Five Underrated Metal/Hard Rock Bands by THC : MUSIC’s Thom Hazaert
As metal and hard rock fans, one of the things we love to do most is complain about how underrated our favorite bands are. Noisecreep recently had a passionate discussion with
THC : MUSIC president Thom Hazaert about this very subject. Since he had a lot to say about the subject of underrated artists, we asked him to send us a list of five artists he thought deserved way more attention during their respective runs.
THC : MUSIC is an independent hard rock/metal label distributed by Rocket Science Ventures/Sony RED, and home to American Head Charge, Primer 55, Dirge Within, Attika 7, Oedipus, Black Light Burns, Slaves on Dope, The Other Side of Morning, and more. Hazaert has also been a manager/co-manager for artists including Motorhead, Adema, Earth Crisis, Chimaira, Nonpoint, Switched, co-founder of Total Assault Marketing and Corporate Punishment Records, as well as a contributing writer for Circus, Foundations, Metal Hammer, The Green Bay Press-Gazette, and a dozen other magazines that don’t exist anymore.
So yeah, the dude has certainly been around the metal scene for quite some time. Check out Hazaert’s list below!
“When most people think of Saigon Kick, (if they do at all), they think of “Love Is on the Way”, the sappy, if not harmonically intriguing, power ballad we all danced to at prom. Unfortunately, most never delved any deeper into their catalog to realize that there was far more to this Florida quartet. I have had many conversations with the metal elite, who consider this band one of the unsung greats of 1980s hard rock (and, I might add, one of the early pioneers of “grunge.”)
The “classic” lineup, featuring guitarist/vocalist Jason Bieler, vocalist Matt Kramer, bassist Tom DeFile (who was replaced by Cold Sweat’s Chris McLernon mid-The Lizard) and drummer Phil Varone (who later joined Skid Row, and did a stint on VH1’s Celebrity Sex Rehab) released their self-titled 1990 debut, and their “breakthrough” follow-up, 1992’s The Lizard, both of which were unfairly relegated to the “hair band” pile. Truth be told, with chugging guitars, introspective, politically charged lyrics, and the harmonic interplay between Kramer and Bieler, they had more in common with Alice in Chains than Danger Danger. Upon Kramer’s departure, Bieler took over vocal duties, and kicked up the Bowie a notch for 1993’s Water, after which they were unceremoniously dropped by Atlantic, effectively ending their career way too early.”
“Austin’s Dangerous Toys had a few minor hits in the late 80’s/early ’90s with “Scared,” “Teas n’ Pleas ‘n,” and their cover of Bad Company‘s “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” but despite a nearly flawless debut (the cover of which is tattooed on my calf), the contribution of “Demon Bell” to the soundtrack of the Wes Craven horror classic Shocker, and a truckload of metal pedigree in the form of Watchtower vocalist Jason McMaster – as was often the case with the major-label meatgrinder – their follow-up Hellacious Acres failed to connect, and the band was dropped.
They went on to release the far heavier and darker independent release Pissed, and the horrifically titled Rtist 4merly Known As Dangerous Toys, and eventually disbanded. Regardless, their brand of southern-fried piss and vinegar Hard Rock left an indelible impression on many, present company included. And while Toys has stayed on life-support via the occasional show and a handful of live releases, McMaster has become an anchor in the Austin Metal scene with his bands Broken Teeth, Gahdzilla Motor Company, and the almost obscenely kick-ass Evil United.”
“From the ashes of NY hardcore pioneers Ludichrist (who themselves were an extremely underrated cog in the evolution of metal/hardcore) came Scatterbrain, what might very well be one of the most insane bands in the history of metal. With their mind-numbing fusion of dark comedy, thrash, and sheer musical virtuosity, Scatterbrain released what is, undoubtedly, one of the most impressive hard rock/metal debuts of all time, 1990’s Here Comes Trouble. Featuring the Headbangers Ball staple “Don’t Call Me Dude,” the epic name-that-tune inspired medley “Down With the Ship,” and a respectable cover of Cheech and Chong’s “Earache My Eye,” Trouble was the musical equivalent of a bad acid trip, teetering somewhere between thrash, funk, punk, smooth jazz, rap (that’s what they called it then) and all-out mayhem. Then they released Scamboogery, and ruined it all.”
“Houston’s Dead Horse are one of the unsung heroes of crossover thrash/sludge/doom/death-rock. With their stellar independently-released 1989 debut Horsecore: An Unrelated Story That is Time Consuming, and the 1991 Metal Blade/Big Chief release Peaceful Death and Pretty Flowers, (both of which were re-released by Relapse in 1999) Dead Horse quickly became underground favorites, and their signature “cowskull” t-Shirts became the hip metal dude’s calling card (Yes, I had one). Eventually they broke up and mainman Michael Haaga went on to make a bunch of cool solo records and play on the first Superjoint Ritual LP (I might be telling stories, but i’m pretty sure it was actually Dimebag Darrell who told me about them in the first place) Either way, the key is you’re hearing about them now. And, you’re welcome.”
“While they weren’t technically from the “’80s”, (they formed in 1991), one would be hard-pressed to find a more influential, or grossly underrated, metal band than North Carolina’s Buzzov-en. The ‘ov-en built an enormous cult following before releasing their first LP, 1993’s To a Frown, which grabbed the attention of Roadrunner, who released the band’s 2004 sludge masterpiece Sore. (Pretty sure Monte Conner has told me the story at some point of why they got dropped, although I can’t for the life of me remember. I imagine it has something to do with Kirk Fisher being certifiably insane.. but.. in that good, artsy, get blackout drunk, bash your head in on stage and throw guitars at people, sort of way.) They went on to release a few more EP’s, and the tragically overlooked 1998 LP …At A Loss, which, ironically, I ended up being the publicist for. (And on a side note, put those stupid dots in front of the title. Yeah, I dunno either.)”
For more information on THC : MUSIC, head over to their official website.