Thursday, March 24, 2011
How Meshuggah invented Djent, and Periphery perfected Djent.
Question: What the heck is Djent, this new genre I've been reading about? Will Earache be signing any bands like that soon? cheers, Anthony
Answer: Djent is a new name that's been circulating around recently to basically describe a new breed of bands who merge Progressive or Experimental Metal stylings played with Meshuggah style guitar tone and instrumentation. Tech-wise this means 8-string guitars and lots of outboard gear to get that deep guitar tone. Musically its about the drummer creating mesmeric multiple-grooves by use of complex polyrhythms and the guitarist creating their own separate rhythm aswell.Together they can create an intoxicating vortex of sound. Repetition and 4/4 timing is anathema to Djent, the song must be ever-evolving and changing. Long progressive songs about space, time-warps or abstract subjects are the norm in the genre, sung with mostly melodic but also some growl-type vocals.
The name itself stems from an interview Meshuggah guitarist Marten Hagstrom gave when asked to describe in words their fantastically rich, deep, crushing, warped guitar tone- he replied, "it just goes like "Dj-ent Dj-ent Dj-ent".
Watch Meshuggah perform "Straws pulled at Random" for the Djent masterclass from the Swedish expermental metal innovators:
Meshuggah are indeed the sole inventors and forefathers of the entire scene and carved out a unique niche because for many years nobody except them played this style. What has caused the sudden boom is the stampede of younger American fans exiting the metalcore/ mathcore and to some extent deathcore scenes and opening their minds to the more complex playing involved in Djent. Seemingly from nowhere, there has been a sort of Meshuggah-isation among a whole generation of formerly pretty standard metal/mathcore/tech metal type acts.
Musicians who are fantastic on their instruments seemingly want to just play ever more expansive and progressive music. Influences from Tool, Dream Theater and even Mastodon's more proggy moments all seem to be evident aswell. My theory is that Djent offers new bands a sense of anything goes, of complete musical freedom- its more or less a reaction to the rigid constraints of the old mathcore/tech metal scene. The leaders of this new US breed are undoubtedly Periphery.
At the same time in UK and Europe bands like TesseracT seem to have their roots in the, dare I day it, more 'traditional' progressive kind of metal vibes, but its this freedom to play whatever they damn well like -as long as its not in the dreaded 4/4 timing and shows off their musician-ship - which unites the US and UK scenes.
I have talked about bands like TesseracT and Cloudkicker on this blog last February where I mentioned they were good enough to be signed, and sure enough Century Media inked a deal with TesseracT at the end of last year. Fair play to them for spotting their undoubted talent and giving them a chance.
The glare of the spotlight on the Djent scene has unexpectedly given a huge boost to all those Progressive and Experimental Metal bands who were toiling away for the past few years in the shadows. Bands playing progressive metal to a small but highly appreciative audience - albeit mostly via message boards and internet forums - can expect to see a huge rise in interest.
The Djent scene has also been a boon for all the solo guitar improv players. For these one man type of "bands", you could argue Joe Satriani is the godfather of Djent more so than Meshuggah. In some ways the scene has exploded because there are just so many of these solo bedroom improv guitarists out on the net, they finally have a genre to call their own. Here's a few of the best of them.
Following Periphery in the USA are a chasing pack of bands- most notably Veil of Maya who started as a more straight up metalcore/deathcore act but now have way more Djent parts in their songs.
Veil of Maya
Marten Hagstrom explains the Djent quitar technique -"Muffled thing with powerchord" is what gives the Djent sound, unfortunately he has no outboard gear in this clip.
As for wether Earache would sign any Djent bands? Even though they are nothing to do with it, we'd sign Toubab Krewe first because the musicianship on display is just superlative in the extreme. Hey- maybe we could promote them as "Ethno-Djent" or "Medieval Djent". I'm joking of course. I just wanted to embed a clip from a great band here, hopefully my blog readers will get a kick out of them. Enjoy.