Five independent metal bands you should know about in ’07
There are only so many record labels on this planet, and as such only so many marketing dollars to go around, even in the burgeoning heavy metal scene of the mid-late 2000s. Countless numbers of great bands go unrecognized, unheard, and unsigned. Without further ado, here are five independent bands (unsigned or on small labels) that should definitely turn some heads in ’07: OVERLOADED, ENICA, ALUCARD, GSX, and SUSPYRE.
OVERLOADED — Detroit, Michigan — Visit Overloaded on MySpace
These guys bring the old-school ’80s “hair metal” style HARD, but in a modern songwriting style and production technique that doesn’t sound dated at all. Guitarists Erik Kluiber and John Sullens bring the riffage with a force reminiscent of Motley Crue’s “Dr. Feelgood” album, and singer Chris Gillen’s vocals shatter the upper registers of rock glory somewhere in between Sebastian Bach and Sammy Hagar if he weren’t such a wuss. Bassist Michael Massie and drummer Lorenzo Gonzalez pound it out like a rhythm section should, hard and heavy. All these guys need is one great song to have a major breakthrough.
ENICA — Borlange, Sweden — Visit Enica on MySpace
Enica seemingly combines all the best elements of heavy music coming out of Sweden: bone-crushing, heavily downtuned double-guitar riffage; aggressive, yet not abrasive vocals; unassailable hooks. The band’s production style and attack are reminiscent of Swedish metal luminaries In Flames and Soilwork, who no doubt influenced the band, but vocalist Patrik’s uneven howl is more reminiscent of Blindside’s Christian Lindskog; the combination makes for an unexpectedly refreshing mix. “The Sound of Ending,” available on their MySpage page, is a smash hit. Enica’s downfall may be that they tend to veer a little close to the simplicity of nu-metal, at least for the tastes of this author, whereas one might hope they’d dive headfirst into the guitar-thrash their country’s metal bands tend to be more known for. The boys claim to have a new album in the works for ’07, so definitely keep an eye on this one.
ALUCARD (Search and Rescue Records) — Sterling Heights, Michigan — Visit Alucard on MySpace
Alucard describe themselves as “shredcore.” In a very rare instance of band biographies reading true, this term is surprisingly accurate. This five-piece puts virtuosic guitar shredding, often in twin-lead unison, on top of progressions and beats that swing a little closer to the “core” side of things, making them an easy fit on either a Warped Tour or Ozzfest stage. The guitar work of Mike Supina and Ryan Collins on their latest release “After Dark” is truly breathtaking, and the rest of the band members definitely do their part musically to keep up. Ocassionaly the band veers off in a more progressive direction, intertwining jaw-dropping rhythmic shifts with neo-classical chord changes (will the band member who is a Dream Theater fan please stand up?). These guys seem to be constantly touring the Midwestern and Eastern US so you should be able to catch them in your town, though for some reason they haven’t made it to NYC yet (hint, hint, you guys reading this?). “Peasants to Pawns” is the standout track on this disc, though several album cuts also impress.
GSX — New York, NY — Visit GSX on MySpace
GSX’s debut “Manifest” was impressive enough; think Velvet Revolver-infused riffage mixed with searing female lead vocals. And then there’s the live show. British-transplant Sarah Greenwood rocks NYC club stages like they have no business being rocked; Greenwood could easily play a 3000 or 4000 seater and have no problem filling the stage. The band are no slouches either, each sporting an impressive resume of studio and touring gigs, and giving Greenwood just the backbone she needs to do her thing. But Greenwood is really the star here, the primary writer and mastermind behind this group. At a recent gig at Arlene’s Grocery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, GSX had all 30 audience members in attendance in full submission, hair flying, fists pumping, bodies moving. More people need to go see this band. My words can’t do them justice.
SUSPYRE (Nightmare Records) — Flemington, New Jersey — Visit Suspyre on MySpace
Suspyre is a progressive metal band with some good old power metal flavor. These New Jersey natives no doubt have spent hours upon hours hunched over their instruments practicing, as they execute sweep-picking arpeggios and machine-gun blast double-bass into thunderously tight passages with ease. The band no doubt draws influence from such European progressive metal masters as Rhapsody, Opeth and Hammerfall, and does a fine job matching their musicianship. Clay Barton’s vocals could slide right into the more melodic passages of any of these bands, but his vocal timbre cuts the mustard without being annoying, as vocalists in this genre can often be. Barton also avoids “cookie monster” style growls altogether. The band lists Igor Stravinsky and Mozart as influences, which given Suspyre’s intricate orchestrations and arrangements comes as no surprise. Any fan of true musicianship in metal will definitely appreciate this band.