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Unearthing The Metal Underground: More Of The Genre Flip-Flopping Scene

With more than 15,000 bands in our database, and hordes more than that in existence, every Monday we like to take a little time to highlight three underground bands that deserve your attention.

Usually our unearthed bands focus on a single sub-genre or geographic region, but today we’ll look bands that have all experienced a similar phenomena: the flip-flop. Favored maneuver of politicians everywhere, and for some reason also plenty of metal bands, these guys aren’t doing it to pick up more votes, as their flip-flips frequently cost them fans.

Metal has its fair share of musical flip-floppers who went from heavy to soft, vice versa, or smashed opposing elements together to create a different type of sound. Our previous look at three genre flip-floppers covered a variety of them, and there are even more well known acts that have taken this route, from Darkthrone to Anathema and Therion. Below you’ll find a sampling of three lesser known acts that have significantly changed sound from their earlier works.

Tribulation

This Swedish death metal act had a cult hit back in 2009 with debut full-length “The Horror” (reviewed here), which was a brutal and unrelenting take on death/thrash that never let up. Short but sweet, the tracks were brief bites of devastation that didn’t overstay their welcome.

Fast forward to 2013, and Tribulation is an altogether different beast. Unlike the other two bands we’ll look at today, this time the change in sound actually made the songs much longer than before. “The Formulas of Death” (check out the review) saw the band become a progressive death metal outfit with plenty of melody and unexpected stylistic shifts. If it weren’t for the remaining thrash influence in the guitar sounds and the recurring death vocals, this would essentially be two different bands.

Hear the difference yourself through the clips below taken from each album. There is a lot going on musically throughout the second album, so a single song doesn’t really give enough to digest the breadth of the change, but you can also check out the new song “When the Sky is Black with Devils” via the band’s Facebook profile.

Batillus

Although this rising underground band only has two full studio albums, Batillus has actually had a good deal of overall releases to refine its sound through multiple EPs and splits. I had the good fortune to latch onto Batillus early in the band’s career and have watched quite a transformation from the original self-titled debut EP (reviewed here).

At the start, Batillus was a machine composed of miles long riffs with reverb that echoed to eternity, with only intermittent weird sound effects. The group also entered the metal world as an instrumental outfit, only recently adding on a vocalist with first full-length “The Furnace” (read our review). Now on to its second studio album, Batillus has significantly shortened the songs and gone in a completely different direction focused more on industrial and electronic sounds with “Concrete Sustain” (reviewed here). Get a glimpse of the musical 180 through two tracks below – one from the band’s first EP, and one from the latest album.

Disillusion

When a prog band changes styles is it really a flip-flop, or just another progression? Germany’s Disullision only has two full-length albums, but they feature a pretty drastic change in direction and sound from one another. 2004’s “Back to Times of Splendor” comes from what is nominally a death metal band, but of the proggy and melodic variety with super long tracks including a fair share of clean singing, piano, acoustic guitar, and so on.

In 2006 we find a completely different side of Disillusion (with some fans feeling the band lived up to its name, others loving the change) that has entered the world of industrial music with synthesizers, stilted spoken word parts, and techno-ish repeating vocals.

Is there any hope of a third album on the horizon? There were murmurs of new album recording back in 2010, but nothing’s been heard since, although the band’s Facebook page lately has seen activity of new live shows. While enduring the endless wait, check out two songs from Disillusion below.

In the world of metal, change is an ever present force, and these are but three of the many bands out there that have decided to shift sound throughout their careers. Let us know what you thought of these bands, and leave your recommendations for musical flip-floppers below. Also be sure to check back in again next Monday as we continue to Unearth the Metal Underground.

xFiruath's avatar

Ty Arthur is a freelance writer who writes for both entertainment and technical instruction sites. An avid fan of many different forms of metal, he has been involved in reviewing music for several years and is currently a contributing editor for Metalunderground.com

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