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I don’t smoke pot and I don’t drink, but from time to time, I like to consider myself a “Part Time Grinder.” As of late, there is a rash of new and younger bands stepping up to the shred plate and trying to profess their love for grindcore, the blunt, power violence, and the occasional cocktail.

You’re standing in a dimly lit club, in the middle of a tightly packed crowd, and everyone is focusing on the stage with hushed anticipation. A projector behind you screens light and pattern in dizzying flashes, adding to your growing paranoia and disorientation. Without any notice or spectacle made of it, two men dressed in black take the stage. One seats himself behind a drum set, and the other positions himself behind a mic in the front and grabs a 12-string Vox guitar.

I think it’s only fair to start this off by admitting that I don’t think I ‘get’ metal. I find that it all just kind of blends together, without anything being really distinct. This said, I do ‘get” good music and Columbia, South Carolina-based melodic death metal band Your Chance to Die produce just that.

Everyone should listen to Viva Mars! Seeing them perform in Oshawa a couple years ago, I recall these boys setting up on stage, clad in dress shirts and ties. Looking quite proper, they began playing and surprised us all. Quirky, fun and intelligent, they were one of the few opening bands of which I watched the entire set; Viva Mars had caught my eye.

Oslo, Norway’s Wolves Like Us brings their earth-shaking hardcore sound overseas with their new album Late Love. Like many bands, their sound is a combo of various genres: they fuse punk, metal, hardcore and rock to form their fantastic mark in metal music. The instrumental elements combined with soaring vocals form this band’s cohesive sound; one which is supremely solid and catchy.

In the style of the Black Keys and the White Stripes comes another two-piece alternative rock duo known as The Great Valley. The twosome is composed of brothers Louis and Nick Matos who grew up in Wilmington, Delaware in a very musically focused family. Their mother was a music teacher while their father was an accomplished drummer who motivated the brothers’ interest in music at a very early age.

I wonder if bands like Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin had any idea back in their heyday that thirty years later we’d refer to them as “classic” rock. And I wonder if the fans who saw those bands back then, when it was all new and exciting, recognised the immensity and the staying power the music would prove to have. And now it’s my turn to wonder – are Rival Sons to modern music what Led Zeppelin were to the 1970s?

Many Canadian hardcore bands emerge seemingly from out of nowhere; each one trying to make a name for themselves. Try as they might, very few succeed and are eventually swallowed up by the pollution in this genre. Dead And Divine however, are one of the few strong enough to have risen above the rest. Having released two EP’s and two full length albums, D&D are gearing up for their third album Antimacy.

The music scene in Toronto has a wide variety of acts, ranging from hard rock to rap. Stuck right in the middle of the music scene is Mike “System” Payne, an 11-year veteran of local metal band No Assembly Required. Payne has made it as far as he has because of his raw determination to succeed. “He’s dedicated to his craft,” says Luca Mele, vocalist of No Assembly Required.

Is there something in the air in the U.S. State of Massachusetts? Or maybe it’s the water? Perhaps a contagious virus? I pose these questions only because of the remarkable fact that so many of the biggest and baddest metal, hardcore, and metalcore bands of the 1990s and the present originate from the Bay State. The examples really are endless, there’s Killswitch Engage, Unearth, All That Remains, Since The Flood and of course Shadows Fall.