As we approach the end of December, it’s tradition to introspectively look back at the year behind us. Whilst this year may have been a turbulent one in more ways in one, it’s been an unquestionably incredible year for music as a whole. With that in mind, we look at the bands who have conquered the alternative scene this year.
Image: Black Tea Photography
This time last year Holy Roar Records used their powers of clairvoyance to state that a Danish band under the moniker of MØL would be one of 2018’s biggest success stories. After being snagged up by the label, the hints of their impending success began to trickle in. Upon it’s release early this year, ‘Penumbra’, the lead single from their debut, swiftly became the topical point of conversation not only within the global black metal scene, but the alternative scene as a whole. Shortly after, the group and Holy Roar released their debut full length, Jord.
A colossal triumph, the record received nothing but critical acclaim from not only press, but from avid pursers of extreme metal and curious newcomers alike. Blistering, unrelenting but celestially beautiful, Jord presented the glacial ecstasy of blackgaze in it’s true Nordic form and the group quickly poised as the future of the genre.
With Jord propelling them into the halls of blackgaze fame, MØL arrived on our shores in Spring, selling out rooms across the country whilst being accompanied with the likes of Helpless and Svalbard. The group also performed a staggering set at ArcTanGent 2018 and only recently tore through the country once more supporting Ghost Bath. With their name and presence established, only time will tell what heights the group will ascend to in 2019.
Image: Ollie Weaver
After establishing themselves as one the UK’s premiere pop punk acts, it’s clear that Boston Manor began to tire of the limitations of the genre and respective scene. What followed was the band reimagining and reinventing themselves, with the group taking inspirations from the boarder range of alternative music as whole.
In the autumn of this year, the group released Welcome To The Neighborhood, their most experimental and inclusive record to date. With elements of industrial, the group forged a release that shattered the boundaries of contemporary punk music and released a record that shined with ingenuity and innovation. Following on from it’s release, the group endeavored on their most ambitious tour thus far, demolishing sold out venues nationwide with the likes of Drug Church and Microwave.
However, such successes were met prior to the records release. Following on from the release of a sting of fantastic singles that hinted towards their evolution, Boston Manor performed lofty sets at numerous festivals this summer including performing their largest set thus far opening the mainstage at Download Festival 2018. Now with Welcome To The Neighborhood gracing AOTY lists, it appears such prolific appearances are set to become the normality next year.
Image: Riley Taylor
Whilst their home state of Massachusetts may have predicated the rise of this act, the sudden breakthrough of Vein rattled the global hardcore scene severally. Amalgamating the classic hardcore ethos with mathcore and tasteful nu-metal sensibilities, the group captured the attention of the international hardcore scene in June with their debut record, Errorzone.
What followed was complete hysteria, with the group being the subject of frenzied promotion from both industry types and the hardcore devoted. With it’s retro-futuristic aesthetic challenging typical convention, the rise of Vein is comparable to the surge of attention Knocked Loose received last year, with both bands pushing the boundaries of their respective genre to their limits.
As the group have yet to play on European territory their live shows have the become the stuff of legend, with many patiently awaiting their UK arrival in early next year. Never the less, as the group continue to blaze their way across the world, leaving nothing but annihilated venues, it’s likely we are seeing the birth of the next Code Orange or even Slipknot.
Image: Alexandre Dell'Olivo
Whilst the south coast mathcore sensations Rolo Tomassi have been a dearly loved stable of the UK scene for many a year, the group have never truly received the wide spread praise and attention they rightfully deserve. However, all of this changed in early 2018 when the group released their fifth full length Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It.
Whilst Tomassi have always had a knack for incredible invention and forging soundscapes that are simultaneously chaotic and beautiful, TWDALWBI is undoubtedly their most triumphant and accomplished record to date. Magical, punishing and yet spiritually magnificent, the record quickly became heralded as one of the best offerings of 2018 and pushed the band to new heights. To place emphases on the success of this record, after a year of incredible records spanning all genres, the record has placed second place on the review aggregator Metacritic’s album of the year list, only missing out on the top spot by a single digit.
The record allowed Rolo Tomassi to land themselves right within the global alternative radar whilst also pushing the band to perform their largest headline tour to date, a feat that accumulated at their largest headline show to date at the 800 capacity Scala in London. After years of touring the toilet circuit, 2018 saw the magnificent blossoming of Rolo Tomassi, allowing them to get the attention, praise and acclaim they have truly been deserving of for the past decade.
Following their emergence in 2014, the South Wales post-hardcore scene have been publicly pre-indicating the eventual explosion of Dream State for the past several years. However, no one predicated just how fast and how far Dream State would climb in just one single year.
Following on the release of their massive single ‘White Lies’, a track that racked up over 5 million streams on YouTube alone, Dream State entered 2018 poised and ready for success. With the backing of UNFD records, the group bounced up the rungs of the ladder of success with the release of their sophomore EP Recovery.
Recovery acted as a launch pad for Dream State’s success this year, allowing the group to perform a colossal set at Download Festival as well as securing them lucrative sets at Slam Dunk and 2000 Trees, only before granting them the opportunity to tour the continent with The Amity Affliction and The Plot In You. Whilst 2018 has undoubtedly served as the breakout year for Dream State, next year is going to see the group blast into the stratosphere. Next month the group will travel to Australia to represent the Welsh scene at Unify Festival before heading back to embark on their most extensive and ambitious headline tour yet.