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Hardcore and Metal's Cream Of The Crop In 2001:

With the mainstreams growing recognition of more and more extreme acts, 2001 is the year that will see Slipknot's sophomore effort sell by the truckload and yet further blur the lines between alternative and mainstream culture. As a result, in this article are some of the bands who also share extreme ideals, yet go about their business largely unnoticed in making pure and uncompromising hard hitting music. Whether it be because of their innovation, message or the bone snapping heaviness they bring, these acts go largely ignored by the mainstream media. Their music may not be easy to digest and it is definitely far from pleasant, but the sheer heaviness and honesty of their craft will certainly ring true to those looking for something heavier than what the traditional media has to offer.

Candiria :
Candiria have been building a name for themselves for quite some time with their unique melting pot of styles which incorporates hardcore, jazz, hip-hop and all out insanity. But more recently their rise to fame has come to a head, with praise beginning to come from all quarters of the media, ultimately landing them the title of one of the 'ten most important heavy bands' from Rolling Stone magazine. With their latest effort "300 Percent Density", selling over 3000 copies in its first week of release, the band have reached both a creative and fan swelling peak in a career that has spanned over seven years. One of the most innovative and challenging bands in recent times its little wonder that people are taking notice. Candiria
Location: Brooklyn, NY

"Signs Of Discontent"
"300 percent Density" Online Flash Single

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Zao :
With only one original member remaining since they debuted in 1997 the band have taken on many guises, but with their latest effort simply called '(self titled)' they have arguably produced their best and most challenging material to date. With a genre defying sound fusing soft, slow, hypnotic touches with the heaviest of riffs, Zao are a prime example of a band pushing the boundaries of music and further proof that the metalcore scene has never been one to stand still. The versatile vocal talents ranging from death metal to hardcore growls to softly spoken words mirror the music's diverse nature and its ability to step up or down a level at any given moment. When you consider that Zao is the Greek term for 'Alive' the album title takes on another meaning for a band that so nearly decided to end with this record. Surely their next step is to take their music to a wider audience, perhaps producing a record on a major label. Zao
Location: Chicago, IL

"5 Year Winter"
"Trash Can Hands"

Purchase Zao Records

Embodyment :
The release of 1999's "The Narrow Scope Of Things" saw a huge departure from earlier recordings, breaking out from the hardcore thrash mold into something more accessible and appealing. A more Deftonesesque sound in terms of sonics and a far more vocally adept frontman, the band along with many other acts on the excellent Solid State Records roster are spearheading extreme Christian music that you just cant afford to ignore. Embodyment plan to release a new album, "Hold Your Breath" this fall and it promises to be increasingly melodic and tuneful as the band further their emo meets hardcore sound. [Embodyment]
Location: Dallas, Texas

"Winter Kiss"
"One Less Addiction"

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Poison The Well :
South Florida's Poison The Well released their first and only full length to date as long ago as January 2000. Titled "The Opposite of December", at just under 30 minutes running time, it was a short but sweet affair that has left fans craving for more of the bands uplifting melodies, chuggery riffs and emo stylings. What really sets PTW apart though are the tortured vocals of singer Jeffrey Moreira whose insightful lyrics and vocal range are a rare and much sought after quality in any band. With the recent re-release of the bands first EP, the continued good news for fans is that new material is expected to surface early next year. The long wait a testament to the dedicated fan base the band have built up. Poison The Well
Location: Florida

"Slice Paper Wrists"

Purchase Poison The Well Records

God Forbid :
New Jersey has long been fertile ground for extreme acts and God Forbid are the most recent band deserving of your attention. Having just released 'Determination' on the well respected Century Media label the band have begun extensive and heavy touring that has seen them play Europe and stateside tours with Nothingface, Vision Of Disorder, Cradle Of Filth and Nile. This fact alone should give you some inkling into the bands ability to win over fans from any genre. With their focused thrash like metalcore and incendiary live show the band have a bright future indeed. God Forbid
Location: East Brunswick, NJ

"Go Your Own way"

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Living Sacrifice :
Formed in 1989 Living sacrifice have done everything but stand still. Early in their career they started life as a speed metal band and later put out a more death metal sounding record but they didn't really find their feet until they signed to Tooth and Nail Records and took a more hardcore approach. Their two most recent records "Reborn" (1997) and "The Hammering Process" (2000) best represent their current style of trigger happy metalcore riffs with strong emphasis on percussion. Not as technical as many of today's crop of bands, they instead offer a more structured and efficient sound that is reminiscent of Meshuggah and with there more modern metal sound are more than capable of broadening their fan base. Living Sacrifice
Location: Little Rock, Arkansas

"Altered Life"

Purchase Living Sacrifice Records

Hatebreed :
Hatebreed are no doubt the staple band in any hardcore fans record collection, having single handedly changed the face of hardcore music since forming in 1995. With only two major releases under their belt and a highly anticipated release due this summer titled 'Perseverance', the band have crafted their own form of metallic, hardcore thuggery that serves as a soundtrack to any mosh pit. With an appearance on this years Ozzfest they offer a welcomed edge to this years roster and are certain to win over many new fans. Hatebreed
Location: New Haven, CT

"Death Beyond Dishonor (Live)"

Purchase Hatebreed Records

Dillinger Escape Plan :
Dillinger Escape Plan's clean cut image couldn't be any further from the images you would conjure up having heard their music. Chaotic, technically intricate, and one of the defining bands of a genre that has been dubbed "noise core", "math metal" and even "hell core", the latter presumably because they sound like a soundtrack to hell. DEP have come a long way in a relatively short period in becoming a band to which others are name checked against. Their 1997 debut self-titled mini-CD on Now Or Never Records recently saw a re-release due to the bands growing fan base after 1999's most recent offering, the now seminal "Calculating Infinity". Despite the recent departure of lead singer Dimitri the band plan to release a new 4 track EP before the year is out and you can't help but think it is yet another chapter in this bands creative career. Dillinger Escape Plan
Official Website:
Location: New Jersey

"43% Burnt"
"The Mullet Burden"

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Minus :
Iceland is the loneliest country in the western world so unsurprisingly Minus offer a unique perspective on hardcore in 2001. Disturbed and distorted vocals backed by noise ala Drowningman and Botch with a brush of technology. Minus don't so much play music, but rather execute it. The quality of their debut album "Jesus Christ Bobby" is unquestionable and runs right through to the packaging with its glossy coat and cold abstract art. Best of all you can rest assured that you wont have anything else like it in your collection. Minus
Official Website:
Location: Iceland


Purchase Minus Records

Drowningman :
Last years "Rock And Roll Killing Machine" was no stranger to many music fans 'top ten albums of the year' list, and rightly so as it picked up the mantle from where the brilliant EP "How They Light Cigarettes in Prison" left off. Their unique blend of dark sarcasm, complex technical changes and a slant towards metal is about as intense and emotional as it gets without veering into generic angst. Having made the back of a van like a second home the band have steadily toured America, breaking down along the way in true punk rock fashion but never losing faith, the band recently released an EP by the name of "Drowningman Still Loves You" which sees the band become more melodic than ever and no let up of Simon Brody's brilliant lyrics and wit. Drowningman
Official Website:
Location: Vermont

"Friends Who Actually Hate You"
"Black Tie Knife Fight"

Purchase Drowningman Records

By Brian Webb (August 2001)
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