Second Chances: Five Hard Rock Artists Who Deserve Another Shot
An article by Kris Kielich
Every now and again, I hear an artist on my extensive rock and metal playlist and I think, “Damn, these guys are so good. If only they had released this record ten to fifteen years ago, or if they’d just gotten a little more airplay, they would have been huge!” Obviously the notion of talented bands slipping through the cracks and not receiving the recognition they deserve is not a new one in music, but I truly believe in second chances and giving talented artists as much as I can in order to help them get heard by friends and family.
So I thought this would be a fun little list to give a shout out to bands that really do have huge amounts of talent and kick ass, in the hopes that they might sell a few more records or t shirts. It’s the least I can do for so many hours of enjoyment. So here are five bands, specifically in hard rock (I might do other rock/metal genres later on) that never quite made it as big as I hoped, but deserve some more ears on them.
1. Failure Anthem
I remember it very clearly. After interviewing hard rock vets Adelitas Way, I was given a ticket to see them at Buffalo’s Iron Works, a cool little venue downtown in the Cobblestone District. Opening for them that night were two really cool groups that were just getting started and hoping to break out: Through Fire, who would go on to have a fair amount of rock radio success to this day, and a group called FAILURE ANTHEM. Both groups put on a stellar show, but I remember the guys in Failure Anthem hanging around the venue selling merch and CD’s, and I remember them being really cool guys to meet and chat with. I ended up buying a copy of their debut record, FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS, and boy am I glad I did. Every single song on this record is an anthem, no pun intended. Their production is so clean and they have such a skill at crafting hooky track after track that sounds huge and arena ready. A band like this shows the power that radio rock has at elevating spirits and carrying you away on absolutely huge drums, guitars, and vocals. Songs like “Savannah,” “Here for Good,” “First World Problems,” and “3 AM” are still on constant rotation for me. After wondering why I hadn’t heard new material from them, I found out that lineup changes had scrambled the band’s plans for new material. Original singer JD Eubanks was the biggest casualty, as his Daughtry-esque voice is, frankly, powerful and goosebump inducing. As far as I know, the band is still around with a new singer and working on new material, and Eubanks has started a new band called Rust that has just released a new song as well. So check both out. Failure Anthem has a merch store up still, so show them some love!
2. 3 Years Hollow
The first time I heard 3 YEARS HOLLOW on my buddy’s Spotify, I was instantly transported back to the mid/late 2000’s. In my high school years, it felt like every day was a day I discovered an amazing new hard rock band to throw on while playing Battlefield. I have absolutely no doubt that if this band had released their debut record, THE CRACKS, in 2006 instead of 2014, they would have been absolutely huge. Their hooks are massive and the riffs are sick. It’s chunky and goddamn if it doesn’t make you want to headbang. The whole band fires on all cylinders from start to finish on this debut record, and vocalist Jose Urquiza has one of the best voices I’ve heard in a long time in a hard rock band. “Chemical Ride” is the radio hit that should’ve been, with a chorus so sticky you’ll almost wish you hadn’t heard it. But really, every track could’ve been a hit. “For Life” features Sevendust guitarist Clint Lowery, who did a great job producing the record, and it’s in the same boat; huge hooks and crunching guitars across the board. “We Belong,” “Remember,” and “Lost” are among my other favorites. But just do yourself a favor and get this album. This band also is still together and dropped a new single in 2018, but it’s been relatively quiet as of late. They do also have a merch store up and running, so I’d jump on that, especially since they only have one t shirt design left.
3. Poets of the Fall
POETS OF FALL band is a case of domestic vs. overseas popularity. This Finnish band is, from what I can gather, fairly popular in Scandinavia and in places like Russia, but are criminally underknown here in the U.S. After the release of their song “Late Goodbye,” which was used in the iconic game “Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne,” they did grab the attention of a fair amount of gamers worldwide. Their whole first album, SIGNS OF LIFE, is full of really great beautiful and melodic hard rock and acoustic rock tracks. It’s a solid album with great songwriting, and I want to take the time to implore readers to listen to more tracks than just “Late Goodbye.” Vocalist Marko Saaresto has a classically trained voice that sounds amazing layered in harmonies, and the guitar work on every track is special and intricate in ways that keep revealing themselves with every subsequent listen. “Lift,” “Temple of Thought,” “Choice Millionaire,” “Carnival of Rust,” and “Illusion and Dream” are all great tracks to start with. The band, fortunately, is fairly busy and prolific, releasing eight albums to date and has had more songs of theirs featured in the video game “Alan Wake.” However, I still feel that this group deserves a lot more fans here in the States than they do, especially because they are so radio friendly and appealing to fans of not just rock, but acoustic/indie fans and even potentially pop fans.
4. Hail the Villain
HAIL THE VILLAIN is the very first band I saw on my very first Rockstar Uproar Festival in 2010, this band made a huge impression on me right off the bat. Vocalist Bryan Crouch’s voice was gritty and emotive, and their songs and stage presence were full of energy and some great moodiness. The band had a sense of darkness and mystery about them that was infectious. It’s not easy to open a festival where Disturbed and Avenged Sevenfold are headlining, but I walked away that day immediately wanting to download their album POPULATION: DECLINING. The record was full of songs that could have immediately worked on rock radio, and I think it was simply a matter of their size as a band that held them back from the big time. It was time that was inundated with a lot of radio rock bands, and bigger bands like Linkin Park and Breaking Benjamin were still dominating the radio. Check out songs like “Take Back the Fear,” “Evil Has a Name,” “Runaway,” and “Try Hating the World,” and you’ll hear that sense of foreboding spookiness in their melodies that immediately grabbed me all the way back in 2010, and it still gets me to this day. I remember the crowd really warming up to them and enjoying them, and even the band has broken up, I hope “Population: Declining” still has that effect.
5. The Veer Union
Out of all the bands on this list, THE VEER UNION is the only one who had at least one moderate success on rock radio here in the U.S. Their song “Seasons” got pretty good rotation in 2009/2010 when it was released on their record AGAINST THE GRAIN. And for many years, that was the only song I was perfectly content to listen to by this band. I liked it a lot, and I thought vocalist Crispin Earl had a great voice and the bass in the track was groovy as hell. But it wasn’t until literally last year that I decided to dive deeper into the band, and I’m very glad I did. The entirety of “Against the Grain” is great, and songs like “Over Me,” “I’m Sorry,” “Darker Side of Me,” and “What Have We Done” prove the integrity of this record. But beyond that particular album, the band is still cranking out amazing songs pretty regularly, which makes it even more criminal that they’re not back on the rock radio charts, or even on stations like Octane on Sirius XM. Last year the band released the second of their DECADE albums, celebrating their career, and they released some new amazing songs like “Living Not Alive,” “Save Yourself,” and an acoustic cover of Linkin Park’s “Numb” that all should have blown up. This band has passion and a boundless energy that you feel in every pulsing drum and monstrous guitar wall. Crispin Earl is an impassioned vocalist that deserves more attention. The band just released a great cover of Bring Me the Horizon’s “Nihilist Blues,” so give that a listen and then take the plunge into this band’s back catalogue. They’ve been hitting the grind, and the spirit this band shows in their constant drive to reach out to fans and tour as much as they can, on top of using crowdfunding to help keep putting out new music, shows how much work they give to us. Let’s give back to them.
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