We're a third of the way into the year now and the release calendar is really starting to take shape. As we close in on the summer and the start of festival season (which, for some is coming early with the likes of Inferno, Roadburn and Desertfest all imminent), we've got new records from Babymetal, Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold to absorb and look forward to in the coming weeks.
But what about emerging talent? As ever, we've scoured the planet to find some of the most interesting new sounds around for your listening pleasure. Whether that's the decidedly unique Spider God taking on Justin Bieber with a black metal palette, a double-dose of gothic post-punk revival from Naut and Host (the band featuring Paradise Lost's Nick Holmes and Gregor Mackintosh) or the nu metal flavoured new project from former letlive. guitarist Jeff Sahyoun, we've got you covered.
Last month we asked you to tell us which band excited you most, and you voted overwhelmingly in favour of grindcore rousers Escuela Grind, the US group most recently seen on tour with Napalm Death. Again this month, you'll find a handy vote below this post for you to tell us which new band is bringing you the most joy.
Don't forget to also check out our playlist at the bottom of the page for all the latest releases from these brilliant up-and-coming acts. Happy listening!
Spider God's frontman, G, has fingered many pies: hardcore bands, comfy-synth (Google it), and Ghost-inspired rock opera. But last year, Spider God broke Bandcamp with a black metal album covering Justin Bieber and Whitney Houston. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know it might rile people up,” he says. “But we honestly thought it would be pretty low-key!”
Formed during the 2020 lockdown, G’s one-man project – now a full band – grew legs in the online-bynecessity UK underground. “It’s a scene built on Instagram,” he tells us. “That sounds awful, but it brings people together. A few key labels like Phantom Lure, Repose and Death Prayer shaped this quite disparate scene. Charlie [Woolley] at [London record shop] Crypt Of The Wizard became another big player, by giving us distribution.”
Spider God pumped out four splits, three Ingmar Bergman-themed EPs, the aforementioned covers album, a companion EP, and finally, their debut album proper: Fly In The Trap. During pre-orders, it was Bandcamp’s second-most popular metal release.
Spurred on by his love for concept records, G modelled Fly In The Trap on the story of Elisa Lam, the tourist whose death at LA’s Cecil Hotel in 2013 remains an unsolved mystery. “She was supposed to be in the audience for Conan [O’Brien] the week she was there,” explains G. “I downloaded the episodes and searched the crowd. I was freaking myself out. To look for footage of a dead girl, just before she died – it started to get a bit unnerving.”
G assembled a web of characters – sleuths, police officers, a fictional version of himself – to tell the story, but ultimately drew a line between fantasy and reality. “The only way to stop obsessing about these cases is to leave,” he says. “The last song, Invisible Light, feels uplifting because there’s closure in walking away from something and living your life when other people can’t anymore.” Alec Chillingworth
Fly In The Trap is out now via Repose
Sounds Like: Hyper-melodic, major-key black metal with a hardcore edge
For Fans Of: Véhémence, Lamp Of Murmuur, Spectral Wound
Listen To: A Thousand Lonely Spiders
Bristolian gothic post-punks Naut are clawing their way out of the darkness with debut record Hunt, a heady mix of jagged guitars and pulsating drum machines that makes a reverential nod to the likes of Bauhaus, Siouxsie And The Banshees and The Sisters Of Mercy – “like you’ve cut a slice out of what was happening in 1983,” explains frontman Gavin Laubscher.
Along with guitarist Jack Welch, Gavin started Naut out of a desire to see a harder edge to the post-punk revival, akin to the rawness of the 70s and 80s. Though with a background in black and death metal, plus myriad other influences, the pair were keen not to sound contrived, and Gavin describes their music as “almost anti-riffs mixed in with proper banger riffs”.
The song Damocles, intended to sound like Fields Of The Nephilim, ended up as “a kind of homage to Depeche Mode”, he laughs. The search for the Naut sound is encapsulated in the themes of Hunt. Using the imagery of the ‘Wild Hunt’ from Germanic folklore – a supernatural figure leading a ghostly group of hunters – Gavin explains that “it’s about pulling something out of the ether to make it real”.
Having played shows with the likes of King Dude and Grave Pleasures, the next thing they’re manifesting is a UK tour, hopefully in the spring. “I think we really deliver the goods live,” asserts Gavin, “Like Bauhaus in the 80s, we absolutely go for it!” Time to dust off those dancing shoes and get those bones shaking. Catherine Morris
Hunt is out now via Season Of Mist. Naut play London's The Black Heart on June 24.
Sounds Like: Angular post-punk meets big choruses, with a danceable heartbeat
For Fans Of: Grave Pleasures, Drab Majesty, Killing Joke
Listen To: Dissent
When beloved Cali soul-punks letlive. split in 2017, fans were distraught. But none were as upset as guitarist Jeff Sahyoun, who was thrust into a crisis of identity and confidence.
“I was writing some of the worst tracks of my life,” Jeff says. “I didn’t know who I was; I’d been onstage since I was 14 years old. I was trying to hold on to a lifestyle that I had been so used to since I was a child, when in reality, that chapter was closed.”
Jeff’s situation became desperate. Facing homelessness, he crashed on his sister’s couch and attempted to rebuild his life. Now, with a couple of years between his lowest ebb and the present day, Jeff proudly shows Metal Hammer the last dollar he had to his name, which he dated to mark rock bottom, as a promise to himself that things would improve.
His new band, ERASE THEORY, is vindication for that optimism. Their self-titled debut EP is an eclectic mix of danceable electro beats and melodic choruses, designed to purge emotion and help him rediscover the love he had for music before it became his full-time concern.
“We all use music for different reasons, whether that’s for healing, entertainment, anger, love – it’s our global language,” Jeff says. “Writing this music was a way for me to get through the things that I was going through. When I play music now, I feel like I’m 15 years old, because it doesn’t matter how many shirts I sell!’” Remfry Dedman
ERASE THEORY is out now via Icons Creating Evil Art.
Sounds Like: A contemporary blend of melodic rock and expansive electronica
For Fans Of: Linkin Park, AFI, Letlive
Listen To: Lost It
“Nobody asked for this!” is Greg Mackintosh’s open, if perhaps inaccurate, assessment of Host. His new project with Paradise Lost bandmate Nick Holmes is a spiritual successor to the band’s 1999 album of the same name, and a love letter to the Yorkshire alternative clubs where their love of metal, new wave and gothic music blossomed.
“It’s taking stock of yourself and your life,” Greg explains. “The project sprung up because when we were growing up, liking this stuff together was frowned on. But we’re allowed to completely air these skeletons in public now.”
Host’s debut album, IX, embraces those formative influences. In Wretched Soul, synths pulse under Nick’s quietly damning voice, while Tomorrow’s Sky brims with goth club nostalgia. Hiding From Tomorrow, meanwhile, hints at arena rock.
“When new wave was in the charts, stuff like Gary Numan and Duran Duran represented commerciality, but were still very dark,” Greg says. “We’re not trying to recapture anything, as such – it’s looking back fondly on our past and reinterpreting it.” Will Marshall