Horror Hail
4.37 | 10 ratings
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ARCTURUS La Masquerade Infernale Album Cover La Masquerade Infernale
4.19 | 45 ratings
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MAUDLIN OF THE WELL Leaving Your Body Map Album Cover Leaving Your Body Map
4.18 | 54 ratings
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SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM Of Natural History Album Cover Of Natural History
4.18 | 38 ratings
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MAUDLIN OF THE WELL Bath Album Cover Bath
4.16 | 61 ratings
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DØDHEIMSGARD A Umbra Omega Album Cover A Umbra Omega
4.42 | 7 ratings
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EP · 2021 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Rowdy wickedly wild, unhinged and frenetic brutal math prog rock is what Los Angeles based WAX PEOPLE is all about and now in the year 2021 this newbie band on the block has released its terrifying debut album. Consisting of Michael Mull (bass clarinet), Rajan Davis (guitar), Jacob Richards (drums) and Rusty Kennedy (bass), this adventurous band implements the knotty textures of unadulterated math rock, contorts it all into avant-prog complexities and then adds a heaping of avant-metal heft. The result of this concoction is a fiery fueled frenzy of brutal prog splendor with the energetic delivery of extreme metal.

Five tracks at only 25 minutes but this is the perfect running time for such head spinning vertigo inducing noise prog that is exclusively instrumental but due to the presence of a bass clarinet sounds fairly unique. Sounding somewhat like a caffeinated mix of France’s Jean Louis and The Flying Luttenbachers, WAX PEOPLE doesn’t really know if it wants to be no wave or what i deem as meth rock, the kind of math rock performed on high doses of whatever! The Jean Louis references apply to the complex compositional fortitude whereas the Lutternbachers are a relevant comparison in terms of the herky jerky math rock and tones and timbres.

Living up to the oft used term brutal prog, this one is incessantly proggy with crazy time signature changes that are as unpredictable as Lady Gaga’s attire and always noisy, dissonant, aggressive and energetic. Bass clarinet solos add an even weirder element otherwise drumming is fairly robotic (but not always) but in a good way. Swarms of sound can become monotonous in a no wave way and then again things can change quickly and unexpectedly. This is the kind of avant-prog your parents didn’t tell you about. Some sort of Henry Cow running of the bulls with the amps turned well beyond 11 shindig. The whole experience is like a volcanic eruption where sonic pyroclastic flows engulf sanity with occasional oozing flows of sound. Of course it’s more than enough to melt an entire wax museum!

Obviously this noisy raucous is not for the feint of heart and reserved for the niche of proggers who want everything on steroids. Heavy distortion? Check. Ridiculously helter skelter and filled with prog extremes with every cadence? Oh yeah. Chaotic brain malfunctioning bass clarinet skronk? Freekin A! Interesting compositions that aren’t just random noise? Well, sorta. However you slice it, this is for the hardcores. Let the craving for unrestrained prog gluttony to sink its hooks into your psyche and let er rip. Particularly satisfying is the closing “Scissor” which is like the shredding version of avant-prog meth rock / metal. OMG. Me likey. This is what it would be like if Toby Driver joined The Flying Luttenbachers with Jean Louis joining in.

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Swagger & Stroll Down the Rabbit Hole

Album · 2021 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA has been and remains one of those true freaks of nature swimming upstream and going against every orthodox trend in the world of music yet somehow manages to defy all odds and manages to catch the world’s attention with each new release. This Swedish band shocked the metal world with its 2006 debut “The Butcher’s Ballroom” that effortlessly juggled the disparate genres of extreme metal, swing jazz and opera into a jaw dropping masterpiece of avant-metal splendor. While the following “Sing Along Songs For The Damned & Delirious” may have been more of the same, the formula was so out of the box in its approach that two installments of this wacky crazed infusion of music madness was well in order.

With the band’s third album though the band began to chill out a bit and crafted more straight forward fusion-loaded possibilities with shorter tracks that focused on less chaotic juxtapositions of elements therefore it was a shock for the band to return with “Pacifticuffs” that focused on extremely complex and abstract progressive rock workouts, an album that worked quite well for yours truly. Well, DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA is back once again with SWAGGER & STROLL DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE and this time around, the DSO has decidedly reverted back to the immediacy of “Pandora’s Piñata” with more direct songs on the shorter side without the abstractness and complexities of its predecessor.

This is a lengthy album clocking in at 61 minutes and to be honest one of my least favorites of this creative band so far. Gone are the wacky diva wailing over swing jazz and metal bombast. Gone is the magic that once animated DSO so well. While DSO has not abandoned its love of every genre in the book, it has though abandoned the fusion aspects for the most part. Right from the getgo the rather weak “Sightseeing in the Apocalypse” which opens the album features none of the band’s classic genres. Instead it’s some sort of electro pop anthem that goes nowhere. The following “War Painted Valentine” is the track that should’ve started the album with heavy metal guitar riffing and mariachi band motifs and is probably one of the most recognizable and memorable of the entire album.

Starting with the third track “Celebramos Lo Inevitable,” the album seems to flail around like a headless chicken. This track is basically a Mexican mariachi track that adds a bit of metal guitar but it’s all so predictable and substandard to what the band has done in the past and quite weak. The album feels even lamer once followed by the electro swing “Speed Dating An Arsonist” which sounds like anything bands like Caravan Palace would crank out. Not bad by any means but hardly a DSO classic. It just gets worse with “Jig Of The Century” which is some sort of Queen inspired folk rock tune. The Queen inspiration mostly from the vocal harmonies. Songs like “The Sound of an Unconditional Surrender” almost sound like an admission of defeat for a once innovative band that has become content simply covering songs rather than crafting original fusion. This track is utterly forgettable.

“Malign Monologues” returns to swing and sounds like a real jazz band with a few metal leanings and a bit of tango but once again weak by DSO standards. The mess continues with more electro swing, symphonic ballads, more mariachi, cheesy metal and dark cabaret music. Ugh. Everything just sounds so half-assed and honestly this album resembles an archival release of unused tracks than a proper album. I’m a huge fan of this band and i have to say that this is definitely the biggest disappointment of the year. While no tracks are bad per se, none are memorable and everything is inferior to pretty much anything DSO has released in the past. This is a RABBIT HOLE that i will not be going down again and this album ranks as the worst this band has released to date. Thumbs down.

KAYO DOT Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike

Album · 2021 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
In the on again / off again world of KAYO DOT in regards to being an avant-garde metal band, Toby Driver has shifted gears once again away from the Gothic rock / electronica menageries of his post “Hubardo” period and once again jumped back into the heavier realms of music complete with death growls. While some may call KAYO DOT’s tenth studio album MOSS GREW ON THE SWORDS AND PLOWSHARES ALIKE a return to form, it would be more accurate to call this album an interesting album length compendium of everything Driver has conjured up in his past works and thrown onto the work table for the ultimate mix of all the previous styles in one listening experience.

One thing is for sure and that is that KAYO DOT remains in its own little world, utterly unclassifiable although the list of ingredients that include avant-garde metal, gothic rock, doom metal and progressive rock do give a hint of what to expect. With some rather bloated projects in the past with huge rosters of guest musicians, MOSS GREW is basically the Toby Driver show where he plays all the instruments with the only exception being guitar solos performed by Greg Massi. Jason Byron, the long term collaborator continues to provide the lyrics for Driver’s unique atmospheric knotty prog to latch onto.

Clocking in at close to an hour, MOSS GREW ON THE SWORDS AND PLOWSHARES ALIKE displays a triumphant return to those missed metal accoutrements that decorate Driver’s musical palette like no other. “The Knight Errant” unapologetically breaks down the door announcing that the series of non-metal albums has ceased and a new chapter of the KAYO DOT experience has begun. With dramatic synth stabs, howling atmospheric keyboard fuzz and off-kilter percussive outbursts, Driver re-introduces his growly metal vocal angst yet without the aqcompanienmt of heavy guitar distortion but rather jagged angular keyboard runs, jazzy drumming dopamine inducers and crazy roller coaster ride time signature changes and proggy workouts. Some heavier guitars do make their appearance but always play second fiddle to the untamed and oft unhinged synth madness.

It becomes quite clear with the second track “Brethren Of The Cross” that Driver did not completely abandon his avant-goth leanings of the previous albums but in fact has melded them with his prior avant-metal and Maudlin of the Well sensibilities. The juxtaposition of elements provides a turbulent stormy ride like chartering a sailboat over the Drake’s passage to Antarctica. This atmospheric jungle mixed with the more aggressive metal leanings is exactly what the doctor ordered and offerings the much needed contrast that has been missing on Driver’s non-metal offerings. The result is an abstract soundscape in the vein of MotW’s “Bath” and “Leaving Your Body Map” as well as the earliest KAYO DOT offerings all kept in the more accessible realms of Driver’s more recent jaunts into the easier on the ears soundscapes of Goth electronic mood enhancers.

The diversity factor has been turned up on MOSS GREW and that is what makes it such a welcome return to past glories! While recent albums sorta got stuck in a one-trick pony groove, this one really isn’t afraid to let each track drift to wherever feels right. “The Necklace” is a particular standout as erratic percussive drive accompanies a chilled out synth soaring sequence with Driver screaming from beneath the mix. Another standout is the closing 13-minute plus “Epipsychidion” which delivers what one could only deem as atmospheric death metal. Thick ambient cloud covers suffocate heavy drumming and growly vocals with weirder than weird meandering compositional fortitude that reminds as to why Toby Driver is considered one of the most inventive artists in today’s prog and metal realms.

MOSS GREW ON THE SWORDS AND PLOWSHARES ALIKE comes as an unexpected surprise as the previous album “Blasphemy” really made me think that Driver had peaked and was destined to no longer compose music that i can’t really resonate with. If anything this album reminds me that Driver is always on the lookout for something new to latch onto but also has his pulse on the whims of the fanbase and returned to a more familiar comfort zone in the nick of time for those on the fence. Overall, MOSS GREW is not only a dramatic and welcome return to his metal roots but really does capture the essence of everything Driver has tackled up to this point. It’s sort of a recap in musical form of all those “leaving your body map” musical projections. What really makes this one work is the abstract fuzziness of it all, as if it is the soundtrack to a dream. Just enough melodic progressions to latch onto yet one of the most surreal KAYO DOT experiences to behold in a very long time.


Album · 2021 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Three years in the making the Monaco based schizoid act HAH (formerly known as Hardcore Anal Hydrogen) returns in 2021 to unleash another monstrosity of musical madness in the form of its third overall full-length release CHIMAERA MONSTROSA which reflects its degree in the University of Mr Bungle with nods to a plethora of avant-garde and progressive freak shows which includes but not limited to Psudoku, EastWestBlastTest, Melt Banana, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Retox, Stench Price, Thin, The Locust, Kurushumi Gronibard, Dead Hour Noise, Melted Bodies, Bologna Violenya, Painkiller, Tryptamyne, Codex Orzhova, Naked City and Igorrr.

While the tones, timbres and instrumentation have always been diverse, on CHIMAERA the band expands into eight musicians offering not only the usual metal instrumentation of guitars, bass and drums but this time around also includes a flute, sitar, mandolin, Portuguese guitar, string section, tampura, mohan and saxophone. And of course there is still plenty of synthesized electronic breakcore and other crazy sounds to keep HAH’s relevance as one of the true bastard children of the Bunglers. While the previous two albums were quite varied, it’s fair to say that CHIMAERA MONSTROSA is even more so sounding more like Estradasphere than a psychotic grindcore band that lost its way as it did in the beginning.

Unlike “HyperCut” which began with a frenetically psychotic metal outburst in the form of “Jean-Pierre,” CHIMAERA rather opts to start out in the field of electronica and only unleashes the metal bombast on the second track “Failure In Progress” however on the third track “Quatre-quart au Thon” the band jumps into the weird influences of the noise rock band Melt Banana with cheerleader style vocals screaming from beneath a very weird psycho-groove which sounds somewhat like a mangled version of various moods from Mr Bungle’s “Disco Volante” album. Imagine thrash metal guitar wailing over a Melt-Banana anthem with some sort of Spaghetti Western guitar joining in. Truly demented and satisfyingly effective.

“Annuit Coeptis” stands out even in the world of HAH as it is a metal track but not a high tempo freakfest of blistering thrash and death metal. Rather it continues the Spaghetti Western guitar theme along with a vocal choir that sounds like it was inspired by Magma or Carl Orrf’s “Carmina Burana.” The metal is a simple mid-tempo chug but the overall effect is wild and crazy! “Venera” starts out with a zany weird time signature on keyboard and jazzy drums accompanying. It also offers somewhat of a gypsy swing bass groove along with more harmonized vocals and power chord metal guitar heft along with somewhat of a techno groove accompanying it all.

The tracks seem to get weirder as the album goes on. While “Narakas” innocently starts as some sort of electronic experiment it quickly jumps into metal and noise rock territories with the Melt-Banana vocals frantically offering jittery exclamations before transmogrifying completely into a soothing Indian sitar raga in the middle of the track. There are even sheep bleating. As a new keyboard riff joins in so does the metal heft and then it all sounds like some sort of weird space metal frenzy! Very original and because it all remains melodic, always accessible! The metal in this one is sort of doomy like old Black Sabbath.

“Akrikhr” offers a short 21-second frenetic burst of digital hardcore before the sultry “Sax Crusher” features a unique mix of atmospheric piano lounge rock with sax squawks before breaking into punk rock with bizarre electronic accompaniments. After the frenetic punk / metal attack, the loungy jazz exotica piano returns as does the John Zorn inspired sax weirdness. The album finishes with “LES-1” which starts with a spooky atmosphere and a piano that reverbs. While starting as nu jazz, it morphs into a Secret Chiefs 3 type of track which mixes Arab, Indian and other ethnic musical styles along with a cartoony delivery and metal guitar heft. The Melt-Banana vocals make a reprise.

While HAH began its career more on the hardcore punk meets metal bandwagon, this band has really matured into something much larger than life. While the influences are clear, HAH has done an excellent job at creating similarly minded music without falling into the trap of sounding too close to those who came before. For those who dig the crazy world of Mr Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3, Estadasphere and similarly minded freakazoids, HAH is truly deserving of being in the top tier of these bands that effortlessly incorporated wide swaths of color into their musical palette all the while displaying dizzying amounts of virtuosic performances without it all seeming too flashy. This is really the perfect marriage between metal bombast, atmospheric ambience, global fusion and cross-spectrum constructs of the greater rock music universe. Experimental rock at its finest. HAH is here to get the last laugh :D


Album · 2018 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
After unleashing their debut onto the world of avant-garde metal, the rare case of a metal band from the tiny principality of Monaco based HARDCORE ANAL HYDROGEN took their sweet time before releasing its sophomore followup. After shortening the rather obnoxious name to simply HAH, this wacky musical entity that clearly graduated from the University of Mr Bungle released HYPERCUT four years later in 2018. This is one of those bands that loves to indulge in extremes and engage in bipolar mood swings similar to not only the Bunglers but bands like Pryapisme, Estradasphere, Unexpect and quite a number of other similarly minded bands that love to let the extreme metal commingle with crazy disparate non-metal genres. While these types of bands seem to be a dime a dozen these days, very few can actually pull it off and release fascinating and ear-appealing albums.

HAH hit the ground running with its debut “The Talas Of Satan” and provided an even more exciting followup with HYPERCUT. This avant-garde smorgasbord of sounds starts things off with “Jean-Pierre” and makes it perfectly clear that this is an outrageously vicious metal act that just happens to dabble in electronica, ethnic sounds, loungy jazz, ambient and acoustic sounds as it unfolds it all in a punk fueled nonchalance all the while remaining anchored in extreme metal sounds ranging from thrash metal to death metal, grindcore and occasional classical heavy metal.

HYPERCUT continues the melodic compositions that milk every cadence for all its worth with some featuring bombastic metal riffing passages (such as the opening “Jean-Pierre”) while other tracks like “Phillip” taking a heady romp through the world of soundtrack classical score territory with little metal to be heard at all. This sophomore offering also increases the complexity with more uncommon signatures as well as moments of avant-garde angularity. Influences include Steve Reich, The Beatles, Meshuggah, Aphex Twin, Jean Michel Jarre, Pierre Henry, Little Richard, John Coltrane, George A. Romero and Napalm Death as claimed on HAH’s Bandcamp site. A couple tracks like “Bontemmieu” offer a bit of Django Reinhardt gypsy swing guitar gusto. The closing “Alain, l’homie télévitré” is one of the craziest most extreme with both metal fury, wickedly weird time signatures and all the creepy atmosphere you could possibly hope for.

Generally speaking the tracks are short and to the point offering a mix of extremely caustic metal guitar, bass and drum heft which are woven into digital hardcore electronica. Many tracks are around the two or three minute mark and those are the most obnoxiously loud and metallic of the lot. The only long track is the symphonic soundtracky “Phillip” which almost hits the nine minute mark. The musicianship is excellent as is the production. These guys have mastered all the genres included before attempting to throw them on the playground together. The editing, mixing and mastering is as artful as the most talented DJ and the metal aspects are also clearly professional in every manner.

Despite the desire to throw in many musical elements, HAH isn’t as extreme as say Mr Bungle where every cadence jumps into a different musical genre or unrelated flow. The tracks focus on a single style and are simply augmented with tones, timbres and crazy percussive beats. There’s some chiptune sounds, synthesized weirdness and the vocals are more in the grindcore camp with digital manipulation. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to tell what’s a guitar and what’s a keyboard frenzy but overall it all blends together fairly well. Basically if you ask me, i would describe the metal like the latest Mr Bungle album “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny” only more schizoid and littered with excursions into something completely new. For my tastes i love this kind of stuff and HYPERCUT makes the cut for sure!

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