Terminally Anti-Climactic Form in Post-1990s Progressive Metal

Zachary Simonds, Florida State University

Though AABA remains the most heavily employed song form in Western popular music dating back to the mid-1960s (Temperley 2018, Chapter 8), after 1990, bands such as Tool, Dream Theater, and Opeth experimented with new song forms such as the Terminally Climactic Form (TCF) (Osborn 2010 and 2013). Other forms rose to prominence alongside TCF, though few have garnered scholarly research. Seeking to expand the literature on these underexplored forms, I began a corpus study consisting of the full discographies of five progressive metal bands (excluding instrumental works and covers). During this project I discovered songs that resemble TCFs but end without the terminal material superseding the chorus. I argue that these forms should be considered a form divergent from TCF that I have labeled Terminally Anti-Climactic (TAC), a term which allows for more nuanced analyses that can account for important deviations in terminal material.