New York City is famous for the number and variety of its street musicians. But even in a place where in the course of your commute you can see a freestyle rapper, an old-timey banjo player, and a guy performing French medieval religious chants, the Brooklyn trio Unlocking the Truth stand out as unique. For the past couple of years, these three Brooklyn natives—one of whom is 12, while the other two are 13—have been setting up their amps and drums around the city and filling its public spaces with remarkably tuneful, technically impressive thrash metal that’s almost surreally incongruous to see coming from three adorable middle schoolers. Ever since camera-phone footage of them blew up on the Internet, they’ve been pulling down bigger and better gigs: This spring they played Coachella, and they’re about to wrap up a stint on the Warped Tour.
Now, according to the Daily News, Unlocking the Truth has signed a deal with Sony that could pay out as much as $1.7 million for six albums. That’s a lot of money to be potentially investing in a band whose members are in the middle of dealing with the effects of their voices dropping, but their viral popularity is still spreading and it’s not showing any signs of dissipating.
Despite the meme-like quality of cute kids playing heavy metal, the group is more than just a novelty act. Their Internet popularity at the moment would probably be good for a couple thousand sales on an album rushed out before some other prepubescent musical act breaks on BuzzFeed, but the fact that Sony offered them a six-album deal suggests that someone there realizes they’re actually a really, really good thrash metal band, and could very realistically get even better as they age. They may be middle-school kids playing unexpectedly brutal music, but in this day and age, maybe the oddest thing about them is that they’re a musical act that just signed the rare kind of long-term deal designed to incubate emerging talent that barely exists anymore.