Just about every day, Angry Metal Guy pushes out a review of an upcoming or recently released album, producing press for the album whether we love it or hate it. It exposes readers to a lot of material, but disadvantages artists who aren’t putting out music at any given time. Given a small temporal window, this creates a very biased sample of the music scene. I love reviewing albums, but a lot of great and criminally overlooked bands are in between releases right now, and it kills me to see their hard work go unseen. So in order to rectify their invisibility, they’re being talked about here, where you can be held captive by the unbreakable bonds of html and subjugated to my terrible opinions.
In Sampling Bias‘s second edition, we explore the untamed wilds of the planet’s most influential continent, Europe. And by untamed wilds, I’m referring to lonely bandcamp pages. Europe’s metal scene is, of course, huge, and there’s no hope of capturing all of its fantastic and innovative underground bands in one little blog post. Nevertheless, I have appointed myself your guide through the woodlands, plains, and forests of this magnificent laurasian remnant, stopping only to gaze in wonder at the works of art that the continent continues to produce.
These are the best European bands you’ve never heard of:
This is by far the biggest head-scratcher on the list. Why? Because this band is fucking fantastic. Their sole LP, John Stone Lives bursts with out-of-the-box thinking, obscenely catchy grooves and a truly unique and inspired involution of “djent” which relies not on the noodling and prog pretense of the genre, but on the visceral sound of an absolutely massive rhythm guitar. Dysfunctional‘s sound lies comfortably, and perhaps puzzlingly, between the heft and groove of Gojira and the melodic and experimental leanings of early Linkin Park, with a little bit of oddness mixed in. John Stone Lives is available as pay-what-you-want on bandcamp, so there’s no excuse for you not to grab it and blast “Wanda” until your neighbors call the authorities.
Follow the White Rabbit
This St. Petersburg-based math/experimental metal act is, sadly, deceased. Yet I firmly believe that their 2012 swan song Endorphinia is worth everyone’s time. Combining heavy atmosphere and The Dillinger Escape Plan-grade aggression with fantastic and haunting melodies is a tall order, but FTWR follows through, unabashedly obtuse. Even in their most uncomfortable moments, the band remains memorable, if not for their audacity then for the unadulterated strangeness they peddle.
Witxes appear here not because of their obscurity but rather because of how poorly equipped genre tags are to describe the music – and I use the term somewhat broadly here – they produce. Hailing from Lyon, France, the primarily instrumental experimental group exists to deceive, trafficking in uncomfortable and beautiful atmospherics, droning rhythms, and a multitude of odd instruments and field recordings. Metal this is surely not, yet it’s something I can wholeheartedly get behind, as enticing to focus on as it is easy to play in the background of your dimly-lit dabblings.
This is one of those dissonant, freakish and kvlt bands that you just can’t help but love. Yet another French act, Plebeian Grandstand mix horrific black metal with lurching hardcore rhythms to produce a sound somewhere in the decimated intersection between Converge and Dodecahedron. A good deal of post-metal inspired atmospherics and a tortured vocal performance seal the deal: 2014’s Lowgazers (which we totally missed) is a Faustian bargain put to disc, and you will always lose.