The four guys in Cape Fear, N.C.-based extreme prog metal band Gollum are well aware that most people know their name because of the creepy, bony character in director Peter Jackson's 'Lord of the Rings' films, and they're kind of miffed about it. After all, they chose the moniker way back in 1998 from the Yiddish name of a monster composed of a shapeless mass.

"The etymology of the Yiddish word just seemed like it was fitting to our style, because we don't subscribe to any formula or confinement in our music," guitarist and main songwriter Frank Stroehmer told Noisecreep. "We're kind of shapeless and experimental, and we thought that was a good fit. When it was still an obscure name we thought it was really cool, and we liked the fact that Robert Plant mentioned the gollum in 'Ramble On' as part of his lyrics. But then Peter Jackson came along and kind of ruined it. We thought of changing the name, but we still liked it. So we kept it."

Gollum's second full-length album isn't exactly a "shapeless mass," but it's definitely a multi-textural beast that combines elements of prog rock, death metal, thrash, sludge and psychedelica into an asymmetrical torrent of energy and aggression. The sonic paths Gollum roves are equally inspired by Tool, Morbid Angel, Lamb of God and Mastodon, but there are also hints of Pink Floyd, King Crimson and even the Cure.

"I have a lot wider influences than just metal," Stroehmer said. "I definitely try to embrace all kinds of music. It doesn't matter what genre. If it's good, it's good."

Stroehmer takes an equally open-minded approach for the band's imagery. In concert, Gollum perform in front of a screen filled with shots fractals, occult symbols, paintings of witches and demons and scenes from surreal films, including Luis Bunuel's 'Un Chien Andalou.'

"I want to challenge people's thinking and the way they see things," Stroehmer said. "I'm a big fan of [mythologist and philosopher] Joseph Campbell. I like occult symbols, and I've always been attracted to underground imagery and ancient art."

Despite the dark, even sinister vibe of some of the imagery and the brutality of the sound, Gollum consider themselves a positive band that encourages mind expansion and experimentation. "We're not Satanic, and we're not Christian either," he said. "I think when you subscribe yourself to any one set of beliefs you limit yourself from all the other beliefs out there. I think every culture and every religion has something to offer. There's definitely a lot of close mindedness in certain groups and cultures that prevents them from seeing the beauty of the world as a whole."

Gollum have East Coast shows booked in the U.S. through May 8 in Virginia Beach, Va. The band's new animated video for 'Blacksmith (Summoning Wrath)' can be viewed on their MySpace.

Gollum tour dates

4/30 -- Velvet Lounge w/ Admiral Browning -- Washington, DC

5/1 -- N. 4th Bar w/ LaOtracina -- Brooklyn, NY

5/7 -- SideBar w/ Admiral Browning -- Baltimore, MD

5/8 - Gils w/ Murder No Motive -- Virgina Beach, Va

More From Noisecreep