Well, I’m not exactly “phoning it in” this week, but I am on vacation (in my real life), so this column will be a slight change of form … no news per say, no briefs, but plenty of content.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the new breed, or new school, of metal. This week I want to take a look at a couple of bands that have caught my eye. So this will be my “new school” report card.
Grades … does someone have our grades?!
Well, there have been plenty of new metal bands coming down the pike lately. Here’s five specifically … the top of the class if you will … that I think you should keep an eye on.
Lamb of God
Since its debut album, “New American Gospel,” Lamb of God has consistently improved on the solid metal offerings the group puts forward. As blistering as “As the Palaces Burn” was, this year’s “Ashes of the Wake” is that much more: tight metal packages seething with rage. Even when the group offers up an instrumental track, it’s so bludgeoning that you hardly notice the lack of vocals. Lamb of God has put forward one of my picks for album of the year…
Tracks to check out: “The Faded Line,” “As the Palaces Burn”
Killswitch Engage was one of the more promising bands of the new millennium when, after the release of the band’s second album (and the first for Roadrunner Records), the groups lead singer left to pursue other endeavors. Without missing a beat, the group picked up a new vocalist (Howard Jones) from an established hardcore outfit (Blood Has Been Shed), a singer with a surprising melodic side. The band’s first offering with Jones (this year’s “The End of Heartache”) is noticeably different: more abrasive at times, and more melodic too. There’s no denying Jones is a powerful asset behind the mic, but it’s the backup (the intricate guitar work and thundering drums) the pushes Killswitch towards the head of the class.
Tracks to check out: “My Last Serenade,” “Rose of Sharyn”
A late addition to the list, The Haunted have unleashed a simply killer metal album in 2004. “rEVOLVEr” is one of the strongest metal releases to hit shelves in a while: guttural vocals, tight guitar play and a nice back-and-forth between the bass and drums. The band has been described as Slayer with hardcore vocals. Well, the vocals have been pulled back in the metal real, but I can definitely draw comparisons to Slayer … and when you’re talking about a metal band, how can that possible be a bad thing?
Tracks to check out: “No Compromise,” “Sabotage”
When Atreyu hit the scene with its EP, “Fractures in the Facade of Your Porcelain Beauty,” the group offered up a strong hardcore offering with vocals bordering on death metal. The group mellowed out slightly with its first full-length, “Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses,” a more emocore/alternative release. The band surprised long-time fans with the release of “The Curse” earlier this year, a subtle mix of hardcore and metal, slightly thrash, but the band definitely has a foot firmly planted in metal. The group was one of the strongest on the annual Ozzfest trek this summer and is definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of the genre.
Tracks to check out: “Right Side of the Bed,” “Bleeding Mascara”
With a firm line-up finally in place, Shadows Fall finally seems poised to stand atop the metal heap. With intricate styling reminiscent of the European metal scene, Shadows Fall latest, “The War Within,” picks up right where “The Art of Balance” let off: songs epic in scope, but tight and heavy. The vocals feel right out of the eighties at times, but the instrumentation seems new yet comfortable all at the same time.
Tracks to check out: “The Power of I and I,” “Stepping Outside the Circle”
Any notable mentions?
Avenged Sevenfold seems to have something to offer in the future. Somewhat hardcore but metal enough for discerning genre snobs, this group has a bright future ahead.
God Forbid‘s “Gone Forever” is one of the better metal offerings of the year. The playing is tight and the vocals strong, I can’t wait to see what this group has in store for the next year.
Damageplan is in an interesting position: trying to shed the Pantera shadow (two thirds of the band founded Pantera), the group’s first offering, “New Found Power,” is enough to make listeners sit up and take notice. We’ll have to see where this leads…
Mastodon is definitely a class leader when it comes to epic, technical metal. The group has a gift to offer up strong release after strong release, so you should definitely try to pick up any of the band’s albums.
I might just be a sucker for the band, but I really respect what Drowning Pool has established this year, finding a new lead singer and soldiering on after the death of original frontman Dave Williams. The group has a little more of an edge this time around, but I still feel like we’re waiting for a sophomore offering from the group. File this under wait and see…
You (and I) need to hear this…
The Haunted: “rEVOLVEr
Sum 41: “Chuck”
Skid Row: “Thick Skin”
40 Below Summer:
Obituary: “World Demise”
So there you have it … I’m curious to see what you have in mind for notable metal acts, so drop me a line. Sorry this was a little short this week. Next week: back to our regularly scheduled programming; plus I’ve been saving up a rant about Roadrunner Records… maybe I’ll throw that in there.
And that’s that. As always, drop me a line. Until next time, I’ll be here at Inside Pulse making sure no metal news falls through the cracks.
Take it easy…