The word ‘underrated’ is probably used way too much these days, it seems that anything less than universal acclaim is undermining a bands talent to their fans. It’s probably fair to say that the skill in new bands has increased, every band is more technical/better at songwriting/straight up weirder than it’s predecessors so it’s probably natural that some guys just miss the hype train in lieu of yet another band who will save deathcore/rejuvenate djent/copy Metallica. While music is incredibly subjective in terms of taste, how often have you stumbled upon a band and just gone ‘Wow, who are these guys and why are they so damn awesome?’ Last.fm is hardly the be all and end all of popularity, but I’d say it’s a pretty good indicator, so here are five bands that are the definition of ‘underrated’:
#1: Lizard Skynard
With a mind blowing 41 listeners(!?) on Last.fm, Lizard Skynard are my favourite secret. Taking influences from all corners of heavy music including grind, hardcore and dissonant rock, they provide some of the most interesting music I’ve heard in the last few years. However, the vocals and lyrics are where the real genius lies. Provided by Erik Sprague, who you may of heard of as the Lizardman, they are mostly a collection of spoken word short stories from some very eclectic characters. Take for instance ‘Space Eels‘, which tells the tale of an insane homeless man who tries to stop an alien invasion by getting passers by to smile, or my personal favourite ‘Normal‘, a story of a police officer so hellbent on keeping the world normal that he begins to break down mentally – it’s made far more poignant when you realise that ‘Normal‘ is being told by a man who literally has the word ‘FREAK’ emblazoned on his chest. If that at all interests you then head over their homepage where you can stream and buy copies of their 2010 self-titled debut album.
I have absolutely no idea why these guys are only just under the criteria for this collection of bands. They’ve had a huge push from blogs like MetalSucks and to be honest they were one of the most exciting unsigned bands for quite a while. I can only claim to be familiar with their earlier instrumental material (they recently added a vocalist/keyboardist who should appear on the upcoming debut) but if you like your doom as atmospheric as it is crushing then you’ll love Batillus. Think: Pelican with an anger management problem. You can still download the brilliant first EP here for free, it’s not an easy listen with three songs in thirty minutes but it’s definitely one that rewards you on further repeats. I promise you, if there is any justice left in the world then these guys will definitely blow up this year. Figuratively, of course.
#3: Cut Your Teeth
I know these guys have been mentioned on here before, most notably here, but seriously!? 89 listeners!? Get over there now and download your free copy of their new album now! Cut Your Teeth play some of the most caustic an yet still intricate hardcore I’ve heard in a long time and the guitar solos are not to be missed; a cavalcade of Dimebag-esque squeals and scorching leads. I don’t think any self-respecting metalhead could listen to the hugely energetic riffs of ‘Stallion‘ or ‘Ruined‘ and contain themselves. CYTII is one of the best albums of 2011 so far, face it.
Finally some authentic recent NWOBHM, or trad metal I believe it’s called now. Huntress don’t rock out ironically however, they do it unashamedly and with more balls than most. Despite the fact that I haven’t heard any news from them since, on their 2010 3 track EP Off With Her Head they manage to single handedly blow most trad metal bands out the water with their King Diamond/Mercyful Fate meets Iron Maiden combo and amazingly catchy songs. You may not want to admit you recognise lead singer Tuesdae as she did a stint as a playboy model but don’t write her off as just a piece of eye candy, she has a huge and powerful voice that could hold it’s own against many more well known singers. Sound interesting? Try it out!
The newest addition to my kvlt quintet. These guys absolutely slay, just some filthy punk tinged metal in the vein of a much crustier Toxic Holocaust. They recently released their second album Poison Minds and it takes no prisoners; ‘TV Drug‘ is one monolithic riff train and deserves only deafening levels of playback, ‘Feast Of Fools‘ defines the best use of a guitar divebomb ever and ‘Traitor‘ contains my favourite refrain of 2011 (all together now: AHHHH! AHHHH! AHHHH!). There’s nothing revolutionary about Parasytic but there’s no time for innovation when you’re composing the soundtrack to the end of the world.
Also, thanks go to Grim Kim for her tweets about promoting smaller bands, was pretty much the idea behind this.