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7 underrated rock bands you need to hear

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Wilson Image: Joe GallThe world of rock music is a very scary and confusing place.

It’s a world full of moshpits, stage diving, walls of death and crowd-surfing.

But still, almost everyone has heard of the giants of rock and metal, from AC/DC to Metallica to Bullet for My Valentine.

But sometimes we need to celebrate the underbelly of the music world: those talented bands that are nowhere near as big as they deserve to be.

To try and rectify some of that injustice, here’s a list of some of the most underrated artists in rock/metal music today.

Massive

Australia’s biggest hard rock heroes are the criminally under-appreciated Massive.

The Melbourne four-piece channels the sound of national treasures AC/DC to create a rebellious, anthemic, groovy sound that is guaranteed to get heads nodding and toes tapping all around the world.

Massive gained the attention of some of the British underground metal community when their debut album – 2014’s Full Throttle – was released as a free CD released with an issue of Metal Hammer.

For a record that good to be given away for nothing to metalheads is borderline insanity, but with Massive’s second album – Destination Somewhere­ – dropping in April, we’ll soon be able to tell whether the promotion paid off.

Wilderun

With their sophomore album Sleep at the Edge of the Earth getting a slot on my list of the best albums of 2015, I just had to include Wilderun here.

The Boston-based quartet is easily one of the most musically diverse bands I’ve heard in a very long time, being able to fuse folk rock and technical death metal to generate a truly unique sound.

Experimenting with instruments such as dulcimers, autoharps and acoustic guitars, Wilderun represent a true meeting of the old and new.

Their burial deep within the underground of the American music scene is most likely a result of the fact that folk music – especially folk metal – just isn’t anywhere near as popular in the States as it is in Europe.

And that’s a discrimination they are doing their absolute best to dissolve.

Messenger

Hailing from London, progressive psychedelic/folk rockers Messenger won over fans and critics alike in 2014 with their debut album, Illusory Blues.

The record demonstrated that you don’t have to be heavy metal shredders to be progressive, as Messenger rock out unique riffs using almost entirely acoustic and clean electric guitars.

The calming vocals combined with gentle percussion create a truly enrapturing and tranquil experience, with some moments of hard rock thrown to appease the naysayers.

With a second album coming out in April, Messenger are a band you’d better keep a keen eye on in the near-future.

Dendera

Often touted as one of the most entertaining heavy metal bands in the south of the UK, Portsmouth’s Dendera has rocked with many big names over the last five years: Evile, Sepultura, Fozzy, Anvil, Skindred and Alestorm just to name a few.

Not to mention their upcoming shows supporting thrash titans Exodus and Lost Society, along with headlining the Southampton Annihilation Festival.

Since 2013’s The Killing Floor, the band has been blending modern thrash metal musicianship with grand, NWOBHM-style melodic vocals. It is an unmistakably English combination previously embodied by groups like Xentrix, Reign of Fury and Savage Messiah.

Dendera are workhorses that, after two stunning albums, are well on their way to bigger things with every show.

And they deserve to be.

Ne Obliviscaris

Easily the heaviest band on this list, Ne Obliviscaris deserves wider recognition from the metal community simply due to their unparalleled musical ability.

Their unique brand of extreme progressive music fuses elements of black, death, thrash and melodic metal with classical music and epic overtures.

Sure, we’ve seen this fusion done before, but never before has it been done to such a grandiose scale: Ne Obliviscaris’ latest album – 2014’s Citadel – is roughly fifty minutes long and consists of only three songs.

Let that sink in. That’s a level of progressive that has the ability to make Dream Theater blush.

I love Ne Obliviscaris for the same reasons I love Wilderun: quite simply, they take the rules and boundaries of music and snap them across their knee.

Sign me up.

In the Hills

Bournemouth-based sludge/doom metallers In the Hills released their debut album, Summerisle Blues, in the twilight of 2015, and it was definitely a great way to end a year of amazing rock.

With the majority of the record’s lyrics based upon classic horror films like The Wicker Man and The Collector, Summerisle Blues certainly recreates that same terror in the best way possible: it is an album that is aggressive and powerful, fuelled by the intense growls of vocalist James Iaciofano.

2015 saw In the Hills support the likes of Reign of Fury and Sylosis, and I hope that this album, along with their enveloping live performances, will make the band’s 2016 even better.

Wilson

The best thing to come out of Detroit since RoboCop is probably the most well-known group on this list.

With two albums and several headlining and supporting tours under their belts, along with almost 40,000 followers on social media, how can the hard-rocking Wilson be considered underrated?

To all intents and purposes, they’ve “made it”.

But I included them on this list for two reasons:

a) They’re still deserving of more recognition. Way more.

b) They represent an ideology that sometimes the serious world of rock music can easily forget.

Both on and off the stage, Wilson are simply the nicest five men you will ever meet. Their sense of humour both in live shows and studio recordings – their first album is called Full Blast Fuckery and has a song called ‘College Gangbang’ on it – is hugely refreshing in a genre of music that has gained its fans by lamenting on the evils of the world.

Wilson are rock’s ultimate Cinderella story. A band from Michigan that started as a means to get free beer at shows has become an established group that has toured throughout the States and the UK with the likes of Halestorm and Nothing More.

They’re not an “internet band”. They earned every fan they have the hard way: by playing each show like it was their last.

Wilson are living proof that sometimes the old ways just work best, using charisma and talent to build a following that, while not massive, is certainly dedicated.

Don’t believe me?

Check out one of the shows on their first UK headline tour in March and let them do the talking.

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