Sounds From The Heavy Metal Underground: Battle Of The Bands Round I

by I.O. Kirkwood on August 19, 2014

sounds from the heavy metal undergroundWe’re going to try something interesting this post. Readers are encouraged to listen to the following six I.O.’s Pick of the Week and vote for their favorite. Voting will close after 4 weeks. As each set of I.O’s Picks are voted, the bands that garner the highest ratings will be featured in a Top Ten post of underground bands to watch in 2015.

UNSCARRED | Fake Democracy (Contorted Records)
This EP has a certain “je ne sais quoi” with power metal vocals by Nelly, the “Persian Metal Princess” and guitar driven thrash with heavy undercurrents compliments of Brice. Hailing from Sainte Genevieve, a suburb of Paris, France, you should keep an eye out for this band to rock an international stage near you.


SYSTEMHOUSE 33 | Depths of Despair (independent)

Self-styled death metal is what you’ll get from Mubai, India’s SYSTEMHOUSE 33. I love the brittle production of the highs and the thick groove of the lows. The screaming is hardcore while the growls are death, the guitars take it to the thrash level, the drumming is just right for whatever track is playing, and there is a melodic element with electronic sampling (and some Eastern style vocals) that links it all together. Tracks of note are “Deathwish” and “Stark Revelations.”


DIVAHAR | Alien (independent)
If Wednesday Addams formed her own black metal band, it would be DIVAHAR. The music is creepy with hair-raising melodies yet accessible and beautifully ritualistic in a way only the Middle East could bring it. The vocals have the feel of a High Mass. They plan to release an album soon and are looking for a label. Any takers? I’m feeling a serious girl-crush going on. Check out the videos below.


PROVOKE, DESTROY | Vulture (Indianola Records)
I’ve mentioned PROVOKE, DESTROY before from listening to their previous work and Vulture delivers. The album juxtaposes screaming hardcore and cleanly sung metalcore with amazing effectiveness. They are so heavy I can’t lift this shit and yet that sweet voice threads through like a ribbon of fudge in ripple ice cream–sweet-sounding, not sweet-talking. “I can’t wait to watch you fail/…I can’t wait to watch you suffer” (Cutthroat). Singles are “Hellbent” and “Life Support.” Let’s get angry, shall we?


THE AVERIST | It’s Only a Matter of Time (independent)
There are a number of great bands from Maryland, DC and Virginia and I’m friendly with many of them (and have a son in one of them). THE AVERIST wowed me when I first saw them with BATTLECROSS last October. They’ve only improved. Their vocalist puts the perfect touch on tight, brutally melodic arrangements. They aren’t afraid to try something new and when the clean voice breaks in, it fits rather than making you wonder if you’re in an entirely different song that you wouldn’t have listened to if you could help it. If you’re from around Baltimore, I highly recommend you see them live. (genre: metalcore)


KAFIRUN | Death Worship (independent)
Creepy, atmospheric, and dark, this 3-song demo from KAFIRUN is actually a refreshing foray into blackened death metal. The first minute into the first song, I was excited. There are blast beats, raspy screams, and tremolo picking. I can also detect some hardcore influence and it creates a meaningful subtext. The arrangements build a laudable tension with well-timed and appropriate tempo changes. For those of you who just enjoy music instead of pick it apart like I do, “Beyond the flesh vessel” is a damned good track. “Killer of all man” has a majestic inevitability to it with an ominous bass interlude and some spooky vocals throughout. “Thousand Spears” has a polyrhythmic interlude that bleeds into a traditional blast beat mind-fuck.



I.O. Kirkwood is a Metal Descent contributor. You can view her personal blog at

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

RichF August 19, 2014 at 6:11 pm

Kafirun is most excellent, but Unscarred really stole the show for me. Bought them both.


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