In this modern age of music, it seems that new sub-genres and tags are being created by the week to match a somewhat constant push towards innovation. Much to the chagrin of elitists and the conservative-minded that are, for some reason or another, afraid and enraged by evolving sounds. Every time a new buzzword of a genre is created, you have a flock of early adapters as well as an army of nay-sayers that scoff at passing trends. I saw it happen with nu-metal in the 90s, metalcore back in the early 2000’s, deathcore in its rise, and with the current state of the djent scene. We at Heavy Blog have always sort of held a magnifying glass at emerging trends and gave it its fair shake, and more often than not we like to roll with where the tides carry us (save for that whole crabcore and autotuned crap, of course).
So yes, I tend to pick up on fringe movements. From Sumeriancore to Post-Black Metal, I just enjoy hearing fresh ideas. Some call that trend-hopping, and I can sort of see where these people are getting at, but that’s not it at all. I sincerely dig hearing and partaking in what could very well be the next wave of metal. I just don’t enjoy sticking to just a handful of genres, and I certainly don’t intend on staying that way for the rest of my life. Music and music taste, ideally, is constantly evolving. I mean, I intend to be a listener of more extreme and underground genres when I’m, say, 50, but I’ll probably be following whatever sort of futuristic concoction happens to be going strong, and not clinging to djent and progressive metal for dear life and ramble about how “kids these days don’t understand the magic that was djent!” while shaking my fists in anger at kids who happen to be getting a little to close to my lawn.
These so-called ridiculous subgenres are seriously interesting to me, and over the past year or so, my attention has slowly been turning towards something I’m going to call “Post-Death Metal.” I can hear the anger emanating from within the elite hivemind right now at the mere mention of it. Most readers of HBIH are pretty open minded, and this isn’t so much about you regular readers, but there are some people out there that still deny that Post-Metal isn’t a genre. Seriously?! But back on point, Post-Death Metal is slowly emerging from the murky depths of metal, and in a year or so, it might just be commonplace. It’s so new and there’s so few bands doing it right now that the genre is sort of like an amorphous blob that hasn’t really been fully taken shape or even defined, from what I can gather. Today, I’m going to make an argument for its existence, and offer up a few qualifiers.
As its name implies, Post-Death Metal is essentially a genre that transcends to standard death metal sound, and more often than not is simply the marriage of the brutality and technicality of Death Metal with the atmospheric qualities and song structure of Post-Metal. The genre’s sound, as it stands now, is quite massive and abstract, with a very thick sound and long songs. Whether you’re aware of it or not, the genre’s already got its foot in the door. All the pieces for Post-Death are there; I’m just pulling them together so we can all analyze the big picture.
For my prime example of what Post-Death Metal is all about, New Zealanders Ulcerate‘s latest album The Destroyers Of All made quite a few waves earlier this year when it dropped, and after settling in, it could very well be my favorite death metal album this year (sorry Fleshgod Apocalypse). The Destroyers of All was my first taste of Ulcerate, and it took a while to wrap my head around it, as it was something I had never really heard before from any other source. I then went back to listen to Everything Is Fire, and now I consider myself a bit of an Ulcerate fan. If you’re unfamiliar, Ulcerate play a very dissonant and atmospherically dense version of brutal death metal that matches slowly creeping yet technical guitar work with blazingly fast drumming, a trait you’ll see cropping up throughout the genre. This sounds like a mismatch on paper with a lot of room for error, but in practice, it’s practically nightmare fuel. It also helps that The Destroyers At All sounds very organic, like a writhing creature that is just wreaking unimaginable havoc.
Ulcerate aren’t the only ones doing this sort of thing either. Mitochondrion strive for both intense technicality and atmosphere and include a touch more blackened influence and sheer chaos.
On the flipside, Disbelief are a bit of an outlier on this list. They’ve been around since 1990 and effectively combine post-rock musicianship with melodic death metal to create their own unique sound. I had not even heard of this band until I started researching bands that fit the Post-Death criteria, and I might have just stumbled upon a new obsession.
New York-based band Flourishing operate on a somewhat similar wavelength as Ulcerate, although with a bit more melody and diversity at times. They just recently released their album The Sum Of All Fossils on August 2nd on The Path Less Traveled Records.
Baring Teeth are another band that seems to match this trudging criteria, although much more avant-garde and technical about it. Beginning to see a trend here?
Deathspell Omega share some similarities, but are more of an influence than anything else. Their breed of blackened death metal was highly influential in the strive for a thick and dissonant atmosphere. But the source of the sound goes back even further to whom I consider to be the progenitors of the genre of Post-Death Metal, Portal, who are so atonal and technical, it’s practically drone on speed:
If not somewhat ridiculous, Portal have clearly taken things to new extremes and started a slowly rolling movement that’s sure to carry over into the next couple of years. How big this thing will snowball is beyond me, but it’s all out there and the characteristics are common across all of the above bands. Is Post-Death Metal a genre? Am I missing the mark here? What other bands out there are taking death metal into otherworldly aesthetics? Be sure to let us know!