When you ask any metal head who the Big Four are you are going to get this response. Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax. Starting in the mid eighties, these four bands were just a group of young men trying to write some new styles of their favorite music, Heavy Metal. Through out the next 2 decades the Big Four has dominated the metal scene with their talents. Flash forward to today's metal scene and there are glimpses of the same trend happening. Four bands just making music that could change the landscape of the metal world for decades.
If I had to equate every band to one of the big four, these first guys would be the Anthrax of the group. Take everything you know about thrash metal and turn up the speed.Add the finger swelling tapping and solos and you have Protest the Hero. They have some goofy antics but once the music starts flowing you have to take them very serious. These guys have taken the old school thrash formula of fast heavy chaotic music and added their own staple to the genre. Rody Walkers sweet sounding voice complements Luke Hoskin's and Tim Millar's guitars perfectly. Arif Mirabdolbaghi's bass playing is some of the most technical metal bass playing in the world. Moe Carlson glues together this five piece perfectly. These five guys are very talented and if they can keep at it, they will be around for many years to come.
The Slayer of the four had gotten their hand in the door a little later than the other three. Born of Osiris is probably the darkest group of the four. Their ever evolving sound got started on the record (and appropriately titled) The New Reign. Some of the most brutal breakdowns and blast beats can be found in their music. The complex melodies through out their two records have them right up there talent wise with Protest the Hero. Although not as fast, they create some of the catchiest rhythms and leads in metal today. Born of Osiris proved that hardcore metal does not have to be just low tuned guitars and nothing but break downs. The meat of their music is not what is right in front of you but what they hide in the backgrounds. Joe Buras does a wonderful job of backing up Ronnie Canizaro on vocal. His keyboard skills also add depth to the music. It is not forced in like some bands do with the keyboards but rather perfectly placed to set the mood for what is going on. Lee McKinney should be touted as one of the best guitarists in the world. Underrated is the perfect word for describing Lee. His dark style blended with smooth flowing melodies is a fresh blend in a genre were you get lots of open chord chugging.
The third band in this group has been a revolving door of members. If you look at their wikipedia page there are just as many former members as current members. That hasn't hampered the fact that they are one of the most talented groups of musicians in the world though. When The Human Abstract released Nocturne in 2006 many people thought they would be the best band for many years to come. AJ Minette's guitar style was the freshest thing going on at the time. His classical influences combined with chaotic sweep picking was a breath of fresh air. It was the biggest shock to fans when he had left the group. Many people thought The Human Abstract would be dead. When Midheavan came out the fans crapped on the album. Durring 2010 the band would be ripped apart and put back together. AJ had returned to the band. Travis Richter of From First to Last had taken the mic from Nathan Ellis. Along with Dean Herrera, Brett Powell, Andrew Tapley, and Henry Silva, the core of The Human Abstract was renewed. The only thing left is to prove they are the same band that still has all the talent in the world.
The Metallica of the group really should not be a surprise if you have been paying attention. In 2005 they released one of the best albums of the decade and followed that record with what could be regarded as the best hardcore metal record ever written by man kind. Yes, that is right Between the Buried And Me is the fourth and final group. When a friend of mine told me to look up Between the Buried and Me, I was instantly floored by how talented these guys were. When first listening to the group I had though I was listening to a crap shoot of just chaotic nonsense. It took a dozen listens to find the musicality in their style. Once I had tapped into what was going on, my mind turned into a ravenous BTBAM zombie. I wanted more and more every day. Every thing they had touched turned to gold. I don't think I was the only one who had this reaction either. That is the beauty in their music. They can take some one who wants nothing to do with this style of music and suck you in like a tornado. Not to mention they are insanely talented. There are many young guitarists that emulate Paul Waggoner and Dustie Warring. It is so frustratingly difficult to copy a unique sound and style such as their own. Starbucks could never make a blend of clean and down right dirty music like this. Between the Buried and Me is a once in a life time band.
At this point in the reading (if you have not already pulled your eyes out) you are probably thinking that these four bands couldn't be any more different from each other. You are wrong. What these four bands bring to the table is a giant creative mind. They are not afraid to explore the unheard. They are certainly not afraid to add once forsaken elements to metal like acoustic and clean singing or electronic elements. In a metal scene where everything is copy and paste, you can not copy and paste what these four bands put out. There may be bands that try to, but at the end of the day when you look at the copy cats you will say they are just doing what these four bands do.
2011 will be a banner year for metal. The return of AJ Minette plus a new record from every one of the new big four will be something special. The anticipation for new material has never been higher. As a fan I feel it is my duty to build the four groups up. Tell everyone that has not heard of any of them what is going on. It is up to us now to make the future a bright one for these groups. When the old Big Four came out the people demanded years of what they were getting. I'm doing the same thing almost thirty years layer and stating I want thirty years of these four groups. It might happen or it might flop. That is the fun thing about the future of music. The future of metal is as exciting as ever right now. I'm proud to say the Modern Four will lead the way.