The Best Band in Michigan is Blackgate


Back in August of 2014 we asked you to help us find the best unsigned bands in America. After listening to hundreds of submissions, we finally narrowed down our pick for the Great Lakeiest state in the union. The best unsigned band in Michigan is Blackgate.

The band has been around for less than a year, but that’s all it took for Blackgate to crush their fellow Michiganders underfoot in this here contest. Unlike other recently-somewhat-prevalent words ending in –gate, Blackgate is not stupid as fuck. Blackgate rules. Disclaimer – they might play power metal. Wait up, though. Detractors of men in floral leggings needn’t worry; for there is nary a flower to be found here. The guys in Blackgate play heavy/power metal with hair on its chest. Their system is age-old and grounded in the endless power of the riff, and guitarists Matt Cremeans and Roger Victoriousaccordingly (guess which one of them is the longhair) have no shortage of them. Every song gets more than its share, often driven by a thrashy aggression that sometimes recalls Stormrider-era Iced Earth only without the shitty, embarrassing, shitty, shitty shit shirts or Persuader without the Hansi impersonator. Drummer Ryan Lunsford deserves some acknowledgement here too; he knows just what to lay down in order to make each passage sufficiently cogent, and good riffs become ironclad in his care.

David Cuffman is his own beast, leading the charge with a lordly midrange wail. I’m picturing him in a cape. I’m having trouble not picturing him in some sort of cape. His melodies arrive at catchiness without relinquishing the necessary metal grit, and at his most theatrical he somewhat resembles the great Harry Conklin (ex-Jag Panzer, now Satan’s Host) – check out the harmonies in the chorus of “Caesar” or “I Am The Night” if you don’t believe me. Fucking trust issues.

I ran into something of a problem designing this post – but it’s admittedly a pretty good problem to have. I couldn’t figure out which track to include – they’re all worthy of the Toilet (visitors please note the upper-case “T” and understand this as a confusing and stupid compliment). I’ve determined throw the whole Blackgate EP in here. Headbangaccordingly.


Our astute and physically attractive judges have said things like:

Spear: I liek Blackgate.

MoshOff: With aggressive, fast yet catchy riffs and manly vocals that come off sounding natural (and fit the music quite well), Blackgate manage to convincingly pull off their own brand of thrash/power that isn’t unlike a slightly less dark Shatter Messiah.

Leif Bearikson: How often do you get to use the phrase “powerthrash”? Well, at least once thanks to the dudes in Blackgate. They combine some truly gnarly thrash riffs, vocals that soar like the endangered early 90’s version of the American Bald Eagle, and some infectious choruses to great effect. If you don’t find yourself grooving along or whipping out your best falsetto, there’s a solid chance you’re probably dead inside.

Idol and the Whip (Ann Arbor, MI): Stoner sludge that brings the hard jam.
Wizard Union (Ann Arbor, MI): Stoner doom that sounds exactly how you think it sounds.

The Toilet ov Hell is on an absurd quest to find the best unsigned band in each state of this glorious union. The purpose? To shine the spotlight on bands that deserve more exposure. Also, we’re going to determine once and for all the greatest state in the nation. Each state winner is decided by a collection of 25 judges. After we’ve announced the winner of each state, we’re gonna throw them all in a winner-take-all bracket and leave the votes up to you. Who will be the best unsigned band in the United States? Which state is superior? We can’t wait to find out.

Previous winners:

Alabama — Phylum
Alaska — Terraform
Arizona – Take Over And Destroy
Arkansas – Torii
California – Destroy Judas
Colorado – The Sleer
Connecticut – Autumn’s Eyes
Delaware – Sloss
Florida – Capracide
Georgia – Lost Hours
Hawaii – Darkest Path
Idaho – Rotten Hand
Illinois – Deus Ex
Indiana – Thorr-Axe
Kansas – Bummer
Kentucky – Ad Infinitum
Louisiana – Withering Light
Maine – Sylvia
Maryland – Bereave
Massachusetts – Scaphism

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