For many listeners, nothing tops the human voice's ability to sucker punch 'em right in the feels. It's a given that a solid vocalist has the power to take us on whatever emotional roller coaster he or she wants. Guaranteed, a talented singer has turned even the most stoic of ya into a blubbering, slobbery mess at least once, and the most cynical into an idealist. So what happens when you take away the power of lyrical suggestion?
You rip an ass-blasting guitar solo and pummel someone in the chest with riffs. It doesn't matter whether you're happy, sad, angry, or experiencing some grey combination of the three; instrumental metal music's diverse, and definitely has your moods covered. Set the pen down and stuff a sock in it; from here on out, guitars do the talking.
WHEN YOU'RE PISSED – ALLUVIAL
Alluvial is the vocal-free death metal brainchild of ripping guitarists Wes Hauch (Black Crown Initiate, ex-The Faceless) and Keith Merrow (Conquering Dystopia, Merrow). They put out their first record, The Deep Longing for Annihilation, earlier this year, and it's chocked full of super pissed riffage. I'd recommend listening to the opener, "Colony"; "In Penitence"; or "As the Crow Flies" when you're approaching meme-levels of angery-ness.
WHEN YOU'RE STILL SORTA PISSED, BUT LIKE, NOT AS MUCH – FLUX CONDUCT
If you're familiar with guitarist/songwriter John Browne's work in Monuments, you may have also heard his solo project, Flux Conduct. "The Heart of Atlantis" is one of the nastier cuts from Qatsi. I mean, get a load of that opening riff–pure, hateful, instrumental groove. The br00tz are nicely balanced out with some guest solos by Chris Letchford (Scale the Summit) and Jakub Zytecki, so it's not an all-out hatefest, though. Great when you're kinda mad, but not who-ate-my-goddamn-leftovers mad.
WHEN YOU'RE NOT PISSED PER SE, BUT NOT NECESSARILY STOKED EITHER – ANIMALS AS LEADERS
For me, Animals as Leaders are one of those bands whose material falls right into an emotional grey area. They definitely have their moments of sheer beauty and unbridled brutality, but most of it's somewhere in between. "Lippincott" is a great example of a tune that starts off happy-ish, then quickly switches up to toe the line between outright joy and sorrow. If I knew my music theory I'd explain how all that works, but alas, I'm a simple pleb.
WHEN YOU'RE ACTUALLY PRETTY STOKED – I BUILT THE SKY
If the name is new to you, I Built the Sky is a one-man instrumental prog show out of Australia. While the bulk of his work is crazy technical, it's also notably upbeat. It can be heavy as balls at times, you know, but in a smiley way. "Aviaticus" is a perfect showcase of what this guy's all about, and an excellent companion when you're high on life but still need your metal fix.
WHEN YOU FIND OUT YOUR PET GERBIL ROOSEVELT DIED – NICK JOHNSTON
When you're down in the dumps and need a soundtrack to match your misery, look no further than choice cuts from virtuoso guitarist Nick Johnston's catalogue. The opening track from his latest album, Remarkably Human, features some emotive lead guitar melodies, and is fairly dark all the way around. While I might put Mr. Johnston nearer the prog rock spectrum, the man has metal sensibilities. Also, Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree) drummed on this record, which is well worth the price of admission.
Feelin' some kinda way? Let us know your favorite "mood" bands in the comments below.