~ These diverse pieces, from a variety of artists, produce a different kind of blood-pumping adrenaline (as opposed to strictly heavy metal). These bands – covering art rock, punk rock, pop rock, instrumental rock and even prog metal – are uniquely positioned with the capacity to match their sound with the changing emotions of the listener (why some may call it ’emo’). For me, these bands, these songs, are endlessly re-playable. Through their visceral song-writing and sounds, each is given their time and place to perfectly coincide with some form of the listener ‘going through it.’ I relate all of these bands together from their power to make one fist pump or cry or do both at the same time.
Coheed and Cambria – In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 ~ C&C is one of the more unique bands I have ever come into contact with, in that all of their art rock albums are conceptually based on a single grand science fiction narrative penned by frontman Claudio Sanchez. They even have real graphic novels bringing to life the universe created within their music. Man your own jackhammer!
Periphery – Stranger Things ~ This band introduced me to djent, which is a form a metal. Highly technical, precise, extreme, Periphery bring it on every track. Their vocalist is particularly impressive in the extremities of his range. And having seen them live, I can say that he sounds just as incredible in person.
Animals as Leaders – CAFO ~ A purely instrumental band, AAL presents some of the best guitar playing instrumentation you will hear. Lead guitar gods Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes test the limits of what a guitar can do. Much like Russian Circles below, within the sea of instrumentation, emotions are produced that you may not find anywhere else.
Russian Circles – Verses ~ My discovery of Russian Circles is one of my favorite music stories. Years ago a couple friends and I were in Austin, TX for a concert to see Between The Buried And Me, Russian Circles and Coheed and Cambria (in retrospect, a killer lineup). RC opened and we’d never heard of the band, let alone heard their music. They opened with Harper Lewis. The blasting drum sounds and extremely amped speakers with the volume a little too high blew us away. We were all enraptured. An instrumental band, Russian Circles throws down some of the most emotional instrumental metal I have ever listened to.
Tesseract – Of Matter ~ With an otherworldly sound and similar djent instrumentation to bands like Periphery and Animals as Leaders, Tesseract’s force for me comes from their vocalist. He delivers his all on every track and takes point. Their albums are diverse, eclectic and consistently good.
Paramore – Last Hope ~ “It’s just a spark, but it’s enough, to keep me going.” I still remember listening to Paramore for the first time in mid school from the music video for “Decode“, thinking they slapped and then having to hide it. Because it was from Twilight, because it was an emo ‘girl’ band, because I was into metal and it felt weird to dig their sound? Probably all of the above. But in later years, I have embraced it. They’re good. Hayley has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard. And they have songs like Last Hope …
Knuckle Puck – True Contrite ~ I found this band semi-randomly and within the last couple years. They mix an attractive pop-punk sound with lyrics you can shout along to that also carry depth to the discerning. The quality of their songs on each of their albums are quality and flow seamlessly for repeated listens.
HAIM – Falling ~ I discovered this band just this past month as I made conscientious run through of Pitchfork’s list of their top 200 albums of the 2010’s. In a sea of albums that only mildly interested me, HAIM’s album “Days Are Gone” (#86) certainly caught my ear. Their sound has vitality and the kind of roiling energy reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac. I am an instant fan. They also have incredible music videos.