Album review: Jesus Piece – …So Unknown
A bulldozing return from rising hardcore maulers Jesus Piece on hotly-anticipated second full-length…
From fuzzy garage-rock and razorwire hardcore to infectious alt.pop and self-described bimbocore, 2023 has a lot to offer. Here’s our pick of the rising stars who’ll carry alternative music onwards and upwards over the next 12 months…
If there’s one thing we can be sure of after another annus mirabilis, it’s that the rock doesn’t stop. 2023 might still be in its infancy but, already, it feels like there is an army of new alternative acts hammering at the gates, ready to step up and make the next 12 months the loudest ever.
With traditional genre boundaries continuing to dissolve in the new wave of cross-cultural creativity, the alternative landscape has changed. It’s less about guitars and drums nowadays than the willingness to walk on the wild side and crank it up. More than ever, sounds like grime and grindcore, pop and powerviolence are complementing and contradicting each other to thrilling effect. If you’re not on the bleeding edge, chances are you’re about to be left behind.
From AlienBlaze to Zetra, the 20 acts we’ve selected as Kerrang!’s Sound Of 2023 might seem like a disparate bunch. They’re united, however, in their willingness to do what it takes to make our world bigger and better, more dynamic and diverse than ever before…
There’s something otherworldly about AlienBlaze: a timelessness wrapped in gleaming modernity. Emerging with impressive mystique from the UK underground, there’s not a lot we know for sure about the 20-year-old singer/songwriter. Her blend of dark alt.pop, grunge and emo is the result of teenage years trapped at home due to illness – the very real alienation from the outside world that resulted – and experiments with her mother’s Gibson U2. Songs like Romantically Dead, Hate Me and Beautiful Nightmare are crafted, beguilingly, from sheets of shimmering darkness. And, having toured with Cassyette as well as signing with Sumerian Records in 2022, it looks like the world is now very much her oyster.
Bloodbather might be a badass band name, but it still doesn’t quite do justice to this Florida duo’s savage sound. Dropping their music in short, sharp shots – 2018 debut Pressure weighs in at 14-and-a-half-minutes; 2020’s Silence EP just a few seconds longer – vocalist/bassist Kyler Millo and guitarist Salem Vex combine the bludgeon of early Code Orange with the unhinged dissonance of Knocked Loose and Vein.fm. Except even nastier than you’d imagine. Songs like The Final Request, Void and We Came And You Were Silent will be nigh on unlistenable for casuals looking to dip their toes, but those with a taste for hardcore’s most serrated edge should dive in head first.
Thea Taylor always knew that she had music inside her. Unfortunately, it took a troubled youth to really bring it out. Growing up as the youngest of 10 siblings in a strict Mormon household, the artist better known as carolesdaughter first experimented with drugs aged 11 and began to write songs to help break the silence of rehab. It’s the striking contrast between her infectious alt.pop sound and the dark, autobiographical lyrics of songs like Dead Boy (in my room) and please put me in a medically induced coma that makes her stand apart in an increasingly crowded scene. Where so many of her peers are looking to manufacture their darkness, Thea’s efforts to process the lingering shadows of her past feel all the more thrillingly real.
A lot has happened since Frank Carter brought Cassyette out during his main stage headline set at Download Pilot back in June 2021. Teaming up with Frank & The Rattlesnakes for smashing single Off With His Head was step one for the Essex provocateur. Then came 2022’s triumphant return to UK festival stages, from Slam Dunk to Reading & Leeds via Download and 2000trees, marking a Sad Girl Summer to remember. Support slots for My Chemical Romance and Sum 41 were the icing on a delicious emo/nu-metal/powerpop layered-cake. The release of her Sad Girl mixtape in November only underlined what those of us who’d been paying attention for the previous 16 months already knew: there’s a new UK superstar on the rise.
“It’s pronounced Chair-um!” So screamed T-shirts in countless festival fields this summer as the Derry trio (spelled Cherym) continued their irresistible rise. On one level, that’s thanks to a collection of earworm bangers – Listening To My Head, Kisses On My Cards, We’re Just Friends – whose effervescent pop-punk exists somewhere between the adolescent abandon of their hometown forefathers The Undertones and the defiant swagger of Bikini Kill. Deeper down, though, they’ve connected through frank, accessible commentary on life as women and non-binary people in the rock world. Having supported Bob Vylan and Fighting With Wire, they’re lining up even more high-profile gigs, including Austin’s SXSW, for 2023. Expect everyone to know their name before too long.
BBC One’s The Voice hasn’t traditionally been a hotbed of alternative talent, but Cody Frost is an excellent exception. The Lancashire native’s 2016 run on the primetime singing competition – during which she was ‘mentored’ by Boy George – might’ve ended early, with some fans accusing the producers of ‘fixing’ their exit, but after a few year’s recalibration she’s returned, more driven than ever. Where, back then, Enter Shikari’s Rou Reynolds was one of her favourite influences, he’s now a collaborator, on the St Albans’ trailblazers’ recent single Bull. Cody’s not just happy sharing the limelight with their heroes, either, with singles like (I should) take better care and verbal warnings shaping up a sound that’s all her own.
Plenty of bands face an uphill battle when recording their first album, but few have to deal with their homeland being attacked by a foreign superpower. That was the position Kyiv riot grrrls Death Pill (pictured at top of article) found themselves in when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, just three tracks into the mixing of their self-titled debut. Having already built their sound around the experience of battling Eastern Europe’s cold conservatism as young women in the early 21st century, this was just more fuel for their already considerable fire. Due in February via New Heavy Sounds, expect that record to drop like a righteous bomb.
Just because you take the soft approach doesn’t mean you can’t have a big impact. That’s the lesson Britanny Fousheé has learned after years struggling for her place in the alternative world. Following the gentle R&B-folk of 2021 mixtape Time Machine, November 2022’s tellingly-titled debut full-length Softcore (sometimes jarringly) counterpoints the New Jersey singer’s ethereal tendencies with elements of punk dissonance and metal heft to far more thrilling effect: a rude awakening that’s finally put her on radars across genres around the world. Her sound’s still evolving, with the potential to – like Poppy – veer into unapologetic heaviness. Underpinning it, though, is Fousheé’s steadfast need to make music that lays bare the tenderness at her heart.
Crossover thrash is having something of a revival at the moment. Following in the fiery footsteps of American heavyweights Power Trip and Enforced, London’s Inhuman Nature are raising both tempo and volume on this side of the pond. Although the Slayer-worship at their heart was clear as far back as 2019’s self-titled LP, February 2022’s Under The Boot EP showcased a growth and refinement in their serrated sound, while August’s appearance in the Sophie Lancaster tent at Bloodstock confirmed that their formidable live presence had only grown more intense over lockdown. Expect bangers like City Of The Dead and Ride The Apocalypse to be blaring in the background at some point over the next 12 months while you’re loosening a few teeth in the pit.
Jesus Piece aren’t exactly a new band. Formed in Philadelphia back in 2015, with three EPs racked up before 2018’s superb debut full-length Only Self, they were one of the key supporting players in the harsh metalcore revival led by Code Orange and Knocked Loose in the years pre-pandemic. Along with the aforementioned heavyweights, those couple of years where circle-pits, stagedives and sweaty contact with strangers became taboo dampened their runaway momentum. Having recently signed to Century Media and just dropped furious new single An Offering To The Night – their first music in four years – 2023 looks to be the year that they finally stamp their mark on the hardcore world. Expect their upcoming live shows, including a tantalising slot at Manchester’s Outbreak Fest in June, to see carnage that’ll have fans thanking the heavens they’re back.
At the time of writing, Lake Malice don’t have a top five songs on Spotify… because they’ve only released four. That’s not stopped the Brighton alt. metallers being booked for this year’s Download, nor already racking up UK support slots for the likes of Hacktivist, Zeal & Ardor and Bloodywood. A partnership between Italian-born vocalist Alice (pronounced ‘Alee-ch-ay’) Guala and guitarist/composer Blake Cornwall, their releases thus far have combined the industrial-tinged heaviosity of Spiritbox, nu-metal classicism reminiscent of Linkin Park, and the anarchic, synth-streaked sounds of UK contemporaries VUKOVI and WARGASM. Every track’s been a banger, so we can’t wait to see what’s next.
Sharing their name with the second album from Anglo-Irish noise rock legends My Bloody Valentine, one might imagine that Loveless are a particularly heavyweight proposition. To the contrary, the Los Angeles duo of multi-instrumentalist Dylan Tirapelli-Jamail and vocalist Julian Comeau are riding a wave of viral success that originated with pop-rock TikTok covers of Lizzo’s About Damn Time, Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever and Elley Duhe’s Middle Of The Night, having only gotten together a couple of years ago. With millions of eyes now on their band, however, they’re ready to turn attention to more original compositions, with tracks like IS IT ME and Worst Case Scenario confirming their deep well of talent.
Never underestimate an artist willing to embrace their on eccentricities. That’s indubitably the case with Norwich native Lauren Eakins, who’s evovled from Hannah Montana-loving tween to renowned TikToker to one of the most promising alt.pop prospects the UK has to offer. With an aesthetic that’s all cherry-red hair, fluffed-out eyebrows and the fashion of the year 2000, she’s developed the sounds to match, combining older-school influences like Avril Lavigne and Radiohead with the ’00s revivalism of WILLOW and Machine Gun Kelly. Check out high-attitude hit single Word Vomit for a taste of the mischief she’s about to unleash.
Maggie Lindemann might’ve shot to fame with her covers of mainstream stars like Lana Del Rey, Demi Lovato and Melanie Martinez, but she’s an outsider in her soul. Having attracted the attention of mainstream-dabbling like-minds Travis Barker, MGK and Siiickbrain, her own compositions, which mix punk, alt.rap and emo have been allowed to come to the fore. September’s full-length debut SUCKERPUNCH saw her delve further down the rock rabbit-hole, with the epic rumble of take me nowhere and the crunchy, up-tempo attack of how could you do this to me? hinting at layers of hurt still to be unravelled.
‘If you call me boss / Add more soy sauce to my sushi / Today is Spring Equinox / Break you button B / Don’t slow down, don’t slow down!’ So say the bonkers opening lines to bonkers 2022 single BBB from Japanese hardcore crew Paledusk. It’s an evocative summation of their joyously silly sound. Hailing from the southern city of Fukuoka, there’s a truly bizarro originality to their spring-loaded blend of metalcore, industrial, nu-metal, EDM and (occasionally) kawaii influences that’s already seen them win a legion of fans in Australia, having toured alongside Alpha Wolf, Polaris and The Amity Affliction. Expect a further spread of their flash flood of colour when they crash Europe next summer.
It’s hard to define Hannah Collins’ music more succinctly than she does herself: “Bimbocore”. Repurposing the macho posturing of modern metalcore to spread her aggressively feminist message, the artist better known as Scene Queen delivers twistedly tongue-in-cheek lyrics, big riffs, bigger beats and more pink than a flamingo fight in a lipstick factory. Having dropped two excellent EPs in 2022 – the imaginatively titled Bimbocore and Bimbocore, Vol. 2 – as well as collaborating with Set It Off and touring with WARGASM, we can expect her to be the hottest (pink) thing this side of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie.
It takes either serious cojones or a touch of hard-headedness to name your band as simply as Speed in 2022. We’ll let you make up your own minds on which applies to this Aussie quintet who’ve exploded from the Sydney underground onto the world stage in just three short years. They’ve shown striking socio-political awareness, with early single A Dumb Dog Gets Flogged calling-out their government’s failure to properly tackle the catastrophic 2019-2020 bushfires. 2022’s Gang Called Speed EP, however, was a precision-tooled exercise in the limb-swinging, two-stepping machismo of classic hardcore. Music doesn’t get much punchier than this.
When the great and good of London’s rock community turned out to catch Taipei Houston’s first-ever headline show at the Camden Assembly on May 18, 2022, much of the curiosity was undeniably driven by the fact that the rising San Francisco garage-rockers featured not one, but two of Metallica sticksman Lars Ulrich’s sons: Layne (vocals/bass) and Myles (drums). That novelty value was quickly forgotten, however, when the duo proved themselves to be one of the best young bands in the world in their own right. Having since cropped up at Reading & Leeds and dropped fantastically fuzzy debut Once Bit Never Bored, the ‘best kept secret’ factor might be fading, but they’re well positioned to replace it with newborn notoriety.
Urne’s epic debut Serpent & Spirit somehow flew under the radar when it dropped in 2021. Combining the muscular swagger of classic Metallica, the riffy intricacy of Mastodon and the crushing modernity of Gojira, it’s gained something of a cult following since, with the London trio’s epic live show and refreshing refusal to attempt to reinvent the wheel catching the attention of some of metal’s biggest names. Currently in the process of putting the finishing touches on album number two, the specifics of what comes next remain under wraps. If the rumblings of a second record even more epic and intense than the one that preceded it come to fruition, mind, it’ll be impossible to ignore the arrival of Britain’s next truly great heavy band.
“You have knocked upon a door. A locked door must be answered, but you know not what you do…” came the unsettling voicemail K! received when we tried to track down metal’s most mysterious new outfit. “You seek answers from beyond, but find only acolytes.” Indeed, everyone from Unto Others frontman Gabe Franco to Employed To Serve’s Sammy Urwin and Puppy’s Billy Howard Price seem to be singing the praises of Zetra when we went looking – albeit not offering any meaningful detail on who the hell they are. With a slew of singles like Satellite and last year's From Without EP showcasing a clash of textures – from velvety goth to shimmering shoegaze – and a string of tour dates lined up, including support on Author & Punisher’s European tour and a slot at Bloodstock, there’s still a hell of a lot more fun to be had unpicking this enigma.
A bulldozing return from rising hardcore maulers Jesus Piece on hotly-anticipated second full-length…
With less than a month to go until new album …So Unknown, Jesus Piece have unveiled the record’s ‘atmospheric centrepiece’ Silver Lining.
Drummer Luis Aponte promises that …So Unknown is “as close to a Jesus Piece experience as you’re going to get without standing in front of us…”
Jesus Piece have signed to Century Media for their next chapter, and unveiled their first new music since 2018’s Only Self debut.
Jesus Piece’s Luis Aponte joined pop star Charli XCX for her appearance on Saturday Night Live over the weekend…
Every Time I Die’s highly-anticipated UK run with The Bronx, Jesus Piece and Sanction is sadly off.
Awesome news! Jesus Piece’s Luis Aponte will be behind the kit for Charli XCX on this weekend’s Saturday Night Live.