: Do you like your metal brutal? If so, there's no better flagship band then Broken Hope -- a Chicago five piece that traces its foundations to the late 80s, where two high school boys decided to see how extreme they could make their sound. And it worked. Broken Hope is a mash up of every kind of metal, from doom to thrash but mostly death. In fact, debut album "Swamped In Gore" is pretty much the right description for a band like Broken Hope: gore metal complete with head banging, bloody videos, heavy bass, and that low scream vocals that newer scream bands can't quite compete with. They are the best ever death metal band out of Chicago to never get famous. It seems like for a while, well, more than a decade, the Broken Hope sound was too extreme to maintain -- and the band all but left the scene. But from the ashes they rose again in 2012, with a new album and the energy and blast of metal we are all used to (along with some crazy scary zombie makeup). If you have ever been a band that has broken up, you know it's a miracle to have all the partners speaking to one another, let alone recording an insane metal album called "Omen of Disease." Perhaps it took the passing of one of the original members to get everyone on the same page again -- and metal fans can now rejoice!
: Why name your band Oceano if you're stuck in Chicago? Who knows, but perhaps this is the burning question that fuels Oceano's anger and passion to make death metal (after spending one cold weekend in Chicago, I can empathize). Oceano has slowly moved from grindcore to deathcore, most likely due to the fact that all original members have parted ways with the group leaving this new heavy metal monster to thrash any way it wants. And the way it wants is: extremely loud, scary, and with enough breakdowns and blast beats to melt your brain. Growling their way through a live set, Oceano brings the energy of two guitarists, fast as hell drumming, and let's not forget the head banging along with surprisingly clean vocals at times. In fact, don't be surprised to some softer vocals smashed in amongst the noise -- one of the groundbreaking areas that Oceano experiments with. Fundamentalist deathcore and metalcore fans might be miffed, but Oceano is treading on some delightfully fresh metal that harkens back to the glory days.
Rivers of Nihil
: Rivers of Nihil, a band with the mantra "everything fast, loud, and sad," really delivers what they advertise. A gloom and doom metal of epic proportions brought to you by talented young dudes who know exactly what they're doing. The precision of Rivers of Nihil is just one of the many exciting traits that make them not only a band you want to listen to with expensive headphones, but also a live act worth coming early for. As intelligent as they are energetic, you are sure to leave with a bangover from blast beats that you desperately try to keep up with. And although you might not be able to discern the lyrics live, when you get those Beats By Dre and give this band a deep listen, you'll realize there's some pretty heady stuff here: consciousness, humanity, obsession with youth, and some of your classic metal themes. Excellent drumming, roaring vocals, and general metal-ness are going to shake up your ear drums no matter what, and you'll be left with one thought: this is bad ass, and these are my brothers.
: Hey, if you're going to name your band after a faraway city turned highly controversial battleground, you better be able to back that shit up. Luckily for Bay Area death metal band Fallujah, a lot of the loaded political weight the name had has faded from our short memories AND they have the skill and the attitude to not only live up to the name, but to guarantee a set of intricate offerings of the death core variety. Complexity is the name of the game for this band -- trading in simple metal riffs for a feat of technicality whenever possible. If you close your eyes, you can imagine yourself in a metal themed video game. Fullujah owes more to math rock and jazz below their metal surface, with constant changes from fast and complicated to interludes of simple slowness -- I picture Steve Vai really enjoying them if he ever gets a chance to geek out to technical death metal.