Now Hear This: Alex Baker on the best new metal, hardcore and alt brilliance
Forget ‘New year, new you’. The world is just far too fucked up for that at the moment. So instead let’s do this: ‘New year, new music’! Here’s some bloody great new bands/artists that I’m expecting big things from this year…
In terms of artists that may well already be on your radar, it goes without saying that Sam and Milkie of Wargasm are going to play an absolute blinder in 2021. Their work-rate last year was off the scale, and they have paved the way to solidify themselves as future stars of our scene. On the other side of the pond Dana Dentata (who I wrote about more extensively here recently) has signed to Roadrunner Records and is poised to unleash her own brand of alternative and gritty rap onto you all. Dana’s winning over legions of fans the world over, so join us and get lost in the sheer dirtiness of it all! Elsewhere, the sheer intensity of Death Tour is going to ensure that they are one of the most played artists of the year, Bob Vylan will continue to revitalise punk, and the effervescent sound of Meet Me @ The Altar – and their infectious personalities – will help ensure that 2021 is their year.
In terms of some that you may not yet have heard of, though, check out this glorious pack of earth-shakers…
One of the bands who surprised me the most last year are Glitchers. This Norfolk-based duo took to the streets and toured the pavements of the UK when Boris Johnson closed all the venues. They are one of those bands that I saw before I heard, if you know what I mean? They were all over my feeds on socials, but when I actually took the time to listen to them I was astonished by how breathtakingly good they are. Imagine if The White Stripes loved Every Time I Die – that’s Glitchers. They haven’t got any music videos, but here’s them playing in protest opposite Downing Street — the actual Downing Street. They get got shut down, obviously, but not before BoJo opened up the fucking pit (he didn’t).
Back in 2016, Heriot put out a savage EP before going on an indefinite hiatus, but last year they landed back in our lives, and let me tell you this: they are not fucking about. With the addition of guitarist and vocalist Debbie Gough, the band’s sound has taken on a whole new dimension of absolute throat-ripping black-hole-heavy-heaviness. Their tune Cleansed Existence is a bleak, distressing warzone of a song, with an anxiety-inducing synth underpinning riffs that sound like they are being played on a bridge to Hell made by those metal-as-fuck thick steel ropes that hold suspension bridges up. It’s an unimaginably brilliant sound. The metal world should quite rightly lose their shit about these guys this year.
You know, we all spend so much time trying to come up with intelligent sounding ways to big up a new artist, but let’s just cut the bullshit: sometimes what you want are just incredibly written songs. Let me tell you, there’s a reason why everyone from Machine Gun Kelly to grandson, The Used to Travis Barker, want to work with this LA-based songwriter, singer (and jazz-drum odyssey!). Phem knows not just how to write an amazing song, but also how to deliver it with a complete zero-fucks-given vibe that is inescapably cool. Phem is so talented that everything she does seems effortless and her music has such an impact that people are inking themselves up with her name the world over. She has become such a staple of my show now on Kerrang! Radio that I cannot imagine doing one without playing her.
Copenhagen’s Siamese are a big deal in Denmark, but the entire world needs to hear them. With a beautiful sonic mix of crystal-clear metal and R&B (not possible to pull off without a seriously talented vocalist), Siamese inhabit a space that fans of Normandie and Bring Me The Horizon will appreciate. And, let’s take a moment to talk about that voice. That incredible, gift of a voice from the pipes of frontman Mirza Radonjica. Siamese are desperately trying to tour the UK but it keeps getting COVID-ed, but I for one cannot wait to get to a venue at some point in 2021 and bask in the warm embrace of that unreal voice.
To Kill Achilles
Heavy music has always fascinated me for its ability to draw out emotions in a way that is completely unique – and when heavy bands are purposeful in their approach, that effect is magnified 10-fold. Scotland’s To Kill Achilles know exactly what impact their blend of hardcore can have, and through their brand new record Something To Remember Me By they tell the stories of a man in the last year of his life. The record highlights the never-ending importance of talking to each other, of sharing our sadness and our grief, of sharing our struggles and dismantling the antiquated notion that a man has to be some sort of fearless, stoic brick wall. Many people will listen to this record and find comfort in the normalisation of painful emotions, many people will be genuinely helped by it, and for that reason, it may well be one of the most important albums released this year.
Hear Alex Baker present the Fresh Blood Show on Kerrang! Radio, Wednesday nights from 10pm.
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