Mar 282014

(NCS guest contributor Leperkahn has embarked on what appears to be a foolish endeavor. Against our better judgment, we’re helping him out by letting him solicit your suggestions for this hair-brained escapade. This will end in tears.)

Greetings, NCS comrades.

As a few of you may know, I’m still in high school (only for a couple more months, though). My elective class for this semester is a journalism class. For one of the capstone-y projects of the course, I am supposed to do an experiential blog. More precisely, I am tasked to alter my life in some meaningful (but feasible) manner, and write about the process as I go along.

I have listened more or less exclusively to metal for a couple years now, with only a few conscious forays into other areas (by conscious, I mean outside of the pop music that cannot be escaped by any sociable person). Thus, I thought it fitting – difficult, but certainly feasible – to try and live an entire week without any metal in my life. None. At the many times I would usually listen to metal during the week, I will instead listen to another largely unrelated genre.

My first thought was to go with classical, but then I figured I could instead crowdsource suggestions from the diverse tastes of most NCS readers. I am by no means tied to classical; I would be perfectly fine delving into jazz, or blues, or folk, or whatever (but no Asian pop; Babymetal are the only group in that area of music that I can tolerate even for a few minutes, let alone enjoy).

As to whether I document the process here or elsewhere (most likely by providing somewhat informal reviews of whatever I listened to on a particular day), that’s up to Islander (so really, that’s up to the lorises).

Without further ado, suggest away in the comment section! The actual posts, wherever they are posted, will start either Monday or Tuesday morning.

  77 Responses to “A NO METAL POLL”

  1. If it’s mean spirited nastiness you want, try classic early 90’s dirty south gangsta rap. Start with Scarface, “The Diary” and go from there. If you are looking for something mean spirited, nasty, vile, and hate filled you cannot beat shit like the Geto Boys, Scarface, and their ilk. It’s lightyears away from Metal.

    If it’s virtouso instrumentalism that gets you off, try bluegrass. Ideally live perfomances.

    If you are looking for pure complexity, you cannot beat jazz. John Contrane, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie… bebop is madness, improvised, stunningly complex and hard to listen to.

  2. Maybe rather than general ‘classical’ music you should be more specific (particularly if it’s only for a week), e.g. Renaissance, Baroque, Classical (big ‘C’), Romantic, Modern… Otherwise you’re going to have a total mish-mash of different styles that sound nothing alike (imagine someone choosing to listen to ‘rock’ music, including everything from Nickelback to Anaal Nathrakh…)

  3. Id personally go with folk, which is a style I greatly enjoy…especially Celtic influenced stuff like Julie Fowlis, The Chieftains..things like that.

    You could always go with punk as well..though youd probably have to stay away from some of the more extreme styles like crust and hardcore for fear of people confusing them with metal

    Bluegrass is also awesome..if youre a fan of metal that really shreds on a guitar, watch some of these country boys because they can really go hard

  4. My go to non-metal artiste’s are always these 2:

    Portishead – enough light and shade, misery, and heavy beats to keep any metal cravings at bay. Also some of the most beautiful music you’ll ever hear.

    Igorrr – Crazy Harpsichord fueled Baroque Breakcore, Gabba, classical mash’ups with little Death/black metal flourishes..some of the most deranged and brilliant music I’ve heard in the last few years.

    Failing that late 80’s early 90’s Hiphop/Gangster Rap always does the trick.

  5. Maybe go deeper into “legendary” groups you may have otherwise ignored? I’m thinking The Beatles, Bowie, etc

  6. Listen to Tigran Hamasyan for some truly inventive music. He’s a pianist influenced by jazz, Armenian folk music, metal (especially Meshuggah), electronic, and much more, and what he creates doesn’t fit into any of those categories. Shadow Theater and Red Hail are good albums to start with. As for the metal influences, don’t worry – the result isn’t metal at all – there are no guitars.

  7. Give a try to Celtic, as mentioned above: Tossers, Chieftains, Wolfe Tones, Dubliners, Irish Rovers.
    If you’re looking to existensially challenge yourself, look up Tom Waits.
    And Squirrel Nut Zippers is about as far from metal as you can get.

    • The Tossers are awesome..though Ive always put them more into the punk side of things along with bands like The Dropkick Murphys and The Pogues

    • I second the Irish music suggestion, with the addition of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, the High Kings, and the Orthodox Celts (these last guys are actually a Serbian band, but they play traditional Irish folk songs). And I’m going to double-second the Irish Rovers because they are my favorite Irish band ever.

  8. If you’re really trying to get away from metal and try something different, check out Access to Arasaka. IDM/glitch music that is like eavesdropping on two computers arguing. Oppidan ( would probably be the most accessible for a metal listener, but void(); ( is my personal favorite.

    Hammock is a shoegaze band (well, duo, actully) that creates beautiful, mellow soundscapes.

    If you’re willing to give country a try, check out Hank III or Jon Langford. They’re rocking enough for a metalhead to enjoy them, while still being good country fun.

    And, since I am nothing if not a creature of habit, I will insist that you at least try listening to some shamisen music. Ki&Ki ( are my personal favorite, but anything by the Yoshida Brothers, Takahashi Chikuzan, or the Shibata Siblings will be amazing. For a more modern, rock-oriented take on the shamisen, you could try God of Shamisen/Monsters of Shamisen.

  9. First Aid Kit- Swedish sister duo who play American-style folk music. They’ve been on the cusp of big success for a while now and may make it if people who can play instruments ever come back in vogue in pop music.

    Anneke Van Giersbergen/ Agua de Anneke- Solo work for former singer of The Gathering. Still hangs with a metal crowd even if her music isn’t even close to metal. Great singer who seems to pop up in guest spots everywhere.

    Mosh- Electronica, but very listenable. Songs have actual structure and interesting arrangements. Albums are on his bandcamp page as pay what you want.

    Mike Patton, The “Mondo Cane” album specifically. This is Mike Patton, with a full orchestra, singing old Italian standards and pop music…in Italian. His vocals are in top form and the album is just fun.

    Amanda Palmer- Seriously. There’s some really good music there, in spite of all the controversy and venom surrounding her.

  10. Ooooooh, you’re looking for music you’ll enjoy. Carry on then.

  11. Another Folk-tinged suggestion. Explore Fairport Convention early days, with Sandy Danny on vocals. It’s folk music but arranged and played with electric instruments.
    For a more “trve” folk experience, you can’t go wrong with Pentangle. Acoustic stuff with great playing and great singing.

    A little Jazz perhaps? I suggest early John Coltrane, “Blue Train” especially, and Hank Mobley, “Soul Station”. What’s with Jazz and trains?

    • Fairport Convention ‘Liege and Lief’ is super awesome, but everytime I hear it, I think “if this were just folk metal instead of folk rock it would be even better!

  12. While you said Asian pop wasn’t your thing, have you ever considered trying to delve into J-rock? I know The Wagakki Band has been covered here a few times and while they mix with it up with classical Japanese instruments if you ever liked the music in general you might find a few other bands you might enjoy. I’d say good starting bands would be Bump of Chicken, Does, Spyair, Uverworld, and One Ok Rock. While they also aren’t J-rock and have more metal influences Maximum the Hormone is honestly what I’d kill a Japanese System of a Down with heavier riffs and vocals in places, and even though most metalcore is meh at most the band Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas does a good job at mixing up metalcore with techno and J-rock.

  13. Perhaps I’m not the most original, but I’d personally go for classical music. If you consider that too broad, try modern classical piano compositions, e.g. by Einaudi. Enough stuff there to keep you busy for months.

    In general I recommend you choose a genre that is known for its intricated compositions, depth, and multi-layeredness. That’d be more interesting than to delve into modern-day popular trance/hardstyle/techno. After all, you have to write about it, so it better be interesting.

    • I’ve had a friend try on multiple occasions other me into techno/electronic stuff. Never could get much out of it.

  14. One was about to suggest Mike Patton’s “Mondo Cane”. But, that’s already done.
    Here are a few other ideas for playlists to go through:
    • All studio albums by Coil
    • Both albums by How to Destroy Angels, and the soundtrack/score to the films “The Social Network” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
    • Ulver’s 2000-on albums
    • Both of The Glitch Mob’s albums
    • The whole of Burial’s discography
    • All 5 albums by Massive Attack
    • All albums by Busdriver

  15. Chase & Status “No More Idols”

  16. If you go the Celtic folk route, I suggest you check out The Tannahill Weavers, although they are Scottish instead of Irish. They’re heavy on the bagpipes but make some beautiful music as well as some rollicking stuff. “Leaving St Kilda” is one album I’d recommend.

    I was also going to suggest “dark folk” or “neofolk”, which are fields I’ve explored a bit because of recommendations from Agalloch. What brought it to mind was seeing the news that Austria’s Dornenreich have a new album coming. I don’t consider myself a very good guide to this genre, but Sol Invictus, Waldteufel, and Death In June are some other ideas. And this is an interesting comp I discovered because Agalloch is on it:

    Also, I would also recommend bluegrass music. Old school bluegrass — Flatt & Scruggs, Bill Monroe, And you can’t go wrong with the self-titled album by Old and in the Way (a real supergroup).

  17. It might be cool if you only listened to non-metal side projects of metal bands.

    Mike Smith from Suffocation had a rap…thing called Grimm Real which was basically rapping over Suffocation loops with a couple extra synths (a couple songs even have him rapping over blast beats…oi). Calling it good is a bit of a stretch, but I can’t hate on that Liege of Inveracity loop. #swag

    You and I have already (briefly) talked about AJ Minette’s Nobel but it’s worth mentioning.

    Steph from Deftones has a group with Eric Bobo from Cypress Hill and Richie Londres. I think Dan from Sikth might play drums for them live too.

    Actually the Deftones guys have lots of side stuff, but Chino’s Team Sleep with Zach from Hella/Death Grips is probably my favorite. Of course he also does ††† these days too.

    Dudes from Summoning have the excellent darkwave project Die Verbannten Kinder Evas:

    I’m not really into RATM or this, but Tom Morello performs folky stuff as the Nightwatchman:

    Sigurd Wongraven from Satyricon has an eponymous project:

    That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. Not a side project (well, I guess one dude was in Ved Buens Ede), but do you ever listen to Virus? They don’t call themselves metal but they pretty much are. The comparison I’ve heard made a lot is Voivod+Talking Heads, two of my favorite bands! Anyway yeah yeah yeah:

    • That’s an interesting idea. Team Sleep is on my record shelf, good stuff. The other side project that came to mind was Chaostar, I’ve ranted about their goodness on NCS before.

  18. I’d definitely recommend delving into some ‘classic’ bands, like Pink Floyd, The Doors, The Velvet Underground, Led Zeppelin, PJ Harvey, David Bowie, The Beetles, The Smiths, Jimi Hendrix, My Bloody Valentine, The Kinks, Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, King Crimson… in particular I’d recommend The Tea Party (Splendor Solis, or The Edges of Twilight), which is this most singularly awesome and massively under-appreciated folk/rock band:

    You’ve mentioned folk is a field you’re considering, so there are quite a few options there – ‘traditional’ Western folk like Tenhi, Wardruna, and Neun Welten is a solid place to start if you appreciate bands like old Ulver, Agalloch, Saor, etc – maybe even try Omnia for a more popular take on traditional Celtic folk.

    A field I particularly enjoy is wyrd/psych folk – more minimalist/traditional bands like Arrowwood, Novemthree, and Stumpercht, and also ‘dark folk’ like :of the wand and the moon:, Death in June, and Current 93.
    In particular I’d suggest the works of the minstrel B’ee – which range from the virtuosic In Gowna Ring to the exceptionally pretty Birch Book

    Or you could branch out into more exotic forms of folk – African, like Bassekou Kouyate, Malick Pathe Sou, Espers, or the more modern Master Musicians of Bukkake; or Indian, like Ravi Shankar and Nikhil Banerjee.
    Karl Sanders of Nile actually has two awesome solo albums, in which he explores his Eastern folk influences.

    Moving away from metal and its roots entirely, electronic music could be fun – some favourites of mine are Jon Hopkins, Autechre, Forest Swords, and Burial – or you could go for the classics Disintegration Loops and Tryptych, by William Bassinski and Demdike Stare respectively. For something a bit more upbeat or chill, maybe try Aphex Twin and Royksopp. Grimes and The Knife both mix electronic influences in their… pop(?) music – Alcest’s Neige recommended Grimes on his 2013 AotY list, so might be worth a try!

    On the more pop or indie side… (seriously, those words unsettle me as much as they do most of you, but bear with me!!), Warpaint’s self-titled released earlier this year was pretty interesting. Maybe try singer/songwriter Julia Holter too, and Nick Cave’s latest LP Push The Sky Away. Yo La Tengo and Sun Kil Moon also write really interesting acoustic folk/indie – the former being fun simple summer jams, and the second prosaic stream-of-consciousness recitals.

    I’d also highlight ambient/drone/noise/whatever – Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Swans are both post-rock classics, but maybe explore the more droney Alio Die, Tim Hecker, and Stag Hare, or the more electronic Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, The Haxan Cloak, or Zoviet France. Ritual/drone folk bands might also be of interest, like Halo Manash or Heathen Harnow.

    Finally I’d HIGHLY recommend exploring Bjork, either Vespertine or Homogenic – an artist who really defies classification.

    I realise I’ve missed out Jazz and Classical – I don’t know too much about those. Bohren and BBNG are two dark/modern jazz acts I enjoy; I’ve also recently been exploring modern classical artists like Olafur Arnalds, Kashiwa Daisuke, Matryoshka, and Yasushi Yoshida (who all introduce a strong electronic element), and the slightly more traditional Johann Johannsson, Henryk Górecki, and Max Richter.
    I enjoy all these, but feel less well-informed about the genres to give you the choicest or most diverse selection of recommendations!

    Happy listening m/

  19. You could try listening to gypsy jazz. I found myself quite a fan of Django Reinhardt, with his very interesting melodic approach, and the omnipresent swing feel. That’s very cabaret-esque and the recordings sound often quite out of date, but the music never ages. You could begin with “Minor Swing” if that sounds good for you 🙂

  20. I say go with classical. It’s got intelligent structural compositions, and can be hard to get into, but when you’re in, thers no way out. Just like Metal in other words.

  21. Just gonna shout off a few bands (Hey, im in highschool still too! what a drag!)

    I would say to check out some of the more experimental/harsh underground genres:

    Noise Pop
    Noise Rap
    Neo-classical… just some suggestions, Love the blog btw! More brutal death metal posts plz.

  22. Listen to the album Aja by Steely Dan 😀

  23. “but no Asian pop; Babymetal are the only group in that area of music that I can tolerate even for a few minutes, let alone enjoy”

    I don’t care what you say, you need to give Shiina Ringo a try. She’s an ingenious producer and a great singer.

  24. The non-metal portion of my music collection is pretty slim these days 🙂 but I’d second what’s mentioned above about needing to aim for a sub-genre if you go the classical route. I have vague memories of going through the different genres as part of music class in high school, but really can’t remember enough to recommend a particular one (unfortunately for me it was some time since I was in high school). I thought the classical scene definitely got more interesting as time went on though.

    On a related note, the suggestion of movie soundtracks isn’t bad; good old Hans Zimmer would be a start.

    And I thought I’d just throw these ideas out there:
    Opera. go on, just for fun.
    Swing music. Big bands and big drum sounds, it’s like non-metal for metalheads.

  25. I would think that for this experience to be meaningful, and by meaningful, it seems it should alter your world in some way other than just through metal deprivation, you should consider picking a genre or style of music that is entirely outside of what you’ve experienced and formed an opinion about.

    – With that in mind, how about gamelan?
    – Baroque choral music
    – Only music played with banjo and the jaw harp
    – Iranian oud music? (I could easily do this. I love that stuff.)
    – Only songs written by Ringo Star
    – Flapper music
    – Bollywood soundtrack and only Bollywood soundtracks!
    – Listen exclusively to The Shaggs. (This would be brutal in a very non-metal way.)

    • Wow . . . I’m pretty overwhelmed by this comment thread already, but this one seems so right.

    • More oud!! The original shred instrument 😉

      • Thanks guys. The oud is so amazing.

        I don’t know your background, Leperkahn, but another way to approach it occurred to me (which may or may not be relevant to you). I haven’t read all of the comments, so maybe this has been suggested already, but here’s the thought I just had.

        A lot of people who’s families have immigrated to where they now reside, did so generations ago, and so they may not have much of a connection to the culture of their ethnic origins. It would be interesting to explore the music from that place and people.

        Obviously, if you’re, I don’t know, Vietnamese, and you’re living in Vietnam, you’re surrounded by the music of your heritage, which would make this a worthless idea. And if you’re just first generation of where you are, your house may be filled with the music of your parents’ homeland (as mine was). But if you’re American, and maybe your family immigrated generations ago from somewhere like Azerbaijan or the Basque Country in Spain or Fiji or wherever, and you weren’t raised in an environment where you’d have grown up with or heard much of that music, this could be a very cool way inflict metal withdrawal on yourself, and explore your heritage at the same time.

        Whatever you choose to do, I’m looking forward to reading how it went when you’re done.

        • I have some strong Irish heritage in me , but I’m sure some Celtic music will be integrated into my listening. As for the Russian Jew side of me… we’ll see what happens.

  26. how about just reach completely out of comfort zone, find some non-English non-metal songs? choose a language you’ve been curious or keen about, start from the first artist on or whatever you can find and snowballing?

  27. you need to listen to autechre.

    everyone needs to listen to autechre.

  28. I’m going to suggest rap, but I’m going a different direction. Go with some of the more intelligent underground-type stuff… guys like Aesop Rock, El-P, Rob Sonic, Busdriver, any of the Doomtree crew (especially P.O.S, Sims, and Dessa), NoCanDo, More Or Les, Jesse Dangerously… There’s a lot of great rap out there that people don’t know about because they tend to associate Kanye and Lil Wayne with rap and think it all sucks.

  29. If you want to try jazz fusion with guitar, you could try the following:

    Allan Holdsworth (an influence on Cynic and other metal bands)

    John McLaughlin

    Mahavishnu Orchestra (McLaughlin is on guitar)

    Dojo (a push for a Lawrence, Kansas fusion trio – heavily influenced by Holdsworth)

  30. I’m not Leperkahn, and I’m glad I’m not having to make his choices at this point. I just want to thank everyone who has left comments. It’s a vivid reminder to me that we have the best readers in metal. I’m humbled.

  31. hmmmm, i rarely listen to anything other than metal. i do enjoy some rap and hip-hop, mostly late 80s, early 90s. but i have always had a soft spot for 80s pop, like Duran Duran, Cyndi Lauper, etc.
    i know, it’s much cooler for a metalhead to say they also listen to jazz or classical, but i’m simple guy from Kansas and that stuff just bores me to tears.

  32. No one else has gone there, but you should check out some Afrobeat – in particular Fela Kuti who released something like 60 albums between the 1960s and 1990s. Long building jams kind of similar to epic metal but alternating between powerful rhythms, funky horn playing and reggae. “Zombie” is one of the best known albums but most of his 70’s output is consistently engaging. And also ‘Aja’ by Steely Dan like someone else mentioned.

  33. If you’ve never heard a gamelan, just go do it. Quite literally, it is heavy metal music.

    I love Americana and Celtic folk/rock. The anger and raw intensity of so much of these musical worlds dovetails well into the metal mindset. Might I suggest exploring some Scottish folk material, then returning to metal by way of Gravedigger’s “Scottish” albums? (Is Chris Boltendahl’s ragged voice is an Exception to the Rule or not?)

    And then there’s classical. I’m one of the biggest classical fans on this site – try a 1500 CD classical library. I strongly suggest that every metal fan give a chance to Medieval and Renaissance polyphony – staggeringly complex music used multiple, interweaving melodies. The Masses of Josquin are a great place to start.

  34. Get artsy-fartsy. Late 70’s experimental NoWave NYC. Glenn Branca and Rhys Chatham evolved out of that scene to make some incredible minimalist guitar-driven, noisy stuff. Check out Branca’s “Ascension” and Chatham’s “guitar trio”.

  35. I tend to gravitate in a few different directions.
    Baroque period composers such as Bach or Vivaldi, or Romantic period composers such as Offenbach, Liszt, Wagner, Dvorak, Holst, or Stravinsky, and of course Classical period composers Mozart, or Beethoven. (also, writing this down really gives me perspective on my favourite period of Western classical music)

    I also sometimes get down with electronic music.
    Kirlian Camera
    Infected Mushroom
    but I am still pretty new with this kind of thing.

    Then there’s folk stuff, generally traditional songs from various cultures, with emphasis on Celtic and Slavic, as well as occasionally neo-folk bands like Current 93, Death In June, Of the Wand and the Moon, or my favourite, Nature and Organisation.

    My favourite getaway from metal though, is prog rock. Classics like King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Caravan, Camel, Marillion, and Rush, to less known groups like Soft Machine, Magma, and PFM, to modern wonders such as Steven Wilson, Haken, The Tea Club, Il Tempio Delle Clissidre, La Maschera Di Cera, Arjen Lucassen, Wilmer Waarbroek, and Fabio Zuffanti.

  36. Please write every entry in a Dethklokian style:

    Day 1: Dis ams Jazz. Dis ams totally not brutal. Threw cd out of cars windows. I miss metals.

  37. Central Asian Throat Singing.

  38. Lets fill some gaps here:

    Check some heritage out in 70s rock, like Love, Magma, The Rolling Stones, The Masters Apprentices, Masters of Reality (80s really), Toad, Captain Beyond, Alkana, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, T. Rex, Nick Drake, to name but a few.

    See into electronic music because it’s mental, like Crookers, Deadmau5, DJ Mehdi, Daft Punk, Fatboy Slim, Moby, Baths, Tipper, Disclosure, Hot Chip, Lorn, Boards of Canada, Laurel Halo, Onehotrix Point Never…

    Funk? Give Parliament, Funkedelic and Sly & the Family Stone a try. And early Red Hot Chilli Peppers if you’re feeling renegade. For Jazz Fusion I’d say Jeff Beck is a good start, his virtuosity is incredible. Jazz? Of course Charlie Parker, Miles Davies, Eric Dolphy, Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone, Chet Baker, Bill Evans.

    Little influential indie too, say maybe just Talking Heads, Sonic Youth, Spiritualised, man everyone’s got to listen to Pixies too.

    If you do listen to rap, you can’t do without A Tribe Called Quest, Deep Puddle Dynamics, Themselves, Non-Phixion, and Tyler, the Creator.


    • Already loves some funk. I’m gonna see George Clinton/Parliament Funkadelic in concert in about a month.

  39. holy shit! Late as usual. I am going to feed off the links in this post for some time now. So many goodies

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