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

the term post-metal seems increasingly useful to describe the vast and variegated swath of genres (the thousand flavors of doom/black/death/grind/drone/sludge/etc., ad infinitum) that emerged from the early '90s onward. Sometimes beat-free and ambient, increasingly the work of home-studio loners rather than performing bands, post-metal of the kind released by labels like Hydra Head often seems to have barely any connection to metal as understood by, say, VH1 Classic doc-makers. The continuity is less sonic but attitudinal: the penchant for morbidity and darkness taken to a sometimes hokey degree; the somber clothing and the long hair; the harrowed, indecipherably growled vocals; the bombastically verbose lyrics/song titles/band names. It's that aesthetic rather than a way of riffing or a palette of guitar sounds that ties post-metal back to Judas Priest and Black Sabbath.[9]

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

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. As a label, some 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, 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


  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 (PDF). 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. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help) [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.