Brain-straining 1920s conceptual composition meets Metal madness

It’s an interesting idea that Metal was originally invented by an Austrian-American composer in 1923, and one a lot of people will never have heard before. However, London-based 12-Ton Method root the whole structure of their music on this concept, so they make great ambassadors to this style of writing music.

It was Albert Schoenberg who developed the twelve-tone technique, which Wikipedia describes as a “widely influential compositional method of manipulating an ordered series of all 12 possible notes.” This basically means that all 12 notes of the chromatic scale are played as often as each other, preventing emphasis on any particular note. By doing this, the music avoids being in a key. 12-Ton Method guitarist Ray Holroyd updated this technique, and so they began writing their songs in this style. Not many bands have such an intellectual take on their music, especially using an idea grounded in classical composition. It makes 12-Ton Method an intriguing proposition, and I was looking forward to hearing their debut EP ‘The Art of not Falling.’

However, despite my fevered research, I still wasn’t prepared for what I heard. The word ‘dissonant’ is continually repeated to describe their music on the band’s website, and it’s quite easy to see why. ‘The Art of not Falling’ is a cacophony of chaotic and frantic sound scattered with deep muffled grunting and scaling guitar picking. At the same time, it’s not without melody. There’s definitely plenty of tuneful riffs and drum sequences, but the music has a habit of appearing to wander off in a different direction, being carried back by the vocal performances. The layered harmonies, particularly in ‘Crucify’, have a haunting quality over the heavy guitar, and the use of harsh whispering in ‘Justified’ adds to the dark effect of what is essentially a Heavy Metal track. The surreal ‘Skin The Saviour’ takes the dissonance up a notch, remixing ‘Crucify’ with electronic drumbeats to produce a completely different sound to the previous three tracks.

I actually quite liked the EP, and whether Metal has its roots in the 1920s is a matter of debate, but there’s no denying that if you’re into your music theory as well as Metal, then these are definitely worth checking out if not for the cerebral value alone.