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    Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

    EXPERIMENTAL/POST METAL

    A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


    From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

    Experimental/Post Metal definition

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    Experimental Progressive Metal

    Experimental progressive metal is a sub-genre of progressive metal characterized by the incorporation of innovative, eclectic elements, large-scale experimentation and the use of non-standard and unconventional sounds, instruments, song structures, playing styles, and vocal techniques. Experimentation in the music is a major criteria to define the genre where artists often add unique elements to the overall sound, while progressive metal usually has more focus on traditional metal instrumentation and higher levels of technical complexity.

    It's nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact origin of Experimental Progressive Metal since experimentation is common in all music genres. Still it is clear that experimentation in the progressive metal sub-genre has slowly but steadily grown in popularity ever since its humble beginnings in the early 1980s.

    Just like any other style, Experimental Progressive Metal has a few defining moments that have changed the rules for its sub-genre for years to come. Two of such moments are the releases of the debut album by MR.BUNGLE of August 1991 and its iconic follow up "Disco Volante" of 1995. MR BUNGLE became notorious for their heavy sound and mid-song shifts of musical style. The band has later spawned an array of established avant-garde side projects such as FANT訫AS, SECRET CHIEFS 3 and ESTRADASPHERE but also inspired new Experimental Metal acts to take the music scene to new heights.
    Another crucial artist in the development of Experimental Progressive Metal was the leading Avant Metal band of the 80s, CELTIC FROST. Their eclectic mix of Thrash, Doom, Symphonic and Goth Metal created a dark theatrical mystique that became a major influence among the experimental Extreme Metal bands of the 90s such as MY DYING BRIDE, ULVER, ARCTURUS among others. These bands served as an important source of inspiration for the experimental movement within extreme metal.

    The bands listed under Experimental Progressive Metal have all, in various degrees, shed their extreme heritage in favor of embracing influences of the eclectic style going from art rock and ethnic up to free-jazz and even modernist music.

    Art Metal
    Art metal is a direct continuation of progressive metal but with the longing to expand the themes and styles of music while maintaining the technical complexity of the sub-genre.
    These bands are more artistic than their progressive metal peers and tend to experiment, to a certain extent, but not as openly as the bands of the eclectic and avant-garde metal styles. Art metal comes in many shapes and forms. The virtuosity and complete unpredictability of DEVIN TOWNSEND, OSI and TOOL always manages to draw attention of both fans of traditional metal as well as the progressive music audience, while bands like ANATHEMA, DEADSOUL TRIBE and GORDIAN KNOT attract many fans of groove and atmospheric music into their vibrant soundscapes. Other notable acts include GREEN CARNATION, DARK SUNS and ANTIMATTER.

    Eclectic Metal
    These bands often add unconventional elements to their metal sound, whether it's experiments with various new sounds and styles that are otherwise uncommon in metal or by blending many styles, with metal being the referential core. Whether it's the ethnic elements of ORPHANED LAND's music that combines Middle Eastern folklore with the more traditional progressive metal sound or a completely unique mix of atmospheric, almost ambient, elements fused with metal that can be found in the sound of THE GATHERING, eclectic metal artists will always certainly bring a host of different styles and ideas to the table. Experimental metal can be found in numerous forms while featuring notable acts like INDUKTI, IN THE WOODS... and MAUDLIN OF THE WELL.

    Avant-garde Metal
    This style is generally considered to be more extreme in both its arrangements but most importantly extremely complex and unpredictable song structures. Compositions have the ambition of trying to breach boundaries of music and generally have significant experimental approaches to metal music. Most of this music borders on the realms of pure avant-garde while still maintaining a solid foundation in metal with technical instrumental prowess. Notable acts include UNEXPECT, EPHEL DUATH and VIRUS.


    Post Metal

    Post metal arose following the subsequent emergence of numerous newer, grittier metal genres like sludge, stoner, doom, and drone in the late 80's and early 90's, as well as the budding post-rock scene that emerged in the early 90's in Europe and North America. The scene's origins can be heard in several distinctly like-minded, moderately experimental groups in the early 90's, ranging from the noisy grind of GODFLESH, the sludgy, melodic, sometimes punk-like riffs of the MELVINS, and the proggy time signatures and grungy riffing of TOOL or HELMET, to the textural work of DON CABALLERO and the more melodic moments of early BARK PSYCHOSIS.

    Arguably the first true and definitive realizations of post-metal emerged in the mid 1990's. The most concrete example was NEUROSIS, who moved farther away from their crust-punk origins and into more atmospheric territories with releases like Souls at Zero and Through Silver in Blood, the latter album in particular being regarded as one of the most definitive releases in the genre even to this day for its revolutionary blend of dark, spanning atmosphere and massively heavy sludge, something that would later come to define the post-metal genre as a whole (indeed, post-metal is often called "atmospheric sludge" as well). It wouldn't be until the early 2000's, however, that the genre's capacity would be fully realized, with releases like ISIS's "Oceanic", CULT OF LUNA's "Salvation", and PELICAN's "Australasia" paving the way for a true scene to emerge, and post-metal has since become a widespread phenomenon that has captivated the attention of many adventurous listeners worldwide.

    Post-metal's unique sound is often very long and extremely drawn-out, utilizing oft-repetitive and simple riffs and guitar texturing to create massive buildups and musical climaxes. At times very emotionally evocative, it can be equally soft and soothing as it can be massively dense and crushing. Vocals are used sparingly, if at all (instrumental post-metal is a popular genre, with groups like PELICAN and RUSSIAN CIRCLES even achieving some degree of mainstream credibility), and when they are, they're usually gruff and barked as opposed to growled or screamed, a signature trait of the genre's hardcore roots.

    Variations of Post-metal

    While it should be noted that many post-metal bands have their roots in sludge metal, there are many post-metal bands that are rooted in other genres of metal. While post-sludge was an almost uniquely American phenomenon, a number of European doom-influenced post-metal bands have risen to fame, namely groups like ANATHEMA, YEAR OF NO LIGHT and CALLISTO; their slow-churning riffs and depressing mood of doom metal fit very well into the post-metal formula. These groups later gave way to more western post-doom-metal projects like JESU, GIANT SQUID, and MINSK.

    A number of post-metal bands are significantly influenced by hardcore and post-hardcore, crafting the melodic elements of modern hardcore into their own brands of textural and atmospheric post-metal. This is exemplified by groups like ROSETTA, THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE, CAVE IN, MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT and BURST.

    A subgenre that has emerged to a considerable degree in the last decade is an amalgamation of post-rock and black metal. Black metal has traditionally not been a stylistic influence on post-metal over the years, but bands like ALCEST, FEN, AGALLOCH and ALTAR OF PLAGUES have used the more atmospheric qualities of black metal and the tremolo riffing and incorporated it with a shoegaze-like affinity for heavy, dreamy sounds and guitar effects to create a unique and evocative subgenre that shares many visional and sonic characteristics of post-metal. While the explosion of bands exploring this style is a rather recent phenomenon, there are some instances of this occurring very early in the lifespan of the post-metal genre as a whole. ULVER's debut could be seen as possibly the first album to fall under this definition. For clarification's sake, these post-rock influenced bands are placed in the post-metal subsection of ProgArchives as opposed to the black metal subsection of Tech/Extreme because they eschew much of the harsh tonalities, minor modes, and shrieking vocals of black metal and add a melodic and emotional aspect that makes it much more accessible than their progressive black metal peers in the tech/extreme section.

    Today, the most popular post-metal groups are much of the genre's godfathers like ISIS, NEUROSIS, PELICAN, and CULT OF LUNA, though a number of newer bands have risen to fame in metal and prog circles within the last 5 years like INTRONAUT, ROSETTA, and THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE.


    --- Definition by Alex and Kevin and the Progressive Metal Team, February 2012 ---

    The Progressive Metal Team
    Karl (bonnek)
    Kevin (Necroncommander)
    Mike (TCat)

    Experimental/Post Metal Top Albums


    Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Experimental/Post Metal | More Top Prog lists and filters

    4.22 | 1540 ratings
    LATERALUS
    Tool
    4.21 | 696 ratings
    PART THE SECOND
    Maudlin Of The Well
    4.20 | 652 ratings
    TERRIA
    Townsend, Devin
    4.30 | 134 ratings
    IMAGINARY SONICSCAPE
    Sigh
    4.24 | 185 ratings
    THROUGH SILVER IN BLOOD
    Neurosis
    4.19 | 323 ratings
    LEAVING YOUR BODY MAP
    Maudlin Of The Well
    4.15 | 582 ratings
    ZILTOID THE OMNISCIENT
    Townsend, Devin
    4.17 | 300 ratings
    BATH
    Maudlin Of The Well
    4.13 | 703 ratings
    JUDGEMENT
    Anathema
    4.15 | 378 ratings
    THE MANTLE
    Agalloch
    4.16 | 266 ratings
    IN A FLESH AQUARIUM
    Unexpect
    4.20 | 152 ratings
    SOMEWHERE ALONG THE HIGHWAY
    Cult Of Luna
    4.13 | 336 ratings
    LIGHT OF DAY, DAY OF DARKNESS
    Green Carnation
    4.13 | 317 ratings
    FABLES OF THE SLEEPLESS EMPIRE
    Unexpect
    4.09 | 919 ratings
    芅IMA
    Tool
    4.12 | 263 ratings
    PANOPTICON
    Isis
    4.35 | 52 ratings
    KHAOOOHS & KON-FUS-ION
    Pan.Thy.Monium
    4.17 | 116 ratings
    THE PAINTER'S PALETTE
    Ephel Duath
    4.05 | 899 ratings
    WE'RE HERE BECAUSE WE'RE HERE
    Anathema
    4.08 | 347 ratings
    THE DEVIN TOWNSEND BAND: SYNCHESTRA
    Townsend, Devin

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    Latest Experimental/Post Metal Music Reviews


     Terria by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2001
    4.20 | 652 ratings

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    Terria
    Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

    Review by The Genre Spanner

    5 stars With Terria, Devin Townsend created what is often recognised as one his best, and it's no surprise. It's a powerful, personal, flowing journey of a style of progressive metal unique only to Devin - one that relies on feels over technical prowess. What helps make Terria stand out is, complimentary to his typical reverby wall of sound production, an abundance of layered nature sound effects and atmospheric keyboards that add so much to the experience. The tone is one of anger at times, but it somehow fits well with the more dominant uplifting and blissful tone.

    Terria occurred as part of a healing process after a rather chaotic and difficult time for Devin. A few years prior, with the help of hallucinogens, a Christ complex and accompanying bipolar diagnosis had formed throughout the creation of the album Infinity, and a period of intense depression and regret followed during Physicist. Terria was a time of 'acceptance', as Devin would put it - an acceptance that he is just an ordinary human being like everyone else, whose art isn't the centre of the universe but something to do for a living and enjoy. Life goes on, man. Devin even begun dressing in beige like a regular citizen, hence the man on the album cover. It wasn't necessarily happy times but an emotional numbness that said 'yeah, it's ok. I'm ok.' The tracks 'Nobody's Here' and 'Tiny Tears' act as quite vivid depictions of this time lyrically.

    The concept of Terria - the earthy song titles, sounds and album cover - came when Devin was driving through the Canadian countryside on a tour. It acts as a bit of an ode to his home country in all its natural beauty. 'Terria' itself isn't a word, but it sounds right. It gets the feel across.

    The album begins with the instrumental 'Olives' and what an incredibly intriguing way to open an album. The very strange tone and textures building to a fuzzy onslaught of heaviness is so satisfying. The voice saying 'olives' throughout... why? Because why not. The complimentary atmospheric synths established here and heard throughout the album brought Close to the Edge to mind upon first listen.

    Other highlights from the album include 'Deep Peace', a softer track with a brilliant mid-section of a more typical prog rock vibe, featuring one of the most memorable guitar solos Devin's ever done. 'Down and Under,' a tribute to Australia, is an uplifting instrumental. And then there's 'Nobody's Here' and 'Stagnant,' two simply structured tracks that indulge in being super unapologetically dramatic and almost cheesy, the former track especially. I love them very much.

    The only issue I have with the album is the choice to make the bass drum very prominent in the mix, cutting through everything else. But it's no deal breaker.

    9/10

     Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs by ORPHANED LAND album cover Studio Album, 2018
    3.89 | 92 ratings

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    Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs
    Orphaned Land Experimental/Post Metal

    Review by Sagichim
    Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

    4 stars This one has been sitting on the shelf gathering dust for over a year now, I must have played about half of it before putting it away. Orphaned Land will always have a warm spot in my heart since I was a fan right from the start, the band musical style has changed over the years or should I say evolved. In spite of being labeled extreme metal, those days of the band are long gone, this is more progressive metal than anything, their sound and material became less and less heavy with every album. There's more emphasis on Kobi Farhi's beautiful vocals, their arabic/middle eastern influences grew and include more ethnic string and wind instruments with smooth orchestral arrangements, this has come to perfection in their 4th album The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR. But it's their previous All Is One album that saw them taking an even softer approach, for some reason also the material was just not as good as before to say the least, but what made me loose more interest in the band and wonder "is it all over now??" is the departure of cofounder ace guitarist Yossi Sassy which was resposible probably for the most beautiful and engaging arabic infused metal leads and riffing ever played, yep...that was quite a blow.

    Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs has proved me wrong, the album is closer to All Is One production wise, but the difference is the quality of the material and songwriting, the middle eastern orchestral arrangements are all over the place as before, which might seem a little bit too much at first but repeated listenings will reveal the great work put into the songs. Fans will be glad to find out that although there are a lot of calm moments and more tranquil songs the album feels heavier than before which is a good return to form. That said the sound is smooth and polished so the album doesn't sound so heavy overall plus the orchestrated parts also softens the sound. I think the album's strength lies in the melodies, after a few listenings it's so easy to get hooked on those beautiful songs. Even though heavily accented, Kobi Farhi's soulful vocals are simply outstanding, he is doing an amazing job throughout the album. Growling is not a big part of their music anymore and reduced to a minimum but it is still present here and there and it sounds really good and fitting.

    Idan Amsalem and Chen Balbus are Sassi's replacements on guitars, bouzouki and saz and inspite the urge we have sometimes to hate the new guy I must say the new guy is really good!! They both fit very well into Orphaned's concept of oriental metal, the riffing and all kinds of leads are powerful and imaginative and of course a few amazing solos especially check out the stunning All Knowing Eye for example. There are a few guest musicians appearing here including the great Steve Hackett!! in Chains Fall To Gravity, how that came to be I really don't know, but he's making a beautiful job with adding guitars on this almost 10 minute epic. Also guesting here is Noa Gruman with female vocals from the excellent Soul Enema. The album works as a whole but there are a few standouts, check out the album's powerful progy 8 minute opener The Cave, that shows their perfect balance of an upbeat metalic rocker fused with a swaying middle eastern orchestra and choir, sounds beautiful. We Do Not Resist is another short favorite of mine, it's the heaviest track here and the only one that really qualifies as Extreme metal, sounds like something from their El Norra Alila era. Love the beautiful chorus here as growlings lead the way until it breaks to a quiet arabic ending. The band likes to include sort of a short biblical anthem in every album, Yedidi (My friend) sung in hebrew is really catchy, taking influences from Yemenite music, something that they picked up in The Never Ending Way album, love it!

    It seems Orphaned Land has found the spot where they feel the most comfortable, their formula of perfect balance between metal, oriental orchestration and softer calmer songs works very well once again. The songs are catchy, powerful and full of emotion. Another great addition if you're already familiar with the band, but I think it would also work as an introduction to the band. 4 stars.

     The Devin Townsend Band: Accelerated Evolution by TOWNSEND, DEVIN album cover Studio Album, 2003
    3.89 | 248 ratings

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    The Devin Townsend Band: Accelerated Evolution
    Devin Townsend Experimental/Post Metal

    Review by The Genre Spanner

    3 stars In 2002, Devin Townsend felt compelled to form a band with local musicians to bring Accelerated Evolution to life, while simultaneously having to create the more financially promising third album with his well-established metal band Strapping Young Lad. This was out of response to a few factors:

    Devin has admitted resentment towards SYL at the time, as it was this successful platform taking the limelight away from the kind of music he really wanted to do. So he sought to spitefully prove he could quickly establish another band (hence 'Accelerated Evolution') and produce music just as, if not more, meaningful, with comparatively inexperienced musicians. It would also be an opportunity to stick it to his management who were skeptical he could possibly do both. In addition to that, Devin wanted to play with fans of his solo work who could bring fresh perspectives.

    The goal with Accelerated Evolution was to strip back the more abstract and layered elements of the previous album Terria, (because some listeners were criticizing these for some reason), to create a basic band-oriented album with a very minimal focus on overdubbing. It was to be akin to the tone of Devin's solo debut Ocean Machine but 'more simple and blunted' as Devin would put it. The resulting sound is a mid-tempo progressive metal / hard rock hybrid with some pop sensibilities.

    This is quite an enjoyable and accessible album. It's certainly the most commercial album Devin had done at the time, with catchy hooks and mostly positive vibes; only 'Deadhead' and 'Suicide' darkening the tone a little. The vocals are performed to an incredible standard - Devin seamlessly blends soft vocals, epic vibrato, and screaming into the songs; 'Storm' being a perfect example. And while I wouldn't usually welcome screams in this kind of melodic music, Devin's feel like they come from an authentic place and naturally fit with the music.

    While the production has been stripped back regarding instruments and sounds, Devin's trademark reverby wall of sound is still present, but done in relative moderation. I can recall a time when after listening to the almost overbearing, dense production of the more recent Z2 albums, coming back to this felt like I could breathe again.

    There's a real consistency to Accelerated Evolution. Every song is loud. Every song has the vocals, electric guitar rhythm, bass, the drummer constantly riding the crash cymbal, synth pads... and that's about it. While this brings uniformity to the album, this is the main issue I have with it - Every song is the same colour, so to speak. There's not much to differentiate them regarding texture, tempo, and volume. (This is something the Devin Townsend Band will address on their next album Synchestra.) As someone who gravitates towards dynamics and variety, this prevents me from revisiting Accelerated Evolution often.

    There are however some standout moments. 'Away' is a favourite of mine as it's (almost) instrumental, with Devin's creative voice shining as an 8 minute lead-guitar performance. It provides a holiday from 'Singer-Songwriter Devin Townsend' so we can hear the less-common but very skilled 'Guitarist Devin Townsend'. The moments in his albums where he allows himself to indulge in guitar wankery is always a treat. Additionally, 'Sunday Afternoon' feels very inspired, especially the chorus, and one cannot skip past how iconic the live-favourite 'Deadhead' is, despite me finding it a bit tiresome at this point.

    Accelerated Evolution's loud, positive and commercial tendencies are something Devin would revisit a decade later with Epicloud. 'Slow Me Down' is even referenced in the Epicloud track 'Hold On'. But Accelerated Evolution is an album Devin now considers fairly uninteresting, despite a couple of great tracks. And given his heart was fairly absent from the SYL album, it was a lesson for him in splitting the efforts as such. (For the record I think SYL is a pretty kickass metal album.)

    A special edition of Accelerated Evolution came with a bonus EP called 'Project EKO', a foray into instrumental electronica. Synths, pulsing beats, samples, and reverby twangy guitars provide an interesting departure from Devin's usual style, and it's a welcome one. It's the kind of experimentalism I'm always happy to see from him. But I'm not confident it has aged well - it reeks of 'early 2000s' and would fit perfectly on a Playstation One racing game menu. Interestingly, Devin has said that Project EKO had his peak interest during this creative period.

    7/10

     A Natural Disaster by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2003
    3.91 | 552 ratings

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    A Natural Disaster
    Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

    Review by sgtpepper

    4 stars I see a bit of improvement comparing to their previous album and that's mainly due to less vocals and more post-rock textures. A solid release with a couple of memorable songs that have well survived into 2010's live concerts. The record is a tad more optimistic though. And there are larger post-rock influences, which I like. "Harmonium" starts with a depressing note despite promising title. "Balance" is a mix between Radiohead and post-rock but not that memorable unfortunately and it could be worse if the guitar less prominent in the mix. "Closer" has a simple but good development; it also leans towards post-rock. Artificial vocals are acquired taste. "Pulled under..." is an aggressive song reminding their 90's past and has nothing progressive in it. "Natural disaster" is one of the best song, good textures and female vocal, followed by a great 10-minute last song. Overall. it is a lighter and more optimistic record than previous ones and a step closer to crossover prog.
     A Fine Day To Exit by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2001
    3.82 | 486 ratings

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    A Fine Day To Exit
    Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

    Review by sgtpepper

    3 stars The Liverpool lads showed promising hints of open and progressive eyes on this release that is devoid of doom metal/rock influences keeping melancholy spirit instead of depressing one. Songs are well constructed, sometimes up beat and dynamic but mostly reflective and static. Vocals keep getting better every release and this album handles them well. "Looking outside well" shows higher pitched screaming vocals. As usual, instrumental focus is on guitars, less on drums and bass. There are no jaw-breaking solos or instrumentation so it may put some proggers off. Catchy alternative rock chorus is on "Looking outside well" bordering with post-grunge. "Leave no trace" is a haunting ballad that reminds me of Scandinavian melancholy. The title song is perhaps the most varied song with dynamic and quiet sections. The only real letdown is the 18-minute song that has quite a lot meaningless silent minutes.
     In The Court of The Spaceking by SPACEKING album cover Studio Album, 2013
    3.09 | 4 ratings

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    In The Court of The Spaceking
    Spaceking Experimental/Post Metal

    Review by kev rowland
    Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

    3 stars The name of the band combined with the album title of this 2013 release is surely going to intrigue anyone interested in prog or space rock (there is a theme going as their 2016 album was called 'The Piper at the Gates of Stone', which made me smile if nothing else, haven't heard it yet). Spaceking were formed in 2009 by Ivan Zakharov (bass, acoustic guitar, fx) and they released a couple of EP's before having a stable line- up which released this their debut, comprising Sergei Tumanov (guitar), Ilya Yakunov (guitar), Ilya Makarov (drums) and Denis Demchev (fx). This Russian band is often instrumental, although not totally, and are combining stoner rock, doom metal, space rock, psychedelic and progressive influences to create something which is down, dirty, and raw. They were one of the first bands in Russia playing music with post metal influences and styles which has led them to touring quite widely.

    It is filthy rock which reminds me somewhat of Blue Cheer, with Sabbath and Hawkwind also notable influences, while Fu Manchu have also got a look in somewhere. The guitar chords and bass notes are so rich and thick that one can sit on them and be carried around the room, while the distortion keeps everything shaking long after the strings have been struck. This album has recently been reissued by the wonderful 'no name' label so is now easily available either digitally or physically, and for those who enjoy these genres of music this is a pleasant trip indeed.

     羢t by SKAGOS album cover Studio Album, 2009
    3.33 | 8 ratings

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    羢t
    Skagos Experimental/Post Metal

    Review by siLLy puPPy
    Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

    3 stars The atmospheric black metal SKAGOS which formed in 2007 in Courtnenay, British Columbia on Canada's Vancouver Island is actually the side project of Iskra bassist Ray Hawes which is another black metal band from neighboring Victoria. This band project has released a few splits but so far only two albums: this debut 罶T which was released in 2009 and a sophomore release "Anarchic" which came out in 2013. This band has had up to four members but on this debut it's only Hawes on bass along with Isaac Symonds on vocals, guitars and drums. A guest appearance of Shandra Mason providing violin occurs on "With a Warm Recollection."

    The early 2000s found a whole slew of black metal bands turning more atmospheric and progressive with lengthy sprawling tracks that meander and mostly clocking in with ten minute plus tracks. Weakling certainly upped the ante for lengthier labyrinthine black metal stampedes that indulged in lo-fi tremolo infused sonic terror-tests but many newer bands have added dark ambient atmospheres and even elements of progressive electronic to add more contrast to the frigid orotund nature of black metal bombast. SKAGOS resides in the camp that is closest to bands like Wolves In The Throne Room, Leech and even Agalloch however this band does have a distinct sound of its own despite finding many commonalities.

    Like the aforementioned bands, SKAGOS starts tracks off with post-rock styled dreaminess with arpeggiated clean guitars that slowly build up intensity until the black metal kicks in with faster tempos, more aggressive traditional black metal guitar, bass and drum intensity as well as the angry screams that emerge from below the cacophonous din. 罶T unleashes six furious compositions that race past the 55 minute mark and in their wake leave the excesses of lo-fi black metal rampage along with lengthy droning sessions and atmospheric post-rock detachment. The musicianship is above average with nicely delivered tremolo guitar picking and blastbeat fueled drum workouts that add a bit of technicality. The music can change from black metal fury to placid mellowness in a second.

    SKAGOS is one of those bands that has done its homework and excels is checking off all the boxes in order to make the perfect black metal album but where 罶T ultimately fails in the songwriting department as nothing on this album really stands out from the legion of similar sounding bands that preceded or came after. Add to that the lo-fi recording approach which works quite well with the second wave rawness of orthodox black metal doesn't quite fit in with the more atmospheric varieties which rely on a cleaner production value to allow all those intricate synthesized sounds to swirl around like a pit of slithering vipers and even the newer remastered versions do not correct this. Overall this is a decent slice of atmospheric black metal but it just doesn't elevate the listening experience to a high enough level to keep me thoroughly engaged throughout its rather monotonous callithump through the Western Canadian woods.

    3.5 rounded down

     Mestarin kynsi by ORANSSI PAZUZU album cover Studio Album, 2020
    4.59 | 10 ratings

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    Mestarin kynsi
    Oranssi Pazuzu Experimental/Post Metal

    Review by siLLy puPPy
    Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

    5 stars With a name that refers to an orange colored Babylonian demon, the Finnish band ORANSSI PAZUZU sounds as if it just moved to our planetary system after leaving the Oort Cloud and more than any other modern metal act has brought the term psychedelic metal into the vernacular while more or less making the final case for its inclusion as a bonafide subgenre of the greater extreme metal universe. Although this band was formed as far back as 2007 in Tampere, Finland, it has remained underground like a collective of bottom-feeding fungi that are only visible to those who venture into the dark recesses of the musical universe however album after album this band has grown in stature by crafting a collision of sounds that acts like A.I. as it self-replicates and learns how to perfect itself after every incremental step.

    While there was never any doubt amongst the true believers who have been following this band over the last several years that this collective has latched onto the visionary possibilities that can only expand beyond its wildest dreams, perhaps nobody was expecting how quickly this band emerged from the Finnish fens of the great Scandinavian north has wrested itself into the top position of black metal's highest ranks. With only its fifth album MESTARIN KYNSI ( Finnish for 'Master's Fingernail' ), ORANSSI PAZUZU has struck the perfect balance between the dramatic and calamitous sonic terror of black metal fury with the darkest psychedelic head trips that portend an ominous demonic summoning as if they have found the perfect musical formula to terrorize the astral planes. Talk about a scary trip!

    Embedded with a hypnotic minimalistic post-rock style of cyclical grooves and rhythms bringing pioneering forces such as Swans and Neurosis to mind, ORANSSI PAZUZU amplify the psychological effects by taking things up several notches and crafting a true state of visceral anguish expressed in recurring loops of sound that find sonic experimentation and dark avant-garde ambience to frightening new arenas. While the team of Jun-His [Juho Vanhanen] (vocals, guitar), Korjak [Jarkko Salo] (drums), Evill [Ville Leppilahti] (keyboards, synthesizer, organ, effects, percussion) and Ontto [Toni Hietam'ki] (bass) remains solid, this cast of darkness has found the replacement of Ikon [Niko Lehdontie] who takes the place of long time guitarist Moit. With a set of six sprawling tracks, ORANSSI PAZUZU has taken the possibilities of psychedelic black metal back into the realms of the Oort Cloud with sonic swirls of scary atmospheric backdrops and effects that envelop every thumping bass groove, every raspy vocal rage and every thundering percussive backdrop fortified by guitar antics from the deep.

    Having been based in the aesthetics of black metal since its inception, ORANSSI PAZUZU has grown more confident in its ability to weave a tapestry of electronic intimidation with suffocating eddies of sonic pulsations balanced in a perfect production where a twinkling drone effect envelops the sonic assault like a black hole and the musicians are left to compete behind a resonating wall of sound. In many ways it seems that the results of the ORANSSI PAZUZU experiment have also found the logical conclusion of the pre-OP sounds in the experimental post-punk act Kuolleet Initiaanit. Going for the psychic jugular, MESTARIN KYNSI is designed to craft the ultimate darkened cloud over the world with the one/two punch of heavily distorted black metal in conjunct with eerie atmospheric spectral slices of astral angst.

    Keeping the ORANSSI PAZUZU steeped in the Finnish language only adds to the frigid cold alienation of MESTARIN KYNSI which takes the expected route of post-metal styled guitar riffage drifting into expansive terrains while subtle variations of rhythm, pitch and dynamics slowly ooze their way in and out of the scene but this album takes on various new personas by engaging in many moments of non-metal moments by taking unexpected turns into what almost sounds like black techno. The most shocking development is the third track 'Uusi Teknokratia' which offers a pounding groove as if The Prodigy or Infected Mushroom had seized control and steered the musical flow into a psytrance induced Krautrock fueled black metal frenzy. If blackened Kraut-metal hasn't been coined as of yet then surely it could find a nomination after an album like MESTARIN KYNSI.

    While ORANSSI PAZUZU seems unable to deliver a substandard album, it is utterly amazing at how this band has continued to progress its experimental psychedelic infused metal craft into ever tighter fine-tuned epic compositions that have found the perfect balance between the most extreme metal bombast and the lucid dreaming airy ambience that sounds as if it has broken Earth's orbit and set loose in the expansiveness of outer space. Somehow knowing exactly when to break the monotonous spell and take nosedives at hairpin speed precision into progressive fits of rage, this is one band that defies all logic and keeps you on your toes throughout this exhilarating turbulent ride. Having shown even greater potential with the band's latest collaboration with Dark Buddha Rising as The Waste of Space Orchestra, ORANSSI PAZUZU demonstrates clearly how they can now stand on their own two feet and conquer the extreme metal world with a distinctly unique sound that doesn't let up until the very last notes of the frightening drone-fueled closer 'Taivaan Portti' ceases its metallic orotund hysteria. Needless to say, this one exceeded all expectations. All bow down to the new metal masters.

     Hindsight by ANATHEMA album cover Studio Album, 2008
    3.92 | 159 ratings

    BUY
    Hindsight
    Anathema Experimental/Post Metal

    Review by Easy Livin
    Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

    4 stars Temporary peace

    As the name might suggest, "Hindsight" sees Anathema looking back at some of their earlier material. This is not though a simple compilation, but an album of re-interpretations of songs that originally appeared on albums such as "Alternative 4", ""A fine day to exit" and "A natural disaster".

    Sometimes misleadingly referred to as an unplugged album, "Hindsight" offers pared back versions of songs that were generally already soft and melodious. The fine cello playing of classically trained musician Dave Wesling is added and the emphasis is certainly placed on acoustic guitars and piano. The soft side of Radiohead remains a decent reference point, especially on songs such as the beautifully melancholic "Leave no trace" and the delicate "One last goodbye" (from "Judgement").

    Many of the songs do not sound that different to the originals, among the more notable variations being the absence of the voice of Anna Livingstone to be replaced by equally effective male vocal harmonic accompaniment. The oldest song on the album is "Angelica" from "Eternity", where drifting lead guitar and a heavier back-beat lead to the song having a less stripped but nonetheless highly appealing feel. The title track from "A natural disaster" is surprisingly faithful to the original, right down to the female lead vocal by Lee Douglas.

    "Temporary peace" from "A fine day to exit" was originally intended to provide the title for this album until "Hindsight" became the preferred option. The version here thankfully loses its extended section of ambient noises, thus focusing on the melodic opening segment of the original track. There is one new song here, the closing "Unchained (tales of the unexpected)". The acoustic sounds remain firmly in charge, but this feels more like a song from the band's earliest days.

    For me this is an album of great beauty, replete with relaxing but far from ambient sounds. I would have liked to have seen more of the early material, especially from the growling days, being revisited as the differences would then have been far more noticeable. As it stands, the versions of the songs here constitute worthy Alternatives, rather than improvements.

     The Departure by ATMOSPHERES album cover Studio Album, 2015
    5.00 | 4 ratings

    BUY
    The Departure
    Atmospheres Experimental/Post Metal

    Review by Wicket
    Prog Reviewer

    5 stars It's always amazing to see where the new trends in music emerge from.

    Not even 10 years ago, everyone was talking about "djent". Once the mainstream metal community finally acknowledged and embraced the sound of Meshuggah, everyone wanted to play drop a and crunch every amp and subwoofer into noisy cacophonic oblivion. Except, the problem with that is the fact that the music is terrible, one dimensional and gives you a migraine every three seconds.

    So, what if we did a complete 180 and go ambient, using djent chords as a textural counterpoint to ambient and spacey soundscapes?

    Enter Atmospheres.

    While Skyharbor takes this recipe and adds dynamic vocalization from the insanely talented Daniel Thompson and insanely good instrumentation, Atmospheres goes for the minimalist approach. The album's opener, "Sun", opens with a thematic drum groove before reverb laden guitars come in with this hypnotic, almost trance like melody. Once the drums subside, it feels like you've been left to drift in space, and this mellow procedure repeats before the guitars slam on the distortion while the syncopated drum groove continues playing while the same key churns behind in a minimalistic approach. If it weren't for the syncopated and atypical drum patterns, it'd frankly be hard to stay awake for this album and that'd be a damn shame because you'd miss some great tunes.

    This is the Atmospheres sound, minimalistic syncopation with heavy distortion in great, big open choruses. "The Furthest Star" is proof, probably with the catchiest chorus you'll find. If there was a genre called Space Metal, Atmospheres would be the figurehead. "Void" is just new age mood music until the drums and guitars (sort of gently) come on halfway through while a piano plucks the same motif throughout the entire song. It's so good I've used it as my alarm clock wake up song (no joke).

    Is it repetitive? Absolutely, but that's minimalism's calling card. It's heavy, yet hypnotic, with slight subtle differences such as a gentle modulation in chords during "Into Orbit" (hell, the song titles relate to space, if that doesn't sell you on the concept, I don't know what will).

    From groovy tracks like "Satellite", soundscapes like "Lanaikea", hypnotic contemplative tunes like "Direction" and even some post-rock influence on "The Departure", Atmospheres is a band that has carved out a new direction (and I think a new genre) with their sound, joining groups like Skyharbor, Tesseract, Disperse and Vallis Ablaze, among many others, in opting for a texture balance with a spacey approach by juggling heavy minimalistic chords with ambient soundscapes and lush electronics. It's a unique, progressive and yet accessible (my three main judging criteria for great prog albums). Definitely a must listen for fans of djent or even post rock/metal groups like ISIS.

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    THE 3RD AND THE MORTAL Norway
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    6:33 France
    A((WAKE)) United States
    AABSINTHE France
    ABANDON Sweden
    ABYSSE France
    ACROSS TUNDRAS United States
    ACYL France
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    ADRIFT Spain
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    AMARA United States
    AMATERAZU Portugal
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    AMENRA Belgium
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    AMIA VENERA LANDSCAPE Italy
    ANATHEMA United Kingdom
    ANCESTORS United States
    AND HARMONY DIES Italy
    ANGEL EYES United States
    ANTIGUA Y BARBUDA Spain
    ANTIMATTER Multi-National
    ANUBI Lithuania
    AORIA Sweden
    APOCALIPSIS Mexico
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    APOKATASTASIA Switzerland
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    THE ARKITECHT Mexico
    ARKTIKA Germany
    AS LIGHT DIES Spain
    ASIDEFROMADAY France
    ASPIRATION Norway
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    AT THE SOUNDAWN Italy
    THE ATLAS MOTH United States
    ATMOSPHERES Belgium
    THE ATOMIC BOMB AUDITION United States
    ATROX Norway
    AUSSIT訲 MORT France
    AUSTARAS United States
    THE AXIS OF PERDITION United Kingdom
    AZIOLA CRY United States
    BACK WHEN United States
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    THE CANCER CONSPIRACY United States
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