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.