I may be promoting these labels with just a bit of bias, but in my defense what bands they’re signing and promoting are groundbreaking. I have nothing against the larger, prominent record labels that gave legendary metal bands their chances back in the day. In my honest and almost objective opinion, these two labels have not only some of the better metal bands of any subgenre but also the most young potent bands just starting out I’m hoping will make serious dents in heavy and progressive music.
The Artisan Era
My homies in The Artisan Era are based out of Nashville and are as fresh as 2014 in it’s FOURTH YEAR of existence! That is how new they are to the metal community. Now for my favorite bands from this young label.
A Loathing Requiem is an instrumental project by Malcom Pugh (Inferi, Virulent Depravity, Ex-Diskreet, Ex- Enfold Darkness) who initially intended it to be an experiment. However, he has pumped out a few albums and plans on working on another one at one point as his primary focus is his band Inferi and the record label. The website compares Malcom’s albums to Necrophagist which is some obscure stuff in the tech world (a great band that lasted 2 albums which is most likely done, but still heavily influential for many technical death metal and progressive bands and artists) and quite a comparison.
Augury These guys are freaks of nature, and I mean that in a good way. They are a progressive death metal band out of Canada. They’re releasing a new album in the next few months you should keep an eye on. The linked song should convince you to preorder that bad boy. Their debut album “Concealed” was released in 2004 after they were founded in 2001. The followup “Fragmentory Evidence” was released in 2009 and the band plans to release their 3rd full length album “Illusive Golden Age” this year. Don’t sleep on these dudes either.
Dark Matter Secret This is a highly impressive Instrumental Progressive/Technical Death Metal band started by guitar aficionado Denis Shvarts and Pavel Semin (of the AMAZING Irreversible Mechanism you definitely need to check out). They’re very technical…..and very perfect. There’s hints of jazz sprinkled throughout the debut album “Perfect World Creation” that was a part of my best of 2017 list for many reasons. Stop reading this and pull up that album right now……that’s an order.
Inanimate Existence This band is quite possibly my favorite on this label. They’re a Progressive Death Metal/Technical Death Metal band based out of California. They captured my ears when I heard their 3rd release “Calling From a Dream” primarily between not just guitar work but the beautiful inconsistency of growls and a female voice. Now that is the only album so far there’s singing and hope they try it again at one point it’s a modern day masterpiece of an album. Their main songwriter and guitarist Cameron Porras is a stud on guitar none of his work bores me ever. He has great speed and clarity in his guitar leads, and also very great melodies scattered throughout his band’s offerings the more I listen to them. The latest release “Underneath A Melting Sky” is linked above which is barely 8 months into public exposure…..the crazy part is over the holidays Cameron was already writing a follow up! And not only that, the band has it demoed and ready to start recording in the fall! I love how busy the band keeps themselves striving to be better and pumping out music. I hope it is as great as Underneath A Melting Sky.
Inferi is another heavy hitter from The Artisan Era. This is Malcom Pugh’s mainstay in the Technical Death Metal/Melodic Metal vibe. They have currently released 2 albums to date with the 3rd on its way in a few months. Behold The Bearer Of Light is the first single released from their upcoming release “Revenant”. It’s a technical and crushing track……oh, and this Trevor guy from Black Dahlia Murder is a guest vocalist. What could possibly go wrong here? Nothing. This is a killer band to watch out for in the near future.
All the bands on Artisan Era are solid, these handful being my favorite. Also included on the label: Enfold Darkness, Equipose, Graveslayer, Order Of Diptera and Oubliette.
This label is equally as heavy as Artisan Era who specializes in death metal but also wanders into the tech side of the genre just not as much as the Artisan Era. A lot of the bands I have been getting into recently in these genres also reside on Unique Leader. Now for my favorites…..
Abominable Putridity is heavy as hell and just as technical. They will instantly make you want to mosh and wreck your vehicle. They’re a death metal band from Russia. Odd enough I’ve been finding some killer bands from their neck of the woods…..maybe they like to do more than drink vodka and play hockey. Russians also like to write some heavy ass death metal as well. Check these dudes out and throw your Avenged Sevenfold discs to Goodwill!
Alterbeast is a kiler technical death metal band based out of California who just released their sophomore record “Feast” on February 23rd……Check out my article of the album if you haven’t already. Their blistering guitar work and super fast drumming can’t be ignored. Their vocalist has such an extreme range of low and high growls it keeps your blood pumping for so long. These dudes can’t simply be ignored and will only get better over time.
Arkaik released one of the best technical albums last year “Nemethia”. Just like Alterbeast, Arkaik also resides in California. Arkaik is a very technical and intense band that is a bit more experimental and progressive than most of the bands on Unique Leader which immediately drew me to them. Don’t sleep on these guys either they really know how to play their instruments.
Beheaded is a great death metal band from Malta who has been around since 1991! There’s so many great extreme bands that the less popular (ironically talking about popularity in death metal when its very underground) bands who have stood the test of time are still around. I’ve only known about them for a few years now and hot damn they’re heavy and can hold a great groove. They have a very classic death metal sound that is for the fans of groove not so much the technicality. This band should be in every metalhead’s rotation.
Cognitive is a progressive death metal band from New Jersey who is just keeps coming back for more. They’re currently working on new music and playing a handful of shows in April supporting their 2016 release “Deformity”. They have a very original edge to their sound and never leave you hanging. Cognitive brings it, don’t putz around on this band.
Cytotoxin is one of the best kept secrets in all of heavy metal. They can make any popular band look like a fool. Their guitar work is all over the place matched with extremely thunderous drumming and very heavy vocals. Their style is so unique and incomparable it is best explained with their insane music. In their short existence Cytotoxin has dramatically improved on each album especially on their latest release “Gammageddon”.
Deeds Of Flesh is another unsung hero in the extreme metal scene like Beheaded. They have been around since 1993 and have commanded the ears of the tech community for quite some time now. Their relentless fretwork and dedication to originality has kept them a mainstay in extreme music for a long time now. I am new to this band within the last 2 to 3 years just like Beheaded. I wish I knew of this band a long time ago….but you know better late than never, if you believe in that saying.
Disgorge is another band of the same realm that has been around since the early 90’s. They are a brutal death metal band with grind core influences as well. They’re relentless and always full of energy. Their punishing vocalists over the years have had such a heavy sound you can’t even make out one word……that’s br00tal. Levi Fuseiler, Matti Way, Nate Twyman and current vocalist Angel Ochoa have fronted a classic band with such power and stage presence as well.
Dyscarnate is a great technical and groove death metal band out of England that I just discovered last year who has been around for almost a decade now. The band is full of groove and technicality all over the board. What is most impressive is they are a 3 piece band which is very tough to pull off these days. Don’t scroll past this and listen to their music they will show you why they are one of the most overlooked bands right now.
First Fragment is a perfect band. They’re a progressive and technical death metal band from Montreal Canada…..whose lyrics are French. What isn’t to love about this band? Amazing guitarists….a bassist that basically plays like a lead guitar player…..the heaviness…..it feels like there are no mistakes or loopholes with these guys. They are a well crafted and well oiled tech death machine who doesn’t feel afraid to experiment from time to time. There are mumblings they are working on the follow up to their debut album which I’m totally excited for.
Hideous Divinity is a crazy technical death metal band currently based out of Italy. These guys are far from generic and boring. They have crafted such great groove and technicality that it leaves you thinking about them for months on end. They aren’t a tech band that writes to show off their talent…..HD knows how to slam, and know how to fire up the fretboards. They have a few albums out and now have a crazy opportunity playing with tech death legends ORIGIN! If you live in Europe go to one of their shows….please. Your ears will be filled with so many notes you won’t be able to function.
Ingested Make no mistake these guys are one of my favorite modern death metal bands. They’re so groovy and add a new level of brutality it makes Metallica look like a pop band. Seriously if you don’t know about Great Britain’s slam kings then now is the time. I urge you to……now.
Internal Bleeding is a killer classic death metal band from good ‘ol New York…..Long Island, specifically. Another great band also is out of the same city……..Suffocation, I think you have heard of them right? Anyways these guys have been impressively trekking on since their drummer and founding member Bill Tolley recently passed away in the line of duty as a volunteer fireman. Internal Bleeding is a great group of guys that carry on the band that Tolley helped start that has been a growing name in death metal for a long time.
Oblivion is a very cool band that has been growing on me. Their first album “Called To Rise” was such a unique offering it caused a bit of a stir in the metal community. Not only was it another technical offering, but it had a lot of orchestral strings all over the album…..they’re much more than another extreme metal band. Its such a cool album I can’t really put a finger on it. Their second release “The Path Towards” found its way on my best of 2017 feature for a million reasons. The tasteful guitar solos and straight up heaviness in comparison to Called To Rise makes one wonder how much more this band can do. Guitar duals and catchy rhythms are all over this technical extravaganza. They also have a great sense of the genre with members who used to be in The Zenith Passage and All Shall Perish.
Organectomy are New Zealnders that demand your attention right now. They have a very heavy debut “Domain Of The Wretched” that blends nearly every extreme genre you can think of. They are possibly the best death metal band out of their country right now and have a lot of potential right now. They also found their way onto my 2017 best releases article for countless reasons. Let their music do the growling for you.
The Zenith Passage is the brainchild of guitarist Justin Mckinney. This band is very, very good and I really don’t mean it like any other band. These guys are very experimental and very original. They stay true to their death metal rules but bring a lot of technicality to the shredding table. It would be foolish for anyone to let this band slip off of their radar.
Now, there’s a crap ton more artists on Unique Leader (around 50 or more) I just hit the tip of the iceberg with my personal favorites. I might go check out the rest of their roster after this article is finished for all you know.
After such a long article, it’s time to check out all of these bands on both labels. There’s so much commercialized and generalized metal that is so dumbed down to me. I think both of these labels have signed such unique acts that can easily be differentiated and aren’t lost in translation. I honestly wish the best for both of these labels and am constantly keeping up with the new bands they sign and promote.