Recommended Underground Titles - Part I
"Heavy metal is always going to be there. At its core, it's all about a primitive connection we all need to keep in our lives." Rob Halford
Well known permutations in heavy metal occurred at every evolution step of the genre. As the timeline moved up, the influences became less traditional: newer acts finding influences not only from other metal styles, but also from outside the rock universe. Perhaps not an entirely new trend, but certainly more widespread than ever before. With the current tendencies to put a tag, or multiple, on a band's music, confusion is involuntary (or maybe not) created to the point were listeners are channeled to only hear certain parts of the rock/metal spectrum. On the flip side, bands are creating music to specifically fit a tag or tags. Personally, the main idea was always about enjoying the actual music, regardless of implied tags and/or opinions prompted superficially. The ten recommended underground titles listed here, all have heavy metal at their core, stretching only into the genre's closest associations: epic heavy metal, power metal, N.W.O.B.H.M., and speed metal. Enjoy the music.
The First Chapter
2017, digitally reissued 4/1/2019
The Manchester, UK power trio formed in 2014 and debuted on record in 2017. Their full-length debut (and only album to date), "The First Chapter" is a proud display of high octane heavy metal, heavily infused with power metal energy and modern groove metal attitude. The aggressive, uptempo album, borderlines thrash metal velocity and features an impressive array of guitar riffs and solos, and dual vocals (clean & raspy). The band cites as influences: Machine Head, Meshuggah, Lamb of God, Megadeth, Metallica, Dream Theater, Mastodon & Devin Townsend Project.
"Unchained" is the sophomore full-length effort by the Spanish septet, formed in 2013. The band's 2016 debut album was well received by the fans and critics. Employing two keyboard players, Taken continue on their majestic, full force power metal trajectory, on their 2nd studio effort, emphasizing on grandiose, melodic arrangements and soaring, empowering vocals. The album feature guest appearances by Chris Bay (Freedom Call) and Ryoji (Gyze). Fans of power metal worldwide will certainly appreciate.
2008, digitally reissued 3/25/2019
Not a new release, "Second Sight", the band's debut album, was originally released in 2008 in limited physical format. 2nd Sight is an international heavy metal act, dedicated to the classic 1980s metal sound in all its characteristics and mix it with progressive rock tunes from the 1970s. Currently employing three guitarist, the band cites the following influences: Riot, Fates Warning, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, Judas Priest, Rainbow, Racer X, Sanctuary, Crimson Glory, Savatage, Psychotic Waltz, Adramelch & Angel Witch.
"Temptation" is the seventh studio effort by Skanners, veterans of the Italian metal scene since 1982. Lead by the founding members, vocalist Claudio Pisoni and guitarist Fabio Tenca, the band's brand of melodic heavy metal, exudes maturity in composition and technical execution. Far from sounding dated, "Temptation" offers a modern take to heavy metal via its eleven original tracks, while maintaining robust power metal affinities. The guitar riffs galore and anthemic quality vocals are sure to please most heavy metal fans.
The Path Of The Dark King
Well known all over Europe, Elvenpath released their fifth studio album, "The Path Of The Dark King", on March 9th 2019, continuing on their trajectory, mainly rooted in the traditional style of (German) Power Metal, with many other palpable, and waiting to be discovered, influences. Well received by fans of the genre, the band played well over one hundred shows (including many festivals) in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Denmark, Greece, Bosnia, Croatia, Malta and all over Germany. The songs' lyrics focus on: the glory of metal, fantasy, politics and social issues.
Twist Of Fate
Released in the second half of 2018, Hitten's third full-length studio effort, "Twist Of Fate" marks a new musical direction for the Spanish band. With its singalong quality, the album's songs are strongly leaning towards traditional heavy metal. Musically, the songwriting and the songs structures are heavily influenced by the late 1980s hard rock. Vocally, a cross between Klaus Meine and Don Dokken, the band's (new) lead singer, Alexx Panza, delivers a mighty impressive range, in perfect symbiosis with the dual guitar attack and the thundering rhythm section.
Enter The Endless Abyss
The Slovenian band Vigilance is moving closer to the traditional sound of heavy metal (NWOBHM), but still maintaining a unholy blackened edge (influenced by the first wave of black metal), with the release of their fourth studio effort, delivering a thunderous, yet melodic sonic blasphemy. The band cites as influences: Venom, Black Sabbath, Mercyful Fate, Nifelheim, Bathory, Iron Maiden, Dissection, early Slayer, early Running Wild, Sodom, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Cirith Ungol, Manilla Road, Possessed, Aura Noir & KAT. Fans of early speed metal will defiantly appreciate.
Into The Fire
Marking the band's tenth anniversary, "Into The Fire", Midnight Bullet's third full-length album, delivers twelve tracks showcasing a great deal of songwriting skills. Musically, a crossover between melodic heavy metal and groove metal, the album also displays a certain level of punk attitude and a modern vibe, as far as the sound is concerned. Rebellion, human issues and relationships, are the core lyrical themes, aiming for a strong connection with the listener, as one of the band's forefront traits: "Every song has some thought and the lyrics has a story to tell. We try to connect people and it's great if you can recognize yourself in the song. We try to say that we're not alone in this world, don't get stuck inside your head. Sometimes the truth will hurt!"
Chris Achelous started his band as a one-man project, back in 2011. The project evolved into a full fledged band and in April of 2014 the band released its first demo "Al Iskandar", followed by the EP "The Cold Winds of Olympus" in 2015. Leave it to the Greeks: "Macedon" the band's full-length studio album, is a fine example of epic heavy metal! The well written album focuses on historical and mythological themes. Would you have it any other way? ... No, I didn't think so. As a part of the album’s promotion the band made a live appearance at the 10th anniversary of Malta Doom Metal Festival alongside bands like Demon, Ancient Rites, Necrophobic, The Skull, etc.
TWISTED TOWER DIRE
Wars In The Unknown
Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
Formed in 1995, the Raleigh, North Carolina metallers, Twisted Tower Dire, have been around the block a few time. Recently released, the band's sixth studio album, and their best effort to date, "Wars In The Unknown", takes the listener on a epic heavy metal journey! Heavily traditional heavy metal and NWOBHM influenced, the album was already well received by fans and critics, for its splendid overall quality. This effort stands far beyond the banal "US power metal" tag ... and now it's time to Light The Swords On Fire!
© 2019 by Emil Chiru