Today I'm throwing a few bands out there that have caught my ear, despite being relatively far removed from the mainstream. A few are on their way towards metal stardom, and a few on likely on their way out, but I just wanted to share some cool bands with you, the readers.
Eluveitie - Swiss folk metal
I discovered this band just a few weeks ago, and their new album contains some of the best, most rockin' folk metal I've ever listened to. They have 2 female members, one of which performs backing vocals, which really adds environment and beauty to songs like Thousandfold (below). They're a large band with a wide base of musical ability, with many multi-instrument members that help keep their sound diverse. One of the female members even plays a Hurdy-Gurdy, a Hungarian instrument that is like a violin with a turncrank and an accordion-style keyboard. Eluveitie's sound is heavy, while still being groovy and fun. I definitely recommend them, and their album is only 5 dollars this month for download on Amazon: Everything Remains (As It Never Was)
Valient Thorr - Southern rock and punk inspired metal
I saw Valient Thorr open for Mastodon in Madison, and even as the first band on a 4 band bill, they kicked some serious ass. All of their songs are very energetic, with rapid-fire lyrics and a frenetic drum beat. There's definitely a strong Southern Rock current flowing through their sound, and their guitar tone sounds very Skynyrd-esque at times. The vocalist, who goes by "Valient Himself" is intense and fun at the same time, opening songs at times with yelled protestations or political statements, done best on Heatseeker when he opens the album version with "This one goes out to the fan that was digging through my mail. YOU THINK YOU CAN GET INTO MY PERSONAL BUSINESS, JACK!?!?!" It's just heavy metal done right, with strong anti-establishment lyrical themes and driving, enjoyable melodies.
Wintersun - Encompasses several genres, notably melodic death metal, folk metal, and so-called "Viking metal"
Wintersun, the side project of Ensiferum vocalist and guitarist Jari Maenpaa of Finland, has only released one album in six years of existence. That album is fucking amazing. Jari himself recorded and mastered all of the guitar, bass, keyboards and vocal tracks for the self-titled album, bringing in a drummer from another band to record the drum parts. Jari even drew the damn cover art for the album. The tracks are varied in style, with several different vocal and instrumental sounds being worked into the songs, from black metal style shrieks and rasps to clean singing to death metal growls. Each song creates a unique listening experience, making Wintersun an album that holds up extremely well to repeated listenings. Jari is an instrumental mastermind, some of the best guitar work I've ever heard is on this album. You need to do yourself a favor and listen to this album.
I'll be posting more bands in the near future, I intend to make this a repeating post topic.
If you have any recommendations for me, let me know in the comments!