Six months into 2023 and still the brilliant new releases keep coming. This week sees the arrival of Avenged Sevenfold's wildly experimental Life Is But A Dream, as well as and Foo Fighters' emotionally cathartic But Here We Are, but its not just rock and metal behemoths to get excited about as we enter the second half of the year.
As we do each month, we've scouted high and low to find you the most exciting new bands from across the wide expanse of metal, punk and alternative. Whether you're after old school riffs, nu metal grooves or something completely different, we've got you covered with the likes of The Lucid, Pryti, Margarita Witch C,ult and Graphic Nature.
We've inserted our massive playlist of this year's hottest bands for your listening pleasure at the bottom of the page, so feel free to dive in and explore everything that's on offer in 2023. Happy listening!
If you had ‘ex-Megadeth member collaborates with half of the Insane Clown Posse’ on your 2023 bingo card, then it’s time to check yourself out of that asylum, because your wildest dream has come true. On their new EP, Saddle Up And Ride, The Lucid – a supergroup featuring former ’deth bassist David Ellefson and Sponge frontman Vinnie Dombroski – team up with ICP’s Violent J for two tracks. Yes, really.
“It was actually Vinnie’s idea to call Violent J and get him on the songs [Saddle Up And Ride and Sweet Toof],” David tells Hammer. “I knew of Insane Clown Posse, but I was not familiar with J’s work on his own. I was kinda surprised he actually did it! It was a friendship call.”
“It certainly made writing and recording more interesting,” Vinnie adds. “What J brings to the table makes a killer band like The Lucid even cooler!”
Collaborating with a rapping clown is part of The Lucid’s larger mission statement: since every member comes from a successful rock or metal band, this supergroup is all about ignoring commercial expectations and instead doing whatever they want. That’s why they’re independent and made the rare decision to release songs in the run-up to Christmas. “We’re the world’s most famous internet band,” David laughs.
Ex-Bang Tango guitarist Drew Fortier and Fear Factory drummer Mike Heller co-founded The Lucid in early 2020; David (then still a Megadeth member) and Vinnie joined shortly after. Unlike any of the aforementioned acts, though, The Lucid are firmly rooted in vintage rock. Risk Machine is a 70s-style, radio-ready anthem, while Saddle Up And Ride is a rampage of uptempo but melodic metal.
“It all comes down to being a fan of your own music,” David says. “Have a good time doing what you’re doing because, if you’re not a fan, who else is going to be?” Matt Mills
Saddle Up And Ride is out now via SpoilerHead
Sounds Like: Classic rock with the blinders removed – and rapping clowns added on For Fans Of: Sponge, Shinedown, Faith No More
Listen To: Risk Machine
Growing up in Birmingham, the ‘home of metal,’ Pryti looked up to Linkin Park as much as she did pop icons Christina and Britney. Now, those elements are at the forefront of her music, which merges a pop star’s knack for arena-sized melodies with crushing riffs and emotional performances à la Amy Lee and Chester Bennington.
“I want to build that connection,” Pryti says. “I love songs that really punch me in the gut and I have always written for people who don’t fit in, because that’s what Linkin Park was for me. I heard Hybrid Theory and was like, ‘This band get me.’”
She planned her latest release, Searching For Now, Lost In Again, with military precision. In the near-decade since the slow-burning choruses and gloomy riffs of her debut, Tales Of A Melancholic, she studied the music business closely, watching how icons such as Bring Me The Horizon evolved their sound to embrace experimental, almost pop sensibilities.
“They went into completely different territory and pushed themselves so much,” she enthuses. “I was pushing myself too - it had to be different, it had to be better.”
From the operatic peaks of Prey through to the demolition-ready punch of Teardrops, Pryti is determined to expand metal’s horizons and confound gatekeepers, sitting in great company among the Scene Queens, Zands and carolesdaughters of the world.
“I don’t think I’d have been able to write songs like Archive or Battlefield in 2013,” she admits. “Certain things held you back. I’m trying to break free of those things.” Ims Taylor
Searching For Now, Lost In Again is out now via Welcome To Pariahville
Sounds Like: Overcoming existential dread and angst with glorious high notes and massive choruses
For Fans Of: Evanescence, Deftones, Vukovi
Listen To: Paracosm
Margarita Witch Cult
Between slamming shots and making their audience actually dance, Margarita Witch Cult are pushing the party to the forefront in a genre typically saturated by gloomy imagery. Formed in 2020, the Birmingham trio - comprised of vocalist Scott Vincent, drummer George Casual and bassist Jim Thing - came up with a moniker that reflected their sound. “It’s a spooky doom party, man. Fun is the prevailing factor”, says George.
Their self-titled debut record marries the NWOBHM with occult doom, but as George explains, it’s infused with a “Motörhead precision and thrash element” that gives it a zealous edge, christened “ADHD stoner doom”.
Under their riffs and stoner haze lies a rich tapestry of esotericism, pulling from themes of folk horror, witchcraft and a Britishness that harks back to the days of Druids and ancient paganism. “The search for the unexplained takes people to places beyond,” says Scott. “You don’t have to wait long before things start to get really dark.”
As weighty as these concepts are, the band’s party vibe still shines through, and while they have a busy summer ahead, they aren’t thinking too hard about the future. “Overthinking is counterproductive,” George admits. “I just don’t ever see us not having fun”. Liz Scarlett
Margarita Witch Cult is out now via Heavy Psych Sounds
Sounds Like: Tony Iommi on speed
For Fans Of: Electric Wizard, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Motörhead
Listen To: Annihilation
Hoodies up. Heads down. Graphic Nature would be an intense live experience even if they didn’t spew up the most abrasive racket to come from the nu metal revival so far… which the London-based quintet absolutely do.
“We wanted to project the music rather than us,” vocalist Harvey Freeman explains of the band’s show. “It’s eerie and a bit uncomfortable, but you can come up to us afterwards and have a conversation.”
Since Graphic Nature formed in 2019, the frontman has used their hardcore- and DNB-infused nu metalcore as a platform to discuss, in raw, unflinching terms, the deep depression and anxiety that’s plagued him since his early teens.
“Graphic Nature is a place for us to get our emotions out,” he says of their bleak debut album, A Mind Waiting To Die. “It goes into a lot of bad depression, anxiety, insomnia. I never want to trigger anyone, I write it for myself, but if someone can take away from what I’ve put in, that’s great. We may not be the biggest band in the world, but we can definitely change shit.” Stephen Hill
A Mind Waiting To Die is out now via
Sounds Like: Twisted nu metalcore that wrestles with despair and drips with menace
For Fans Of: Code Orange, Loathe, Candy
Listen To: Headstone