Unearthing The Metal Underground: The Experimental And Avant-Garde Metal Scene
Metal has long been defined by a variety of regimented and easily recognizable genres, such as thrash, death, black, etc. Most bands bring in a few outside influences to keep the music fresh and prevent a total adherence to one particular idea, but there is now a rising tide of bands that ditch the idea of a single style altogether. Going by names such as “avant-garde” or “experimental” or “post-any genre you’d like,” they may start with a base that is familiar, but their overall sound is far too fluid to stick to one identifier. Bands such as Peccatum and Unexpect are some of the most well known in the style (“well known” being entirely relative here), but a growing number of underground experimental bands are still out there, waiting to be found by the metal masses.
Czech Republic based act Oblomov isn’t just quirky or eccentric, it’s zany to the level of being bizarre at times. Despite the total inability to conform to standard or symphonic black metal, there is an underlying theme that keeps all the crazy interludes and wacky use of non-traditional instruments running together. The band’s 2009 album “Communitas (Deconstructing the Order)” (reviewed here) takes side treks to try out Carnival music, digeridoos, saxophones, noir themed music, folk metal inspired wind instruments, and more. The album’s title track can be heard in the video clip below.
Poland’s Furia (not to be confused with the French band Furia, or about a dozen others with the same name) gets most experimental with the 20 minute long, single track EP “Halny” (reviewed here). From long, soft stretches of ambient guitar chords, to blistering black metal segments, and even into odd psychedelic atmospheres, the EP is all over the map during its run time. The entire mind trip (I hesitate to call it just a “song”) can be heard in the two clips that follow:
Italian act Viscera/// (Yes, the stripes are supposed to be there. No, I don’t know how the hell you pronounce them.) has been steadily getting less and less structured over time, dropping old influences and picking up new ones as it goes. There was a good deal of grindcore and extreme death metal to be heard in the earlier work, which has since become less of a major focus. The 2007 album “Cyclops” (reviewed here) remained consistently brutal, but still managed to throw in quite a few odd psychedelic loops in the eight to twelve minute songs.
The many different styles the band plays with are most apparent in the new album “2: As Zeitgeist Becomes Profusion of the I,” which has a more crisp sound to show off the many musical tangents. Should it be properly called stoner doom, sludge, progressive death metal, post-hardcore, or maybe even all of the above smoothly mixed together? The song “Keep on Bluesing Through the Stars” from the “Cyclops” album is available to be heard below.
Beyond these three bands there are many more quality experimental/avant-garde acts in the underground. Don’t hesitate to add your comment below or suggest more good bands. Make sure to check back next Monday as we explore more underground scenes from around the world.
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