Archive: Unearthing the Metal Underground columns
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
Although we'll cover the big names like Metallica and Motorhead, our goal at Metalunderground.com is to always to bring the lesser known local bands that deserve your attention out of obscurity and into the collective metal consciousness.
To that end we periodically unearth bands you may not have had the chance to hear before that all offer up quality material. Today we'll cover a huge range of sound and even a massive number of miles between countries with three bands from different corners of Europe who all lean towards drastically different corners of the genre spectrum.
Experimental, ambient, introspective... Postvorta soothingly beckons you through smooth and seemingly stable sonic corridors, then unexpectedly blows up the ceiling and drops tons of bludgeoning metal on your head.
The Italian sound smiths have dubbed their music “post metal.” I call it “something you need to listen to immediately if you dig Neurosis or Isis.”
The full “Beckoning Light We Will Set Ourselves On Fire” album was self-released earlier this year and just last month saw a physical edition through Bleeding Light Records. The whole album can be heard through the player below, and you can pick up a digital or physical copy at this location.
Back in 2011 during our unending quest to unearth the best the underground has to offer, we previously looked at a series of bands from metal scene in Croatia.
Fast forward three years and today it's time to return to that country again for another threesome of Croatia's best. Read on to discover a new trio projects that all go in drastically different directions while remaining inside the realm of metal: the post-black metal Hesperian Death Horse, modern metal outfit Kryn, and instrumental group Asheraah.
Hesperian Death Horse
Swinging back and forth between atmospheric, understated post-metal and full-on black metal insanity, Hesperian Death Horse is a band of extremes that doesn't care to sit still and stay firmly within one genre.
If you can dig both hoarse, abrasive black metal and the more melodic and ambient side of the genre all in the same sitting, enjoy the full “Mrtav” album below, as well as the band's latest mind fuck of a track “Tesla,” taken off a new split release with Hazarder.
The metal phenomenon has exploded across the world in recent years, and with the advent of services like YouTube and Bandcamp there's far more music out there than any metal fan could ever hope to hear. That's why each Monday we take a look at three lesser known bands in the metalverse that you should be paying attention to.
We've covered underground black metal extensively in the past, digging up bands that specifically go for a heavily symphonic sound, black metal groups that experiment with non-traditional ideas, and even the highly misanthropic acts.
There's still quite a few underground black metal outfits that deserve a wider audience though, and today we'll cover three that each put a slightly different spin on the style.
Taking a classic kvlt black metal sound, French band Aurvandil drags it out with 9 – 20 minute tracks that lull you in and perform their hypnotic black magic. Aurvandil focuses on a one-two combo, using acoustic and atmospheric segments that explode into fast paced black metal.
While the long song lengths and repetition won't work for everyone, these massive tracks are a journey worth taking if you want black metal to be lo-fi and exude a feeling of years gone past. Following the 2011 album “Yearning,” Aurvandil's latest slab of aural drudgery “Thrones” will see a digital release at the end of April.
Known mainly in the West as home to the arresting Himalayan heights and neighbor to every misguided hippie’s favorite destination of Tibet, Nepal is a unique little country that, like many Asian enclaves, bears a richly extensive history that belies its pin-on-the-map size.
Viewed in a metal context, Nepal’s growing foothold in the headbanging underground proves an even greater curiosity – though thanks to the Sam Dunns of the world and our great global network of online journalism, that curiosity is transforming from a novelty to the norm before our eyes. Cultural and language barriers can only hold back the equalizing brotherhood of metal for so long.
The twenty-first century has thus far seen a rapid expansion in the local metal scene of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital and largest city. It’s primarily an extreme affair. Inspired by trailblazing death metal acts such as UgraKarma and championed on regional web communities KTMRocks and Nepal Underground, the bands here tend to embrace aggression and brutality with a fresh enthusiasm that conjures a strange, sweet, almost innocent nostalgia.
According to Davin Shakya, audio engineer and founder of symphonic black/death metal act Kalodin, the reasons are as much technological as cultural. “The production here is not up to par compared to the international bands we listen to,” he explains. “Mainly because there aren’t many musical production courses. Engineers here have to study everything on their own and find their way out by trial and error. It’s improving, though.”
Such a grassroots-by-necessity approach calls to mind the trials by which Western engineers learned to produce thrash and death metal throughout the ‘80s. Innovative leaps in musicianship were forced to wait for the technology to catch up. This period of exploration was the perfect breeding ground for exciting, energetic, envelope-pushing music, and more than two decades later, Kathmandu is experiencing its own evolution and refinement of extreme metal.
It’s also placing its own unique stamp on the genre. Playing the heaviest and darkest of metal offers a special opportunity to entwine it with regional culture, whether through sound or attitude, and enrich the ever-expanding genre web. Take a look at some of Kathmandu’s highlights and rising stars since the dawn of the millennium. More...
With a population of 160 million people, Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The country's attitude of cultural tolerance (Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists live side-by-side) is reflected in their tastes in metal (well, at least in this article).
This Unearthing segment includes three bands of disparate styles from the city of Dhaka. The wide scope of sounds documented in the following video includes death metal, black metal, atmospheric, neo-classical, thrash, and progressive, many derived from a sole band!
Mostly unknown in the West, Artcell is one of the most celebrated rock acts of Bangladesh. They play arenas, appear on TV shows and have over 479,000 likes on their Facebook page. In addition to the Sabbath-thy heaviness of debut "Onnoshomoy," Artcell has an affinity for melody and acoustic guitar. I'm not sure what the band sings about because all lyrics are sung in Bengali, but his voice is harmonious and passionate. Whatever he's saying, their crowds respond well. As with most prog bands, Artcell has an outstanding bass sound, very warm.
Eastern Europe is a hotbed for extreme metal. Behemoth and Vader opened venues and studio doors to growls and screams, and invited a whole new generation of cult bands into their realm of the world. Today, we are going to focus on three of those bands. MU has reported on one of these bands in the past, Enthrallment, but we will be introducing two more--Dimholt and Dark Incognito.
Bulgaria did not always allow extreme metal within its borders. Since the mid-40s, Bulgaria was under Soviet rule. As soon as the Eastern Bloc collapsed, heavy bands began to form. Murder Sound studio owner and Enthrallment drummer, Ivo Ivanov states that many bands began to form in the period of 1989-1993 in his hometown of Pleven. Artists such as Mortal Remains, Corpse and Necrophilia ushered in the first wave of extreme metal. Ivanov's band, Enthrallment emerged during the the period of 1993-1998, an era he dubs the "zenith of the death metal industry."
Starting with their 1999 demo "The Scarlet Difference" and ending with their latest full-length "People From The Lands of Vit," Enthrallment has created death metal appeasing to their European neighbors and long-distance listeners in America. The group has played Serbia's Hellhammer Festival and Obscene Extreme Fest. They toured with Malevolent Creation, Rotting Christ and Rotten Sound in 2011, and supported major acts such as Destruction, Obituary, Deicide and Napalm Death.
In a couple of weeks, at the beginning of 2014, Enthrallment will release its newest incarnation of audio filth, "The Voice of Human Perversity." Ivanov recorded and mixed the album in his Murder Sound Studio, while the group sent the recording to Safehouse Production in Florida to be mastered by James Murphy. Check out a preview of the album below, as well as the video for "Fruits of Pain and Blue Sky."
In this week's edition of Unearthing the Metal Underground, we'll revisit the country of Chile again - a land with a scene that is so vast and devout that one could do a column on it every week. I respect the Chileans since they are fervent supporters of their metal scene with how they pack their clubs and buy music. In fact, looking at the Chilean scene is observing one with both plenty of new talent and veteran acts just now getting their due.
The Chilean scene dates back to the eighties, much like ours. In gaining an overview of it all, it is best to see it through the eyes of a Chilean old schooler. One of the most visible scene veterans, Digmetalworld honcho Ignacio Orellana, has seen a great deal of it since he picked up his first pair of drumsticks at the age of 14. The Santiago native thus began his journey into being a metal drummer and all-around metal music fanatic. More...
Let's once again take a look at my former residence of Costa Rica as we bring you a scene report from this Central American country. In the past forty years, travelers from all over have been making it a vacation hotbed. Celebrities own homes there, drawn in by the fabulous ocean, weather, mountains and night life. Many metal bands also make Central and South America prerequisite stops on their tours now. Even bands with little or no label support are financing small club gigs and have made Costa Rica one of their stops. More...
As we’ve shown throughout the years in our never ending quest to the Unearth the Metal Underground, high quality metal bands can come from the most surprising of locations. Europe is known as a hotbed of extreme metal, both originating several styles and still innovating others, and even those tiny, out of the way countries have something appropriately metallic to offer.
Today we’ll take a look at three unknown acts from the Latvian metal scene. Working largely without label support and independently releasing demos, EPs, and albums, which in an earlier era would have been hindrance, now these underground stalwarts have a chance to be heard by a much wider audience thanks to various social networking sites and music platforms like Bandcamp.
Featuring members of Ocularis Infernum, this absolute gem of the Latvian scene takes the black metal sound you think you know and takes it on a twisting journey. While it keeps up the menacing and horrifying vibe black metal is known for, it’s all injected with a surprising amount of melodic hooks. The band’s debut album “Hierophanies” is out now (reviewed here) and can be streamed in full via the player below.
Today on Metal Underground, we will head over to almost the southeasternmost zip code in the US - the island of Puerto Rico. Not exactly a nation, although many of its citizens would like it to be, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States with its own constitution and a rhythm and vibe that rival that of any Central American country.
We have featured several Puerto Rican bands and groups that have ties to that island in our news such as Zafakon, who rose to prominence with their "Fall" EP back in 2010. The all female gothic/black metal trio Matriarch, now disbanded, combined the impossibly high soprano operatic pitch of guitarist Vanessa Urrutia and the evil lower end vocals of Shamara and Isabel. Too bad "Revered Unto the Ages" was their swan song. Countless bands are actively playing, releasing albums and making the news on a regular basis, though. More...
Grind, slam, death, black: metal has its share of extreme bands that revel in pulverizing an audience with unrelenting brutality or smothering out all hope with ceaseless darkness. Today we’ll move away from that side of metal however, to enjoy the more melodic sounds heavy bands have to offer.
Every week we unearth three bands you may not have heard of from the more underground corners of the scene, and this week’s all about the melody! If you dig power, prog, classic metal, or any combination of the three, these are all bands that are well worth your time.
Kicking off our latest look at less extreme bands is Finland’s Cardiant, which leans significantly more towards power metal, but with a dash of traditional and prog metal thrown in for good measure. The band has a lot going on across that spectrum, so don’t be surprised if you hear a variety of piano and keyboard segments, along with some choruses of clean singing that even bring to mind Devin Townsend’s “Epicloud.”
While there are a scattered handful of darker moments, overall Cardiant is melodic and upbeat through and through. The band’s latest album “Verge” is out now through Inverse Records, which follows the previous two full-lengths “Tomorrow’s Daylight” and “Midday Moon.” Get acquainted with the outfit through two tracks off “Verge” below.
Despite misconceptions, how could the huge country of China not have a big metal scene? It most certainly does. Even though social media, ISPs, chat rooms, forums and much of the internet is highly state regulated in China, there are enough ways for Chinese metal bands and fans to communicate out there. Like Deng Xiaoping once famously said - "If you open the window for fresh air, you have to expect some flies to blow in." More...