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A large majority of bands within our metal genre take a fairly orthodox approach of being rhythm-focused, with catchy vocal and instrumental lines that are easy to follow along with, and riffs that more or less seem to always be working one after the other towards some type of grand finale. But what about those that don't? This list is devoted towards the bands that are more formless and free flowing with their musical structures, relying heavily upon repetition, electronic effects, and other nontraditional techniques for the achievement of hypnotizing soundscapes that are focused upon atmosphere above all else. Their music is the void, and ideas float across it at whim as sprinkles in a vast cosmic ocean.

A few strictly ambient albums included, with little to no metal at all. One album per band, with the exception of collabs. In alphabetical order, with full links provided when available. Recs are both encouraged and appreciated.

Created by: Apothecary | 07.08.2014

1. Aderlating - Spear Of Gold And Seraphim Bone (Part One)
A side project of Mories de Jong (Gnaw Their Tongues, Cloak Of Altering), Aderlating is a horrific journey through a nightmarish sonic tunnel, both in regards to the instrumentation as well as the vocals, which can best be compared to Terra Tenebrosa in terms of their sound layering. Quite possibly my favorite of his projects, both this band and album are musts for fans of anything and everything dark ambient.
2. Æthenor - En Form For Blå
One of the many side projects of Sunn O)))' s Stephen O'Malley, Æthenor finds him working with Garm and Daniel O'Sullivan of Ulver for a truly interesting concoction of drone, ambient, and some jazzy drummy to boot. Very unstructured and improv-oriented, but with the backgrounds and experience of these three musicians, this turns out to be a pretty amazing release, with subtle flashes of genius here and there.
3. The Angelic Process - Coma Waering
The project of the late K. Angylus and his wife, The Angelic Process documents the bleak path of a tortured soul through dismal tonal landscapes. Highly ambient driven, but also heavy and monotonous, this album and its follow up, Weighing Souls With Sand, are unquestionable drone masterpieces. The vocals are especially well done, and, at the few times they do appear, really help to enhance the overall melancholic mood.
4. Blood Of The Black Owl - A Banishing Ritual
Blood Of The Black Owl is a one man project of American Chet W. Scott: doomy ambient with a heavy Native American theme. The use of traditional flute, as well as the chant-like vocals, are really the selling points with this one, and make you feel like you're being banished by the ritual of the album's title!
5. Bloody Panda - Pheromone
Pretty unusual, even for a drone album. Very vocal-driven, and highly technical drumming at points. Vocalist Yoshiko O'Hara is easily one of the best her style has to offer, and conjures thoughts of Mayhem's Attila Csihar with her deep, operatic vocals.
6. Blut Aus Nord - 777 - The Desanctification
A very special BaN album, and likely my favorite at that. Has a very industrialized, dissonant sound to it not equally matched anywhere else in their discography: beat-driven, mesmerizing, and ominous in all its twisted beauty. The electronic effects woven in and out of it, such as on Epitome IX or Epitome X really help to enhance this spooky, almost transcendental mood.
7. Bong - Mana-Yood-Sushai
Call it Hindu raga drone if you'd like. Incorporating a huge Eastern element in their musical structure with the use of sitar, Bong have always known how to make good meditative music. Taking a very relaxed and "floating" sort of approach to their music, Bong produce the kind of stuff that will undoubtedly put you in a daze. But if that's what you're looking for, these Brits will not disappoint.
8. Boris - Amplifier Worship
A lot of great musicianship going on with this one, whether it's the hypnotizing guitar riffs, the excellent drumming, or the tasty sound effects, especially on "Kuruimizu." There's a bit of a stoner presence on this album as well, but it still employs many of drone's signature techniques.
9. Circle Of Ouroborus - Eleven Fingers
A strange, hazy blend of black metal, dark ambient, and some post elements. Highly atmospheric, with the vocals mixed very low to the point of almost appearing to be whispers. This clever effect gives the music a very haunting, dreamlike vibe, and this particular album is great for listening to at night.
10. Cloak Of Altering - NONE
This Mories project always established a tendency for a lot of crazy electronic and psychedelic sounds, but it's perhaps this EP that employs them to the highest extent they've yet seen. "Unending Deities" says it all about how blurred the line between these elements and the metal is on this album.
11. Dark Buddha Rising - Dakhmandal
Here's a band that can truly use the term "trance metal" without it being ironic. Invoking psychedelic drone landscapes, with rich, deep vocals telling tales of Wrathful Buddhas and Tibetan funerary rites, these Finns create music sounding more like a ritual than anything else. Dark and shamanic, Dakhmandal, as well as their other albums, is guaranteed to "take you places."
12. Earth - Earth 2 - Special Low Frequency Version
Arguably the album that started it all, Earth 2 has since become legendary as the pioneering point for drone. Mandatory listening.
13. Ginnungagap - Remeindre
Another project of Stephen O'Malley, Ginnungagap sees a heavy Eastern influence with the use of Srutti Box and Tambura, for a very mystical experience. "Guenevere Of The Ganges" is particularly impressive.
14. Gnaw Their Tongues - Per Flagellum Sanguemque, Tenebras Veneramus
Gnaw Their Tongues is the definition of disharmony. Blending black metal, dark ambient, and noise into one twisted, inhuman whole, Mories creates the soundtrack to nightmares. Definitely not for your children.
15. Horseback - Half Blood
A fantastic mix of drone, psychedelia, and even some BM-ish vocals, this project of mastermind Jenks Miller is quite unique for its style. Alternatively harsh and relaxing, and enjoyable from both personalities.

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
[ More lists by Apothecary ]


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Alex Fenger - 08.08.2014 at 05:05  
Cool list, but I feel like it could have 100 more albums and still be missing worthy albums. I'd personally throw in Hjarnidaudi and Khanate, but it's a nice and varied selection already.
Karlabos - 08.08.2014 at 05:06  
Trance metal? You mean like... metal plus psytrance? =D
Apothecary - 08.08.2014 at 05:13  
Written by Alex Fenger on 08.08.2014 at 05:05

Cool list, but I feel like it could have 100 more albums and still be missing worthy albums. I'd personally throw in Hjarnidaudi and Khanate, but it's a nice and varied selection already.

Yeah, there's definitely a lot that can be done with this list. Joe's already done a similar drone/dark ambient/noise list with 100 albums, but fuck it, I wanted one of my own. You see I just started this yesterday, so I'm only on D as of now (gotta go back to B for Boris, although I'm not sure which album). Khanate I'll definitely throw in, haven't listened to Hjarnidaudi yet.

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