Back in August we asked you to help us find the best unsigned bands in America. After listening to hundreds of submissions, we finally narrowed down our pick for the geriatric entertainment destination-est state in the union*. The best band in Missouri is Existem.
*Lower Midwest division
Existem. There’s a band name I haven’t heard in a while. Quite frankly, I’m shocked that these guys aren’t signed yet. I thoroughly enjoyed their 2012 album Years of Winter and just assumed they were picked up by Century Media or Relapse or something. But here they are, still unsigned (why?) with a 4 song record that for me came out of nowhere titled Phoenix. And guess what, I enjoyed it just as much as their previous effort (and not just because they had the insight to name an album after yours truly).
I don’t care much for tech death and I absolutely despise prog metal. I would rather listen to another one of Raymond Cocteau’s speeches about the purity of goddamn pearls than listen to bands like Dream Theater. In my opinion the best so-called prog bands are ones that don’t go fully prog. Think Opeth in their heyday, Burst, Cult of Luna, Extol, and so forth. Existem are very much in the vein of these bands. They create prog metal that isn’t afraid to veer off the beaten path but exists within the confine of a song. The material here is not an overblown jam session like so many bands are guilty of recording.
Their riffs are meaty, the drumming is tight and well executed, and the clean singing while understated, is still quite good and works with the song instead of trying to overpower everything like certain other prog singers *coughspencersoletocough*.
Phoenix’s third track “Memento Mori” perfectly summarizes everything about this band that works: good songwriting, tasty solos, a nice little jazzy passage with a frigging violin playing alongside the equally nice bass work. It does what it needs to do at 6+ minutes and doesn’t overstay its welcome. I’m hoping that a quality label picks Existem up soon, but in the meantime take some interest in unsigned prog metal that even I can get behind. Go to their Bandcamp page and pick up Phoenix; and while you’re at it pick up their other albums too.
Guacamole Jim: Tight and intricate, Existem combines the best of downtuned lockstep riffs with soaring cleans and atmosphere, all while retaining an undeniable progressive vibe. The singer’s work on “Closed Eyes” is the high point of the song, reminiscent of Scar Symmetry and other quality melodic death metal. A very enjoyable listen, if not overwhelmingly original.
MoshOff: Existem have generated quite a buzz in the underground, and after listening to them it’s no real surprise why. They manage to seamlessly mix clean vocals, borderline death metal segments, djentish syncopated rhythms and atmospheric instrumental passages to create something that doesn’t come across as either trendy or forced. Progressive metal that doesn’t suck, period.
Joe Thrashnkill: If you’ve got 10 minutes of spare time, I highly recommend you vibe out and stuff your time hole with “Above or Below”.
Black Fast (Kansas City, MO) – Super fun, thrashy band that went and got signed to eOne in the middle of this contest.
The Toilet ov Hell is on an absurd quest to find the best unsigned band in each state of this glorious union. The purpose? To shine the spotlight on bands that deserve more exposure. Also, we’re going to determine once and for all the greatest state in the nation. Each state winner is decided by a collection of 25 judges. After we’ve announced the winner of each state, we’re gonna throw them all in a winner-take-all bracket and leave the votes up to you. Who will be the best unsigned band in the United States? Which state is superior? We can’t wait to find out.
Alabama — Phylum
Alaska — Terraform
Arizona – Take Over And Destroy
Arkansas – Torii
California – Destroy Judas
Colorado – The Sleer
Connecticut – Autumn’s Eyes
Delaware – Sloss
Florida – Capracide
Georgia – Lost Hours
Hawaii – Darkest Path
Idaho – Rotten Hand
Illinois – Deus Ex
Indiana – Thorr-Axe
Iowa – Blizzard at Sea
Kansas – Bummer
Kentucky – Ad Infinitum
Louisiana – Withering Light
Maine – Sylvia
Maryland – Bereave
Massachusetts – Scaphism
Michigan – Blackgate
Mississippi – Jared Moran (Yzordderrex/Uzumaki)