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Unearthing The Metal Underground: The Washington, DC Metal Scene

Every week in Unearthing The Metal Underground, we check out bands in the underground who deserve more notice for the excellent heavy metal they are producing. This week we're looking at the underground scene in the capital of the United States, Washington, DC.

The District usually conjures up thoughts of monuments, patriotism, and presidential blow jobs, but if you listen closely, ignoring all the political windbags, inner city gunshots and almost weekly protests for one cause or another and you manage to avoid all the indie rock hipster bars and DJ dance nights you can hear the rumblings of a metal scene overshadowed by just about everything else in the most powerful city in the world. But unlike the city's rats who scurry away in the shadows these bands are screaming to be heard, and cranking their amps up too! Here's three of the best underground metal bands in Washington, DC right now that you won't find in any of the tourist guides.


Ilsa is a metal band with a sound that lies somewhere in the filthiest place where old school death metal and sludgy doom collide. This five piece band is raw in the best sense of the word. Heaviness exudes from every riff these guys play, regardless of the tempo, and the rhythm section breaks up bursts of brutality with dirty grooves. On top of it all you've got lead singer Orion's vocals which scream out with a pain that can't be faked. They're often found playing to packed basements at house shows but Ilsa isn't just some garage band. They’re a great underground band really making art for the unwashed masses and they deserve more recognition. Listen to their song Frostthrower on their MySpace page here and you'll see what I mean.

Midnight Eye

Midnight Eye is a much different band than Ilsa. Clean vocals soar over the incredible guitar wizardry that defines their sound. Midnight Eye is led by a pair of guitar nerds in Simon Cohen and Jaime Ibacache. The band certainly has its roots in the metal bands of yesterday, but their polished, well thought out songs keep their sound from feeling dated. They sing with a clean vocal style but honestly the riffs are what you'll be paying attention to as their sick tunes make your head dizzy from all the twists and turns their songs take. These guys are a great band and if they can get their shit together long enough to put out some decent recordings, I think they'd get a lot more attention. Don't wait until then though, give them a listen now. They've got some studio recordings on their Bandcamp page here or you can check out the live video below.


Borracho is a Spanish slang term for a drunk, and this band of DC natives play stoner metal you can drink tequila to. They specialize in heavy, repetitive riffs that will get your head rocking while you try to keep your balance. There's a strong old school Black Sabbath influence here but Borracho has taken their cues from acts like Fu Manchu and Kyuss as well. Their heavy riffs really drive their sound and you'll find they are catchy enough to stay in your head long after you have turned the stereo off. You can tell they put a lot of work into their self released album Splitting Sky and you will be doing yourself a favor to pick up a copy, it comes with an extra side of heavy. Give them a listen first on their Facebook page here.

Of course there are other heavy bands in Washington, DC, but these three should give you a good place to start. If you know of some other great underground DC metal bands that deserve more attention feel free to talk about them in the comments below. And of course, check back every Monday as we explore another metal scene to help unearth some new underground metal bands.

DCHeavyMetal's avatar

MetalChris runs DCHeavyMetal.com, the biggest website about heavy metal in the Washington DC, Baltimore and Northern Virginia area. He also writes as the metal contributor for SceneTrek.com, a website about the various music scenes from all over the world.

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5 Comments on "Unearthing The Metal Underground In Washington, DC"

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Anonymous Reader
1. Bucky writes:

Under Attack...Please Stand By is pretty kick ass. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L67il-Jr5r0

# Sep 28, 2011 @ 2:42 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
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2. GORECUNT writes:


# Sep 29, 2011 @ 7:29 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
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3. deathbringer writes:

You know any of those bands, Gore? I've never thought of DC as having a good metal scene, but was sure there were underground bands I've never heard of. Almost every time I've made it out to a local show in Frederick there is some DC band playing that I haven't heard of.

I'm digging Borracho though. (except the scratchy audio)

# Sep 30, 2011 @ 11:58 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
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4. theghostofavalon writes:

I don't know if you mean strictly D.C but Deranged Theory from Northern Virginia is great! And there was another great one who unfortunately broke up called Ethereal Genocide. Also check out Artifice and Corpseye. But they're more in the Richmond area.

# Oct 1, 2011 @ 1:24 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
5. Dead and Deceased writes:

most of the bands from dc are the gay deathcore and hardcore stuff like a day to remeber and molotov solution the true metal here is really underground even deathmetal is frown upon. people around here mostly like breakdown bands and push all the others that arnt to the way side

# Oct 11, 2011 @ 12:11 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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