5 Bands That Break Cliches

How crucial is it for rock and metal bands to get out of their comfort zone?

Ultimate Guitar

Getting caught up in a cliche and becoming a predictable nostalgia act easily ranks up among the greatest fears of many prominent rock and metal musicians out there. So sometimes, breaking cliches and stepping out of one's comfort zone comes as a daunting, yet crucial task. Check out some of the top cliche-breakers below.

King Crimson

Not only can the prog rock forefathers King Crimson rank among the most groundbreaking bands of all time, but they are also quite an unpredictable and cliche-breaking bunch. Eluding prog rock cliches throughout most of their career, they've always kept to the genre's true spirit. Furthermore, prog musicians are widely known as talented virtuosos; however, the Crims mastermind Robert Fripp was tone deaf and had no rhythmical sense whatsoever when he first grabbed the axe.


Like them or not, Metallica have successfully evaded cliches and labeling during each and every step they took since the early '80s. This often resulted in somewhat of an extreme love-hate relationship with the fans, as once described by bassist Robert Trujillo. Also, drummer Lars Ulrich admitted on several occasions that becoming a nostalgia act is one of Metallica's greatest fears. So in a nutshell, the 'Tallica guys are breaking one of the rock's biggest unspoken cliches, as they are actually doing exactly what they want for over three decades.


The idea of French extreme metallers Gojira breaking the cliche of French bands being on the mellow side has been present throughout the group's career, but was recently actually discussed by frontman Joe Duplantier. "In France, the vibe of the country is very far apart from metal, so we cannot really go, 'Yeah, we're French!" he said. "I mean, even though I was born and raised in France I had more of something else, this education, so since I'm a kid, I'm like, 'I'm not French, I'm a human being.' So Gojira is more like a 'human being' band. An intellectual band."


Setting up the grunge trend on a grand scale, Nirvana were among the early '90s band that broke the c-ck-rock behavior cliche set by glam rockers of the '80s. Dave Grohl still very much sticks to this trend, acting as one of the most down-to-earth rockstars of all time.

Skid Row

Typically ranked among the glam rock bunch, Skid Row in fact had very little in common with generic sleaze glam acts, apart from coming from the same time and scene. In general, the band's opus is packed with tunes much closer to classic hard-hitting rock sound, turning Sebastian Bach and co. into genuine cliche-breakers. So we've only scratched the surface here and now ask for your opinion on the subject. Got any cliche-breakers to share? If so, don't hesitate to join the discussion in the comments. And while we're on the matter, make sure to check out our list of tackiest rock cliches.

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    "I'm not French, I'm a human being." Best quote anywhere for a long time. We all knew, that French kinda aren't human from the start...
    Because of their inhuman like talents in the arts that simply cannot be ignored?
    Don't understand why you get downvoted. People are ignorant. inb4flameshieldup
    +1 that comment, but what he meant was he shouldn't be categorised into being french and anti-metal
    ITT: People are mad because their favorite band is not on this list.
    Where THE FUCK is my post-avant progressive-shoemetal jazzy lowercase-core collective? We are the first of our kind!
    to be honest Limp Bizkit is probably one of the biggest influences in the neoclassical polka deathcore movement in the Czech republic. I think they deserve a lot of respect for their regular sacrifices of band members at live shows.
    Mastodon should really be up there, I agree. I'd also throw in Opeth and Guns n' Roses. Opeth's music is stunningly complex, unique and complicated yet also highly emotive. And Guns n' Roses in their prime had a tremendous range of music. Estranged and November Rain are two of the most powerful, awe-inspiring ballads I've ever heard, while songs like My Michelle are brilliant in how raw and direct, yet polished, they are.
    Guns N' Chains
    Agreed about both bands. I know most people don't care for it, but the GNR record "The Spaghetti Incident?" shows this as well. Yeah the songs are a bunch of cover songs, but there is literally no comparison from the punk songs they covered on that album to the songs you mentioned above. That is something that I always wonder about with GNR had they not imploded. What direction would they have went in following that album at that time? Another Appetite sounding record, another Use Your Illusion sounding record, or would they went in a punk"ish" direction? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Slash said in his book he had material he brought up but Axl was against the songs. They ended up being re-worked into the songs for Slash's Snakepit "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" album.
    Yeah that's true, Axl initially dismissed Slash's new songs as southern rock, which to Axl is a bad thing. Though when Slash then took the songs and began recording them with a full band Axl got mad and demanded that the songs become GnR material instead. Naturally, Slash told him to **** off.
    Poorly written article. Starts with an intro that basically says "cliches are bad" then does hardly anything to explain how the listed bands avoid them or why that's even a thing.
    The Police? As far as I'm aware, they were one of the first to mix reggae and other Caribbean influences into popular western music
    As a french I can't disagree with Joe Duplantier, I don't listen to french music at all. I was raised with american and english music. However the French Metal community is really proud of Gojira, finally a band who don't fear to play what they love.
    France does have trust tho. or are they considered hard rock?
    Yeah, totally hard-rock furthermore it's a pretty old band while Gojira is the present and futur of the franch metal.
    Nirvana and Metallica were not cliché back in the day because they did something new but by todays standard they basically invented their own cliché.
    Nirvana were after bands like Mother Love Bone and Green River which did the whole Grunge thing first. I don't follow Metallica as much but I've listened to their stuff and although they did invent their own cliches, they haven't attempted to shake them off and do something completely different
    This is quite simple. If a band is groundbreaking, or genre defining, then they created the cliches in the first place. How can you evade the cliches when you are responsible for them?
    I think Metallica are extremely cliche. Hetfield's snarling vocals, Kirk's pentatonic wah-wanking solos... it's all very cliche, even if they invented the cliche.
    Metallica reinvented itself for every single album. All had it's distinct sound. That argument of yours is INVALID.
    Sounds like the only album you've ever listened to were the black album or st. anger.
    Radiohead evades cliches. All good songwriters usually do. A lot of bands don't. every pop singer doesn't.
    Justin Timberlake has just released a two part album filled with mainly 8 minute songs which change tempo, key and genres. Most pop singers don't would be a better sentence
    To be fair, it's not like he actually wrote the music. Kudos for not trying to keep the same pop formula though.
    French metal is mellow?! You haven't heard of Dagoba, Eths, Magoa or Mass Hysteria. But yes, metal isn't in the french culture at all unfortunately. Gojira latest went #7 in charts yet no one even spoke about them in the medias.
    Yeah Dagoba are pretty good and it's a shame that almost no one even knows them, they're really good compositor
    King Crimson was a good start, but then the article just goes majorly downhill from there, demonstrating a severe lack of musical knowlede. I suppose I knew what to expect coming in here, I guess the presence of King Crimson unduly raised my hopes that this wouldn't be as awful as most other UG articles. *sigh and lament*
    I completely disagree with Skid Row. A bunch of long-haired white teenagers in makeup playing power ballads? I don't see how that's not the definition of cheesy glam rock.
    You really don't listen to them do ya? Youth Gone Wild? Slave to the grind? Go **** yourself.
    I can almost guarantee you haven't listened to their albums. They, along with GnR broke away from the cliches that most hair metal bands kept doing. Listen to slave to the grind, and then listen to something by poison. There is a difference in approach.
    >talking about bands that break cliches >mentions Metallica, Gojira and Skid Row Yea, ok ar kid.
    I think Tesla or Guns n Roses would have been a better choice than Skid Row. Both bands did a better job of straying away from the trends of 80s hair metal. The quality of thier music was better too. I dont dislike Skid Row though.
    If any band is doing something completely different it's gotta be Radiohead or Everything Everything. Radiohead firstly went from being the biggest rock band in the world to recording Kid A, one of the biggest anti-hit albums of all time. Everything Everything on the other hand released their debut this year which was full of weird uses of vocal range, odd song formats and a genre infused sound. They break cliches way more than Nirvana, who although I love, followed a lot of grunge bands who did what they did first, and Metallica, who may have invented most of the cliches but they still use them nevertheless.
    I like Metallica and Skid Row, but I wouldn't call them groundbreaking, there are far more inventive bands out there like Tesseract, Skyharbor, M.A.N., Haji's Kitchen, and yes, why not Tangerine Dream. But I guess everyone will have his own opinion. As for French bands, don't forget to mention Zuul Fx, Scarve and Hacride.
    so you can practically invent a genre witout be inventive? oh i forgot about your obscure band few people heard ever heard about
    I can never understand how Nirvana keeps making all these lists. If, and I'm not saying this in a elitist way,you understand where they were coming from you will see that they used a lot of what would be considered cliche. They pretty much used the formula that was used by Black Sabbath,Black Flag(especially their later stuff),The Replacements, and the Pixies. This list is cliche.
    I think what seemed more revolutionary was their use of soft verse and hard chorus. Sure there where a few other bands that did this, but they didn't really make it a a mainstream thing. Rock music changed after nirvana, I don't think that there's anyway that this could be denied.
    List Gojira as cliche-breaking... post picture of band with band member wearing t-shirt of his own band... That made me laugh.
    Have to agree with the Police...and while my answer is somewhat cliche, THE BEATLES managed to evolve their sound with each album, no other band has managed to create such an innovative and original body of work with such a huge cultural impact.
    seeing as the article began with "being caught up in a cliche and ending up as a nostalgia act" what the hell are Nirvana doing in there? FFS they made three albums - one good, one commercial and one that sounded like a demo tape. I'm convinced that by In Utero they'd already run out of ideas. If any band would have ended up as a nostalgia act it would be them.
    All the cliches in the Metal genre were pretty much based on Metallica so how could they break them?
    These comments are stupid. The dude's not saying that these are the top 5 bands or that these are the only bands that avoid cliches. These are simply 5 bands that avoid cliches. There's obviously more, these are just some examples.