Scandinavian progressive metal tends to have a certain grandiosity and bombast about it that seems unparallelled by the rest of the world. We’ve been singing the praises of this particular subsection of music for some time now, what with Ihsahn, Enslaved, SHINING, Vintersorg, and more coming out over the years with strong records that capture the region’s unique musical nuance. One band in particular that has engrained themselves as a part of the growing attention brought to the region is Norway’s Leprous. Breaking out with the critical hit of their sophomore record Bilateral in 2011 and gaining notoriety as Ihsahn’s designated live band, they became a band to watch in 2013 as they prepared their follow-up, Coal. It’s certainly one of our most anticipated records this year, and we’re proud to present the band’s first single from the album, ‘Chronic,’ below.
It was only suitable that we kick off things in the avant-garde metal week by starting with the genre’s progenitors and capital influences. However, that’s done with, and now we move on to examine a more modern form of this type of music. Or, to be more precise, one of its modern forms. Without a doubt, avant-garde has seeped into nearly every corner of the metalverse, and it is barely possible to talk of it as an established genre rather than a loosely defined aesthetic. Even if you consider our own playlists, does it really make sense to lump Queen and Gorguts into the same genre? Do they really have anything in common other than breaking boundaries and being ‘weird’?
But break boundaries they do, and so do the countless bands they have inspired. So then, when looking at contemporary avant-garde metal, what would be a good place to start? There might not be a clear one, so instead I’ll just talk about the style that strikes the closest to my heart: death metal. While not as suitable for abrasive experimentation as grindcore or black metal, there is certainly an unhealthy dose of avant-garde death metal that is up for grabs. Heck, there’s probably too much of it to go into detail about every band. That’s why I’ve chosen four albums in particular by the bands that stand out as the weirdest, most unique, and of course, most interesting, in the whole bunch. Hopefully at least one will blow your minds.
As Noyan said earlier, we’re arbitrarily deeming this first week of December as Avant-Garde Metal week! Each day we plan to give spotlight in some form to and under-appreciated genre of music that continues to push the envelope and break down boundaries of music as we know it. In order to get an appreciation of Avant-Garde metal, one may first need a history lesson and a glimpse at where we first came from. Find below a playlist of tracks featuring classic avant-garde metal and bands that influenced the genre to bone up on the genre’s various roots and deviations.
Epicloud has been teased endlessly over the last few months and finally, today, we get our first real insight into the album as a whole in the form of the above teaser video which contains snippets of every track. Dev was right when he compared this outing to Queen, it’s definitely got that majestic and orchestral grandiose feel to it, but also in tracks like ‘More!‘, ‘Grace‘ and the re-recording of ‘Kingdom‘ there’s allusions to his heavier material. Just based on these short snippets, it’s looking like this may be the most general and broad Townsend release in quite a while as the ‘theme’ sounds a little more accepting of both bombastic crunch and introspective calm, but regardless of overarching themes, it naturally sounds great. Roll on September.
01. The New Real
02. Pink Beatles In A Purple Zeppelin
03. Parental Procreation Permit
04. When I’m A Hundred Sixty-Four
06. Don’t Switch Me Off
07. Dr Slumber’s Eternity Home
08. Yellowstone Memorial Day
09. Where Pigs Fly
10. Lost In The New Real
Lost in the New Real is the new musical project from Arjen Anthony Lucassen, the Dutch musician behind such hefty projects as Star One and the mother-ship of modern prog, Ayreon. Arjen is a busy-bee sort of musician, and Lost in the New Real comes out to be his fourth album in the same amount of years, but it’s a project that has been hinted at for almost a decade. After his less than successful run as a solo musician under the Anthony moniker, Lucassen decided to pursue different avenues with his music, and with that came Ayreon and his various side projects. However, with the Ayreon story having come to an end it was time for a change, and for the past few years Lucassen has been experimenting with new projects once again. With Lost in the New Real, Arjen delivers a torrent of progressive music that ventures into fresh territory, but at the same time harkens back to the sound and style fans have been familiar with for years.
02. Prophecy of the Lazer Witch
05. Truth Orb and the Kill Pool
06. You Can’t Run Away
07. Arena War of the Immortal Masters
09. On My Way
Whether you know it or not, you’re likely familiar with Mr. Brendon Small. He’s the creator and mastermind behind the cult animation hit Home Movies and more topically, Adult Swim’s Metalocalypse, which features the best-selling melodic death metal band Dethklok. With hit television shows and two Dethklok records under his belt, Brendon Small is at it again and spreading his wings for another musical endeavor in Galaktikon, a self-proclaimed “high stakes intergalactic extreme rock album.” Galaktikon sees Brendon Small trade in his death metal growls as Dethklok’s Nathan Explosion for a more melodic vocal approach, creating something catchier and almost operatic in some senses.
Brendon Small‘s non-Dethklok project Galaktikon is looming on the horizon, and I’ve been excited for it since it was first announced. The so called “high stakes intergalactic extreme rock album” is a bit of a departure for Small; while maintaining his sense of melody evident in Dethklok, Galaktikon will feature heavy use of melodic singing and a more rock-oriented sound with influences from the self-described influences including Smashing Pumpkins and Queen. Don’t worry though, it’s plenty metal enough.
While Galaktikon is largely a vocal album, Small doesn’t neglect his guitar talents, as evident by the penultimate instrumental track ‘Dangertits,’which is now available for streaming over at Guitar Squid. It’s the album’s sole instrumental track, and as you can tell, it has that signature Brendon Small sound. Hell, it’s a couple of growls away from sounding like a Dethklok track. It’s great stuff. Go give it a listen.
Brendon Small’s Galaktikon is due out April 24th, which is the Tuesday before the season premiere of Metalocalypse on Adult Swim. Pre-orders for Galaktikon will be available next week! For more updates, visit the project’s Facebook page.
“But Jimmy,” I hear you say. “How can you stop the presses on a digital format like WordPress?” To which I reply, “Shut your whore mouth, there are more important things to talk about.”
You may know him as the creative force behind Metalocalypse’s Dethklok, but he’s poised to release his new side project in the form of Galaktikon. It’s going to be a melodic rock/metal record that takes influence from pretty much everything Brendon heard growing up, from Queen to Weezer to Black Metal. Seems like an oddange to go by, but who knows what kind of genius Brendon Small would come up with. Finally, we have a new song to go by, and it is nothing short of amazing.
‘On My Way’ is a very catchy song that has clear influences from the likes of Megadeth and King Diamond, filled with spectacular riffs and solos. Go check it out over at CraveOnline!
Brendon Small, creator (and pretty much everything else) of Adult Swim’s Metalocalypse and Home Movies, is finally poised to release his side-project this year with Brendon Small’s GALAKTIKON. Described as a “High Stakes Intergalactic Extreme Rock album,” GALAKTIKON seemingly rips a page out of Devin Townsend‘s ZiltoidThe Omniscient and will be an over-the-top rock opera of sorts with influences from modern black metal, Queen, Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins and Weezer. Here’s what Brendon said in a statement:
“This album should be thought of as an audio comic book, an over acted chamber drama, a ridiculous premise that takes itself way too seriously all the way to the end,” states Brendon Small.
GALAKTIKON is pretty much Dethklok in a shiny melodic rock package, featuring legendary drummer Gene Hoglan and Dethklok live/studio bassist Bryan Beller, as well as retaining mixer/engineer Ulrich Wild. Obviously, this is quite the departure from Brendon’s work in Dethklok, but should be just as excellent given the roster’s quality!
03. Boiling Point
04. Anguish Of Youth
06. Dark City
08. Days Of Rage
09. End Of Innocence
10. Tragedy And Triumph
Iced Earth are a band with a colorful past. This due in part to the ever changing line-up of musicians and vocalists. There are no doubt many reasons behind each and every line-up shift, but one thing is certain; bringing the fans around to a new musician is a hard task to achieve. Hot off the wheels of the less than stellar Something Wicked double album, star vocalist Matt Barlow departed from the band — for a second time. Many a fan lamented this fact; we had just gotten him back after a few less than extraordinary albums with Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens at the vocal helm, but of course one’s family is more important than most everything else. Like every fan of Iced Earth, and any band where a new musician takes the place of one you know and love, I was wary that new vocalist Stu Block (Into Eternity) wouldn’t be able to live up to the standard of power and beauty that was emphasized in every song that Barlow performed on. Luckily for me, all those worries were quelled and put to bed when I listened to this record.