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Breaking Down The Djent Phenomenon

Ambidjent is a pariah genre, almost. Banished from the moshpit, people who play it and claim it are deemed pretenders by the more hardcore, bloodthirsty clan of metalheads.

It’s a distinct rightist sentiment that permeates through to the fan base from the top down, when duly worshipped deities like Randy Blythe, of Lamb Of God, say things like “There is no such thing as djent. It’s not a genre”.

Djent was the predecessor of the idea that has now come to be known as ambidjent; literally, as a portmanteau of ambient and djent, and mockingly, to reveal its allegedly soft core. Itis characterized by synthetic beats guitarist Misha Mansoor popularized with his band Periphery in the early Naughties (thats the 2000s, folks), thanks to YouTube. This kind of music, though not fully developed as a genre by then, continued to be exploited commercially by more viable acts like Meshuggah and SikTh. Many other bands, including older ones trying to reinvent their image, have since joined the djent-wagon.

We would stay democratic in the debate; never given to ignoring opinions. But it would definitely be unfair to deny the inventiveness – whether in keeping with ethos or not – and the identity of this sub cult that’s only getting bigger.

Symphonic Anger 

A huge grouse that purists seem to have while classifying djent music is it’s affinity for synthesized rhythm section, and syncopated guitar loops – the artificial that mustn’t exist underground. But it has intent and a purpose – perhaps not obvious at the Headbanger’s Ball – in creating an all-pervasive metal-core opera in your head. It’s almost a darker place that primal rage, if you’d let yourself go.

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The soundtrack to your first space flight

Jazz This Metal

Once the barriers collapse, I suppose the renaissance will become. While Scandinavians, like Vildhjarta, lavished ambidjent with their innate goth mythos – borne out by heavy organs – across the Atlantic, the Americans fused jazz delicacies in theirs, a la Animals As Leaders. Not exactly what a piss drunk, black shirted manic would like to be spending money on, but some of their scale changes are pretty breathtaking.

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Not afraid of bright shiny lights

It’s A Trip And A Half

Ambidjent, as a genre, finds its core in the juxtaposition of moods – like, some sort of spaced out aggression. The psychedellia of its sound is often reflected in the concert experience on offer. Polish ambidjent outfit, Proghma C, have built up an entire fan base around their concert showings, where intricate visual accompaniments play out to their music. It also helps that the orchestral interweave is smooth and transcendental.

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Ignore the first minute or so. 

Metal Aar Not

Besides the gnashing and righteous derision, you would have to admit to the genre’s genetic impurity – it’s not all metal. But it would be wrong to dismiss it as unworthy, just because it has been stylized as something ‘beyond’ and ‘other than’. If not for the ethos, Djentists surely deserve applaud for the scope of their imagination.

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Guys who got it started. Best enjoyed with a cup of hot tea

If you like what you hear, explore more stuff by Meshuggah, some by E.X.P, Animals As Leaders too. And make sure you’re there in flesh when Vildhjarta co-headline Saarang 2012. We sure will. 

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