The era of Rock n’ Roll supremacy is over. Today’s airwaves are dominated by rap, hip-hop and pop artists, with occasional EDM songs. However, just because rock is no longer the preeminent category doesn’t mean capable artists aren’t honing their craft anymore. In fact, many underrated artists continue to release outstanding music with little to no fanfare. Let’s explore a few lesser-known bands that feel ready to break through.
The Bad Wolves burst onto the scene with their poignant cover of The Cranberries’ “Zombie.” Founded by lead singer Tommy Vext (formerly of Snot) and John Boecklin (formerly of DevilDriver), Bad Wolves blends the high energy of nu-metal with the calculated vocals of hard rock, creating a unique dynamic. Vext, who replaced Ivan Moody for the end of Five Finger Death Punch’s European tour, takes Moody’s vocal style and recalibrates it for a distinctive sound. Although the band is still in its infancy, they have managed to garner a loyal following through their take on Zombies.
Best Songs: “Zombies”, “Remember When”, “Listen to Me Now”
Comparison: Five Finger Death Punch
Badflower recently went from opening band to small venue headliner after their opening tour for Shinedown ended. The Los Angeles quartet opened their eyes with “Temper,” a haunting four-song EP that illustrates the dangers of addiction. However, it was their debut album, “Ok, I’m Sick” that brought the band national exposure. Singer Josh Katz masterfully transitions from soft vocals to deafening screams, emphasizing the volatility of the issues he sings about. From the trials and tribulations of heroin abuse to the flaws in American politics, Badflower will portray expert narrative over catchy riffs.
Best Songs: “Ghost”, “Heroine”, “Let the Band Play”
Comparison: My Chemical Romance
Dirty Honey is a band that seems determined to revive blues rock single-handedly. Rejecting the sanitization of rock radio, Dirty Honey takes its time crafting its stories, as evidenced by the panoply of mini-solos found on “Down the Road.” Singer Marc Labelle’s voice is reminiscent of a young Axl Rose. Sure, his range isn’t scientific in nature, but he hits the notes with such cavalry that fans find themselves captivated by the sheer audacity.
Best Songs: “Down the Road”, “When I’m Gone”, “Fire Away”
Comparison: Guns N’ Roses
Formerly ‘The Stir’, Like Machines introduces gritty, unfiltered sound over shimmering riffs. Like Machines fuses the guitar-centric songs of the 80s with the clarity of modern vocals, giving fans a musical experience rarely seen on today’s stage. Although the opening of Collective Soul and Fozzy provided Like Machines with a platform to attract a wider audience, this group is both capable and talented enough to stand on their own.
Best Songs: “Nightshift” (as The Stir), “Destitute”, “Kaiser”
Comparison: black sabbath
Joyous Wolf dominates the scene with unbridled passion and energy. Guitarist Blake Allard’s ability to manipulate the fretboard is beyond his years. Nick Reese walks around the stage with intoxicating confidence. Bassist Greg Bracchio, 6-foot-8, keeps the band going with his expert fretting skills. The band takes a plethora of competing sounds and combines them to build an even, energetic sound reminiscent of the great Southern rock bands of yesteryear. Having previously opened for legendary artists such as Slash feat. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Deep Purple and Buckcherry, it’s only a matter of time before Joyous Wolf earns what their music so desperately demands.
Best Songs: “Queen of Mississippi”, “Rebellious Mother”, “Quiet Place”
Comparison: Dark purple
FEVER 333 burst onto the scene with the socially conscious “Made An America”, a rap-rock number that skyrocketed the charts and earned the trio their first top 25 hit. ex-Letlive vocalist Jason Aalon Butler, the band looks like a reincarnated Rage Against the Machine. However, rather than presenting itself as a cheap imitation, FEVER 333 takes the brand name popularized by RATM and makes it its own. FEVER 333 is also praised for their stage presence, using their unrestrained vivacity to convey their very tough and very real message.
Best Songs: “Made An America”, “Walking in My Shoes”, “Burn It”
Comparison: Rage against the machine