Avant-Garde Metal Week: King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King

As Noyan said earlier, there’s no real reason why we chose this week to partake in avant-garde metal week, but it was a really fun premise when we started talking about it, and everyone at Heavy Blog HQ were on board. So why not? The week is literally going to be packed with more than a few bands that will tear your face off in odd and unexpected ways. I’ve been going through the band’s that Noyan plans to recommend, and let me just say this — holy shit. That guy has a knack for finding really exciting music that pushes some real boundaries, and I think that’s what everyone of our readers is expecting to experience this week, but we have to start somewhere, and what better place to start than with the King of them all, King Crimson.

This may seem a bit odd now-a-days, as more than a few metalheads were turned onto the more progressive stylings of music by way of King Crimson, and when taking in the context of modern rock and metal their style of progressive rock and jazz fusion is no longer the defining image of avant-garde music, but at the time of the release of the band’s debut LP, In The Court of the Crimson King, this music was staggering to the listeners. Incorporating heavy amounts of jazz and classical symphonies, In the Court of the Crimson King not only challenged the conventions of typical rock music, they changed its very foundation with one LP. Gone were the days of blues-centric rock music that everyone had grown up with at that point, King Crimson were only interested in making music that excited them, as any good musician should be.

It’s easy to take this album for granted, seeing as almost every band in progressive rock and metal utilize some form of jazz fusion or symphonic element in their music, but that’s all the more reason why people should respect this album. Context is a very important aspect of life, and in the context of its release, In the Court of the Crimson King was one of the best avant-garde rock albums you could ever find. It was one of, if not the first to blend jazz and heavy rock in such a manner, and to this day it is, in my eyes, the album that essentially created the modern formula for progressive rock, and of course progressive metal has been aping that style for themselves, so King Crimson are responsible for that style of music as well. Transitive proper applies to music, right?

Over the years King Crimson would continue to create their jazzy, free form style of rock, but even though most of their albums are brilliantly done, nothing really ever lived up to In the Court of the Crimson King, and I’m perfectly fine with that. It would take a master of music theory to truly explain to you how amazing this album is under the hood, but unfortunately I don’t think I could ever be considered that, so I’m just going to let the music speak for itself. Go give this album a listen if you haven’t, and if you have, go listen to it again. The kings of progressive rock need your love, and trust me, this album is more than worth its weight in gold.

Cat’s foot iron claw
Neuro-surgeons scream for more
At paranoia’s poison door.
Twenty first century schizoid man.

Blood rack barbed wire
Polititians’ funeral pyre
Innocents raped with napalm fire
Twenty first century schizoid man.

Death seed blind man’s greed
Poets’ starving children bleed
Nothing he’s got he really needs
Twenty first century schizoid man.

– EC