With tributes pouring in to Boston in the wake of this week's tragedy, I imagine that more than a few of them will come from or at least cite Boston's rich musical history. I've already seen plenty about the Dropkick Murphys, and I'm sure that some well-meaning rock media figure will mistake Rob Zombie for still being Bostonian or Aersomith for still being rock. Not that anyone needs to--without resorting to "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," here are five bands proving that Boston rocks as hard as any city in the world.
No band is making better death metal than these guys. Technical enough to land on this year's Summer Slaughter while still writing actual songs, this quartet gives death metal its long overdue thrash-inspired ass-kicking, from their bluesy, Dimebag-worthy soloing to their rapid fire riffs and jackhammer rhythms.
2. The Red Chord
One of the only bands to respect grindcore enough to flesh it out into something with solos, audible lyrics and fully-realized (but succinct) compositions. On their last album, Fed Through the Teeth Machine, The Red Chord destroyed genre, song structure and time signature conventions with some of the most energized performances being recorded today, although you might have to see it live to believe it.
It's almost unfair. Every album is a challenging, gut-wrenching and addictive example of the best that punk and metal can do, almost single-handedly keeping punk music off life support for the entire 21st century. Technically, Converge are from Salem, but their rampaging music and ardent integrity is as rooted in Boston hardcore as it is in Bannon, Ballou, Newton and Koller's chemistry.
4. Mission of Burma
Before every punk tried to pass as an intellectual, Mission of Burma made punk rock into something almost pretty, packing a few dozen art-punk tracks into a some addictive albums in the '80s. That first run helped shape the next few decades of art-rockers, and was more than enough to earn them a spot among Boston's musical elite, but then they reunited in the 2000s and set the high standard for rock comebacks with a series of albums at least as strong as the early classics. Eat your hearts out, Strokes.
What can I say? Boston's debut is mainly remembered for selling 17 million copies and being Boston's only good album, but what an album it is. The production has aged poorly enough for cooler bands to goof on its songs, but they still listened, and were better off for it. As late '70s hard rock, it ranks with KISS and Blue Öyster Cult.