Drone And Ambient: A Road Map For The Uninitiated


So you're looking to be inducted into the temple, but you have no idea where to start, eh? Let this list be your guide. The aim here is to walk newcomers to the realms of drone and ambient music through those realms in a slow and steady manner, from generally more relaxing/accessible releases to those that are more uncompromising and/or harder to wrap one's head around.

1. BEGINNER: Start here if you're totally new to this area and want to learn more. I tried including more relaxing albums here that have a particularly uplifting, melodious nature, and perhaps include vocals more often, to make things easier to get into. If you're feeling comfortable here and want to keep going, proceed to...

2. INTERMEDIATE: More of a focus on albums that combine drone/ambient with other influences, to help one get deeper into the genres and understand their breadth of diversity. Also attempts to get the listener more accustomed to and comfortable with drone/ambient not heavily focused on brightness and melody. If you want to go all the way from here, then there's the...

3. DEEP CUTS: The more unrelenting end of the spectrum. Albums here are at their most sonically intense, the heaviest ones out there when it comes to their degree of repetition, the "weight" of the music, the ritualism, the creativity, or some combination of these.

No "1 album per band" rule for this one, as some band's releases fall more into one of the above categories than others. Recs encouraged and appreciated.

Created by: Apothecary | 31.01.2017



1. BEGINNER
2. The Angelic Process - Weighing Souls With Sand
This is a pretty highly regarded album for the drone genre, and the fact that so many non-drone fans seem to enjoy it should say a lot about its quality. Mysterious, dark, heavy, but nonetheless uplifting soundscapes create a true gem of an album thats it's easy to just fall back and submerge in. It is somewhat overwhelming at first, but its brighter, more transcendent moments balance this out and make it a good drone starter, I think.
3. Jesu - Jesu
Considering his bleaker industrial background in Godflesh, it may be a bit odd to hear Justin Broadrick playing some bright, droney music laced with shoegaze and post rock, but... here he is folks. Jesu creates a warm, uplifting atmosphere of dreamy melodies, lush "wall of sound" type riffs, and beautiful, soaring vocals. Like floating through a cloud at many points.
4. Locrian - Infinite Dissolution
5. Menace Ruine - Venus Armata
Menace Ruine are a particularly strong example of a band that made a successful genre transformation. Originally a mysterious fusion of drone and black metal, they shifted to more of a droney neofolk approach after their debut. Venus Armata is arguably a peak in this trend, combining a trancelike, repetitious sound with bright, mesmerizing folk undertones. To top it all off, Geneviève Beaulie = bae. Dissolve in her beautiful vocals as they soothe your soul.
6. Midnight Odyssey - Shards Of Silver Fade
I personally consider this album as more "ambient music with a black metal boost" than real "ambient black metal" a la Darkspace, Leviathan, etc. Here it's more about a warm, spacious ambient atmosphere undercut by shades of black metal riffing and the (impressive) clean vocals of Dis Pater than anything else. I do think more familiar songwriting techniques merit a "beginner" inclusion, but it's also a 2 hour album, so I wouldn't recommend starting with this one unless you're feeling adventurous.
7. Nadja - Queller
8. Progenie Terrestre Pura - Asteroidi
After their impressive debut, these Italian ambient black metallers decided to throw a bit of a curveball with this EP. For PTP, Asteroidi is essentially U.M.A. minus the black metal, resulting in a quite relaxing landscape of ringy ding ding type synthwork not too unlike something from a Metroid soundtrack. Quite enjoyable and an easy starting point for ambient newcomers.
9. Seirom - And The Light Swallowed Everything
Those familiar with the Dutch multi-instrumentalist Maurice de Jong ("Mories") are probably more accustomed to his nightmarish offerings from projects such as Gnaw Their Tongues or Aderlating, but unbeknownst to most, the man also has a much more bright and uplifting approach in the form of Seirom (it's Mories spelled backwards, did you catch that)? With this project, expect no less than a warm, airy ambient atmsophere meant more to heal than to terrify. It can feel a bit sad at points as well, but more in the manner of "let me hold you and make it better" than "life is an empty void, embrace nihilism."
10. Spectral Lore - Voyager
11. Ulver - Shadows Of The Sun
Ulver are nothing if not master shapeshifters from album to album, and this one in particular offers up an incredibly serene, relaxing ambient landscape. Here everything seems to be quite hushed and reflective, the music having an overall calm and restrained approach and the vocals of Garm often being no more than quiet whispers. Nonetheless, this serves to only make the sound that much more meditative and soothing. One of my favorites in the band's discography and a good starter for newcomers to this genre.
12. Wolves In The Throne Room - Celestite
This album was a real curveball for the Weaver brothers, as here they abandon guitars, vocals, and really metal altogether in favor of a lush ambient environment. Bright and transcendent, the music here has been compared by some to Tangerine Dream, and some of the darker moments really aren't too far off from Sunn O))) either, albeit a tad easier to get into. Very impressive synthwork, and a fantastic album for a late night listen.
13. Worm Ouroboros - Worm Ouroboros
14. INTERMEDIATE
15. The Angelic Process - Coma Waering
16. Bloody Panda - Summon
17. Boris - Amplifier Worship
18. Dark Buddha Rising - Abyssolute Transfinite
Finnish wardlords of the shamanic realms, Dark Buddha Rising play drone doom at an impressively high quality level. Not as hard to get into as some Sunn O))) material, for example, with more of a focus on groove and riffs. But the "swirling" atmosphere, combined with chant-like vocals and the impressive drum techniques of Jukka Rämänen, are enough to plunge one into the twilight zone. This album is a great balance of these two sides of the band: heavy, catchy, and memorable, but also highly ritualistic and hypnotizing.
19. Horse Latitudes - Gathering
20. Karl Sanders - Saurian Meditation
When he's not writing pounding riffs and touring his ass off with Nile, Mr. Sanders takes a bit of a more calming approach with his solo work. This is basically the more epic, atmospheric moments from Nile expanded upon into a full album. A delicious ambient meal spiced up with Karl's usual Eastern folk influences, Saurian Meditation is a real treat for anyone who was ever curious about what "Nile without the metal" might sound like.
21. The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble - Here Be Dragons
22. Megaton Leviathan - Past 21 Beyond The Arctic Cell
23. Station Dysthymia - Overhead, Without Any Fuss, The Stars Were Going Out
One of the more difficult albums here, a wise man once described this band as a cross between Sunn O))) and Esoteric, which is actually quite accurate. Droney Russian funeral doom at an incredibly crushing level, but also surprisingly relaxing and uplifting when it chooses to shift to more psychedelic dabblings. Good luck surviving that 34 minute opener.
24. Sunn O))) - Monoliths & Dimensions
25. Undersmile - Narwhal
26. Wardruna - Runaljod - Gap Var Ginnunga
27. Wolvserpent - Perigaea Antahkarana
28. DEEP CUTS
29. Æthenor - En Form For Blå
30. Aderlating - Devotional Hymns
31. Alone In The Hollow Garden - Temple Of Clear Light
32. Arktau Eos - Ioh-Maera
33. The Body - I Shall Die Here [Collaboration]
34. Bong - Mana-Yood-Sushai
Bong embrace the Eastern roots of drone music, channeling techniques such as raga and other forms of Indian classical music into a sound that is an immensely powerful trip. Very monotonous to the point that some may find it too boring, I thus wouldn't suggest this as a drone album to start with. For the more seasoned listeners who are ready to zone out with some gigantic, "wall of sound" type drone driven by sitar and the prophet-like vocals of Dave Terry.
35. Boris - Absolutego
36. Earth - Earth 2 - Special Low Frequency Version
37. Ginnungagap - Remeindre
38. Gnaw Their Tongues - An Epiphanic Vomiting Of Blood
39. Leviathan - A Silhouette In Splinters
40. Khanate - Things Viral
41. Menace Ruine - Cult Of Ruins
42. Monarch - Omens
43. Nibiru - Netrayoni
44. P.H.O.B.O.S. - Atonal Hypermnesia
45. Phurpa - The Sound Of Dakini Laughter
46. Pylar - Pyedra
Easily one of the strongest drone bands to emerge in recent years, the Spanish Pylar take the ideas of genre blending and improvisation to their absolute limits. A doomy drone core dominates, but folk, jazz, and operatic influences creep their way in as well, embellished by a wide range of nonmetal instrumentation. A challenging, extremely layered release, but one that rewards an open mind and multiple re listens.
47. Sunn O))) - Altar [Collaboration]
The supreme wizard of the drone genre in many peoples' books, and not without good reason. An immensely powerful fusion of the sounds of Sunn O))) and Boris, both in terms of Sunn O)))'s penchant for monolithic, dark, imposing techniques and the habits for more atmospheric moments and impressive drumming approaches from Boris. Pleasant sound variation between the tracks as well, no two really sound the same. Make sure you listen to the bonus version with the excellent "Her Lips Were Wet With Venom."
48. Thisquietarmy - Anthems For Catharsis



Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
[ More lists by Apothecary ]



Comments

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Comments: 26   [ 1 ignored ]   Visited by: 129 users
31.01.2017 - 11:20
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
You finally gave in, did ya
----
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.




2020 goodies
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31.01.2017 - 13:23
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by RaduP on 31.01.2017 at 11:20

You finally gave in, did ya

I might have, after giving it second thought
But nah, I think a list like this is useful, to kind of take people through drone/ambient at increasing levels of "listening difficulty". That difficulty is subjective to me, of course, but I do generally think the albums more to the end here are the "harder to get into" ones.

Might do something like this for black metal or doom down the line too, I like the idea.
----
Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
You tell em that God's gonna cut em down
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31.01.2017 - 13:24
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Apothecary on 31.01.2017 at 13:23

Written by RaduP on 31.01.2017 at 11:20

You finally gave in, did ya

I might have, after giving it second thought
But nah, I think a list like this is useful, to kind of take people through drone/ambient at increasing levels of "listening difficulty". That difficulty is subjective to me, of course, but I do generally think the albums more to the end here are the "harder to get into" ones.

Might do something like this for black metal or doom down the line too, I like the idea.


Do it

It's not like you don't already have some collages for that but whatever
----
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.




2020 goodies
Loading...
31.01.2017 - 13:27
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by RaduP on 31.01.2017 at 13:24

Do it

It's not like you don't already have some collages for that but whatever

Good point, now I don't have much of an excuse, do I?
----
Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
You tell em that God's gonna cut em down
Loading...
31.01.2017 - 13:37
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Apothecary on 31.01.2017 at 13:27

Good point, now I don't have much of an excuse, do I?


Well the doom one isn't ready quite yet so there's your excuse
----
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.




2020 goodies
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31.01.2017 - 13:54
!J.O.O.E.!
Account deleted
A few other oddities which would probably fit:

Yen Pox: Great, dense power-ambient / drone. These guys don't get talked about enough.

Ommadon: The best pure drone doom I've heard in years.

Necrite: Unbelievably good blackened drone. I feel like if Lurker of Chalice was a drone-oriented band it might sound like this.

Echoes Of Yul: You know these guys obviously. I think they'd be a great introduction / intermediate band for drone considering how varied and listenable they are. Great Boards of Canada vibe to them.

Ensemble Pearl: Probably the best Sunn O))) side-project, with Boris members. Psychedelic atmosphere and not-alienating to drone n00bs at all.

Ravcan: Ultra-challenging, nuclear / Chernobyl themed drone / dark ambient / noise. Very long but some of the best in the genre.

Taurus: Peerless, experimental music with heavy drone qualities, amazing off-kilter female vocals and unquestionable Blut aus Nord-ian atmosphere.

A Void In Coma: Unique and brilliant ambient drone band from quite near where I like. The atmosphere drips from the walls and ghostly female vocals add amazing weight. One of the best live bands I've seen.

Lots more probably but I'll leave it at that for moment.
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31.01.2017 - 13:57
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by Guest on 31.01.2017 at 13:54

Lots of stuff

I'm familiar with Yen Pox, Ommadon, Echoes Of Yul, and Ensemble Pearl. For that last one though I forgot it had Boris members in it! I remember scoping the project a long time ago when I did that (now gone) Stephen O'Malley list and liking what I heard. Now's probably incentive to check it out again, along with the others you mentioned that I don't know. Thanks man.
----
Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
You tell em that God's gonna cut em down
Loading...
31.01.2017 - 14:01
!J.O.O.E.!
Account deleted
Written by Apothecary on 31.01.2017 at 13:57

I'm familiar with Yen Pox, Ommadon, Echoes Of Yul, and Ensemble Pearl. For that last one though I forgot it had Boris members in it! I remember scoping the project a long time ago when I did that (now gone) Stephen O'Malley list and liking what I heard. Now's probably incentive to check it out again, along with the others you mentioned that I don't know. Thanks man.

I feel like you might have heard Taurus in the SB at some point. You'll definitely like them, as you will Necrite I suspect, though neither are strictly drone tbh, though they both have swirling and dense sounds.
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31.01.2017 - 14:34
solar
Lol looks like I sparked off your desire to make a drone list. Thanks!
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31.01.2017 - 15:17
VIG
Account deleted
What about the grimrobe demos?
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31.01.2017 - 15:50
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by solar on 31.01.2017 at 14:34

Lol looks like I sparked off your desire to make a drone list. Thanks!

Haha, maybe man. I mean it's been done before on here, to be honest you might be better off with Joe's list than mine, but with this one I just wanted to break things down more specifically in terms of "here are the albums for the noobs, here are those for the more seasoned."
----
Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
You tell em that God's gonna cut em down
Loading...
31.01.2017 - 15:52
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by Guest on 31.01.2017 at 15:17

What about the grimrobe demos?

It's hard to pick albums for Sunn O))) honestly considering their sizable discog and the variation among them. I think it's good for now putting Monoliths & Dimensions in Intermediate (difficult, but still accessible with all the non drone influences), and Altar in Deep Cuts (very creative and layered, rewards multiple re-listens).

I have kind of rethought what I said in the SB yesterday though, so yes, it's probably not best to recommend Sunn O))) as a starting point for the drone newcomer, even if they were something of a pioneering band for the genre
----
Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
You tell em that God's gonna cut em down
Loading...
31.01.2017 - 17:14
mz
Totally agreed with necrite and yen pox. I think they are some of the best things ever in their own areas.
In addition:
Queen Elephantine
Haikai No Ku
Vulturium Memoriae
Terra Tenebrosa
SINK
Tartar Lamb (like an ancestor to pylar, equally great, if not more)
----
Giving my ears a rest from music.
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31.01.2017 - 17:36
VIG
Account deleted
Written by Apothecary on 31.01.2017 at 15:52

Written by Guest on 31.01.2017 at 15:17

What about the grimrobe demos?

It's hard to pick albums for Sunn O))) honestly considering their sizable discog and the variation among them. I think it's good for now putting Monoliths & Dimensions in Intermediate (difficult, but still accessible with all the non drone influences), and Altar in Deep Cuts (very creative and layered, rewards multiple re-listens).

I have kind of rethought what I said in the SB yesterday though, so yes, it's probably not best to recommend Sunn O))) as a starting point for the drone newcomer, even if they were something of a pioneering band for the genre

I started with Black One, and at first I didn't like it, but years later a friend asked "Do you Like Sunn?" and then I listened to White2 and Altar, and now I love it.

Monolths & Dimensions would be a great start for drone I think, so I get it, and The Grimrobe Demos are pretty crazy.
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31.01.2017 - 17:37
VIG
Account deleted
Written by mz on 31.01.2017 at 17:14

In addition:
Terra Tenebrosa

There are some Drone influences, but I wouldn't call Terra Tenebrosa drone, there more of a straitforward Avant-Garde Metal band with black and drone influences.
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31.01.2017 - 17:40
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by mz on 31.01.2017 at 17:14

In addition: Queen Elephantine, Haikai No Ku, Vulturium Memoriae, Terra Tenebrosa, SINK
Tartar Lamb (like an ancestor to pylar, equally great, if not more)

Yeah, Vulturium Memoriae would be a good addition here, thanks for reminding me. Not sure about Terra Tenebrosa, I'd honestly have to think about that, could be stretching the "drone" label a bit too far. Haikai No Ku is the one with the guitarist from Bong, correct? The others I'm unfamiliar with.
----
Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
You tell em that God's gonna cut em down
Loading...
31.01.2017 - 17:43
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by Guest on 31.01.2017 at 17:36

I started with Black One, and at first I didn't like it, but years later a friend asked "Do you Like Sunn?" and then I listened to White2 and Altar, and now I love it.

Monolths & Dimensions would be a great start for drone I think, so I get it, and The Grimrobe Demos are pretty crazy.

Yeah overall I'd definitely say earlier Sunn O))) is harder to get into than later. They seem to have incorporated more non-drone influences over the course of their career (especially on Black One and M&D), thereby opening up the possibilities of appealing to a wider audience.
----
Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
You tell em that God's gonna cut em down
Loading...
31.01.2017 - 18:33
mz
I agree that TT is not pure drone, but it can be a good demonstration for what a drone accent can do in metal.
Anyways, far from being a drone record in a classical view of things.
----
Giving my ears a rest from music.
Loading...
31.01.2017 - 22:22
solar
Written by Apothecary on 31.01.2017 at 15:50

Written by solar on 31.01.2017 at 14:34

Lol looks like I sparked off your desire to make a drone list. Thanks!

Haha, maybe man. I mean it's been done before on here, to be honest you might be better off with Joe's list than mine, but with this one I just wanted to break things down more specifically in terms of "here are the albums for the noobs, here are those for the more seasoned."

Yeah you've structured it well and succinctly for noobs like me. Exactly the kind of reference I needed.
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01.02.2017 - 04:08
VIG
Account deleted
Written by Apothecary on 31.01.2017 at 17:43

Written by Guest on 31.01.2017 at 17:36

I started with Black One, and at first I didn't like it, but years later a friend asked "Do you Like Sunn?" and then I listened to White2 and Altar, and now I love it.

Monolths & Dimensions would be a great start for drone I think, so I get it, and The Grimrobe Demos are pretty crazy.

They seem to have incorporated more non-drone influences over the course of their career (especially on Black One and M&D) appealing to a wider audience.

Yup, I agree
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01.02.2017 - 04:09
VIG
Account deleted
Written by mz on 31.01.2017 at 18:33

I agree that TT is not pure drone, but it can be a good demonstration for what a drone accent can do in metal.
Anyways, far from being a drone record in a classical view of things.

Yeah, I see your point
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11.02.2017 - 07:04
Migtanteot
Just what I needed!
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27.02.2017 - 17:13
mz
Hands down the best thing dark ambinet from last year. Sick, varied, challanging, featuring great noise textures and industrial effects. In many ways it reminds me of that ravcon album Joe mentioned before:

Stone Wired-Bones Are For The Dead

The second track is ridiculously great.
----
Giving my ears a rest from music.
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31.03.2017 - 02:32
no one
Account deleted
Midnight Odyssey ??

Anyway after trying drone again about a year later, I actually really dig this ritualistic shit, even brought a sunn record.
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31.03.2017 - 02:56
Karlabos
Weirdo of MS
Written by Guest on 31.03.2017 at 02:32

Midnight Odyssey ??

Anyway after trying drone again about a year later, I actually really dig this ritualistic shit, even brought a sunn record.

Nooo. Even you are walking the minimalist path now
----
2016 - 2017
2018 - 2019
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31.03.2017 - 08:42
no one
Account deleted
Written by Karlabos on 31.03.2017 at 02:56

Written by Guest on 31.03.2017 at 02:32

Midnight Odyssey ??

Anyway after trying drone again about a year later, I actually really dig this ritualistic shit, even brought a sunn record.

Nooo. Even you are walking the minimalist path now

Do I need to buy a hooded robe?
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