Simon reels off his top five artists to watch this year!
2013 was a damn fine year for music by pretty much any measure. This was made particularly clear by the variety of albums that found their way to the tops of the many and various end-of-year lists right across the metal spectrum and beyond. But as well as bands releasing some high quality finished products, there were at least as many again showing some serious promise of great things to come. As we stumble blindly into the new year, casting around for umbrellas, gloves and soluble painkillers, it’s good to look forward at what 2014 has in store for us. With that in mind, I’ve picked out five bands that caught my attention playing in shoebox venues or support slots in the last year or so that will hopefully be making more of a name for themselves in the next twelve months. They’re a varied bunch, and all of them are exciting me in different ways, so I will just present them here in alphabetical order.
The Barnum Meserve
I wrote at length about this Nottingham-based, piano-led trio back in August. Since then, I’ve had the chance to see the band play, which has only made me more enthusiastic about them and their tunes. The band’s debut album is packed full of big songs with bigger choruses, delivered by Leon Wiley‘s powerful and distinctive voice. Hopefully it should be seeing the light of day before too long, and I will have much more to say once that release date has been set, but expect it to be preceded by a single and some free download action. The Barnum Meserve are not ‘metal’ by any stretch of the definition, but the strength of the song-writing and the passion and intensity of their delivery make them, in my book, a far more powerful proposition than some directionless shouty deathcore band.
The Barnum Meserve on Facebook
The end of 2013 was a period of significant change in the Black Futures camp. Until December, the band was known as Subsource, but with a line-up change and new material in the can, the band have seen fit to draw a line under the period of it’s life that culminated in the rather excellent Generation Doom EP, rebrand and move onwards and upwards. Black Futures do to dubstep what Skindred do to ragga: infusing it with metal attitude and punk energy to create a potent, pit-ready cocktail. Indeed, they hold the slightly dubious honour of being the only band currently capable of coaxing me and my aging, brittle frame into a mosh-pit, as they did at Takedown festival last year. The band rounded off 2013 in style by bagging some coveted support slots with electronica legends The Prodigy. I’m sure they will have turned more than a few heads with their performance there.. Black Futures spent the first weekend of 2014 shooting a new video, which will ultimately prepare the ground for a new album in the not too distant future. They will be returning to Southampton’s Takedown festival in March, and are sitting right at the top of my list of bands not to miss that day. They’re also already booked in for Alt-Fest in and Open Air over the summer, as well as some dates in Germany in June. Black Futures are pretty much the ideal band to enliven a festival afternoon, so be sure to make time for them if you’re at a fest where they’re appearing. And if you don’t feel compelled to dance, seek medical help – you may well be dead from the neck down.
Black Futures on Facebook
I’m a total sucker for crossover music, and completely thrilled that, as a genre, its star is clearly in the ascendant again. Well placed to capitalise on this renewed interest are Brighton-based quartet Collisions. I saw them play three times in 2013, with the best being a support slot for rap-metal overlords Senser. Collisions ply an intoxicatingly high-octane hybrid of metal and drum & bass, in a Pitchshifter-meets-Skindred fashion. They have already released a couple of singles, and “Push” carries with it a rather tasty video. As you will see below, it showcases the band’s considerable talent for infusing poppy hooks with white-knuckle energy. It is exhilarating, and tremendous fun. The band are currently sequestered away, putting the finishing touches on their debut album, which should be ready to drop around March/April time. I can’t wait.
Collisions on Facebook
In The Hills
The heaviest band on this list by some considerable distance, South Coast bruisers In The Hills smash together sludge, stoner and hardcore with pulverising results. I’ve seen the band open up a couple of bills now, and they’re a tough act to follow. The band put out their debut EP on soundcloud in late 2012, and should be releasing the follow-up in a few short weeks. I fully expect it to be bone-meltingly heavy. If you do want to catch the band live, and witness imposing frontman and scene stalwart Choff getting well and truly in your face, they will be playing at the Oxford Wheatsheaf on 1st February, and at When Planets Collide’s ‘Winter Warmer Weekender’ in Brixton a week later, as part of a pretty fearsome line-up. The band tell me there are plenty more shows in the pipeline, too. In The Hills on Facebook