Djent 101: Everything You Need To Know

what is djent
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You’ve heard it mentioned in articles, talked about in bars where they serve artisanal craft beer, and you’re curious. What in the heck is djent? 

Djent. It’s a weird word, right? It doesn’t look or sound like anything that’d describe a genre of music (more specifically, metal music). But that’s exactly what it is, and although the term “djent” is relatively new to musical parlance, the “style” it describes has been around for decades. 

If you’re already confused, that’s fine. By the end of this post, you’ll know what djent is, the best bands that play djent, and how the genre emerged.

What is Djent? The Quickest Definition on The Web

What Guitar Amp Does Meshuggah Use

Djent, pronounced “jent,” is a progressive metal subgenre and style characterized by its distinctive sound, which features heavily distorted, palm-muted guitar riffs, complex rhythms, and polymeters.

While Fredrik Thordendal – Meshuggah’s lead guitarist – is widely regarded as the pioneer of the djent style and sound, he did not actually coin the term “djent” himself.

The origin of the term is somewhat unclear, but it is believed to have emerged from online music forums in the early 2000s, where fans and musicians used it to describe the distinctive sound of Meshuggah’s guitar riffs. The term caught on and eventually became associated with the broader subgenre that developed around this style of playing.

Mårten Hagström, the rhythm guitarist of Meshuggah, has discussed the term’s origins in interviews. In a 2018 interview with Rauta, Hagström even apologized for the band’s role in creating the djent style, jokingly calling it “a drunk misunderstanding.”

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the exact origin of the term, there is no doubt that Fredrik Thordendal and Meshuggah played a crucial role in shaping the djent sound and style, which has since been adopted and expanded upon by countless other bands and artists in the progressive metal scene.

Origins and Development


Djent itself, however, is a bit of a misnomer – Meshuggah do not consider the term “cannon” nor do they endorse it. Periphery’s latest album is titled “Djent is Not A Genre” and most people, meaning bands and fans, use it mostly in a pejorative sense. 

But without Meshuggah’s complex rhythms and polymetric grooves, we wouldn’t have bands like Periphery or Tesseract and also the word djent. In this respect, Meshuggah is most definitely the chicken that laid the egg (djent).

Meshuggah has been doing “djent” since the late-1990s, whereas newer bands Animals as Leaders, Periphery, Tesseract, and Textures from the modern era (meaning nowadays) are where the term comes from.

Bottomline? Djent is a new word to describe a style of metal that isn’t actually new. Technical complexity, progressive elements, and experimental approaches were present in plenty of bands prior to the release of Periphery’s sophomore album.

Characteristics of Djent

  1. Heavily distorted, palm-muted guitar riffs
  2. Complex, syncopated rhythms and polymetric grooves
  3. Use of extended range guitars (7, 8, or more strings)
  4. Progressive song structures and technical virtuosity
  5. Blend of harsh and clean vocals
  6. Incorporation of electronic and ambient elements

These characteristics combine to create a dense, rhythmically intricate, and sonically powerful sound that sets djent apart from other metal subgenres.

Notable Djent Bands and Artists

  • Meshuggah
  • Animals as Leaders
  • Periphery
  • Tesseract
  • Textures
  • Veil of Maya
  • Vildhjarta
  • Monuments
  • Sithu Aye
  • Chimp Spanner

If you want to get started with djent and you want a masterclass, start with Nothing by Meshuggah. This is kind of the proto-djent album. It came out in 2000 and was one of the first instances of a metal band using 8-string guitars.

Rational Gaze is an awesome track from the album and it has a wicked Matrix-style video that, at the time, got some pretty heavy rotation on MTV2.

More modern bands to check out that are also very good would be Periphery, Tesseract, and for some pure virtuosity Tosin Abasi’s Animals As Leaders – that dude can freakin’ play!

Is Djent Actually A Genre? 

Perhaps the biggest thing about djent as a thing is the question over whether it is actually even a genre. As noted earlier, in most instances the term djent is used in a pejorative sense – or as a tongue-in-cheek statement. 

Most bands that are defined as djent wouldn’t classify themselves as djent. Meshuggah considers itself a metal band, Periphery a progressive metal band, Animals as Leaders, again, progressive (with less emphasis on metal). 

At the end of the day, djent is a classifier, a label, it isn’t really a thing and is more of an adjective to describe a specific type of sound. I call ice cream, ice cream because that’s what it is – sometimes I’ll add in a flavor if I need to be more specific. Djent is a flavor of metal but a better adjective would be progressive metal. 


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