Do not confuse this list with my Top 10 album lists of the year. Those will come at the end of the month when I am certain that no last-minute straggler is left behind. A few of these groups may pop up at that time, but the focus here is marketability. Given current trends and tastes, what underground bands this year show the markings of being the next Lamb of God or Black Dahlia Murder? Here are my 11 predictions for bands that, with proper marketing and your support, are poised to break into the mainstream. No particular order.
Sadly, there aren't really a lot of "mainstream" sludge bands, at least in this particular style. I am worried that this fact could hold a band like Wovoka back, but they have all the makings of something a lot of people can back up. The vocals are just such a raw slice of hardcore perfection, while the distortion and crushing waves of riff after riff are ripe for long evening drives to nowhere in particular. If you have not yet heard Saros, you are wrong.
The Hudson Horror is the perfect cross-section of already popular groups like The Black Dahlia Murder, Cannibal Corpse, and Arch Enemy combined into a focused blast of youthful energy that, for me, far surpassed the output of any of those band's recent output. They also just seem like genuinely nice dudes who don't take themselves too seriously and know how to utilize social media. Nice cover art never hurts either.
How many really great blackened thrash bands are there out there? A few, but as far as those who could even remotely be called mainstream, the only ones that come to mind are Immortal, Skeletonwitch, and Absu. Frosthelm have managed to take all of the riffy goodness and extreme vocals of the genre into a hip package that I feel everyone from the old school thrashers to the metalcore kids can get behind.
Hardcore is a nice genre as it, when done right, reaches the metal, punk, and rock scenes pretty equally. And my god, does The Armed do it right. Spoiler alert, their latest album very much did make it onto a Top 10 this year and was easily my favorite album of the genre. It's highly confrontational, but in a way that reminds me of a hotel party gone to the lengths of tearing that sh#t apart. Youthful rebellion sells. And you just gotta love that hilarious cover art nod to Bowie.
WRVTH has a bit of something for everyone. It has the technical musicianship that should apeal to the artistic crowd and fans of Dillinger Escape Plan. It has jazz and sax to appeal to the fusion and hipster scene. It has emotion, melody, and vocals that should appeal to the metalcore and post-hardcore crowd. I could go on, but suffice it to say that this is a very talented band that has managed to impress very early in their career. I just hope they get the support they need, lest they linger in obscurity like The Number 12 Looks Like You.
Extreme music is definitely harder to market since it is just too scary for most people's ears, but there are of course outliers like Behemoth who have managed to spin the sound into gold. Sulphur Aeon certainly have what it takes to turn the heads of this crowd. They have the riffs, the mythos, the aggression, and the tasty artwork to draw all sorts of attention. A little more support in the studio and from the fans and I see these guys hitting the big tours very soon.
Here is another group with a chance to really hit a lot of different genre scenes: post-black, alternative, post-metal, black, progressive, etc. The guitar work is extremely varied, and whether crushingly heavy or soothingly melodic, I see no reason why the result isn't playable on mainstream music video rotation or perhaps even certain radio stations. Not to mention that the group is young, hip on social media, and seems to know how to cater to their particular fans. Forget Deafheaven, this is the band we should be backing.
Kids like folk, kids like Gothenburgy melodeath...kids will love Silent Line. Just look at this list of comparisons: In Flames, Wintersun, Dark Tranquillity, Soilwork, Amon Amarth, and At the Gates. All valid sonic parallels, all huge bands with huge followings. Not only are these guys poised for greatness, they have killer musicianship and composition skills to back it up. Support this band!
Much like The Hudson Horror, Necrocosm has the whole tBDM murder sound on lock, combining all of the best elements of melodeath, deathcore, and metalcore into a ferocious little package. Their album this year is just tons of fun, and I hope to hear more from them in the future. Great riffs, killer vocals, and a few surprises too.
Holy crap, this was my first favorite melodeath album of the year. If it did just a little more to innovate, it easily could have made my top albums on the fun factor alone. That aside, you need to know this band, you need to hear the album, and you need to get them touring the globe. The pictures of their local shows in the East look like a blast, and the venues seem quite full. We just need to spread the word on this one. I encourage you to spam "Await Me Your Oath" everywhere possible.
Acerbic, harsh, and a little dirty. This is the next Every Time I Die standing before us. Their sound mixes theirs with that of Converge and the nihilistic, apocalyptic rantings of a true maniac. Everyone Leaves is a monument to rage without redemption, and it's all packaged perfectly to still grab you by the ear and force you to hear every last scream. I'm ready for more abuse already.