ArcTanGent, the premier celebration of all things post-, math- and just plain heavy kicks off tomorrow and it's set to be a muddy one, with its best ever line up across the three days. You pretty much can't go wrong no matter who you pick to see this year - but bearing that in mind, here's the second part of our Top 10 bands you really should get stuck in your ears this weekend, and you can catch our Part 1 here.
Hailing from the Midlands, UK, Conjurer exploded onto the scene with 2018’s sublime debut Mire, an uncompromisingly heavy blend of sludge, doom, death and black metal that refuses to be pigeonholed. The band describe themselves as ‘UK based riff music’ and it’s a simple moniker that belies the complexity of their music.
Their profile has been rising steadily ever since and it’s not hard to see why, with their raved-about live shows as well as a wicked sense of humour and social media presence, the band are making waves both here and across the pond - having recently toured the US. They’re currently signed to the inimitable Holy Roar Records, who have a habit of spotting and nurturing excellence.
The Aarhus, Denmark based collective that is Møl have been rising stars of the underground for a few years, releasing two well-received EPs (I and II) before 2018’s Jord, an album that truly catapulted them upwards. They play a blend of black metal and shoegaze (funnily enough called blackgaze) that initially came into mainstream consciousness back with Deafheaven’s hipster-baiting Sunbather back in 2012.
Since then the genre sometimes gets a bit of a bad rep, but Møl are taking it in a far uglier direction, with songs exploring humanity’s impermanence and fleeting nature, all set to the backdrop of lush, expansive soundscapes and acerbic vocals.
Zeal & Ardor
Formed initially because of a dare from the infamous 4chan, Zeal & Ardor meld black metal, gospel music and old , a group of styles that seem incongruous and to have nothing in common. Despite this, Swiss-American Manuel Gagneux deftly balances all the elements to create a truly unique sound.
Debut record Devil Is Fine was written and recorded entirely by Gagneux and was released on Bandcamp in 2016 and re-released once they were picked up by the label MVKA. The title track is arguably one of their best known and neatly encapsulates all the disparate styles into one; sophomore effort Stranger Fruit is a more measured, considered approach that somehow achieves an even better balance and melding of the elements into a cohesive whole.
Employed to Serve
Woking’s wrecking crew Employed to Serve are possibly one of the heaviest bands on this year’s bill, if not sonically (which is still probable), then at least lyrically. The band rail against the injustices of the modern world in bludgeoning, frenetic, brutal hardcore assaults.
2017’s The Warmth of a Dying Sun topped many end of year lists, and for good reason and this year’s Eternal Forward Motion looks set to do the same again. It’s a fitting title for a band always moving forwards and pushing the boundaries of hardcore and metal.Their abrasive, unforgiving music translates into equally vicious and cathartic live shows and are not to be missed.
Curse These Metal Hands
Curse These Metal Hands were born at last year’s ArcTanGent when two Holy Roar Records labelmates, Conjurer and Pijn, joined forces for what initially seemed to be a one-off set that had fans salivating at what it could be like given the caliber of the separate bands. It clearly went well enough as they’re back again this year and are about to jointly release an album under the same name, one that balances the crushing, uncompromising brutality of Conjurer with the elegant but bleak soundscapes of Pijn.
The group happily leaned into comparisons to Baroness, spawning a slew of memes and jokes around the similarities, a welcome antidote to how self-serious metal can sometimes be from a group that wants to showcase the power of positivity and how life-affirming heavy metal can be. With songs like ‘High Spirits’ that flow between multiple movements all the while carrying an undertone of joy, CTMH are truly not to be missed this year.