Together at their remote Cleveland home, Frayle singer Gwyn Strang and her partner, guitarist Sean Bilovecky, create spinetingling devastation doom that curdles the blood and casts dreamy spells, with Gwyn layering gossamer-light My Bloody Valentine-esque vocals over dirgy riffs. Their second album, Skin & Sorrow, is a shattering listen that evokes the overwhelming intensity of loss and grief.
“Two of the songs on the album, Skin & Sorrow and Perfect Wound, were written immediately after I lost someone very close to me,” says Gwyn. “It’s about how you feel empty and depleted, and all that’s left of you is skin and sorrow. The majority of the album is about watching people close to you pass, and I think a lot of us suffered through a lot of loss over the last two years.”
In 2018, Frayle uploaded four-track EP The White Witch to Bandcamp, with zero expectations. Just two days later, they had landed a deal with Brooklyn-based label Aqualamb Records and, several months after that, found themselves on onstage at Desertfest in Belgium. Since then, their ethereal doom has continued to flourish at pace, with debut album 1692 emerging in 2020. Frayle recently toured the US with Cradle Of Filth and will play their first UK “ceremony” in November at Damnation Festival.
“When I’m onstage it’s this spiritual experience,” says Gwyn. “There’s an interchange of energies and throwing blessings out to the audience. This music is a sanctuary. You can be exactly who you are and who you want to be - there’s no judgement.” Dannii Leivers
Sounds Like: Otherworldly, haunting doom to stir the soul and fray the emotions
For Fans Of: Chelsea Wolfe, Sleep, King Woman
Out now: Skin & Sorrow (opens in new tab)
“When you’re black and you’re American, you don’t really feel American, you just feel Black,” says Pierce Jordan, vocalist of Philadelphia experimental hardcore band Soul Glo. He’s talking about the frustrations that he sees around him, in his neighbourhood, his family and society at large, that have informed his band’s superb new album, Diaspora Problems.
“When you start making heavy music you start from a place of anger,” he says. “But I want us to be about more than that. I want to find a way to capture love and frustration and sadness and regret into heavy music, because that’s real life.”
Diaspora Problems certainly does more than rage on one note. It’s a complex, surprising, exhilarating record that yokes the energy of hardcore to funk, garage rock and modern hip hop. It’s sometimes furious, sometimes funny, but never less than passionate or ambitious.
Pierce himself is just as full-on. During our 90-minute conversation, he touches on everything from his Panamanian heritage (“We aren’t actually influenced by that music, but it’s in our blood”) to the meaning of funk (“It’s called funk because you are meant to smell from dancing so hard to it”) to his love of everything from System Of A Down to pop/r’n’b superstar The Weeknd (“He’s reflecting on all the things he’s done wrong as a person and trying to come to terms with that, that’s heavier than any sonic expression to me”). Soul Glo obviously aren’t be happy with just making up the numbers in our scene.
“When I grew up, there was maybe only one other kid who was Black who liked heavy music like me,” Pierce says, “so that bond became strong between us. I think all those kids like me who grew up in that era have such a strong love of heavy music because we were so different. I think Black artists are going to dominate this genre for the foreseeable future.” Judging by Diaspora Problems, he may have a point. Stephen Hill
Sounds Like: 60s garage rock, early 70s funk, 80s hardcore and experimental hip hop laced with a dose of righteous polemic
For Fans Of: Letlive, clipping, Minor Threat
Out now: Diaspora Problems
With a sound as ever-shifting as the first half of their name, Florida’s Moodring seem determined to resist definition. Their debut album, Stargazer, is both intensely nostalgic and ultra-modern in its fluidity, forging slabs of nu metal aggression from the embers of 90s grunge.
“We like incorporating really crushing elements but still having it be sexy or sad, while keeping the catchiness. Hooks are everything,” affirms singer Hunter Young.
As befits a band whose singer has a White Pony tattoo on his face, Moodring cite everyone from Deftones and Nine Inch Nails to cult alt-metallers Hum and That’s The Spirit-era Bring Me The Horizon as influences.
“It’s nu metal as fuck!” says Hunter of the latter. “It’s funny because they put a producer in their band, and our band is entirely made up of producers.”
He’s referring to bandmates Sean Dolich, Kalan Blehm and Lindy Harter, whose studio expertise shows via a sound that transforms track by track. Hunter describes their 2021 EP, Showmetherealyou, as “a sad guy in his room”. The new album is no less melancholic, though Stargazer’s title track has a surprising inspiration.
“I had a snake with a disorder called stargazing,” he explains. “His body would get stuck, arched up. I had so much empathy for this thing that was suffering when I was too. It inspired me to write about human misery.” Catherine Morris
Moodring have got big emotions and bigger ambitions. Colour us intrigued.
Sounds Like: A heavy, modern take on alt-metal with big, poppy hooks and lush ambience
For Fans Of: Deftones, BMTH, Architects
Out now: Stargazer (opens in new tab)
Candy. It’s a Bit of a weird name for a hardcore band, don’t you think?
“We’ve been playing in hardcore bands basically our whole lives,” says their guitarist, Michael Quick. “When we started this one, we just knew that, if it was called Candy and sounded the way we knew it should sound, it was gonna confuse and engage people. And I think it did.”
Lurking behind the sweet-sounding names of not only the band but also their new album, Heaven Is Here, is an onslaught of apoplectic yet eclectic hardcore. Its opening half is equal parts aggro d-beat and pulverising groove metal, able to break down at a moment’s notice. Aggravating the sound is the cacophonous production. It makes it sound like The Body are about to burst out your speakers and kill you. But then there’s the one-two punch of Kinesthesia and Perverse, an industrial ear-splitter followed by 10 minutes of noise.
“Arthur Rizk, who produced the record with us, comes from the noise world,” Michael explains. “We talked about that record Humanity Is The Devil by Integrity. They have this crazy, 30-minute noise track in the second half.”
Candy, who hail from multiple American cities, dabble in everything from punk to shoegaze and 80s indie. They believe their eclecticism can make hardcore even bigger than it already is. “A lot of people like to reject hardcore,” Michael says. “I think the reason that bands like us expanding the palette are doing well is because, when you expand the palette, you bring in people that have not listened to hardcore before.” Matt Mills
Sounds Like: Riff-powered hardcore dabbling with every genre there is, from shoegaze to noise
For Fans Of: Power Trip, Code Orange, Vein.fm
Out now: Heaven Is Here
“This a journal extract of the last two years covering both the highs and the lows, not just personally but what everyone else in the world has gone through.”
These are the words of Simon Roach, vocalist with Bristol upstarts RXPTRS, about their debut album, Living Without Death’s Permission. A potent mix of nu metal-tinged riffs, snarling punk vocals and guitar solos straight out of Synyster Gates’ scrapbook, the album is a melting pot of styles and sounds.
From starting out performing at house parties to signing with Metal Blade, it’s been a whirlwind four years for the band. And with a record like this behind them, they won’t be slowing down any time soon. Whether it’s the pummelling charge of Gutterflies, the arena-sized chorus in Rock Bottom (Is A Stepping Stone) or the emotionally driven The Frail, there’s something in their music for everyone.
“We like to keep everything on the table,” Simon explains. “We grab different elements from our collective back catalogue depending on the day and our moods at the time. All that matters is it’s genuine and honest.” Elliot Leaver
Sounds Like: The tastiest smorgasbord of heavy music on a single silver platter
For Fans Of: Avenged Sevenfold, Every Time I Die, Billy Talent
Out Now: Living Without Death’s Permission (opens in new tab)