As the summer winds down, so too shall this column for the moment. I have a couple more bands I want to shout out before I give my soapbox a well-needed rest. But we are going to do this in the nouveau-trilogy style and break up the conclusion into two parts. Why? Because women are awesome.
And because I said so.
I have thrown you guys as many bones as I can. It’s time to return to some brutal-as-hell screaming, chugging guitars, massive breakdowns, and general anger. There are far too many female-fronted bands out there that don’t get nearly the credit they deserve. With two notable exceptions, most of those on the following list are bands of yesteryear, acts that have long since broken up or gone defunct, but that doesn’t preclude the need for them to be talked about more in extreme music circles.
With a band like Dillinger Escape Plan dominating the mathcore genre for near on 20 years, it’s tough to remember some of the other extremely worthy bands in the genre. The Number Twelve Looks Like You, The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, Daughters, Genghis Tron…and Rolo Tomassi.
These Brits have been putting out extraordinary records for over 10 years, only recently broaching some more clean vocal territory and using some of vocalist Eva Spence’s incredible pipes for a soothing purpose. Plus when Dillinger calls it quits soon or at least slow down (as they are purported to do), perhaps Rolo Tomassi will emerge from under that imposing shadow to get some much-deserved attention.
Chew is going to be someone you hear a lot about very soon. The Chicago-based act just dropped a killer first EP that rips fucking face. Thrashy, angular, angry, and fun, their first recording is seven songs of perfect, surf-y hardcore fury. This is a band to watch.
There is a general, unspoken consensus in most metal circles that Julie Christmas (Made Out of Babies, Battle of Mice) is one of the best vocalists out there. There is really no denying her talent, but her brand of spastic, schizophrenic art-metal was pioneered early on by bands like Crisis.
Led by Karyn Crisis, Crisis was weirdo metal all the way back in ’94, well before it was “cool” (side note: it’s still not cool, but then that’s the way they like it). The group managed to unite an incredible number of multicultural artists under one extreme metal banner, and their record The Hollowing is an all-timer that scoots just under the radar of the popular consciousness.
Karyn Crisis is a massive, unbelievable vocalist capable of everything from screeching to a high keening that’s utterly unlike anything you’ve heard yet in metal.
I Hate Sally had been on my radar for some time before I caught them opening for The Dillinger Escape Plan back when I was in high school. Before I discovered the majority of Deathwish Inc’s roster, I Hate Sally scratched that itch for blackened hardcore. Their record, Don’t Worry Lady, was in constant rotation in my (LeFit) Sony Walkman, and I streamed their video constantly.
Live, they were utterly beastly. Frontwoman Dee was this incredible presence on stage, stalking back and forth and through the crowd. Despite being tiny, she had this magnetic, dangerous presence that was intoxicating. Also, I maintain that the below is still one of the best music videos ever. Simple, understated, and well-crafted.
Being straight-edge myself, I have an unfair bias towards straight-edge bands. Kingdom not only did the whole scene proud but brought the vegan straight-edge, with a sharp political voice and deep, brutal vocals before it was en vogue with bands like Wolf Down (who were similar in almost all ways before the loss of their first vocalist).
Cerce inhabits the space somewhere in between the manic screeching of Punch and the psychotic, cutesy meanderings of Schoolyard Heroes. Though now long defunct, their self-titled EP in 2012 is a ripper and features some of the best full-blown-crazy vocals you can hope for. It’s a style of hardcore that’s not normally seen, but it’s definitely a unique approach to the genre.
Emerging from the ashes of Fall River, Spark Is A Diamond took a page out of the short-lived Test Icicles book, appropriating dance-punk and pared down influences like The White Stripes and Death from Above 1979 while seemingly gargling shattered glass. For a couple years there it looked like that sound was about to take off, but it seems to have subsided of late. It’s too bad because Spark Is A Diamond was pretty damn badass and ridiculously fun.