“Prog Metal” is a stupid term. Not sure it qualifies as a genre or a sub-genre, but its usually meant to describe Progressive Rock that is too heavy, fast and scary to be comfortably described as Rock.
So who is the nastiest prog metal band ever. You are a silly fool if you don’t name Meshuggah:
- Opeth – another Swedish (aren’t they all?) metal band that has an undeserved reputation as a Nasty Prog Metal Band. They are neat, being primarily the dictatorial project of lead guitarist, vocalist and auteur Mikael Åkerfeldt. But they will never belong in the category “nasty”. Åkerfeldt has been known to include folksy and jazzy passages in his compositions. NOT nasty.
- Cannibal Corpse – they are horribly nasty and metal-ish. They’ve been vilified for their violent and dark lyrical themes, exemplified in tracks such as “Evisceration Plague”, “Butchered at Birth” and ”Skewered from Ear to Eye”. But progressive, they are not. They stick pretty exclusively to 4-on-floor rhythmic repetition, and thus disqualify themselves from the Progressive sub-genre. Must have at least a poly-rhythm or odd meter here and there to be a prog metal band.
- Periphery – these young punks are just charming, really. Led by the brilliant and goofy young guitarist Misha Mansoor (aka “Bulb”), this band of under-30 aspirational guys are unquestionably more complex and “progressive” than either Opeth or Cannibal Corpse. Bulb plays along with impossible Alan Holdsworth guitar solos in his free time, and the band includes two other guitarists of similar caliber, simply to be able to recreate live the intricate counterpoint of Bulb’s recorded performances. But despite their ultra low-tuned 8-string guitar “Djent” style, they are not nasty – very clean-cut in fact. Try as they might with all that precocious shouting, they are still at least a decade away from true nastiness.
So…enough of these jokers…Meshuggah!
- No melody – Is there a more effeminate musical word than “melody”? It’s a woman’s name, for crissakes. And a melody is frequently described as “sweet” or “hook-y” or “passionate”. Meshugga will have none of this. According to wikipedia, only one song in their vast catalog includes an actual sung vocal melody. Every other “song” (I say that with a cough) features screams, growls, hacking and various atonal vocal noises.
- True Low-End Djent – I’ve written before about my discovery of this fringe metal style (really a rhythmic technique). Despite Bulb’s and Periphery’s claim to have invented or foreshadowed Djent metal back in the far-off year of 2005, Meshuggah’s Fredrik Thordendal has been playing fast, syncopated, low-tuned rhythm accompaniment since the mid-90s. Meshuggah is Djent.
- A-tonal = A-hole! That statement actually makes no sense. Sorry. But my point is about harmony. A Meshuggah song has no traditional functional harmony. There’s never a half-way pleasing or even discernable harmonic movement in a song of theirs – no movement really at all. Its nearly always an a-tonal – or at least dissonant – harping on a single note or complex riff. All of the prog metal bands above build their songs on some modified version of the the staple of I-IV-V (or I-V-VI-IV) chord progression, with dissonance thrown in to break up the formula. Meshugga turns that approach on its head. Their reputation of 1st rate nastiness is cemented with their utterly bleak, unpleasant (non)approach to harmony.
Please look up Meshuggah, at least to inoculate yourself against this type of bleak, complex heavy metal rock music, if not for the actual enjoyment of it. They are the nastiest prog metal band in the world.
P.s. if you dig Meshuggah then there’s a chance you’ll like my music. Click here to get 3 free downloads.