Saturday, February 14, 2009

Underground Richmond Metal

Richmond's had a rich history as an amazing host for metal music long before my move here. Household names like GWAR, MUNICIPAL WASTE, LAMB OF GOD, DARKEST HOUR and more have been going for many years now, and there's no sign of things slowing down. The Richmond underground however, is also overflowing with incredible bands that just don't have quite as much exposure.

The main point of this particular blog post is to attract a bit more attention to a few of the current high-caliber metal bands who are playing live just off of demos. I honestly feel privileged to get to see bands with this level of intensity perform live on a regular basis. There are a ton of DIY/underground bands going, but I'm just highlighting a few with this post that I'm particularly fond of... and who are unabashedly METAL. Without further blubbering about how much I love this town, here are the bands:

INTER ARMA has been together for a few years but really turned things up a notch within the last year or so. I distinctly remember one house show they played where I thought to myself "damn, these guys got GOOD" and I've been a devotee ever since. They're hard to beat live, with an octopus/caveman/human-hybrid for a drummer and four other outstanding musicians on board. What's best about INTER ARMA is their ability to play almost any style of metal and do it justice.

There are a lot of bands that blend genres and it can get so undefined that it's almost too much. INTER ARMA do the genres justice by marrying doom, grindcore, punk, technical, black and death metal all with ease. They tastefully don't try to cram TOO much into one song though, and refreshingly switch it up amongst tracks.

This demo that I'm posting is already over a year old in recording, and was partially intended for an ill-fated split with CELEBRITY MURDERS. The newer material they're writing blows this stuff out of the water... but I still wanted to post the one demo I have of theirs as they're probably my favorite local band playing right now.

* download INTER ARMA - 2008 Demo (via MediaFire)
* download INTER ARMA - 2008 Demo (via RapidShare)
* visit INTER ARMA on myspace (and buy a t-shirt!)

Plus a couple of recent videos shot on November 30, 2008:
"The Calm Before The Shitstorm":

external link to video (then click the "high quality" link)
Untitled (newer song, played abnormally fast):

external link to video (then click the "high quality" link)
* Mike - vocals
* Joe - guitar
* Shredder Steve - guitar
* Tommy - bass
* TJ - drums

Another band that abruptly shifted from "decent" to "gnarly" is BATTLEMASTER. They had a somewhat hit-and-miss demo called Cosmic Neutrality that showed they had potential, but weren't quite living up to it yet. Their next recording, Warthirsting & Winterbound completely blew me away and became one of my favorite metal albums of 2007. An insanely fast assault of blackened technical death metal!

Since then the band's had a bassist change, gone on a few tours and written a bunch of new jams. They're releasing a two-song 7" soon and have some killer new songs recorded for that, but what I've uploaded here is a post-Warthirsting demo that was originally intended for inclusion on the Best Friends Day comp. I believe this is the last recording bassist Leland Hoth appears on. Not exactly sure why this didn't make it on the BFD comp as it totally rips, and I don't think this version was even properly mastered. Regardless here it is for ya, the only unreleased (and fully completed) BATTLEMASTER track available:

* download BATTLEMASTER - "Ceremonial Dragon Mutilation" (via MediaFire)
* download BATTLEMASTER - "Ceremonial Dragon Mutilation" (via RapidShare)
* visit BATTLEMASTER on myspace (and buy a t-shirt!)

* Andy Horn - vocals
* Alex Psitos - guitar
* Vic Anti - guitar
* Leiland Hoth - bass
* Alex Tomlin - drums

UPDATE: BATTLEMASTER's just posted the two tracks from their upcoming 7" release on their myspace page

"Coincidentally" named after a badass HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE song, BASTARD SAPLING share a vocalist and guitarist from INTER ARMA but have a definitively more black metal style. Helmed by guitarist Drew and drummer Elway (formerly of C.R., MURDOCK and currently in CELEBRITY MURDERS), the same two dudes responsible for Richmond's awesome Heart Of Winter festival.

They have recently been joined by Pete from BATTLEMASTER on bass... although he doesn't perform on the demo below. This demo is only 2 songs that they released on an insanely limited CD-R for the Heart Of Winter fest, although I've heard that the whole thing is being re-mixed soon (possibly with bass?). If/when any of that happens I'll try to re-post it. Regardless, it's blistering and raw as fuck just like it should be.

* download BASTARD SAPLING - Raw Rehearsal Demo (via MediaFire)
* download BASTARD SAPLING - Raw Rehearsal Demo (via RapidShare)
* watch a song from BASTARD SAPLING's first live show (via YouTube)
* visit BASTARD SAPLING on myspace (and check out a newly re-mixed track that doesn't appear on the 2-song demo)

* Mike - vocals
* Drew - guitar
* Shredder Steve - guitar
* Elway - drums

Although this demo sorta sounds the roughest of the bunch, NECKBRACE rules so much live that I figured I'd post this anyway. Formed by two of the BATTLEMASTER dudes and a few other local metalheads, these guys are jamming a black n' roll kind of thing, which completely shreds live. Hopefully they get a more substantial recording at some point.

* download NECKBRACE - Demo (via MediaFire)
* download NECKBRACE - Demo (via RapidShare)
* visit NECKBRACE on myspace

* Alex Psitos - guitar/vocals
* Alex Tomlin - bass/vocals
* Frank Rourk - guitar/vocals
* Brandon Whittaker - drums

And last but not least, CANNABIS CORPSE is the band I'm utilizing to tie this all into the label, since Robotic Empire really hasn't worked with too many local metal bands. These weedian death metal disciples rose from the depths of the Oregon Hill neighborhood and recorded their first album Blunted At Birth in a house there. After Blunted At Birth got a surprisingly awesome amount of attention, CANNABIS CORPSE decided to up the ante a bit for followup Tube Of The Resinated, and recorded demos of the entire album themselves before eventually hitting a studio for a more "proper" recording.

I think the original demos turned out pretty damn sweet and the band probably could've gotten away with recording the whole thing themselves... but whatever, the finished album turned out awesome sounding in the end.

In the studio however, for whatever reason they only tracked 9 of the 10 songs that they had demoed out... and "Covered With Seeds" was left to collect resin. LandPhil and the dudes were chill enough to let us post this unreleased instrumental track here, and it's a ripper. I wish this demo had received vocal treatment, and Weedgrinder says it still might someday... but either way, the song is a total tech shredder. Here ya go:

* download CANNABIS CORPSE - "Covered With Seeds" (via MediaFire)
* download CANNABIS CORPSE - "Covered With Seeds" (via RapidShare)
* visit CANNABIS CORPSE on myspace

* Weedgrinder - no vocals
* LandPhil - bass/guitar
* HallHammer - drums

Richmond Metal of Honorable Mention:
* Alabama Thunderpussy
* Antietam 1862
* Balaclava
* Birds Of Prey
* Cough
* Hail Hornet
* Human Smoke
* Jefferson Plane Crash
* Juice Tyme
* Lord By Fire
* Parasytic
* Suzukiton
* War Graves

No disrespect intended to any bands I forgot or don't know about yet... I'm sure there's a bunch of other awesome metal bands coming up or existing that I simply don't know of. I also omitted the incredible plethora of punk & hardcore bands there are here, only because the lines have blurred between metal, punk and hardcore... and this post is solely focusing on overtly metal bands.

Richmond is definitely a hardcore haven at the moment too, and this town has an intense amount of creative energy flowing through it in general. At any given time there's probably bands starting up that will eventually be well known across the country, and I'm majorly thankful to get to witness some of them before the masses.

  * RICHMOND band's items in the Robotic Empire - Online Store (metal and otherwise)

* INTER ARMA photo by Tony Lynch
* INTER ARMA videos by Luna
* BATTLEMASTER photo by Joh Moreno
* BASTARD SAPLING photo by Marge
* NECKBRACE photo by unknown
* CANNABIS CORPSE photo by David Kenedy


  1. awesome cannabis corpse demo.
    what are the chances you might convince those guys to toss you some other instrumental versions of tube of the resinated tracks?

  2. hail richmond metal.
    great post.

  3. yeah man you think you could post up the entire "Tube of The Resinated" demo?