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Alternative Metal Bands

Updated on October 6, 2012

An introduction

Having noticed some lens that dealt with some of the more usual sub-genres in heavy metal, I thought I'd try to put together a collection of clips and snippets about some bands that aren't quite as well known. The clips are in no particular order, if they were I'd have to begin with a band called Neurosis, who in 1992 released an album called "Souls at Zero", and in doing so created what is now understood as post-metal. This release inspired another American band called Isis, and they in turn have inspired countless new bands. The tracks listed are a mixture of post-metal, sludge, doom, stoner, and even some progressive metal.

AmenRa - Razoreater

AmenRa - The best thing to come out of Belgium since chocolate.

AmenRa
AmenRa

AmenRa hail from Belgium, and released their first full-length album in 2003. The track above is from their 3rd full length album "Mass IIII", which was released in 2008. The video was filmed by Tine Guns and edited by Mathieu van de Kerckhove.

Kylesa - Where The Horizon Unfolds - Sludge from Savannah, GA

Kylesa

Kylesa in action
Kylesa in action

Formed in 2001 in Savannah, Georgia, Kylesa was born from a band called Damad with the genius addition of Laura Pleasants who hailed from North Carolina. Mixing experimental metal with sludge metal riffs, some psychedelic elements, and the post-metal standard of drop-tuned guitars, today the only original members are Phillip Cope and Laura.

Where The Horizon Unfolds is from their 2006 album 'Time Will Fuse Its Worth'.

Cult of Luna - Finland

Cult of Luna

Cult of Luna, Peace and Love 2009: Calle Eklund / V-wolf
Cult of Luna, Peace and Love 2009: Calle Eklund / V-wolf

One of my favourite post-metal bands, Cult of Luna have obviously been hugely influenced by Isis. They were formed by members of a hardcore punk band from Umeå called 'Eclipse'. The track I've selected is taken from their live DVD 'At the Scala' and first appeared on their 2006 album "Somewhere Along The Highway", an epic of post-metal mayhem.

Neurosis - Locust Star

Neurosis

Neurosis playing at Neumo's in Seattle, Washington, by Ben Cody
Neurosis playing at Neumo's in Seattle, Washington, by Ben Cody

Neurosis is a post-metal band, based in Oakland, California. They formed in 1985 as a hardcore/punk band, releasing the 'Pain of Mind' and 'The Word as Law' LPs in this genre. However, in 1992 Neurosis released their third album, 'Souls at Zero', which saw their progress considerably. The rawness of the vocals was still present, but now there were layers upon layers of detuned and drop-tuned guitars, with persistent use of samples from film and TV. The overall effect was doom-laden, and in effect the band had just produced what is considered to be the very first post-metal album, one that continues to influence new bands.

Since then, Neurosis have released another 7 albums, a mini-album, and 3 splits, as well as setting up their own record label. Their sound has evolved, and is often mixes elements of psychedelia, paganism and minimalism. The band's reputation as live performers has been enhanced by their frequent use of visuals sampled from the movie 'Altered States' directed by Ken Russell, as well as visuals created by Adam Kendall (1990 to 1993), Pete Inc. (1993 to 2000), and Josh Graham (2000 to present): of these 3 only Pete Inc. contributed anything musically to the band (drums), but all of them were listed as band members.

High On Fire - Rumours of War

High On Fire

High on Fire - Snakes for the Divine banner
High on Fire - Snakes for the Divine banner

High On Fire is a sludge metal band that was founded by Matt Pike in 1998. Pike, who is also the guitarist in the hugely influential stoner / doom band Sleep was originally joined by drummer Des Kensel, and bassist George Rice. Rice, who was in Dear Departed, had originally auditioned to be the singer, but Pike has held that role on all records. Rice was eventually replaced by Jeff Matz.High on Fire released their first album 'The Art of Self Defense' in 2000, and in 2012 they released their 7th album 'De Vermis Mysteriis'.

Genghis Tron - Board up the House

Genghis Tron

Genghis Tron
Genghis Tron

Genghis Tron are perhaps the most unusual of all the bands here, in that they have eschewed the use of drums and, very often, bass guitar and instead rely on drum-programs and sequencers to create their highly individual brand of experimental metal. A 3-piece that formed in Poughkeepsie, NY, in 2004, they have only released two albums - 'Dead Mountain Mouth' in 2006 and 'Board Up The House' in 2008. The latter release garnered the band considerable acclaim, being named a 'Critic's Choice' by the New York Times, and receiving the coveted 'Album of the Year' award from the magazine Rock Sound. In 2010 the band went on hiatus, although they have assured fans, via their MySpace page, that they will return with new material in the future.

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Helpless Corpses Enactment

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

My third choice to hail from Oakland in California (Neurosis and High on Fire being the other two), Sleepytime Gorilla Museum are another experimental metal band, who have been considerably influenced by the avant-garde Dada movement of the early 20th century. SGM often fuse themes from classical music, art-rock, and post-industrialism into their highly distinctive sound. The lyrics for 'Helpless Corpses Reenactment' are lifted directly from the novel "Finnegan's Wake" by James Joyce, and the video was directed by Adam Feinstein.

Battle Of Mice - Bones in the Water

Battle Of Mice

Battle Of Mice
Battle Of Mice

I must confess: I think Julie Christmas is the most intriguing woman in the metal scene bar none. Battle Of Mice is just one of her projects, she's better known for being the front of Made Out Of Babies, and has also featured with Spylacopa and released a solo album. Battle of Mice was something of a post metal supergroup: the other members were Josh Graham (Neurosis, Red Sparowes, A Storm of Light), Joel Hamilton (Book of Knots), Tony Maimone (Book of Knots, Pere Ubu), and Joe Tomino (Fugees, Dub Trio, Peeping Tom).

Meshuggah - Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion

Meshuggah

The second band I've chosen that originated in the Swedish town of Umeå, Meshuggah are an extreme metal band that was formed in 1987. To date, they have released seven studio albums, five EPs and one live album. Their last album, Koloss, was released in March of this year, and achieved their highest chart position in both the US and Canada, as well as garnering considerable critical acclaim: Spin magazine awarded it 9 out of 10! The video above is taken from that album.

Melvins - A History of Bad Men

The Melvins

The Melvins, from Montesano in Washington state, began as a trio in 1983, but in recent years have performed as a four piece with two drummers. The only two members that have been in the band since 1984 are singer and guitarist Buzz Osborne (King Buzzo) and drummer Dale Crover. Their slow and sludgy sound has proven to be highly influential, especially on the grunge scene that evolved in Seattle, and later on a number of bands from further afield, including Neurosis, Isis, Boris and Mastodon, Neurosis and Isis. The track selected first appeared on the 2006 album "(A) Senile Animal".

MASTODON - March of the Fire Ants

Mastodon

Coming from Atlanta, GA, Mastodon were formed in early 2000 by Troy Sanders (vocals and bass), Brent Hinds (guitars and vocals), Bill Kelliher (guitars), and Brann Dailor (drums). A progressive metal band, they are known for their complex instrumentation and unusual song structures. So far they have released five studio albums, with 'The Hunter' (released earlier this year) being their best selling album to date. To my mind, Brann Dailor is one of the best drummers currently performing, and also one of the most original. The band are also known for their excellent videos.

Nahrayan - A Dying Sun

Nahrayan

Nahrayan was an atmospheric post-doom / sludge metal band from Elche, Alicante,Spain that formed in 2000. "A Dying Sun" is the second song on their entirely instrumental EP titled "The End", a suitable title for what appeared at the time to be their last release. However, this year the band have made a comeback with the release of "The Beginning of the End · The End of the Beginning", which is their first release to feature vocals, and sees them evolve into more of a post-metal band.

Sample CDs by the bands listed

Amazon II - The next 5 bands that were featured

In Glorious Times
In Glorious Times

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

 
A Day Of Nights
A Day Of Nights

Battle of Mice

 
Koloss
Koloss

Meshuggah

 

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    • MikeRobbers LM profile image

      MikeRobbers LM 5 years ago

      I was listening to Thrash & Hardcore almost 15 years ago ..

      All the bands from your list are really great, even if I just listened to them for first time ..

      Thanks for sharing

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