Part 5 Of 2016 Metal Newcomers Explored: Some Others To Consider
Whether you agreed with our 2016 Staff Awards or not, one of the things we take great pride in at MetalUnderground.com is being able to unearth some new acts (or acts just releasing a full length album in the current year) that you should take notice of.
We pour over literally thousands of new albums between all of the staff and there is a reason: the quest for great metal. I'm sure I do not stand alone in the belief that once you lose the desire to seek out new bands, you've given up on the scene. Metal should be perpetual and though there are so many acts out there trying to get attention, this should not dissuade you from the hunt. One of the biggest problems in metal fandom is falling into the lazy trap of saying "no good music is made these days" or "nothing can ever be better than the music of the 80's, or 70's, or 90's." The hunt for great music is the driving force for passion for music and it is imperative as fans that we continue to do it.
So for this final installment of Newcomers 2016, I wanted to draw attention some bands not nominated, but would fall in line as "6-10" on my list for 2016. Hopefully, you will find something you like.
Black Yet Full of Stars
In my review of the eponymous album from Black Yet Full of Stars, I jokingly described the album as "Great Yet Lack of Choruses." The band had an amazing build up campaign to this release, promising a new take on a mash of symphonic metal and a rock opera and the album was just that. Each song had such brilliant build up of drama, intrigue, riffs and atmosphere, but the only problem I had was the payoff chorus to match.
That aside, the band showed incredible promise and I hope to hear more from them in the future. Given the amount of time and effort put into the debut, I have a feeling it may be a while before we see a second, but hope springs eternal.
In the same year that Helion Prime released the brilliant debut full length album (no, in the scheme of "newcomer" the band isn't new to the scene, but qualifies with the debut full legnth), they sadly split ways with one of the best parts: vocalist Heather Michele Smith. Still, the band is so talented with guitar duo Jason Ashcraft and Chad Anderson and I have little doubt they will continue to put out fantastic material to follow up the sci-fi themed self-titled full length. Plus, with the addition of Witch Mountain's Kayla Dixon, I think they will be in great hands vocally.
Helion Prime represent a growing and amazing United States metal scene, one that has been under the radar for far too long. The U.S. scene seemed decimated in the over the 90's and the 00's, but has truly picked up the pieces with so many younger acts out there that cannot be denied a rightful place on the world metal scene. In fact, the U.S. scene hasn't had the plethora of acts in the 80's as it does right now. Its time U.S. metal fans take heed - Europe sure knows about them, so should we.
In as much as my tolerance for the hordes of symphonic metal bands hit its downturn in the last few years, so has my patience for the so called "New Wave of True Heavy Metal," which basically has become the new metal elitist squad to replace the one I sadly bought into in the late 90's. This was a full on return to the 80's sound, including a race to see who could "unproduce" albums to the point of sounding just as terrible as they did back in the 80's. Growing up, I was a huge fan of traditional. It was the only thing around in quantity. As metal evolved, I became less interested, but intrigued by some upcoming acts that possess the same style with modern production (hence much of that revamped U.S. metal scene).
One of the newer standout acts is Sweden's Gravebreaker. Many people say "everything is better when the Swedes do it." This may not be entirely true, with the exception of doom metal. However, the Swedish metal scene in total is one of the strongest in the world. Gravebreaker is an upstart NWoTM band, but with better songwriting that other bands lack. On the debut album "Sacrifice" we finally have a throwback album that represents the same passion and drive as the bands from that era, to the point where you can fool any old timer into believing a lost recorded album was unearthed from a time capsule in Gothenburg. The band even sports hysterical 80's band member names a la early Destruction, Sodom and Kreator: Fury, Devastation and Nightmare.
Speaking of throwback subgenres, can there be a more saturated one than stoner hard rock/'shades of doom"? Napalm Records and Nuclear Blast alone signed 10,345 of them in the last 5 years alone. It was the largest resurgence of Black Sabbath clones since Ozzy rejoined Sabbath itself.
With that said, there really are some incredible gems in the heap - namely Egypt, The Order of Israfel and Magick Touch (among a bunch of others). Norway's Magick Touch takes this style and adds a bit more hard rock flair like The Answer, but retaining enough of that weird doomy groove to keep the cannabis lit. "Electrick Sorcery" sports some exciting melody and "arena rock" elements that give the young band a veteran edge. This is rock 'n' roll in the spirit of Deep Purple and Whitesnake with the gloom groove of Sabbath and Spiritual Beggars. The album cover is one of the best of the year, if not the very best.
Melodic death/doom is another crowded subgenre, but one that still hasn't reached the level of sickening boredom. Nowhere else is the per capita of people to melodic death metal bands higher than Finland. I'm pretty sure that one in every 5 people in Finland is in a melodic death metal band.
Shadecrown present nothing gloriously new in the subgenre, but they play a solid and foreboding death style on the debut full length "Agonia." Some bands just hit me the right way and Shadecrown did in 2016. They sport a clean and grunting vocalist, but Jari Hokka's death style is of particular interest. Musically, the band paints beautiful melodic soundscapes much like Omnium Gatherum (see "Led Astray"), which do wonders for relaxing a frazzled mind after a hard day of work.
These are just a few others you may have over looked in addition to the 19 our staff nominated this year for the Best Debut Album award! What did you think of these picks, and who is your favorite new metal band to arrive on the scene in 2016? Comment below.
Carl Frederick is a staff writer for Metal Underground.com. From the early to mid-90's, Carl published his own fanzine called C.R.O.M. In 1997, he released a compilation entitled "CROM: The Resurrection of True Metal," which featured songs from bands from around the world, including the first U.S. release of any kind for bands like Italy's Rhapsody (n/k/a Rhapsody of Fire) and Brazil's Angra. Follow Carl on Facebook and Twitter: @CROMCarl.
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