Sunday Sesh: Build a New Metal Genre

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Inspired by the excellent Guest List provided to use by Dave of Nucyulus, I got to thinking. If I wasn’t a talentless hack or if I had infinite dollarydoos to assemble an all-star cast of musicians, what new style of metal would I want to create? This goes deeper than lyrical themes or slight incursion of folk instruments or braindead aping of trad metal from the 80s (or what they teach you in school, mate). No, if you could dream up a new, perfect type of metal, what would you like it to be?

I hinted at this desire in the comments on that guest post, but allow me, if you will, to flesh them out here. What I’d really love to see would be the wholesale merger of extreme metal with desert and folk elements to create a new genre: Desert Metal. Sure, bands like Nile have been sampling world music and toying with the Phrygian scale (a technique they learned from arena rock giants like Led Zeppelin) since the early 90s, and prog rock to some degree before that, but I have yet to hear a band that actually builds their sound around those traditional desert-sounding instruments rather than merely leaving them as adornments on an undeniably conventional metal edifice.


I realize I’ve been a bit coy thus far in defining what I mean by desert sound/instruments, but in my perfect world, a desert metal band would build their brand around styles we tend to associate with shifting sands, scouring heat, and bitter-dry cold. That means flamenco guitar to capture the feeling of the American southwest; sitar, tar, and tabla to encapsulate the mood of the Arab peninsula and other regions throughout Asia. Vocals could still be delivered in typical metal fashion, but you’d also have chants and horns as accompaniment (see the electronic duo Demdike Stare’s track below). Lyrical themes could touch upon Zoroastrianism, Egyptology, Native American folklore and more, ideally all chosen out of a dedication to being a student of culture and to revere the people groups they represent.


Just picture it: a peal of horns inject the initial drama into a cold open still like a desert night before a rolling sitar riff and tabla raga roar beneath black metal shrieks. Eventually the tabla is joined by blast beats, and a Phrygian lead is added atop those sitar scales, but the core of the song remains distinctly desert-y. This track could then fade out as trumpets transition into the next track, driven by melodic flamenco flanges. Ahhhhh, that’s good.


Oddly enough, outside of the typical Egyptology stalwarts like Nile, one of the best implementations of a desert style comes from, and bare with me on this, Avenged Sevenfold. While most of “Sidewinder” is the typical glossy, pristinely-produced melodic trad metal meets metalcore you’ll find on the rest of City of Evil, at 4:45, an acoustic, flamenco-style guitar line joins the rest of the instruments, and the song shifts from the rapid-fire, melodeath-lite soloing you’d expect to an excellent, coiling journey through blowing sands. Apparently that flamenco guitar part was recorded by guitarist Synsyter Gates’s father, which probably explains why it’s the best part of the song. Just ignore M. Shadows’ grating caterwauling and enjoy the flavor. Skip to 4:45 to hear it.


I have searched in vain for months to find a band that builds the metal around atypical instrumentation to create a desert sound in the same way Botanist build black metal around the hammered dulcimer to capture a feeling of organic growth, but thus far, my search has been in vain. Oh well. Until the day this style does emerge, I’ll keep enjoying Nile, Cresent, Set, MaatAkvanMelecheshAl-NamroodDjinn-GhulNephren-Ka, HashshashinOrphaned Land (these last two may actually be one of the closest to this), KyussTurbid North, Artificial Fear, and more.

Or, when I’m not feeling as metal, Ravi Shankar or Charo.



Am I missing a quintessential desert metal band? Does the perfect band I’ve described actually exist? What is your dream genre? How tite is Ravi Shankar? Sound off in the comments below.

(Photo VIA)

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  • Butts4Gutts

    Why Don’t YOU just call it ISIS Metal, YOU LIBERAL?

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    I always wondered if it’s naturally possible to inject a certain metal style with a dose of old school soul music and if that would somehow work.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOg_8hCC4u4

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      I love this idea.

    • GrumpDumpus
      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        Close…but I always felt there was something missing about Zeal & Ardor. The ideas are certainly there, the execution leaves a little bit to be desired.

        • AndySynn

          This is a good take.

        • GrumpDumpus

          I FIND THE ALBUM MASTERING MAKES IT UNLISTENABLE BUT THESE LIVE VIDEOS JIGGLE MY JOWLS

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    How about combining outlaw country with metal? Johnny Cash meets Slayer sounds like an amazing idea.

    • Óðinn

      No. Just no.

    • Nipples ‘n’ Such

      The album “Rebel Meets Rebel” that Dimebag and Vinnie Paul made with David Allan Coe was pretty much exactly this. Other than that, there actually are a few bands out there attempting to sound like what you’re describing, and most of them are fucking terrible. Not sure if I can even think of one decent example other than the Rebel Meets Rebel album.

      • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

        Or check out Jeff Walker’s solo album

    • Óðinn

      This is not like you described, but check it out anyway.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGVsnSAPbSw

    • Óðinn
      • GrumpDumpus

        FUCK YES BILL STEER SHREDS THE HARMONICA

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        Not bad.

        • Óðinn

          It’s Bill Steer’s band.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            It’s very good.

    • Óðinn
      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        Oddly enough I don’t know Tad.

        • Óðinn

          Grunge era Sub Pop band.

  • EsusMoose

    Post-grind

    • Nipples ‘n’ Such

      ^^^First thing that popped into my mind.

      • EsusMoose

        I feel it’s two styles that depending on the usage of Post are completely different both in terms of usual song length but also structure

      • Nukenado

        All y’people need some Beaten To Death in your lives.

    • Dubby Fresh
      • EsusMoose

        ‘was good

    • Hans
    • Nukenado

      Beaten To Death.

      • EsusMoose

        Went through a few albums, all good, definitely know I listened to them before but don’t know why I never kept listening to them

        • Nukenado

          Probably just forgot. They have a new album coming up next year!

  • AntifaschistischeActionHank

    ‪City of Evil is literally what I was thinking of when I read this. That whole album has a very old western/desert feel. ‬The intro and ending of the track Strength of The World are another good example.

  • Óðinn

    New genre? Like Second Wave Black Nü-Metalcore or somethings? I dunno. That would be terrible.

  • AndySynn

    Cobalt?

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

      I do think Cobalt is a contender for being the most “Southwestern American”-sounding metal band out there. Whenever I jam them, I’m always picturing dusty mining towns, the Sonoran desert, gunslingers riding around on horses, whips and a thirst for water.

  • Brock Samson
  • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

    Here’s another sweet desert jam

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55kY3oX8mJ0

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

      Love this album.
      It should’ve been the band’s last though.

      • TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs

        I disagree. I like A Deeper Kind Of Slumber even more than Windhoney

        • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

          Haven’t listened to that album for a very long time. I remember them dropping the metal completely there and all the songs kinda sounding like the final three on Wildhoney.

  • GoatForest

    I talked about it before, but seriously, check it: black grass. Blast beats, and tremelo guitars intertwined with a fiddle or banjo. Add black metal shrieks weaving in and out with traditional folk vocals. That shit could be really nice.

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

      So…Panopticon’s Kentucky?

      • GoatForest

        I hadn’t heard that. I’ll check it out.

  • Virus sounds nothing like what you’ve described but they’ve definitely got a a couple deserty albums.

  • Señor Jefe El Rossover

    Desert Metal = Kyuss

    • Howard Dean

      I’m a loading, a loading my war machine
      I’m contributing to the system,
      The break down scheme

      • Óðinn

        Well, honey, you know that you can and will
        Lick my doo (ooo-ahh, ooo-ahh)
        Yeah

  • Señor Jefe El Rossover

    A great merger of Morricone’s spaghetti western sounds and US Black Metal

    https://youtu.be/AcyNtm_5yoM

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      Wall Of Voodoo was good at combining spaghetti western music with new wave

  • Akira Watts

    The last Horseback album had all the bleached-out, Morricone-esque desert elements – unfortunately, they dropped the metal sound. But they’ve got all the pieces in place, should they put them together.

    • Howard Dean

      Some of Horseback’s older stuff was totally western/desert sounding, too (but with some metal still in the mix):

      https://youtu.be/DcKL9uofXwo

  • God

    Man if I were to make a new genre, I’d do African slave/soul/blues with melodic death and black metal.

    Oh wait.

    https://youtu.be/ggE3OwlPIYc

  • Hans

    Some cool stuff here, Demdike Stare sounds particularly interesting.

  • Nukenado

    Most ridiculous genre fusions have been covered by Diablo Swing Orchestra, so I’d say I’d like something a little less trve.
    I’ve always found most retro thrash to be boring and thus gravitate towards modern sounding thrash, which sadly mostly means metalcore. Oops.
    I’d like to see people take the metalcore sound and write thrash songs (that means actual songwriting) off it. Maybe add some blackened elements. Blackened metalcore?

    Also, post-thrash could be a thing. Industrial thrash? Anaal Nathrakh copycats?

    • God

      I think blackened metalcore may have been done already to some extent by bleeding through.

      • Nukenado

        Hmm… I will check them out. Honestly, I was hoping for Trivium to go meloblack+thrashy, catchy fun seeing how Heafy is friends with Ihsahn.

        • God

          I remember years back when Heafy was in an interview and he stated he wanted to make a solo black metal album. Ive been waiting ever since.

          • Nukenado

            It’s in the same place as a new Capernaum album and the next Necrophagist album.

  • Howard Dean

    I gave a similar answer to a similar question a few months ago: black/death metal with chopped and screwed hip hop. Would be some eerie shit. Some of the witch house bands came close a few years ago.

    https://youtu.be/ae7Zf2TdbOE

  • Óðinn

    Whatever genre Wodos is playing.

  • Max

    What I want to see – and have kind of tried with my own music, but still have a long way to go – is the creation of a death metal sub-genre where tone is completely removed from all melody in the music and only the texture, or timbre, is left.

    It’s actually the direction that some extreme metal has been going in for some time, and often by accident of production. The vocals are an obvious example – in death metal they’re almost more of a percussion element rather than a tonal one – and occasionally you’ll hear some sort of overly-distorted guitar sound that actually obscures the original riff or melody line to the point where a new, different melody line is created out of the harmonics and noise. (Portal does this sometimes.)

    Rock critic Charles Shaar Murray once derisively described heavy metal as what you get when somebody subtracts the number that they first thought of. In spite of the derision, he was right: It was blues-rock with the soul removed and only the brute volume remaining. That’s how music progresses.

    Similarly, I want a sub-genre of death metal where the music is removed from the sound, and where even the sound is removed from the texture. Surprisingly, even after 20 years we’re still not there. Most death metal bands today are more interested in musical technique, “feel”, or outright trope-identification.

    There’s more to be done, even if I’m not explaining it very well.

  • Óðinn
  • Pedro Lindonut

    Secret Chiefs 3 may satisfy your desert metal cravings