I come from the land of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – home of beer, sports, and stupid accents. I will be the first to admit I don’t go to enough shows, and my track record of attendance at local shows in particular is conspicuously lacking. However, take my word that the ‘Burgh boasts a kickass metal scene! Here are some of the bands from Pittsburgh you need to know about:
Dethlehem (melodic death/power metal/DnD-core)
Dethlehem’s appeal should require no explanation. Their music is melodeath-tinged early-2000’s type stuff with ecstatically cheeseball power metal sensibilities. As you can glean from this incredible video above for ‘Circle of Deth,’ (from 2011’s Ghorusalem Codex, Vol 2) Dethlehem’s thematic content revolves around the mystical magicks of medieval times.
They have two albums, which you can download from the MEDIA section of their official website… but the real key to enjoying Dethlehem is to see them live. It’s a full-on nerd metal extravaganza, complete with inflatable swordfight mosh pits, giant twelve-sided die, and a costumed stage show full of awesomely-corny special effects and storytelling. If you live anywhere near Pittsburgh, go see them pronto, and if you don’t, I’m sure they’ll be doing a national tour again sooner or later!
Complete Failure (hardcore)
Though it’s a self-ascribed label, “hardcore” really isn’t an effective descriptor for Complete Failure, whose music sounds something like the kind of nightmare ambience that Satan might pump through loudspeakers in hell while demons whip rapists. I’ve never seen them live, but from what I’m told, it is a freakishly loud, brain-melting, gut-shaking festival in the name of all that is unpleasant. Basically, any adjective that pertains to Complete Failure would seem negative if I were applying it to a band in any other genre besides metal. And for a band like this, there’s no higher praise than that. Check out the above video, courtesy of my comrade in metaldom Kyle Heider.
Vulture (doom metal)
I asked my buddy Jon, brains behind the nonprofit booking agency Allure of the Earth Productions, about what bands I might be missing when preparing this post. He turned me onto Vulture, a deliciously sludgy doom metal outfit whose vocalist, Justin Erb, sounds like he’s channeling a some kind of fiendish cartoon banshee (this is a good thing!). If you’re a fan of the kind of music that just shakes up your intestines and makes you want to pummel beautiful things, Vulture are definitely worth your curiosity!
Vitandus (black/death metal)
I had the pleasure of seeing Vitandus live this past February, and I was blown away by their intense stage presence and tight musicianship. There’s a uniquely satisfying blend of the deep growls and downtuned chugging of death metal and raspy, tremolo-picked chilliness of black metal to be found in their music. It’s very headbangable stuff that’s accomplished without sacrificing composition. It’s like a good India Pale Ale – bitter and intimidating, but so delicious you can’t stop drinking! You can download their EP here for name-your-price, or download the excellent tune ‘Macabre Incarnate’ for free! So, you should do that!
Falling Upward (prog metal/rock)
Last but not least, I wanted to use this opportunity to promote my good friend Wade’s band. They’re called Falling Upward, and they’re going to rock your nuts off and beat you in the face with them like one of those clapper things. Powered by the guitar and drum wizardry of young wondertwins Jake and Josh Shawhan, these guys do prog metal the right way. Complexity without overindulgence, grandiosity without schlock. and expansiveness without tedium. Wade’s a great bassist, too!
Given their startlingly young age range (17-19), it’s safe to say this group’s got a lot of potential. They don’t have any official recordings yet, but there are a lot of awesome videos of their live performances on Youtube, like this one that features some goofing at the beginning and me laughing like an ass at the end. Wade will be featured on my upcoming Robot Zombie Army record, too, so, that’s something!