Opinion: Is DJent over?

By September 26, 2020 Blogs, Culture

Is Djent just a fad and is near its life expectancy? Is the once favoured heavy alternative genre over, and now seemly outdated, gone the ways such as crunk, hair metal and dubstep.

Since its inception with Meshuggah at the forefront, a lot of bands have “ripped off” their once unique sound but making it more polished while doing so. If you compare them to modern contemporaries such as Periphery, the sound has got a lot cleaner over time. Bands such as Tesseract also use the quiet-loud formula to create a sense of musical duality and shade to their music, but can such innovations really save a crowded or saturated market?

Mick Gordon’s (Doom [2016] and Doom Eternal) soundtrack work incorporates elements of the genre, and so if a mega-selling game has elements of Djent, the question is, can it still be considered underground?

The appeal of Djent was always the DIY ethic of it, for bedroom musicians it was an opportunity to create a heavier sound than their predecessors, from their laptops and with easier software and cheaper equipment. When looking at its beginnings, ‘Open Arms’ to Damnation by Born for Osiris released in 2008 is an early example of Djent that has elements of death metal and industrial. That record is also known for its Djent-sounding breakdowns and with syncopated riffs, it could be argued that this album is one of the earliest markers for the sound.

Then, you have Meshuggah whose guitarist Fredrik Thordendal not only came up with the name Djent but most of the components of the signature sound including playing in drop C and palm-muting the breakdowns, but in a smoother way to the “slam metal” that was on albums as early as 1995’s ‘Destroy Erase Improve’ and 1998’s ‘Chaosphere’, respectively.

Next up, you have the American band Animals As Leaders (pictured) who started in 2007. Their 2009 self-titled album combined odd time signatures and distorted riffs with technical drumming mixed in with prog metal – their singles are very popular on Youtube with 5.7m views for Physical Education and 13m for CAFO, on Blank TV’s platform. Finally, there is also The Joy of Motion’s work reaching number 2 US hard rock chart, a feat that by no means was easy to accomplish in the 21st century.

Indeed, the point of the DIY ethic is for the music to fully-accessible, and this often means imitation which has devalued its long-term appeal. This is a shame because there is something really inspiring about musicians on YouTube making a living and teaching others and helping the community grow but only time will tell, and to round things up is a quote by Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe, he comments: “There is no such thing as ‘Djent’; it’s not a genre”.

Words: Tom Firth