Hopefully you caught our last run of this article, but people seemed to enjoy it so much it seemed time for round 2. Again, this is not a list of my favorite bands, but rather a cross-section of groups that I feel have the combined talent and mainstream appeal to make it big. Watch for these bands to hit your doorstep soon, and click on the names to find more info and links to full reviews.
Polar is a UK hardcore act that will very soon be releasing their album, No Cure No Saviour. Already signed to Prosthetic Records, these guys have the right sound to tour with the big boys. The music is catchy, the singing infectious, and still it hits hard enough to bang your head to at times. It's kind of like hardcore mixed with Rise Against, which "Until the Light" is a prime example of. Check these guys out before they hit the big $50 ticket stadiums with AFI and the like.
I wasn't surprised upon reading up on Tucson, Arizona band, North, that back in 2005 they started out as an instrumental act. Those gigantic, crashing chords and post-metal melodies. This is the definition of what the more melodic side of sludge is all about. And when I said "instantaneously," I meant it. From the first few seconds of sampling the amazing title track for the original post, and then once more in just the 2 minute intro of "Moonswan" when I had my first full playthrough, I was glued. I could see fans of groups like Baroness and perhaps even Tool getting into this one.
If you love the driving riffs of heavy metal but aren't much for the vocals, Rebel Wizard may be the band for you. The banner for Melbourne, Australia's Rebel Wizard reads "Heavy Negative Wizard Metal." Yes. I listened to their EP at least 4 times a row when I caught wind of it a while back. You need to check it out.
Vredehammer is a metal band out of Norway. Whether you're a fan or not, there is a strong Lamb of God comparison here. The vocal approach is quite similar to Blythe's, as are a few of the groove metal riffs that have been infused with a certain Southern-fried style. "Deadfall" is perhaps the most obvious track carrying these similarities, but they permeate throughout the majority of the runtime. "Ursus" and the killer closing track "Blodhevn," on the other hand, are more in line with the viking metal favorites Amon Amarth. Take your pick, these guys have something for the festival crowd for sure.
More djent. It's so hot with the kids these days, like some metal form of dubstep. Pelgrim is a metalcore/mathcore/djent and progressive metal band from Tilburg. I hear shades of Sikth, Periphery, and Torrential Downpour up and down the foundation of this album. Guitars favor those low-end grooves, but break them up with some killer leads and solos to remind us that these are capable musicians and not just a bunch of dudes who know how to tune down and use thicker strings. In addition to just being very talented and catchy, the band can also incorporate jazz, sax, and even marimba into their tunes like you wouldn't believe. Keep your finger on the pulse for this band big time.
New metalcore more often than not really sucks, imo. Thinking back, this has probably always been the case. Thankfully, I Am Noah are here to remind us what the genre sounds like when done right. Grounded deeply in the sounds of August Burns Red and early As I Lay Dying, this is a band that possesses the riffs, catchy breaks, and overall energy to get a big crowd moving. These guys got hoop dreams, coach. Put 'em in.
Guitar lines are insanely catchy, heavy, and fun from the dark, foreboding "New Voice," to the somewhat bouncy, increasingly melodic tapping and solos of "Concept Citizen." These guys certainly know how to play, be it a line of chugging djent/deathcore, alt-rock infused power chord progression, or Born of Osiris-ish lead. I'm not sure of the band's actual influences, but I can certainly hear the latter along with groups like Periphery, As I Lay Dying, and August Burns Red. Every time I post Iron Skies somewhere I see a positive response. Check them out today.
Put everything great about the early days of Every Time I Die, Converge, and Norma Jean in a bowl, melt that sh#t together, and bake at 350 degrees. This is Kennedy out of Montreal. It's a ferocious combination of mathcore, hardcore, and post-hardcore that commands your respect with knuckles, knees, and elbows. This band makes excellent use of just a few words to convey absolute rebellion, fury, or just plain hate. "I hope what breaks my heart breaks yours!" "This is the SOUND! This is the sound of a bro-ken HEART!" Or my personal favorite, from the overtly ETID-sounding "Brave New World," "HASHTAG REV-O-LUTION!" Indeed. See you at the show.
How do you get the popular deathcore crowd to transition into some legit technical death metal? Make them listen to Slovenia's Within Destruction. While "Dark Impairment" relies on speed and bloody-finger-inducing guitar wankery, tracks like "Desecration of the Elapsed" utilize the slower pace and foreboding atmosphere of beatdown and deathcore to an equally impressive effect. Sometimes these styles are interspersed or juxtaposed within the same song. Meanwhile the drums beat the hell out of various time signatures, swapping clicky onslaughts of bass pedal back and forth with ominous, reverb-ridden snare and cymbal breaks. Voids can't seem to decide if it's a lumbering T-Rex or or lightning-fast velociraptor. Clever girl.
This group from Helsinki, Finland brings djent to new levels. Their new album, Stasis, is like taking all of the best electronic-influenced tracks from Dillinger Escape Plan and taking them to the absolute pinnacle of awesome. It's catchy, it's heavy, it's a wet dream of metal, alternative, and electronica. I dare you to not bang your head to this track.
We may have a new rising star out of Denmark. If you yearn for more dark, extreme mathcore of the likes of Converge and Botch, your search is over. Noisy, abrasive, and infectious. A swan dive into a cathartic, blissful abyss. There's something so icy about the guitar tone and production. I picture a group of hardcore kids, shirtless in the snow engaging in some sort of metalhead/punk fight club. Everyone grins through broken teeth while drooling blood. That's your scene, right?
These guys might be a little heavy for most, but something about this St. Louis sludge outfit is utterly addicting. I hear from Rager Review artist and writer, Matt Bryan, that their live show is haunting. The comparison that struck me first and continues to hold strongest for me is Lord Mantis, which is another group that manages to toe the line between reaching a larger audience without sacrificing sheer intensity. Vocals keep a lower register more comparible to acts like High on Fire or early Mastodon, which might also make this a bit more accessible. Either way, it's gotta be heard.
It's not often that I list a black metal band as a group that could hit the big time, but every so often it happens. Back in the day, we had the exploding careers of Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth, with their somehow more easy to swallow takes on the genre. Now with west coast groups like Deafheaven, it seems to be happening again. UADA blew me away with their very concise album, Devoid of Light, their stunning music video for the title track, and their incredible stage presence. Doesn't hurt that they seem to be pretty nice dudes as well and help organize other shows in the Portland scene. They recently opened for Absu at Black Circle Fest and will be doing the same for the almighty Taake when his tour comes through. Good luck, guys.