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djent is not a djenre by Audrey C. '24

or is it?

Sometime in high school, I was trying to break the ice at a group meeting. I asked everyone, “what kind of music do you listen to?” 

Someone laughed nervously, “woahhh there, that’s a really personal question…” 

I was confused as to why that would be the case. I considered myself pretty uncultured when it came to music though, so I didn’t press any further. 

Many many years later, I understand the loaded nature01 in case it’s not apparent, this is a joke (well this whole blog is a joke) and music is for everyone! it’s not that deep lol. at the end of the day i think of music as fun sounds to tickle my brain. sometimes screamy metal best scratches that itch, sometimes it’s Phoebe Bridgers of my question. I might as well have asked the group, “do you listen to girl in red?” Music taste is revealing. It gets you perceived. Just look at how self conscious bloggers are of their Spotify Wrapped data. I’ve once described my music taste as all the different flavors of angst: cynical angst, angry at the world angst, coming of age angst. Feel free to look at that and conclude that I rarely have the space to express the fullness of my anger, so I compensate through the music I listen to. 

Whether that’s true or not, I love performing to songs about female rage for fire shows. I spun to “The Lighthouse” by Halsey for my very first show, a song referencing sirens luring sailors to their deaths. To be fair, I did it partially for the bit where two other performers independently spun to two other Halsey songs (“Castle” and “Gasoline”) — but perhaps that says something about the collective psyche of the Spinning Arts club. For the most recent fire show, I revisited my roots and spun to “THE RECKONING” by Mothica ft. Polyphia. It’s one of my all time favorite music collaborations. I love the way Polyphia’s distorted instrumentals weave through Mothica’s lyrics about fear morphing into revenge.

It’s not a huge departure from what I usually spin to, but several people told me that my set gave off different vibes than usual. Fellow math rock/prog rock/post rock fans emerged from the shadows to say that they loved the concept of spinning fire to “mathy” rhythms. For context, math rock in particular is characterized by weird, complex, constantly changing time signatures like 11/8 and 7/4. This is a less exaggerated but still distinctive feature of prog rock/prog metal/post rock. To be honest, I don’t know enough music theory to articulate the difference, though the lines between genres are kind of blurry anyways. Nevertheless, I am but a casual listener. We exchanged our favorite {math, prog, post} rock bands and found that Polyphia, Covet, and Animals as Leaders topped many of our lists. 

All was good, until I dared to classify THE RECKONING as djent. 

I will try my best here to explain the subculture surrounding djent. 

Wikipedia says that djent is in fact a genre, specifically a subgenre of progressive metal characterized by complex rhythms and distorted sounds. Naysayers maintain that djent is merely the distorted sound that literally sounds like DJENT DJENT DJENT when you aggressively go at it on the guitar. To quote a Redditor explaining their dislike for djent, 

Compared to hot sauce – Frank’s Red Hot makes everything taste like Frank’s Red Hot. Tabasco make everything spicy, but works in different ways with different foods. Frank’s is just like “fuck your subtleties, you will taste only me!

(Djent is Frank’s Red Hot here). 

Djent is basically the Pluto of metal subgenres, with its validity up to debate and such. Like Pluto, it is socially acceptable to dunk on djent. After all, the term djent was allegedly coined by the Swedish band Meshuggah as a drunken djoke

person holding a guitar with an absurd number of strings. text reads, don't cry because it's over. smile because it happened. #rip #djent

Djent is usually played on guitars with a sacriledjeous number of strings. I think it allows for a greater range of chords, harmonies, and other musical flairs that add to the djent subdjenre. 

The prog metal band Periphery titled one of their albums “Djent is Not a Genre.” Committed to the bit, one could say. 

I think the riff at 0:49 of THE RECKONING (halfway into the embedded Spotify preview) sounds kind of djenty. Sure, Polyphia isn’t as aggressively metalcore as the canonical djent bands like Meshuggah and Periphery, but that riff features a ton of distortions and syncopations characteristic of djent. Therefore I can proudly say that I performed a set to djent! The meme, the djoke, the subdjenre — DJENT! 

But noooo. Petey, an actual metalcore metalhead who’s Cultured in ways that I am not, put up a finger to say that my conception of djent isn’t h4rdk0r3 enough. Where’s the guttural screaming? Where’s the bloodcurdling aggression?? For the record Petey did not actually say any of this, but I could feel the djudgment radiating from his shiny dome.02 </span>a symptom of male pattern baldness  

So we had a djentlemanly discussion to work out our differences. While djent does have its roots in hardcore metal, djent’s weird rhythms also places it a(dj)ac(ent) to the less hardcore {math, prog, post} rock that I usually listen to. We’re just approaching djent from two slightly different perspectives. From such civil discourse emerges mutual respect and understanding.

venn diagram where audrey's side reads: polyphia flavored djent, we lost the sea, math rock adjacent. intersection reads djent is a real genre, screamy post metal bands with nautical names, steve vai the 'diddly doo' guitar player. petey's side reads hardcore djent, RAAAAAA, oceans ate alaska, post prog metal, post hardcore stuff

Clearly, djent is the great unifier. It’s djent all the way down

Now if you get asked about your music taste, you too should answer with djent! Especially if you want your soul to be revealed and exposed and perceived beyond belief! Here’s a playlist of my favorite djent a(dj)ac(ent) songs for your listening endjoyment: 

  1. in case it’s not apparent, this is a joke (well this whole blog is a joke) and music is for everyone! it’s not that deep lol. at the end of the day i think of music as fun sounds to tickle my brain. sometimes screamy metal best scratches that itch, sometimes it’s Phoebe Bridgers back to text
  2. a symptom of male pattern baldness back to text