The Unsigned Underground: December 2014

Each month we bring you a handful of unsigned bands from across the globe that deserve your attention. They run the gamut from death, black, thrash, power and progressive metal all the way to hardcore and hard rock. Born from the underground, the metal community is only as strong as its independent music scene. Support these and other unsigned bands.

Interested in having your unsigned metal band featured in this column?
Email your promo material to heavymetal@aboutguide.com with the subject line Unsigned Underground. You must send a link to your recording and a bio. We will personally check out all submissions, but only the month’s best will be featured here.

BoneHawk – ‘Albino Rhino’ -

BoneHawk – ‘Albino Rhino’.

BoneHawk – ‘Albino Rhino’

Genre: Stoner Rock

On their new album Albino Rhino, Michigan-based rockers BoneHawk heat up the frozen Great Lakes with fuzzy, buzzed riffs and a fat bass tone that places them snugly within the Small Stone Records sound amidst the likes of Lo-Pan and Gozu.

Like the rhinoceros adorning its cover, the album’s skin is thick and tough. But the soulful vocals from Matt Helt float over the rollicking rock’n’roll and lend gentle contrast to the prevailing biker bar attitude, especially during the throbbing pulse of “Warchild” and the Lonely Kamel truck stop sleaze of “Sexy Beast.” BoneHawk likely never met an Orange amplifier they didn’t love.

Lavagoat – Ageless Nonsense -

Lavagoat – Ageless Nonsense.

Lavagoat – ‘Ageless Nonsense’

Genre: Psychedelic Doom/Death Metal

Apart from sounding like the most extreme, heavy metal Pokemon, Lavagoatalso happen to be a phenomenally talented Canadian band worth the challenge of describing. On Ageless Nonsense they invoke elements of each generation of doom while sounding like a completely different animal.

Think slow-motion Entombed if they were raised in the wilderness of Saskatchewan. Maybe Bison or Black Cobra if they galvanized within the Stockholm Swedeath scene. Better yet, just listen to this unpredictable slab of sludgy riffs, old school death and note their unique, adventurous spirit. From the psychedelic space rock of “Black Lotus” to the Pentagram crawl of “Cauldron,” the songs on this release are like volcano-dwelling Pokeballs. Catch ‘em all, heshers.

Lord Impaler – The Serpent Seal -

Lord Impaler – The Serpent Seal.

Lord Impaler – ‘The Serpent Seal’

Genre: Black Metal

Formed in 1998, this veteran Greek battalion has certainly watched trends come and go while remaining true to their biting melodic black metal. On The Serpent Seal they re-record and re-imagine four cuts from their demo days, and the resulting songs feel like they’ve carved from black ice and wrapped with barbed wire.

While the influences are audible, Lord Impaler aren’t some pastiche of frost-bitten Scandinavian black metal and Rotting Christ’s raw, scorched death.  They brandish blast beats and melodic riffage like weaponry, shifting from mid-tempo stomps to blazing Dissection passages with expertise. That’s the skill you expect from a band whose moniker implies they specialize in impaling royalty.

Theist – Theist -

Theist – Theist.

Theist – ‘Theist’

Genre: Crust/D-beat

Screw those studs into your battle vest and fasten your bullet belts. The eponymous album from Indonesian crust outfit Theist is black as old bong resin but still peppers its nasty scrum of sludge, scorched crust punk, and d-beat with surprising melodicism.

Thing Tink’s raspy shrieks sound like his vocal cords have been scraped down by years of guzzling paint thinner and bomb shrapnel. With his frantic narration, the diseased groove of “Flutter Clot” and “At the End of the Maze” elevates their nightmarish deathpunk to horror soundtrack territory, making this a singularly savage and resonating listen.

Universal Remonster/ Ampallang Infection – Universal Infection -

Universal Remonster/ Ampallang Infection – Universal Infection.

Universal Remonster/Ampallang Infection – ‘Universal Infection’

Genre: Grindcore

If your heartbeat races to the rhythm of grinding powerviolence, start salivating immediately over Universal Infection – a split album featuring Universal Remonsterand Ampallang Infection. Then go see a doctor, because that pulse rate is dangerously fast.

Universal Remonster – apart from sharing a name with an obscure character/episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force – are a dirty, scabby grind band from Baltimore, MD. Their music is brash, crass and content to be the ugliest in the room. Also from Maryland, Ampallang Infection appeared on this year’s A389 Mixtape and fit right in with their mouth-foaming, sleeping-in-the-gutter punk attitude – but with an industrial/electro exoskeleton. Plus, they know how to class up the joint with a song title like “Colostomy Bag Piñata” just in time for the holidays.