Looking for some killer new bands? There are literally hundreds out there right now, but to save you the hassle of going through them all we’ve boiled it down to five acts that we’ve been blasting out of the Metal Hammer speakers for the last couple of weeks. So if it's psychedelic doom, witchy electrogoth, bluesy grunge, rampaging metalcore or post-genre noise you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.
There's an old adage that says art should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. If that’s the case, then Bambie Thug is an artist in every sense. The Irish-born, London-based singer/songwriter, rapper and self-professed “witch bitch” only debuted last year with the bubbling goth pop of Birthday. However, their eclecticism, metal-adjacent occult aesthetic and acidic lyrics have quickly made them a darling of the downtrodden.
“I drove back from my UK tour this morning”, they tell Hammer tiredly but proudly via video call,“and there was such a mixed audience. Older people and young queers, and even some biker dudes. It was awesome.”
Bambie’s life trajectory initially seemed much more conventional. They grew up in the heavily Catholic town of Cork, Ireland, and picked up ballet. They made the trip to London to pursue a scholarship in musical theatre, but quickly discovered that they hated it. Why didn’t it pan out?
“Look at me!” they laugh in response, wearing thick black eyeliner and a Wargasm hoodie. “It’s a bit too ‘jazz hands’ for me, and it’s not as inclusive a world [as alternative music]. It’s a lot more bitchy, especially if you’re a dancer. And, I love the spotlight.”
It’s pretty apt, then, for Bambie’s new EP, High Romancy, to be all about them. Its lyrics bluntly discuss the musician’s history of eating disorders and gender dysmorphia. “The only way to help other people is to share your own problems”, they explain. “When I was 14 or 15, I would have really liked that. Being gender dysmorphic is a very hard place to be.”
With that mission at heart, they believe there’s no limit to their potential. “I want to have massive stadium tours”, they declare. “I want to use all of my theatre kid training to build massive sets and put on an absolute show.”
Sounds Like: Rap, goth and witchcraft-inspired electropop teeming with anger and fragility
For Fans Of: Cassyette, Mimi Barks, Billie Eilish
Listen To: Necromancy
As much as it may draw from familiar sources, from blues-infused fuzz rock and doom to grunge, Philadelphia bass-and-drum duo Coma Hole’s self-titled debut EP sounds like the beginning of a deeply personal journey – a process of hard-fought musical alchemy unfolding over the course of its 35 tumultuous minutes. If there’s a tactile, garage band feel to their sound, there’s also an exploratory, progressive impulse at its heart, a rare combination of earthiness and unpredictability that suggests Royal Thunder are their closest peers.
“I’ve always been into more ‘raw’ and emotional sounding music without all the production tricks”, says vocalist/bassist Eyrka Fir. “I understand they’re necessary in certain subgenres, but I believe a lot can be achieved through a minimal set-up, so long as the songwriting is authentic.”
Having grown up listening to blues guitarists such as Carlos Santana and Robert Cray before delving deep into the Seattle grunge scene, she started jamming with fellow grunge fan Steve Anderson and discovered how liberating a two-piece band can be.
"Having only two people creates its own unique atmosphere and approach to songwriting”, says Eryka. “I look at songwriting through an entirely different lens now, and the tracks on the EP sort of wrote themselves.”
Bookended by The Familiar and Sinking, each more than 11 minutes long, and charting a route from struggle to self-realisation, there’s a scope for storytelling that’s proved both organic and immersive.
“None of it was intentional”, Eyrka muses,“but reflecting on them, it feels like they were written exactly how they were supposed to be.”
Sounds Like: Blues and grunge-fuelled doom navigating an emotional storm
For Fans Of: Royal Thunder, Witch Mountain, Soundgarden
Listen To: The Familiar
'Where once there was silence, now there’s a race to fill every moment with violent creation,’ sings Design Flaw’s Navid Marvi on Silence, the first track on the Washington DC band’s debut EP, Beasts Of A Future Decay.
“We wrote that song in 2020, during the pandemic and the tension leading up to the [Presidential] election”, the singer/guitarist explains. “That lyric was inspired by the fact that everyone had something to say.”
As a lifelong DC native, Navid found the USA’s pandemic-era politics – the election, the #BlackLivesMatter protests, the Capitol riot – inescapable. “DC’s always been a place where hard conversations happen”, explains lead guitarist Gibran Esa. “That’s a good thing, but there’s a toxicity to it. There’s always a political angle to everything.”
While Beasts Of A Future Decay is no exception, using lockdowns and online discourse as lyrical through lines, musically, it’s more eclectic. Silence is a melodic post-hardcore anthem, Ghost escalates to screeching blackgaze, Dusk is entirely ambient and Andromeda is a post-metal behemoth, with Navid’s angelic vocals and Gibran’s shimmering guitar tone tying everything together.
“I’ve never met anybody who listens to as many different styles of music as Navid”, smiles Gibran, whose bandmate holds up everything from Cult Of Luna to alt-pop/r’n’b star Moses Sumney as influences. And while Beasts Of A Future Decay has only just come out, the guys are already planning the follow up.
“We’re recording our next four songs – the drums are all done”, he says, jokingly adding that Design Flaw are thinking as big as it gets: “I want to be President of the United States!”
Sounds Like: An amalgamation of all the best ‘post-’ genres in one transcendent band
For Fans Of: Thrice, Caspian, Alcest
Listen To: Andromeda
Close, Messa’s third album, features a photo of three robed women, their faces obscured by flailing hair. They could be headbanging, but they’re actually taking part in the Nakh, a ritual North African dance. “When these women dance, they let their hair swing loose and it causes a trance-like state”, says singer Sara. “We thought there was a bridge between this and headbanging, which is the most metal thing ever.”
That sense of the otherworldly extends to Messa themselves.Their roots lay in expansive doom metal, but Close brings in other elements, from jazz licks to Mediterranean instruments such as the mandolin, oud and the flute-like duduk. “We wanted to introduce this strange element into our music”, says Sarah.“How many doom metal records feature a mandolin?”
This trans-cultural experimentation works perfectly on songs such as Suspended and the haunting Orphalese, the latter inspired by a book by early 20th century poet Khalil Gibran. The individual parts merge to form a strange, unique whole. “For me, when I’m singing these songs I feel like I’m channelling fire”, saysSara.“When I go onstage I become the fire.”
Sounds like: Doom metal baking in the scorched Mediterranean sun
For Fans Of: The Devil’s Blood, Khemmis, Windhand
Listen To: Pilgrim
Drum and bass music with apoplectic metalcore lobbed on top. That’s Graphic Nature distilled into a sentence. What a glorious sentence it is. On debut EP New Skin, they pair vigorous dance beats with ranting screams and screeching guitars. Imagine Code Orange playing in Amnesia – if they wanted everyone there to kill each other.
“We listen to a lot of [drum and bass] in the van,” says frontman Harvey Freeman, “and it all has the same feel as metal. There are build-ups and breakdowns; it’s the same fucking formula! We thought, ‘Why don’t we add shit like this and do other things with music, and not stick to being a five-piece metal band?’”
Having already toured with Employed To Serve and Vexed, the brutes are rubbing shoulders with all the right people. Harvey vows that Graphic Nature are here to stay and, with music and endorsers this powerful, you’d best believe him.
Sounds like: The gnarliest of metalcore raging around high-energy drum ’n’ bass beats
For fans of: Vein.fm, Code Orange, Loathe
Listen to: Chokehold