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Archive: Unearthing the Metal Underground Columns

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Sacrocurse

The Mexican/Texan entity known as Sacrocurse has been hurling vile, dark metal since 2012. The unit’s leader is ZK, who began his career with Mexico’s Unholier in the early nineties, and he’s performed with the likes of Nodens, Morbosidad, Russia’s Pseudogod. But the prolific musician has been making noise more recently with Sacrocurse, an act that has a couple of full-length albums under its belt as well as a few other releases. And on January 20, 2021, the band will release the awesome EP entitled “Supreme Terror,” on multiple formats via Shadow Records/Regain Records. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Omegavortex

Something vile has been brewing in Germany. The ensemble known as Omegavortex initially formed in 2007 as Ambevilence, a project that released just a handful of songs. Omegavortex is cloaked in obscurity, referencing the majority of its members by only the pseudonym of a singular letter, including one “X”—who was presumably involved in the awesome, now defunct death metal band Beyond. The band’s mysterious nature permeates its ominous and punishing debut full-length, “Black Abomination Spawn,” which is set for release by Invictus Productions on November 13. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Hanging Fortress

A massive wave of younger hardcore bands and kids morphing into “Old School Death Metal” influenced bands has been flooding the American metal scene for a while now. Whatever their backgrounds may have been musically and in terms of influence, Toledo’s Hanging Fortress does indeed sound like a hybrid of modern, groove-based hardcore and classic death metal. The majority of such cross-bred bands sound good on paper, depending upon who you ask, yet the results are stale and forgettable more often than not. While the Ohio band in question isn’t pushing the envelope in any area, they stand out because of how catchy their testosterone-fueled death marches prove to be. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Nexul

There’s something absolutely disconcerting and ominous about the black and death metal bands from the border town of El Paso, Texas - whose sister city of Juarez, Mexico, is one of the murder capitals of the world. The hellish hymns of bands like Obeisance, Satanik Goat Ritual, Hellvetron and Nyogthaeblisz are distinct yet common in their shared, distinct sense of darkness. Members of the latter two acts also stand together in the occult-obsessed blackened death metal band Nexul that is also a part of what’s known as the Ordo Satanae Imperium collective. Conceived in 2011, the quartet hasn’t been the most prolific band out there—having released only a demo and a full-length album—but the Texans have clearly focused upon quality rather than quantity. More...

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Bloodsoaked Necrovoid

Latin American countries are home to a distinct kind of dark extreme metal. It is one that’s uniquely raw and demonic whether we are speaking about early Sepultura or Sarcofago from Brazil, Criminal from Chile, Mortem from Peru, or Shub Niggurath from Mexico. True to this wicked spirit is new blood squeezed from the soil of Costa Rica by the name of Bloodsoaked Necrovoid. Since forging together in 2018, the death/doom ensemble has been relatively prolific, having released several demos, songs on a compilation and a split. More...

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Unearthing Serpents of Secrecy

The gentlemen behind Baltimore’s doom rockers Serpents of Secrecy are set to release their highly anticipated debut release, “Ave Vindicta,” on Halloween. The effort is a tribute to the band’s late great bassist, the Reverend Jim Forrester, who was tragically murdered in 2017 outside of the tattoo shop at which he was employed. The band’s surviving members sidelined the creation of Ave Vindicta and the entire project at the time to cope with the gravity of the situation. More recently, the act—drummer Chuck Dukehart III, vocalist Mark Lorenzo, and guitarists Todd Ingram and Steve Fisher—reconvened to finalize the album which is a powerful blend of stoner swagger and dark doom heft. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: WoR

In terms of new blood, there has been an extensive void in the realm of groove metal. They’re not exactly the next Pantera or Lamb of God, but North Carolina’s WoR seems to be one of the promising new acts that’s worthy of attention. Guitarist Ben Kaiser, the act’s founding member, has a background that’s far from the norm from most metal musicians. He was a collegiate football player at NC State University in North Carolina, having played alongside several current NFL players. The common thread between that element of his past and present with WoR is obvious: primal aggression. More...

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Unearthing CONTRACULT Collective

Fans of catchy industrial metal have reason to rejoice with the introduction of CONTRACULT Collective. The Los Angeles-based duo, operating under the pseudonyms Culprit and Svart, had initially come together while they were members of Brooklyn’s hardcore/sludge metal hybrid White Widows Pact. That band’s 2015 album “True Will” concluded with a hidden song that foreshadowed the divergent path that led to CONTRACULT Collective. The unit has just released its debut EP, “A Cult of Opposition,” via their own imprint, Hogwasche Music, and the release is available via Bandcamp and all major streaming services. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Exaugurate

Buried in the belly of America’s deep South is the interesting death metal entity known as Exaugurate. The new project is comprised of members, past and present, of Hollowed Idols, Ectovoid, Ritual Decay, Cemetery Filth and Seraphic Entombment. Exaugurate is steeped in the spirit of classic death metal without being riddled by the cliches and tropes of the en vogue “old school death metal” scene. While Exaugurate summon’s the filthy spirit of genre progenitors Autopsy, whilst occasionally churning out Immolation-styled riffs and squeals, the band’s label, Rotted Life Records, rightfully likens them to dank, brooding, post-2000 death metal bands like
Dead Congregation, Grave Miasma and Cruciamentum.

Speaking of Cruciamentum, that act’s main-man, Dan Lowndes, actually provides excellent lead work on “Ascendant Beyond Carrion,” the final song of Exaugurate’s outstanding, four-song debut EP “Chasm of Rapturous Delirium.” Lowndes also mixed and mastered the release. “Chasm of Rapturous Delirium” stands out because Exaugurate clearly focuses upon substance and song-craft above all. With plans for a full-length album in the works, and the expressed desire to perform live and tour once such efforts are realistic, Exaugurate is clearly a new death metal band worth your attention.

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Video Nasties

Liverpool will forever be known in the realms of pop and rock by virtue of it being home of the Beatles. Fast Forward to 2020, a band by the name of Video Nasties may be drinking from the same water, but they’re as stylistically removed from the Fab Four as Mr. Rogers is from Howard Stern. The act pulled it’s name from the singular form, “video nasty,” an English colloquial term referring to low-budget horror and exploitation films. The moniker is apropos considering that the quintet’s debut full-length, “Dominion,” is a filthy and melodic slab of fun-loving but aggressive, horror-obsessed black ’n roll.

Video Nasties is comprised of alumni of such notable underground UK metal bands as SSS, Magpyes, Heresy of Thieves, The Bendal Interlude and Iron Witch. The English metal scene vets may have been around the block, but as a new entity, Video Nasties performs with the enthusiasm and vitality of a collection of passionate 18 year olds jamming in the garage. The form is thrashing blackened death, with a pinch of doom thrown in for good measure, but they perform with the spirit of a coarse punk band. Whether it’s the pummeling opener “Stay Gold” or the groovy, mid-paced burner “Drone Eagle," the gentlemen of Video Nasties unleash catchy metal that’s just as fun-loving as it is lethal and cut-throat. The synths and electronics augment the horror soundtrack qualities throughout, fleshing out the robust metal attack that’s helmed by charismatic frontman Damian Von Talbot. In short, Video Nasties is a compelling band that extreme music enthusiasts should keep an eye on.

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Dining with Dogs

Dining With Dogs is an atypical name for a heavy band. More importantly, Dining with Dogs is an atypical kind of heavy band, in the best possible way. The band differs immensely from The Dead See, the ensemble’s precursor outfit that was a gargantuan and lethal hybrid of Neurosis and Crowbar, as well as from frontman Mark Key’s current experimental mind-fuck that is BLK OPS. In a nutshell, Dining With Dogs is a metallic version of the legendary noise rock band Jesus Lizard that unravels in defiance of strict genre classification, touching upon the foundation of sludge metal and hard rock along the way. While 2020 has been deemed by many as a “write-off” due to the current pandemic, Dining With Dogs’ debut “The Problem With Friends” is cause for celebration for fans of inventive heavy music.

Accomplished music video director Marcos Morales’ murky and punchy bassline opens the spacious soundscape of “Oddly Shaped Skull” right off the bat, underlying Josh Paul’s steady beat and Mark Key’s soulful, subdued crooning that has more in line with a narrative quality than standard guitar-driven music vocals. Key’s guitars subsequently come crashing with a forceful hard rock surge that’s delivered with a sense of purpose. “Sweet Talkin’ Psycho” follows up with a groovy swagger that’s almost danceable. The simplicity and rhythmic stabbing here and throughout “The Problem With Friends” are the reasons why the release is so memorable. The riffs and the punctuations simply have meaning. Later, “Puzzled” rolls forth with hearty portions of melodic post-rock majesty that are reprieves for the burly scream-along fracas.

The individual pieces of the puzzle of “The Problem With Friends” aren’t entirely unique. But they’re assembled in a manner that’s refreshing and distinct. This is an exciting starting point for the new Austin-based band that is comprised of seasoned musicians. And Dining With Dogs is a band worth keeping an eye on for heavy music aficionados who are yearning for something new and fresh.

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Unearthing The New Band Underground

Man, this just always manages to happen. We get a couple of Unearthing The Metalunderground columns up and running and then somehow its been months again since the last one. That phenomena struck again as I look back and see it's been four months since the previous entry!

Back at the end of January we covered three bands with totally unexpected sounds, and now its time to get back into the swing of things with three groups still in their infancy, only having been around for a few years or even just getting started in 2017. These bands may be on the newish side, but they've all got a fabulous polished sound that belies that youth.

Below we cover three lesser known groups with a fairly broad range of sounds that are all worth your attention: young Norwegian project Korrupt, Russian outfit Dark Matter Secret, and finally Ursinne, a death metal supergroup that isn't going to be underground for long! More...

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Unearthing The Completely Unexpected Underground

The ascendancy of Nergal's new dark blues / country project Me And That Man got me thinking about all the utterly unexpected sounds that have come through my speakers in the years I've been writing here.

For every thrash rehash, modern metal copy and paste job, or a slew of utterly identical melodic post-hardcore emo bands, there's always some outfit hanging out just below the surface that no one has ever heard of - but is putting out awe-inspiring sounds.

Today we're going to focus on those groups that go way off the beaten path, offering a very different take on various sub-genres than what you'll hear from the average metal band. You aren't going to read about them on Rolling Stone, but these are the innovators pushing boundaries that deserve to thrive in the metal underground.

Zeal And Ardor

This one-man project creates something that is so incredibly obvious in hindsight but has barely been scratched by the scene as a whole: a collision of old African American spirituals with extreme metal. Reading that description for the first time, it seems like those two forces wouldn't be compatible, but just think about the connotations for a second.

Why did black metal arise in the Scandinavian scene in the first place, and why are the early days of the style so closely associated with church burnings? American slaves persecuted by Christianity have more in common with the pagans of European lore than you might think.

Imagine if those same slaves had access to guitars and decided to take their music in a more extreme direction. I'll let the project's Bandcamp description explain the rest:

Imagine this: Django sacrifices a goat on stage while intimidating slave chants roar and screeching guitar riffs burn in the background. Then the rhythmic chain rattling evoking a satanic summoning makes way for the eerily familiar melodies of Norwegian black metal.

Intrigued? While the album as a whole does have some down points and a lack of focus (a full review is coming), the tracks that stick to this collision of ideas are top-notch. Zeal & Ardor's "Devil Is Fine" is due to officially drop February 24th, 2017.

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Unearthing The Underground: Kicking Off 2017

It's a whole new year metal fans, and as the first Monday in a wide open 2017 standing before us full of metallic possibilities, we've officially arrived at the year's inaugural edition of Unearthing The Metal Underground!

In week's past we've covered modern prog rock groups and much more extreme metal bands alike. Today we're going to cover three completely different sub-genres in our underground picks, from post-rock to black metal to melodic death.

A Province Of Thay

This unlikely group hailing from Seattle caught my attention strongly when we had the opportunity to premiere the "Atonement" EP in October of 2016.

The opening title track immediately grabbed me and had me spinning the release multiple times to experience more of this shoegazy post-rock just absolutely dripping with atmosphere and emotion but still very much on the metal side (check out our full review here).

I sort of love the genre description A Province Of Thay uses on Facebook: "gloomy doom, post rock, post metal, prog, nerds." That pretty well sums it up. Take a listen to "Atonement" below.

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Unearthing The Extreme Metal Underground

Holy crap, more than one Unearthing column is arriving in a single year? It's not an early Christmas present, we're just back on the indie train bringing you the best of the best from the metal underground. Shifting gears heavily from the last look at progressive bands in October, today we're going to cover some of the most extreme groups around in the death and black metal realms.

Dyscarnate

After releasing a demo and an EP back in the group's early years, the extremely bludgeoning U.K. group Dyscarnate first came to our attention in 2009 by signing to Siege Of Amida Records. That partnership would see the release of the bulk of Dyscarnate's existing catalog: “Enduring The Massacre” in 2010 followed by “And So It Came To Pass” in 2012.

Sadly, the band was dormant on the release front for several years afterword, eventually parting ways with vocalist Henry Yates and recruiting new member Al Llewellyn in late 2015. The fruits of that collaboration are finally on the horizon as Dyscarnate is now appropriately signed on Unique Leader – a label specifically known for devastating technical death metal.

A third full-length album is coming in 2017 and we can't wait to hear it, but for now you can check out previous album “And So It Came To Pass" here:

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Unearthing The Prog Rock Underground

It's been awhile since we cut through all the noise and decided to highlight three unknown bands specifically worth your while in a crowded music scene, and this week we're getting back into the swing of things with a new edition of Unearthing The Metal Underground!

We're returning with another look at progressive bands that meld opposing sub-genres, utilize very old school sounds in new and unique ways, or utterly dominate on the instrumental front. Without further ado, we now introduce you to three prog metal bands you need to hear hailing from locations as diverse as Spain, Chile, and New York City.

Bauda

A Chilean band that has flown under the radar for far too long, Bauda's latest album "Sporelights" (reviewed here) came to my attention last summer from an unsolicited review request email, which is always a dicey proposition: you might get something awesome, or you might hear some basement recordings that never should have hit the digital airwaves.

Needless to say, "Sporelights" was an unexpected treat. I had no idea what to expect going in, being totally unfamiliar with the band, and I was blown away by the juxtaposition of sounds, flirting with the line between rock and metal.

There's some dark material that plays with shoegaze (but offers a lot wider breadth of sound than you'd usually hear there), along with incredibly emotional offerings that will be right on track for fans of Anathema, all while offering a very distinct sound that is uniquely Bauda.

The entire "Sporelights" album can be heard in the Bandcamp player, and you can follow the latest on Bauda by heading over to Facebook.

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Unearthing The Fledgling Metal Underground

We have somehow reached a staggering 21,000 bands being covered at Metalunderground.com, so with so much noise polluting the airwaves, how's a metal head to know what's worth listening to and what isn't?

We're aiming to help you out with that decision by unearthing three underground groups you should be paying attention to if you dig your metal on the extreme side. This week we dig up three groups that are still new and just getting their footing – with two of them only releasing their debut full-lengths in the coming weeks.

Apparatus

This Denmark-based outfit is just making an appearance in the metal scene, gearing up to release a first studio album next month, consisting of 11 tracks of lo-fi Miskatonic metal that alternately blasts sanity with discordant melody or lays waste to everything with pummeling riffs not afraid to either move at a crawl or take off at light speed.

With titles like “R'lyeh” and “Akrham,” obviously we're dealing with some serious Lovecraft worship here. Dive into the bleak depths with an advance album stream below, or you can pre-order a physical copy through Lavadome Productions.

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Unearthing The DeLand Rock & Metal Underground

Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we'll be putting a few quality underground bands in the spotlight in an attempt to get the word out about them. This week we take a look at some of the bands that took part in the recent DeLand Rock & Metal Festival from November 2014. Our report for the festival can be read at this location.

The DeLand Rock & Metal Festival – or “DRMF” as it is affectionately known by the festival's community – is one of the most diverse metal festivals in the United States. This past year there were days dedicated to death metal (or any style with a death style vocal, including old school death, deathcore, hardcore, melodic death and folk) and another day themed by power metal (or any power, traditional, hard rock act), the second of which is headlined by festival promoter Camden Cruz’s own…Seven Kingdoms. Immersed in an infectious sense of community and a plethora of local Florida acts (including the now defunct Massacre), there were also some out of town acts that really brought the “thunder” to the entire event.

Of three of those out of town acts, two of them had never once played a live show together. In fact, those two acts, Judicator and Project: Roenwolfe (both anchored by guitarist/songwriter Tucson, Arizona’s Tony Cordisco), had never met as a band ever until 45 minutes before they hit the stage back to back on the Friday night kick off show. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground

Whenever I meet people from outside Austria and we get to talk about Austrian metal bands it is a safe bet that people will come up with death metal veterans like Pungent Stench and Miasma - who both sadly enough are no longer active in their original line ups. Last not least of course the Austrian blackened death metal juggernaut Belphegor will always get a mention.

Today it's time to take a closer look at that country's secret Austrian metal underground capital, the city of Graz, for a threesome of Austria's best you probably never heard of but are sure worth listening to. Read on to discover three bands that all go in different directions while remaining inside the realm of melodic death and thrash metal: the modern melodic death metal outfit Disfigured Divinity, progressive melodic metal group Rest In Fear, and melodic death thrash band veterans Darkfall.

Disfigured Divinity

The melodic death metallers are offering songs rich in variety and composed of a well-made mix of catchy choruses and violent galopping mosh parts.

The band dropped their debut album "Zapotectron" in 2013, which can be bought at BigCartel, iTunes and Amazon-Mp3. Two clips for their songs "Mandatory Heirs" and "Insignificance In Space And Time" can be streamed below.

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Unearthing The Metal Underground

With just under 20,000 bands in our database (and more being added every day) there are more metal bands on the planet than anyone ever would have imagined back when the scene was first getting started.

Unfortunately some of those bands end up falling through the cracks, and groups that deserve recognition get lost in the endless sea of heavy sounds. That's why we take the time to unearth stellar unknown bands and point out the ones you should be training your ears towards.

Today we look at three outfits separated by country and genre boundaries, but which are all lesser known metal groups you should be paying attention closer attention to: Fractured Spine, Hieroglyph, and My Last Suicide.

Fractured Spine

When it comes to the sub-genre of gloomy death/doom bands, you'd probably think first of groups like Swallow The Sun, October Tide, or Daylight Dies.

The unknown version of those genre stalwarts is Fractured Spine, a Finnish outfit that deserves to be among the aforementioned pantheon. With gothic and gloomy clean singing, dark death metal with symphonic leanings, and dreary doom, the band hits all the requisite sounds and does it without sounding like a carbon copy of the bigger names.

In addition to some early demos, the band has two full-length albums available, 2013's “Songs Of Slumber” (available for streaming in full below) and “Memoirs Of A Shattered Mind” released earlier this year. You can pick up Fractured Spine's albums over at Bandcamp here.

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