I've never portrayed myself as a soothsayer, nor even as a Nostradamus impersonator, but I feel as though I have somewhat of a good prediction of what the next "big thing" in metal will be. That "next big thing" is going to be Post-Death Metal and I will tell you why.
For years we have been inundated with countless Death Metal (DM) bands looking to top each other in speed, brutality, and technicality. Multitudes of Cannibal Corpse clones have practically overtaken the metal globe. Needless to say, we're at a point now where the DM scene has become oversaturated with unoriginal mindlessness. Especially with the last decade lacking any real creative leaps and bounds (save for a few bands), DM definitely needs a place to go.
As a sidenote, I hate to sound so negative, because there are still some Death Metal bands of the last few years that I think are doing interesting work. Some that I have enjoyed immensely have been Obscura, Nile, Immolation, and Necrophagist (and from more than a few years ago, Gorguts...though keep reading to see and hear the new news on Gorguts). Besides Nile and Gorguts, it may be arguable that none of these bands are doing anything completely original, but they are certainly building on a an already established foundation.
In the past decade, we saw the emergence of Post-Metal (with the likes of Neurosis, Isis, and Pelican) and Post-Black metal (Wolves in the Throne Room, Altar of Plagues, and Velvet Cocoon). In the case of the former and in some ways the latter, many of their musical ideas originate with Post-Rock pioneers in the 90s. Bands like Slint, Tortoise, Mogwai were/are called Post-Rock because they completely tore apart the rulebook for Rock. These bands ignored the standard organization of the rock song and replaced it with a honed sense of dynamics, put a focus on atmospherics (sometimes over musicianship), and completely disregarded vocals (with some exceptions). The difference between Post-Rock and Post-Metal/Black Metal is that the Post-Rock pioneers were re-writing the rules whereas the Post-Metallers were just merely taking influence from these re-written rules.
Now that that history lesson is out of the way, let's take the focus back to DM. It is my forethought that DM will take a turn for the experimental, and I don't mean a new Cynic album. There are two bands I think whom are dabbling with what I might consider Post-Death Metal. These two bands are Portal and Impetuous Ritual. The fact that they currently share members may not be too surprising. Neither band has really re-written the rulebook for DM as far as I'm concerned, but they are certainly interrogating it. Each band has sort of an other worldly, lurching sound to their particular brand of Death Metal. In a sense, they create a sort of wall of sound wherein the atmospherics are more important than what is necessarily actually being played.
I think of all the sub-genres of metal, DM may one that is the most conservative musically, and by that, I mean the least willing to experiment. I can't really offer a reason for this, but I might speculate that there is simply no room for experimentation since DM is so extreme in terms of speed, brutality, and technicality. Every minute of every song is filled with 1000 brutal chromatic chord progressions at 300 BPM. There is certainly a formula and most bands stick to it (a)religiously.
What it comes down to is that DM bands have taken the sub-genre to its logical extreme in terms of the three characteristics I previously mentioned. Now is the time is ripe for DM bands to drop some acid and get a little fucking weird.
I can already hear it...a brutal slam death metal breakdown sandwiching a complete wash of downtuned improvised noise, the slow buildup of a death metal riff from near silence coupled with electronic glitches gradually interweaving in amongst themselves, and an uncomfortable black drone underneath/over a bomb blast...
Thus spake the prophet!
BY THE WAY...WHERE THE FUCK IS GORGUTS WHEN YOU NEED THEM!?
Just thought you should know... >:)