Florida has always been associated with the vibrant metal scene of the '80s, thanks to recording studios like Morrisound, as well as bands like Death and Morbid Angel, which catapulted this wasteland into international consciousness.
There have been metal outfits formed in every corner of the FLA. Some have gone on to riches and fame. But it is the few bands that have come out of Dade County that are often overlooked. Though South Florida's takes on other musical genres reflect some of the unavoidable tropicalia of the environment, metal in Miami has always retained a defiant "Anglo-ness" that's refreshing for purists and confusing to Hispanic parents.
Here are Miami's ten best metal bands of all time.
Miami's Ten Best Metal Bands of All Time
Mendacity. This trio has been at it since 1994. And though the group's recorded output has been limited, one of New Times' favorite South Florida metal memories was meeting Mendacity's first bass player, Omar Elesgarray, in '97 at Sunset Place, where he gave us a copy of the threesome's disc For Dear Life. The exchange centered on the album's incredibly not-metal cover art — which, therefore, meant it must have been incredibly metal. And it was! Don't ever be fooled by drawings of people rescuing kittens from trees. Ever.
Hibernus Mortis. For real, bro. It would be a terrible world to live in if Dade's "City of Progress" didn't have itself a world-class metal outfit. On paper, Hialeah has the most appeal as a metal muse — corrupt politicians, Santería, culture clash, immigrant teen angst — it's all there. And for close to two decades, Hibernus Mortis has practiced the dark art of deathly, doomy black metal, though the group remains criminally under-recorded. Nevertheless, we're still holding out hope that HM might do something crazy and clever like extreme metal covers of Willy Chirino classics.
Kalakai. Newer on the block than many others on this list, this band jumped out strong in 2006 with the release of its self-titled EP, which was better received than most melodic outfits' efforts from that time. But for whatever reason, the five-piece crew has failed to capitalize and get signed. Yet, making a melodious racket in a land where extremism and brutality rule, Kalakai has always been a refreshing and lasting change of pace.
Maruta. We've always held the opinion that if Maruta had existed a decade earlier, Mitchell Luna and crew would be revered grindcore heroes, supported by the sturdy infrastructure of Miami's power violence and grind scenes of the mid-'90s. Not that it matters now, because they're enjoying some well-deserved popularity, even signing to Relapse Records. Their 2011 album, Forward Into Regression, is a classic of the genre. And no doubt they'll do right once the new one drops.
Shroud Eater. We cannot heap enough acclaim upon Shroud Eater. Not only does this girl-guy-girl group skirt (no pun intended) the fine lower ends of doom/sludge and metal, but the trio's fierce DIY work ethic and ability to wow while making new fans happy is also magical. As an unofficial ambassador of South Florida's current scene, Shroud Eater has created a network for bands and fans across the state that harks back to the golden days of Florida metal.
Lucera. Every scene has a wild card. In South Florida, it's Lucera. Formed in Colombia in 1991 (and shaped by that country's struggles with armed insurgence and the drug trade), this band has been calling Miami home for some time. Though others might choose to keep it clean, Lucera is all about that era of metal when bodily fluids were happily swapped with strangers and there was a real sense of rock 'n' roll underneath the racket. Last year's Pure Ass album is hilarious and surprisingly sophisticated.
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Frank's Enemy. A veteran of Miami's punk scene as a solo musician and with the Lead, Julio Rey is no stranger to SoFla's metal scene either. The themes of Christianity in his work aren't for everybody. But the extremism of Frank's Enemy is pretty universal. He's actually a pretty funny dude too.
Torche. Steve Brooks has done a lot for South Florida with his band Floor. When he formed Torche in 2004, it was but a natural progression for him, bringing pop sensibilities to the metal genre, which he had already woven so well into hardcore. The result has been solid, catchy stuff that should probably be more mainstream than what it is. And now Torche has been rippin' for a decade and shows no signs of slowing.
Solstice. This outfit's 1990 self-titled album is a thrash classic. There's no discussing South Florida metal without that gem cropping up in conversation. And if it doesn't, you're talking to an idiot. Though suffering from the on-and-off-again blues for a large part of its existence, the group is back on the road with original drummer Alex Marquez behind the kit. It will be only a matter of time before some new Solstice stuff surfaces.
Cynic. There has never been a more polarizing Miami metal figure than Paul Masvidal. This musical genius and his band Cynic have been at the forefront of technical and progressive metal for their tinkering with jazz and fusion styles. Originally hated by the meatheads of its era, Cynic has become the cool name to drop when attempting to prove one's musical bona fides. For decades, Masvidal and his bandmates have continuously thrilled and confused their fans by exploring the sounds that interest them. Just take this year's Kindly Bent to Free Us, a hard-rock album by a metal band that's probably floating in space and listening to jazz. It can't get more metal than that.