The majority of extreme music fans know Neurosis, ISIS and Cult Of Luna as leaders of the post-metal scene. However, as with any genre, there are others lurking in the shadows of hanging trees and bubbling under the surface of the sea (which, as post-metal band names go, aren’t too shabby!). There are vast numbers of bands that post-metal nerds will point out have been missed out on. So, in the interest of exploring less-than-heralded bands and providing ammunition for your next pub-soaked oneupmanship battle, we present 10 obscure, but brilliant post-metal bands that should be huge.
Mouth Of The Architect
With a history dating back to 2003 and a robust collection of releases under their belt, Ohio’s Mouth of the Architect always seemed to be on the cusp of something as massive as their music, but have been unable to crack the proverbial ceiling. That’s not to say they haven’t given it a shot with a relentless touring schedule and top-shelf discography, including monumental debut Time And Withering and universally revered The Ties That Blind (featuring guest spots by members of Mastodon and Russian Circles). The band still exist, but an inconsistent lineup and less-than-prescient business decisions sadly continue to keep them from the wider public’s eye and ear.
Contributing to the fact that hardly anyone outside of Dayton, Ohio has heard of Kenoma is that the instrumental powerhouse has only issued one full-length and a split EP, despite having been around since 2004. But damn, what an incredible pair of releases they are! Kenoma’s triple-headed guitar hydra and devastating bass sound aerated incredible Earth-on-its-axis riffing to great impact. Check out 1913 from their split with homies Mouth Of The Architect, and prepare to have your ability to headbang while preventing your bowels from loosening uncontrollably tested.
Ottawa, Ontario’s Buried Inside split up over a decade ago, but left a monolithic sounding and philosophically erudite body of work in their wake, especially their final two Relapse-released albums. The band will forever be lauded for 2005’s Chronoclast (Selected Essays on Time-Reckoning and Auto-Cannibalism) which paired lumbering riff pulsations and hardcore art-punk aesthetics with a thematic challenging of the notion of time as an enslaving construct.
This Copenhagen-based battalion have only been around since the mid-2010s, but have quickly become favourites among the bearded-and-horn-rimmed set via their musical rendering of post-apocalyptic nightmares and lava engulfing munitions factories. On 2018’s Deads, LLNN made seismic ripples by dipping deeply into wells of samples, walls of orchestration and grandiose soundtracks which compelled big-time movie sound designer, Peter Albrechtsen [Dunkirk, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo] to publicly extol and praise the band’s virtues.
Emerging from the more avant-garde and progressive end of the spectrum, Giant Squid peppered their release history with self-releases, hand-assembled packaging and limited-run splits and singles featuring classical instrumentation in addendum to the pensively thunderous guitar/bass/drums. However, much of their brilliance got lost as the band inadvertently made following them as difficult and challenging as their music. This, due in part to mainman Aaron Gregory’s nomadic tendencies and extra curricular artistic tendencies that presented the band more like a boutique art project than musical unit designed and devoted to ripping faces and scrambling brain cells, of which they did a bang-up job.
Milwaukee’s Northless distinguish themselves from the post-metal pack by being an indelicate bright spot on the sub-genre. The band, who have been mimicking a volcano eruption fed through an HM-2 pedal since 2007, have been unafraid to sound like Neurosis and EyeHateGod battling to burn each other’s rehearsal rooms to the ground, the only tenderness coming as they pour watered-down malt liquor over the ashes. If you’ve ever wondered what the sound of hair growing on a muscular chest is, then Northless has the answer.
This Philly band have always aimed to make immersive listening of their densely layered compositions part of the experience. To wit, of the heaping handful of releases they’ve issued since forming in 2003, full-lengths The Galilean Satellites and Wake/Lift have come with a companion CDs of ambient sounds, noises and samples designed to be a simultaneous adjunct to the ferocious, melodic and broad-sweeping spaciness of their song structures.
Minsk are a band that like to languidly simmer before beginning the slow build that pushes their sonic trajectory gradually upward, taking in as much of the surroundings before crushing everything within ear-range with atmosphere, monastic discipline and metallic clamour. They are masters of having crescendos crash into a fiery monolithic ballast and are the kings of tension and release. Every bit of Minsk’s 18-year history sounds like a stratified climb towards slo-motion, hand-to-hand combat on the edge of the end of the world.
Featuring production whiz Mikey Allred, Across Tundras offer (offered?) a unique spin on slow ’n’ low, pushing the goalposts back on customary quiet/loud dynamics. The Nashville trio’s hook was an obsession with the wide skies of the old American west and the psychedelic swirl of the 60s hippie movement. Their extensive catalogue incorporates tumbleweed twang and kaleidoscopic eyes into a dynamic drone that is (was?) and remains all their own.
Of all the bands mentioned above, this Lithuanian quartet arguably wield the most punishing and claustrophobic guitar/bass tone. The sounds they’ve achieved on their two albums – 2018’s Vaitojimas and Savigaila, coming on July 23 – suffocate much of the space inherent to post-metal. Where others coddle and massage contrast and dynamics, Erdve would rather be the musical equivalent of a runaway boulder decimating mountain-side villages. This, combined with the band’s penchant for drawing influence from misanthropic industrial and grind/death metal, makes for decidedly crushing cascades.