Cost of Living, a Denver supergroup featuring ex-members of Qualm, the Departure and Shogun, completed production on its debut in the spring of 2004. But Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead wasn't released until last month -- an excruciating eternity for the quintet's fans, many of whom have been rabid devotees of singer Justin Hackl and guitarist Ryan Welter since their days in Qualm. Why the wait? According to Hackl, the band "just wasn't ready yet." But now, with Cost of Living consistently outdrawing most touring punk bands who visit town, it's the perfect time for Trample's melodic, uncompromising assault.

As a showcase of new Colorado music, PS 2 isn't perfect. But it's closer than anyone's ever come before. Ranging from humble to heavy-hitting, the disc amply displays the passion and attention to detail that Ben De-soto and Tim Garvey of Public Service Records bring to this project -- and to the local indie scene as a whole. Everything from digital noise to folk to garage punk is represented here, and the overall flow and excellence of the selections makes PS 2 much more than just a fervently waved banner for Denver rock: It's also a great listen.

Co-founded by Rogue frontman Bill Terrell and Voodoo Productions owner Dave Zaharia, Infexious Recordz is a headbanger's nightmare sprung gloriously to life. In addition to luring national acts like L.A. Guns, Exodus and Pissing Razors to town, Infexious has showcased over a hundred of Denver's own up-and-coming metal acts -- Tyfoid Mary, Kill Syndicate, Mud Crawl and Kronow, among others. Like they say, an eightball of infexion is worth an ounce of cure.

No one has worked as hard to promote the Denver metal scene as Wayne Quigley, the man behind Big Q Productions. From frequently booking shows at the Ogden, Gothic and Bluebird theaters to putting together smaller gigs at Iliff Park and Eck's saloons, Big Q has shone the spotlight on many of the best emerging metal acts in town. Promoting bands -- particularly bands on the way up -- isn't exactly a huge moneymaking endeavor. So we can only deduce that Q is in it for the love of the music. And for that, Mr. Quigley, we give you the horns.

Ever been down to the Soiled Dove and experienced anything other than flawless sound? Yeah, didn't think so. In the extremely rare event that you did, chances are someone other than Chris Steele was sitting behind the mixing board. Although it would be easy to credit the Dove's P.A. for the outstanding sound, we all know that any system is only as good as the person operating it. In this case, that person also happens to turn knobs at the Pepsi Center when he's not at the Dove. Crank it up, Chris.

Best Nationally Renowned Producer You've Never Heard Of

Dave Otero

Tucked away in a small warehouse studio just south of downtown, producer Dave Otero has captured some of the most ferocious music ever to be recorded -- not just in Colorado, but anywhere. Anomalies, Cephalic Carnage's release for Relapse Records, was recorded at his Flatline Audio studio and is currently being heard around the country. But Otero is still relatively unknown outside of Denver's extreme-metal community. Don't be surprised if his reputation grows right alongside the Cephalic record: He's a wunderkind behind the sliders.

Producer Bob Ferbrache has been the studio ace behind many of the truly exceptional releases to emanate from the Front Range over the last decade. Working from the unlikely confines of his mother's basement in Westminster (Absinthe Studios is actually located within arm's length of a washer and dryer!), Ferbrache added to his impressive back catalogue by engineering two of the year's best albums: Consider the Birds, David Eugene Edwards's redemptive masterstroke as Wovenhand, and the self-titled stunner from Munly & the Lee Lewis Harlots. Throw in some informal summer sessions with visiting members of Twinemen (the late Mark Sandman's bandmates from Morphine) and you could call Ferbrache's grandiose feat a goddamn trifecta. Bartender -- another round of wormwood!

Rudy's Studio sits on the outer edge of north Denver, in the basement of Mark Obermeyer's suburban ranch home. Using two tracking rooms and a slew of gear, Obermeyer has recorded some of Denver's best-sounding records over the past few years. And although he initially cut his teeth working with metal bands, he's capable of recording just about any style. Aesthetically, Rudy's may not be the poshest room in town, but there's a reason that respected bands like Love.45, Rogue, Rexway, Kronow, Dead Heaven Cowboys and Drug Under have chosen to track here.

Randall Frazier not only fronts the moody, psychedelic outfit Orbit Service, but he's responsible for recording and mixing some of 2004's most engaging local releases, as well. After moving from a west Denver cellar to a space that currently shares walls with the Revoluciones art space, Frazier and production veteran Matthew Mensch helmed audio projects by Sons of Armageddon and Drop the Fear. Boasting 42-track digital production, Cubabse SX editing abilities and endless synth options, their R00m can likewise enhance any recording project with Hammond organs, Wurlitzers, cello or timpani. They're also branching into video production and will soon score international distribution throughout Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia. When it comes to head music, there's nothing like a R00m with a view.

Tony and Lydia Fiore, a musician and artist, respectively, sensed that the local music community needed a high-quality, inexpensive place to record and mix music. They were right: Since opening last year, Globalsound Recording Studio has produced demos and CDs for scores of local acts drawn by its accessible atmosphere, reasonable prices and more than adequate facilities. The place is modest, with two studios equipped to varying degrees of high-techness: In the scaled-down Studio East, most bands are able to work at a pace of about two hours per song for recording and mixing. The more highbrow Studio West sports ProTools and a Digidesign Control 24 mixing console. And because time is money, Globalsound is also a good deal as a one-stop CD shop, offering duplication, web design and graphic-arts services. Get rolling.

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