A lot of bands are tragically overlooked out there. Over in the metal forum, we gaze upon this sorry state of affairs with great sadness, and we've decided to do something about it. This column will aim to bring some of the more underground bands to the attention of you all by asking metal forum regulars to submit a short paragraph about a band that deserves more attention than it currently gets. Here are the first five:
Bio: October Tide was a project started by members of Katatonia back in their melodic death/doom days (during a temporary breakup of the band), featuring vocalist Jonas Renske and fellow member Fredrik Norrman. The two opted for a simpler, more melodic approach than that of Katatonia's prior debut, Dance of December Souls, yet retained many of the same elements: the classical guitar, the tasteful dashes of moody synths, and the hook-laden, cheese-devoid riffs are all present. Only two albums were forged under this moniker before the project ended, Rain Without End and Grey Dawn. Rain Without End is nearly always crowned as the better of the two, and features the last recorded harsh-vocal performance of Jonas Renske with his somber growls.
The band is widely unknown to most except for the bigger fans of Katatonia. This is due largely in part to the fact they decided not to tour nor conduct interviews. A physical copy of Rain Without End was previously incredibly rare, but has recently been re-released.
Why Listen: October Tide chiefly Rain Without End offers incredibly satisfying doomy melodic death metal, which manages to be atmospheric while not repetitive (thanks to a unique, fitting production), emotional while not overly-dramatic, and accessible while not being a few-times-and-forget spinner.
For Fans Of: The early releases of Katatonia, Opeth, and Agalloch, as well as darker melodeath such as Insomnium.
Bio: Ahoy, matey! It seems that you have stumbled upon a fine example of a funeral doom metal band. They first set sail in 2004 and have been ruling the seven seas ever since. With only one album under their belt, "The Call of the Wretched Sea", they have shown promising potential for the years to come. "The Call of the Wretched Sea" is jam-packed with mind-numbing, wave-crushing riffs which perfectly captures the image of being in the vast ocean, all alone. That would be Ahab's strongest point: creating the deepest and darkest atmosphere known to man and whale alike.
The droning guitars detuned to the lowest possible tuning(don't quote me on this), deep, heavy growls which are also entrancing and beautiful at the same time, simplistic drumming which adds to the epicness and depth of their songs and the bass. What's not to love?
Why Listen: Why not? "The Call of the Wretched Sea" was a fantastic album and they are planning to release a new one this year entitled, "The Divinity of Oceans". Stop procrastinating and just listen to them on their Myspace.
For Fans Of: Opeth, the vast emptiness of the ocean complete with unknown horrors upon the surface and seabed engulfed in total darkness, Moby Dick and Nautik Funeral Doom.
Eazy-C: The Meads Of Asphodel
Bio: Hailing from deepest, darkest England, The Meads of Asphodel are a black metal band quite unlike any other. Their discography, consisting of 3 LPs and 2 EPs, demonstrates a huge range of influences from punk to Pink Floyd sprinkled with a dusting of Medieval and Middle Eastern spice. A combination of metal riffing, punk-esque powerchord progressions and ambient space-rock passages are complemented by usage of keyboards and traditional Middle East instruments to create something very unique. Vocalist Metatron's delivery is highly unusual, combining the distorted qualities of the traditional black metal shriek with an English accent and a punk attitude, whilst still being comprehensible. No random grunting and screaming to be found here. The lyrics deal mainly with religion, war and spirituality, with a particular dislike aimed towards the treatment of Jesus by the Christian church. Whilst possibly appearing juvenile to some, they display a more thought-out approach than many of The Meads' Christian-hating contemporaries.
Why Listen: The Meads present a fresh and exciting take on black metal. Inventive compositions and the powerful lyrics and message of vocalist Metatron combine to create a interesting listening experience unlike any other in metal.
For Fans Of: Sigh, Arcturus, Experimental Music
Bio: Formed in Canberra, Australia 18 years ago, stoner doom band Pod People have released 2 albums now, their debut Doom Saloon' and last years Mons Animae Mortuorum,' both deal mostly with Dante's divine comedy, but aren't concept albums.
Riff-wise, the band alternates between catchy, mid-tempo stoner rock-inspired riffs and slow, heavy doom riffs. The vocals, switching between growls and clean vocals (that I have heard being compared to Nick Cave's vocals in terms of attitude) perfectly complement the guitar work. A driving rhythm section rounds out the bands sound.
Why Listen: Tom Warrior of Celtic Frost reportedly told them he was honoured' to have played with them. That should be reason enough. But if it isn't, they have a distinctive yet catchy stoner doom sound forged by 18 years of work.
For Fans Of: Sleep, Electric wizard, Black Sabbath, Kyuss
Bio: Hieronymus Bosch is a progressive death metal band that formed in Moscow in 1993. Named after the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch (Garden of Earthly Delights, etc), the band has followed suit and written songs dealing with human feelings and emotions. After the 1995 release of its first album, The Human Abstract, the band went on a decade long hiatus due to the departure of band leader Vladimir Leiviman and the passing away of drummer Pavel Bogoroditsky in 1998. In 2003 the band recruited a new drummer, and in 2005 released Artificial Emotions. The band is currently very popular in Russia, and Artificial Emotions was one of the best selling albums in the country.
Why Listen: Lyrics are great and the riffs are awesome and unique. The songs have good composition, and great melodic parts, and overall the sound seems to flow very congruently. Just like the artist dazzled with his art, the band has created an almost artsy form of death metal.
For Fans Of: Obscura, Gorod, Augury (riff-wise), Atheist (similar lyrical style)
That's it for now. A massive, massive thanks to Broadsword, Cianyx, Eazy-C and Technical_Death for their time, and more thanks to everyone else involved in this so far and in the future. We'll be back soon with more instalments. Until then, keep it downtrodden, Hessians!