Metal is a young man's game. Everyone knows that, even the older guys. The older ones don't usually quit, mind you, but they show their love for today's youth and pass the torch as much as possible. That's how you get things like Gigantour.
So in a world where the children are the future, it's always seemed prudent to me to keep a close eye on what's going on in the underground. After all, any of those young metal upstarts could be the next big thing. In light of that, these ten names metalheads should be keep in mind might just be headlining your next Summer Slaughter or Mayhem Festival.
10. Cloudkicker The one-man project of songwriter Ben Sharp, Cloudkicker doesn't have to deal with band members or record labels to get things done, so he's released six albums and four EPs since his online debut in 2008. His music is mostly progressive and post-metal, but Sharp's works reveal him as not just a talented songwriter but a beautiful composer.
9. Napoleon The first thing you notice about Napoleon is that metal hasn't been this pissed-off or this emotional in a long time. That's fine with me. Taking some cues from Dillinger Escape Plan and later Poison the Well in how they blend hardcore, technical metal riffage, and even progressive tendencies into something completely raw and angry, these UK boys are bringing some much-needed balls back to more progressive-leaning metal.
8. Polyphia Dallas' own Polyphia is a group made up of some ace players who are killing it in the technical/progressive realm of instrumental metal. Their first EP, Inspire, came out in April and is some seriously crazy stuff. They're only going to get better from here on out.
List continues on the next page.
7. Cognizance Ready for some heavy as fuck, angry, tech-death? Great. Here's Cognizance: jailing from Leeds, they clearly missed the American memo that everyone needs to play soft, progressive music now. Cognizance describes themselves as "balls to the wall death metal"; while some of it is technical, it's mostly what you get.
6. Periphery All things considered, Periphery probably isn't new to you. They made their debut a while ago, pioneered in the "djent" sub-genre of metal, and latched onto high-profile tours with Dream Theater and the Summer Slaughter.
That being said, Periphery is one of the fastest-rising metal bands in the genre today, pushing their way to the top with a winning formula that almost guarantees they'll be experiencing some mainstream success soon. If any metal band could become as big as your Lamb of Gods or Mastodons of yesteryear, look to Periphery to pull it off.
5. Perceptionist Since Between the Buried and Me went completely up their own ass making circus music (search your feelings -- you know it to be true), there hasn't been a great progressive metal band quite like them. Enter Perceptionist, whose style obviously owes a lot to older Between the Buried and Me but dutifully carries the torch into the future.
List continues on the next page.
4. Northlane Mixing singing and screaming has always been a winning formula for metalcore bands, and Australia's Northlane is no different. They're currently making waves with their particular brand of progressive metalcore, which features some of the more interesting use of space and ambiance that I've heard in metal in a long time.
3. Dead in the Dirt Not many these days are doing raw, nasty grindcore like Dead in the Dirt is. That suits the band just fine, and makes them stand out all the more. You'll be hard-pressed to find many other bands this disgustingly heavy, but if you can survive your way through their 24-minute debut, it has a whole lot to love.
2. Power Trip We've followed Power Trip's rise for a while here at Rocks Off, and they're definitely doing right by their loyal Texas following since signing with with Southern Lord. The crossover thrashers have released their debut full-length record, Manifest Decimation, to high critical acclaim and are currently touring all over the world impressing their brand on Europe.
One more to go...
1. Vildhjarta Love it or hate it, the Meshuggah-indebted djent form of progressive/technical metal is the wave right now, and Vildhjarta is one of the biggest and best to come out of that scene. The Swedish act released their first record Måsstaden back in 2011 and hit #37 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers Chart.
They just released their latest EP, Thousands of Evils, this month to widespread critical acclaim and they'll be playing at Walters on November 15 along with Veil of Maya, Structures, and the previously mentioned Northlane.
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Nas' Biggest Fan Lives In Houston, With the Tattoos to Prove It The Top Five Most Disastrous Musician Interviews Ever The 10 Suckiest Bands of the '00s Today's Musicians Have All Lost Their Damn Minds
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.