The Best Avantgarde / Experimental Metal - Metal Storm Awards 2017




Bent Knee's explosive Land Animal finally puts them on the map. This album is very true to their motto of a band without musical frontiers and they just might be the spiritual reincarnation of The Mars Volta. It's the avant-garde fan's wet dream as it ticks almost every experimental box, incorporating elements of prog, rock, jazz, metal, and pop into a really tight, cohesive sound led by Courtney Swain's soaring and dreamy vocals. Just let yourself be sucked in.

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Symmetry Through Collapse may sound nonthreatening when it's stumbling sludgily through time signatures impossible to ascertain, but when those vocals turn to bleak hysteria and the instrumentation turns to whirring razors, Combat Astronomy shows a true hunter's eye. The saxophone is a common toy for bands looking to make the avant-garde short list, but very few of them can make the instrument sound threatening, and with Dalila Kayros's vocals wandering from Diamanda Galás to Runhild Gammelsæter, Symmetry Through Collapse can be a harrowing experience. Naturally, it's one you'll find yourself coming back to.

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Ex Eye's debut is quite a menacing blend of jazz, black metal, post-metal, avant-garde, minimalism, and noise in such a way that it sounds thoroughly cohesive and natural. A veritable exercise in soundscape building, atmosphere, groove, aggression, and the blend of all these. Thrilling album, huge sounds.

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Traces of Foscor's black metal past remain evident, whether the band is plowing through blastbeat-driven crescendos or merely wandering through dissonant pastures of dreamy melody that bear striking resemblances to atmoblack textures. Fiar's expressive, adaptable cleans lead Les Irreals Visions through a variety of doom-, post-metal-, progressive-, and heavy metal-inspired tracks that are as aurally distinctive as they are entrancing. Foscor isn't one of those avant-garde bands that switches styles every four seconds and uses every obscure instrument or found object to redefine the concept of music; no, they're a band that asks the question, "How can we deconstruct black metal and play every other kind of metal through it?"

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Blending ambient, industrial, rap, and other sounds between the bookends of metallic crunch and electronic undercurrent, The First Corpse On The Moon is as surreal and vaguely unnerving as its name and breathtaking cover art suggest. Lethe exists in its own little sphere, quietly wandering from sound to sound, never turning to address the listener, but deeply enraptured in creating something dreamlike. Some parts of the album are calming and some parts are pleasantly bemusing, but don't get too comfortable, because you only have to round another corner to be confronted by something macabre and jarring.

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After the success of Moloch, the Polish extreme jazzists have returned with what could very well be their best release to date. Just when we thought that they couldn't get any more intense, Million Miles was presented to us as a reminder that jazz and metal not only go well together, but can also achieve a very dark and oppressive atmosphere. Let the layers of harsh noise, tribal drumming, and crying sax bury you deep under the sea.

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Oxbow come back with their first album in ten years, and instead of trying to relive old sounds unaltered, they choose a much more settled-down and controlled sound, giving it an almost elegant sound, yet still manage to make it feel just as odd. That doesn't stop vocalist Eugene Robinson from delivering a passionate, over-the-top, unpredictable performance, giving us an end result that's as dramatic as it is unsettling.

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The crazy cat-lovers of Pryapisme are back with their third album (already!). This is actually their most mature work to date, still full of wacky collages of 8-bit and zheul and jazz and avant-garde and metal... all with stellar, more refined songwriting. No doubts about it, this is purrr-fection!

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Ever listen to Melt-Banana's Teeny Shiny and say, "I like it, but do you have it in some kind of cyber neon color with math chords and a bluesy twang? And can you get rid of the puppy?" If so, then Psudoku's Deep Space Psudokument is the vocal-light, synth-heavy futurist grindcore prog you've been waiting for, you sick freak. This is the kind of grind that Philip K. Dick would have played if he had survived long enough to see humanity obliterate itself and also knew how to surf.

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Senestre doesn't start off too out-of-the-ordinary: the album originates in a recognizable sphere of melodic black metal. With each minute that passes, however, Way To End become more and more unhinged, the tempos flying apart at the seams and riffs spiraling away from conventional phrases while demented shrieks echo across the void. Senestre is a fatuous waltz of atonal chords and diseased opera, with lead guitar work so liquid and kaleidoscopic that it perfectly contradicts the album's two-tone packaging.

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Write-in votes

21 Savage, Offset & Metro Boomin - Without Warning
Akercocke - Renaissance In Extremis
Bardspec - Hydrogen
Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pacifisticuffs
Dodecahedron - Kwintessens
Dzo-nga - The Sachem's Tales
Enslaved - E
Etsuka - Absent Days Asunder
Igorrr - Savage Sinusoid
Locust Leaves - A Stranger Kind of Light
Locust Leaves - A Subtler Kind Of Light
Major Parkinson - Blackbox
Mord'a'Stigmata - Hope
Norse - The divine light of a new sun
Polkadot Cadaver - Get Possessed
Primus - The Desaturating Seven
Tchornobog - Tchornobog
Tetragrammacide - Primal Incinerators of Moral Matrix
The Project Hate MCMXCIX - Of Chaos And Carnal Pleasures
Todtgelichter - Angst
Troldhaugen - Idio+Syncrasies
Ulver - The Assassination Of Julius Caesar
Urarv - Aurum
Vulture Industries - Stranger Times
White Ward - Futility Report