Archive: Unearthing the Metal Underground Columns
When it comes to American metal strongholds, New York, California, and Florida never escape mention, but Texas remains the wild card. Not only has the state produced a number of influential bands, but the fan base is famously strong. It's true that no scene is what it used to be, but Texas continues to turn out new and varied acts whose names reach far beyond its borders. San Antonio Metal Examiner Jacob Holmes did the first round up for Metal Underground, but it's a big state and there's still a lot of ground to cover.
Guitarist Wes Weaver has become something of a Texas metal folk hero in the last twenty years. Operating out of Houston, he co-founded Dark Reign in the early '90s, which soon morphed into the much-loved death metal juggernaut known as Imprecation. The band made a name for itself as a cult phenomenon, but they never broke out into the larger arena and finally disbanded. In the meantime, Weaver continued to boost the Texas scene with his venerable radio show, and he also appeared in the short-lived Infernal Dominion, which was regarded as a departure from his classic brand of crepitus death metal.
In 2004, the Texas metal community was surprised to hear that Weaver was spearheading a new band called Blaspherian. Their approach was a pummeling return to the Imprecation model, and the debut EP, "Allegiance to the Will of Damnation," was the antidote to an increasingly stagnant Houston scene.
Like most veteran metal musicians, Blaspherian eschewed the current standard of soulless digital production in favor of a traditional analog soundscape. There are no typewriter drums or varnished guitar tones here; Blaspherian specializes in the booming, fuzzed-out death marches that reveal the blackened heart of true death metal. The riffs are efficient and linear even at the fastest moments, and nothing about the writing is rushed or overplayed. Chords hang, drums rumble, and evil all but drips from the speakers.
Blaspherian is important not only as a revival band, but because it points back directly to the groups that sired it. If younger fans are inspired to dig into the vaults of Texas' metal history, then "Allegiance to the Will of Damnation" has succeeded in its mission. The band makes semi-regular live appearances around the the state in the name of converting newcomers and flying the flag for the best days of death metal.
Each week with Unearthing the Metal Underground we take a look at quality underground bands in an attempt to spread the word of lesser known acts. This week we're diving into a divisive and controversial subject: Christian "unblack" metal. Also known as "white metal" or "holy unblack metal," the genre twists the standard Satanic or anti-religious themes and instead presents a pro-Christian worldview.
Say the phrase "Christian black metal" to the average metal head and you're likely to be met with a confused giggle or a baffled comparison to Jewish Nazi metal bands, but believe it or not there is a thriving religious black metal scene. While many of the black metal legions may see Christian lyrical themes as an irreconcilable contradiction, there are quite a few unblack bands with music every bit as dark and menacing as anything from the likes of Mayhem or Dimmu Borgir.
As a companion to this look into three unblack metal bands, we also have an editorial dealing with the subject of Christianity in black metal.
Destroying any preconceived notions of unblack metal lacking the force of an anti-religious band, Finland’s Renascent is a thrash-influenced symphonic black metal power house that equals or exceeds many secular bands. The level of fury present in the music is pretty astonishing, and the band doesn’t slouch in the melody department either. It’s a shame the band isn’t better known in the extreme metal community, as the aggressive symphonic tones are sure to please fans of acts like Dimmu Borgir or Dragonlord. Several Renascent tracks are available for streaming through the band’s MySpace page, with “In Hell” and “Exodus” being the most potent examples of crushing brutality mixed with keyboards. The songs “Scenes of a Tragedy” and “Through Darkness” can also be found in the video clips below.
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 I am looking into the Singapore scene once again.
In our previous article, we talked about three bands, namely Draconis Infernum, Xanadoo and Meza Virs. For this article, we will talk a bit about three death metal bands from Singapore.
Formed in early 2006, Assault has been a regular performer in local gigs. After four years and finally having a stable lineup, they are finally about to release their debut EP, "The Exceptions of the Rebellions." Assault plays a brand of melodic death metal, citing influences ranging from Arch Enemy to old school death metal bands. Covers of Bloodbath songs are a staple on their live shows, often drawing curious onlookers and instantly converting them into fans of the band. Vocalist Clarence’s vocals range from deep growls all the way to high pitched screeches. Backed by a solid instrumental section, they are definitely one band to watch out for. Check out Assault’s MySpace page here. Their debut EP is expected to be released in mid-January, 2011. More...
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. For my second article (read the first one here) I am going to look at three bands of three distinct genres in Heavy Metal, but in the emerging Halifax Underground you can find these three bands playing together on any given night.
Nova Scotia, with its small population and many rural areas, might not be considered the hotbed of metal, but when you look into the underground you see a very different story. With all styles of metal being accepted and embraced, the underground is growing each and every late night.
Black Moor consists of: Eric Hanlin – Guitar & vocals, Nick Jones – Lead Guitar, Rob Nickerson – Bass, Sylvain Coderre – Drums, and yes they are young. In fact I’m sure they are sick of people talking about how young they are, but why we as media are so amazed at their baby faces is because of the music that comes out of them.
The band rips tunes that are inspired by such heroes as Iron Maiden, Megadeth, and Metallica. When you are writing and playing music that has the sound of those amazing legends then you are going to have great show, especially when you pull it off as well as Black Moor. I can use all the adjectives here: hard hitting guitar riffs, raunchy vocals, blast beats! That’s all crap that as reviewers we use every day so if you need that at least I said it. In my opinion though Black Moor far outweighs those clichés. Their music is Raw Thrash that speaks to you on a level that I haven’t experienced since I was 14 and heard “Seek and Destroy” for the first time. As Heavy Metal Momma would say Black Moor is more of a feeling then a band. You can get that feeling at their MySpace page.
I will be the first to admit that having someone who could be my kid play music that takes me back to the days when thrash was king is weird, but hell I’m going to roll with it. What amazes me about them is they could certainly make some dollars standing up and doing cover songs, but they write and play what they like instead. That’s ballsy and what old-school thrash is all about.
When a metalhead moves into parenthood, a whole new world of challenges is unveiled, as with any new parent. Likely not the first on your mind is what music you can play for them. You presumably don’t want them growing up a wuss, listening to pop music. You want them to ROCK!
Cannibal Corpse and Slayer might be a little much for babies or toddlers, however. In fact, the biggest challenge to finding good metal to play for kids is the profanity. You could resort to some Christian metal, which is usually free of profanity and violence, or search through your collection for the few clean albums or make your own mix of kid-safe metal. Instrumental metal, especially Powerglove, is a decent option, if a little limiting.
Or you could search for some metal music that’s made just for kids. Yes, there are a few bands doing this, but perhaps just one who has done it best. For fear that you’ll skip this entire article when you see the others, let’s start with the best:
(Warning: If you take yourself and your metal too seriously, this is not for you; this is for metalheads with a sense of humor and can see the fun in these bands. After all, it’s for the kids!)
The promo says it pretty well: “What would happen if The Wiggles met Rob Zombie backstage at a Gwar concert and decided to form a band together? I'm not really sure, but I'd bet they would sound a lot like The Thunderlords!”
The Thunderlords is an entirely original Viking-themed “band” making original loud and heavy songs for kids. The band released their only album, Noisy Songs for Noisy Kids in 2005. The album features nine songs with song titles like “I Like Dirt,” “Eat Vegetables” and “Ice Cream Headache.” In fact, I Like Dirt" and "Ice Cream Headache" were featured on the soundtracks for the bestselling video games “Tony Hawk's American Wasteland,” “Tony Hawk's Project 8” and “Tony Hawk’s American Sk8land” respectively.
Check out the video for “I Like Dirt” and a stream of “Ice Cream Headache” below:
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 I am revisiting Vancouver, Canada’s underground metal scene. While last time we gave some of the city's death metal bands the spotlight, this time I'm taking a look at the city’s more experimental metal acts. There is no doubt that this west coast Canadian city is abundant in metal talent, but beneath the piles of death metal and hardcore/metalcore acts lay a handful of exceptionally talented progressive and experimental bands. This week we will be taking a closer look at three of these bands.
Nylithia is an absolute force in every aspect. Its music is insanely technical and vastly diverse. While being labeled as a death metal act, Nylithia combines stylistic elements from many different areas. Technical death metal, progressive metal, ambient and melodic thrash metal are all combined into one fluent sound. The members who come together in Nylithia are also exceptionally young and are one of the youngest active bands in the Vancouver metal scene. A debut EP was released in 2008 by the name of “Infector,” and the band is currently setting up some studio time to record its second album and debut full length for a mid-2011 release. Nylithia has already made news around the world when they debuted a music video for its adaptation of a Super Mario theme song, which Metalunderground.com covered. Do not be surprised if you start to hear alot more about Nylithia in 2011. Its extremely entertaining debut music video for the track “Replicants” is available for viewing below. Nylithia may be underground today, but could easily become a household name in extreme metal in the years to come.
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. In the dawn of what some call “The New Wave of Asian Heavy Metal,” we have unearthed bands from countries such as South Korea, China, Sri Lanka, Singapore and India. This week, I will be showcasing metal’s biggest Asian supporters – Japan.
There is no doubt the metal scene is enormous in Japan. It is home to Tokyo’s Sigh and Chiba’s X-Japan, the latter of which pioneered the glam-rock movement known as Visual Kei and recently completed a successful first-ever North American tour. In addition, the Loud Park Festival is held in Japan every year and has featured bands such as Motörhead, Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, among many others. Also, there is a manga, turned anime, turned live-action movie (with a cameo by Gene Simmons) based on a fictional band named Detroit Metal City. (I highly recommend to Metalocalypse fans.)
Although there is a plethora of talented J-metal bands, I can only focus on a few this week. Here are three “ichiban” (that means "top" or "number one") bands worth checking out:
Blood Stain Child
Osaka’s Blood Stain Child formed in 2000 with vocalist Ryo, guitarist Ryu, keyboardist Aiki and drummer Violator. The Child, in its early years with the debut "Silence from Northern Hell," has been likened to melodic death metal bands Children of Bodom and In Flames; however, BSC has since matured and separated itself from the pack with its unique blend of electronica, industrial and trance, although still retaining some Gothenburg-influenced roots. The band recently recruited vocalist Sophia from Greece and drummer Gami to replace the previous members Sadew and Violator, and are expected to release a yet-to-be-titled fifth studio album in 2011.
Check out Blood Stain Child at its MySpace.
Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we shine a light on promising bands coming out of the darkness of the underground. Nashville, TN is the music business center of the United States, and isn’t without its fair share of shadows where bands outside of the mainstream get their start.
This week we feature the best classic speed/thrash metal band you’ve never heard of – Nashville’s “Intruder,” whose roots date back to 1984. We also have a classic metal band by the name of “Oblivion Myth,” and a female-fronted modern band known as, “Love’s Tragedy.”
Because Nashville is such a draw, most of the metal scenes from around the state of Tennessee tend to spill over into Nashville in order to gain exposure. Nashville also boasts more music venues than the surrounding areas. The Exit/In, The Muse, The End, and The Rutledge are popular venues for Nashville’s heavier side.
Formerly known as “Avatar” and “Transgressor,” Intruder made their bones during the heyday of the 1980s, at the same time the “big four” were making theirs. The band released three albums in total and made a brief run with Metal Blade Records before formally splitting up in 1992. Without much support from Metal Blade, the band still enjoyed moderate success with a legion of fans and reunited in 2002. Since then, they have headlined the Headbangers Open Air in Germany and have played the Classic Metal Festival in Ohio and Keep It True Festival in Germany. Their albums feature artwork designed by comic artists Fastner & Larson.
Currently lying in wait in the Nashville underground, Intruder are looking at recording updated versions of their classic songs for a future release, alongside a few new songs. Vocalist Jimmy Hamilton’s style is a classic blend of metal styles, backed up by gang vocals from the rest of the band. Drummer John Pieroni pens most of the lyrics and boasts a distinctly thrash drumming style with fast footwork and progressive leanings. Guitarists Arthur Vinnett and Greg Messick have a highly technical coordinated assault and bassist Chris Veach rounds out the band. Songs from their albums, “Live to Die,” “A Higher Form of Killing,” and “Psycho Savant” can be heard at their MySpace page More...
Metal has long been defined by a variety of regimented and easily recognizable genres, such as thrash, death, black, etc. Most bands bring in a few outside influences to keep the music fresh and prevent a total adherence to one particular idea, but there is now a rising tide of bands that ditch the idea of a single style altogether. Going by names such as “avant-garde” or “experimental” or “post-any genre you’d like,” they may start with a base that is familiar, but their overall sound is far too fluid to stick to one identifier. Bands such as Peccatum and Unexpect are some of the most well known in the style (“well known” being entirely relative here), but a growing number of underground experimental bands are still out there, waiting to be found by the metal masses. More...
Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we'll be putting a few quality underground bands in the spotlight in an attempt to expose them to the world outside their respective scenes. Although the Los Angeles scene is anything but unified, this apocalyptic city has produced more than a handful of quality bands. This week I’ll be exploring the Los Angeles old school death metal scene.
The L.A. scene is hardly known for authenticity in its death metal, mainly because the current scene is dominated by fad-jumping metalcore and glam throwback acts, but there are other more subtle reasons for its staying underground. For example, there is the fact that while bands in the Florida and New York death metal scenes, for example, were releasing genre-defining full-length albums, LA bands such as the ones below had to make do with short format releases, such as demos and EP’s. Compare Morbid Angel, who, by 1993, had released four full-length albums, to Sadistic Intent, who have yet to release one. Nevertheless, a limited output doesn’t necessarily equate a lack of talent, and so without further ado, here are three of the most talented bands to have graced the LA scene past and present.
Without doubt L.A.’s best underground band, and quite possibly one of the world’s most underrated metal acts of all time, Sadistic Intent plays fierce death metal that borrows from various traditions in the vast heritage of heavy metal. One can discern a range of influences, from Dark Angel and Slayer to Possessed and Morbid Angel, tucked within the unique tapestry that forms the band’s sound. They write long, involved, and esoteric death metal songs with occult lyrics and a truly sinister atmosphere, making them absolutely essential for lovers of morbid, underground metal. Try their EP’s "Resurrection" and "Impending Doom" for obscure and esoteric death metal, or go for "Ancient Black Earth" if fast and blasting percussive madness is more along the lines of what you crave.
If you live in the greater Los Angeles area, seeing Sadistic Intent live is a must, and lucky for you they play at least several shows a year. (Also note that the band members, along with vocalist Jeff Becerra, fill out the current lineup of Possessed.) In a live setting, the band is truly professional, and always live up to their moniker (and then some). Check out the video below to see what you’re getting yourself into.
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’re going to be taking a look at the young, yet thriving, metal scene in the United Arab Emirates which is probably more commonly known for its immense wealth from oil drilling, and its Islamic culture. While the UAE is made up of seven Emirates, which are basically like states, Dubai is probably the most well known out of all the seven because it hosts the largest building in the World and is thought to be a great holiday destination. Hopefully after you’ve checked out these three bands, you will be putting it at the top of your holiday destinations as well.
Starting with oldest band first, Perversion has been around in the Dubai scene since 2006; playing a very straight up style of perverted death metal in the vein of bands like Dying Fetus and Aborted. Friends and band mates, Mahmud Gecekusu (bass/vocals) and Rhama Al Rhama (guitars) have been the driving force behind the band from the word go. While they were once a four piece, with Mahumd’s younger brother covering lead guitar duties, they were forced to become the only three piece death metal act in the UAE when Ahmet Gecekusu left Dubai for higher education.
Sticking to their guns, Perversion started to accumulate fans, or as they like to call them “perverts,” by playing local gigs, and with the release of their EP “The Origins of Horror” in 2008 people were able to enjoy such deities as “Venomous Semen” and “Dementia of Devourment” in the privacy of their own homes. They are currently working on their debut album “Pillars of the Enlightened”. You can check out songs on their Youtube channel as well as on their MySpace. Here's a video of the band playing "Pillars of the Enlightened":
Do a little digging and you’ll find a metal scene in just about every country around the developed world. So it should come as no surprise that there is, in fact, a thriving underground swell of support for the dark arts known broadly as metal in South Korea. From the southern port city of Busan to the sprawling capital of Seoul, metal lives in the southern portion of the Korean peninsula. Here’s a look at three of the bands keeping the scene alive and growing in Seoul.
Melodic black metal band Oathean is one of, if not the longest running metal act in South Korea. Oathean was founded in 1993 as a death metal band, then known as Odin, and didn’t adopt its current sound until 1997. A year later the band released its first album under the Oathean moniker, “The Eyes of Tremendous Sorrow.” Since then, Oathean has released four more full-length albums, the latest a self-titled effort that came out this past summer. Oathean enjoyed a brief glimpse of broad exposure in 2005 when their album, “Falling Away into the Grave of Nothingness,” was released in North America via The End records. All other Oathean records bar their debut have been released on band founder, vocalist, and guitarist Do So Kim’s own label, Jusin Productions, marketed as the first extreme metal label in South Korea.
Kim is also the man who brings many of the major touring metal bands to Seoul, as well as being the driving force behind the Asia Metal Festival ongoing series of concerts featuring bands from around Asia and further abroad. What’s more, he is the owner of a rock and metal bar in the trendy Hongdae district of the city, Sapiens 7, and he also owns a large concert hall located in the Sangsangmadang building in the same area, making him an all but indispensable part of the local metal scene as both a promoter and performer.
Oathean’s sound incorporates traditional Korean instruments and, at times, haunting operatic backing vocals into lengthy compositions inspired by the likes of Dissection and Emperor to create a truly compelling mix of Scandinavian and Korean soundscapes. The band has toured to Taiwan and Japan several times, and shared the stage with the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Kreator, and Graveworm. Oathean currently has a lengthy European tour in support of their latest release in the planning stages, their first sojourn to the continent in the band’s history.
Here we go again! Another installment of Unearthing the Metal Underground in the Crescent City a.k.a. The Big Easy a.k.a. N'awlins. Whichever you prefer. With Steven Seagal keeping the streets safe, the metal bands can safely play, and they have been doing quite a bit of that lately. I've got three more amazing bands to tell you about; all playing at least once a month. Please enjoy the reviews and footage. Mabye it will entice you to take a trip down here to check them out. Don't worry; the seafood is safe.
Machine Made Slave
Machine Made Slave plays frequently around New Orleans. If you’ve read my show reports, you’re sure to remember the name. Soon they’ll be opening for Watain and Goatwhore to complete the black metal showcase. Through the many lineup changes, founding members and brothers Jason and Trevor Milbourne (on vocals and bass, respectively) have remained and transformed the band into something truly evil. The talented guitarists Rene and Kevin Roche, who are also brothers, combine a classic metal rawness with black metal melodies and even some South American tunes into their playing. And although Ryan Willis does not have a brother in the band, he still does a fine job of pounding the skins. Jason claims that Machine Made Slave will be recording a full-length album soon when they find a proper studio. He claims that they are taking their time with every aspect of the album so that it’s perfect; “So that it doesn’t sound like a demo.” You can watch a clip of one of their shows with the inclusion of female singer Amy Vial below. We wish you luck in the recording process! Visit their Myspace to see their progress.
I’m going to let you all in on my dirty little metal secret: I don’t dig thrash. At all. Yeah, I know, how can it happen, right? Megadeth, Metallica, Testament, Anthrax, these are the bands that made metal in the ‘80s and ‘90s and brought an otherwise niche genre into the mainstream spot light. Despite their name recognition and commercial success, I just find I can’t sit through a whole thrash album without wishing something different was playing.
In this week’s edition of “Unearthing the Underground,” I’ll be going over bands that start with a base of thrash metal, or have a big thrash metal influence, but add in a variety of different styles. The thrash influenced bands this time around all either have big name members or have released several albums, but haven’t received a big following outside the underground yet.
First off is Germany’s Duskmachine, which is essentially a thrash metal band, but also incorporates power metal, progressive metal, and some groove metal elements. Some of the band’s influences are undoubtedly brought in by members Russell Bergquist (ex-Annihilator) and Randy Black (Primal Fear, ex-Annihilator). Duskmachine last released an album in 2005, and split with former vocalist Mirko Prietzsch back in July. The band has yet to formally announce a replacement, and the last update from the group stated a new album would be mixed this coming October.
Freedom of expression is likely not the first thing that comes to mind when one mentions the People’s Republic of China. It’s a place where the mere mention of anything that might be construed as being the least bit anti-authoritarian by the powers that be can land a person in jail, and dissidents are regularly executed by the state or simply disappeared without even the pretense of due process. But luckily for the metal heads residing in the world’s most populous nation, the government censors have bigger fish to fry than metal bands, and so China’s budding metal community, which features its own independent labels dedicated solely to various facets of the broad genre, and even a nationally published print magazine focusing on all sounds hard and heavy, has been allowed to develop as the country has opened itself up to outside influences in the past couple of decades. Here’s a look at three bands waving the metal flag in the pseudo-communist house that Mao built.
Imitation is often considered the sincerest form of flattery, and if that is indeed the case, then by all means keep Chaotic Aeon’s music away from John McEntee, Ross Dolan, and Gene Palubicki, lest the founders of Incantation, Immolation, and Angelcorpse respectively experience a simultaneous head implosion. If you don’t believe me, try playing any one of the tracks currently streaming on the band’s myspace page, and see if the death metal freak in the room doesn’t confuse Chaotic Aeon with any one of the three. But though the band, hailing from Xi’an, the midwestern Chinese city of Terra Cotta Army fame, may just be aping these American death metal greats, they do a damn good job of capturing their grimy, down tempo brutality that satisfyingly grinds down a mountain of granite like a dirty blackened glacier. The band currently has a six-song EP out on Pest Productions, a Chinese label specializing in black metal. More...
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. For my first article I’m going to be looking at three very distinct styles, but all artists that are on the verge of blowing up.
Nova Scotia, with its small population and many rural areas, might not be considered the hotbed of metal, but when you look into the underground you see a very different story. With all styles of metal being accepted and embraced, the underground is growing each and every late night.
The Worshyp currently consists of Marz Nova (vocals/guitar), Thor Rune (guitar), Mig Diablo (bass), and KK Devina (drums). It wasn’t always like this though. The heart and soul of the band founder Marz Nova had being playing in cover bands and I’m sure realized that the true rewards are from singing music from your soul, not the Top 40 Rock countdown. Marz being from a small town in Nova Scotia he knew he had to dump the tributes and move to a larger market to make his dreams come true. Hence moving to Toronto.
What it is today is a powerhouse band that blends very classic melodies, with very hard driven guitar riffs. With the new members on board Marz and the boys have almost completed their first full length CD and released their first single “Under Surveillance” to radio stations and ITunes. You can check out “Under Surveillance” and some other great songs on their MySpace page or Reverb Nation. More...
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. Today I'm taking a look at some bands from my home country whom are centered around the growing doom/sludge/rock/drone scene in New Zealand. (You can check out some other previously unearthed bands from New Zealand here.)
Made In China
Dunedin based band Made In China has been slogging away sincerely in the student ghetto for some time now and is currently in the studio recording for their upcoming album, but until then you can check out their myspace. Made In China combine Alice In Chains style grunge with a heavy groove and a great live show, below is a snippet of their live antics.
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 I am showcasing Vancouver, Canada’s stellar underground death metal scene, the same city that gave birth to internationally recognized acts such as 3 Inches of Blood, Strapping Young Lad and Bison B.C to name a few. Vancouver though is one city that always has a long list of talented young bands that can easily become metal’s next big discovery.
Death metal and its variances have always been the most dominating metal genre in Vancouver. With quite a few venues catering specifically to the underground metal niche its easy for young bands to flourish. Even with the closure/re-modelling of some of Vancouver’s most iconic metal venues (The Cobalt R.I.P, Pub 340) the underground metal scene refuses to die and becomes bigger each and every year.
First up is Malice Plagued. Quite possibly the most under-rated metal band going in Vancouver today, Malice Plagued is known for their unrelenting dedication to their music and their live performances. With a wide range of influences coming from acts like Rush, Black Sabbath, Testament, Megadeth, Iron Maiden and Death, Malice Plagued has crafted a death-thrash hybrid sound unique to themselves, which is what keeps Vancouver crowds coming back for more after every show. Vocalist/guitarist Kyle Pepin knows what it means to be a proper front-man and can command audiences, shred and perform his distinct vocal style with effortless precision. The band is rounded out by drummer Lance Powell and bassist Kyle Smedley. This three piece death-thrash unit is one to keep an eye on and will surely be turning heads in the metal scene for years to come and should be the next Vancouver metal act to be breaking out to an international audience.
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, I am exploring the metal scene in Red Deer, Canada, situated about halfway between Alberta's provincial capital to the north, Edmonton, and the city of Calgary to the south. Surrounded by farming communities and cattle ranches, a small but tight-knit collection of metal bands have been heavying things up in the prairie city of 90,000, setting the stage for Red Deer to finally find it's way onto the metal map. More...
Each week with "Unearthing the Metal Underground," we’ll be spotlighting a few quality lesser known bands in an attempt to spread the word and expose acts that make the underground great. This week we head into a genre that combines two seemingly irreconcilable styles – traditional folk music and heavy metal. Despite what might appear like water and oil, folk music mixes exceedingly well with both traditional metal and extreme styles such as death or black metal. Folk metal is currently dominated by big names like Korpiklaani, Finntroll, and Eluveitie. Anyone who digs a little deeper will find a host of unknowns bands just as capable of making metal heads want to raise a tankard or march off to Mordor.
There’s a joke in the metal world about all bands being inspired by Satan, Lovecraft, or Tolkien. It turns out it’s not just the Europeans who can’t get enough of the epic “The Lord of the Rings” series, though. You can now throw Argentina on that list, with Tengwar drawing their name from the language created by Tolkien.
Tengwar starts with a base of traditional instruments, and then adds the guitars in to augment the music, showing off a huge Celtic influence that is more “folk” than “metal.” The range of instruments found in Tengwar’s music is staggering, covering the gamut of what folk can provide. Galician bagpipes, recorders, flutes, mandolins, tin whistles, and fiddles all make appearances throughout the music.
The clean vocals are done in an epic rock and roll style, keeping up the sweeping and grand ideals of the source material. In some parts the music speeds up and almost approaches a Korpiklaani-esque happy drinking atmosphere. Tengwar is currently working on a full-length album titled “The Halfling’s Rise,” and songs from the “Tengwesta Quendion” EP are available for streaming via the band’s MySpace page.
Footage of the band performing a self-titled track and the song “Bear Skin” (poor sound on this clip) can be seen below.