*Written by Tyler Hammer
You may know me from various bands from Rochester (Human Dissention, Hallucination Realized, and American Terrorist to name a few). I’ve been enjoying metal and extreme music for the last 10 years and have a fond interest in more underground bands compared to the more popular bands in metal and punk. It could be because I love to feel superior to others with what I know, but its probably because I just enjoy the music. You may not know much about but me (other than I can be a total prick sometimes) so what better way to introduce myself than by giving you some bands to check out that I find near and dear to me. You might just find your new favorite band from this list, so check it out!
One of the most important lesser known black metal bands. Everyone likes to talk up Burzum, Darkthrone, or Mayhem but Blasphemy should be right up there with all of them. Their first full length Fallen Angel of Doom laid the blueprints for the black/death and war metal genres. The vocals are barked and grunted instead of screamed, guitars and bass creating an unholy cacophony and drums hammering at a frenzied pace. Truly an essential album for anyone wanting to get into the more raw side of black and death metal. For those turned off by the production (which is a bit rough) I recommend the demo and second LP Gods of War which is a bit cleaner.
Anyone who claims to be into grindcore but doesn’t know Excruciating Terror has me feeling a little suspect. While nothing special in terms of grindcore they perfected it. All their releases are great but the true gem is Divided We Fall. The guitars sound like razorblades, and vocalist Victor Garcia sounds like he gargled broken glass for a month straight. If you like early Napalm Death or Insect Warfare this will be right up your alley.
Death metal needs to have a little bit of filth to it. It’s how it started out with bands like Death, Cannibal Corpse, Obituatry, etc. Bands nowadays have ditched that look and sound for something more polished which kind of makes me sick. But in 2015 I checked out a band called Pissgrave and they kind of made me sick, but in a good way. These Philadelphia maniacs brought a new layer of filth to death metal in with their debut album Suicide Euphoria. It’s old school death metal with a modern revision. Pitch shifted vocals, tight drumming and catchy as hell melodies. Lots of new death metal bands that go for the old school realm tend to have boring riffs and overly clean production so it was such a relief to hear a band be able to pull off what they are doing as so well. Be on the lookout for this band in the future as they are (hopefully) just getting started.
As a fan of metal and music you can probably name bands or artist from other countries. Most people don’t listen to much from southeast Asia or the Middle East though but the past few years more and more bands have been coming up and putting out quality releases. Tetragrammacide is no exception. Based out of India, they create some of the most intense black/death metal music going right now. The drum machine blasts and distorted guitars create a trance. Their EP Typhonian Wormholes: Indecipherable Anti-Structural Formulæ is laden with noise interludes, further adding to the chaos they are trying to create. This band captures the sound of evil that so many bands fail to do. A full length is coming later this year on Iron Bonehead and there is no telling where this band will go but it will be interesting to say the least.
The list so far has been harsh and unrelenting which is not for everyone (just like me!) I think for those looking for something more traditional with something more I would suggest Thantifaxath. Fairly new and hailing from Toronto, they play black metal that is reminiscent of older styles of black metal with an emphasis on melancholy and depression. Sporting black cloaks and not even using pseudonyms, they live up to the idea of putting the music first as opposed to the aesthetic that black metal holds so dear. The production is clean, lots of stuff going on during the songs not just simplistic tremolo riffs. Samples, noise and synths back up the excellent riffs and pained shrieks. This is black metal that you want to hear when you just want to give up on life.
For almost 15 years Deterioration has been busting heads. Constantly touring and releasing music they are a force to be reckoned with in the modern day grindcore scene. Blisteringly fast blast beats, insane howls and THICK guitars. It’s grind that doesn’t seem to take it self too seriously but won’t hold back in terms of intensity. They have a large discography (16 releases in the last 4 years alone) but a go to for me is the full length Suck Brick, I’m Melting, I’m Melting! Demo and splits with Na’kay and Cystoblastosis. They are playing Rapid Decay Fest in Binghamton in October along with some other top notch acts from the midwest and east coast. If you haven’t seen Deterioration they are not too miss live.
Sludge metal is rife with so many copy cats and boring acts. Most people know Eyehategod, Down, Crowbar and Buzzov*en. But the band that never picked up that blows all them out of the water is Iron Monkey. In normal terms this band isn’t underground per say but they are under appreciated on so many levels. They got everything someone wants in sludge; Blood curdling screams, chunky downtuned guitars, a killer drum with insane chops, and grooves for days. Unlike so many bands they pick up the pace every now and again which emphasizes the slower portions. Their vocalist passed away in 2002 but they have reformed with the drummer from Chaos UK and I am looking forward to the new album this year and hopefully a show or tour in the US next year (MDF maybe?)
Hard to classify this band as I want to say grindcore but its so much more. This two piece drum and bass group has been pumping out music for a few years now and prior to this they played in Defeatist. I usually can’t hang with most instrumental stuff but the playing is so tight and the songs are well crafted. Spastic but they lock into a groove that is utterly captivating. Surprisingly full sounding with just bass and drums, they are a true spectacle live. They just recently released their new full length Decoherence and it is phenomenal like everything they do.
Brutal death metal has been plagued in the last 15 years or so of bands that choose to be so over the top technical or filled to the brim with slams that it’s tough to find some straight up heavy as fuck death metal. Luckily, Brodequin is always with us. If you want fast and almost exclusively fast then this is the band for you. Blasts upon blasts upon blasts. Growls that actually sound good (fuck inhales and pig squeals). Heavy guitars and fairly catchy riffs as well? Forever surprised this band doesn’t have a bigger following. They have 3 albums and they are all fantastic but their last one Methods of Execution is the cleanest sounding. They just reformed in 2015 and hopefully will have some new tunes in the next year or so.
If you like death metal and grindcore well here is a perfect band for you. Ingrowing are from the Czech Republic and they pump out some killer bands. Usually the label ‘deathgrind’ never applies to the bands that use it but this band pulls it off well. All the aspects of grind you would like such as frantic blasting, d-beats, and screams mixed in with killer double bass and tremolo sections and absolutely gut busting growls. The 30 minute album seems to fly-by, but that happens when you have some really killer songs that never seem to drag on more then they need to. Their album Suicide Binary Reflections is a true post-2000 classic for grind and a must check out!