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
4.50 | 23 ratings
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SIGH Imaginary Sonicscape Album Cover Imaginary Sonicscape
4.42 | 35 ratings
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ARCTURUS The Sham Mirrors Album Cover The Sham Mirrors
4.31 | 60 ratings
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KAYO DOT Choirs Of The Eye Album Cover Choirs Of The Eye
4.28 | 59 ratings
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SHINING Blackjazz Album Cover Blackjazz
4.24 | 27 ratings
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ARCTURUS La Masquerade Infernale Album Cover La Masquerade Infernale
4.19 | 46 ratings
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SIGH Hail Horror Hail Album Cover Hail Horror Hail
4.32 | 12 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
4.19 | 39 ratings
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DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious Album Cover Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious
4.20 | 32 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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ODD FICTION Puzzle Machine

EP · 2022 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Metallo-zeuhl is in the house!!!

Coming from an undisclosed sector of France, ODD FICTION first emerged in 2012 with the lineup of Thomas Ripa (guitar, vocals), Léo Goudaroulis (drums, percussion) and Bastoul (bass) as a straight forward punk band but with the arrival of Gabriel Gadré (bass) and Pierre Cruz (guitar) the band caught the math rock bug and started crafting more progressive punk compositions that would end up on the band’s debut “La Vie Des Clown” in 2017. That album was fast and frenetic something like Gordian Knot meets The Flying Luttenbachers.

Fast forward to 2022 and ODD FICTION finally releases a followup titled PUZZLE MACHINE albeit in the form of a so-called EP but considering the album was about 37 minutes long and this one is just over 27, we’re only talking the difference of a single track or two. In the five years since ODD FICTION’s last release the band has tamed its sound considerably. No longer a loose canon flailing around like one of Weasel Walter’s projects, the band adopted the stabling genre of zeuhl to its mix which changes the band’s overall sound considerably. This EP features five tracks that all pack a punch.

The world of metal has been the slut of the music world having cross-pollinated with about every genre of music possible but until recently i haven’t really heard the hardcore prog genres such as zeuhl commingle with extreme metal. The Brazilian band Papangu which also formed in 2012 was first metal zeuhl hybrid i’ve heard with its 2021 “Holoceno.” I guess metallo-zeuhl is here to stay. And why not? The zeuhl style of jazz-rock has a very pleasing rhythmic stability that allows all kinds of improvisation to evolve around a steady beat that keeps the artist from completely losing the listener. Just listen to the previous release and then this one. See what i mean?

While zeuhl is a forgiving prog genre for its ability to adapt to just about everything, that by no means that every artist can pull it off. ODD FICTION seems to have been made for this gig! While the debut album was competent and engaging, this one is much more fun as it not only employs the bubbling rhythmic drive of the jazz-rock world invented by Magma but it offers an extreme form of metal to accompany these rhythms that actually works. That means that the metal is subordinate to the zeuhl’s stronger gravitational force however the band delivers all the intensity of a skilled tech death metal band as well as dropping the metal altogether and delving into metal-free avant-prog / math rock angularities.

Overall this is an impressive little gem of an EP with stellar instrumental interplay and playful creativity. No vocals on this one but the clever use of oscillating guitar riffs and Jannick Top inspired bass antics along with jazzy drum rolls with and without the intensity of extreme metal is highly satisfying. It’s like Christian Vander spawned a bunch of punks and they went all metal on him! Is it zeuhl? Is it math rock? Is it metal? Well, it’s all of the above of course! This is a very dynamic hybridization that doesn’t really let one genre or the other dominate. It’s all perfectly balanced for a brilliant performance. At least as a French band, it’s like Christian Vander keeping his influences in the family so to speak. This is a band i very much look forward to hearing more from.

ASHENSPIRE Hostile Architecture

Album · 2022 · Avant-garde Metal
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When you can't see the stars, you stop dreaming of space

For a band to not only reach the bar set for avant-garde metal by Kayo Dot and maudling of the Well, but to also put another brick on this wobbly Jenga tower of a genre, without making it fall apart, is no small achievement. To simultaneously turn the whole thing into a poignant left-wing manifesto borders on a miracle. And yet here we are, looking at a perfectly fine Jenga tower.

Conceptually, Hostile Architecture is a searing critique of late capitalism and its urban manifestations, brutal and classist by design. You will both bang your head and shake your fist at the nearest anti-homeless bench. Musically, it's a festival of masterfully repurposed influences (notably KD and A Forest of Stars) that ends up being way more than the sum of its parts. You will recognize the elements but also appreciate how fresh they sound together. Emotionally, it's a furious protest against injustice, oppression and chauvinism of all kinds. The ferociousness of black metal is given new meaning here and chamber music arrangements provide it with gravity.

Personally, I feel like Hostile Architecture reopened wounds that had already started to scar up with indifference and I feel strangely thankful. The world may be doomed, but music like this is a reminder that social resistance is not only necessary. It can also be beautiful.

VED BUENS ENDE Written in Waters

Album · 1995 · Avant-garde Metal
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Might be controversial, but I’m of the opinion that Ved Buens Ende…’s best material was on their EP, Those Who Caress the Pale, and the tracks from there that made it here are the best. I’m usually not a huge fan of overly Avant-Garde stuff, but that EP was pretty much a perfect mix of Blackened Prog Metal with insanely quirky and disturbing Avant-Garde touches.

As to be expected, this album goes further into the Avant-Garde, focusing more on incredibly ominous and bizarre atmospheres, and the Black Metal plays second fiddle to the Avant-Garde Prog Metal. Songs change around in style, and interestingly there’s a lot of vocal variation here as well. The atmosphere is pretty great, a culmination of all things bad and ugly, captured very well in that unnerving album art. Don’t let my opening statement fool you; this is still an awesome record, and one of the best Avant-Garde releases of its time. However, it’s not as consistent as the EP, and the softer moments (like track 7) just don’t work as well as the heavy, ominous oppression. The hidden track is a weak way to end the album as well, though no weaker than the overlong outro on penultimate Remembrance of Things Past would have been.

SIGH Scenes from Hell

Album · 2010 · Avant-garde Metal
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"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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"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.

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