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Archive: Unearthing the Metal Underground columns

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Unearthing The Metal Underground in Red Deer

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...

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Unearthing The Folk Metal Underground

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.

Tengwar

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.

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Unearthing the Metal Underground in Texas

There are a plethora of high-quality metal bands emerging from the state of Texas, and those who only know the state for Pantera will be shocked to learn about the high number of extreme metal bands who call Texas home. In addition to classic extreme metal bands like Absu, Averse Sefira, Thornspawn, and Imprecation, there are also a number of newer bands who are waving the flag of Texas extreme metal high. Today, we'll take a look at a few newer bands who hail from central Texas (basically, the areas in and around Austin and San Antonio), starting with Hexlust. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground in Nashville, TN

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.

Nashville is home to top-charting hit-makers like Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Ke$ha, and others, but has a dark underside where metal bands thrive. Psychedelic doom metal act Clorange, progressive metal act Invicta, and symphonic black metal band Cernunnos! are the subjects of this Unearthing.

The Nashville scene revolves around several known venues – The End, The Muse, Rocketown, and Exit/In – with nightly local shows. A fair share of bands that have become national touring acts have gotten their start here in Nashville and the surrounding towns of Murfreesboro and Knoxville, such as Whitechapel, Enfold Darkness and Destroy Destroy Destroy. Nashville is also home to the music studio of famed Soilwork guitarist/producer Peter Wichers. With no shortage of studios and talent in this town, bands are able to find each other, play lots of shows, and record very easily, releasing albums just the way they want. More...

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Unearthing the Cello Metal Underground, Part 2

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. The first time I featured cello and violin metal, I put the genre in context with an introduction about Apocalyptica's influence, and featured three fantastic cello and violin metal bands, Judgement Day, Heavin, and Grayceon. Those bands tend to use both violins and cellos, but today I'm going to focus on some more bands that have followed more closely in Apocalyptica's footsteps and are largely classical cello ensembles who cover or play heavy metal.

Primitivity

Primitivity is a cello and percussion ensemble from the Washington, DC area that blends elements of classical and heavy metal music. Cellist Loren Westbrook-Fritts composes the music and provides the leads, while cellists David Teie of the National Symphony, Kristin Ostling of the Baltimore Symphony, and Mauricio Betanzo of the Maryland Symphony all shred out intense riffs and harmonies. Percussionist Robby Burns from the University of Maryland completes the band with rumbling drum hits. Specializing in the music of Megadeth, Apocalyptica, and Metallica, Primitivity has also written some of their own original compositions. The band released "Plays Megadeth For Cello" earlier this year.

Check out one of the band's original compositions, "Convergence" below.

For one of their heavier original songs, also check out "Sacrifice" on their MySpace player, as well as numerous metal covers. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground in Taiwan, Part 2

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. A while back, I wrote about some of the heaviest bands to come out of Taiwan in recent years. This week I am showcasing a few more great bands from the burgeoning Formosa metal scene. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Perth, Part 2

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. I’ve already put the spotlight on some Perth death metal bands - this week I am checking out some Perth bands that don’t quite fit in with any other group. More...

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Unearthing The Solo Metal Underground Part 2

Each week in "Unearthing the Metal Underground," we spotlight a few quality unsigned bands in an attempt to spread the word and expose acts that make the underground great. This week we’re returning again to the realm of solo extreme metal to uncover three more one-man bands.

Unlike our last foray into the world of solo musicians, these three groups aren’t restricted entirely to the black metal style. Instead we’ll be covering a wide range of musical projects that showcase how creativity and professional musicianship can flourish in the unlimited freedom of a solo band. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In New Jersey

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 New Jersey extreme metal scene.

The extreme metal scene in New Jersey is hard to find, but it's there. I find that most of them like to hide under the radar and remain underground. the bands I'm featuring here aren't that kind. these are the ones looking to make their foot print in the scene by doing something a little different in their own way. There are too many bands around that do the same song over and over again with different lyrics and in a different key or tempo. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground in Taiwan

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 offering a brief glimpse of the dynamic Taiwan metal scene.

In the past few years, the metal scene in Taiwan has exploded and now boasts an active roster of more than 50 bands. This is a significant number for the relatively small island nation of 23 million that lies less than 200 kilometers off the east coast of China—with geographical, political, and historical factors playing a key role in Taiwan’s metallic output. The repressive Chinese government currently has well over 1,000 ICBMs aimed at Taiwan, and has maintained that it will use military force if necessary to bring Taiwan back under its control. Taiwan has been governed separately from China since the KMT was defeated by the Communists in 1949 following a four-year civil war, after which the KMT leadership and soldiers fled across the Taiwan Strait. Since then, Taiwan has held de-facto independence that is only officially recognized by an ever dwindling number of African, Central and South American, Caribbean, and South Pacific states. The perpetually tense political standoff with its impossibly imposing neighbor to the west, combined with an ongoing struggle for inclusion in international organizations and increased diplomatic recognition, has made Taiwan the ideal breeding ground for the world’s angriest, loudest, and fastest form of musical expression.

Here are three such examples warranting your attention: More...

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Unearthing The Solo Black Metal Underground

Each week in "Unearthing the Metal Underground," we'll be putting the spotlight on a few quality underground bands in an attempt to get the word out. This week we’ll be uncovering three bands that aren’t connected by geographical location, but rather by their decision to go it alone as solo black metal musicians.

By eschewing the benefits and difficulties inherent to a full band, the solo black metal artist is completely unchained by outside influence. A one man black metal group is only constrained by the limitations of his own imagination to create exactly the sound and feel he wants in any release. With how it easy it has become to create a professional sounding release at home it shouldn’t be any surprise that creative minds would want to completely take the reins of their musical direction. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Singapore

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 Singapore scene.

The music scene in Singapore is predominantly indie and pop, with the biggest musical output being from indie bands. Rarely is metal heard over the airwaves with the exception of a one-hour metal show every Saturday midnight on a Malay radio station (the main spoken language in Singapore is English, so that shows how little exposure to metal there is over here). However, this has not stopped a large number of metal bands from sprouting up in recent years, with the wide availability of alternative forms of music via the Internet.

Whether locally or over the Internet, here are three underground metal bands from Singapore worth checking out: More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Perth

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 exhuming the Perth death metal scene.

Being isolated from the rest of the country and indeed the world, Perth has long had to make its own entertainment – leading to a rich local music scene. There are good bands active in the city right now playing almost every kind of metal, from folk to black to groove to grindcore. But I’m of the opinion that it’s Perth’s death metal bands that really shine. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In New York

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 progressive metal in New York.

The progressive metal bands in New York are rarely a typical prog act, so the focus is more on bands that incorporate progressive elements in their music. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Northern NJ

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 northern New Jersey death metal scene.

New Jersey has tons of tiny local death metal/hardcore bands. Sadly, most of them are hardly worth a listen. Most of them also have sub-par recordings. But today I will focus on a few bands that caught my attention lately and will tear your face off. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Los Angeles

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 Los Angeles metal scene.

If you live in Los Angeles, or have been to a metal show, whether it be death metal, thrash metal, or just metal, you may have become accustomed to watching several unsigned bands perform before an advertised lineup start their sets. As soon as you're inside the venue, the bands set up, and they finally play. Sometimes, these bands make your want to run into a brick wall, head first, because they are an awful, yet convoluted noise somehow crushed on top of fingernails scratching across a chalk board. But, on rare occasions, you finally notice a band that would be, in your eyes, considered an artist in the making. Here are three unsigned metal bands from Los Angeles and surrounding areas that definitely need to be heard and given a chance in the world of heavy metal. More...

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Unearthing the Violin and Cello Metal Underground

In 1996, Apocalyptica released their debut studio album, "Plays Metallica by Four Cellos," and the metal world would never again view cellos the same way. Apocalptica was no one-trick pony, however. They upped the ante and quality massively on "Inquisition Symphony" and branched out to cover other metal bands plus three original compositions. By their third album, the band was producing primarily original material, still heavy and still on four cellos.

While Apocalyptica has since broken out of the underground, it took them years to do so even while piggybacking on the success of metal gods like Metallica, finally securing a decent North American record deal and touring the U.S. after they had four albums under their belt. Yet, their success has opened doors to more classically trained musicians to explore the heavier side of their instruments and contribute to the heavy metal community in their own ways. If Apocalyptica did not start by covering Metallica, one might wonder how heavy a band of celloists could possibly sound. Not only do they pull it off in the studio, but they put on a live performance that rivals that of their idols.

Today I will introduce you to three underground bands that employ extensive use of bowed instruments, primarily the cello and violin. Not only does the inclusion of these instruments give the music a unique feel, but the musicians themselves being more classically trained has its own impact on the compositions as well. Let's get started: More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground on Myspace

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 this edition of Unearthing the Metal Underground I’ll be discussing some random bands I found on MySpace. All acts are unsigned and talented.

Margin of Existence

Margin of Existence is a Greek melodic death metal band that takes the genre to a brutal level. The guitars are straight out of In Flames’ “Whoracle” album, but the vocals, done by George Triantafilou, are something straight out of Immolation. Many bands copy the in flames guitar style, but Margin of Existence adds in other death metal influences into the music. Check out their MySpace page here. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: NOLA, Part 2

Just one Unearthing for my fair city of New Orleans wouldn’t work. We have so many bands here, they’re breaking the levees! Here’s three more incredible bands to give you a NOLA fix. There is an amendment to the previous Unearthing the Metal Underground: New Orleans; Tire Fire is not crustpunk. “We hate crusties,” vocalist Matt Muscle told me at the Pentagram show. But whatever they are, it’s fierce and Matt is a madman on stage. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground in the Bay Area

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 spreading the word from the San Francisco Bay Area metal scene.

The Bay Area's metal legacy began with the '80s thrash scene, which gave birth to Metallica, Exodus, Testament, and Death Angel. Neurosis entered the scene with their experimental metal, and Primus and Faith No More turned heads in what could only be referred to as alternative metal. Starting in the '90s, Machine Head evolved the thrash sound into groove metal. Currently, Ludicra, whose black metal has been in the scene since the late '90s, is generating a lot of excitement about their soon to release album, "The Tenant." Today, the Bay Area houses up and coming metal bands who not only reflect the heritage of the region, but filter in influences from a variety of genres. More...

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