Feature: The New Faces of Rock – Gemini Syndrome, Matt Toka, Otherwise, Butcher Babies, Awaken the Empire, and More
Wed, 27 Jun 2012 17:05:21
Music is unarguably between a rock and hard place.
Pop and hip hop acts aren't racking up the numbers that they used to. Electronic dance music reigns supreme, and we live in a festival-obsessed marketplace. A brand like Coachella means more to younger audiences than any act on the bill ever could. They're Tumblr-ing, Twitter-ing, and Facebook-ing about the day-long fests. They're sharing all the racy pictures from Electric Daisy Carnival or whatever other daylight orgy they went to, and they're streaming every song on YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, or name-whatever-cool-online-radio-you-prefer. What's the one thing they're not doing?
Well, they sure as hell aren't buying records.
However, we've seen this phenomenon before. Rock isn't dead; it's just been sleeping—until now. It's actually shaking off the weariness in good ole Los Angeles. So, of course Guns N' Roses is synonymous with the Sunset Strip, but there have been other Hollywood Revolutions beyond the Appetite for Destruction days. The last one happened when Tool, Korn, and Rage Against the Machine broke in L.A. Then, ten years later, in the early '00s, Linkin Park, System of a Down, and Incubus bubbled up from the sun-soaked streets of SoCal. As the decade cycle repeats and hard rock seems "over", we've got another revolution brewing in the city of angels.
There are a few key players in the modern scene that could very well galvanize the genre once more. Let's collectively root for them…
Hollywood Rising – The New Faces of Rock
Gemini Syndrome might just infect the entire world in the best way possible when their debut full-length drops on Warner Bros. Records. They're the one of a few groups from the scene to snag a major label deal, and they're primed to take over. The group coats pummeling heavy metal with an alternative haze, effectively bridging the gap between The Smashing Pumpkins and Mastodon. Once the bridge is built they blow it to hell and leave a new paradigm in its place. As dark and thrilling as Tool early on, this is one Syndrome you won't ever be able to shake.
Toka's pissed-off. He's got a crazy green hairdo. He's funny as shit, and he also can write one hell of a pop rock tune. However, he never loses the shit-eating grin while penning cathartic anthems about dysfunction and the devil. Think of him as the Tumblr generation's Green Day. Plus, he's signed to Warner Bros. Records and you can catch him on Warped Tour all summer.
Awaken the Empire
With a little bit of electronica and off-kilter industrial, Awaken the Empire conjure up enigmatic hard rock that's as catchy as it is corrosive. The band thrives on extremes, dropping in and out of nearly danceable beats before firing off a massive arena-size refrain. They don't sound quite like anyone out there, and they've been drumming up a ton of attention as MTV dubbed the ethereal anthem "Rise and Fall" Buzzworthy.
The Las Vegas outfit might as well be from Los Angeles they've played their so much. They moved almost 50,000 downloads of their hit single "Soldiers" and landed on indie metal powerhouse Century Media Records. They merge a stadium-ready bombast with incisive and intimate lyrics. Singer Adrian Patrick remains one of the most dynamic presences in the scene, and they're bound for very big things.
Covered in blood and scantily clad, Butcher Babies bludgeon with more attitude than any ten bands combined. Their assault rides at light speed on thrash riffing and double bass bashing as well as Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey's haunting and heavy vocal interplay. As self-proclaimed "slut metal" pioneers, they really are ripping metal a new one. Definitely one of the most brutal and badass of the bunch, maybe ever…
Picture Me Broken
Layla "Brooklyn" Allman has a voice given to her by the gods, and it can be crushing or caressing—sometimes even in the same song. They're young, hungry, and ready for domination.
Like a combination between Marilyn Manson and Eminem, Davey Suicide is a real born villain, and he's coming for you with an industrial rock attack that's immediately unforgettable.
Championed by Wayne Static of Static-X (a leader from the early '00s scene), 9Electric makes groovy electro metal that nods to singer Ron Underwood's days in Opiate for the Masses, while elevating everything to a new plateau.
Consume the Fire
Tough and tight speed metal from these shredders brings Bonded By Blood violence to the modern masses.
Also worth checking out: Evolove, Stitched Up Heart, Valor and Vengeance, All Hail the Yeti, Halo, The Dark, Thrown Into Exile, We Are the Riot, The Natural Born Killers, and Interim Divine
Who's your favorite new L.A. metal band?