Can Artificial Intelligence formulate a decent metal song?

“Relentless Doppelganger” by Dadabots, an AI built by two Berklee College of Music graduates, is a never-ending stream of computer-generated death metal, but is it any good? We asked Jack Saddler to have a listen…

Taken at face value, Dadabots – the endless YouTube stream of AI-generated death metal – is the success story of two University graduates.

Zack Zukowski and CJ Carr created AI-software that uses a “recurrent neural network” to interpret music and learn patterns from the data it acquires, which in this instance, is death metal. By feeding it different segments of music, the AI learns to reproduce multiple detailed samples of riffs, solos and beats. Dadabots’ creators have previously released AI-created albums, including one based on The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Calculating Infinity. It’s at least reassuring to know they’re bolstering the robot’s musical canvas with one of the most forward-thinking heavy releases of the last two decades.

While it’s unlikely that AI will be the go-to method of producing new chart music anytime soon, it’s an interesting (and frightening) look at what the future of music could look like. Zukowski and Carr have said their next step is to create a form of audience interaction, so who knows where this concept could end up in, say, 2040.

“Relentless Doppelganger” has been live for almost a month, and can be heard below.

As for the verdict, that’s right here.

The Sound

As an endless stream, the music takes on various guises. Yet one thing is for sure: a human would struggle to write songs at this pace. Within 10 seconds of hitting play, a breakneck guitar solo resembling Slayer at quadruple the speed, coupled with the fastest blast-beat drums you’ll hear. “Relentless Doppelganger” doesn’t let up from here; features stop-start, fractured riffs that range from mathcore to meaty death metal; and is dragged along by ferocious pig-squealed vocals that give Corpsegrinder a run for his money.

The Lyrics

Undecipherable, I’m afraid. That’s because the vocals are sung succinctly throughout, but without a language: gibberish, basically. Shame really, the robot mind obviously has a true, undiscovered potential in poetry.

The Melody

It jolts all over the place, without even stopping for breath. Despite occasionally breaking into a catchy bounce, there is no sustained melody throughout. But maybe that’s, y’know, fine?

How heavy is it?

Pretty damn heavy. If Season of Mist records put this out tomorrow, beside its inhuman attributes, it wouldn’t be all that out of place. If they were supporting Pig Destroyer, it’d go along as smoothly as the last Pig Destroyer show. What I’m saying is, someone make that bill happen and I’m there.

Can you headbang to it?

Fuck yeah. Although you’d struggle to keep up at certain points. Granted, it doesn’t have the groove of Machine Head, but book this at a metal all-dayer (being a never-ending stream, you’d only catch a snippet of Dadabots’ body of work), and you’ll be undoubtedly spot your usual punters in Behomoth shirts windmilling along to this eternal banger.

Could the AI headline Download festival?

Sonically, it just feels more second-stage at Bloodstock open-air, than closing the mainstage at Donnington, but hey, who are we to predict what the future holds for heavy metal? It’s unlikely Dadabots will have James Hetfield and co. sweating just yet, but anything’s possible. However, the idea was part-born from The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Calculating Infinity, so if a robot isn’t opening the stage at Reading and Leeds, defecating into a bag and lobbing it into the unknowing crowd, well, that’ll prove there’s still a long way to go before machines can rise up and take over.

Words: Jack Saddler