The UK is going to shit and Grief Ritual know it. “The last couple of years, with the current Tory party, everything that’s been going on has been disgusting,” says the metalcore trio’s singer and lyricist, Jamie Waggett. “They’ve been trying to change the Human Rights Act and it feels like they’re dragging us back to the 1800s.”
On their new EP, Spiritual Disease, the Midlanders rage against the machine louder and more heavily than 99% of their genre peers. For example, the third song, Telluric, seethes over the underfunding of the NHS. “For a mental health diagnosis, you go to your GP and they’ll be like, ‘OK, we’ll put you on a list,’” Jamie says. “And maybe in six months or a year, someone will speak to you. By that time, your whole life could have fallen apart. You might not even be around any more. The Tory party have continually cut the NHS budget over the years while saying, ‘Oh no, we’re building new hospitals and hiring new doctors.’”
Meanwhile, Atrophy is equal parts a story of personal burnout and a rallying cry against employers that work you to the bone while barely paying you. Jamie explains: “It was inspired by when I worked in visual merchandising at H&M. That job should have been split among three people. I was working from 6am to 6pm most days, yet I was earning just above the minimum wage.”
Spiritual Disease screams its frustrations with the modern world through a loudspeaker of death metal and hardcore. The bludgeoning breakdowns are interspersed with Entombed-esque tremolo picking and low, guttural roars. It’s a fusion that’s already seen the band play 2000 Trees and support Ithaca on tour. One thing’s certain: there’ll be no more long days in shops for Jamie. “I used to ruin myself working ridiculous hours,” he says, “and now I’m looking back going, ‘What was I doing with my life?’” Matt Mills
Sounds Like: An army of death metal and hardcore musicians using breakdowns to flatten the bullshit of the Tories
For Fans Of: Napalm Death, Leeched, Entombed
Listen To: Immurement
State Of You
"This is British rock’n’roll!” State Of You vocalist Steve Sitkowski howls during The Perfect Storm, the fourth song on the band’s self-titled debut EP. “We’re very fucking proud to be British,” the frontman tells Hammer, “but it’s also hilarious, because we don’t even sound British.”
They really don’t. Instead, this five-piece are a mix of ETID and the hardest party you’ve ever been to. Thematically, the EP is a snapshot of life in 2022. Lies was inspired by the Russia–Ukraine conflict and The Perfect Storm is about Steve’s ADHD, long undiagnosed by an underfunded NHS.
“I got diagnosed as manic depressive when I was 21, which I knew was wrong,” he remembers. “My energy was going up and down. On tour, I’d put everything I could into a show and feel on top of the world. The next day I couldn’t get the words out to buy cigarettes.”
It was an online quiz that confirmed what was wrong, and Steve’s now three years deep in the correct treatment, wanting his music to connect with people as misunderstood as he was. “We want to create an environment where everyone’s welcome,” he says. Matt Mills
Sounds Like : Rock’n’roll flecked hardcore out to start the world’s most savage party
For Fans Of: Every Time I Die, Cancer Bats, Wilson
Listen To: Run
Gozer have seen their fair share of hardship. Growing up in the Steel City, Sheffield, they saw firsthand the devastation wrought in the Thatcher years as factories were shut down, impacting not just livelihoods but people’s mental health. Their debut album, An Endless Static, reflects this, its title a reference to an ever-present struggle.
“Speaking from my personal experience, it’s something that you never get rid of,” drummer TJ Fairfax explains. “That static is always in the background: sometimes in the back of your brain, sometimes in the front.”
From the roiling Into The Grey to monolithic closer Wintercearig, An Endless Static takes its time to explore every nook and cranny of despair, rage and defeatism at a world where a selfappointed elite crush the working class underfoot, fusing the “punch and drive” of heavy machinery with the seismic post-metal of Isis or Cult Of Luna. It’s not all grim, however.
Acting as a form of shared catharsis, Gozer sought to expel their demons and brought in friends to collaborate: Tom Wright of Hundred Year Old Man lends synth and French horn to the desolate soundscapes of A Fading Light, while the grinding, pummelling Desiderium features guest vocals from Simon Mason of Torpor.
“It’s about sharing the load,” TJ says, before vocalist Keiran Sockett explains further: “It can feel like you’re the only one suffering. There’s not enough willingness to share in something so personal… it’s everyone’s struggle.” Will Marshall
Sounds Like: Hulking, cathartic post-metal
For Fans Of: Isis, Neurosis, Cult Of Luna
Listen To: Augur
An Abstract Illusion
Six years between albums is quite a stretch, and it’d be easy to assume that the prog-death ambitions of Woe, An Abstract Illusion’s second record, required painstaking perfectionism. Instead, it was just a case of life being busy. “We recorded the drums back in 2017,” says guitarist/ bassist Karl Westerlund. “Since then, it’s been a whole host of things like moving abroad to Iceland, Namibia and Crete, and finishing university.”
Woe is an incredible feat for a band that started as teens jamming Cannibal Corpse covers: the members now draw from jazz and electronica, using cellos, clarinets and even the odd bassoon. “It’s important to have different viewpoints,” says Karl. “If all you ever listen to is Slayer, you’ll just sound like a watered-down version of Slayer.”
Thematically, things are similarly lofty. “The largest influences were the horrors of reality,” says vocalist Christian Berglönn. Despite the, um, woe, do the guys foresee better days ahead? “There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the future, and plenty not to be,” concludes Karl. “One thing’s for sure: you must never stop fighting for it.” Alex Deller
God Alone might take their name from an Altar Of Plagues song, but the similarities stop there. Though initially inspired by their fellow Irish band’s atmospheric black metal (with a healthy dose of Alcest throw in for good measure), God Alone’s second album ETC is all about embracing the unexpected.
“We had to take a big break in the middle of [writing] it, so the influences completely changed,” bassist Cian Mullane explains. “Someone on YouTube said we sound like a heavy Battles and that made me really happy!” adds guitarist/vocalist Jack O’Driscoll.
Citing the likes of Foals and Talking Head as inspirations, Tinfoil In The Walls builds gang vocals on swaggering post-punk, while 15BM1989 gleefully makes as much sense as its title, looped effects interspersed with churning post-metal, and Peony is thumping dance if made by Salvador Dali.
Their mission is not so much to say something brand new, but to blend all those sounds together and “have a bit of a boogie”. “Our music is always a blank slate,” Jack says. “It’s just all abstract things so people can build onto it what they want… It’s like Seinfeld - it’s music about nothing!” Will Marshall
Sounds Like: An absurdist post-metal dance party
For Fans Of: Battles, early Foals, Talking Heads
Listen To: Tinfoil In The Walls