The brand new issue of Metal Hammer might be all about celebrating the biggest and brightest acts of 2022, but that doesn't mean we're done sharing some excellent noises from the underground with you. That in mind, here are 5 excellent bands you need to hear this month, from Swiss progressive extreme metal to the Ukrainian blackened death metal troupe with an anti-war message.
There comes a point for every band where it’s time to get serious and think about the long-term, and for Swiss prog-death act Kassogtha it quickly became apparent that their second album was do-or-die. If their 2017 debut suggested the band could be contenders, new album rEvolve screams it from the rooftops: a bigger, bolder, more ambitious slice of brutality as finely crafted as the timepieces for which their country is renowned.
“I think the key was how we pushed ourselves and got way out of our comfort zone,” says vocalist Steph Hugnin of this creative leap. “Each of us went through the ‘Oh wow, this is really hard, I don’t know if I’m going to make it… but let’s make it happen anyway!’ stage at least once. We simply told ourselves we wouldn’t put any limits on anything and we experimented thoroughly, without judgement.”
This sentiment rings true throughout rEvolve’s many winding pathways, from metronomic savagery through to spacious expanses and melodies that could stir the most withered heart. This said, though, it wasn’t necessarily easy.
“The writing process took quite some time and was mentally exhausting for me,” says guitarist Morty Baud. “I went through a lot of different moods and mindsets, from feeling amazing and proud of my work, to feeling like shit and thinking I’d never write anything good again.”
Steph concurs: “It was a difficult album to write,” she says. “It was a way for me to exorcise a lot of pain and bad times from a difficult period of my life.” This said, rEvolve does suggest a silver lining. “I wanted to end on a more positive note,” says Steph. “To show that despite all the difficult parts of life, we can get through it and find hope again… although not without scars.” Alex Deller
Sounds Like: Precision-tooled death metal with extra groove and melody
For Fans Of: Gojira, At The Gates, Meshuggah
Listen To: Drown
“Every Ukrainian is now anti-militarist and anti-war. It’s just that a huge part of us had to drop everything and go to defend our land.”
Dmytro Ternushchak, vocalist for Ukrainian blackened metallers 1914, doesn’t mince his words. Formed in 2014, his band were singing about the horrors of war long before their country was invaded by Russia, drawing influence from stories and accounts from soldiers in the First World War to narrate stories of “ordinary people thrown into the imperial meat grinder of war.” While those themes now hit closer to home, Dmytro points out Ukraine’s current predicament is nothing new, either.
“Our country has been at war with the aggressor for eight years,” he says. “It started not in February, but in 2014. The whole world pretended that nothing had happened, that they were not worried when Crimea and Donbas were annexed from us, when thousands of our soldiers were killed.”
1914’s latest album, Where Fear And Weapons Meet, excoriates those who glorify war or stand idly by. From Fn .380 ACP#19074’s battle cry of ‘Welcome to Sarajevo!’ and its portrayal of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that led to the outbreak of the First World War, to the sludge-laden Pillars Of Fire (The Battle Of Messines), 1914 also make it clear that they hold on to hope.
“We hope that death will recede and somewhere out there, peace, victory, and a peaceful life await us,” Dmytro says. “Children laughing and playing in parks without fear of being torn apart by Russian missiles.” Will Marshall
Sounds Like: Sludgy, blackened metal with a serious case of trenchfoot
For Fans Of: Behemoth, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Sabaton
Listen To: Fn .380 ACP#19074
They say hindsight is 20/20 and, in hindsight, 2020 was probably not the best year to start a band, as dark rockers Gospelheim learned. But after an eight-year break from playing in extreme metal bands, Portuguese singer/songwriter Ricardo made his return to music, taking cues from the likes of Tribulation and Unto Others with debut album, Ritual & Repetition.
“My friends were like, ‘So it’s black metal with clean vocals?’” says Ricardo. “It was something I’d fantasised about for years. I love what Gaahl is doing nowadays; he gave me the courage to pursue things in that manner.”
The unmistakeable goth influence in their music can be attributed to a love of Depeche Mode, Bauhaus and The Cure. That explains the eclectic sound of tracks like the catchy Satan Blues. So, are they Satanists then?
“There is a lot of occult symbolism and mythology that I find interesting,” muses bassist and singer Coco, “but I wouldn’t put my head on a slab for it.”
“I’m fascinated by the relationship between humanity and religion throughout the centuries,” adds Ricardo. “Google has taken over as God now.”
Touring hasn’t been on the cards so far, but the pair are keen to get out and hope to support some of their favourite artists, name-checking Moonspell and Ville Valo (“I’d cry, I think,” laughs Coco) alongside labelmates Dool. Fingers crossed that Manchester’s self-proclaimed ‘dingiest misfits’ will hit the road with their delightfully blasphemous tunes soon. Catherine Morris
Sounds like: Blackened goth’n’roll with elements of post-metal and blues
For fans of: Tribulation, Dool, Grave Pleasures
Listen to: Satan Blues
Feeling miserable? We'll soon put a stop to that. Meet Fellowship, the UK’s shiniest new power metal band and – as showcased on new album The Saberlight Chronicles – remorselessly cheery providers of ultra-melodic posi-vibes.
“We make fun, upbeat metal!” says frontman Matthew Corry. “The most important thing is to create a connection with people.”
It’s a bewildering barrage of giant tunes, virtuoso histrionics and symphonic sumptuousness wrapped up in an intricate fantasy concept pitting a plucky protagonist against an invading evil empire. With an accompanying digital novel, The Saberlight Chronicles is a riot, but the intent behind it is as noble as it gets.
“There’s magic, action and a legendary sword, but the journey is an allegory for how we face mental health issues,” Matthew explains. Living proof that metal is the best therapy, Fellowship are hell-bent on raising our spirits. “We want people to leave our gigs on top of the world. If you and 500 other people are screaming ‘I’ve always been worthy!’ eight times at the top of your lungs, then the chances are you’re going to damn well feel it.” Dom Lawson
Sounds Like: Joyous, upbeat power metal with all the fantasy trimmings
For Fans Of: Twilight Force, Sonata Arctica, Dragonforce
Listen To: Glory Days
“Feed off the puss, be one of us” is the sole piece of information available about Melted Bodies on their Bandcamp page. It’s not helpful, but it’s abnormally on brand. Getting the balance between original or unusual and wacky is a tough one to get right, but against all the odds California weirdos manage it.
The four piece’s recent EP The Inevitable Fork Vol.1 has the sort of name that might conjure up images of jester hats and tongues firmly lodged into cheeks, and when we tell you that their sonic mix recalls everything from Devin Townsend’s wildest flights of fancy, to cult noise terrorists The Locust to long forgotten alt-metal oddities Dog Fashion Disco you’d be forgiven for thinking it all sounds... a bit much.
It would be your loss though, as, even though they are often a deeply unsettling listen, they have crucially managed to write some awesome tunes in and around their bizarre hotchpotch of styles. Think Safe sounds like post-punk legends Interpol possessed by the unholy spirit of Mike Patton, the EP’s title track is a seven-and-a-half-minute long nightmare of industrial noise, groove metal riffs, Mr. Bungle jazz freak outs, Chat Pile’s savage intensity and, honestly, some gorgeous crooning in the vein of Roy Orbison.
It shouldn’t really work, but Melted Bodies have managed to somehow transcend the sum of their rather curious parts to make them one of the most exciting new bands around. Those who dig it will be delighted to hear that parts 2 and 3 are coming to make The Inevitable Fork a trilogy. Excitingly, we have no idea what that might possibly sound like. Stephen Hill
Sounds like: A headfuck of furious industrial metal, grinding groove riffs, pure pop hooks and dubby post-post rhythms all being played at the same time
For Fans Of: Ween, System of a Down, Faith No More
Listen To: The Inevitable Fork