Feb 012013

(I’ve always liked Andy Synn. And the following article he wrote reminds me of one of the reasons why. Read it, and then find out more about how to vote for his band in the Bloodstock contest HERE.)

Ok, so, blatant plug time… you know I’m trying to get my band more exposure by applying for both the Bloodstock and Damnation festivals this year, right? Well the former involves bands submitting a live video, and the latter requires a simple vote on a facebook poll (here). The best thing about the Bloodstock angle so far, though, has been looking through the competition and seeing exactly what’s out there, and also the lengths to which people will go in order to make themselves stand out – or appear to be something that they’re not.

So, one evening recently myself and a few buddies/bros/mates got together to have a few beers and trawl through the different entries to the Bloodstock/Hobgoblin competition and see what we could find.

Some of it wasn’t pretty. There’s an awful, awful lot of generic retro-thrash out there, with songs generally just about ‘being metal’… which would seem pretty obvious, considering the music, right? There’s also a heck of a lot of nu-metal still out there, positively brimming with angst (as well as some rather disjointed, occasionally hilarious, pseudo-intellectual imagery).

There’s also quite a lot of metalcore pretending not to be metalcore (6th generation Killswitch riffs and over-processed clean vocals, by any other name, don’t smell any sweeter, I can tell you that). There’s even quite a few bands claiming to be metalcore when their sound is a tad too… light… even for that now-over-saturated genre.

BUT – it’s not all bad. I’ve gone through and picked out a few real stand-outs for you, that (at the risk of damaging our own chances of getting any further exposure or support) I’ve winnowed down to the few after the jump.

Let’s begin…


Ok, so we’re going to briefly reference the stalwarts who’ve already gotten a lot of love here at NCS, particularly weighty metalcore monsters Karybdis and sublime prog-heads Spires. Both those bands deserve your love and adoration.

However I’ve also picked out four other worthy contenders, two of whom are definitely part of the NCS wheelhouse, two of whom… maybe less so.

Let’s start out with something familiar then, shall we?


Californian 5-piece Your Chance To Die inhabit the mid-point of a ven-diagram of death metal, tech-death, and deathcore, with some wickedly brutal vocals. Genre-terms aside, they’re a brutal bunch, with some impressive technical skills on their side. Give them a listen!



Another band worth checking out is Triverse Massacre, who have a nice, and nasty, death metal sound, with some seriously raw vocals and a buzzsaw guitar tone. Though they don’t quite have a fully established identity of their own yet, they also transcend their influences pretty well!



And now the bands who don’t fit the NCS ‘comfort zone’ quite as well!

Unleash The Archers are from Canada and would definitely appeal to fans of 3 Inches Of Blood. They commit, wholly and unflinchingly, to the tropes of the genre while also delivering some pretty killer riffs and lead parts. The vocals (primarily female, but with a smattering of low and high harsh vocals) are also a definite standout.



And finally we have Northern Oak, a dark, folk-metal band from Sheffield, UK, with an interesting and ambitious keyboard presence and a prominent use of flute as a lead instrument (I think there’s some violin in there too!). The vocals give the whole thing a very blackened feel, without pitching it into actual black metal territory. See what you think of their sound.




So there’s just a few of the good bands who’ve submitted their material to the competition (and yes, I realise that they don’t appear to have gone with the ‘live video’ part of the rules, but still…). Let me know which ones tickle your fancy… oh, and vote Bloodguard!


  1. Unleash the Archers is a great pick. I gave their first record a very good review a couple years back, although I was considerably less impressed with the follow-up (hopefully they’ll bring the magic back for their third). They look cool as hell in that pic.

  2. ..whose wheelhouse were those first two bands supposed to be in again?

  3. Great to see Unleash the Archers here; both of their albums are fantastic. Then again, I have a much higher tolerance for power metal than most people posting here – lingering after effect of Blind Guardian being my introduction to the metal underground.

  4. I listened to Northern Oak because it seemed like something I should like. I could probably get into the music, BUT…wtf is up with the vocals? I can’t decide whether they are horrible vocals, horribly recorded vocals, or horrible vocals recorded horribly.

    • I think its the production…I like what theyre doing in theory, but that track sounded really bad to me…and I like low production values on a lot of my music. I think they need (and I cant believe Im going to say this) a more polished sound for their music

      • It sounds like it was recorded live in a pub through a single mic. Either that or totally incompetent engineering.

    • As an audio engineer (live and recording), I can tell you just from the sound of it that the recording itself is at fault. It was either done with a cassette-based 4 track recorder, or it may really have been a single mic job. Either way, that could be used as the textbook definition of “low-fi.”

  5. I don’t know that I’d be able to listen to Unleash the Archers on a regular basis but damn that woman has some pipes.

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