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Archive: Unearthing the Metal Underground columns

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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safe bet that people will come up with death metal veterans like Pungent Stench and Miasma - who both sadly enough are no longer active in their original line ups.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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Unearthing An Eclectic Slice Of The Underground

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.

Postvorta

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.

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Unearthing The Croatian Metal Underground: Part 2

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.

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Unearthing More Of The Black Metal Underground

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.

Aurvandil

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.

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Nepal

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...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Bangladesh

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!

Artcell

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.

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Unearthing The Metal Underground in Bulgaria

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.

Enthrallment

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."

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Unearthing The Metal Underground in Chile Pt. 2

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...

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Unearthing The Costa Rican Metal Underground Pt. 2

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...

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Unearthing The Latvian Metal Underground

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.

Eschatos

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.

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Puerto Rico

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...

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Unearthing The Melodic Metal Underground

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.

Cardiant

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.

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Unearthing The Chinese Metal Underground Pt. 2

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...

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Unearthing The Prog Rock Underground

As a child growing up in the late sixties/early seventies listening to Emerson Lake & Palmer, Yes and Jean Luc Ponty, progressive rock was and is a large part of my musical foundation. The orchestration of prog rock expanded music from anthemic songs with a simplistic chorus-verse structure into compositions that took on a life of their own through arrangements that incorporated elements of jazz, folk and other forms of music in atypical time signatures. These musicians represented a skilled genre, one where a band had to know how to play far beyond 'adequate' and know all types of music. More...

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Unearthing The Non-Traditional Black Metal Scene

Record sales may be dropping and labels may be on the verge of extinction, but the underground metal scene is still a thriving and vibrant place where musical innovation continues to occur. Every Monday we dig deep into the underground to unearth three bands you may not have had the chance to check out yet, but which deserve to be heard.

It’s no secret I dig bands that mix it up and don’t stick to one straight style, having previously unearthed avant-garde bands, a handful of genre flip-floppers, metal outfits that experiment with non-traditional sounds, and those bands that just plain ignore musical trends.

Today you’ll get another dose of heavy music that doesn’t play by the normal genre rules. These three bands may all technically be black metal, but they push that definition to its limits and sometimes even well beyond!

Todtgelichter

This German act is currently with Code666 records, which is a smaller label in the grand scheme of things, but it still has some very solid underground acts known for combining sub-genres and mixing up their sounds.

Todtgelichter has four full-length releases under its belt, having just dropped new album “Apnoe” this year (reviewed here). “Apnoe” is definitely less raucous and battering than previous releases, occasionally dropping out the black metal altogether, just to bring it back in at unexpected times to barrel over an unsuspecting audience. The harsh vocals are present but take a back seat to clean male and female singing, accompanied by atmospheric and calm parts that give off a modern-era Anathema vibe.

Keep up with the latest on Todtgetlichter at Facebook and be sure to check out a track from the current album and its predecessor “Angst” below.

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Unearthing The Middle Eastern Underground

While metal bands of pretty much any sub-genre can be found all over the world, different areas have become well known for specific sounds: the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Scandinavian black metal, Bay Area thrash, and so on. But metal continues to spread and evolve across the planet, and now the various Middle Eastern nations are not only developing their own underground scene, but also inspiring a traditional Arabic sound in metal bands from other countries.

Israeli act Orphaned Land may be one of the most well known, with latest album “All Is One” nearing release through Century Media, but there are many more just waiting to be explored in our never ending quest to unearth the metal underground.

Today we’ll cover three lesser known bands either residing in or strongly influenced by the Middle East. If you dig these acts but want something more on the power or progressive side, be sure to also check out Myrath, which was covered in our look at bands getting exposure through the Prog Power USA festival.

Sand Aura

Currently down to three members and now seeking a new keyboardist for live shows, Egyptian outfit Sand Aura released debut full-length album “Elegy of the Orient” last year. The album can be ordered directly through the band’s website or streamed in its entirety via Bandcamp.

Sand Aura covers a whole lot of ground sound-wise, working off a proto death metal base with deep and guttural vocals, adding in a folksy edge, and then also bringing out clean female vocals. Give it a listen and decide how it sounds yourself through the player below.

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Unearthing The Industrial Metal Underground Pt. 2

Recently, the respected Death Metal Underground site ran a brief synopsis of the new book "Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music" by S. Alexander Reed. The tome came out earlier this year and is a recommended read for anyone immersed in the current huge wave of industrial bands or who has followed the genre since its inception in the early eighties. More...

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Unearthing The Avant-Garde Metal Underground

The number of metal bands out there has exploded in the last few years, and finding acts that meet your tastes can be quite a challenge, especially if you prefer your heavy music underground instead of well known. To help keep up with the ever shifting sea of metal, each Monday we unearth three lesser known bands all grouped by style or location.

We’ve looked at underground experimental bands before, but today we’ll cover three groups on the far fringe of the avant-garde scene. These three metallic offerings are for fans of the most bizarre reaches of music, combining elements that typically never come within miles of each other.

Age of Silence

Norway’s Age of Silence unfortunately only released a single full-length album back in 2004, titled “Acceleration,” and followed that with an EP the next year. True to its name, the band has been mostly silent since then, only popping up in 2010 to announce work was underway on another album, but nothing has come of it yet.

Age of Silence starts with a distinctly Scandinavian metal sound, but goes primarily for clean vocals, lacing in a variety of odd keyboard sound effects that take the music in a different direction than normal.

While there may or may not ever be new Age of Silence material, band member Andy Winter recently released his own solo album, offering more proggy Norwegian metal for fans who can’t get enough.

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