"The gap between pop and metal is getting smaller." From trauma-powered Taiwanese black metal to “nu gothika”, here are some of the best new metal bands you need to hear right now

This month's best new metal bands
(Image credit: Guilt Trip: Alex Wilkinso; Knife Bride: Sam Rockman)

In the UK for the long Bank Holiday weekend and looking for some great new metal bands to get stuck into with all that lovely time off? Or are you gonna be stuck at work the whole time and just desperately need some new music to see you through the grind? Whatever you status over the next few days, we've got some killer young, heavy bands deserving of your attention. Enjoy!

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Lake Malice

Lake Malice are standing in the stairwell of Camden’s Black Heart, about to play their first ever, sold-out, UK headline show. And, despite supporting the likes of Skindred, Vended and Enter Shikari in the past, they’re nervous. “It feels weird to play our own show,” vocalist Alice Guala admits. “These people are here for us? That’s fucking nuts!” Alice and kindred spirit/guitarist Blake Cornwall formed Lake Malice in 2021, the pair bonding online over a love of metalcore as well as alternative pop artists such as Ashnikko and Charli XCX.

Those influences show up in their songs, which mix glitchy electronics, virulent screams and towering melodies, their lyrics drawing on a combination of Alice’s life experiences and the art that inspires her – be it the scathing Bloodbath addressing toxic relationships, or Mitsuko, whose revenge fantasy video takes visual cues from Stranger Things. “There’s a metal influence that’ll always be there because it’s our background,” Blake explains. “But we find ourselves listening less to traditional metal bands and more to bands that just sound heavy. There’s more freedom to experiment.” And experiment they do. Fusing elements of hyperpop, trap and metalcore, Lake Malice are an invigorating prospect, from the pulsating Magic Square to mosh anthem Stop The Party

“The gap between pop and metal is getting smaller,” Alice says excitedly, considering the increasing profile of up-and-coming metal artists like Spiritbox, who recently collaborated with hip hop star Megan Thee Stallion. “It feels like it used to be when Jay-Z worked with Linkin Park.” From creating sci-fi and horror-styled music videos to putting on high-energy live shows, the pair’s aim is to make sure people are electrified by everything they do. “When a song makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, it’s so fucking powerful,” Blake says. “I want that.


Laang 

Laang describe themselves as “black metal from Taiwan based on the trauma of a survivor”. Taiwanese singer and guitarist Haitao Yang started the project in 2018, 18 months after he was declared medically dead; he was shot in the head during an attempted carjacking. “I was in the US at the time,” Haitao, now based in Tennessee, tells Hammer. “I was returning to my car in a car park, and  there were two people standing next to it I didn’t know. I just remember one of them walking towards me and then I was on the ground. I couldn’t feel anything. It just felt very cold, very numb.”

Haitao had a history of making metal before Laang. He lived in Taiwan until he was seven, when his family moved to Norway, and he ended up in some black and power metal projects. However, Laang’s more personal, cathartic black metal taps into Haitao’s Taiwanese identity via instruments such as the erhu (a two-stringed bowed instrument), while the synths and vocals carry the urgency of melodeath. It’s a combination that, together with the incredibly evocative backstory, is seeing the band resonate across the extreme metal underground. “I’ve had people with similar experiences approach me on tour or on social media, saying they really appreciate having something that allows them to not suffer in silence,” Haitao says. “Seeing that this is helpful for other people is really rewarding, and I think that’s probably the most that I could hope for.”


Guilt Trip

It's amazing how much a name change can impact a band. “When we started taking things seriously, we thought, ‘Let’s get a decent name’,” explains Jak Maden, guitarist with fast-rising hardcore quartet Guilt Trip. “We were originally called Mos Eisley! I don’t think it would have done us any favours... Although, we could have toured with Bossk.”

Since then, the Manchester crew have gone all-in, taking their music from a fun hobby to a serious concern, and become one of the UK’s most exciting metallic hardcore bands. They’ve graced the stages of numerous festivals, supported Malevolence on a sold-out UK tour, and even released new album Severance on Malevolence’s record label. Jak describes it as “metal enough for metalheads and hardcore enough for hardcore heads” – and he’s bang on. 

Guilt Trip might lean towards ’core, but there are plenty of beefy riffs and hooks that will appeal to a wider audience. From the artwork to the lyrics, Severance is also awash with biblical references, and questions of faith sit alongside traditional hardcore themes of surviving in the face of adversity. But make no mistake, Severance is not a clergy-approved sermon with guitars in the background – it’s a pit-igniting monster. Is Jak bothered about being seen as a Christian band? “Our current hoodie depicts Saint Michael defeating the Devil,” he explains. “I don’t think anyone who sees it will think, ‘Oh that’s a Christian hoodie.’ It’s just hard!


Knife Bride

The mission statement for Brighton’s Knife Bride was a simple one: “We just wanted to do something heavy,” explains vocalist Mollie Buckley, with the five-piece drawn to metal’s drama. “It’s always made me feel things that other music couldn’t.” They described their first few singles as “slut metal” but the release of debut EP Don’t Dream Too Much in August saw them embrace “nu gothika”.

“It was less about a shock factor, more cathartic party about creating something beautiful that people could escape within,” says Mollie. The music is wonderfully outrageous. Inspired by everything from Bring Me The Horizon to Kate Bush, there’s a fearlessness to Knife Bride’s cinematic sound, and their Sacrifice/Surrender lyrics tackle everything from love and revenge to how the streets aren’t safe for women. Plus, every Knife Bride track delivers a hefty dose of empowerment. “This band is about championing strong emotions,” Mollie explains. “It’s important to talk about serious experiences, but it’s just as important to create a safe space to dance.”

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Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He is also probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site. 

With contributions from