The best debut albums of 2023

Photos of Sweat, The Bites, Sophie Lloyd and Elegant Weapons
(Image credit: Press)

From the Rolling Stones and Metallica to Foo Fighters and Iggy Pop, rock’s big beasts continued to dominate in 2023. But look beyond the headlines, and the last 12 months produced a stream of killer debut albums that indicated rock’s future is as healthy as ever. Here are seven albums for anyone who want to check out rock’s next wave of superstars.

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The Bites – Squeeze

Straight outta Hollywood, The Bites partied like it was 1989 on their unstoppable debut album. Squeeze took all the great bits about hair metal – the tunes and the fun, basically – toughened ’em up, slathered ’em in engine grease and sent ’em out into the world to cause havoc. If anyone is going to lead a proper hard rock comeback in 2024, it’s them.

Sophie Lloyd – Imposter Syndrome

YouTube is littered with dime-a-dozen bedroom guitarists, but few have made such an impressive transition to IRL greatness as British six-string heroine Sophie Lloyd. Her debut album Imposter Syndrome balances some killer shredding with, y’know, actual songs. Some big-name guest appearances from the likes of Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale, Steel Panther’s Michael Starr, Black Stone Cherry’s Chris Robertson and Matt Heafy of Trivium add to the fun.

VV – Neon Noir

Missing late, lamented Finnish goth-rock kingpins HIM? No need to worry – former singer Ville Valo returned to the fray with a debut album that took their crushed-velvet sound and served up something that was darker, more romantic and smoother that a buttered crumpet on an ice rink. Those children of the night, what sweet music they make, etc.

Sweat – Who Do They Think They Are?

From the Deep Purple-referencing album title to the Heart-style logo, Pittsburgh retro-rockers Sweat make no secret of their love of all things vintage. Warm, groovy and soaked with organ, Who Do They Think They Are? could have been made at any point between 1969 and 1976, from Sue Pedrazzi’s Ann Wilson holler to the fuzz-on-the-needle sonics.

Elegant Weapons – Horns For A Halo

The debut album from international supergroup Elegant Weapons is one for those who like their metal classic – no surprise given they feature members of Judas Priest (guitarist Richie Faulkner) and Rainbow (latterday singer Ronnie Romero). But what it lacks in boundary pushing experimentation, it makes up for in songs that drip with power and class.

King Falcon – King Falcon

On their debut album, Queens, NYC’s King Falcon serve up the kind of snappy, danceable, floor-filling rock that could bag them a support slot with anyone from Queens Of The Stone Age to The Killers. If summer had a sound, this is it.

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