We are now on Round III of the Heavy Metal Underground Battle of the Bands. 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. Keep in mind that labels, promoters, and other music industry professionals are taking note of our weekly Tuesday article.
BLOODY HAMMERS Under Satan’s Sun (Napalm Records)
Did you ever think/when the earth rolls by/that someday you/are going to die? And so begins the dark and sweetly horrific “In the Town That Dreaded Sundown.” Straight away I could feel Marc Bolan’s influence from beyond the grave as well as the hand of BauHaus a la “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” The songs are catchy in a gloomy, foreboding way. There is doom and glam and darkness. Clothed in black, it moves like a fashionable disease among the glittering throng. This is a staple in my playlist.
NFDY Self Titled (independent)
NFDY (Not Fuk’n Dead Yet) finally appeased me and put the songs I love into a portable format. Doom riffs abound. I’m reminded of the sludgy thickness of CROWBAR and then classic hardcore elements ala CORROSION OF CONFORMITY slide in under the radar giving it a surprising twist. These guys are at the top of my list of bands to see. (genre: heavy metal)
NOCTEM Exilum (Prosthetic Records)
NOCTEM’s blackened death metal imbibed a strange potion and rampages as Mr. Hyde through the entire album, but you can still see the wicked genius of Dr. Jekyll in every track. The percussion is phenomenal, the vocals sublime, and the bass rumbles with sinister grace beneath tremolo picking and brutal riffing alike. “Tiamat’s Crown” is just one sampling of beauteous insanity. Exilum is definitely a must-have. The album drops on September 16th via Prosthetic Records.
OUR LAST ENEMY Pariah (Eclipse Records)
Our Last Enemy’s Pariah is WHOA. With Christian Olde Wobers (former Fear Factory) producing, I’m expecting some industrial tear-it-up metal with this album aaannnnnd—DELIVERED. Starting out with “Devour the Sun” and moving through sixteen tracks, including three, count-em-three, remixes, I was impressed with the complexity of the arrangements. Wobers’ industrial influence lends an apocalyptic desperation. Fogwell’s vocals are gritty and I have yet to hear a clean note (yay!). There are quirky elements such as the Ragtime flavored sample in the midst of “Ants in the Palm” but it works. This is definitely a unique album.
PROMETHEAN HORDE Ashes of the Empyrean (Metal Swarm Productions)
Florida black metal, like Florida “water,” is a mysterious concoction that draws you in. Like all genres, black metal has evolved–from its pretentious, “you can’t see me” roots into a night orchid that will open if the moon is right and you have the patience. PROMETHEAN HORDE will win you over, regardless of your preferred genre, and you will wonder how you survived without black metal in your life.
SORXE Surrounded by Shadows (independent)
SORXE bends the ear with a blend of atmospheric sludge and despair. “Steamroller” starts out slow and then midway slows further with such subtlety that I experienced the sensation of fighting through mental tar. There are psychedelic elements as well in vocal harmonies that slip around the harsh vocals. Each song evokes an atmosphere that gives the album a post-metal feel. Clean, warbling guitars shift into buzzing riffs that are underpinned by a noticeable bass.
I.O. Kirkwood is a Metal Descent contributor. You can view her personal blog at iokirkwood.com.