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
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4.50 | 23 ratings
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ARCTURUS The Sham Mirrors Album Cover The Sham Mirrors
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KAYO DOT Choirs Of The Eye Album Cover Choirs Of The Eye
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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
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4.26 | 31 ratings
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4.24 | 27 ratings
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SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM Of Natural History Album Cover Of Natural History
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avant-garde metal Music Reviews

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!

BUCKETHEAD Pike 316 - Angel Wings

Album · 2022 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
PIKE 316 - ANGEL WINGS 14th installment of 2022 Everything played by BUCKETHEAD Total playing time 26 minutes and 59 seconds All instrumental as always!

After a sleepy time PIKE, ole BUCKY is feeling frisky again and turns up the metal madness on his latest PIKE 316 - ANGEL WINGS which features five single letter tracks that collectively spell WINGS. Oh how friggin clever is that ;) This is one of those jittery bouncy and eclectic PIKEs where BH pulls out all the virtuoso punches with crazy fast tempos, scorching guitar solos and proggy time signatures run amok. Add a touch of madness and we’re in business.

“W” is an electric guitar wankfest with heavy chord stomps, riffing on steroids and all kinds of tricks and trinkets that has BH breaking the fretboard. This track has some standard metal riffs but also jumps around all over the place with lots of weird guitar antics. This is avant-freakery run amok!

“I” imperceptibly emerges from the first track as there really is no distinction between tracks other than to make a silly slogan. This pretty much continues the aggressive freak show only with some more subdued alternative metal moments. The soloing has been tamed down and some more down time but then the musical motifs change unexpectedly with some off-kilter time signature freak outs and then a new metal march and then the soloing erupts.

“N” likewise is just an extension of the last track with various guitar riffs in full metal rage that plays for a while and then suddenly turns into another aggressive style. This one has some guitar soloing so out of control that BH stumbles all over himself. Ha! This one actually slows things down with a beautiful power ballad melody with atmospheric backdrop. A real song emerges only to be brutally assaulted by a bizarre avant-soloing workout and then back to a bluesy guitar riff and then things just speed up and change more often. Ends in a finger breaking face melter!

“G” continues with a bluesy guitar riff and slows things down to 70s hard rock speed. This is also the longest track at 8 minutes but things still shuffle like a radio being tuned to different stations however it’s all connected at least in feel. It’s amazing how BH is getting some fairly weird sounds out of his guitar and once he bursts into a fiery avant-freak zone he really lets loose. Bet he broke some strings on this one. I’m not sure if BH really plays the bass and drums but if he does he has gotten much better. These instruments have improved remarkably in the last year. Basically the track just skips around with different ideas for a few cadences and then moves on.

“S” is the first track that actually starts dramatically different with a calm weird clean guitar part ushering in another monstrous metal riff but then the track quickly follows suit and changes every few cadences with some free improvisation parts, some structured, some just friggin nuts and some just plain brutal.

All in all a surprise that BH unleashed another avant-garde juggernaut after a boring lullaby album. These are truly my favorite kinds of albums by BH but at the same time this has been done before and much better. While most will probably hate this scatterbrained schizoid attempt of making a musical quilt of ideas, i rather like this however as i stated, it’s nothing new. There have been many PIKEs of this ilk however BH succeeds in some wickedly wild guitar tricks i’ve never heard before. All in all a very good PIKE if not the best of this style.

BUCKETHEAD Pike 314 - Rooster Coaster

Album · 2022 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
PIKE 314 - ROOSTER COASTER 12th installment of 2022 Everything played by BUCKETHEAD Total playing time 27 minutes and 22 seconds All instrumental as always!

Another PIKE rolls out of the assembly line at BUCKETHEADLAND This one features six tracks and this one is intense! BH as we all know is one of the virtuoso monstrosities out there However he rarely lets loose these days Well here on ROOSTER COASTER he is ready to prove he hasn’t lost his chops

“Molten Mercury Anchor Bolts” starts out as an arpeggiated clean guitar intro with echo effects but then all hell breaks loose. Great distortion and then guitar eruptions!!!

“See Through Iron Columns” delivers some extreme guitar shredding with hammer on tapping, whizzing up and down the scale at light speed and genre skipping with moments of industrial metal, thrash metal, neoclassical shredding and just weird avant-alternative metal. This is truly one of the best tracks i’ve heard from the chicken lover in a long ass time! Only the first track and i’m ready to give this 4 stars. Can he sustain this intensity over the entire PIKE? Let’s see…

“Disembodied Viewing Platform” is a cool name for a track. I wonder if some goregrind band has already thought of it? This one pretty much connects with the previous track on offers more virtuoso frenzies with more experimental touches. BH is going for the gusto with this one. High octane guitar shredding mixed with unusually experimental avant-weirdo techniques! OMG i’m in puppy heaven! Lots of different breaks on this one. Weird synth freakery with accompanying guitar antics. “Normal” metal alternates with progressive electronic and well basically anything goes. Yay!

“Decaying Ferris Wheel” also continues the theme of tracks just running into each other. This one has some more “normal” heavy metal riffing before breaking into strange electronica then a sizzling guitar solo which goes somewhere unexpected! This one is a bit less frenetic as far as stylistic shifts but maybe i’m used to it by now. It’s following the same pattern as the previous two tracks. Some serious guitar playing on this. Geez, Bucky!

“Powered Cable Ray” likewise continues where the previous left off with some power chords and some frenetic guitar solos, electronic interludes, more guitar, electronic, guitar etc. Chord progressions change. Well, it’s pretty much the same style as everything before however the guitar stomps add some new elements and processed vocals ( i presume ) sound cool. Also some nice dungeon guitar with clean tones finds its way into the mix. Nice!

The title track seamlessly connects but features a slow nonchalant guitar chord riff but then changes quickly keeping in theme with this PIKE. This one is a bit more subdued in how it transitions its thematic approach and offers a touch of class to an otherwise unhinged freneticism. Wow. I can’t believe this. I actually like every track on this PIKE!!!! This definitely has some voice box guitar stuff. Just when you think this one is mellow the guitar soloing erupts into a frenzy! But wait then it has a moment of lysergic psychedelia and then there’s more! METAL!!!!! BTW BH has upped his drumming skills big time! (unless there’s a secret session musician).

Bitchin cool! This is my favorite kind of PIKE. All over the friggin place unapologetically meandering aimlessly but yet maintaining a unified feel. A few years ago i would’ve given this 5 stars but BH has done many of these types of PIKEs over the years however this one does have a distinct personality that none have before. This is one of those PIKEs that i get most excited about. Energetic, unpredictable and ruthlessly and brutally experimental. This is metal, hard rock, electronic, bluesy, avant-prog and even moments of psychedelia. Some seem to prefer those mellow PIKEs that are calm and pacifying. These PIKEs were made for us freaks who can’t sit still for a second. Ha. Just when i’m ready to write BH off he wows me with this kind of freak show. |m|

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