Unearthing The Metal Underground: The Avant-Garde Scene
The number of metal bands out there has exploded in the last few years, and finding acts that meet your tastes can be quite a challenge, especially if you prefer your heavy music underground instead of well known. To help keep up with the ever shifting sea of metal, each Monday we unearth three lesser known bands all grouped by style or location.
We’ve looked at underground experimental bands before, but today we’ll cover three groups on the far fringe of the avant-garde scene. These three metallic offerings are for fans of the most bizarre reaches of music, combining elements that typically never come within miles of each other.
Age of Silence
Norway’s Age of Silence unfortunately only released a single full-length album back in 2004, titled “Acceleration,” and followed that with an EP the next year. True to its name, the band has been mostly silent since then, only popping up in 2010 to announce work was underway on another album, but nothing has come of it yet.
Age of Silence starts with a distinctly Scandinavian metal sound, but goes primarily for clean vocals, lacing in a variety of odd keyboard sound effects that take the music in a different direction than normal.
While there may or may not ever be new Age of Silence material, band member Andy Winter recently released his own solo album, offering more proggy Norwegian metal for fans who can’t get enough.
Some of our cassette tape trading readers may recall this bizarre underground gem, which primarily released material back in the ‘90s. Described as “avant-garde jazz grindcore,” Painkiller operates on two different frequencies: schizophrenic and aurally terrifying metallic/sax assaults on one side, and then long, droning ambient tracks on the other. You can get a taste of both doses of Painkiller below.
The chaotic side of Painkiller is like a seriously bad acid trip converted into musical notes, featuring a saxophonist who I can only assume has transcended reality thanks to a huge dose of various cough syrups. Be sure to buckle up before hitting “play” on the first track below.
The only band in today’s lineup to still be active in the metal scene, Solefald last released an album in 2010 but recently went out on a European trek with Vreid. The band takes a sort of “post” approach to black metal, mixing in symphonic and folk elements, along with some unexpectedly bizarre twists. Some are more odd than others - “Queen in the Bay of Smoke” (available below) in particular raises eyebrows with truly odd croaking vocals.
Solefald uses a good deal of clean singing and features a strongly identifiable Norwegian atmosphere. Latest album “Norrøn Livskunst” in particular will likely having a strong appeal for anyone who loved the recent ICS Vortex solo album.
Does bizarro metal work for you? Let us know what you thought of these picks, and be sure to leave some recommendations for other avant-garde outfits in the comments below. Check back in again next week as we continue to unearth more underground metal bands.
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