Have you seen these bands?
I miss them dearly.
Even with the plethora of music available at our fingertips, sometimes there’s just nothing that scratches that itch left by that one particular band. And sometimes, spinning those old albums for the millionth time is not enough; you’re left hankering for new material. Assembled here are a few of those bands whose last release was ages ago, who are indefinitely on hold, or whose fate is otherwise uncertain, and we’re gonna attempt to investigate what’s up with them.
I’m not gonna claim that all of them played incredibly unique stuff you’re never gonna hear anywhere else, but all of them were damn good at what they did (or, hopefully, do). I’m also by no means trying to fault or shame them for their inactivity. Music industry is a fuck, and all manner of personal reasons can cut an artist’s trajectory short. And sometimes, a project is just not intended for more than a one-off. I’m suspecting this is the case with Dunsmuir, for example, who I’ve written about quite recently, so I won’t include them here. That said, let’s see what’s left on the list and maybe be a little sad together.
Last seen: 2009
Given that I still haven’t gotten around to Priestess’ debut, maybe I shouldn’t be crying for more just yet, but 11 years of silence from a band so good at their craft sure seems cry-worthy. What struck me the most about Priestess’ style of slightly proggy, slightly bluesy rock was the vocal hooks. Chorus after chorus, they wormed their way so deep into my brain that on the second spin, I already felt like I’d known this album for years. This comfortable familiarity is offset by the intricacy of the instruments, which add enough detail on top of the solidly rocking foundation that new things still pop out after multiple listens. Throw some references to popular fiction into the mix, and you’ve got a feast for nerds and normies alike. As to the band’s fate, a Facebook post from 2012 cites personal reasons for cancelling several shows, and while they’re officially only “on hold,” almost everyone is rather busy with different things. Priestess seems to have been the last band that bassist Mike Dyball was active in, but singer Mikey Heppner has since gone on to perform in proggy retro-rock troupe Beat Cops, while drummer Vince Nudo has played in Kurt Vile‘s backing band and is otherwise busy scoring films, for which he likes to team up with band mate Dan Watchorn. Godspeed to the lot of them, and maybe one day they’ll meet again in that “dank rehearsal space” somewhere in Canada.
Last seen: 2012
Squall left us with only two songs before fizzing out of existence, but quite the songs they are. Both present simple constructions cobbled together from post punk and death rock with a singer that might be Nick Cave’s brother, yet both hit quite differently from one another. “No Life Here” staggers in like a drunken cowboy, maintaining its menacing stomp throughout, and ominously proclaims its chorus. “Repulsor” is the livelier track, quick-stepping between a catchy verse and stretches of reckless instrumental abandon that make me lose my shit every time. And then it’s all over, and it seems like that’s how it will stay—while info on this particular project is sparse, at least having the members’ names helps a lot, and some googling quickly reveals that they all seem to have gone separate ways. Vocalist Tavis MacLeod seems to be behind the instrumental (how cruel!) project Sea Yarns, while bassist Daniel Niejadik focuses on pretty killer art. For drummer Robbie Lordi, I’ve only found a Soundcloud account… taunting me with a snippet of what may have become a new Squall song. What agony!
Last seen: 2015
Let’s have more prog rock, this time coupled with a ray of hope in the midst of all this despair. The release date of Niche’s last album is not that long ago, and the band at least seems fairly active on their Facebook page. The last post is from 2019 and they kindly shared the mini review I wrote about them some two years ago, from which I shall borrow freely as I once again implore you to “[c]heck that vexing bass line suggestively swinging its curves in the verse of ‘On Down the Line’ before being followed by confidently swaggering guitar work that perfectly underlines the song’s theme of dogged persistence in the face of life’s troubles; the chill but melancholy ‘Dear Sweet Anne’ with its abrupt, dramatic ending, again fitting the song’s topic; the leather-jacket-toting hard rock of the aptly titled ‘Tough and Mean;’ and finally, the spaced-out wanderings of ‘Days to Come,’ where the album ends on an optimistic note of looking ahead.” Man, content can be so easy. Seriously though, I’m not a big connoisseur of this style, but for what it’s worth, Heading East is probably my absolute favourite progressive rock album. Since searching for info on the band is a pain thanks to their name and my hopes are still somewhat high, I shan’t attempt to find out what the members have been up to, but rather contend myself with the umpteenth spin of the record for now.
Last seen: 2014
Back in the days of the inverted rating scale, our dear Pumpkin Baby already talked about this album, and here and there, I’ve compared stuff to it whenever the slightest similarity prodded my deep longing for a sequel. The project’s sole member Gary Bettencourt used to be a touring guitarist for Deafheaven, and I’ve seen reviews claiming this is apparent in the music on Passenger, but I hold this to be nonsense. The only track leaning even slightly in a blackgaze direction is “Adhere;” the rest of the album drives an altogether harder bargain and pelts you with relentless crust punk and black metal. Not blackened crust, mind you. The two styles are kept strictly segregated for the most part, which strangely does precious little harm to how coherent the record feels, an effect no doubt helped by the grimy production and the distorted, acerbic vocals that end up fitting both genres. Will there ever be more? Bettencourt has announced no such plans on the Facebook page, and searching for his name yields surprisingly little. You’ll find something on a Gary Bettencourt, but although he’s also from California, I doubt it’s the same person, unless they let people sell their remaining vinyl stock from prison.
Last seen: 2017
Despite the relatively recent release date, Gods merits inclusion by being the most confounding of the bunch up until now. No info about the members is given on the Bandcamp page or Discogs, the band name is practically unsearchable, and the title of the EP being a quote from Hannibal Lecter doesn’t help too much either. So for the longest time, there was nothing outside of these three monstrous tracks, presenting a mix of sludge and hardcore that will pound you into dust. The ridiculously catchy “Hateslick” opens with groovy riffs and an impressive scream, eventually leading into a chorus that is bound to get stuck in your head. “Everything Whole…” adds wistful melodies to the mix and clobbers you with two massive breakdowns before “Rend Asunder” goes on to kick you when you’re down. Thankfully, there’s a bit more to be had. An old-ass post on the label’s Facebook page was kind enough to identify the vocalist as Rob Newson, and even mentions two prior bands he was in (so this Rob Newson was quickly out as a candidate): Hammer of the Gods and Landmine Spring. The latter is an alternative metal band active around the turn of the century and sounds pretty much like you would expect. Hammer of the Gods, on the other hand, bears a connection in more than name; the project’s 2011 EP is a direct predecessor to the sound of Gods, and while not executed quite as well, still comes highly recommended if you dig this style. As for other members, it seems likely that there would be some overlap between the two, but they all have aliases on MA, and the trail leads into a network of more or less underground UK bands that I didn’t investigate much further. As for whether there will ever be more, no-one can tell. The aforementioned Facebook post announced Rob’s appearance on the TV show Come Dine With Me, so uhh… who knows what he’s up to these days.
Got any other cases of one-and-done? Any more bands that disappeared into the mists of uncertainty? Work through the stages of grief in the comments.