There’s no shortage of folk influence in the world of metal, but the vast majority of it is undeniably Eurocentric,…
These posts are written by: Jimmy Rowe
Back in March, I spent the better part of an hour speaking with Between the Buried and Me bassist Dan Briggs to discuss his myriad of projects and his development as a musician and evolution as a bass player. The first half of our talk was published last week, wherein we discussed collecting vinyl, the prog aesthetic, and the records that inspired him to first pick up a guitar — and eventually, bass and keyboards. In this second half of our interview, we discuss his new project Nova Collective and its place in the genre of jazz fusion. We also discuss the process of revisiting their modern classic Colors, and where the band goes from here.
Over the years, we’ve watched North Carolina’s Between the Buried and Me climb the ranks from metalcore weirdos struggling to find a place in the metal scene to prog metal masters with a legion of rabid fans and achieving worldwide headliner status. Through a series of critically-acclaimed opuses, a scene had formed itself around Between the Buried and Me as trailblazers of a new branch of modern progressive music, and one might argue that the biggest splash from the group came from their 2007 opus Colors, which turns 10 this year(!!!).
Let’s get the superlatives out of the way right now: Uneven Structure’s debut album Februus is the greatest album to come out of the djent movement. There are contenders, for sure. Masstaden. One. Periphery. Each album was groundbreaking in its own right and contributed great things to the genre, but when examine progressive songwriting abilities, emotional content, scope of dynamic, and overall ambition, Februus rose above the rest. Needless to say, this provides a bit of a challenge for the French prog unit; some bands that find themselves wedged into a niche fail to find much light trying to claw out from behind the shadows cast by a monolithic debut. Factor in lineup changes and nearly six years between records, the hype and anticipation built for their sophomore full-length might seem insurmountable. Can lightening strike twice, or can Februus’ power be attributed to a fluke of being in the right place at the right time?
It’s been nearly six years since we were absolutely floored by Uneven Structure’s debut album Februus. It was a perfect storm of ambition, atmosphere, and emotional/conceptual depth that made it tower above the array of djent records that dropped in the early 2010’s. Depending on who you ask, it may be the best record that has ever come out of that scene.
The follow up La Partition is no slouch, either.
Is it possible for a post-black metal artist to sit still? Not that we would ever want them to, mind…
Now here’s a wild blast from the past! Returning We Hear The Larks returns.
Once incapable of fault as a household name in the world of metal, Mastodon have seen a lot of scrutiny following their 2009 prog opus Crack The Skye. It was an immediate critical hit and the general consensus was that it was an instant classic. Indeed, Crack the Skye still holds up and hasn’t aged much at all, but it did prove to be a turning point in the band’s career. The sludge metal pioneers slowed down, reigned in the technical showmanship, and started writing more straightforward rock songs in their own style and aesthetic. Crack The Skye’s followups The Hunter and Once More Round The Sun were by no means terrible, critically panned slogs, but the fanbase became divided over the clear stylistic evolution happening.
It seems to come up every time a new record pops up within the niche that Gorguts, Portal, and Deathspell Omega built; there’s not much room left in the sphere of dissonant, atmospheric, and abstract extreme metal due to the limitations of the style. Murk chords and blastbeats can only carry a record for so long (as we’ve seen with first casualty Plebeian Grandstand), and the novelty is wearing thin. Bands such as Ulcerate and Sunless thrive on the death metal end of the spectrum by offering depth and creative riffing, but black metal has yet to have much success in challenging Deathspell’s monolithic reach. Dutch black metallers Dodecahedron are the best bet at carrying the torch into new territory, whose debut five years ago came (from seemingly) out of nowhere and quickly reached cult status. The group, who has significant ties to prog-fusion group Exivious, takes a more overtly progressive and technical approach to the sound, and therefore, into further extremities.
Bands with a multifaceted sound and diverse playbooks tend to leave lasting impressions around these parts. Faith No More. The Dillinger Escape Plan. Devin Townsend. Deftones. Each song from these acts is different, which allows for a dynamic listening experience across the breadth of an album, and in turn, incentivizes multiple spins.