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The Djent Universe: A Headbanger’s Guide to Metal’s Technical Gem

Djent: The word itself sounds like a headbanging riff, and that’s exactly what this unique subgenre of heavy metal is all about. If you’ve ever ventured into the diverse world of metal, you might have encountered this intriguing term. But what exactly is Djent, and why should you care? Buckle up, metalheads and music enthusiasts alike, because we’re about to shred through everything you need to know about this rather significant genre.

Born From Groove: The Origins

Djent‘s roots can be traced back to the late 2000s, emerging from the progressive metal scene. This genre isn’t shy about breaking the mold, and this genre took that a step further. The term itself is an onomatopoeia, mimicking the distinctive palm-muted guitar sound that’s the genre’s calling card. Imagine a super tight, percussive riff with a sharp, staccato punch – that’s the bite.

Swedish Shredding: The Pioneering Masters

When it comes to it’s founding fathers, one band reigns supreme: MESHUGGAH. This Swedish outfit brought the world complex rhythms, polyrhythmic patterns (think playing two or more rhythms at once!), and dissonant tones that laid the groundwork for the genre. Albums like “Destroy Erase Improve” and “Chaosphere” became blueprints for a new generation of metalheads seeking a fresh sonic assault.

Djent Vanguards: Beyond MESHUGGAH

But MESHUGGAH wasn’t a one-man show. Bands like PERIPHERY, TESSERACT, and SIKTH all played a vital role in shaping Djent’s sound and propelling it into the limelight. These bands brought intricate guitar work, unconventional song structures, and a fearless willingness to push boundaries. The result? A surge of innovative metal that garnered a dedicated legion of fans.

The Groove is Real: What Makes It Different?

So, what makes this type of music stand out from the heavy metal crowd? It’s all about the groove! Djent music prioritizes rhythm and groove over traditional melodies. Think of it as a more percussive approach to guitar playing – music that’s designed to make you move as much as it pumps up your ears. Syncopated rhythms and polymetric grooves (think constantly shifting rhythmic patterns) create a hypnotic effect that’ll have you headbanging in no time.

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The Soundscape: Gear Up for Heavy Goodness

Djent‘s sonic signature is unmistakable. Extended-range guitars, typically boasting seven or eight strings, allow for lower tunings and those chug-heavy riffs that are pure audio bliss. Palm muting (muting the strings with your picking hand) adds a sharp attack to the sound, and intricate polyrhythms keep things interesting. Let’s not forget the occasional breakdown – a rhythmic explosion guaranteed to get the pit moving.

The Dynasty: Where to Headbang Next?

The Djent universe is constantly expanding, and the list of prominent bands keeps growing. Beyond the pillars like MESHUGGAH, PERIPHERY, TESSERACT, and SIKTH, bands like ANIMALS AS LEADERS, VILDHJARTA, and MONUMENTS are all pushing the genre forward with their own unique styles.

A Force to Be Reckoned With

Whether you’re a seasoned metalhead or a curious explorer of new sounds, this genre offers a unique and headbanging-worthy experience. Its impact on the heavy metal landscape is undeniable, and it’s here to stay. So, crank up the volume, unleash your inner headbanger, and dive into the world of Djent!

Now, let’s take a deeper look at the artists creating this crushing sound. We’ve tabulated and listed the top 13 Djent bands of all time, including samples of their music, which can be found below.

13 Djent Bands Currently Defining The Era:

13- MONUMENTS

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MONUMENTS emerged as a formidable force within the metal scene, captivating massive audiences with their innovative sound and technical prowess.

Formed in London in 2007, the band quickly gained recognition for their dynamic blend of progressive metal, groove, and atmospheric elements. Led by guitarist John Browne, MONUMENTS garnered acclaim with their debut EP “We Are The Foundation” in 2009, setting the stage for their meteoric rise.

With each subsequent release, including albums like “Gnosis” (2012) and “The Amanuensis” (2014), MONUMENTS solidified their status as pioneers of the genre. Their intricate polyrhythms, syncopated grooves, and melodic sensibilities helped define the sound of modern progressive metal, inspiring a new generation of musicians and bands.

MONUMENTS‘ significance to the genre lies not only in their technical proficiency but also in their ability to push boundaries and challenge conventions, paving the way for the evolution of progressive metal into bold new territories.


12 – VILDHJARTA

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Hailing from Hudiksvall, Sweden, VILDHJARTA thrust itself onto the metal scene in the mid-2000’s, pummeling audiences with their mashup of progressive metal and ambient elements.

Formed in 2005, the band gained attention for their complex rhythms, atmospheric textures, and crushing guitar tones. With their debut EP “Omnislash” released in 2009, VILDHJARTA began to carve out their own, extreme niche in the metal world, setting the stage for their full-length debut LP.

In 2011, VILDHJARTA released their highly anticipated debut album “Måsstaden,” a monumental work that showcased their unparalleled technical skill and sonic innovation. With its atmospheric soundscapes, polyrhythmic grooves, and guttural vocals, “Måsstaden” garnered widespread acclaim and solidified VILDHJARTA‘s reputation as one of the most exciting and innovative bands in modern metal.

11 – AFTER THE BURIAL

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Formed in 2004 in Twin Cities, Minnesota, AFTER THE BURIAL quickly rose to prominence within the metalcore and heavy metal scenes with their crushing mixture of technical precision, crushing riffs, and melodic sensibilities.

Comprising guitarists Trent Hafdahl and Justin Lowe, bassist Lerichard “Lee” Foral (who would later be replaced by Adrian Oropeza), drummer Dan Carle, and vocalist Anthony Notarmaso, the band’s early releases, including their debut album “Forging a Future Self” in 2006, showcased their formidable musicianship and innovative approach to heavy music. AFTER THE BURIAL‘s sophomore effort, “Rareform,” released in 2008, further solidified their reputation as pioneers of the movement, earning them a dedicated fanbase and critical acclaim.

Throughout their career, AFTER THE BURIAL has continued to evolve and push the boundaries of their genre, blending technical complexity with infectious grooves and cathartic lyricism. Their subsequent albums, including “In Dreams” (2010), “Wolves Within” (2013), and “Evergreen” (2019), further demonstrated their growth and maturity as a band, solidifying their status as one of the most influential and revered acts in modern metal.

Despite facing tragedy with the loss of guitarist Justin Lowe in 2015, AFTER THE BURIAL has persevered, remaining a dominant force in the metal landscape and inspiring countless musicians with their groundbreaking sound.

10 – TEXTURES

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Formed in 2001 in Tilburg, Netherlands, TEXTURES quickly garnered attention within the progressive metal scene for their innovative fusion of technicality, melody, and aggression.

Comprising founding members Jochem Jacobs (eventually replaced by Joe Tal) (guitar), Stef Broks (drums), Bart Hennephof (guitar), and Dennis Aarts (later replaced by Remko Tielemans) (bass), along with vocalists Eric Kalsbeek and Pieter Verpaalen (both eventually replaced by current singer Daniël de Jongh), the band’s early releases, including their debut album “Polars” in 2003, showcased their dynamic songwriting and intricate musicianship.

TEXTURES‘ sophomore effort, “Drawing Circles,” released in 2006, further solidified their reputation for pushing the boundaries of the genre, blending complex rhythms, atmospheric textures, and emotive vocals.

Throughout their career, TEXTURES continued to evolve and experiment with their sound, releasing critically acclaimed albums such as “Silhouettes” (2008), “Dualism” (2011), and “Phenotype” (2016). Their music often explores themes of introspection, existentialism, and the human condition, resonating deeply with fans and critics alike.

Despite disbanding in 2017, TEXTURES announced their return in 2023 and continue to pulverize the progressive metal landscape with their crushing audio attack.

9 – VEIL OF MAYA

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Formed in Chicago, Illinois, in 2004, VEIL OF MAYA emerged as a prominent force in the progressive metal scene with their technical prowess, groove-laden riffs, and melodic sensibilities.

Comprising founding members Marc Okubo (guitar) and Sam Applebaum (drums), along with Brandon Butler (later replaced by Lukas Magyar) (vocals) and Kristopher Higler (replaced eventually by Danny Hauser) (bass), the band’s early releases, including their debut album “All Things Set Aside” in 2006, showcased their dynamic songwriting and uncompromising intensity. VEIL OF MAYA‘s sophomore effort, “The Common Man’s Collapse,” released in 2008, fed the band’s growing reputation for pushing the boundaries of the genre, blending intricate rhythms, sonic textures, and visceral vocal delivery.

Since then, VEIL OF MAYA has continued to evolve and innovate with each subsequent release, earning them widespread acclaim and a dedicated following worldwide. Albums like “Eclipse” (2012), “Matriarch” (2015), and “False Idol” (2017) demonstrate the band’s growth and versatility, as they seamlessly incorporate elements of metalcore, deathcore, and progressive metal into their sonic palette.

With their relentless touring schedule and electrifying live performances, VEIL OF MAYA remains at the forefront of the modern metal landscape.

8 – BORN OF OSIRIS

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Originating from Chicago, Illinois, BORN OF OSIRIS burst onto the metal scene in the mid-2000s, making a name for themselves with their blend of technical proficiency, relentless energy, and atmospheric soundscapes.

Formed in 2003, the band went through numerous lineup changes before finally settling on their current lineup of guitarist Lee McKinney, drummer Cameron Losch, keyboardist Joe Buras (who announced his departure from the band in 2024), bassist/rhythm guitarist Nick Rossi, and vocalist Ronnie Canizaro.

Their debut EP, “The New Reign,” released in 2007, garnered widespread acclaim for its intricate guitar work, thunderous rhythms, and futuristic synth elements. BORN OF OSIRIS‘ subsequent full-length albums, including “A Higher Place” (2009) and “The Discovery” (2011), only drove home further their status as leaders in the progressive metalcore genre.

Throughout their career, BORN OF OSIRIS has continued to crush the boundaries of their sound, experimenting with complex song structures, electronic elements, and philosophical themes. Albums like “Tomorrow We Die Alive” (2013) and “Soul Sphere” (2015) showcase the band’s evolution and maturity, as they seamlessly blend crushing heaviness with moments of introspection and melody.

7 – THE CONTORTIONIST

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Originating from Indianapolis, Indiana, THE CONTORTIONIST emerged onto the metal scene in the late 2000s, delivering an array of progressive metal, atmospheric textures, and ambient soundscapes.

Formed in 2007, the band initially drew inspiration from the aspects of technical metal, but quickly expanded their sonic palette to incorporate elements of post-rock, jazz fusion, and electronic music.

Currently comprising members like vocalist Mike Lessard, guitarists Robby Baca and Cameron Maynard, bassist Jordan Eberhardt, keyboardist Eric Guenther and drummer Joey Baca, THE CONTORTIONIST released their debut album “Exoplanet” in 2010 to critical acclaim, establishing themselves as frontrunners in the progressive metal genre.

THE CONTORTIONIST albums like “Intrinsic” (2012) and “Language” (2014) really do a stellar job of showcasing the band’s evolution, as they explore themes of existentialism, consciousness, and human connection through their intricate compositions and introspective lyrics.


6 – ANIMALS AS LEADERS

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Formed in 2007 by virtuoso guitarist Tosin Abasi, ANIMALS AS LEADERS has swiftly ascended to the forefront of the progressive metal genre with their groundbreaking blend of technical proficiency, innovative songwriting, and mesmerizing instrumental prowess.

Hailing from Washington, D.C., Abasi released ANIMALS AS LEADERS‘ self-titled debut album in 2009, which went on to capture the attention of critics and fans alike. The LP brilliantly showcased the guitarist’s signature blend of complex polyrhythms, intricate melodies, and fusion-inspired instrumentation.

Abasi would eventually settle on the lineup of drummer Matt Garstka and rhythm guitarist Javier Reyes to create a sonic tapestry that transcends conventional metal boundaries.

Since their inception, ANIMALS AS LEADERS has continued to push the boundaries of their genre with each subsequent release, including albums like “Weightless” (2011), “The Joy of Motion” (2014), “The Madness of Many” (2016) and “Parrhesia” (2022).

Their music defies categorization, seamlessly weaving together elements of progressive metal, jazz fusion, and electronic music to create a sound that is uniquely their own. With their awe-inspiring technical prowess and dynamic compositions, ANIMALS AS LEADERS is an outfit that aggressively thrusts the listener into bold new territories.

5 – SIKTH

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SIKTH emerged from the UK metal scene in the early 2000s, pioneering a unique blend of technical metalcore and progressive metal.

Formed in 1999 in Watford, England, the band gained recognition for their innovative approach to songwriting, characterized by complex rhythms, intricate guitar work, and unconventional song structures. With their debut EP “Let the Transmitting Begin” released in 2002, SIKTH established themselves as trailblazers in the burgeoning movement, setting the stage for their highly anticipated debut album.

In 2003, SIKTH released their seminal debut album, “The Trees Are Dead & Dried Out, Wait for Something Wild,” which received widespread acclaim for its boundary-pushing sound and adventurous experimentation. The album showcased the band’s technical proficiency and dynamic range, earning them a dedicated following and critical acclaim within the metal community. Despite disbanding in 2008, SIKTH would reunite again in 2013 and continue to leave a devastating mark on today’s progressive metal landscape.

4 – TESSERACT

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Emerging from the heart of the UK’s progressive metal scene in 2007, TESSERACT captured the imagination of audiences with their enchanting fusion of celestial atmospheres, intricate rhythms, and soaring harmonies.

Hailing from Milton Keynes, England, the band first made waves with their debut album “One” in 2011, a record that not only introduced their distinctive sound but also showcased their innovative songwriting approach. Fronted by vocalist Daniel Tompkins (since 2014) and backed by the stellar musicianship of guitarists Acle Kahney and James Monteith, bassist Amos Williams, and drummer Jay Postones, TESSERACT swiftly rose to prominence as pioneers of the evolving Djent movement.

Since their debut, TESSERACT has remained committed to pushing the boundaries of their genre, with each subsequent release adding new layers to their sonic tapestry. Albums such as “Altered State” (2013), “Polaris” (2015), and “Sonder” (2018) have continued to defy categorization, blending elements of progressive metal, ambient textures, and electronic influences into a mesmerizing and introspective auditory experience.

3 – PERIPHERY

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Formed in 2005 in Washington, D.C., PERIPHERY has become a cornerstone of the progressive metal genre, known for their intricate compositions, technical prowess, and genre-defying sound. Led by guitarist and primary songwriter Misha Mansoor, the band gained attention with their innovative approach, blending complex polyrhythms, melodic hooks, and ambient textures.

Since their 2010 debut, PERIPHERY has continued to push the boundaries of progressive metal with each subsequent release, including albums like “Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal” (2012), “Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega” (2015), “Periphery IV: Hail Stan” (2019) and “Periphery V: Djent Is Not a Genre” (2023).

Their music transcends traditional metal conventions, seamlessly incorporating elements of metalcore and ambient music into a cohesive and dynamic sonic tapestry. With their electrifying live performances and unwavering dedication to artistic innovation, PERIPHERY remains at the forefront of the modern metal landscape with their boundary-pushing creativity and undeniable talent.

2 – VOLUMES

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Formed in the vibrant metal scene of Los Angeles, California, in 2009, VOLUMES forged a distinctive sonic identity by melding progressive metal and metalcore influences into a compelling and dynamic sound. Headed up by longtime bassist and programmer Raad Soudani, the band’s lineup has featured a rotating cast of vocalists, contributing to their diverse and ever-evolving musical landscape.

With the release of their debut EP “The Concept of Dreaming” in 2010, VOLUMES rose to prominence with their intricate guitar compositions, visceral breakdowns, and infectious melodies.

In the years following their debut, VOLUMES continued to push the boundaries of their sound, delivering a series of acclaimed albums such as “Via” (2011), “No Sleep” (2014), “Different Animals” (2017) and “Happier” (2021).

Renowned for their ability to seamlessly blend aggressive heaviness with irresistible hooks and dynamic song structures, the band’s music resonated with fans across various metal subgenres. With their electrifying live performances and unyielding commitment to artistic exploration, VOLUMES remains a formidable presence in the contemporary metal landscape, inspiring both audiences and fellow musicians with their unwavering passion and boundless creativity.

1 – MESHUGGAH

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MESHUGGAH‘s pioneering contributions to the genre’s sound and their enduring influence on the genre solidify their position at the top of this list.

A pioneering force in the world of extreme metal, MESHUGGAH emerged from Umeå, Sweden, in 1987. With their pulverizing blend of technical prowess, rhythmic complexity, and relentless aggression, the band quickly established themselves as one of the most innovative and influential acts in the genre.

Led by guitarist Fredrik Thordendal and vocalist Jens Kidman, along with guitarist Mårten Hagström, bassist Dick Lövgren, and drummer Tomas Haake, MESHUGGAH forged their own path with their groundbreaking albums, including 1998’s “Chaosphere“, which showcased their signature style of polyrhythmic grooves and dissonant harmonies.

Throughout their career, MESHUGGAH has continued to push the boundaries of extreme metal with each subsequent release, earning them widespread acclaim and a dedicated following. Albums like “Nothing” (2002), “obZen” (2008), and “The Violent Sleep of Reason” (2016) have only solidified their status as pioneers of the genre, inspiring countless bands with their innovative approach to songwriting and technical precision.

With their relentless touring schedule and electrifying live performances, MESHUGGAH remains a formidable presence in the metal world, continuing to push the genre forward with their uncompromising vision and uncompromising sound.