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We’ve picked 10 hardcore and heavy metal Connecticut bands you need to hear

We’ve picked 10 hardcore and heavy metal Connecticut bands you need to hear
The albums from the hardcore band Intercourse are less a musical experience than they are a soundtrack to a prison riot. (Marc McShane / HANDOUT)

For anyone who doesn’t partake in the music, it may come as a bit of shock to learn that Connecticut has a long and storied history of exporting heavy metal and hardcore bands to the greater masses.

Going back to the 1980s, acts such as Fates Warning, Obsession and Liege Lord were able to snag record deals and literally tour the world. Fates Warning especially would cement itself as one of the most influential prog metal bands of all time. The 1990s and 2000s saw hardcore rise to prominence in the state as such bands as Hatebreed and Cable would become scene darlings, the former becoming one of the best-selling bands to ever emerge from Connecticut’s borders. Hatebreed vocalist Jamey Jasta would even land a gig hosting MTV’s “Headbanger’s Ball” redux in the mid-2000s.

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Looking back into the history of heavy music in Connecticut can be a mosh pit worth of great bands and classic music, but the current state of heavy music in the Nutmeg state is also chock full of acts who have what it takes to be counted among their worldwide peers.

Whether any other Connecticut bands will rise up out of the current metal and hardcore scenes to snatch the proverbial golden ring is anyone’s guess. But here’s a list of 10 acts that certainly have the chops.

The three-piece power trio has etched its place in stone throughout rock history. None of those bands however played music as discordant and disruptive as New Haven’s Grizzlor.

Mixing elements of hardcore and punk with the appropriately named noise rock, Grizzlor makes music that, for the uninitiated, is about as easy to digest as a box of rocks. Nevertheless, Grizzlor has found a fan base both within the heavy music press and with anyone who has partaken in its rabid live shows.

The band has also been a prolific act with a bevy of releases, over the last five years in particular. Its latest full-length album, 2017’s “Destructoid,” was one of the year’s best in heavy music, state borders be damned. grizzlordestroys.bandcamp.com

If you were to look up the term ‘abrasive’ in the dictionary you may find a photo of New Haven’s Intercourse deep in the process of destroying everything you hold dear on one of the many Connecticut stages they frequent.

Hardcore music has a long history of poaching elements from other genres and Intercourse is no exception, weaving in various math and noise rock pieces to a sonic puzzle that gets consistently tossed on the floor.

Another act with a fairly prolific output over the last five years, Intercourse albums are less a musical experience than they are a soundtrack to a prison riot. The inmates are definitely running this asylum.

Intercourse plays to a 21-plus crownd at 8 p.m. Feb. 16 at Brooklyn Café in Waterbury. $5. intercourse.bandcamp.com

One of the newest bands on the heavy music scene is the doom/stoner rock outfit Owl Maker. In 2018 Connecticut saw the digital release of the band’s first two EPs (with talk of both being released together later this year on a physical format) and a plethora of shows around the state.

Armed with just enough Black Sabbath-esque riffs, a monster rhythm section, and soaring clean vocals, Owl Maker may be the most accessible band on this list, especially for music fans who only dip their toes in the rock pool.

Owl Maker also quickly established themselves as one of the hardest working bands on the scene. Doors tend to open a lot quicker for a band filled to the brim with both talent and drive.

Owl Maker plays at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at Altone’s Music Hall in Jewett City All ages, $10. owlmaker.bandcamp.com

New Haven’s Apostasy has been releasing quality material for quite a while, yet it was the band’s 2017 full-length “Ghosts” that showed the band truly mastered its craft and hammered home its status as one of the best metal bands in the state.

Mixing thrash and death metal with catchy, groove-laden hooks and solid technical prowess, Apostasy is like a sonic chameleon with the ability to fit well on just about any type of metal-centric bill.

Not afraid to bring the hammer down on the listener, they also aren’t afraid to channel something altogether more melodic and accessible, often within the confines of a single track. Fans of bands such as early Soilwork, Amon Amarth, and The Black Dahlia Murder should be all over these guys.

Apostasy opens for Crowbar at an all-ages show at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Webster Underground in Hartford 7:30 pm, $20 apostasy.bandcamp.com

The terms “progressive” and “death metal” often seem like they shouldn’t work on paper, but in the hands of capable musicians like New Haven’s Xenosis, it’s an aural display of extreme technicality beautifully dancing with the devil himself.

The band’s 2015 album “Sowing the Seeds of Destruction” was an absolute revelation. But it was 2018’s “Devour and Birth” that took Xenosis to the next level and put it on par with many peers from across the globe.

Easily one of the best metal releases Connecticut saw last year, it was an album that not only showed off amazing musicianship, but one that garnered loads of critical acclaim. The sky is truly the limit for this band as it continues to master its craft.

Xenosis does an-all-ages show at 8 p.m. Feb. 2 at the State House in New Haven. $10. xenosis.bandcamp.com

If 2018 was a stellar year for heavy music in Connecticut, the earliest releases in 2019 are proving this year will be just as good, if not better. The first great release of the year dropped on New Year’s Day as Hartford hardcore outfit scvm delivered its scathing self-titled debut album.

Filled with chunky breakdowns and blistering blasts of crust punk mayhem this is an album that hearkens back in all the right ways to some of Connecticut’s best and brightest from nearly two decades ago. This is clearly a band that’s at the earliest stages of what will hopefully be a long journey filled with quality releases. wearescvm.bandcamp.com

If you took the speed and ferocity of various forms of punk music and mixed it with the sheer brutality of death metal you may get an admittedly oversimplified definition of grindcore. It’s an extreme corner of the metal world that even some metalheads steer clear of. Yet, when done right, it can be an exhilarating thrill ride.

One band definitely doing it right is Connecticut’s Kidnapped. The band’s 2018 album “Hungry” is eight tracks and not a single one of them cracks the one-minute mark. Blast beats, tortured screams and fuzzed out guitars abound as Kidnapped explode its way through the whole thing as though the band’s collective hair was on fire.

Like riding a bullet train and trying to count telephone poles, you could listen to this album 10 times from beginning to end and still not catch everything happening here. But the ride is worth every penny you paid for the ticket. kidnappedpv.bandcamp.com

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After two promising EPs over a two-year period, Down With Rent delivered its debut full-length album “Entitled Millennial Scum” this past summer. Influenced by punk acts like Crass, Discharge and Black Flag, who were equally loved in metal circles, Down With Rent plays a brand of crusty hardcore punk that tap dances back and forth across the boundary between the two genres.

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Punk values are often met head on with metal aesthetics to form a sound that, much like their predecessors, should comfortably find a home in both circles. Easily one of the more political acts on this list, that distaste for overreaching authority certainly comes across with a few extra snarls and sneers throughout their recorded catalog. downwithrent.bandcamp.com

It’s been five long years since New Haven’s Cyperna gifted us its exceptional “The Darker Side of Matter” album. However, on Christmas Day the band dropped a new single entitled “Dispersion” and announced that 2019 will see the release of its newest album “Of A Ghost.” If the single was any indication, Connecticut metal fans have a lot to be excited about.

While seemingly heavier than its previous release, the track also continued to expand its sound with swirling guitars alternating between beefy breakdowns and more grinding offerings. Add in some well-placed atmospheric elements, and Cyperna has planted itself firmly on the list of most anticipated albums in 2019. cyperna.bandcamp.com

Astute readers may recognize Entierro from the band’s entry into our Top 20 Connecticut Albums of 2018. It would seem like a big miss to write out a list of heavy bands with the chops to crack that elusive “next level” and not include the one metal band that was included on our year end list.

Last year’s self-titled album from New Haven’s Entierro was indeed one of Connecticut’s best and the future is more than a little bright for a band that now boasts a former member of the aforementioned Fates Warning, as well as other longtime scene vets.

Its blend of classic heavy metal with rudiments of doom and stoner rock opens the band up to metal fans of all walks looking for something that both reaches back to the classic days of the genre while pushing it into the future as well.

Entierro opens for Crowbar in an all-ages show Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at The Webster Underground, Hartford $20. entierro.bandcamp.com

Chip McCabe is a lifelong metalhead, the author of “666 Days of Metal” and TheMetalDad.com, and co-host of the Metal Dad Radio Show on Cygnus Radio. He’s contributed hundreds of written pieces on heavy metal music to various print and online publications, including The Courant and MetalInsider.net.

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