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Not every band on Metal Music Archives exclusively plays within a metal or metal related sub-genre. Some start as such only to later leave their old sound behind, others become relevant to the site later in their careers. Some bands like to release one-off experiments. The Non-Metal tag on MMA is used to cover releases that are completely removed from metal music in style, so in a sense is a catch-all sub-genre for releases that don't fit anywhere else.

Sometimes, artists will be added under non-metal exclusively due to being related to the metal genre and scene by association with metal artists, such as the symphonic prog act Transatlantic who feature the former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, the ambient project Neptune Towers by Darkthrone's Fenriz or the folk band Fejd, who have members who are/have been with a couple of different metal bands (Fejd later became metal themselves, but were accepted on MMA long before that). Such artists are typically covered by the metal media due to this association with the scene, and are as such included on MMA for the same reasons.

Mostly however this tag will be used for releases belonging to other genres by metal (or other metal related) artists, such as Opeth's progressive rock albums Damnation and Pale Communion or Elvenking's folk/folk rock album Two Tragedy Poets.

- Written by adg211288 (August 2015).

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RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS Blood Sugar Sex Magik Album Cover Blood Sugar Sex Magik
4.45 | 18 ratings
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MOTORPSYCHO The Death Defying Unicorn Album Cover The Death Defying Unicorn
4.74 | 7 ratings
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SWANS The Seer Album Cover The Seer
4.80 | 6 ratings
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ELOY Ocean Album Cover Ocean
4.48 | 13 ratings
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BEARDFISH Sleeping in Traffic: Part Two Album Cover Sleeping in Traffic: Part Two
4.89 | 5 ratings
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KILLING JOKE Killing Joke (Debut) Album Cover Killing Joke (Debut)
4.71 | 6 ratings
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ZZ TOP Tres Hombres Album Cover Tres Hombres
4.43 | 11 ratings
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MEAT LOAF Bat Out Of Hell Album Cover Bat Out Of Hell
4.44 | 10 ratings
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ALICE COOPER From The Inside Album Cover From The Inside
4.25 | 23 ratings
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KILLING JOKE Night Time Album Cover Night Time
4.54 | 7 ratings
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RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS Californication Album Cover Californication
4.29 | 15 ratings
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GARY MOORE Still Got The Blues Album Cover Still Got The Blues
4.55 | 6 ratings
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non-metal Music Reviews


Album · 2019 · Non-Metal
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Released in 2019, The Crucible is the second instalment in Motorpsycho’s “Gullvåg trilogy” of albums inspired by the art of painter Håkon Gullvåg, which the band started in 2017 with The Tower and will conclude in 2020 with The All Is One. While exploring similar lyrical themes (living in a polarized society) and moving in similar musical spaces (psychedelic-infused heavy prog), The Crucible stands out relative to the other two parts of the trilogy, in a number of ways.

First, clocking at about 40 minutes, it is by far the shortest album in the trilogy (both The Tower and The All Is One are double-albums that surpass the 80-minute mark). It contains only three tracks, albeit two of them (Lux Aeterna and the title-track) are nearly 11 and 21 minute long, respectively.

Second, it is certainly the heaviest record in the trio of albums. The stoner/doom/heavy prog influences (Black Sabbath above all) that characterized Motorpsycho’s earlier records come back in a very prominent way on this album. This is different from The Tower and, especially The All Is One, which are instead proggier and more rock-oriented. This is not to say that The Crucible is lacking in prog credentials. On the contrary, the angular, fuzz-drenched instrumental acrobatics one can find on “Lux Aeterna” and “The Crucible” (the track) are reminiscent of the furious and fearless experimentation of early King Crimson. The interplay between reeds and guitars on “Lux Aeterna”, for instance, is a particularly striking Crimsonian moment. The pervasive use of the mellotron is another element that brings to mind Robert Fripp’s band. Elsewhere, the vocal harmonies conjured up by Bent Sæther and Hans Magnus Ryan remind us of Jon Anderson (listen for example to when the vocals kick in on the title-track). More generally, Yes’s musical exuberance is another reference point for Motorpsycho’s music. Yet, all these classic prog references are reinterpreted through a heavily metallic lens as well as with a distinct modern approach (Stian Westerhus comes to mind when one listens to the guitar-noise experiments on the title-track), which helps keep things fresh, contemporaneous and non-derivative.

The three tracks are well-balanced between vocal-driven parts and instrumental sections where the band loosens up and engages in long detours that have an improv flavor. There is nevertheless a sense of structure and discipline in the way these tracks are constructed, which makes them easy to assimilate and help the listener to remain focused throughout a song. This is particularly true on the two shorter pieces, “Psychotzar” and “Lux Aeterna”, while the title-track is slightly more meandering and I think it may have benefitted from some fat trimming. Regardless of your level of endurance with lengthy instrumental acrobatics, the level of playing is dazzlingly good throughout the album.

Overall, The Crucible offers an enjoyable musical ride, especially if one is a fan of extended heavy psychedelic jams, which the album offers aplenty. Often this type of composition approach relies on that special spark to light up and infuse the music with magic. And while there are moments on the album where this is certainly the case, and the listener is left engrossed by the experience, elsewhere the approach feels a bit more earthbound and tiresome, which is why I cannot give this album more than three stars.

[Originally posted on]


Album · 2020 · Non-Metal
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Motorpsycho’s new album, The All Is One, concludes the so called “Gullvåg trilogy” of albums inspired by the art of painter Håkon Gullvåg that the band started in 2017 with The Tower and continued with 2019’s The Crucible. Sporting on its cover another beautiful Gullvåg’s painting, The All Is One might just be best progressive rock album released in 2020. Whether you agree with this statement or not, one thing is for certain: it is simply amazing how, after 30 years of career and more than 20 full-length albums, these three Norwegians are still able to create music that feels fresh and innovative and is of such a high quality. This is truly a testament to their creativity and ability as musicians that I have a deep respect for.

So what makes The All Is One so good, you ask? Two things stand out for me: how deliciously varied its 9 compositions are, and how they are perfectly balanced between creative discipline and looseness. These characteristics put the record at the top of the trio of albums that form the Gullvåg trilogy, in my opinion. The songs on this album have the same playful, proggy exploratory spirit of The Tower, but with the structure and discipline that one can find on The Crucible, giving us the best of both worlds.

There are three types of songs on The All Is One, reflecting three distinct phases in the recording process. A first bulk of songs were recorded in September 2019 at the Black Box Studio in France. These recording sessions see the Motorpsycho trio (Bent Sæther - lead vocals, bass, guitar; Hans Magnus Ryan - lead guitar, vocals; Tomas Järmyr - drums) join forces with long-time collaborator guitarist Reine Fiske (Landberk, Paatos). The songs that came out from these sessions are of medium length (between 5 and 8 minutes), follow a somewhat traditional structure and are fairly vocal-driven, without too many extended instrumental jams or detours, making them relatively easy to assimilate. Nevertheless, the music has a strong classic prog flavour, somewhat reminiscent of the US modern school of progressive rock (bands like Echolyn, but also Spock’s Beard and Neal Morse come to mind). Classic acts like Yes and King Crimson are also obvious influences, but they are re-interpreted through a modern lens that avoids the music sounding derivative. Among these tracks, the title-track and “The Magpie” stand out, containing some of the best and most memorable hooks of the album. “Dreams of Fancy” is also notable, with its classic rock feel (Led Zeppelin come to mind). “The Same Old Rock” and “Like Chrome” are instead perhaps a tad less inspired and come across a bit as run-of-the-mill prog.

Then we have the 42-minute suite “N.O.X”. This piece, recorded in November 2019 at the Oceans Sound studio in Norway, was originally written as performance music that Motorpsycho were commissioned to play at 2019 St. Olav Festival as part of its celebration of the art of Håkon Gullvåg. The suite was composed with the help of two other instrumentalists, Lars Horntveth of Jaga Jazzist (saxophones and clarinet) and Ola Kvernberg of Steamdome (violin). It is an amazing piece of music, and my personal highlight from the album. It comes in 5 separate parts (each a separate track on the album) that are interconnected and tied together by recurring motifs and common rhythm patterns. The music has a strong experimental and avant-garde feel, and encompasses a range of different styles, from krautrock and space rock (Hawkwind), to classic prog, to Canterbury prog (Caravan come to mind on the opening bars of “Circles Around the Sun pt I”), to psychedelia. The suite has everything one would ask for from a prog masterpiece: it is complex and shapeshifting while never losing focus or tension, it is filled with sublime arrangements and exceptional playing, it is groovy like hell (listen to “Ouroboros”) and it has strong dynamics, moving between hard-hitting, almost punkish pieces (“Circles Around the Sun pt II”) and dreamy, reverb-drenched meditative moments (the Pink Floydian “Ascension”). Vocals appear sparsely throughout the suite, and are often processed and used more as an additional complementary instrument than as lead instrument. Drummer Tomas Järmyr puts in a monstrous performance on this piece, but the playing of everyone involved is truly dazzling and a joy to listen to. What impressed me the most, though, is the sense of structure and discipline that transpires from the music. Motorpsycho have often indulged in extended instrumental jams on previous albums. While captivating and engrossing, I often found these jamming pieces a bit too loose, structureless and repetitive, which made it difficult to continuously retain my attention. “N.O.X” is incredibly tight and well-organized, each part flowing naturally - almost necessarily - into the next one, in a way that brings to mind classical music more than jazz or psychedelic improvs. This perfect balance between discipline and looseness is what makes “N.O.X”, and the album in general, such a fantastic piece of music for me.

Finally, the album contains three shorter songs, recorded at various times between 2018 and 2019 in Trondheim (Norway). These are acoustic pieces for guitar and voice (and synths sometimes) that are strategically placed on the album to separate the “N.O.X” suite from the other tracks. I am particularly fond of “Delusion”, a beautiful, delicate piece that reminds me of the more pastoral moments of early King Crimson. “A Little Light” is also endearing, with its simple guitar line, especially after the musical mayhem of the closing parts of “N.O.X”.

Overall, the alternation between acoustic pieces, more regular prog rock songs, and the tour-de-force of “N.O.X” gives the album a sense of progression and moving-forward that is truly captivating and naturally invites the repeated listens that are necessary to properly assimilate the sheer amount of creativity that is contained in the 80+ minutes of music on this double-album. Nevertheless, The All Is One is also a record that is very easy to instantly like as it contains enough hooks and moments of brilliance to entrance the listener on the first run. It is also notable that the doom/stoner/heavy prog influences (e.g., Black Sabbath) that Motorpsycho are known for are not so strong on this album. Overall, there is more prog and less fuzz on The All Is One, which may make it an even more palatable release for the prog community.

In short, The All Is One is an amazing piece of work. It contains some of the proggiest and most inventive pieces of music Motorpsycho have come up with in a long time. The experimental, largely instrumental suite “N.O.X.”, alone, would have made for an incredible album, but perhaps it stands out even more with the addition of the other acoustic and more standard vocal-driven tracks to balance the record. Despite some less inspired moment (“The Sme Old Rock”, “The Dowser”, “Like Chrome”), it is without doubt one of the best progressive rock albums I have listened to this year and it is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in prog.

[Originally posted on]

HEXVESSEL Dawnbearer

Album · 2011 · Non-Metal
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"Dawnbearer" is the debut full-length studio album by Finland based (but multi-national) folk group Hexvessel. The album was released through Svart Records in February 2011. Hexvessel was founded by lead vocalist Mat "Kvohst" McNerney (real name: Mathew Joseph McNerney) after he had been in and out of Norwegian progressive black metal act Dødheimsgard for a couple of years. Kvohst joined Dødheimsgard for the recording of "Supervillain Outcast (2007)", but left the band again in January 2008. He reunited with Dødheimsgard again in 2010 but left again soon after. He has also released albums with artists like Void, Code, and Gangrenator. After relocating to Finland he formed Hexvessel and the rock group Beastmilk. The latter disbanded in 2015 and some of the members (including Kvohst) continued the band under the With Grave Pleasures monicker.

So needless to say that Kvohst is quite the prolific and eclectic musician. While many of his past adventures has been in black metal related acts, Hexvessel is a very different beast and shows a completely new side of the man´s talent. The material on "Dawnbearer" is in some sort of dark and psychadelic tinged folk style. Often almost ritualistic in its expression. An atmosphere which is further enhanced by monotone repetition. It´s the work of 60s and 70s folk artists like The Incredible String Band, Comus, Forest, Spirogyra, Jan Dukes de Grey, which come to mind, but Hexvessel brings a more contemporary edge to that style. On "Dawnbearer", Kvohst is joined by female vocalist Marja Konttinen and a host of guest/session musicians playing instruments like Harmonium, Gongs, Keyboards, Dulcimer, Zither, Psaltery, Bells, Drums, Percussion, guitar, Upright bass, Bowed Dulcimer, Hand Claps, Hand Drum, Bandoneon, Mandolin, and Banjo.

The outcome is a warm and organic instrumental soundscape complimented by the paatos filled vocals by Kvohst and Konttinen (who mostly sings harmony vocals and choirs). There is an eerie and dark psychadelic tone to the music and in usual Kvohst style the lyrics follow suit and paint gloomy absurd landscapes. Some may find the lyrics too "artsy" and pretentious, but personally I think this is some damn fine dark poetry. Kvohst is quite the brilliant vocalist with a distinct sounding voice and delivery, and the many well performed harmony vocals and choirs enhance the vocal part of the music greatly too.

The material on the 15 track, 54:29 minutes long album is generally well written, but some tracks are more interesting than others and while the overall quality of the album is relatively high, the long playing time does mean that the album overstays its welcome by about 10 minutes. Highlights include tracks like the Paul Simon cover "Diamonds", the opening track "Invocation Summoning", "The Tunnel at the End of the Light" (featuring Virus frontman Carl-Michael Eide on guest vocals), and "The Death Knell Tolls".

Upon conclusion "Dawnbearer" is a strong first release by Hexvessel, featuring high level musicianship, a well sounding production, and predominantly intriguing songwriting. As mentioned above there are some tracks which aren´t on par with the best material on the album and had the band weeded out those tracks, it would have made for an overall stronger release (they could easily have left out most of the instrumental tracks on the album). As it is a 3.5 star (70%) rating is still deserved though.


Album · 2008 · Non-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Mariusz Duda is best known for his role as bassist and lead vocalist of the Polish band Riverside which has been quite successful in creating a more metallic take on Porcupine Tree’s heavier space rock style. Having enjoyed a good run with Riverside’s first three albums, Duda did what many musicians due after a hectic touring schedule and a commitment to the never-ending world of rock stardom, namely decided to take a time out and do a solo project that would allow another perspective of the creative process to come through.

The result was the new project LUNATIC SOUL which started out as a mere self-titled album release but has since become quite a steady solo career with seven albums to date. This debut was released in 2008 after the “Rapid Eye Movement” album from Riverside and found Duda handling most of the project alone only with the help of a few lineup musicians on various instruments. The album featured ten tracks and hovered around the 47 minute mark making this one a bit shorter than some of those lengthy Riverside albums.

This album is a concept album that deals with the subject of death from different perspectives even taking things as far as featuring the song “Summerland” described from the vantage point of a deceased person. The album is dark and like Riverside albums fueled with an atmospheric haze that sounds more like a lighter version of Riverside when all is said and done which is impossible not to make comparisons considering Duda’s vocal style is exactly the same as his main band. The main difference is the absence of electric guitar and thus any metal bombast. In many ways this LUNATIC SOUL debut sounds like an unplugged version of his main band.

The instrumentation is rich with Duda playing the usual bass, acoustic guitar and various percussion. Joining Duda from Riverside is keyboardist Michał Łapaj along with several others. Like Duda’s main gig Riverside, LUNATIC SOUL reminds me way too much of Porcupine Tree and not really in a good way. While i love Steven Wilson’s unique voice and psychedelic swirls around his pop infused hooks with the extra mojo of heavy rock, LUNATIC SOUL and Riverside for that matter just seem to rub me the wrong way. Firstly Duda’s voice is not very interesting to my ears and the derivative nature of the production just makes me want to listen to a much more interesting Porcupine Tree album.

Add to that this kind of stuff is just too airy faery and sounds insincere. I’m really not sure why this light and fluffy style of crossover prog is so popular but i call this “teddy bear prog” because it’s safe and secure and like some sort of emotional security blanket for those who are afraid of the dark. Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing really horrible about LUNATIC SOUL’s sound here but on the flip side of the coin there’s not really anything to get excited about either. It’s all very predictable with Duda’s flirtation with Chris Isaak-like crooning that just doesn’t float my boat. Riverside i can handle in small doses especially the first couple albums but LUNATIC SOUL comes off as the easy listening section of the prog superstore where even neo-prog seems more daring in comparison.

SHINING Sweet Shanghai Devil

Album · 2003 · Non-Metal
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SHINING continued its all acoustic avant-garde jazz style on its second album SWEET SHANGHAI DEVIL which featured the exact same lineup as a quartet that included founder Jørgen Munkeby on saxophone, flute and clarinet with Asiak Hartberg on acoustic bass, Torstein Lofthus on drums and Morten Qvenild on piano. While the musical compositions which were almost exclusively created by Munkeby were originals, this album found the track “Sink” composed by Morten Qvenild and a cover of John Coltrane’s sizzling “Herbert West - Reanimator / After The Rain” which showcases the band’s infatuation with the more avant-garde side of post-bop of the early 1960s.

While the debut “Where The Ragged People Go” was so authentic that it really could’ve passed as a long lost Coltrane album, the band really stepped things up on this sophomore release and therefore SWEET SHANGHAI DEVIL is chock full of more creative moments that while still sonically sounding like it could’ve existed on the 60s timeline, infused more avant-garde ideas that never would’ve been found in the world of jazz during that time and although it’s still impossible to predict that the band would change gears into the more caustic world of extreme metal after this release, it is obvious that the band was finding its own voice although still distant behind the barrage of bop-fueled bass runs, jazz drumming workouts and incessant squawks of sax, clarinet and occasional flute.

The album starts off much like the first but the phrasing is much more adventurous and the four musicians have become true jazz masters by finding a completely separate musical role that conspires to become a vital sum of the larger whole. The music is every bit as talented as some of the 60s legends and the production is top notch and due to the fact that there is more creative mojo flowing on SWEET SHANGHAI DEVIL, it makes a more interesting listening experience of the two pure jazz releases. While starting out more traditional, the album really is on fire by the time the sixth track “Misery’s Child” cranks out. Lofthus has become a drum playing machine with incessant barrages of complex rolls but the most prominent feature of this one are the excellent piano rolls of Morten Qvenild who has mastered the art of impressionism.

While those seeking the metal part of SHINING’s career, you can skip to the next album “In The Kingdom Of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster” which begins to adopt new ideas and to “Grindstone” for the full metal approach, SWEET SHANGHAI DEVIL is a decent pure jazz album for sure and much more developed than its predecessor. While much of the album is pure Coltrane and Ornette Coleman worship, the band had clearly honed its chops to the point where it was capable of crafting some excellent experimental rock which would put these guys on the world’s stage for a short time. All in all if you are a serious jazz buff this probably won’t get you overly excited as the 60s classics will forever dominate that jazz world but it’s certainly not a waste of time either. The intricate musical parts is fascinating to follow. A small step up from the debut.

non-metal movie reviews

ANATHEMA A Moment in Time

Movie · 2006 · Non-Metal
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Conor Fynes
'A Moment In Time' - Anathema (5/10)

First off, might I say that the rating for this work is not based on the music itself. 'A Moment In Time' is being rated here for what it is; a piece of visual media. The songs themselves are amazing, and have been commended as such on other reviews. As far as being a vessel for such beautiful music however, this DVD really comes up short. There are so many errors that make it a sloppy creation, that could have been avoided and corrected had extra care been given.

As far as the musical arrangement goes, things are really good. As well as the band performing, there is a string quartet that plays throughout, as well as a guest appearance from a talented female vocalist. The vocal passion I generally expect from Vincent Cavanagh is a bit lacking here, but that can be forgiven. There's a nice setup here, a beautiful selection of songs, so what could go wrong?

Throughout watching 'A Moment In Time,' I find myself increasingly agitated over the camera work. The camera is fixated on the vocalist, and fails to give a visual mention to either the bass player or rhythm guitarist almost at all!

Another issue is the recording of the sound. For example, during the climax of 'Empty,' the vocals drown out completely for a few seconds. For a band that's had such a high standard of musical quality, my jaw dropped at how they could ever let a DVD release come out to the general public with that sort of negligence.

Despite it's flaws and failure as a professional DVD release however, being an Anathema fan; it's hard to not at least find some enjoyment in it, and there's an CD counterpart included as well! Two stars.

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