By Matt Mills, Rich Hobson
( Metal Hammer )
From Gothenburg revivalists The Halo Effect to Bhangra-inspired folk metal fusion from Bloodywood, these are the 12 most promising up-and-coming bands in metal
No matter who your favourite band is, they all have one thing in common: they all started out as local acts who’d do anything to secure that big break. And the journey only grows harder for each passing generation, with more noise and more competition to overcome to seize your attention. So, to catalyse the process, here are Hammer’s picks of the 12 most promising new bands in heavy music, from grindcore aggressors to post-rock melodicists.
1. The Halo Effect
Composed exclusively of ‘90s In Flames members – including original leader Jesper Strömblad and Dark Tranquillity frontman Mikael Stanne – these Swedes were understandably the most talked-about new metal band of 2021, taking their members back to their roots as pioneers of the iconic Gothenburg sound. Debut single Shadowminds lived up to expectations by giving us exactly what we wanted: melodic death metal with a spine-strengthening chorus. The quintet are hitting the road with Machine Head in September, so more infectious anthems will inevitably follow.
For fans of: In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Amon Amarth
Upcoming/latest release: Debut album expected early 2022 [no confirmed date as yet]
The central premise of these Canadian brutes is “What if we took post-metal and replaced all the quiet bits with the most oppressively dense grindcore you’ve ever heard?” Their upcoming fourth EP, Lullabies For Eternal Sleep, is thirteen minutes of breath-sapping violence, beginning with Cornwall’s incessant mania before Devour hammers with slow, claustrophobic grooves. It drops digitally on January 4, with physical copies available via Translation Loss Records on January 7th so start your new year with a bludgeoning.
For Fans Of: Ulcerate, Leeched, Cult Of Luna
Upcoming/latest Release: Lullabies For Enternal Sleep is due January 4 2022 (via Bandcamp)
Let new double-single Near Vision/Enter The Flesh bash you about for five minutes and you get the complete portrait of everything this metalcore squad can do. Singer Debbie Gough leads the quartet through fast-paced hardcore, muscular groove metal and sinister ambient segues alike, covering more territory in one song than most peers do in an album. With tours supporting Svalbard under their belt and new music on the horizon in 2022, they’re almost certainly British metal’s next breakout stars.
For fans of: Code Orange, Converge, Loathe
Upcoming/latest release: Near Vision/Enter The Flesh is available now (via Bandcamp)
4. To Bloom
With their silky-smooth vocal melodies and clean yet flashy guitar licks, these Californians technically fall into the realm of progressive pop-rock. However, such a mantle undersells their exhilarating speed, darting from hook to hook faster than a suicidal fish. We’ve only heard two tracks from them so far, Marionette and Wander, but, if their Facebook page is anything to go by, they’re already knee-deep in writing new loveliness.
For fans of: Coheed & Cambria, The Dear Hunter, Caligula’s Horse
Upcoming/latest release: New music from To Bloom is expected early 2022
Distilling the misery of northern England into sound is Hidden Mothers, whose EP and confrontational shows have slowly infested black metal fans’ hearts. Their post-metal-inspired take on the genre menaces in its quietest moments, only to explode into a vortex of blast beats and squeals. Sample My Blindness, Your Burden to have your head blown off particularly violently. Hopefully you’ll recover in time to hear their debut album in 2022.
For fans of: Deafheaven, Wolves In The Throne Room, Alcest
Latest/upcoming release: Hidden Mothers' debut album is expected in 2022
These post-rockers released their second EP, Vision, in 2021 via infallible underground label Church Road. Vocalist Hilda Heller joined the ex-instrumental troupe to make those three songs even more gloom-ridden than usual, softly humming alongside chugging basslines and echoing chords. Their depressive hypnotism is a must-hear for genre aficionados, so, hopefully, it won’t take another three years for new music to rear its head.
For fans of: Dystopian Future Movies, Swans, Courtesans
Latest/upcoming release: Vision is available now (via Bandcamp)
Much like Spiritbox, Bloodywood generated a huge sense of buzz when single Ari Ari went viral, wracking up 5.4 million views on YouTube alone. While the wait for a debut album has gone on longer than Spiritbox (currently at three years and counting), Bloodywood have finally announced debut Rakshak will arrive on February 18th 2022, with a UK tour scheduled the following month. Mixing bhangra, folk metal, groove and rap metal (amongst myriad other elements), Bloodywood could very well replicate the excitement Spiritbox prompted this year in 2022.
For fans of: Alien Weaponry, Skindred, Korn
Latest/upcoming release: Rakshak is due February 18 2022
Lewis Johns is British metal’s finest producer, having manned the dials for masterpieces by Rolo Tomassi, Employed To Serve and Conjurer. So, hearing he’d hitched his wagon to these unknown Londoners for their debut single pricked ears. Ingsoc proved an incensed hybrid of death metal and hardcore, growling and tremolo picking while also appropriating Converge-style screeching riffs. It was an appetite-wetting teaser for EP A Vision Of The End, due to arrive soon.
For fans of: Venom Prison, Gatecreeper, Bolt Thrower
Latest/upcoming release: A Vision Of The End is due early 2022
9. Chalk Hands
Five years after their first EP, Brighton screamo rabble Chalk Hands will finally release their debut album, Don’t Think About Death, in March 2022. It’s been preceded by lead single Fail, Grasp, Restore: five minutes of warm guitar lines juxtaposed by impassioned wails. Immense gang vocals drive home a surprisingly motivational message, before the number closes in a climax of rolling drums. If the entire full-length follows this song’s model, we’ll have no complaints.
For fans of: AFI, We Never Learned To Live, Fall Of Efrafa
Latest/upcoming release: Don't Think About Death is due March 18th 2022 via Dog Knights Productions
10. El Moono
Riffs, riffs and slightly more riffs are what’s on the menu when you sample these dynamos from the South Coast. Stoner, indie and post-rock music are all ingredients in this stew, with songs like Final Execution and White Gold frequently plummeting from ambient verses to the heftiest of down-tuned electric guitars. Zac Jackson’s vocal versatility only intensifies the discrepancy. Second EP Temple Corrupted arrives in February, so start your neck warm-ups now.
For fans of: Phoxjaw, Thrice, Deftones
Latest/upcoming release: Temple Corrupted is due February 4th 2022 (via Bandcamp)
Stoner metal bands are a dime a dozen, but Kurokuma are the only one to put their money where their mouth is, launching their own cannabis seed during the COVID pandemic. Knowing that, their music is as psychedelically fucked-up as you think it is. On their impending debut album, February’s Born Of Obsidian, grinding riffs echo atop a trudging rhythm section, inspired by everything from latin music to krautrock.
For fans of: Sleep, Ufomammut, Sepultura
Latest/upcoming release: Born Of Obsidian is due February 4th (via Bandcamp)
Balk as they might at the comparison, even a cursory listen to Vended throws up shades of classic-era Slipknot, all venomous vocals and suffocating grooves. High-profile appearances at Knotfest and US tour dates helped build a genuine buzz around the band in 2021, with debut EP What Is It//Kill It only adding more fuel to the fire. Considering they are set to tour with the likes of Code Orange, Loathe and Dying Wish in 2022, it feels a safe bet that eyes will be on Vended to follow this first release up quickly with something meatier that will show just what they can do, vocalist Griffin Taylor and drummer Simon Crahan looking to step away from their fathers' formidable shadow and show the world just what Vended are capable of.
For fans of: Slipknot, Tallah, Tetrarch
Latest/upcoming release: What Is It//Kill It is out now
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Louder’s resident Cult Of Luna obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.