When I first got into Meshuggah, I couldn’t figure out how to tag them. Progressive? Experimental? Their lead guitarist, Fredrik Thordendal, has given us a word for it: “Djent” is an onomatopoeia, referring to the crunchy, stabbing guitar sound that pervades Messhugah’s music. Since the introduction of the term, other bands have been described as djent.
The most impressive feature of Meshuggah’s music is its dizzying syncopation. Often, you hear a cymbal grinding out quarter notes while the rest of the rhythm section chugs through labyrinthine polymetric riffs:
Maryland band Periphery expand on Meshuggah’s formula with increased melodicism and flashier guitar work:
Hailing from the Netherlands, Textures offers a take on djent that is more atmospheric. I especially enjoy “Sanguine Draws the Oath,” partly because of the undeniably Mike Patton-esque vocals in the chorus (first heard at 1:29).
Several have criticized the use of “djent” as a genre label, arguing that it is merely a term meant to describe a guitar tone. However, once any nomenclature has been established within a certain context, it becomes a cultural habit that is nigh impossible to break.