5 New Metal Bands You Need to be Listening to Right the Hell Now

I love metal. There’s pretty much no such thing as too much metal and I’m never not it the mood for it. It’s the one genre – or rather, group of genres; metal is pretty fragmented these days – that never lets me down. Since I have a job that allows me to listen to music at my desk, I’m consuming almost 40 hours of metal a week. I am a happy camper.

Of course, metal isn’t perfect. A lot of metalheads tend to be stuck in the past and are generally uninterested or outright hostile to anything that is new (something that they share with more than a few superhero comics readers). Since most of the greatest of all-time legacy acts have all but cemented their places in the pantheon and not-super-old-but-still-kind-of-old bands like Mastodon, Gojira, Lamb of God and Deftones continue to produce solid work, it can be hard to find quality new stuff. Thankfully, I’ve got five new bands that the adventurous metalhead needs to check out.

These bands are described as “new” in my headline and the only criteria for that is they have all been around for less than 10 years and are still active. All five of them have gotten a fair share of press coverage from outfits such as Metal Injection and MetalSucks, so they aren’t exactly hurting for exposure. But seeing as they are still obscure enough to escape the notice of the casual and/or novice metalhead or someone who doesn’t spend any time reading industry press articles, I feel like they should still be brought to your attention.

And the best part? All five of these bands are from the good old USA. ‘Murica!

Rivers of Nihil

Based out of: Reading, Pennsylvania

Formed in: 2009

Genre: Technical death metal

Label: Metal Blade Records

Discography: Two EPs and two albums

Technical death metal can be tough to get into at first, but holy crap, it is so damn worth it once you’ve learned to appreciate it. You sort have to already be onboard the tech death train in order to listen to Rivers of Nihil, so they aren’t a band I’d recommend to a beginner. But if you are into the “br00tal” stuff? Look no further than RoN. If you aren’t a metal person at all, I still recommend you sit through the above music video, because the ending is so worth it.

Black Crown Initiate

Based out of: Reading, Pennsylvania

Formed in: 2013

Genre: Progressive death metal

Label: eOne Music

Discography: One EP and one album

Clearly there is something in the water in Reading. Black Crown Initiate is similar to their peers in RoN, though slightly less technical and more atmospheric. Hell, they even have clean vocals in some of their songs. Anyone who’s listened to stuff like Killswitch Engage is probably used to the scream-sing-scream approach, but it becomes cool and novel again when done with death growls. Granted, not every BCI song uses that formula, but their slightly less heavy approach could presumably get more people into death metal. To answer your not-yet-asked question, yes, these guys have toured with RoN, and this piece of perfection was used as the tour poster.


Based out of: Asbury Park, New Jersey

Formed in: 2010

Genre: Progressive metal

Label: Spinefarm Records

Discography: Three EPs and one album

Good things come out of New Jersey after all (that’s mean; my dad is from there). Toothgrinder bring a bit of hardcore flair to their brand of progressive metal, as if to reassure listeners that you can still mosh to prog. These guys just put out their first full-length back in January, Nocturnal Masquerade, and it’s easily their most accessible work. The whole thing just screams “workout playlist.” Masquerade reminds me of Deftones’ self-titled album, which was their heaviest record. Clearly, Toothgrinder knows the way to my heart.


Based out of: San Francisco

Formed in: 2007

Genre: Technical death metal, progressive death metal

Label: Nuclear Blast America

Discography: Two demos, two EPs and two albums

I’m kind of mad at myself for not getting into these guys earlier, seeing as they are right in my backyard. They’re mostly a tech death band, but 2014’s The Flesh Prevails (their breakout album) was delightfully weird and sometimes defied categorization. Listening-wise, I’d say Fallujah is the most challenging of these five bands to get into, so start getting some tech death under your belt before firing up Flesh, The Harvest Wombs or Nomadic. They are one the hottest young bands in metal right now, so don’t miss out on Fallujah. I’ll be keeping my eye out for local dates; it’s about time I see them live.

The Contortionist

Based out of: Indianapolis, Indiana

Formed in: 2007

Genre: Progressive metal

Label: Good Fight Music

Discography: Three EPs and three albums

These guys are, without a doubt, my favorite of the five, and they are only band on here that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing live – twice. Their sound has evolved quite a bit over their three full-length records; they’ve gone from being a tech death/deathcore hybrid to being this monstrously trippy prog metal outfit. Their most recent effort, Language, earned The Contortionist heaps of praise and all of it was well deserved. It’s significantly mellower than their previous albums while still recognizably metal, and it’s an excellent jump on point for newcomers. These dudes make awesome prog and I can’t wait to see what The Contortionist does next.


How I Ended Up in a Juggalo’s YouTube Video

You can go ahead and file this under “I did not see that coming.”

My Friday night was pretty spectacular. I went to Sacramento to see Between the Buried and Me on their Coma Ecliptic Tour at Ace of Spades. I’m not really a huge fan of these guys (I couldn’t tell you what song is playing in that video, or what that Russian dance circle thing is about), but The Contortionist and Animals as Leaders were providing support and I didn’t want to miss them. All three bands crushed their sets, though I didn’t actually venture out into the mosh pit until BTBAM came up. They put on a pretty amazing show and I’ll probably be revisiting their catalog to see if it does anything for me this time.

Anyhow, among the people I attended the show with was a J-School friend of mine who manged to unearth the above video, which shows the crowd during said circle dance before it breaks into a no holds barred, every man for himself mosh. You can kind of see me at the 32 and 41 second marks; I’m the guy in the gray shirt and navy shorts. Feeling curious, I decided to look up the YouTube user who shot this. His username is NinjaBlaze1025.

And he is a goddamned Juggalo.

If the name NinjaBlaze1025 wasn’t enough, the user profile picture erodes all doubt. He’s got the face paint going on and he’s wearing a black baseball jersey that says “Juggalo” on it. He’s got four videos of the show, including the one above. I mean, I guess Juggalo’s occasionally have good taste in music, given how well liked and respected BTBAM and Animals as Leaders are. NinjaBlaze1025 appears to be a frequent concert-goer; among his other videos you’ll find sets for something called Kung Fu Vampire, as well as Juggalo staples Twiztid and Blaze Ya Dead Homie. He also has a couple videos of Coal Chamber, in case that playlist wasn’t terrifying enough.

Presumably, this is him.

So, there you have it. My friend and I ended up in a Juggalo’s YouTube video. This is one of those situations I’ve never thought possible for me to be in, but there we have it. Of course, this doesn’t make that night any less fun, but it still gives me pause. I guess this is one of those stories I can tell those kids and grandkids that I probably won’t have. On second thought, that would also require me to explain to the tykes what a Juggalo is, so maybe grandpa will keep that one to himself.

On an unrelated note, the best French toast in Sac can be bought here.