Here at Revolver, we pride ourselves in living on the cutting edge of heavy music, from metal and hardcore to industrial and goth, and we try to keep you on the front line, too, by giving you a deep look at the innovative noisemakers poised to shape the sound and the scene. To that end, we've rounded up a handful of artists who, we think, are on the rise across several different genres. Spanning from upstate New York hardcore (Mindforce) to Northwest death metal (Hissing), here are five groups you'll want to get on now before everyone else does.
RIYL Leeway, Cro-Mags, Turnstile, Incendiary
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE Formed from the ashes of Living Laser, Poughkeepsie's Mindforce live far enough outside of New York City to avoid the immediate overblown hype, but close enough that word has quickly spread both across the tri-state area and more afar about their high-octane gigs. Owing a debt to Nineties-style hardcore and the glory days of crossover, these Hudson Valley boys know a thing or two about a solid groove — but aren't too stuck in dance mode to come out with a fierce thrashy riff. Look for their next full-length effort, Excalibur, to hit via Triple B Records.
QUOTE "On Excalibur we wanted to expand on our influences of classic hardcore crossover and thrash, but also brought in some heavy-metal influence on some songs," says vocalist Jay. "Lyrically, it touches on themes of pain, oppression, loss, time and sacrifice."
RIYL G.I.S.M., ZOUO, Iron Maiden, Raspberry Bulbs
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE There are a few bands that metalheads and punks can both agree on — think Motörhead, Bathory, Venom, Midnight and G.I.S.M. The last band's guitarist Randy Uchida played very much like a metal shredder in a punk band, ripping killer leads over fierce, gritty rock, blurring the lines between the styles. Philadelphia's Devil Master are a horns-throwing punk crew cut from the same cloth — inspired by the satanic crust approach of Zouo and Uchida's tasty riffing, hellbent on rock & roll mayhem devoted to the inverted cross.
QUOTE: "The debut LP is finally done manifesting," the band offers. "We can assure you that working with Arthur Rizk — whose work with the Black Twilight Circle we worship, among others — has only added to the pure indulgent insanity we have been striving for. If one can imagine Christian Death on acid, they might have a faint inkling ..."
RIYL Pg. 99, Slint, Silkworm
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE Probably best known as ex-Punch vocalist Meghan O'Neil's post-grind venture, Super Unison are in fact so much more. The Oakland trio, which also includes guitarist Kevin DeFranco and drummer Justin Renninger, paints with a diverse artistic palette that tips its cap to "skramz" of the late Nineties/early Aughts, while staying hardcore and pensive with some post-rock thrown into the mix. This is more than an artist finding their ideal vehicle; this is the sound of a band in bloom, brimming with ideas and emotion, which are in full display on Super Unison's forthcoming Steve Albini–recorded sophomore album, Stella, due via Deathwish.
QUOTE "For Stella, we were trying to push ourselves into trying new ideas and going for a more dynamic and mature sound," says O'Neil. "Lyrically, it's a catharsis — trying to make sense of the world and find a way through loss."
RIYL Dillinger Escape Plan, Cult of Luna with Julie Christmas, Oathbreaker
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE There are similarities between the Dillinger Escape Plan and ex-DEP bassist Liam Wilson's newest band Azusa — head-spinning progressive musicianship, boundary-less vision and a vocalist who can sing and scream and everything in between, to name a few. For Azusa, that vocalist is Eleni Zafiriadou, whose jaw-dropping range spans from lilting Kate Bush–esque singing to a full-on hellhound hardcore screams. The band behind Zafiriadou has range to spare, too, mixing metal, hardcore, jazz and pop with a seamless ease and a keen ear for both melody and brutality.
QUOTE "Licking my proverbial wounds after the final Dillinger shows was bittersweet for many reasons, but knowing the Azusa record was finished and ready to be released within a year later gave me something to look forward to," says Wilson. "From the first time I heard these demos, I knew making this album would demand everything of me creatively, and that when it was finished, it would be special.
"Dillinger pushed my stamina, my musical ability and my emotional vocabulary in so many ways. My personal limits were tested daily — those experiences honed me as a person and an artist and taught me a lot about what makes me happy. Like keeping a string in-tune, I require a certain amount of tension to be 'in tune' with myself. Azusa provides the creative tension I crave. One of the most notable differences for me is working with the timbre of a woman's voice over this kind of music. Eleni's range allows us to wade into unfamiliar territory. Her voice adds an entirely different weight to our sound than a male voice would have.
"Holding sonic space for strong feminine energy in metal is something totally fresh for me, and I love the way it turned out."
RIYL Portal, Knelt Rote, Incantation, Revenge
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE It takes serious commitment for a band to be completely, blatantly "anti-melody." Which is one of the things that makes Seattle's Hissing so compelling — their harsh, uncompromising death metal is so dissonant that it's hard to know what to attach to within a song. Yet, seemingly against your will — and, some might argue, against basic human nature — the sheer spite in Hissing's compositions forces the fearless listener to examine the songs deeply. It's a head trip on major hallucinogens while watching the scariest film of the year.
QUOTE "This record represents the culmination of several years' work refining our ideas and creating a distillation of our musical interests," says bassist/vocalist Zach Wise. "I think we challenge orthodoxy to some degree with it, but not in an antagonistic way, more exploratory, trying to create a modern form of the music we like that isn't burdened by nostalgia or just rehashing Deathspell Omega. The uglier, more abrasive parts are intentionally so. If you're working in an abrasive medium, but stop just short of creating something truly horrific as some kind of compromise with your potential audience — what's the point?"