14 September 2023
The New Wave of American Heavy Metal originated in the United States during the early–mid 90s and expanded into the early to mid-00s. It is credited with bringing heavy metal back into the mainstream as well as dragging it back to its core values after the nu metal era.
It certainly reinvigorated metal by incorporating new influences including alternative metal, thrash, hardcore, metalcore, industrial, nu metal and groove metal. A compelling mix indeed.
The vocals combined a death metal bark with clean singing, while the guitars were acrobatic and precise, with the technical playing of thrash metal.
The key NWAHM bands are Lamb Of God, Shadows Fall, Chimaira, Unearth, Trivium and Avenged Sevenfold. Road Hounds takes a closer sniff at their best work and curates another damn fine playlist for you.
Lamb of God are one of heavy metal’s most consistent and challenging bands, with an uncompromising approach that garnered both respect and sales.
Ashes of the Wake marked Lamb’s ascendance to the majors with producer Machine sharpening the corner of every riff and tightening the turns on their classicist metal gallops.
Randy Blythe’s furious voice is more focused while the guitars of Willie Adler and Mark Morton leap over and across one another for maximum effect. Interlocking rhythms and breakdowns suggest a Black Metal influence too. Drummer Chris Adler shines with his steely snare and viscous double bass pummeling. There are even guest soloists Alex Skolnick (Testament) and Chris Poland (Megadeth) which up the instrumental appeal.
Lamb of God balances power, rage, tradition, and craft most effectively indeed.
Shadows Fall have a signature blend of Swedish-style melodic heavy metal and gritty hardcore riffing. Are Shadows Fall overlooked? Their consistency through a key period might suggest so.
With The Art of Balance they created a modern heavy metal album that is both brutal and highly musical; traditional yet forward-thinking. They delivere a crushing heaviness, but also with an impressive grasp on dynamics, melody, and arrangement. Brian Fair’s vocals oscillate from melodic to menacing, while Jonathan Donais’ guitar work combines metallic crunch with careful virtuosity.
Chimaira were a genre-hopping metalcore band from Cleveland, Ohio best known for their fifth album, 2009’s The Infection, although their best album is the debut, Pass Out of Existence.
On that debut Chimaira takes nu-metal syncopation, balances it with death metal’s angst, and punctuates it with an electronic influx to create a unique sound. They manage to take Fear Factory’s noise to another level of intensity, an impressive achievement indeed.
Unearth (from Massachusetts) deliver metalcore that integrated a thick European death metal influence.
On their 4th album The March, the band reunited with producer Señor Dutkiewicz, and the results are as hard-hitting and gloriously metallic as anything that came before.
Frontman Trevor Phipps pens excellent thinking man’s lyrics, while twin guitarists Buz McGrath and Ken Susi deliver consistently tasty guitar work. Unearth pretty much perfected their hardcore-meets-Iron Maiden style/approach on this album.
Trivium are an acclaimed Florida metal band that blends metalcore, thrash and progressive metal flourish.
On 2003’s Ember to Inferno, Trivium mixed classic thrash with 21st century metalcore rage and progressive metal flourish. On Ascendancy, the band’s fire is even more ferocious and their transitions more confident.
Joining vocalist/guitarist Matt Heafy and drummer Travis Smith are guitarist Corey Beaulieu and bassist Paolo Gregoletto, making a ridiculously tight quartet, capable of unleashing thrilling dual guitar passages, pummeling kick drum gallops, melodic breaks and vicious vocals.
Ascendancy aligns real-deal thrash with powerful modern influences and is the perfect platform for Trivium’s outstanding talent.
Avenged Sevenfold are a Southern California metal combo that began by freely incorporating emo and post-hardcore, but later developed a classic hard rock feel.
On Waking the Fallen the band focus on their greatest strength; performance. On this album the band delivers with unflagging aggression and precision.
- Shadows passionately project his voice throughout, the double-threat guitars of Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance attack riffs in unison or in harmonized parts, while the head-spinning virtuosity of drummer the Reverand holds everything down throughout.
Avenged Sevenfold have turned into a massive headliner and broadened out. They owe as much to prog metal like Dream Theater, and Maiden too, as they do hardcore – as evidenced by later albums (and echoing Maidens own stylistic development).