The great thing about writing these Scene Reports is discovering awesome bands from wonderful places all across the world. I’ve been fortunate to cover countries such as Japan and France, but today I’m going to do something a little closer to home.
Chicago has been home to me for about seven years. It’s a city unlike any other I’ve ever been to, taking on so many different personalities. There’s the rich culture of Pilsen and its Hispanic Heritage, the South Loop where I spent my college years heading to parties, and of course the bustling excitement and legacy that’s Wrigley Field. Chicago has something to offer everyone, and has been the most influential place I’ve ever lived.
With all that personality and culture comes a great deal of music. When it comes to music in general, Chicago offers such a diverse range of work to enjoy. There’s the bop and swing of jazz clubs like The Green Mill, to the grit and brutal joy that’s Reggie’s Rock Club. In seven years, I’ve discovered lots of terrific bands, eight of my favorites I’m going to share with you today. Chicago is home to a lot of great acts like The Atlas Moth and Harm’s Way, but in my Scene Reports, I like to take the opportunity to highlight bands you may not have heard of. It’s a great opportunity to shed light on acts who are giving it their 110% touring, and creating outstanding music that proudly represents their city and its art.
I’ve gone ahead to include each band’s most recent record/song, along with links to their Bandcamp page and Facebook So without further ado, here are my eight favorite Chicago metal bands you should check out!
Texas Toast Chainsaw Massacre
For the thrasher/crossover junkies out there, Texas Toast Chainsaw Massacre will quench your appetite ten fold. This is pure, fun as hell thrashing. With playfulness that meets frenetic energy, Texas Toast is a joy ride that’s all about slamming down beers, mutants, comic books, and moshing. With classics like, “Michael Bay Ruined My Childhood” and “Post Vegetarian Grindcore”, the band will give you every reason to slam your head with whip-lashing bliss.
We’re going to shift gears a bit into something a little darker. Immortal Bird blend everything from, thrash, to grind and sludge. This is a merciless act that sets forth to deliver straight up savagery. From blistering drum beats to skin tearing guitar shredding, Immortal Bird bring out a visceral dark tension with each track. That tension comes through in the touches of atmospheric somber droning, whether it’s produced through thumping bass lines, or sludgy notation.
Faces of the Bog
The band’s 2017 record Ego Death was one of my personal favorites from last year. I like to think of these guys as a super heavy version of Pink Floyd (with a lot of extra layering in stoner vibes). Combining those stoner elements with a sludge progression and psychedelic tones, Faces of the Bog is a unique act in today’s scene. One song will have you completely entranced in a meditative state, and the next will get you sweating profusely as you bang your head. The material is just as elegant as it is dirty.
While there’s plenty of psychedelic tinges throughout their work, REZN is more about producing hard hitting, grimy stoner jams. Layering on booming bass with droning distortion, these guys offer an ominous atmosphere to cut loose and chill too. From the moment you start one of their tracks, you’ll be lost in dark journey of mind-bending brutality.
I’m not someone who grew up listening to bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, but Satan’s Hollow makes me wish I did. I find it difficult to connect with bands that play on “traditional heavy metal” or the NWOBHM, but damn do Satan’s Hollow really hit the nail on the head of entertaining. Bombastic drumming and bass work lay down the foundation for outstanding guitar melodies and enchanting vocals. Satan’s Hollow is one of the catchiest bands in the city, and will get your blood pressure to spike with excitement.
“Pure sci-fi technical death metal gold” is the best way to sum up Gigan. Their song structure takes on varying shifts in tempo and pitch, producing a heavy and hypnotic presentation. This variety keeps each song fresh, displaying the band’s superb ability to play with a dynamic range of sound. The music is a straight forward drive in brutality, while also unleashing an aura of cosmic hysteria. Gigan are another great example of how Chicago bands are able to take utter chaos, and fuse it with sincere emotion and presentation.
As another band venturing into the world of psychedelics, Scientist are a remarkable progressive act that Chicago is proud of. Infusing doom, stoner, and sludge elements together, these guys offer an insane display of technicality within their work. Shifting from Tool vibes to that of Crowbar, Scientist are one of the most surreal acts you’ll ever come across. At times mellow, at times relentless in madness, the band displays an outstanding balance in composition and style.
“Anti-Colonial!” is the motto of this hardcore/punk act. Originally formed in the Dominican Republic, La Armada is one of the most hard hitting political bands around. Their constant grinding and work ethic has created profound material that’ll get people thinking about what’s going on in the world. Their frantic energy and song compositions also provide the promise of a good time, for you won’t be able to stop moshing when the music starts.
As I mentioned earlier, Chicago is a place of many cultures. The bands I’ve listed here are just a small taste of the art the city produces. Their work reflects our times, our way of living, and the love we have for Chicago. What are some of your favorite Chicago bands that I didn’t list?
View previous Scene Reports here.
We are looking for suggestions for the next Scene Report. Does your region have a great scene that people should know about? Email us at hatemail [at] metalinjection [dot] net with your pitch.