Ones To Watch: Top 20 Artists Set To Conquer 2021 - Part Two

Photo: Kieran Gallop

2020 is dead, long live 2021. As we enter the mysterious new world of 2021, it's time to look forward to the almost endless amount of new brilliant music set to provide escapism and soundtrack what is set to be a very eventful year. With that in mind, we present the second part of our list on the top artists set to breakthrough this year and make 2021 rightfully theirs. If you've yet to catch the first part, you can do so here!

Meet Me @ The Altar

One would be forgiven in believing Meet Me @ The Altar where a band at least a decade into their career going from their output alone. Such is the sheer quality and passion of the American pop-punk trio. Starting out as a project who worked purely online due to all three members living in different states, Meet Me @ The Altar essentially went from being a digital passion project to being lauded as the modern saviours of American pop punk in the blink of an eyelid. However, it’s nigh on impossible to contest such praise when digging into their sound. Drawing heavy inspiration from the halcyon years of early Paramore, the group offer a blissful respite from the stereotypical perceptions of a genre that many perceive to be filled with questionable white boys lamenting their failed romantic endeavours.

Following on from the release of a string of extended plays and their self-released full length Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind in summer 2017, Meet Me @ The Altar have gone from strength to strength and achievement from achievement due to their full bodied sugar dipped bounce and fresh viewpoint on a genre that has been probed countless times. Despite such accolades, 2021 is the year the band will ascend to stardom. Over the next 12 months the band are set to embark on a marathon run with Hot Mulligan, appear at Riot Fest alongside My Chemical Romance and release their second long play via Fuelled By Ramen. Regardless of your position on pop punk, it's impossible not to fall in love with the spirit and joy of Meet Me @ The Altar.

FFO: Paramore, The Story So Far, Stand Atlantic

TL;DR: Catchy sugar laced pop-punk void of toxic stereotypes that's simply impossible not to adore.

The Hyena Kill

The alt-metal troupe The Hyena Kill have been bubbling beneath the metropolitan streets of Manchester for a fair few years now, but this is set to be year where they burst forth from the subterranean rooms they inhabit. Originally starting out as a two piece making putrid noises in the vein of Deftones, Helmet and a particularly filthy Queens Of The Stone Age, the tail end of last year saw the group enter an exciting new chapter with the inclusion of two new members and the announcement of their forthcoming new record. Releasing in March via APF Records, the recently announced A Disconnect is set to showcase The Hyena Kill doing what they do best; creating an utter maelstrom of diesel coated noise.

As proven with their latest single ‘Bleached’, the unit offer metal at its most nasty, with elements of Chelsea Wolfe and the full frontal obnoxiousness of Nirvana bubbling alongside thoughts of God Damn and The St Pierre Snake Invasion. Following on from shows with the likes of Arcane Roots, Employed To Serve and even Bo Ningen, 2021 is set to see the underground sounds of The Hyena Kill level entire city blocks.

FFO: Helmet, The Saint Pierre Snake Invasion, God Damn

TL;DR: Ignorantly dense noise caked alt-metal from the inner hollows of Manchester


Potentially one of the biggest success stories of last year, even with the collapse of live music 2020 still saw the Canadian progressive metal trio Spiritbox smash through the glass ceiling before reaching heights many can only dream of. Harkening thoughts of Northlane and TesseracT at their most emotive, expressive and approachable, the three piece achieved near global acclaim last year with a hat trick of spell binding singles that premiered the group’s effortless take on melodic technicality.

However, it was the release of their most recent single ‘Constance’ that truly cemented their place within the annuls of modern metal. Documenting the deeply personal matter of grief in the wake of a loved one's passing, the intimate single is a heart wrenching exploration of an interpersonal concept articulated with elegance and composure. With a full length debut tentatively pencilled in and a contract with Rise Records signed, one can only imagine what stratospheric heights Spiritbox will ascend to before the dawn of 2022.

FFO: Northlane, TesseracT, Dream State

TL;DR: Hauntingly emotive and powerful progressive metal that sees the genre being moved into new light

Pupil Slicer

To be put simply, Pupil Slicer are an extreme proposition for extreme times. A highly mercurial entity spawned from the UK’s mathcore scene, the London trio present a serrating sound that’s composed of equal parts mathcore, grindcore and brutalising powerviolence. There’s absolutely nothing cordial about the group’s output; it lacerates the skin rapidly prior to brutally fracturing the bones that lie beneath.

Such a description may sound hyperbolic, but the group's recent debut single ‘L’appel Du Vide’ established their finesse in crafting intimidatingly ruthless aural hurt perfectly. Featuring guest vocals from Carson Pace of the notorious mathcore unit The Callous Daoboys, the single authentically documents the call of the void that lies beyond and the disturbing anxiety intrusive thoughts leave in their wake. An expertly crafted stream of tormented conscious that presents the tangled nature of the mind in its most violent form, the release stands as the group’s first outing after singing to the decorated Prosthetic Records and a mere suggestion of the things set to come very soon. Intimidating, uncompromising and uninhabited, Pupil Slicer are aural savagery at it’s most mutilating.

FFO: The Dillinger Escape Plan, Vein, Ithaca

TL;DR: The sonic equivalent of aggressively flossing your brain with electrified razor wire.

Last Hyena

Anyone immersed in Bristol’s underground contemporary rock scene will most likely acknowledge this band’s namesake with a knowing grin. For others, a new prospect haplessly lovable awaits. Emerging from the pool of volatile creative ooze that is the UK’s instrumental math and post scene, Last Hyena take the old reliable post tinged math rock formula and revitalise it with ample creative abandon, delicate interweaved textures, expressive emotion and snaring riffs aplenty.

With their take on the genre being met with applause and pundits all across the national math-rock and post-rock scene, it’s no surprise Last Hyena have already enjoyed a range of well deserving spoils. Following on from the release of their I Remember The Future and self-titled extended plays, Last Hyena have found themselves rubbing shoulders with the likes of Thank You Scientist, Tides From Nebula, Delta Sleep, Hypophora and Phoxjaw on the live stage. Major feats for a band with only a handful of tracks to their name, but with a major release set to see the light of the day later this year via their new home Stereo Brain Records, Last Hyena are on the road to perfectly capturing the zeitgeist of the modern instrumental flexibility.