Instrumental metal bands are often neglected by members of the metal community, or at least that’s how I’ve been perceiving things lately. For me, my love of “InstruMetal” came about with the early Metallica releases. Songs like “Call of Ktulu” and “Orion” really hit home, and a few years later when I discovered In Flames, I fell in love with their tracks, “Wayfaerer”, “Dialogue With the Stars”, “Whoracle” and “Pallar Anders Visa”.
It took me awhile to get into this whole scene of instrumental acts that seem to go unnoticed by the majority- or maybe they’re just ignored. I’m still very selective and I still gravitate towards bands with vocals who write the occasional instrumental song, but at the same time, I like giving credit where credit is due. The first 100% instrumental band I completely fell in love with was Animals As Leaders around 2009. When they released the self-titled album that year it was a revelation to me, my favorite track being “On Impulse”. A lot of people into AAL seem to only pay attention to Tosin Abasi’s guitar work, and while that is the main reason I began to support the project, seeing it all come together live is just as great as Tosin’s licks.
What sucks is that I didn’t get the opportunity to see them live until the summer of 2014 at Town Ballroom, but I’m incredibly grateful I went to that show in particular for two reasons- I finally saw AAL and I discovered Conquering Dystopia.
Conquering Dystopia was a name I had only ever heard in passing and I’m really disappointed in myself for that. Thinking of their lineup, you’d think they’d be a hard act to miss. For those not in the know, CD plays a type of instrumental technical death metal with ambient segments that come and go. The band features Jeff Loomis (Nevermore, Arch Enemy) on guitar, Keith Merrow (renowned solo artist) on guitar, Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse) on bass, and Alex Rudinger (The Faceless) on drums. It really is fantastic stuff. There’s never a dull moment throughout their entire debut self-titled album. My favorite track, “Destroyer of Dreams” is probably my favorite because it encompasses everything CD is about in less than 8 minutes- ambient melodic, tech death, progressive metal and brutality.
That show two summers ago opened a lot of mental doors for me musically. The bill also featured the one and only Danimal Cannon (Buffalo’s finest chiptune artist) as the opening act, followed by San Diego’s own Chon, a killer instrumental act with a lot of clean guitars and jazz influence with some metal on the side. 4 instrumental acts -back to back to back to back- like that, really opened my eyes to a great big world of metal without vocals. However, this isn’t a show review, so I’ll happily get back on track.
Angel Vivaldi. Holy shit. From the looks of things, this guy has been a thing since 2008, after getting his start with 40 Below Summer and Flaw (???) to form Black Market Hero. The solo instrumental albums started pouring out then and have continued to do so ever since. Again, his is a name I only ever heard in passing, then recently (within the past few months) discovered via Pandora. Musically, he siphons a lot of creative juice from djent, metalcore, death metal, etc., and always keeps things interesting. Normally, those are three subgenres of metal I don’t go after on their own, but AV seems to be able to piece his sound together using my favorite aspects of said subgenres. After doing some digging, I found myself liking his album, The Speed of Dark the most, but I still have a lot of ground to cover before I can say I’ve fully absorbed his discography.
I suppose I decided to write and post this to see what InstruMetal bands (if any) you guys have to recommend to me. I checked out Blotted Science awhile back and it was a little too much on the brutal/dissonant side for me. As a huge melodic death fan, I definitely need a little more melody in the mix. Let me know what I should be checking out and thanks for reading!