Now that the bigger bands who impressed me this year are out of the way, let’s take a look at all the amazing local releases that hit us hard over the past 12 months…
This list will include bands from Rochester, parts of Central New York and PA as well, so bear with the title of the article…
- Mass Casualty – Preparing the Dead
Buffalo’s Mass Casualty have been on the scene for longer than a lot of people realize. It’s been an interesting road for them to say the least, but this year, the dudes finally put out their debut full length. While they are at their core, a death metal band, MC have a wide range of extreme metal influences. The album presents an interesting clash between older and newer death metal oriented styles, the majority of which come from guitarists Chad Grant and Cody Lange. The generation gap between these two has always kept me intrigued in considering what this band is going to do next. From early Cannibal Corpse sounding originals to White Chapel covers, you never know what you’re going to get from MC. Keep it up, dudes.
- Short Attention Span Theatre – debut self titled EP
First and foremost, you just can’t fuck with this band’s lineup. Just knowing who’s involved should let you know that you’re in for a treat. Starting with the rhythm section, Kenny (ex Avulsion) and Gus Brand are as good as they come for drums and bass, respectively. This father/son duo also make up experimental instrumental local titans, Ish Kabbible. You’ll want to check that project out asap if you’re into the notion of Animals as Leaders sans guitars. Getting back to SAST, Ryan Mis (ex It’s a Dinosaur!) has brought his impressively versatile and consistent range to the group, giving them a vocalist and frontman who is just as erratically talented as the musicians behind him. Guitarist Gordon Carlson is no slouch himself, considering that he has to write and riff to keep up with these other fucks. These guys are an experimental, technical powerhouse, hellbent on pushing the envelope with every song and live performance. We can’t wait for a full length from these dudes.
- Weaponex – In the Nick of Time
My ongoing gripe about these guys is that they’ve never had the following they deserve. Their album release show this past October had a great turnout, but other than that, I’m looking to change Buffalo’s outlook on Weaponex. Mike Willard is hands down the best metal guitarist in the area and he’s been giving lessons to most of our other favorites in the scene for years. He’s a professional, a gentleman and a scholar and we’re lucky to have him around. Check out his “Lick of the Week” every Thursday and get learn’t! Danimal Cannon himself, our local chiptune God is on bass and Larry Steele, the man, the myth, the legend is on drums. This past year, these three dudes have put out the best prog release our city has seen in many, many moons. It’s energetic, technical, destructive and fun. You can’t miss.
- Greatness and World Domination (GAWD) – Suicide Contagion
GAWD are a band who have come a long way since I first saw them. They started as a 3-piece, switched out their drummer and added a separate vocalist and BAM! Huge difference. Their debut full length left some to be desired, but their latest from this year was a big boost. They’re still kind of a hard band to classify, but we don’t stand on subgenre ceremony here. Fans of early Revocation, late ’90s death metal, some crust punk, a dash of NYC hardcore and very early melodic death and thrash, will appreciate these guys. Give it a listen!
- Greywalker (Pittsburgh) – Without Control
As you know, since starting this site, we’ve always had a close relationship with the Pittsburgh metal scene. Greywalker are an old school melodic death and thrash band, casting shades of the first couple Darkest Hour albums. Their latest album is no exception and I’m elated to announce that the dudes will be returning to Buffalo in April of 2019. More details on that show will be along shortly. In the meantime, give the album a listen if you’re into older DH or any melodic death that hasn’t gone the “In Flames” route really.
- Order of the Dead – The Jackals Hold Us Captive
We were very sad to see OOTD end this year, but they did something rather classy and unexpected to close things out. The dudes turned their retirement party into an album release show and surprised us with this gem. Everyone who played in this band up until the end was a class act and by far, they were Rochester’s go to band when it came to opening for national and international headliners. They spent 10 years crafting quality music and building strong relationships with fans, promoters, club owners and most importantly, other bands. They were as professional as they come and their music really speaks to that. Check out this beast of a final effort from OOTD!
- Ferus Din – The Great Dying
Since losing Throne of Wilderness in 2014, I never thought Buffalo would put out a killer folk metal album again, then out of nowhere, comes Ferus Din with a banger of a blackened folk metal release. Joe Leising (guitarist at Ferus Din and sound engineer at Rotten Metal Recording) did an amazing job with this in particular when it came to the production. The recording quality is very late ’90s in nature when it comes to the clash between distorted guitars and woodwinds. Truth be told, I haven’t heard an album (strictly in terms of production) sound quite like this since Nightwish put out Oceanborn in 1998. Given the quality of these songs and my love of the genre, this album is easily tied with one other for my local album of the year.
- Halothane – A False Reality
Nicholas Alan is a killer sound engineer from Rochester and the mastermind behind melodic death metal masters, Halothane. He’s been trying to put out this album since 2012 and for fuck sake, it has finally happened! From front to back, the songs are well written, powerful, driving and catchy. The album was built on an unbreakable formula for composing memorable songs. I had these guys play Buffalo twice this year and both sets were top notch. The dudes also did Buffalo Metal Fest which was another killer example of their tight playing and energetic live show. Watch out for the followup from these dudes. Rochester is in the driver’s seat now when it comes to melodic death and we’ll just have to see what drops next!
- Shadowborn – End of an Age
Here’s yet another release by some insanely talented dudes from Rochester. This time around, we’re talking about power metal in its finest form. At any given time, these guys can play for hours between originals and covers and in many cases, I’ve heard them perform Iron Maiden songs better than even those dudes are currently capable. Their latest EP is a perfect example of power metal and its longevity. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to this stuff. As long as you’re putting your heart into the songs, and this band certainly does, all you have to do is be the best damn power metal band you can be and put yourselves out there. With stellar drumming, strings and vocals in their arsenal, all Shadowborn have to do is press on and improve their already impressive craft and they’ll go far.
- Eternal Crypt – Loneliness of the Wolf
What’s this?! Another great band from Rochester?! Sadly, these cats can’t play out very often. Mastermind, Zane Knight is behind everything (including sound engineering), except the drums. Drum duties are handled by Michael Adams (Order of the Dead) but besides that, there’s generally some semblance of a live outfit waiting on deck for the occasional show. Getting back to the music, fans of Wintersun will love what Eternal Crypt have going on. Their debut album is a great example of folkened/blackened melodic death metal. Big vocal choirs and huge epic musical progressions round out their sound and keep things interesting track for track. Check this out for an epic look at what’s going on in Zane Knight’s nutty brain!
- Aspired Infliction – The Undying
Could this be shameless self promotion? Of course! I won’t say much here. I’m only putting my own band on this list so I can say how proud I am of the other dudes in the band. After eight years of dicking around, we finally put something cool out. There, I said it!
- Diluted – Legitimate Bastard
Whoever said nu metal is dead was wrong, at least when it comes to this Rochester roundhouse kick of a band. Growing up in Cheektowaga, with only mainstream metal on my radar, I found a quick love for bands like Slipknot, Deftones, and then aside from my favorite European acts, I then drifted into the slew of metalcore bands that appeared in As I Lay Dying’s wake. Would I go out of my way to listen to a band like Diluted now? The honest answer is no, but these are cool dudes from Rochester I’ve already shared the stage with a few times. They’ve got all the energy in the world and a love for nostalgic nu metal and metalcore that isn’t necessarily making waves anymore. I love how much these guys just don’t give a fuck about the trends. They’re going to play what they play and proudly tell the music authorities of today’s industry to go fuck off. It’s great. Stay in the past, guys. Keep doing what you love.
- Pollock – Hallowed: The Absence of Light
Ever wonder what the fuck Josh Klein’s fucking problem is? He’s an unstoppable wrecking ball of ideas. It goes beyond music. Give this guy a wad of clay, a single grain of sand and a broken windshield wiper and he’ll find a way to turn it all into the most beautiful sculpture you’ve ever seen. Over this past year, Josh started a funding campaign for an elaborate release show for this latest album of Pollock’s. The idea was to build eccentric sculptures of morbid, thought provoking characters from various lore, all within the confines of an eerie Hades themed forest. Then, he took things a step further. He decided to put all of that into Rockin Buffalo Saloon. Finally, those who donated to his cause would receive pieces of the overall art show. The crowdfunding part of the experiment didn’t really go as planned, but Josh delivered anyways, as he always does. The venue looked fantastic on the night in question and the band’s live performance was also top notch. As far as the new album goes, I wasn’t all that surprised by anything, since I’ve been hearing most of these songs live now for a few years, but Pollock’s music is nothing short of theatrical. The songs start in Josh’s mind, transmit to the rest of the band, then trickle out into a web of visual aesthetics which ultimately complete the package. Pollock isn’t just a band and that’s why they’re on this list. If I were only going by their songs, having no backstory to go by, it wouldn’t be my cup of tea at all, but Pollock are different when it comes to the metal/rock genre. Pollock is a culture, one that we’ll be immersing ourselves in time and time again in the near future. Listen to the album and watch the band’s many available music videos. Take in the whole package before you judge.
- Inertia – Teratoma
At last, we’ve come to 2018’s OTHER local album of the year. Completely different from Ferus Din, Inertia are a 3-piece technical progressive death metal band, fusing together the killer sounds of bands like Into the Moat, Between the Buried and Me, The Red Chord and more. The way mastermind Kahlil Sarikey can go from brutally heavy to ambient and tranquil in one fluid motion in his songwriting is truly special. It’s very easy to get lost in Inertia’s music. There’s so much going on technically, but there’s so much emotion put into the songs as well. You really have to train your brain to make the changes with the band sometimes and I love that. Thought provoking music like this is always a top seller for me. You can be the most technical player in the world, but if you can’t write anything memorable, you’re sunk. Congratulations, guys! Way to sneak in a winner at the buzzer!