Simon reels off his top five artists to watch this year!
Stick a fork in 2014; it is done. With the retrospectives out of the way, it’s time to take 2015 out of its protective foil and see what it has in store for us.
As a rough estimate, I reckon I watched in the region of 250 live performances over the course of 2014, and I fully expect to do the same this year. Over the course of all those shows, there were a few new(ish) bands that really stood out for me. Presented here in alphabetical order, these are five up and coming bands that I will be playing particularly close attention to in 2015, and you probably should too.
Photo credit: Katie Croft, KTcroft Photography
A Trust Unclean
One sure-fire indicator that a band is onto something is when they start drawing interest from people outside the fans of their genre – and so it is with Oxford’s A Trust Unclean.
Under normal circumstances, deathcore leaves me cold – but there is something in A Trust Unclean’s brawny, groove-heavy brutalism that pushes my normal prejudices to one side. The band are currently putting the finishing touches on the long-awaited follow-up to their 2011(!) EP Fragmenting Reality, which should hopefully see the light of day in February, when the band will also be marauding around the country with fellow Monolith favourites Doomed From Day One. There will be blood.
Londoners Brutai and their progressive metalcore have been on our radar since their well-received debut EP back in mid-2013. However, the speed of the band’s development kicked up a gear in 2014. First came the addition of keyboard player and backing vocalist Adam, who broadened the scope of the band’s sound, and then the recruitment of the outrageously talented drummer Matthieu provided what appears to be the final piece in the puzzle. The proof of this particular pudding came in the form of new track called “Relapse“, which represents a clear and positive step forwards for the band. With the tracks from the EP sounding better than ever, and “Relapse” sounding even better than that, 2015 is looking bright for Brutai.
Mask of Judas
In these enlightened times, the prospect of a female-fronted metal band should not be all that remarkable – but they remain just rare enough to stay that way, and even if you have been warmed to the idea by the likes of Arch Enemy or Iwrestledabearonce, seeing Mask of Judas‘ frontwoman Jo Challen in full flight for the first time is still quite the surprise, albeit a most pleasant one. The band have been honing their blend of death, groove and tech since their 2013 EP Axis, and are gearing up to release a follow-up this year. Lead single “Gravity” displays frankly alarming levels of talent right across the board. It’s looking likely that Mask of Judas will be my go-to band for proving that virtuoso levels of skill needn’t be deployed with clinical sterility that only excites hardcore fretboard-watchers.
Photo credit: Katie Croft, KTcroft Photography
Firm winners of my informal ‘where the bloody Hell did THAT come from?’ award for 2014, Brighton quintet Porshyne comprehensively blew my socks off at Mammothfest over the summer. Their triple-guitar, Oceansize-flavoured progressive rock deftly balances an immediate accessibility and some hugely memorable choruses with rich, layered textures that will continue to yield surprises even after multiple listens. With just a couple of stand-alone digital singles to their name as I write, there’s not a great deal of tangible stuff available, but I will definitely be falling hungrily on anything more as soon as it becomes available.
(post-script: Just before publication, Porshyne posted a new video, “Residue“, to their Facebook page. If you like “Locked In“, go have a listen.)
It may be hard to believe, but we’ve now been arguing about whether or not djent is a genre for the best part of five years – but increasingly, we are seeing bands emerge that are putting their own distinctive spin on the djent framework.
And so it is with Bristolian bruisers Valis Ablaze. With the dubious honour of being the very first band to hit the stage at Tech Fest 2014, and the release of their Abiogenesis EP, the quintet have been gradually raising their profile. Their pleasing repertoire of beefy, crunchy and polished modern metal riffs are given a uniquely compelling twist through the theatrics of front-thing Adam. Coming across like the bastard love child of Alice Cooper, Jonathan Davis and the entire cast of Fraggle Rock, Adam growls, jibbers and generally throws himself around throughout their sets, providing quite the focal point to keep eyes locked to the stage.
But make no mistake: however amusing Adam’s antics may be, Valis Ablaze are no joke band. Even if it may be impossible to watch them perform without grinning wildly, there’s some deadly serious talent to be digested along with the gurning. To kick the new year off, Valis Ablaze have just released a new single – “Ki” – to whet our appetites for the coming year.
Mask of Judas and Valis Ablaze are also playing a run of UK shows together in March. Check it out: