The Northwest has a strong track record of producing game-changing heavy music. From polished but potent heavy metal acts like Metal Church and Queensrÿche that made their mark in the early '80s to the more abrasive underground artists like the Accüsed, the Melvins, and, later, Botch and the Blood Brothers, this region has a rich history of inspiring many influential riff masters.
But don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a nostalgia piece. There are a dozen or so books, podcasts, and documentaries dissecting the value and significance of the Seattle scene through the past few decades, most of which focus their attention on the G word. Instead, let's shine a spotlight on the noise being made right now by artists who are meeting the challenge of shuttering venues and skyrocketing rent.
Every week it seems like a new demo from an upstart Northwest hardcore, punk, or metal band pops up on my Bandcamp feed. It would be damn near impossible to highlight every single excellent local band making a ruckus, so, for now, here are just a few to get you started down your path of ear-drum destruction.
Judging by the comfort these noise rock newcomers display during their wildly self-destructive and unhinged live shows, you would never know that prior to 2021, the members of Fake Hands had never even met. In a recent radio interview, guitarist Aaron Wilson broke down the origin story to me. In an effort to release some of that all-too-familiar pandemic anger and frustration into a new abrasive music project, Wilson placed ads on Craigslist and Facebook. Fast forward a little under a year and this random assembly of newfound friends came together to release a six-song EP full of swagger and a whole lot of fun. Heads up: if you take the opportunity to catch them in person, make sure you stay out of the way of flailing limbs and projectile guitars.
For fans of: Metz, Refused, Idles
To the untrained ear, the ten tracks on Excrescence’s debut full-length album Inescapable Anatomical Deterioration likely sound like straight-up audio diarrhea. Unrelenting blasts of full-throttle drums accompany bludgeoning guitar riffs and vocals that could be mistaken as the voice of Satan himself. Forget the old standby comparison of “cookie monster” vocals, these are full-on toilet bowl vocals—gurgling, full-throated, and raw. The inside CD booklet reads “no fucking vocal effects were used on this recording.” Lead singer Matt Bailey went full-on Exorcist mode on this and it’s the perfect layer on top of a soundscape of pure unfiltered brutality. I caught Excrescence opening for long-time death metal veterans Internal Bleeding and Jungle Rot last year and they stole the entire show, hands down. Their live energy matches the precision and technicality of the music, acting as a potent shot of pure adrenaline. Don’t go into this expecting much nuance. This is pure and simple slamming death metal. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
For fans of: Deeds of Flesh, Dying Fetus, Nile
Seattle’s premiere three-day heavy music fest, Northwest Terror Fest, is just a few months away, so you have plenty of time to get acquainted with the rock 'n' roll-tinged hardcore pounding from the amps of Cult Sickness. I was a big fan of guitarist Billy Hamilton’s prior project, the fantastic post-hardcore band Post/Boredom, so I knew I had to check out what he was up to now. With just a year under their belt, this band has released a killer five-song EP Brief Peaks and Self-Loathing, and are in the process of writing a full-length album. I’m excited to hear what they come up with next, as vocalist Lauren Shepherd has a uniquely powerful voice, and the band's ferocious short and to-the-point approach of packing as much fury into two minutes keeps me wanting more. For now, though, I’ll be playing these five songs on repeat at full volume.
For fans of: Cursed, American Nightmare, Napalm Death
The cover art for Re-Buried’s recently released debut full-length album Repulsive Nature portrays a close-up of a bloody ripped-open face. This is the perfect visual representation of everything this band embodies. Re-Buried has delivered 10 songs that pack a familiar old-school groove-centered death metal punch and drift into filthy dirges of crust-caked doom. Vocalist Chris Pinto spews deep, gut-churning growls while guitarists Eddie Bingaman and Paul Richards bring forth nasty riffs with just enough melody to make this album stand out from the pack. My favorite song from the album is the two-minute crusher “Planetary Obliteration,” with the immediate standout track “Smoldering Remnants” coming in as a close second. There are a handful of amazing Northwest death metal bands making waves right now: Fetid, Noroth, Cerebral Rot, and Mortiferum just to name a few. You would be a fool not to throw Re-Buried into that mix from now on.
For fans of: Entombed, Bolt Thrower, Carcass
Re-Buried play the Funhouse Sat Feb 4, 8:30 pm, $10.
Rainbow Coalition Death Cult
Having no idea what to expect from this band, I was absolutely blown away by their raging live performance at Freakout Fest 2022. This is raw, uncompromising, and politically charged hardcore punk through and through. From the band name, which is a nod to the anti-racist Rainbow Coalition group founded by Fred Hampton, to the unapologetically direct album title United States of Amnesia, there’s no watering down their message. When this band gets going, their speed borders on straight-up power violence. One thing I love about this is their complete disregard of genre barriers, as Black Ends guitarist Nicolle Swim adds the occasional catchy rock guitar flourish to their thrashy assault. Aside from a couple live videos on YouTube and their album posted on Bandcamp, there’s not much out there on this band. All I can say is if my brief but immediately rewarding step into to the world of Rainbow Coalition Death Cult is any indication, there are a whole lot of circle pits to be formed in their future.
For fans of: Scowl, Infest, Dead Kennedy’s