Spotify Playlist of the Week

Michael Quick

“Do Not Go Djent-le into that Good Night”

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Metal is a musical genre rife with sub-genres and plagued with rampant elitism. One particular sub-genre, whose listeners often scoff at the lessers from atop their high horses, is known simply as “Djent.” While the originator of the term is hotly debated, most agree that it is an onomatopoeia for the metallic, angular, and percussive guitar tone and technique used throughout the music. Pair this with polyrhythmic, polymetric, and asymmetric meters as well as every middle-aged adult’s favorite screaming vocal technique and you have some of the densest and (some would argue) heaviest music around. This playlist consists of a pretty decent cross-section of the major players in this scene that is still basically in its infancy, only really gaining traction in the last few years.

One group that really pushed the Djent phenomenon into the spotlight, albeit indirectly, was Animals as Leaders. The guitar player for this band, Tosin Abasi, is widely respected and revered in the guitar community. And although his band doesn’t really fit very neatly into the Djent category, his percussive techniques and use of metrically interesting passages liken themselves to those in the Djent arena. A good example of this would be “Physical Education” off of their most recent album. Abasi’s percussively “thumped” syncopated lines throughout the piece create a strong groove which is only amplified by the drummer and melodic lines.

To many, the band Periphery has become synonymous with Djent. Some even credit the guitarist, Misha Mansoor, as the inventor of the term itself. Scratchy, low guitar rhythms in just about all of their songs, indicative of the genre, but what makes Periphery so popular is the fact that they intersperse these amongst melodic passages. The same can be said for the vocals; they switch back and forth between the guttural screaming and actual singing. The melodies that are found both in the guitars and vocals, are actually quite interesting, often drifting away from where the listener expects them to go, and venturing off into borrowed keys. This lends itself nicely with the syncopated rhythms that the fans of the genre are so fond of.

Finally, there’s TesseracT. And while this band as gone through some metamorphoses, they have always sat pretty neatly underneath the Djent umbrella. Even though TesseracT uses similar low, metrically varied lines similar to other bands, something about them just feels more ambient. It doesn’t feel as though the band is right in front of you driving their songs into your forehead, forcing you to bang your head like other bands, but rather the music exists in a space around the listener. It’s a difficult thing to describe. Included in this week’s playlist is their piece “Calabi-Yau.” The song is really short but what makes it interesting is that on top of their more spacious take on the Djent guitar riffs Chris Barretto just rips a saxophone solo, something that is pretty much unheard of in this type of music.