Non-Metal

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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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non-metal top albums

Showing only albums and EPs | Based on members ratings & MMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

SWANS The Seer Album Cover The Seer
SWANS
4.76 | 8 ratings
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MOTORPSYCHO The Death Defying Unicorn Album Cover The Death Defying Unicorn
MOTORPSYCHO
4.74 | 7 ratings
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KILLING JOKE Killing Joke (Debut) Album Cover Killing Joke (Debut)
KILLING JOKE
4.72 | 7 ratings
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ELOY Ocean Album Cover Ocean
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4.48 | 14 ratings
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BEARDFISH Sleeping in Traffic: Part Two Album Cover Sleeping in Traffic: Part Two
BEARDFISH
4.89 | 5 ratings
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ZZ TOP Tres Hombres Album Cover Tres Hombres
ZZ TOP
4.41 | 12 ratings
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KILLING JOKE Night Time Album Cover Night Time
KILLING JOKE
4.53 | 8 ratings
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MEAT LOAF Bat Out Of Hell Album Cover Bat Out Of Hell
MEAT LOAF
4.44 | 10 ratings
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RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS Blood Sugar Sex Magik Album Cover Blood Sugar Sex Magik
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
4.27 | 20 ratings
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ALICE COOPER From The Inside Album Cover From The Inside
ALICE COOPER
4.25 | 23 ratings
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ULVER The Assassination Of Julius Caesar Album Cover The Assassination Of Julius Caesar
ULVER
4.60 | 6 ratings
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ELVENKING Two Tragedy Poets (...and a Caravan of Weird Figures) Album Cover Two Tragedy Poets (...and a Caravan of Weird Figures)
ELVENKING
4.28 | 16 ratings
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non-metal Music Reviews

ULVER Metamorphosis

EP · 1999 · Non-Metal
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UMUR
"Metamorphosis" is an EP release by Norwegian music act Ulver. The EP was released through Jester Records in September 1999. It bridges the gap between the band´s fourth and fifth full-length studio albums "Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell (1998)" and "Perdition City: Music To An Interior Film (2000)".

"Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell" was quite the departure from the band´s black/folk metal past, featuring an avant garde/experimental rock/metal style, but "Metamorphosis" proves that Ulver were far from finished developing and changing their sound. Stylistically the 4 tracks on the 25:17 minutes long EP are experimental electronic music, which is predominantly instrumental but occasionally also features vocals. In retrospect it was obviously Ulver experimenting with electronic effects, sounds, rhythms, and technology in preperation for working on and recording the material for "Perdition City: Music To An Interior Film (2000)", but back then it was a bit of a shock release for most fans.

To others it proved what they had long known, that Ulver were an unpredictable act, composing and playing exactly the type of music they wanted, without regards to the wishes of the fans and the critics. They even adress this in the sleeve notes to the EP, explaining that they don´t see themselves as a black metal band anymore, and that they think of the early part of their discography as a stepping stone to something else.

"Metamorphosis" is an ambient release. It´s not slow and droning all the time (only "Of Wolves And Withdrawal" fully falls under that catagory), but both mid-paced and even upbeat at times, featuring some busy programmed drums. Layers upon layers of sounds and effects make up the tracks, which according to band founder Kristoffer Rygg were slowly developed as a result of improvisations in the studio. As a consequence you´ll have to look long for conventional vers/chorus structures or catchiness in general. It´s music featuring interesting ideas, but to my ears they seem a little random and a bit more structure and a few more catchy moments could have made this a more memorable listen. I´m not blown away by what I hear (the closing 8:55 minutes long "Of Wolves And Withdrawal" is a downright tedious affair), but a 2.5 star (50%) rating is still warranted.

DEATH ANGEL Under Pressure

EP · 2020 · Non-Metal
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UMUR
"Under Pressure" is an EP release by US, California based thrash metal act Death Angel.The EP was released through Nuclear Blast in October 2020. Although "Under Pressure" is released under the Death Angel monicker, the EP lineup actually only features two out of five of the band members who recorded their 2019 album "Humanicide".

Guitarist Rob Cavestany and lead vocalist Mark Osegueda opted to work together and record a four-track acoustic EP. Probably as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic isolation situation and the subsequent issues getting the full band together to record new music, but maybe also because it was a project the two musicians had been planning for a while. The title track is cover of Queen (featuring David Bowie). "Faded Remains" is a brand new track, and "A Room With a View" and "Revelation Song" are re-recorded acoustic tracks from previous releases in the band´s discography.

Although Death Angel have been pretty consistent in the quality and style of their material since their comeback in 2001, the pre-split-up part of the band´s discography feature more experiments with other sounds and styles, so it´s not a huge surprise that the band have opted to record and release a fully acoustic EP. There have been sung many accolades of the guitar skills of Cavestany, and it´s safe to say he shines here too. Osegueda has a strong voice and a passionate delivery, and his voice perfectly suits the acoustic material, just as it suits the band´s usual thrash metal sound.

Personally a couple of acoustic tracks aren´t anything which blows my mind, but "Under Pressure" is overall a good quality release, and it´s definitely a worthwhile addition to Death Angel´s discography, and perfectly sums up the band´s eclectic and boundary searching attitude to songwriting. A 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is warranted.

MOTORPSYCHO The Tower

Album · 2017 · Non-Metal
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lukretion
In 2017 Motorpsycho released The Tower, a double-album that was to become the first instalment in their so called “Gullvåg Trilogy” of albums inspired by the art of painter Hakon Gullvåg, whose work graces the cover of The Tower as well as the subsequent two albums (2019’s The Crucible and 2020’s The All Is One). On this album bass player / vocalist Bent Sæther and guitarist Hans Magnus "Snah" Ryan pair with a new drummer, Tomas Järmyr, who replaces Kenneth Kapstad after a 9-year stint with the band. The album also marks an evolution in the sound of the Norwegian veterans, which veers more decidedly towards heavy rock territories, bringing back some of the influences that had coloured Motorpsycho’s early albums (Hawkwind, Black Sabbath, a touch of King Crimson).

It’s a fun album, filled with groovy bass or guitar patterns that interlock to provide a solid basis for extended instrumental buildups and spontaneous jams. It’s what Motorpsycho are renowned for and indeed it is music that at its best can be transcendental, as the listener is entranced and engrossed by the dazzling playing of the three musicians. There are plenty of moments when this happens on the album, as for instance on the beautiful guitar solo that kicks in five minutes in “A Pacific Sonata”, or in the lengthy trippy affair that goes under the name of “Intrepid Explorer”. Elsewhere, more pastoral and whimsical 70s rock influences emerge from the musical cauldron of The Tower, as in the very CSYN-esque “Stardust” or on “The Maypole”. Meanwhile, the infectious combination of guitar riffs and flute melodies on “In Every Dream Home” is the most exquisitely prog moment of the album, bringing to mind the work of early Canterbury bands like Caravan.

For as much as I enjoy a free-spirited, psychedelic jam-fest, it is actually the more restrained songs like “In Every Dream Home” that Motorpsycho truly captivate me. I love the way this track strikes a perfect balance between instrumental virtuosity and structure. It gives the song a more definite identity which helps me keep my attention focused much better than on other, more free-form tracks on this album. Alas, there are not many moments on the album when this happens, which is why this record remains a bit of an acquired taste for me, and to it I prefer the other two instalments of the trilogy, The Crucible and especially The All Is One, which are less jam-oriented and more structured.

Nevertheless. The Tower remains an impressive album by the Norwegian trio that marks in great style the beginning of a new era for the band, with a new drummer and a renewed love for their heavy psychedelic rock origins. Although this may not be the most revolutionary or path breaking music to play in 2017, the songs still feel fresh and non-derivative. Most importantly, it is clear from listening to the album that the band had a lot of fun writing and playing the music, and the feeling is simply infectious.

[Review also posted on www.progarchives.com]

MOTORPSYCHO The Crucible

Album · 2019 · Non-Metal
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lukretion
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 http://www.progarchives.com]

MOTORPSYCHO The All is One

Album · 2020 · Non-Metal
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lukretion
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 the 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 http://www.progarchives.com]

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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