Long prologue: Falling off the edge of the digital era.
There will always be people in the music industry for the wrong reasons. Some of them professionally, some of them parasitic; they're just there, trying to gain their 15 minutes of fame, most of the time without doing something significant or working/creating something that will leave a mark and be part of the music industry and/or music.
Trying to stay in the music part of things, there are a few people that are doing their job the way it should be: with passion, vision, hard work. Most of the time, they already know their abilities and are aware of their talent in specific things, so they're not look like fools. Or they just don't care what you're saying.
You can easily spot them because others will talk about them. Most of the times, when someone is doing exactly what needs to be done (correctly and professionally + passionate and true, to his music/art) there will always be the people that can't do anything alike, so they're going only to "star" in social media while others will star in real life. A post on Facebook, in a forum or whatever, will be forgotten very soon, just like footprints in the beach. However, a successful work of art will always remain and all the people involved (musicians, producers, labels) will have a huge or small part to share about it. No matter if there's also commercial success or just artistic.
The iconic bands and musicians that brought heavy metal to that point of today, will soon be gone or they're already "gone" but can't do anything else. Don't get me wrong, I have the highest respect for all those and I can't imagine heavy metal without Judas Priest or Saxon, but just like Black Sabbath or Motörhead, soon they will all stop, so we must think about the future without them... It is just that most of them don't know when to stop or they just CAN'T stop because they don't know what else to do. This is their life, don't forget that.
So, underneath all those names, there are a few "new" musicians/people that most of the time are focused on their music and job. They're already here, a few of them from the late '00s, and a few of them are already part of great albums that during the new, digital era didn't all of them get the proper attention. After all, even if Rising, Heaven and Hell, Diary of a Madman, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus or Operation: Mindcrime would be released in 2020, there would be people saying "naaah", "mediocre", or a few of them would just pass by with a quick listen on YouTube. But wait... In the new, digital era, there are already people and fans in heavy metal music that think those albums might be "mediocre" or "bad" according to the "matter of taste".
So finally, there is probably a "matter of taste" if someone can't understand the importance of a few albums and musicians of the history of heavy metal. With that in mind, I don't expect everyone to agree, but Crystal Logic will present you 10 (+10) "new" musicians that are already on the frontline, and a few of them are going to be more important in the near future. They're already here.
The future belongs to the brave.
written by Andreas Andreou
1. Arthur Rizk
Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer/audio engineer.
Related acts: Eternal Champion, Sumerlands.
Probably the hottest "new" name out there, with already one modern classic album under his belt (Eternal Champion's The Armor of Ire), the second Eternal Champion album Ravening Iron completed and on the way to immortality shortly, and having already offered in just a few years, producer/audio engineer/mastering duties to bands like Sacred Reich, Cavalera Conspiracy, Cro-Mags, Crypt Sermon, Power Trip, Smoulder, Tomb Mold, and Cirith Ungol among others, plus the bands he's playing with, of course: Eternal Champion and Sumerlands.
Speaking of Sumerlands, the debut same-titled album that brought in the new millennium the Jake E. Lee Ozzy-era with the underground all-father icon Phil Swanson on vocals, is one of the best heavy metal releases of the previous decade and Arthur is already working on the follow-up.
Starting from the depths of the late '00s US crossover scene with War Hungry, Arthur Rizk evolved to an all-around metal musician and producer with a strong influence in the wider US underground metal scene, and his studio in Pennsylvania is going to have a leading role in the years to come, let alone his presence in Eternal Champion and Sumerlands.
Arthur Rizk is the definition of "the future belongs to the brave". There is no luck here, just pure talent and hard work.
Next in Line: Olof Wikstrand
Singer, guitarist, songwriter, producer/audio engineer.
Related acts: Enforcer.
Starting with Enforcer in the mid '00s, it was 2008 the year when the debut album Into the Night was released just to be followed by Diamonds two years later. At that time, Enforcer was the absolute hyped traditional heavy metal newcomer, something they also proved with their live shows. But truth to be told, even if they are labeled as "one of the leading forces of New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal", even if we're using that term too, I can't really tell how valid the term is. More albums and live shows followed and Olof Wikstrand became a solid member of the (underground) metal scene, offering also mixing, mastering, audio engineering or producing duties in a few highlights of the previous decade, including releases from bands like Manacle and Tribulation. Olof is not exactly like most of the other musicians presented herein (or the long prologue), since he is very active (or "complaining", if you prefer) on social media, and someone might add that Enforcer "already did what they could do". I don't think so.
2. Gabriel Franco
Singer, guitarist, bassist, songwriter.
Related acts: Idle Hands.
One of the most talented musicians of today, is a youngster that has a specific "one-way" vision in his mind: commercial and artistic success with his new band, Idle Hands. Previously a member of Spellcaster, he was on the right way but other forces within the band led them to nothingness, so at that point, Gabriel decided that it would be his way, only. With Idle Hands and the best possible members he could get, their 2019 debut album Mana (that followed the EP Don't Waste Your Time) was one of the best releases of that year; maybe of the decade too.
Playing more live shows than almost any other band with musicians of his age during 2019, he ended supporting the US tour of King Diamond, performing the "heavy metal-meets-gothic and everything in-between" bittersweet music in front of a wider audience and gaining more attention. The quarantine months during the COVID-19 outbreak, besides the negative impact on the music industry, was probably a good opportunity for Gabriel Franco to plan his future with Idle Hands, check closely the label offers he has and of course, write a few more songs that we're going to sing in the years to come.
Next in Line: Jeff Black
Guitarist, keyboardist, songwriter.
Related acts: Gatekeeper.
It took a few years to the Canadian epic heavy metal armada of Gatekeeper to establish a recording and touring line-up but up to that point, they already had established their name in the underground epic metal scene, so they only needed a full-album to move to the next step. That next step was reached in 2018 with the release of their debut album East of Sun. Jeff Black (also known as Geoff Blackwell) is the driving force behind Gatekeeper and with the right people next to him, he is going to release the best Gatekeeper album in the years to come. We will probably see him also performing more dungeon synth.
3. Jarvis Leatherby
Singer, bassist, songwriter, promoter, manager.
Related acts: Night Demon, Cirith Ungol.
That dude owns the game. The leather boy from Ventura, California, formed Night Demon two decades after the last show of Cirith Ungol in his hometown and he managed to bring the entity known as Cirith Ungol back from the depths of time.
After the Night Demon same-titled EP in 2012, it took Jarvis and Co. a few more time in order to present a more than excellent full-album in 2015 under the name Curse of the Damned and an equally awesome follow-up in 2017 named Darkness Remains. Just like the Swedish force of power (Enforcer), Night Demon ruled the stage and that was an important element for their success and how fast they spread their name touring worldwide. That raw live power can be found in the Live Darkness live album but I am sure that most of the readers have already seen them somewhere. Night Demon played almost everywhere!
But Jarvis is something more than a "bass player who sings". He is also the organizer of Frost and Fire festival that takes place in his hometown, he is a super fan of NWOBHM and also holds the mic for Jaguar, he is the man behind the Cirith Ungol reunion and he finally took the bass role in the legendary American band. Additionally, he also started Iron Grip management, currently working with Cirith Ungol, Visigoth, Midnight and Satan. That's a lot of work, don't you think?
Music is the life of Jarvis Leatherby and he is an important part of the heavy metal scene nowadays. And I believe that there's more to come besides more Night Demon albums...
Next in line: Sarah Ann Kitteringham
Vocals, journalism, vlog, swords.
Related acts: Smoulder.
Based in Canada, Sarah Ann is fronting Smoulder that released Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring album in 2019, a strong album combining the best elements of classic epic heavy metal and doom metal legends. Smoulder are going to keep us hot in the future but you're going to read and see more about Sarah Ann in Decibel and BangerTV. Smoulder also include a few extraordinary gentlemen like Shawn Vincent and Collin Wolf, names you're also going to see a lot of times in the future of underground metal.
4. Jason Tarpey
Singer, author, hammer & anvil.
Related acts: Eternal Champion, Iron Age, Graven Rite.
I keep saying that you don't have to be a Geoff Tate singer in every band. There are bands that need a "specific" voice in their songs, a voice that fits perfectly and it is used as an instrument. When Jason was a boy, he was deeply into fantasy, reading Conan comic books and watching similar films, like Conan the Barbarian, Krull and Beastmaster. Later, he was introduced in H.P. Lovecraft and his circle, while he also discovered Manilla Road. When he joined Iron Age, a crossover band in Austin, Texas, he brought similar lyrics creating the iconic underground album The Sleeping Eye. His voice was perfect for Iron Age but later he decided to form an epic heavy metal band with clean singing. In the beginning there was Graven Rite and then Eternal Champion. When Eternal Champion released The Armor of Ire in 2016, it was an instant classic and it was more than obvious that this band was going to dominate the underground metal scene, and so it happened. Four years later, Jason Tarpey has a successful business an a blacksmith artist hand-forging steel and ironwork in the Texas hill country (Hammerhall Forge), he is writing about sword & sorcery and he sings songs you won't forget in the upcoming Eternal Champion album, Ravening Iron. With the most suitable voice you need, singing in a way that makes you repeat his every word and line.
Next in Line: Brendan Radigan
Related acts: Magic Circle, Stone Dagger, Pagan Altar.
Brendan Radigan is a very special case. A person with a huge background in many diverse bands from hardcore and crossover to black metal, and from doom metal to epic heavy metal. And while he is currently the lead singer of Pagan Altar, the moment when Stone Dagger's debut album will be released, the world of underground metal will be shocked.
5. Cale Savy
Guitarist, singer, songwriter.
Related acts: Riot City.
When I first listened to the Livin' Fast demo of 2014, I knew that Riot City is going to be the energetic heavy metal band that will rule in the years to come. When the debut album Burn the Night was released in 2019, their screaming heavy metal was a shock. Judas Priest, spikes and leather! Riot City offered an amalgam of ripping and hot heavy metal, created in pure and youthful madness. Cale's vocals in Burn the Night are over the top but he stepped out of the mic for the coming tour and the next album, while he kept delivering energetic and powerful guitar mayhem. The next album is (probably) going to be released in 2021 and we expect nothing less than pure over-the-top heavy metal.
Next in Line: Jean-Pierre Abboud
Singer, metal enthusiast.
Related acts: Traveler, Gatekeeper.
JP Abboud started as the singer of Borrowed Time but probably the underground metal scene wasn't ready for them... Thankfully, Jeff Black in Gatekeeper and Matt Ries in Traveler didn't leave his amazing voice gone by so he is recording and touring with both of them while he is also part of Syrinx. JP is here to stay and we're going to listen many times to his awesome mid-range voice screaming stuff like "when the blade of Cimmeria drinks the life from their veins" and "the street machine can't fight back the winter".
6. Sebastian Silva
Related acts: Idle Hands, Silver Talon, Cobra Spell.
Talent. You always need to have passion and skills, you always must practice but talent is what's making the difference. Sebastian Silva has plenty of it as a guitarist. He had joined many bands like Spellcaster, Leathürbitch and Silver Talon, but Idle Hands is the band that's making the difference. Sebastian "Spyder" Silva toured all over the world with Idle Hands and I've seen them twice, in a huge venue (festival) and also in a small club with 100 people. They delivered the goods both times and Sebastian is a great guitarist with a perfect stage presence. During the COVID-19 year, Sebastian also formed a band with...
Next in line: Sonia Anubis (Sonia Nusselder)
Guitar, YouTube, Instagram.
Related Acts: Burning Witches, Crypta, Cobra Spell.
Born 50 years after the birthday of Alice Cooper, it was the summer of 2019 where Sonia and Sebastian Silva of Idle Hands decided to form a band together. When the guitar duo met Alice Cooper, he advised them to follow their dreams of making music together, so they formed Cobra Spell! Sonia has a strong presence in social media and she was a member of Burning Witches but Cobra Spell sound as the ideal band for her, influenced by the golden era of the '80s and bands like Dokken, with hook-driven songs and guitar extravaganza. Cobra Spell will release later this year their debut EP, Love Venom.
7. Chris Black
Multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, record label owner, "heavy metal is the law".
Related acts: High Spirits, Dawnbringer, Aktor, Pharaoh, Professor Black.
Chris Black from Chicago, Illinois, is older than most of the musicians presented herein, but he is still young; actually one year younger than the author of this blog. However, his discography is unbelievable and impossible for many. This guy is a writing machine that sometime in the mid '90s he formed Dawnbringer releasing albums like In Sickness and in Dreams, Nucleus, In the Lair of the Sun God and Night of the Hammer among others, he formed Pharaoh performing drum duties and writing also a few songs for them, and then he also formed High Spirits that this year released a new album (Hard to Stop) mixed by Dan Swanö whom Chris met during his visit in Sweden in order to locate people and places that would be included in his upcoming book about Quorthon and Bathory!
But this is not just that. Chris is also running Planet Metal record label having released stuff from Bible of the Devil, Quicksand Dream, Züül and more, and he is also running more bands like Aktor, MetalUSAfer and Professor Black. And there are even more! This guy is a legend and he will never stop because heavy metal is the law.
Next in Line: Chad Davis
Singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter.
Related acts: Hour of 13, The Sabbathian.
Still older than most of the others herein, I just can't imagine writing an article like this one without including Chris Black and Chad Davis. I don't know what the future will hold for Chad, but he is an iconic underground metal songwriter, mostly exploring the dark side of things. Anu, Mountain of Judgement, Seven Foot Spleen, Olde, The Sabbathian, The Ritualist, Set, Profane Grace, and of course Hour of 13 (now using the Hour of Thirteen name) which their same-titled album of 2007 is one of the best albums of the '00s. This year, Chad is back with The Crooked Whispers and Satanic Melodies.
8. Trevor William Church
Singer, guitarist, bassist, record label owner.
Related acts: Haunt, Beastmaker.
Trevor was born into music. His father, his uncle and other members of his family were known musicians performing with known bands and artists like Montrose, Sammy Hagar and Van Morrison, just to name a few. His family, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne are just a few notable influences but it seemed that he would be involved with music no matter what. Based in Fresno, California, his first great stuff was released with Beastmaker recording countless songs and in 2017 he formed Haunt, one of the leading traditional heavy metal bands at the moment, with already a few awesome albums while in the beginning of 2020 they released Mind Freeze and before the year will end, another album is already out, Flashback! At the same time, Trevor is running Church Recordings, releasing now his own music and also gathering a few cool newcomers like Hysteria and Saber, other acts we're going to have in mind for the next few years.
Next in Line: Marios Petropoulos
Related acts: Sacral Rage.
There aren't many bands playing that perfect technical heavy speed metal of Sacral Rage. Actually, maybe there isn't any at the moment performing something so damn cool and metal as a mix of bands like Helstar, WatchTower, Annihilator, adding a few Mercyful Fate/King Diamond elements and the brain of Rush. Marios has that excellent guitar talent and no matter if the next album of Sacral Rage will meet commercial success, it will be an artistic mountain with a top unreachable by many.
9. Will Fried (known as The Hermit, Ol' Rusty, Will Spectre)
Singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter.
Related acts: Tarot, The Wizar'd.
Born in the golden year of 1988, Will is also the owner of Heavy Chains Records and that was my first contact with him sometime in 2014. He had already released The Wizar'd albums but didn't know that he was also Ol' Rusty, at least not before Tarot's The Warrior's Spell fell into my hands. In the marvellous year of 2016, the year of Agatus' The Eternalist, Eternal Champion's The Armor of Ire, Sumerlands' same-titled album, Khemmis' Hunted and The Temple's Forevermourn, Tarot released Reflections that was made of dreams, eerie landscapes and poetry. This year, The Wizar'd returned with their arcane metal and the album Subterranean Exile, and we're also waiting for Tarot's return...
Next in Line: Tucker Thomasson
Singing, lifting, playing guitar and Dungeons & Dragons.
Related acts: Throne of Iron.
The dude. Throne of Iron's debut album Adventure One is one of the most enjoyable albums of 2020 including every cliché we love and even more. There are better albums released in 2020, I know, but we can't resist a call to adventure and we're looking forward for more of them. As for the video of "Lichspire", that's definitely the best of 2020:
10. Colin Hendra
Singer, guitarist, songwriter, artist.
Related acts: Wytch Hazel.
When the Sarlacc's CD version of The Truth fell in my hands back in 2014, little I knew that this was going to be such a great band. Wytch Hazel's evolution is simply amazing and Colin Hendra is fully aware of this. Starting with Prelude in 2016 and with II: Sojourn in 2018, the British band established a strong name in the scene delivering a beautiful blend of classic heavy metal and hard rock rooted in '70s inspired by bands like Wishbone Ash, Thin Lizzy and Black Sabbath of course. Wytch Hazel's music is dominated by melodies, acoustic parts, great songwriting and a heartful performance, having also a Christian vibe. In 2020 the band will deliver the third full-album III: Pentecost and the mystical aura is now combined with a rich, sumptuous, anthemic late-night drivetime vibe, passionately embracing the most high-end smash-hit classic rock and metal of late '70s.
"Music is created for all, it’s a common grace for everyone" Colin said, "which is why the music that shows the glory of God the most, in my opinion, is not music created by Christians. It’s Black Sabbath!" You have to love them!
Next in Line: Joseph Tholl
Singer, guitarist, bassist, songwriter.
Related acts: VOJD, Black Trip, Enforcer.
Enforcer was a major step for Joseph but somewhere between, the two Black Trip albums was something bigger for him. In 2016, Black Trip changed its name to VOJD and released The Outer Ocean in 2018 without meeting the same success. Last year, Joseph released his solo album Devil's Drum and we're going to expect even more from him and VOJD. Or any other band he's going to be in.
This article is dedicated to the memory of Riley Gale of Power Trip.