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 New Releases

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EMPTINESS
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Tango Solo
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UTOPIANISTI
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Hagbulbia
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PORTAL
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Song To The Siren
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AMENRA
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Vertigo
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JESS AND THE ANCIENT ONES
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Mannequins
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HAIL SPIRIT NOIR
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877•ULTR•POP
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THE ARMED
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Flyblown Prince
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CODE
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Everything We Need
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A DAY TO REMEMBER
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What's Remixed Devours
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BRUSQUE
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Mechanical Soul
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FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY
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non-metal Music Reviews

UTOPIANISTI Tango Solo

Album · 2021 · Non-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
The adventurous Finnish musical explorer Markus Pajakkala is back with another exciting chapter of the life of his project UTOPIANISTI four years after the curve ball avant-garde metal meets noise experiment “Brutopianisti” sent shock waves into the fans who had fallen in love with his twisted sense of jazz-fusion sensibilities on his first three albums. Unlike the first three albums, this is once again a solo effort with Pajakkala playing all the instruments on this near 37-minute collection of ten recordings.

As the title TANGO SOLO suggests this album jumps in world of the tango but of course this is UTOPIANISTI so this album is an interestingly unique mix of his classic jazz-fusion sounds which includes some Canterbury Scene flavors as well as classical piano rolls that take the world of tango into (as far as i know) hitherto unexplored terrain. With the tango as the main ethnic theme that pretty much dominates TANGO SOLO, the album is also chock full of quirky avant-prog rock time signatures with percussion rich heavy sections along with the smoothness of saxophone slides and other jazzy elements.

It wouldn’t be a tango without an accordion and that one is here too but it’s the unexpected moments of xylophones and other sounds that really bring this one to life. Like all of Pajakkala’s oeuvres, this one is an adventurous roller coaster ride of myriad ideas laid out in the most unexpected ways but despite the eclectic nature of this wild man behind an army of instrumentation, this is indeed tango music only teased out into the avant-garde. Astor Piazzolla would be proud! Like much of the UTOPIANISTI canon, the music is quirky and playful like a long lost Zappa reel that has been sitting in the vaults for decades.

TANGO SOLO is very cartoony in its vibe as if a serious tango nuevo entourage had suddenly hooked up with Carl Stalling to produce a soundtrack to a Andalusian version of the classic Looney Tunes cartoons. The beauty of this album is that it takes the sounds of tango out of its standard one-dimensional platitude and gives it a serious makeover the UTOPIANISTI without causing harm or disrespect to the traditional sounds and mood setting nature of the Argentinian musical genre. This one is entirely instrumental and devoid of guitar sounds as far as i can decipher. This is a jazz-fusion album through and through that just happens to add the tango as the primary musical element.

One thing is clear and that is the fact that the UTOPIANISTI project is utterly unpredictable as to where it will direct itself next as i was expecting a return to the style of the first three albums. Although Pajakkala made it clear that the metal and noise experiments on “Brutopianisti” was a one time event, who would’ve considered a Finnish musician immersing himself into the world of the Argentinean musical art form that is the pride of an entire nation. Now we know to expect the unexpected as curve balls are the rule not the exception. Overall this is another intricately designed excellent slice of experimental music from Pajakkala that may even win the hearts of those who have never been keen on the unique musical style known as the tango.

PORTAL Hagbulbia

Album · 2021 · Non-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
PORTAL isn’t exactly the world’s most prolific metal band ranging from three to five years between releases but 2021 has produced a shocking surprise from this most unorthodox extreme and expeirmental metal act, namely this freaky noise making band from Brisbane, Australia has released two albums in one year! Well before you get too excited, that is if you get excited at all about one of the most obnoxiously atonal and dissonant tech extreme metal bands in the market, i have to break it to you that HAGBULBIA is not a proper album but rather a companion release of sort.

Many bands have released ambient and industrial albums under alter egos. Neurosis did it with the Tribes of Neurot albums, Burzum released entire albums of just dungeon synth and Ulver went one further by dropping its metal persona altogether and transmogrifying into an electronic experimental band completely. Whatever the case, this is really nothing out of the ordinary but i doubt anyone was expecting a wildly electric and eclectic band like PORTAL to go this route. Unlike some such albums released simultaneously with a more standard album, HAGBULBIA isn’t really one to be played with the primary album as it sounds completely independent in its own little world.

Basically what we have here is PORTAL’s chaotic ambient and atmospheric sound effects without the accompanying technical death metal. It’s the closest thing you get to naked and unstripped PORTAL as you can imagine and HAGBULBIA gives a bit of insight into the sound effects and production techniques that often are accompanied by the extreme metal which give it that hazed over atmospheric doom and gloom effect. Given that PORTAL’s music is basically a mix of chaos meets some sort of order albeit complex avant-garde order, HAGBULBIA features the chaotic side of the equation and is really nothing more than 38 minutes of dark ambient fueled blackened death industrial sounds with swirling and often gurgling motifs of swarming sonorities accompanied by what sounds like vocal gargling and eerie splashes, looped static serving as percussion and other scary sound effects.

There is really no rhyme or reason to this one as it is simply a length procession of dark and disturbing sounds that are tweaked to emulate the scariest sounds possible and if there was ever a perfect candidate for a soundtrack for a Halloween party or dungeon then this is probably it. There are very faint aspects of metal especially on the track “Weptune” where you can here a death metal guitar riff try to break free from the turbulent noise above it but it is quickly subdued and thus thrown back into its cage. Really, the whole thing sounds like a frequency war in the bowels of hell! The scant vocal utterances keep it all from sounding too pointless and subdued aspects of “regular” PORTAL albums seem to provide just enough support from beneath the surface to keep this existing in the PORTAL universe.

This one is probably too much for even hardcore PORTAL fans and i have to admit that this is not the PORTAL i signed up for but to be fair, as a creepy ambient industrial album that evokes death and disease and utter despair, this one is quite a nasty sounding beast and therefore it has me intrigued to say the least! While i don’t consider this form of “music” my main staple, as supplemental sound it does have its appeal and if you are one of the tiny few who finds PORTAL’s regularly scheduled program to be a bit tame (does anyone think that?!!) then this will take all those deranged atmospheric mind fucks to the next level. Disturbing and deranged, this really does hit the spot for the most manic and chaotic swarms of sound ever recorded and for that i kinda like it but for your own safety do not listen on a regular basis or else!

NEAL MORSE It's Not Too Late

Album · 2001 · Non-Metal
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lukretion
Neal Morse’s solo career started with a couple of albums that are quite different from the type of releases that will characterize his solo discography after he left Spock’s Beard in 2002. His first solo album, the self-titled album he released in 1999, bore only faint traces of progressive rock, focusing instead on a lighter pop-rock sound that only occasionally veered into prog territories. His follow-up release, 2001’s It’s Not Too Late, is even less prog-inclined. It is a largely acoustic album, built around simple, singer-songwriter tunes that prefer emotional directness and melodic accessibility over technical wizardry and structural complexity.

Oddly, this is an album that I like and at the same time dislike more than Morse’s 1999 solo debut. I like it better than his first album because it feels more honest and authentic. It does not try to strike a balance between Morse’s simple pop ambitions and his progressive rock “day job”, but it fully embraces his singer-songwriter sensibilities, presenting a collection of acoustic tunes written by Morse between 1980s and the months prior the release of the album. However, among the record’s 13 songs, I only find a handful of tunes that I can say I truly like. Most tracks are fairly anonymous and inoffensive light pop numbers that disappear from my musical memory as soon as the album moves on to the next song. Others are fun to listen to, but feel quite derivative and make me almost feel as if I were listening to a bar band rather than to one of the greatest prog rock musicians of our times (“So Long Goodbye Blues”, “Ain’t Seen Nothing Like Me”). Other tracks are just plain boring, as they lack a strong melody to carry them through (“The Eyes of the World”).

The tracks I fully enjoy are few and far in between. “I Am Your Father” is one of them. This is a song Morse had written with his old band from the 1980s, which in fact accompanies the singer on this re-recorded version of the tune. It is a very emotional pop-rock number, driven by Morse’s piano and powerful vocal delivery and enriched by some poignant lyrics about fathership. “Something Blue” is the other highlight of the record for me. It’s a more uptempo number graced by a gloriously catchy chorus that elevates the song to a different level.

There’s not much going on instrumentally throughout the album. Morse’s superb piano playing shines in some of the song and Nick D’Virgilio precise and sophisticated drumming is always a pleasure to listen to. But the songs feature intentionally simple and essential arrangements that leave little space for musical showmanship.

In short, there’s virtually no prog on this one, just a collection of simple and mostly acoustic tunes that are often pleasant, but rarely extraordinary. Morse is a great player, singer and songwriter, so it is really hard to find parts of his discography that are tout court bad, and It’s Not Too Late is no exception. Yet, this is probably among the weakest albums released by the man, and, unless you are a hardcore Morse’s fan or a completionist, you may want to skip this one and save your money for one of the other albums in Morse’s rich discography.

ANATHEMA Weather Systems

Album · 2012 · Non-Metal
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Peacock Feather
When you start talking about what is dear to you and loved to the depths of your heart and soul, it is always difficult to find the right words, epithets, metaphors to describe the feelings and emotions burning inside you. If We're Here Because We're Here stole my heart, used it a little and fed it, and then returned it to its rightful owner, then Weather Systems made this heart its own property.

All the best things start at the very end, and my introduction to Anathema began with the closing Internal Landscapes. I was blown away by how sensual it was, how genuinely sincere, and how the pathos was twisted to the maximum. I delayed my acquaintance with the album itself a little, coming to it gradually. I had already fallen in love with the Untouchable dilogy and the above-mentioned song, but I was afraid to be disappointed sometimes, even though I already knew that Anathema would be serious and lasting with me. And for the first time, I wasn't as impressed as I thought I would be.

To be honest, the whole Weather Systems is built on the same patterns, both its own and the patterns of the last album. All the songs follow basically the same canons, the same pattern, but that doesn't mean, damn it, that the album is monotonous and bad. I think I was able to see such an elusive feature of this album, as a complete immersion inside myself and inside the band itself, to be precise, inside Danny himself, who again became the author of almost all the songs on the album, only The Storm Before The Calm was written by John Douglas. No wonder Danny himself says that it is difficult for him to listen to Weather Systems, since the lyrics on the album are very personal for the older of Cavanaghs.

The deep emotionality of the release at some point completely conquered me, and I could no longer resist the endless beauty of this almost masterpiece. Neither the extraterrestrial majesty of Untouchable, nor the perfect embodiment of femininity in the person of Lee Douglas and her solo part in Lightning Song, nor the duality of The Storm Before The Calm (for a reason it is so different from the other songs on the album, due to the direct involvement of the drummer already mentioned above), nor the softness and lightness of The Beginning and the End, nor the epic melancholy of Internal Landscapes. Truly, there are no passing compositions for me here, Weather Systems have long, deeply and reliably settled in my heart. This is the best album of Anathema of the new period, which is slightly inferior to Judgment, but by a large margin wins over all other albums. I just don't know what words to choose for this album, these songs, when there is only one endless delight burning in my mouth.

ANATHEMA We're Here Because We're Here

Album · 2010 · Non-Metal
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Peacock Feather
For 7 long years, Anathema did not release anything big and new, but during this period the band held many concerts, which resulted in the reconciliation of Danny and Vinnie, as well as as many as 2 concert DVDs, on one of which, for example, a whole Comfortably Numb was covered. And in 2008, the band released a good acoustic compilation, Hindsight, in which the old hits of the band were transformed in a softer light (although, it would seem, much lighter), especially for Fragile Dreams and Angelica. Well, not about this collection, but about the album, which presented the band in a new, fully formed guise of the apostles of light, love and goodness, and if you are not sick of the combination of these 3 words in one sentence, then most likely, you will definitely have a good relationship with the new Anathema.

From the very first notes of Thin Air and the first lines uttered by Vinnie's gentle voice, you are immersed in this bright, sunny atmosphere, you feel that love is really freedom in time and peace. The meeting with the inevitable is delayed by the restless and nervous, but awesome Summer Night Horizon, which is a kind of light greeting to the beginning of the noughties, and then... the infinitely magical and touching Dreaming Light, my personal favorite, Everything, from which the stingy male tears of happiness strive to spill, the truly angelic song Angels Walk With Us, in which the vocals are performed by the notorious Ville Valo from HIM, and the epic A Simple Mistake with almost the best crescendo in the history of the band. And the overall impression of the album is not at all spoiled by either the frank filler Get Off Get Out, or the slightly delayed instrumental Hindsight, which closes the album (although this will still affect the final score). To tell you the truth, if I were in the guys' shoes, I would have made Universal the final song. Of all the songs of Anathema written by Vinnie, this one is his best work. At its core, it really feels like the final chapter of WHBWH, summing up everything Cavanagh/Douglas have had to say over the past 7 years.

By the way, a remarkable fact: all this splendor was mixed together by the maestro Steven Wilson, known to you all from his work in Porcupine Tree, No-Man, Blackfield and many other bands/projects. We're Here Because We're Here is by all accounts a great album that has already become a lifetime classic among the band's fans. If the guys would get rid of Get Off Get Out – I would give this work an unquestionable top ten or close to it.

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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