Now Hear This: Alex Baker on the best new hardcore, emo and industrial
You will struggle to find someone on Earth more passionate about new artists helping break them than I am, but I confess, I have spent an ungodly amount of time this past month not listening to new bands at all, but just listening to the absolutely bloody amazing new Architects album. How are that band so consistently absolutely fucking amazing? Also, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have seen me say it over the years: Sam Carter is surely one of the best vocalists of all time – just incredible.
Anyway, there have been pockets of time where I’ve managed to prise my ears away from them to enjoy some other stuff, and so here is said stuff…
I grew up immersed in (and playing in) the UKHC scene. Back then it wasn’t a show unless 50-Caliber, Knuckledust, Special Move, cryforsilence and TenFoldTruth (my band) were laying it down! The UKHC scene has a tendency to produce incredible, completely uncompromising bands, and that word, ‘uncompromising’, is both the genre’s blessing and its curse. This nature is bloody amazing, but has also meant that very few UKHC bands have broken through into wider public consciousness, which is a shame because they create incredible music that more people should hear.
Cruelty are one of the most interesting UKHC bands I’ve heard in ages, and Christ on a bike you’re going to absolutely love them. Their song A Lie That Makes Life Bearable is just a taste of what’s to come on their debut album, There Is No God Where I Am, which will land in April. Listen now and get crushed by the sheer weight of it all.
In 1994’s New York State Of Mind, Nas said, ‘I never sleep, ’cause sleep is the cousin of death.’ In 2021, Oxford’s KXURTNXY sings, ‘I don’t wanna ever sleep until I rest in peace.’ Sure, the location, the decade and the genres may be different, but the ethic is the same: push on!
From growing up singing musical theatre classics at home with her mum, to learning her craft on the local open mic circuit, and falling in love with the darker side of music and culture via the gateway drug that is My Chemical Romance, KXURTNXY’s musical journey has lead her to a place where she can effortless combine pop and alternative sensibilities to create a sound that will appeal to anyone who loves Billie Eilish. Check out her latest single FUNHXUSE!
Talking of My Chem, people often say, “Why is there not another My Chemical Romance?” Well, I’ll tell you why, because it’s not just about a great look and the right swagger, it’s about having the ability to write amazing songs; timeless, iconic songs. Be under no illusion, through all their emo, bombastic glory, My Chemical Romance wrote solid-gold pop anthems, and that, my friends, is a lot harder than it sounds.
With that in mind, appreciate the enormity of what I’m about to say: Sheffield’s Havelocke are coming for your crown, MCR!
Listen to their song Vampire Eyes below, and be instantly transported in your mind to the utter joy of being in a sweaty crowd, screaming the lyrics of your favourite song back at the band. It feels visceral and vital, and goddammit I love it.
Illaman and Norm Oddity
Illaman’s talent makes my head melt. His lyrics, his voice, his showmanship, his soul… he is the real deal. If you’ve watched him perform with his band PENGSHUi, then you’ll know that he is an unstoppable force who can hype crowds into a state of insanity. He is also one of the most genuinely lovely guys on Earth, and when he played me his new EP, Ugly Days, my heart stopped.
The world needs people who speak their truth, who tell it how it is, and hip-hop is the perfect place for him to do this outside metal. What made hip-hop so incredible in the first place was the politics, the raw emotion. In Ugly Days, Illaman pours his heart out over a wash of immaculate beats from the mind of Norm Oddity. It’s like he’s opened his journal and allowed you to read the innermost thoughts and feelings of his soul. No bravado, just the words of a man who sometimes finds that life is fucking tough and isn’t afraid to help himself and others by exploring and expressing that fact. It’s a deeply personal listen, and I wholeheartedly encourage you to check it out.
Glasgow is the birthplace of a lot of incredible music (as well as a bloody incredible venue – big up the Cathouse), and North Atlas are a band that create tunes of cinematic proportions.
It’s the sort of music that Zeus and the Gods of Olympus would listen to if A) they were real and B) they loved the darker side of music (perhaps more a Hades vibe?). If you’re a fan of Nine Inch Nails, I’ve no doubt you’ll love the electronically-infused sound on display in their latest song House Of Mirrors – inspired by the world we live in today, where everywhere you turn there’s a lens or a mirror reflecting you back at yourself, and the madness that can ensue…
Hear Alex Baker present the Fresh Blood Show on Kerrang! Radio, Wednesday nights from 10pm
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