Cultivated by artists such as Meshuggah, Animals as Leaders and Periphery, djent is among the most prevalent components of progressive metal.
Basically, it emphasizes palm-muted, low-tuned and highly syncopated guitar riffs alongside polymeters to yield a guttural and hypnotic atmosphere.
While some fans argue that djent is a proper subgenre, others feel that the term is more of a description – or actual onomatopoeia – for the music’s vibe.
Either way, djent is incredible, and now’s the perfect time to explore 10 tracks that should be required listening for diehards and newcomers alike.
Animals as Leaders “Arithmophobia”
Defined as “a fear of numbers,” “Arithmophobia” is also the name of the opening track from Animals as Leaders’ 2016 album, The Madness of Many.
From start to finish, it expertly fuses characteristically grungy tones and pounding percussion with the instrumental trio’s trademark penchant for peculiar timbres and dynamically experimental detours.
With such gruff eccentricities, it’s no wonder why the group is widely considered the best at what they do.
Siberia’s Destiny Potato is easily among the top djent bands you’ve probably never heard of, and “Addict” — from 2014’s Lun — is proof of why.
Its reasonably straightforward foundation is appealing enough, yet it’s the synthesis of Aleksandra Djelmas’ clean and death metal vocals alongside the consistently eclectic textures that elevates it.
Really, “Addict” is what you’d get if you combined stylistic traditions with Evanescence and Diablo Swing Orchestra. It’s awesome.
Meshuggah “Closed Eye Visuals”
What would this list be without something from the Swedish quintet that popularized the sound?
Immediately, Meshuggah declares dominance with guttural instrumentation and throaty singing. That core alone gives them massive credibility as titans of their craft, and the subsequent influx of moody guitar lines and industrial ambiance adds some much-appreciated breathing room.
Understandable, it’s pieces like “Closed Eye Visuals” that make 2002’s Nothing one of their most prized collections.
“Alpha” is one of Periphery’s catchiest songs and a great example of why they’re so adventurously distinctive.
Hell, it begins with a chiptune prelude that instigates an immensely gripping array of start/stop riffs and hooky melodies. Spencer Sotelo evokes the late Chester Bennington in both his soaring chorus and animalistic verses.
Complement all of that with a healthy number of spacey asides, and you have an incredibly compelling djent gem.
SikTh "Skies of the Millennium Night”
Taken from the British troupe’s debut sequence, 2003’s The Trees Are Dead & Dried Out Wait for Something Wild, “Skies of the Millennium Night” is a masterpiece of madcap mischief.
Its avant-garde feistiness and changeability keep it commendably ambitious and surprising. Specifically, it relentlessly alternates between dense chaos, experimental dissonance and fleeting moments of calm.
It takes several deep listens to grasp completely, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
As with much of 2018’s Sonder, “Juno” reveals TesseracT’s matchless ability to unite turbulent and tranquil attitudes.
There’s a weighty sleekness to their thunderous rhythms, interlocking guitar patterns and cosmic catharsis that’s second to none. Likewise, Daniel Tompkins is perhaps the greatest singer in the field because he brings an unparalleled level of soulful fragility to every line he delivers.
Thus, “Juno” exemplifies why TesseracT is so special.
This penultimate song from the Dutch ensemble’s third record — 2008’s Silhouettes — is a textbook illustration of how to pace a djent song properly.
It builds patiently and lusciously, with symphonic synths and cleanly emotive verses setting the stage for further evolution. Roughly halfway in, crashing cymbals, unruly guitarwork and harsh vocals interrupt the stillness before the final third combines almost all of it into a captivating conclusion.
It’s simply stunning.
The Contortionist “Feedback Loop”
The Contortionist have mellowed out over the past few years, making the sheer intensity of “Feedback Loop” especially startling in hindsight.
Frontman Jonathan Carpenter sounds demonic as the rest of the band assaults the listener with measured brutality. However, there are also dreamier coatings throughout (particularly during the soft midsection, where acoustic guitars, inspiring syncopation and quirky timbres prevail).
It indeed proves how innovative the style can be.
“Overthrow” comes from 2017’s False Idol and wastes no time establishing its speedy aggression.
It does all of the standard djent components exceptionally well; additionally, the simultaneous use of growls and angsty singing — as well as an impressive instrumental break near the end — decorates the track with traces of metalcore allure.
Unsurprisingly, it fully harnesses Veil of Maya’s knack for enticing us on both technical and bestial levels.
It’s the use of extravagant orchestration that allows “Veil – Part 2” to stand out.
There’s a sweeping sense of majesty to its perpetual mixture of strings, electric guitar licks and stately drumming. It almost feels medieval, and it also evokes classic 1970s heavy metal.
Despite those other elements, though, it’s underscored by irresistible and mesmeric djent dynamics that heightens its power as a remarkable swan song for the English quartet.