: Nothing says macho like trucks, fights, and metal. And nothing says metal like Scandinavia. Out of the wintry depths come Truckfighters (I told you, they're hella metal!) -- though their take on the music is more along the lines California heavy metal than Bathory worship. Truckfighters fit in seamlessly with bands like Queens of the Stoneage, with musical ability that goes far past your average metal. The vocals are closer to classic rock stylings, and the instrumentation is intricate and well-developed: it's not a blast of loudness, there's artful changes in tempo and tone, a natural progression that often speeds up at just the right moment. There's odd choices in instruments for an average metal (pretty sure I heard strings, synths and acoustic guitar on some tracks) -- but that's because Truckfighters is not your average metal band. Some of the lower tempo songs meander like a slow, hot, crawling wind, which is pretty apt for a band influenced by the California desert. They are an excellent, talented group who have obviously studied many genres and have an almost mellow groove that can't be denied. But don't worry, metal heads, despite their unique brand Truckfighters are still full of standard metal riffs, proud, loud, and heavy. Live, the band is a huge ball of energy that will push you to the limit of sanity -- or at least make you worry about whether your surroundings are sturdy enough to not get torn apart.
: With a name like Crobot I get visions of Mystery Science Theater 3000 mixed with black-wearing basement dwellers who listen to classic rock all day. And when you get to Crobot's official website (which you have to unlock by dragging stars onto the eyes of a demon that's guarding a whimsical sketch of Earth) my thoughts were confirmed. These are heavy tunes with an intelligent take metal. Operatic vocals a la Zep, heavy metal instrumentation a la Sabbath, and an overall mystique make this band a riot worth investing in. A personality fueled front man and savagely shredding lead guitar makes for a worthy live show, with a Thin Lizzy type of energy that plays to any crowd. And you got a pair of brothers for the rhythm section, so you know it's solid: it feels like these siblings communicate through ESP. It doesn't hurt that they're a good looking group of dudes and that the singer is channeling both Hawkwind-era Lemmy and Robert Plant like some sort of lost, early metal lovechild. "Dirty. Groove. Rock" is the band's official slogan, and everything I've seen and heard makes me certain that is fitting.
The Devil in California
: Where else would the devil be, really? California is paradise and a black hole all mixed into one -- and The Devil in California seems to understand that. Classic southern-fried rock with a biker look, you know exactly what you're going to get when you first see these dudes: hard rock, attitude, impeccable musicianship, and low growing vocal that soars for emphasis. They've been playing shows for about a year now, and in that short time they have carefully crafted their fledgling band into a mystical, hard, and heavy rock band -- playing shows throughout the bay. Catchy tunes mixed with some insane live energy is a recipe for success for any heavy rock band - for such a relatively new group The Devil In California are already so good at perfecting this, which leads me to believe they are seasoned veterans in rock and roll. If they've already done this much in one year, who knows what's in store next! I have a guess: the band is working on a debut record right now, so I'm sure we will soon hear more from The Devil In California.
: Nothing says heavy friggin' metal quite like a German sounding name, an animal skull and a stylized name in a Motorhead-esque font. Blackwulf sure knows how to play the game, and they back it up with dark doomy riffs that any metal fan would be proud to listen to. Melodic metal is not a game for the weak -- it takes strength to make a slow sludgy song that breaks into a rhythm that is actually interesting, and Blackwulf can do it. This is metal for metal lovers -- it's intricate, modern, and yet holds true to those who came before it. And did I mention Blackwulf has some of the coolest art I've seen recently?
Vocals are reminiscent of 90s hard rock acts and the music is perfect for lighting a doob and cruising through the streets. Blackwulf is psychedelic at times but never turns its back on heavy, sludgey, metal and brooding lyrics with the occasional long scream to really get your blood pumping. Imagine a Soundgarden, but for people who might like to play Magic The Gathering and study pagan history. The live show is a dark wonderland of energy, hitting all the right spots for a good time -- screaming, head banging, and metal for all. Don't forget to throw up the sign of the horns eagerly and often.