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Celebrity Spotify Playlist: Alex Hofmann of Fallujah’s “Non-Metal Bands That Metalheads Like” Playlist


Fallujah - Alex Hofmann

Fallujah are about to embark on the death metal-centric Best in Brutality Tour along with Broken Hope, Oceano, Rivers of Nihil and Kublai Kahn; the tour starts in just a couple of weeks on the West Coast and snakes its way east before ending with a splash at the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival in mid-April. Get dates here.

We asked Fallujah vocalist Alex Hofman to compile a playlist of his favorite songs to listen to in the van. What we didn’t expect was to get a list consisting entirely of non-metal bands, although in hindsight these guys live, breathe and play metal all day long every day… so of course their personal listening habits probably drift elsewhere in the few spare moments they have. Without further ado, here’s Hofmann’s playlist of non-metal bands that metalheads seem to dig along with a brief synopsis of just why he believes those who usually surround themselves with heavy happen to dig these much more mellow sounds. CRANK IT LOUD! Or, wait… don’t.

When you play in a metal band that is on the road as much as Fallujah is, you are surrounded and enveloped by the genre at all turns. You hear metal at the shows, you play it on stage, you talk about it with the fans. So when the time comes to drive 12 hours to your next gig or unwind before a show, metal isn’t always the first genre I or other metal guys whip out.

Over the years I’ve become very familiar with two distinct facial expressions from my bandmates or other metalheads. The first is a puzzled grin of dissatisfaction that silently communicates words such as “what the fuck is this crap?” or “turn this garbage off.” The other less frequent expression is that of hopeful curiosity, where one may ask “damn, that was tight, who is this?” I’ve now as a result compiled a list of non-metal bands that through my experience have attracted the most praise and relevance from my network of metalheads.

1. Radiohead: This band didn’t become one of history’s greatest rock bands for no reason. I rarely meet metalheads who have terrible things to say about Radiohead, a band that successfully conveys a diverse range of emotions on each album with bizarre songwriting and avant-garde song structures. Metal guys most often refer to either Kid A or Hail to the Thief as their favorite records.

2. The Smiths: The Smiths are one of the most influential bands of all time while still holding mainly underground appreciation. They’re a band that since the ’80s has somehow managed to bridge the palette gap between nihilistic goths and their classic-rock loving dads. The band is also underrepresented for Johnny Marr’s guitar work, totally underrated in my mind.

3. Ulver (post-Perdition City): This choice is controversial, as everyone in the metal scene is familiar with Ulver as one of the prominent bands in second-wave Norwegian Black Metal. But in 2000 Ulver took a turn miles away from their frost-bitten past and started experimenting with dark experimental arrangements that are best showcased on their album Shadows of the Sun. Nine times out of ten when that album is on someone will ask who it is, and when they are told it’s Ulver the most common response is, “I thought Ulver were a metal band?” Shadows of the Sun is one of my favorite albums ever, a must listen.

4. Godspeed You! Black Emperor: GY!BE is a band shrouded in myth and obscurity. The band wrote a bunch of heavily influential albums in the late ’90s and early ’00s, only to go on a ten year hiatus thereafter. Two other members of Fallujah and I saw them live back in 2012, and I think we all touched on the undeniable fact that it was just as intense — or even more so — than any metal show we had seen. With three guitarists, violins, stand up bass, and two percussionists, the band holds on dissonant notes for what seems like an eternity only to crescendo into these emotional, dark, inspiring cinematic releases that have influenced everything from black metal to indie bands. A band truly worth the time investment.

5. M83: What started out as an ambient/shoegaze project has blown up into this giant mainstream electronic rock force. The group just produced the musical soundtrack for the movie Oblivion and they’re featured in tons of other films and commercials. I hear M83 come up all the time in conversations for their ability to appeal to a wide array of palettes that value anything spacey and atmospheric. Check out the albums Before the Dawn Heals Us and Saturday=Youth.

6. Depeche Mode: Depeche Mode may be the biggest band to come out of the whole ’80s new wave thing, but the band didn’t stick to its poppy electronic roots for long as they took a dark and gothic turn that went on to heavily influence everything from goth/industrial to techno to nu-metal. Metalheads don’t frequently hate on ’80s new wave as they do other music forms, and Depeche Mode is a band I hear mentioned all the time by my metal and hardcore brethren. I actually ran into a few Bay Area death metal heavy hitters when I went to see Depeche Mode live this summer.

7. Sigur Rós: Sigur Rós are the band that seems to be a common avenue for metal guys to get into more chilled out, ambient music, and they (along with Explosions in the Sky) are arguably post-rock’s biggest band. The band is organic and emotional but still intense at moments, which explains how they are name dropped most commonly as a band of interest on a metalhead’s ambient playlist.

8. Aphex Twin: Most electronic-based music wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for Richard D. James. I meet tons of older metal guys who were into his stuff in the late ’90s along with other Warp Records producers such as Boards of Canada or Autechre. Among the endless sea of glitchy samples, horrifyingly distorted screams and 180bpm jungle loops, Aphex Twin also has a prominent melodic side that is showcased best in songs such as “Flim,” “Xtal,” and “Pulse/Width.” Being that Aphex Twin is the most visible and well known in the “IDM” genre, his name comes up a lot.

9. Burial: Burial (like Aphex Twin) is shrouded in obscurity and anonymity. Burial was completely anonymous until just recently, and is credited with inventing the genre “Future Garage” with mechanical and cold production techniques, melancholic vocal lines, and an overall nihilistic aesthetic. Burial is essentially the DSBM of the electronic world and is known for influencing a good handful of metal bands.

10. Thrice: Thrice are perhaps the most commonly name-dropped band in many metalheads’ past. My whole journey into aggressive music as well as the path to playing music in general could never have existed without Thrice. The band started out with the more hardcore influenced albums like The Illusion of Safety and Identity Crisis, but started abandoning that sound for a more flexible indie vibe with the album Vheissu and then went even farther into the rabbit hole with The Alchemy Index and Beggars. Thrice may be the most highly regarded band on this list and they’re quite possibly my favorite band of all time.

Fallujah are currently in the studio recording their sophomore full-length. Check out some recently released studio footage in the clip below:

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