While attempting to compile a list of the best Long Island extreme (metal and hardcore) acts of the last 20 years (essentially "all-time"), various criterion were considered. To be considered the best, a band has to be influential (influencing various future artists), prolific (producing at least a couple of studio releases and touring consistently for decent stretches of time), unique, and known outside of their Long Island home. Each band on this list originated in Long Island, Queens or Brooklyn (the definition of "Long Island" was expanded to include more artists) before eventually developing a following across the United States, and in many cases, throughout the world. All artists mentioned also have some sort of longevity in the scene; if they are not still active, they were around for at least eight years. The list is not in order of greatness, it was simply too difficult to choose between some artists that are so different musically.
Here are the top 10 bands that made the cut:
Suffocation: 1989- present; This legendary band has inspired countless death metal acts and truly altered the course of extreme music forever. Suffocation's brutal style of death metal, which is influenced by both grindcore and NYC hardcore, combines crushing technical guitar riffs, vicious slams/breakdowns, deep vocal growls, and drummer Mike Smith's signature blast beats. With over 20 years of experience, Suffocation's live shows are technically flawless and always entertaining. Check out the Long Island Metal Music Examiner review of their recent Long Island (Crazy Donkey) show here.
Vision of Disorder: 1992-2002; 2006-present; Perhaps Long Island's finest hardcore band, Vision of Disorder evolved to incorporate elements of metal and eventually sludgy hard rock into their sound. Vision of Disorder's chaotic live shows are the stuff of legends.
Essential Albums: "Still" EP, "Vision of Disorder" LP (Supersoul/Roadrunner)
Candiria: 1992-2009?; Combining elements of schizophrenic hardcore, technical metal, hip-hop, and jazz, this Brooklyn-based band truly brought artistry to the world of extreme music.
Essential Album - "The Process of Self-Development" (1999)
Life of Agony: 1989-1999; 2005-2006; This Brooklyn band combined sludgy, metallic rock with emotional (often dark) lyrics to create music that was accessible to the masses, but had enough edge to appeal to many metal fans. Life of Agony frontman Keith Caputo provides some of the most powerful yet melodic clean vocals in metal.
Essential Album - "River Runs Red" (1993)
Glassjaw -1993-present; For better or worse, the world of heavy and extreme music changed when this Long Island band released their influential Roadrunner Records debut LP, "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence" in 2000. This album showcased a band set to destroy current nu-metal trends with their intense, urgent sound led by an enigmatic frontman (Daryl Palumbo) who created some of the most memorable vocals and lyrics in hardcore and rock (alternating between violent screams and emotional melodic singing). Known for their energetic live show, constant line-up changes, hiatuses, a dedicated fan base and numerous side-projects, Glassjaw draw influences from post-hardcore, punk, experimental, electronic music and various types of rock.
Essential Album - "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence"
Merauder: 1990-present; This vastly underappreciated Brooklyn band, one of the pioneers of the metal/hardcore crossover sound, brings an urban, street element to their brutal music.
Essential Album: "Master Killer" (1996, Century Media)
From Autumn to Ashes: 2000-present; One of the first bands in the wave of melodic hardcore (later incorrectly dubbed "screamo" by some), this Long Island act used a strong DIY ethic and intense touring to become one of the more popular bands in their genre. From Autumn to Ashes combines hardcore screams, emotional melodic vocals, and crushing, pit-friendly breakdowns to create a genre-combining sound that is accessible to a large audience. Their diverse style endears them to many types of fans, and enables the band to, as vocalist Francis Mark states, "go on tour with Taking Back Sunday one month and go on tour with Shadows Fall the next month."
Biohazard: 1990-2006; This Brooklyn act was truly the first of its kind, a band with hardcore punk roots that mixed metal with street-credible hip-hop. Biohazard was perhaps the first metal band to successfully incorporate lyrical themes similar to those found in gangsta rap (dealing with gangs, drugs, street violence, and police); it could be argued that the band had more in common with N.W.A than they did with the Cro-Mags or Slayer. In their prolific career that spanned over 15 years, Biohazard produced eight studio albums and toured with some of the biggest names in metal and rap.
Essential Album - "Urban Discipline" (1992, Roadrunner)
Sick of It All: 1986-present; This socially-conscious hardcore band from Queens are nothing short of legendary. The band's website accurately describes the band's impact and influence: "As one of the longest standing bands still proudly waving the flag of New York Hardcore, Sick Of It All have made their mark as one of the cornerstones of NYHC, proving that heart, hard work and dedication to hardcore is about more than just the music and an image, it’s a way of life."
Essential Album: "Scratch the Surface" (1994, Eastwest Records)
Type O Negative: 1990-present; This unique Brooklyn heavy metal band incorporates elements of gothic rock/metal, doom and thrash to create dark, moody music. Although controversial frontman Peter Steele's lyrics deal with topics like the darker side of love/sex (including loneliness and heartbreak), as well as depression, drug addiction and suicide, the band has always always maintained a playful sense of humor amidst their melancholy, droning sound.
Essential Album: "World Coming Down" (1999, Roadrunner)
Honorable Mention - Each of these bands was missing something that separated them from the elite; perhaps their career was too short, they just weren't influential enough (in a broad sense), they didn't really originate in Long Island although two members are from the area (Dream Theater), or maybe they haven't been around long enough to have made a significant impact (yet):
Internal Bleeding: 1991- present
Dream Theater: 1985-present
This is Hell: 2004-present
The World We Knew: 2004-present
Don't agree with my list? Feel free to tell me why not, and comment below!
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