5 brilliant new metal bands you need to hear this month

She Must Burn/Gaupa/Kekht Arakh/I AM/Bizarrekult
(Image credit: Marcus Maschwitz/Viola Ivchenko/Nuclear Blast/Kevyn Reece/Chantik Photography)

It's a New Year, which means one very important thing - heaps of brilliant new music to discover! While we spend each month packing our magazine with the very best and hottest new music around - as you can see in this month's stellar new issue -  we know it can be a mammoth task trying to keep on top of all the brilliant new music out there. 

That in mind, much as we have with our regular tracks of the week feature (which will be back soon), we figured we could use this monthly round-up to introduce you to some of the most exciting, unique and most brilliant new bands on the scene, irrespective of subgenre or style, covering everywhere from Texas to Ukraine, the UK to Scandinavia. 

At the bottom of the page, you'll find a playlist containing each of these bands' latest new records for your listening pleasure. But, what's more, we also want to know what bands excite you most going into 2023 and beyond, so we've set up a handy vote where you can tell us exactly that, so don't forget to pick your favourite.  

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She Must Burn

Imagine you're watching The Phantom Of The Opera, but the theatre is up in flames. That’s what it feels like to consume the stunning horror of She Must Burn’s latest album Umbra Mortis. After a huge line-up overhaul, the deathcore outfit have evolved into something far more symphonic, and the results are formidable. 

“The new line-up has allowed us to realise the vision,” bassist Frankie Keating tells us. “Listening back over the new record, it’s obvious that this is the band we’re supposed to be. We’ve expanded our musical range and our textural diversity. And with Valis being a classically trained singer, that’s opened so many doors for us.” 

New vocalist Valis Volkova is a vampiric visionary. Serving up vocals drenched in theatricality, she has truly blackened the outfit’s already rumbling ferocity. “I feel like I’ve brought more of a symphonic black metal edge by adding in a mixture of classical and pop-rock vocals,” Valis explains. 

“I have a pet peeve when it comes to synthetic choirs on record, so there’s none of that. It’s all real. The previous vocalist was more pop-focused vocally, and I think my abilities have enhanced our sound.” 

Umbra Mortis is a patchwork of howling breakdowns and gorgeous splendour. Tracks like Of Blood And Bone highlight the outfit’s interweaving of light and dark perfectly; gruesome, venom-soaked grumbles clash with operatic cries, the layered vocals spellbinding and transfixing. 

Yet nothing highlights the band’s evolution quite like the track Souls Asunder. The epitome of a tormented black metal waltz, it’s the embodiment of a venomous, twisted fairytale. 

“It’s a literal Beauty and the Beast story,” Frankie notes. “At our upcoming shows we want to create an immersive experience, and it’d be amazing to replicate the track’s candlelit, vampire mansion atmosphere onstage.” Emily Swingle

Sounds Like: Operatic deathcore rammed with bludgeoning breakdowns, razor-sharp riffs and haunting classical movements
For Fans Of: Cradle Of Filth, Make Them Suffer, Lorna Shore
Listen To: Souls Asunder


Këkht Aräkh

“As a black metal listener, I always felt there were elements of the music I wanted to exclude, but also that there was something lacking, something I needed,” says Dmitry Marchenko, aka Crying Orc, the Ukrainian mastermind behind Këkht Aräkh. 

Even prior to launching the project in 2018, Dmitry felt bound to contravene the conventions of extreme metal, relegating black metal’s old manifestos of evil and scorn to let new love shine through. This audacious approach required an equally intrepid tonal palette, incorporating everything from the gnostic neo-folk whimsies of Current 93 to the ethereal cloud-rap of Bladee, making their impact felt on 2018’s Night & Love and last year’s beautifully melancholic Pale Swordsman

While owing much to early Nordic antecedents, both albums draw their enhanced passions from a wellspring of tender tranquillity, as dulcet piano and acoustic guitar arpeggios pierce the prevailing frenzy. Tracks such as Forever Night Castle Of Love and Swordsman go further still, eschewing metal completely and coming on like a yearning Goethe penning purest heart-balms of gothic emo. 

Dmitry’s romantic proclivities have seen plenty of kvlt purists lining up to accuse Këkht Aräkh of heresy. But, regarding these naysayers, he remains resolute and philosophical. 

“Many in black metal seem obsessed with becoming more aggressive, more evil, more extreme than before,” he explains. “But such attitudes leave no room for the soft or sentimental. So, yes, I can see why people might reject or even hate my stuff, it’s totally reasonable. It’s just a matter of taste, after all.” Spencer Grady

Sounds Like: Second-wave BM mutations with piano-led interludes, providing sustenance for hopeless romantics and spurned lovers
For Fans Of: Darkthrone, Aäkon Këëtrëh, Grausamkeit
Listen To: Thorns


Gaupa

Formed in 2017, Gaupa - which translates as ‘lynx’ in English - consider the mountainous landscapes of their homeland in Falun, Sweden as something of a muse. 

“Our music is about getting back to nature. Animals are psychedelic,” says frontwoman Emma Näslund, who resembles an enchanting, heavy metal Björk. The psychedelic stoner rockers released their debut album Feberdröm in 2020, and soon signed to Nuclear Blast, a label that was already very much on their radar. 

“Meshuggah and Opeth, who have both [previously] been with Nuclear Blast, are big influences,” Emma says. 

The album’s successor, Myriad, sees a melting pot of stoner rock, folk and psychedelia come together in a cosmic dance, syphoning the sprawling progressiveness of Elder, the pensiveness of Radiohead and the riff-heavy fire of experimental country-fellows Maidavale. 

Boldly running through each track are also Näslund’s captivatingly surrealist lyrics, derived from “classical, poetry and fantasy books”. Currently, the band’s live shows are built around transfixing animations projected onto backdrops as they play, some of which include “spaceships landing on moons” and “octopuses wearing boxing gloves”. But where their plans for the future are concerned, it’s anybody’s guess. 

“I’d like to live in a lighthouse,” Emma airily offers, ever the unfathomable mystery. Liz Scarlett

Sounds Like: An interdimensional foray into an otherworldly woodland
For Fans Of: Elder, Maidavale, Opeth
Listen To: Moloken


I Am

“You listen to some records and think: ‘I just listened to the same song 10 times,’” says I Am frontman Andrew Hileman. “I take a lot of pride in the fact that we’re a creative band. No two I Am songs sound the same.” 

The Texans find inspiration in every corner of the extreme metal world on new album Eternal Steel. Opener The Primal Wave is a thrash metal assault, while Heaven On Earth uses a doom melody to decimate hope and Price Of Pain channels fellow Texans Pantera with its roars and stomping drums. 

Andrew co-founded I Am while in school, and it’s his self-betterment that’s the cornerstone of Eternal Steel’s lyrics. The songs aren’t just sword and sorcery stories, they’re about his drive to be a happier, more confident person. 

The Iron Gate is about going to uncomfortable places, because that’s where you grow as a person,” Andrew explains. “I perform better under pressure. I wanted to lyrically create a place that channels that discomfort.” 

He continues: “I want Eternal Steel to become a legendary album. I want it to be that album that you think about 30 years from now, like: ‘Damn, that album was really good!’” Matt Mills

Sounds Like: Death, thrash and doom metal all smashed into one groove-powered package
For Fans Of: Sylosis, Power Trip, Asphyx
Listen To: The Iron Gate


Bizarrekult

Russian multi-instrumentalist Roman V started Bizarrekult in 2006. However, before you ready your typing fingers and caps lock over Hammer daring to call a 17-year-old band “new”, hear us out.

Roman began the project in his birthplace of Siberia, where he recorded a demo and half a split EP. However, three years later, he put Bizarrekult on ice to deal with, as he cryptically puts it, “increasing mass challenges from the surrounding world” and relocate to the similarly icy backdrop of Bergen, Norway. In the homeland of black metal, Roman found inspiration anew. He released Bizarrekult’s debut album, Vi Overlevde (Norwegian for “We Survived”), in 2021. 

“[The album was] a testament to survival through personal crisis, filled with reflections on childhood, family and societal relations,” he remembers – and it made its mark to the sound of howling vocals and rampaging chords.

New follow-up Den Tapte Krigen (“The Lost War”) has more messages of internal strife, but delivers them in a strikingly avant-garde package. Opener Du Lovet Meg counters roars and lightspeed verses with clean arpeggios, as well as vocals from Roman’s wife, Dina. 

Then Løslatt stomps along while using guitars that shimmer brightly enough to blind Alcest. That’s all before closing cut Himmelen Er Utilgjengelig mercifully brings Roman to an optimistic conclusion over life’s turmoils.

“Den Tapte Krigen contains a message of hope and reconnection,” the musician summarises.

“Make peace with yourself, accept what you are, and share forgiveness and love. That is the only way out of the vicious circle.” Matt Mills

Sounds Like: Black metal, post-rock and hardcore convening in a snow-blanketed forest
Listen To: Du Lovet Meg
For Fans Of: Harakiri For The Sky, Enslaved, Thy Catafalque

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