Here are five invigorating recent underground metal releases not to miss, ranging from fierce and chaotic heavy grinding mayhem to music with streaks of more direct melody in the mix.
Alteri – “Missing In The Lost”
The German band Alteri make grinding chaos really exciting on their track “Missing In The Lost,” which is taken from their 2018 release Miseria. Basically the entirety of the track constitutes an onslaught of technically proficient, tightly wound up riffs and such, but the band don’t stop there. Coursing through the music there are also waves of energy that even carry a somewhat physical-feeling force thanks to the speed and overall intensity with which the band perform. It’s almost hard not to get taken in by this — clearly, those behind the work are closely dialed into their craft, and their music rolls out with a real flourish that’s just open-ended enough to be “accessible” but flips you upside down once you get in.
It’s a fierce metallic hardcore with a vengeance that comes in with the force of a steamroller and the intensity of a chainsaw.
Vapahtaja – “Legacy of Fear”
The Finnish band Vapahtaja are gloriously in your face on their 2019 release Taivas kusee verta, which appears to mean something about blood pouring from the heavens. Basically, they perform an incessantly volatile mixture of hardcore, grind, and a host of other textures you can imagine would fit with those, and crucially, these elements come together with a memorable bang thanks to the sheer energy exerted in these performances. Seriously — this group is one of those bands that make you wonder how on earth they can play that fast and intensely, but whatever the answer is — they succeed greatly! And they keep the experience of their music exhilarating at the same time, like a crash course in dodging thrown knives or suddenly getting thrown onto a roller coaster that twists and turns completely unpredictably, at least from your perspective.
On their at least partly English-language track “Legacy of Fear,” the group’s vocalist repeatedly belts out: “Bow down to no one!” and that really seems to well summarize the modus operandi here. In short — kick and claw and do whatever necessary to make a place for yourself.
LORAZEPAM – “LAST RANK IN THE THINK TANK”
The L.A. area project LORAZEPAM play an utterly caustic kind of blackened punk where around every corner you don’t really know what kind of material you’re going to get, which makes listening that much more captivatingly unsettling. The artist puts fierce and melodic punk into a context of heavy, heavy noisy atmosphere, and the elements blend perfectly with captivating and really sinister mayhem. The whole work ends up significantly darker than if the sounds of the music itself had been more streamlined — almost every note hypnotically and incessantly drags down, communicating the kind of utter fury with specific societal trends perfectly.
Everything feels like it’s constantly going forward and on edge, and the combo makes for a super intriguing experience. This fury is alive — the music feels like the sound of losing touch with social moorings and ending up left kicking in the waves as they roll in.
Abounding – “Encompass”
The music of Alabama’s Abounding feels deeply moving, as exemplified well on their track “Encompass.” The band provide rich textures in rolling out their vision of an intense but progressive, very experiental metal. While maintaining some of the driving intensity that’s at the core of really captivating metal in the first place, this group also seem to expand their sound pretty magnificently so that the music’s physical and thereby emotional weight really grow. It’s complex and illustrious almost like the sounds have morphed into a living organism, or at least, they’re reflecting the experiences of some.
In “Encompass” in particular, Abounding’s music comes across as subtly somber, like the feel of a ship captain peering out over the waves as a torrential storm rolls in that’s for now just visible in the distance — or perhaps, they’re looking out at the wake of the storm. Either way, the point is that this music takes you on an intense journey forward, and where it ends is up to you.
Illusive – “Divide”
On the track “Divide,” the L.A.-area band llusive roll out a captivating and intense musical portrait of emotional desperation that just feels extremely “real,” and this helps the work land really powerfully. Although mostly they stick to a fierce but melodic intensity, the group does shift around and dip into more sonically meditative territory at times, and the transition really feels like it hits a high point because of the readily apparent passion behind the whole thing. There’s no drop in energy or anything like that — instead, the listener really just gets treated to an intense musical experience that matches the real world equivalents it’s modeled after in terms of dynamics and complexity.
The kind of experience that the band delivers proves really rewarding — it’s like a respite of onslaught where some clarity gets infused into the otherwise chaotic emotional situation, and there’s a solid musically expressed path forward.