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Post-metal is a fusion music genre, a mixture between the genres of post-rock, heavy metal, and shoegazing.[2]

Hydra Head Records owner and Isis frontman Aaron Turner originally termed the genre "thinking man's metal", demonstrating that his band was trying to move away from common metal conventions.[3] "Post-metal" is the favored name for the growing genre, but it is also referred to as "metalgaze" or "shoegaze metal" as a play on shoegazing,[4][5] as well as "atmospheric metal",[6] "atmospheric sludge metal"[7] or "experimental metal",[6] though this last term is also used to describe avant-garde metal.[8]


Journalist Simon Reynolds writes that

According to Aaron Turner of Isis, experimental bands such as Melvins, Godflesh and Neurosis "laid the groundwork for us [...] we're part of a recognizable lineage".[3] Although Neurosis and Godflesh appeared earlier and display elements befitting post-metal, Isis, who like Neurosis are linked to the sludge metal scene,[10][11] are often credited with laying down the conventions and definition of the genre in less nebulous terms, with their release of Oceanic in 2002.[12]

Helmet's albums Meantime (1992) and Betty (1994) are cited as having "eschewed the traditional concept of heavy music" and having "trademarked the drop-D power-groove in 5/4." They may be considered "definitive texts in post-metal."[13]

Previously, Tool had been labelled as post-metal in 1993[14] and 1996,[15] as well as in 2006,[16] after the term came into popularity.

In 2009, Jim Martin of Terrorizer commented that Neurosis' 1996 album Through Silver in Blood "effectively invented the post-metal genre".[17]


A typical post-metal set-up includes two or three guitars, a bass guitar, synthesizers, a drum kit and a vocalist,[18][19] though many post-metal acts are instrumental. The overall sound is generally very bass-heavy, with guitars being down-tuned to B or lower,[20] the equivalent of a seven-string guitar. Post-metal songs tend to 'evolve' to a crescendo or climax (or multiple ones within a song), building upon a repeated theme or chord shift. As Aaron Turner of Isis states, "the standard song format of verse-chorus-verse-chorus is something that has been done and redone, and it seems pointless to adhere to that structure when there are so many other avenues to explore".[20]

Criticism of the term[edit]

Since this genre is relatively new and is only represented by a small number of artists, the need for an entirely independent classification of music has occasionally been questioned by music reviewers and listeners[weasel words] . As a label, some[weasel words] see post-metal as redundant, since some bands listed as post-metal contain many elements similar to doom metal, progressive metal, sludge metal, and stoner metal. Others[weasel words], however, argue that these elements have been combined and altered in ways that go beyond the boundaries of those respective genres, creating the need for a single, distinguishing label.[21][22]

Pelican's Trevor de Brauw said, "I have an affinity for metal, but I don't think of Pelican as a metal band. So when people call us 'instrumetal', or post-metal, or metalcore or whatever, I can see why they say that, but it's not something that I feel a close connection with... I feel our [music] has more in common with punk and hardcore."[23]

Isis is often cited as the source of a shared imagery in post-metal, although bands with similar visual themes playing in this style existed before Isis greatly popularized the subgenre.[24][25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Liturgy is the future of post-black metal [Via Scion]". MetalSucks. March 16, 2011. Retrieved November 16, 2012. 
  2. ^ Jacobs, Koen (4 September 2008). "Metal Gaze – From My Bloody Valentine To Nadja via SunnO)))". The Quietus. Retrieved 6 June 2012. "...the recent trend for combining metal’s sense of threat with the immersive idyll of shoegaze is undeniable, and only one aspect of the ongoing cross-pollination taking place in extreme music. For his part, r views the ‘metalgaze’ movement as less entropic than cyclical." 
  3. ^ a b Caraminica, Jon. "The alchemy of art-world heavy metal". The New York Times. Retrieved 2005-09-20. 
  4. ^ Burgin, Leah (9 November 2009). "Metalgaze gets confused with monotony on Pelican's latest disc". The Michigan Daily. University of Michigan. Retrieved 17 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Eddy, Chuck (2 April 2012). "Cheat Sheet: Ambient Metal". Rhapsody. Retrieved 17 April 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Buts, Jeroen. "5.1". The Thematical and Stylistic Evolution of Heavy Metal Lyrics and Imagery From the 70s to Present Day. p. 81. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Bowar, Chad. "What Is Heavy Metal?". Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  9. ^ "Grunge's Long Shadow". Slate. Retrieved 2010-11-14. 
  10. ^ Mikkelson, Jill. "Neurosis Are Insulated • Interviews". Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  11. ^ York, William. "The Red Sea – Isis : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  12. ^ Thompson, Ed (2006-11-22). "In the Absence of Truth Review". IGN. Retrieved 2007-05-09. "...many credit the band with being the inspiration of the term post-metal after the release of their 2002 album Oceanic..." 
  13. ^ "HELMET Rediscovery". X-Press Online. 2007-03-28. Archived from the original on 2007-08-31. Retrieved 2007-03-31. 
  14. ^ Ferman, Dave (1993-07-30). "At the main stage..." (fee required). Fort Worth Star-Telegram, archived by NewsBank. Retrieved 2007-05-09. "Tool's vicious, post-metal attack is one of the more intense offerings of the day..." 
  15. ^ Augusto, Troy J. (1996-10-16). "Live Performances: Tool". Variety. Retrieved 2007-05-09. "The group's rhythm section, featuring new bassist Justin Chancellor, propelled the group's post-metal stylings with a twisted, near-jazz approach." 
  16. ^ Baca, Ricardo (2006-09-08). "Reverb, 9/01: Tool". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2007-05-09. "...Tool's bag of post-metal goodies, and it's every bit as fear-inducing as it was in 1993." 
  17. ^ Jim Martin, "Retroaction," Terrorizer #188, September 2009, p. 80.
  18. ^ Cult of Luna#Members
  19. ^ Callisto official biography[dead link]
  20. ^ a b Porosky, Pamela. "Aaron Turner and Michael Gallagher interview". Guitar Player. Retrieved 2006-09-06. [dead link]
  21. ^ Bosler, D. Shawn (2008-03-27). "Review of Jarboe and Justin Broadrick's J2". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2011-12-18. 
  22. ^ Bowar, Chad. "Isis – In the Absence of Truth Review". Retrieved 2011-12-01. 
  23. ^ Diver, Mike (2007-03-27). "Pelican: "We're neither trend setters nor trend followers"". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 2007-03-29. 
  24. ^ Steinbrink, Christian (2006-10-23). "Isis / Red Sparowes – Das Wunder der Auferstehung". Intro Magazin. Retrieved 2011-12-01. 
  25. ^ "Transmissions from Southern | The Southern Records Weblog". Southern. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 

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