As absurd as it sounds, 2020 seemed to simultaneously last eons whilst going by in the blink of an eye. With the year itself thankfully now over and confined to the history books and our own collective nightmares, it’s time to look forward to the brave if not horrifying new world that is set to be 2021.
Whilst there’s no way to predict the global events that are set to take place over the next twelve months, such uncertainty is set be soundtracked by a near endless amount of brilliant music, with musicians the world over channeling the energy of modern life into their creative endeavours. With that in mind, we handpick our top 20 artists set to breakout and breakthrough this year.
Heave Blood & Die
Hailing from the land of aura, the frozen sun and perpetual winter, Norway’s Heave Blood & Die are a modern albeit crucial proposition. Staunch anticapitalists and environmentalists, the collective’s experimental and dissonant post-punk serves as an uncompromising critique of the ills of capitalism and associated evils. Utterly idiosyncratic sonically, the group’s output mares fierce ideological determinism with the absolute nature of the likes of Fugazi, Jesu and even Sólstafir to create an alluring yet combative attack on the inherent corruption of the powers that be.
Their initial two long plays may have earned them the eyes of their fellow countryfolk, but with their forthcoming third record Post People due February 4th via Fysisk Format, 2021 is set to see Heave Blood & Die bring their artistic fight to the world at large.
FFO: Fugazi, Jesu, Sólsafir
TL;DR: Eccentric and atmospheric anticapitalist post-punk from the distant land of snow and light
It’s hard to think of another act better suited for representing young and underground UK death metal in the coming year than the sophisticated Glaswegian unit Godeater. Intensifying their lacerating take on dynamic technical metal by articulating the ailments that plague modern life, whilst the group established their prowess in 2019 with their full length debut All Flesh Is Grass, 2021 is set to see the band addressing the issues that are currently playing precedence on a global single with both finesse and arresting intensity.
With the group’s recent single ‘You Are No Expectation’ seeing the band addressing the fallacy of national pride with a level of blackened intensity on par with the likes of Annal Nathrakh and Cattle Decapitation, Godeater are the ideal band to counteract the toxic and ignorant stereotypes associated with the genre they fantastically represent.
FFO: Annal Nathrakh, Cattle Decapitation, Fit For An Autopsy
TL;DR: Fantastic and urgent subtly blacked extremity for equally blackened times.
Nursed and nurtured by the alternative scene hidden beneath the picturesque cobble of Oxford, Petsematary are a force of glamorous pop progression enhanced by dreamy noise darkness. Over the course of a meagre amount of time, the alt-pop collective went from hidden obscurity to one of the best kept secrets in the region, with the group earning pundits upon high nationwide and being signed to Beth Shalom Records long before the prospect of a full length release.
Last year saw the group condemn the notion of gender roles and patriarchy with the gorgeously fuzzy ‘Heady’ and with new material upcoming in the new year, Petsematary are set to combat misogyny, sexism and xenophobic oppression with considered pop dynamics, ethereal density and a whole lot of reverb.
FFO: Pity Sex, Dream Wife, Kagoule
TL;DR: Gorgeously dense dark pop saturated with reverb and compassion.
Rising from the ashes of the long mourned queer punk outfit Queen Zee, Tokky Horror are a manic proposition for equally manic times. Composed of joint vocalists Ava Akira and Mollie Rush alongside previous Queen Zee vocalist Zee Davine, Tokky Horror are a strobing fever dream that take the pioneering electronic punk of Atari Teenage Riot and reengineer it for the turbulence of the 21st century.
The trio instantly established their namesake in the early months of 2020 with their debut single ‘Girlracer’ before showcasing tact and composure more recently with ‘Simulate Me’, a track probing the nature of love and sex in the virtual age. Wild, poignant and revolutionary in scope, Tokky Horror are the sound of postmodern LGBT+ punk and an act set to be deafening from within the virtual sphere in the coming year.
FFO: Atari Teenage Riot, Queen Zee, CLT DRP
TL;DR: The true sound of revolutionary postmodern LGBT+ punk
2020 was a year composed of screeching mayhem in all it’s endless forms. However, cutting through the noise was the reverberating rebirth of metalcore group Heriot. Made anew with the inclusion of Debbie Gough on guitar and vocals, the group delivered one of 2020’s most foliate and malicious mission statements in the form of the flesh tearing single ‘Cleansed Existence’.
Channeling the violence and ingenuity of likes such as Converge, Venom Prison and Employed To Serve, the returning track was a terrifying yet thrilling insight into a band revitalised with newfound rage and stood as the first of a barrage of singles produced by acclaimed producer George Lever (Sleep Token, Loathe, Holding Absence). Make no mistake, for Heriot will deliver their aural hurt with surgical precision and stake their claim as the UK’s answer to Code Orange in the coming months.
FFO: Code Orange, Venom Prison, Employed To Serve
TL;DR: Modern authentic UK metalcore at it’s most vicious, violent and surgical.
Previously known as as their full moniker Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, the now streamlined MWWB present a sound as voluminous and intimidating as the great void. By channeling the hypnotic mantras uttered by Sleep and inter-splicing them with the psychedelic teachings of Monolord and Bossk, MWWB whisk one away to the great expanse both above and within ones cortex via the power of vibrant psych doom.
The Welsh group have long been posed as one of the nation’s most dynamic doom bands due to their flawless efforts in hybridising post metal, psychedelia, doom and sludge, but it’s set to be their forthcoming record that will earn the praise of the global doom scene. Released March 19th via New Heavy Sounds, the upcoming The Harvest is set to demonstrate MWWB’s teleporting powers at their most concise and is poised to be a dose of sonic escapism indulged by both new and established musical visionaries alike. If you enjoy your doom immersive and vivid to a hallucinationary degree, this band are not be missed this year.
FFO: Bossk, Monolord, Elephant Tree
TL:DR: An intergalactic hybridisation of psych, doom, post-metal and prog
perfect for blasting off in every way possible.
Pop punk has enjoyed a long, if not questionably complicated history to say the least. With the genre and respective global scene now stereotypically associated with a slew of problematic names, it appears that the genre is in desperate need of a redeeming figure. Enter Pinkshift, the band that harness the soul, heart and ethos required to bring the genre back into the light once more.
Emerging from the historic Baltimore punk scene, the quintet take prominent inspiration from the halcyon days of the pop-punk sound prior to dynamically amalgamating it with classic riot grrl righteousness and modern post-hardcore emotion. The group’s output thus far is a refreshing breath of inclusive urgency within a scene full of stagnation, and with more singles set to come this year, the band are a rallying point for all those who wishing the genre was free from toxicity.
FFO: Mannequin Pussy, Dream Nails, Diet Cig
TL:DR: Energetically youthful and joyful punk born from one of the most historic scenes in punk history.
Doom metal has enjoyed a long and almost kindred relationship with both the pagan and occult. Sunnata take that relationship and make it even more palatable. The Polish shamanic doom prophets have been attracting all those who hear their ritualistic, yet oddly uplifting, doom metal mantras for quite a few years now, but this is the year they’re set to indoctrinate a whole new flock of followers.
The group’s forthcoming third record Burning In Heaven, Melting On Earth is set to see the band at their most hypnotically enigmatic, with the record laying it out the group’s teachings via an esoteric metal dirge that cleanses the soul and energises the mind. Many artists of their sonic ilk have attempted to project shamanic aesthetics into their sound, but the craft of Sunnata simply feels authentic to a near metaphysical degree, something that’s abound to be testified by many in the coming months.
FFO: Dopelord, Sleep, Pallbearer
TL;DR: Feral shamanic doom from Eastern Europe. Need we say more?
Those belonging to the national underground noise punk scene will most probably be acquainted with the wicked wit and outrageously jagged stylistics of Frauds by now. If you’re yet to experience the madcap nature of the Croydon power duo that's certain to change soon. Taking the flamboyantly unpredictable agro synonymous with acts such as Falls, DITZ and Heavy Lungs before adding concise raillery to the mix, Frauds have the spent the last several years spreading their infectiously brash version of noise tinted post-hardcore to all corners of the UK to applause and bemused grins all round.
Even with the band unable to bring their ragged borderline sasscore to the confines of the live stage, 2021 will see the duo make sense of the horrific banality of modern life with their forthcoming new record Long Spoons later this summer. With the backing of Alcopop! Records now behind them, this is the year that Frauds will get the deserving attention they have been demanding since their anarchic inception.
FFO: USA Nails, Haggard Cat, Heavy Lungs
TL;DR: Outrageous noise punk heavy with razor sharp wit and sass.
With so many emerging artists currently deluging the stream-waves, it takes something incredibly special to cut through the noise and remain distinguished. Creating soundscapes as expansive as their ambitious, Cardiff’s FORT are a band that truly are separated from their mediocre contemporaries. Over the course of just a handful of tracks, the quartet have shown phenomenal promise and finesse, creating a welcome and awe-inspiring discrepancy between their collective age and the quality of their work.
As last year’s single ‘We’ll Burn That Bridge When We Get To It’ demonstrates, the group incorporate the crucial elements of their genre pioneers whilst showing personal ingenuity and originality. Having already shared stages with the likes of Last Hyena, Body Hound and Poly Math all whilst being compared to the likes of breakthrough stars Coldbones and Mountain Caller, FORT are set to the major post-rock breakthroughs of the forthcoming year.
FFO: Coldbones, Mountain Caller, Alpha Male Tea Party
TL;DR: Colossal post-rock from an act with provide soundscapes as large as their ambitions.