D-Jent.... Djentleman... Anyone?

Samarjit Kambam *

It is a known fact that we the humans are evolving albeit at an excruciatingly slow pace.Music too also evolves, however, the evolution of music is so fast. Now-a-days, the genres of music are too many that we are spoilt of choice as to which genre of music to listen to. The fact is that an individual finds it hard to adapt to all genres of music.

One may prefer Pop music (a shorter version of Popular music), another may prefer Country, one may opt for Classic Rock, another may go for Soulful Ballad, one may prefer Easy Listening, some for Grunge while some others are addicted to Hardcore, Grindcore, Rushcore, Speed Metal, Death Metal and the likes.

In the contemporary world, there are hosts of power metal bands where you don't know whether they are actually songs or simply growls and there are no guitar riffs that give a lasting impact to you. Death Metal, Grindcore, etc can be considered into that category where the songs are played at extremely high b.p.m.(beats per minute) and really sounds aggressive and the lyrics are explicit and violent ones as if they were written in a slaughter house.

If you are looking for melody from such genres, then you are looking at the wrong place. You may find it hard to believe but European countries particularly Sweden, Germany and Netherlands have hundreds of death metal bands, some of them making a foothold in the metal world such as Obituary, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Carcass, Napalm Death, Behemoth, Dark Tranquility, Slipnot, Immolation etc. etc

Metal has so many subgenres and classifications. Its impossible to keep up with them all. It's so complicated that, at times, some bands don't even know what kind of music they are playing, and some self-described fans of certain sub-genres have no idea as to what kinda genre of music they're listening to not to mention all the bands who play versions of a certain sub-genre but aren't considered "true" bands of that genre; say, its hard to classify in which metal genre 'Deaf Heaven' is included.

With that in mind, sometimes it turns out as a fool's errand to try to define any subset of metal in the absence of any sort of certainty. What do you do with all the bands that incorporate some parts of the genre and not all of them? What do you do with the bandwagoners and trendy bands who just want to get in on what's popular right now? What about crossover bands?That being said, I'm trying to elucidate here what's really going on right now in the world of music.

Apart from Pop music, the biggest trend in metal these days is Djent, a new-ish form of technical, progressive metal that has evolved into hardcore Speed Metalcaptivating manylisteners and musicians alike and gaining huge popularity. But what the hell is it anyway?

Even though the origin of Djent dates back to mid 1990s in Sweden and United Kingdom as Progressive Metal, Djent has evolved into a hardcore metal genre with distinctive high-gain, distorted, palm muting low pitch guitar soundand technical complexity accompanied by a dense layer of polyphonic groove. Djent guitarists use 7 strings, 8 strings or 9 strings and play the lowest note strings very often as power chords.

The bizzare thing about Djent is that the neck of the guitar are very broad due to the increased number of strings. As the lowest note strings are used, the need for a bassist doesn't matter much in Djent.Swedish band Meshuggah may be considered as the pioneer of Djent, but they used only six strings and their songs are quite unique and melodic. But Djentmusic of nowadays have no melody even though many enjoy this particular genre. The unpalatable thing about Djent is that almost all Djent songs sound similar.

High b.p.m, low pitched distorted guitar sound, high pitched growling vocals and high speed guitar solo usually syncopatic riffsmaketh Djent. The uniqueness about Djent is the pattern of rhythm of the low strings with inclusion of open palm-muted strings during varying degrees of power chord rythms as if the rythyms want to convey a message to you. Course, there is a whole-world lotta difference in the way of rhythmic striking of strings by a Djentguitarist compared to rhythmic striking by other power metal genres.

It is this rhythmic connotation that absorbs one thereby making many listeners habituated to it. When it comes to lyrics and soloing parts, the listener may get a bad taste. Some of the bands included in this category are Mnemic, Animals as Leaders, Tesseract, Textures, Chimp Spanner, Gizmachi, Monuments, A Life Once Lost, Veil of Maya, Xerath, Born of Orisis, Hactivist, DVSR, Scale the Summit, After the Burial, The Afterimage, the Algorithm, the Architech, the Contortionist, Destrage etc. The list is almost endless. In the online community, Djent is gaining huge popularity. In fact Djent can be said as a product of the internet.

I have listened to many Djent songs but I find it quite unconvincing and unimpressive. Sometimes, I wonder if Djent is a kind of music or simply noise. Some use to call it Doom Metal stating that the era of power metal may fade away with the advent of Djent due to its unpleasantries thereby robbing the interest of power metal lovers.

Some listeners give their comment that Djent does not belong to any genre. Although Djent can be considered as modern Progressive Metal inclined towards hardcore power and speed metal, the number of Djent haters is far higher than the ones who embrace it. So, this genre of music has no possibility of lasting long like the Heavy Metal era during 80's and early 90s.

If you are accustomed to listening to Djent music, its totally fine, its your choice, but I am not much to Djent. We listen to music to de-stress our minds and maintain a state of mental equilibrium. But if the music turns out more as a stress booster, what is the point of listening to it?

IMO, music should have melodic phrases at one point of time or the other whether they be power metal, grindcore, death metal etc. If Meshuggah could djent melodiously using only six strings, why the need for bulky guitars with 7, 8 or 9 strings. Its wastage of resources, wastage of costly woods such as mahogany, flame maple, rosewood, ebony etc alongwith high tension guitar strings. You know, a six string can produce notes of melodic phrases in billions of ways.

As a result, many people are asking the question about the significance and feasibility of using 7, 8 or 9 string guitars when a six string guitar can suffice. A six string is more than enough to create an infinite number of beautiful music and melodic phrases. There are even two E-strings in a six string guitar, a high scaled one and a low scaled one. As per the writer's opinion, opting for 7, 8 or 9 string guitars doesn't have palpable result of producing melodic music more than a six string guitar.

Now-a-days, Youtubers are promoting and encouraging Djent. Mention may be made of Steve Terryberry, Dared Jines, Sarah Longfield, Rick Beato, Adam Neely etc. As mentioned before, this newer version of Djent is the product of internet. As for me I prefer songs that are melodic be they hardcore, death metal, grindcore etc.

Here, mention may be made of Marty Friedman, guitarist of Megadeth, whose guitar solos are filled with melodic phrases be it at high b.p.m or low b.p.m. even though they are a power metal band (almost Thrash). That's the beauty of Marty's performance. Most guitarist of Thrash, Grunge, Deathcore, Grindcore, Metalcore, Mathcoreetc bore their listeners to death but you will never get bored with Marty Friedman holding a six string.

Even though Meshuggah uses only six strings with their music hard and raw power metal yet their songs are quite melodic. Some of their songs viz, Bleed, Future Breed Machine, Rational Gaze, Dancers to a Discordant System, Straws Pulled at Random, Born in Distance etc are quite unique and their songs are loved by many thus garnering a huge fan following.

Call me old school, but the writer's favourite genre of music is Heavy Metal. Starting from Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer etc etc, my love affair with Heavy Metal will never end. The riffs created by Heavy Metal guitarists are so melodious, some are remaining evergreen and will ever remain so. The intro riff of "Crazy Train" comprises a few notes in the scale of E Major, but it is one of the most beautiful riffs I have come across.

RHCP's "Snow" intro riff is very beautiful and sounds quite complicated but only a few notes in A-flat Major are used employing the CAGED system emboldening the C chord figure throughout the next of the guitar. Quite simpler than it sounds. One wants to listen to the intro riff of Slash's "Sweet Child of Mine" again and again and many others such as Muddy Waters "Johnny B Goode" resung by Judas Priest. Such riffs occupy a space in our hearts.

The guitar solo of classic rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Free Bird' still remains a phenomenal dual guitar riff. The guitar solo of Eagle's Joe Walsh & Don Felder of Hotel California is a legendary one. One never gets bored listening to it again and again. Since I was a kid I was possessed by the mesmerising dual guitar solo of Hotel California with one of the best and unique combination of chords in the history of music. Van Halen's guitar solo of 'Eruption' with his two fingers' fretboard tapping is a legendary one.

David Gilmour's guitar solo of 'Comfortably Numb' is so beautiful, the first time I listened to it, I got goosebumps. Deep purple's "Smoke on Water" guitar riff, though simple can be considered as one of the most beautiful riffs with the beautiful lyrics depicting real life event they experienced where a commotion broke out during Frank Zappa's concert and the stage was burnt down to the ground. Their guitar solo of 'Highway Star' is simply awesome. One never gets bored of listening to it again and again.

The writer is of the view that the newly evolved Djent music will not last long because only a few listeners have the ability to adapt to it and the number of haters of Djent far outnumbers the number of Djent lovers with many having the notion that Djent music is not true music but noise only. Still Djent seems so damn popular in the contemporary world.

Well, who knows? It seems like whenever one band starts doing something interesting, every other band on the face of the planet wants to do the same. Then labels get involved and starts shilling as much of it as they can to corner the market. Business 101, people.

Eventually, like most metal subgenres, Djent also will get old to listeners. By that time, a new genre of music may arise. After that, we don't know which way music will be heading to. One thing is for sure though. Djent is here to stay for now. It has swept over metal like a plague, and now every Hardcore and Death Metal bands and their grandmas seems to be going all inside the Djent-box, If you get acquainted with Djent, you can be considered to be among the new Djent overlords.

So, in which category of music listener do you belong to? Are you a Djentleman? As for me, I prefer to be a Gentleman.

* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at kambamsamarjit0(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on July 09, 2018.

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