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
4.49 | 21 ratings
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ARCTURUS The Sham Mirrors Album Cover The Sham Mirrors
ARCTURUS
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KAYO DOT Choirs Of The Eye Album Cover Choirs Of The Eye
KAYO DOT
4.25 | 56 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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ARCTURUS La Masquerade Infernale Album Cover La Masquerade Infernale
ARCTURUS
4.22 | 44 ratings
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SHINING Blackjazz Album Cover Blackjazz
SHINING
4.24 | 26 ratings
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SIGH Hail Horror Hail Album Cover Hail Horror Hail
SIGH
4.37 | 10 ratings
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SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM Of Natural History Album Cover Of Natural History
SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM
4.18 | 38 ratings
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MAUDLIN OF THE WELL Leaving Your Body Map Album Cover Leaving Your Body Map
MAUDLIN OF THE WELL
4.16 | 52 ratings
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SHINING Grindstone Album Cover Grindstone
SHINING
4.29 | 11 ratings
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MAUDLIN OF THE WELL Bath Album Cover Bath
MAUDLIN OF THE WELL
4.14 | 59 ratings
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avant-garde metal Music Reviews

MR. BUNGLE Mr. Bungle

Album · 1991 · Avant-garde Metal
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SilentScream213
Basically a worse and more disgusting version of Primus. They get props in that they sounded totally unique, perhaps even to this day. Even for Avant-Garde metal, this is really weird stuff. Not that this came out of nowhere – the band had been putting together demos and EPs of Avant-Garde Funk Metal for a few years, making them unequivocally pioneers of this style of music.

The thing about this album is that every aspect of it – from the vocals, to the lyrics and humor, to the disjointed, eclectic songwriting and sound – are all acquired tastes. Very strong flavors that you either love or hate. For fans of the bizarre and “out there,” this is quite frankly a treasure trove of unique ideas and execution. For me, it’s just a lot of things that I don’t enjoy meshed together into a long, messy record.

CARNIVAL IN COAL Vivalavida

Album · 1999 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
One of a handful of bands that were so smitten by the crazy genre skipping possibilities of Mr Bungle that they took on the adventurous task of creating their own style of band based on the endless limitations. CARNIVAL IN COAL was such a band that emerged from Amiens, France and basically the brainchild of vocalist Arno Strobl and multi-instrumentalist Axel Wursthorn (aka Karl Zengeris). The project existed from 1995-2007 but has been revived in 2014. CARNIVAL IN COAL caught the avant-garde metal world by surprise in how they mixed death metal, black metal and other metal genres with disco, pop, electronica and whatever else they could dream up. Despite the influences of Mr Bungle and Faith No More, CARNIVAL IN COAL successfully forged their own way without sounding derivative in any way, mostly by focusing on the extreme metal aspects and juxtaposing things in an overlapping way rather than slapping you in the face with a million genres per minute.

After releasing the demo “Sramak” in 1997, the duo required another two years to construct its debut VIVALAVIDA (Long Live Life) which emerged in 1999. The album was the very first release of the fledgling Majors record label. This was very much a homegrown project with the duo handling all affairs which unfortunately at this stage required the usage of a drum machine but despite it all, it’s quite impressive and although these types of everything but the kitchen sink projects often collapse under their own bloated ambitions, CARNIVAL IN COAL was quite successful in crafting an album’s worth of metal meets everything else in a way that sounds organic and logical. While not quite as adventurous or ingenious as the epic Mr Bungle albums, CARNIVAL IN COAL did however craft an extremely wild ride that focused on the extremities of the metal universe while adding cheesy pop atmospheres, disco beats, funk rock and even electronic weirdness. Not to be taken seriously at all, CIC adopted the nonchalant self-deprecating humor of the Bunglers and offering a comedic approach.

VIVALAVIDA exudes its titular prowess in a multi-faceted way. Exhibiting a certain joie de vivre like only the French can, CARNIVAL IN COAL crafts a tasty recipe like a top chef at the Cordon Bleu with a heap of black metal, a dash of death metal growls and blast betas, pinches of reggae and disco, moments of chamber rock, industrial bleakness, pop infused hooks and progressive off-kilter time signatures. While the Mike Patton influences are never left too far behind, i have to admit that CIC did a remarkable task of reinterpreting all the possibilities of where the Bunglers never lurked. After all the limitations are really as far as your imagination can take you and without any concern for commercial viability or pleasing the critics, Wurtshorn an d Strobl simply let their freak flags fly as high as they could hoist them. Of course these kinds of albums only work if there is some sort of underpinning that connects them altogether and for whatever reason it works pretty well.

While i wouldn’t call VIVALAVIDA an album that will eclipse anything the Bunglers cranked out, CARNIVAL IN COAL certainly did a noble job of finding their own voice in the wilderness from the getgo. This is quite an enjoyable album that pays attention to the continuity of the musical flow and for a genre skipping album of this sort, a vital ingredient to keep potential fans from fleeing in horror. The metal parts are pretty much limited to riffing so no technical wizardry in that department. This is a rhythmically stable sort of album that offers a bit of progressive outbursts from time to time. The gist of the album is to alternate heavier metal oriented motifs with slicker synth-rich disco and easy listening and thus alternate growly vocals with clean vocal harmonies. While there is certainly room for improvement as the album could add a bit more variety if you’re going for broke, overall VIVALAVIDA is an interesting artifact of the late 1990s that hasn’t gotten as much attention as other avant-garde metal bands such as Sigh, Unexpect or even Dog Fashion Disco, however still a must for avant-garde metal heads.

HARDCORE ANAL HYDROGEN The Talas Of Satan

Album · 2014 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Perhaps one of the only bands i’ve ever heard from the tiny principality of Monaco, HAH which is short for Hardcore Anal Hydrogen is a strange avant-garde metal band that hasn’t gone down the Gorguts road of atonal dissonance and creepy atmospheric otherworldliness but rather has somewhat adopted the more melodic approaches of Mr Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3, Sigh, Igorrr and even noise bands like Melt Banana.

This band was formed all the way back in 2009 when Martyn Clement (guitar, backing vocals) and Sacha Vanony (vocals, keyboards, flute) honored each other’s divine freakery and discovered a passion for making crazy mind fuck metal. After forming a bonafide band, HAH released two independent releases titled “Fork You : ( ) { : | : & };::” and “Division Zero” before releasing this first label debut THE TALAS OF SATAN on the Apathia label.

Graced by a rather cool album cover art, THE TALAS OF SATAN is a rather cool album as well as it mixes all kinds of metal styles along with various world music and electronica. On this fairly brief yet frenetic expression of metal fusion we hear classic heavy metal, thrash metal, death metal, grindcore and trance metal mixed with Asian ethnic music, breakbeat and digital hardcore. While some bands can be quite sloppy in melding things together, HAH is very talented in how it all fuses together seamlessly.

Personally i’d say this band most reminds me of a more extreme metal oriented Secret Chiefs 3 as the mixing and production job are outstandingly brilliant. The ethnic elements don’t sound the least bit cheesy with real flutes, beautiful tribal percussion and other exotic instruments and as far as the metal goes these guys are the real deal as they nail all the genera perfectly. The death metal is balls to the wall, neoclassical solos erupt from time to time and best of all nothing sounds forced as everything organically unfolds at the proper pace.

While more often than not i’m left cold with these kinds of bands that fail to achieve what sounds good on paper, HAH actually pulls it off and leaves me wanting more! Luckily they have two more albums that come before and two more after so no lack of product. Highly recommended for all those avant-garde metal heads who like things on the melodic side. The ingenuity here is top notch and the satisfaction level is quite high.

SCHIZOID LLOYD The Last Note in God's Magnum Opus

Album · 2014 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Another one of those bizarre and utterly unique avant-garde metal bands in the vein of Mr Bungle, Sigh and Unexpect, SCHIZOID LLOYD may get lumped into good company but sounds like no other. This Dutch band was formed in Haarlem in 2007 and soon won the Rob Acda Award which allowed these circus freaks to release its first EP titled “Virus” in 2008. Assisted by Ayreon and Within Temptation producer Oscar Hollemann, SCHIZOID LLOYD received a few positive reviews for its bombastic experimental metal that was part Queen, part Frank Zappa and part Mr Bungle all the while incorporating as many other inspirations as possible.

It took a few years but the band that featured Remo Kuhlmann (guitar, lead vocals), Ruben Kuhlmann (drums, keyboards, backing vocals), Thom Lich (guitar, vocals), Daan Divendal (keyboards) and Guus van Oosterum (bass, vocals) to release its first full-length titled THE LAST NOTE IN GOD’S MAGNUM OPUS in 2014 but hasn’t been heard from since despite no official announcement of breaking up (as far as i’m aware.) Having signed to the infamous Blood Records which specializes in all things metal especially in the experimental realms which includes Sigh, maudlin of the Well, Lykathea Aflame, Ihsahn and Thy Catalfalque just to name a few, SCHIZOID LLOYD couldn’t have found a more perfect fit but in reality sounds very unique in its approach despite similarities.

While some avant-garde metal these days drifts off into bizarre jaggedly atonal soundscapes and more alienating than inviting to the uninitiated, SCHIZOID LLOYD successfully crafts its composiitons with strong melodic hooks that come right out of the classic Queen playbook along with a crisp production job that allows the myriad elements of death metal, progressive rock, folk, Pink Floydian space rock, symphonic touches and even circus music along with a tiny bit of hip hop to exist side by side with really nothing sounding forced and cliche in the least. For the careful listener you will hear all kinds of references to many, many artists of the past including not only the most obvious Queen but also Faith No More, System of a Down, Opeth, Gorguts, Leprous and what many deem the band’s closest genetic relative Diablo Swing Orchestra yet curious there is no jazz, no swing and no opera!

THE LAST NOTE IN GOD’S MAGNUM OPUS features ten tracks and extends past the 57 minute mark and through its run takes the listener on a roller coaster ride of wild adventurous metal-infused progressive rock and metal. The opening “Suicide Penguin” is probably the most instantly addictive as it opens with a classic Queen bombast as its compositional fortitude and adds all kinds of slick elements to give SCHIZOID LLOYD an equally instant uniqueness which is definitely something not so common in modern music where there are literally a thousand clones lingering about. Like many of these metal hybrid albums where metal is only one ingredient, it’s best to consider this album a progressive rock album that implements generous doses of metal at key moments and although such extremes such as death metal are present, they are fairly rare occurrences with just as much time dedicated to classical piano (“Film Noir Hero”) and bizarre musical counterpoints all the way through with special props to circus music and avant-prog Zappa influences.

For all the creativity on display here it would amount to nothing if the compositions weren’t delivered properly and completed with the competency of a great lead singer and excellent musicians. THE LAST NOTE IN GOD’S MAGNUM OPUS excels in all those regards with lead vocalist Ruben Kuhlmann displaying an excellent command of his multi-octave vocal range more in the vein of Leprous than any other band but still not exactly a clone. Despite the eclectic nature of this band the instruments are still pretty much limited to guitars, keyboards, bass and drums although a sitar is used occasionally. A dense and clustered work for sure, SCHIZOID LLOYD is definitely an acquired taste for seasoned proggers who crave some of the most adventurous music that can be found but the newbie need not be worried due to the instantly accessible melodies and vocal harmonies that prevent a specialized club membership to gain access to the album’s secrets. All in all pretty cool album!

PECCATUM Strangling from Within

Album · 1999 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
PECCATUM was one of the side projects of Ihsahn formed in 1998 two years before he finally broke up Emperor and was one of those husband and wife team things that he did with his significant other Ihriel which she initiated as her first musical project and of course how could Ihsahn refuse getting involved. The band was basically Ihsahn and Ihriel although her sister Lord Pz added vocals on the first two albums. PECCATUM lasted for eight years and released three albums before Ihsahn embarked on a solo career and Ihriel went more in the folk metal direction with Hardingrock and solo as Starofish.

Although this debut STRANGLING FROM WITHIN prognosticates much of what would constitute the average solo album from Ihsahn in the following decade and beyond, there are a few key elements that differentiate the PECCATUM project. While the gnarled progressive black metal riffs and gothic underbelly evoke the following Ihsahn albums, STRANGLING FROM WITHIN is more like a symphonic classical compositional album that is dressed in black metal clothing. The opening “Where Do I Belong” insinuates a less metal experience than anything Emperor churned out and the album is brought more into the realms of opera by Ihriel’s high pitched vocal style however it’s her one trick pony screeches that bring this album down a few notches.

“The Change” and its rampaging progressive black metal attack charges at a furious tempo with blastbeats and sounds like something that should’ve been on an Emperor album but the following “The Song Which No Name Carry” displays a very avant-garde swagger that would become one of Ihsahn’s signature styles once gone solo. “The Sand Was Made Of Mountains” brings back the symphonic elements with feisty keyboard heft and jittery guitar parts along with a more jazzy drumming style. This tailor made progressive song brings out some of his most knotty workouts before the album slows down a bit and culminating with the more classically infused lengthy “The World Of No Worlds” and “And Pray For Me.”

Overall there’s some great moments on this album but Ihsahn’s bestial black metal vocal style along with Ihriel’s airy fairy high wails just don’t jive together very well making this beauty and beast approach sound like two beasts duking it out in the gender wars. Compositionally speaking the album flows fairly well but the mix of the black metal and classical elements does feel a bit clumsy at times. Once again, i cannot stress how irritating Ihriel’s vocals are on this album but luckily they don’t dominate and can be forgotten, well, at least until they leap back into the scheme of things. For being a first offering, this album isn’t horrible by any means but it certainly isn’t Ihsahn’s swan song either especially considering this was released while he was still in Emperor.

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