Morning Metal – Unique Bands


In this day and age, metal music has become incredibly diverse and spawned many different genres – some more extreme than others. I am always looking for new bands that can provide a fresh, sometimes ridiculous, attitude and approach to this wonderful music. Unfortunately, not many bands want to try and experiment in fear that their fans will backlash… And for the most part, it’s true.

I’m sure you’ve read about a band that has been bland for years and tried something new (which was usually because they were peer-pressured by their fans), and completely flopped. This is why we can’t have nice things. We criticize bands because they sound generic, but hate on them even more because they tried to spice things up.

THIS is why musicians like Devin Townsend still exist. One of Townsend’s most renowned pieces of work was an alien travelling through the universe looking for a latte, and people loved it! I couldn’t wait until Ziltoid’s next journey. After listening to Northlane’s new track “Rot”, which features a new vocalist and reading the comments – I decided to name a few bands that are completely in their own.

#1 – Demon Hunter

There are plenty of Christian metal bands out there and this by no means indicates that I think Demon Hunter is the only decent one. My love for Demon Hunter stems from Ryan Clark’s vocal melodies along with the production style that is present on all their albums – specifically the tones.

With Ryan’s vocal style, he builds up the song’s chorus’ to the point where you’re expecting something incredible – and he delivers every single time, but not in the same light for every song. He will energize it like the chorus for “Collapsing”, but bring it down on “Hell Don’t Need Me”. Clark doesn’t rely on impressing you with his vocal range, because you should know he has already done that. The dude has monster vocals when he’s screaming on tracks like “Artificial Light” and angelic harmonies in “Dead Flowers”.

The other cool thing about Demon Hunter is they switch it up from running around to arpeggiated chords. “The Last One Alive” is in my top 5 songs of 2014, because it’s an unbelievable song both lyrically and structure-wise.

#2 – Devin Townsend

As I mentioned before, Devin Townsend really sets the bar high when it comes to weird humour and, excuse Phil Spector, the wall of sound that is Townsend’s production style. My problem with Townsend is the same reason why I love his music, and this is how much is going on with every song. You can’t listen to “Rejoice” or “War Princess” once and expect to take everything in. It just won’t happen. From asking thousands of fans to send him choir vocals to add in Z2: Dark Matters to switching up singers every record to make things familiar but different, he owns his music.

He’s a story-teller, and makes a damn good song along with it.

#3 – Tool

i shouldn’t even have to explain why Tool stands out from the metal crowd. Tool was my introduction to progressive rock music with their 2006 record 10,000 Days. I had no idea what to make of Tool when I first experienced them, but came to love their wide range of musical abilities. It’s not every day that a metal band’s bass player brings most of the flavour to the mix, and Justin Chancellor does just that. The man can slap a bass.

Adam Jones really relies on octaves, harmonics and odd timings to create an insanely atmospheric feeling which just works perfectly with Danny Carey’s thumping tom rolls. The musical chemistry all of these musicians have is unparalleled.

Lyrically, Maynard James Keenan is the Eminem of rock music – you just don’t want to piss him off because he could completely destroy anything in his path. The best thing about Maynard is that he is also a builder, and can reach to you on a personal level and make you feel alive again.

Not a single band out there can or ever will sound like Tool.

#4 – System of a Down

From wackiness to insanity, System of a Down is one of those bands that everyone will miss when they decide to break up. It’s been awhile since System has released a new record because of personal issues (I’m guessing), but that doesn’t mean they won’t go down in the books as one of metal’s most eclectic and politically dismembering acts to ever appear on a radar.

Serj Tankian, the band’s lead vocalist, is also a story-teller – this time for issues that affect the world. Being Armenian, he educates listeners on political atrocities that are often swept under the rug. He even got an award from the Armenian Prime Minster in 2011 for his contributions to recognizing the Armenian Genocide of 1915, so it’s a known fact that Serj won’t forget things any time soon.

Daron Malakian gives me the impression that he is the reason why the band is filled with madness. He comes across like he’s absolutely out of his mind, from the way he acts in music videos, live performances and just the way he plays guitar. Disjointed, chaotic riffs and banshee screams really made the band what it is, a freak show.

Metal needs more System of a Down – not more sound-a-likes, which luckily, do not exist. I’ve made it a personal goal to find a band that slightly resembles System of a Down and the closest I have come to was Twelve Foot Ninja.

#5 – Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The Machine, like System of a Down, have an intense relationship with authority, and it makes their music very accessible if you hate corruption as much as they do. The majority of the lyrical content is based off of politics and social equality, and the band’s members are no strangers to voicing their opinions outside of Rage Against The Machine.

System of a Down’s Serj Tankian and RATM’s guitarist Tom Morello formed Axis of Justice in 2002 with the hopes of bringing like-minded musicians and fans to fight social justice together. Tom Morello is also a one-man onslaught as The Nightwatchman, which he started in 2003 while with Audioslave – which had no political involvement lyrically or musically.

Even after re-forming Rage Against the Machine in 2007, he continues to perform as The Nightwatchman.

Unfortunately for fans of Rage Against the Machine and hating against the system, the band hasn’t released any material since 2000’s Renegades. Although the band reformed in 2007, they’ve only played shows. The cool thing about Rage Against the Machine, which is very unique, is you can always tell when it’s Tom Morello playing guitar. Known for his use of effects, often emulating DJ’s through scratches and feedback, he has become of those guitar players that everybody knows if you are a fan of guitar playing.

You may not agree with their imagery or messages, but you have to agree that Morello can play a damn guitar.

BONUS – Nickelback

And that’s because nobody wants to sound like Nickelback!

James Rockso – Host of CKCU 93.1 FM’s Morning Metal & Music Publicist at Dark Matter Relations