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Djent seems to be the most misunderstood subgenre of metal these days. It sort of stumbled out of a lab, stitched together from bits of metalcore, progressive metal, and Meshuggah. It was hideous to behold: totally unnatural, a vile gestalt, and would have done Dr. Frankenstein's infamous monster proud. How did this happen? There is no Dr. Djentenstein who intentionally made the djent-monster. It just sort of happened, collectively, unconsciously, in a thousand widespread basements as young men and women noticed that they had 7- and 8-stringed guitars, pro-tools, and all the right musical components. Because it was so hideous, it was misunderstood, shunned, and attacked by traditional metalheads for whom Meshuggah was already a step too far, and for whom metalcore was already a blasphemy against the metal gods.

Textures is quite possibly the earliest example of djent. Their first album, Polars, was released just 2 years after Nothing and had all the trademarks of the newly-born genre: low tuning, heavy digital distortion, complicated, mechanically precise chugging, and prog-inflected melodic parts. Blood Has Been Shed released their final album, Spirals, a year before, but that was far more thuggish and not technically inclined enough to be considered truly djent.

As time has gone on, Textures has slowly but steadily substituted more and more clean singing and melodic guitarwork for the old mecha-chugs. Dualism firmly shifts the balance over to the side of melody. The third track, "Reaching Home", is hugely accessible and bereft of any screaming or growling. "Burning the Midnight Oil" is instrumental and lacks much in the way of aggression. Every other track is a mix of melody and mauling, some more melody, some more mauling. TesseracT is perhaps the closest band in sound, but Dualism manages to be both catchier and heavier but less subtle.

The problem with Dualism is that it just won't appeal to traditional metalheads in any way. It isn't proggy enough for Dream Theater fans or aggro enough for tech death fans. The pretty parts will put Meshuggahners off their food. Who will this record appeal to? If the band asked this question, they've already failed, but records like Dualism are rarely made with the crowd's opinion in mind. I'm asking the question because it's a shame that so few people outside of the hardcore and hardcore with borrowed metal elements scenes will pay it any attention at all.

So where does that leave the djent monster? Dr. Frankenstein's monster was shunned, feared, and attacked. It tormented Frankenstein and lured him to the North Pole on a ship, but after Frankenstein died of exhaustion, the monster ended its own life in the ice floes, unloved and unwilling to continue its existence. I cannot help but wonder if a similar fate will befall the djent genre. It will burn brightly for perhaps a decade, tormenting the traditional metal scene by its very existence, totally unloved and totally unable to destroy that which created it. Starved for attention, the existing bands will break up, new bands will stop forming, and it will simply burn out and be forgotten, a bizarre footnote in the history books. That's a shame, because it's a unique form of music; records like Dualism are evidence enough to justify its existence and dispel all accusations of monstrosity.

— Richard Street-Jammer

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HEAR DUALISM

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Textures - "Reaching Home"

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Textures - "Singularity"

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