So the year is almost at an end, and that means it’s time for a look back on the new things I’ve come to love and appreciate over the last 12 months.
By that I am referring to the bands I’ve started listening to who have stayed with me all year. These can be fairly new groups and some classics from a bygone era.
So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen and third gender, here are my Top 10 Newly Discovered Bands of 2015.
Over the last few months I’ve rekindled my love of Industrial music. Rammstein and Nine Inch Nails are the two bands who got me into Industrial Metal, and Germany really is the Mecca for this type of music.
Even though this band is not German at all. They’re from New York and have a weird fascination with the Third Reich – which would understandably cause certain people to make accusations of Nazism.
But I seriously doubt a Nazi band would write a song called: SS Deathstar Supergalactik! Here’s to one very catchy Industrial act with a very black and morbid sense of humour.
And here we have our first of the classics. Having been on the road making incredible music since 1981, Clan of Xymox are usually credited as pioneers of the Darkwave genre; a music I’ve managed to properly understand in the past few years.
I first came across them when they were billed to perform at Alt Fest last year – but we all know that festival was too alternative to take place.
If you want something that is tranquil and ethereal and uses all the right elements of traditional gothic rock and post punk, then the Dutch darkwavers are what you’ve been looking for.
8. Grand Magus
According to Spotify, this was the first band I listened to this year. And I can see why.
Back last December I reviewed the Swedish Doom Metal outfit when they performed alongside Behemoth and Decapitated at the Forum, Kentish Town. Since then I’ve been appreciating their hearty jives and ever so catchy riffs, reminiscent of the early NWOBHM days.
And to top it all off, they wrote a wonderful ode to my favourite fantasy anti-hero, Elric. Here’s to ‘Steel vs Steel’.
7. In Solitude
I mentioned this band back in my Nuclear Blast diary, for I began to properly enjoying the Swedish trad. metallers after spending time at my friend’s apartment. And being a diehard fan of the group, it was inevitable she’d play me some of their work.
It is a shame this band are no longer going, but at the same time it’s good because they quit whilst their sound was still good. The test of time isn’t always a good one for the best of bands.
I would describe In Solitude as the closest band to groups like Black Sabbath or Coven of recent metal history. Their catchy riffs will stick in your head like cheap super glue and they’ll have you humming to songs about witchcraft and satanic gimmickry all day long.
Here’s to one very talented band. Wherever you all are now, I sure hope you’re sounding just as good.
Another classic, which incidentally was also on the Alt Fest bill.
Hailing all the way from California, London After Midnight are credited with having revitalised the Goth Rock subculture in the early 90s. I just wonder how long for, as said culture seems a complete shadow of its former self nowadays.
But that aside, this is that band you should hear if you want to know the gothic side of the erotic and the transgressive. Here we have a band fronted by Sean Brennan, a man I can only describe as Goth’s TrentReznor. From him we’ve had plenty of great memorable songs about substance abuse and many a lustful piece about long passionate sex with a darkened twist which will make you feel moist in all the right places.
I’ve been aware of Deathstars for some time as they were featured as favourites by several alternative models and artists I’ve followed in the past. Plus, they are also signed to NB and I had to spread the word on their recent exploits as part of my internship.
This is a band obsessed with war, social justice and politics in general. You’d have Deathstars if you took the historical content of a band like Eastern Front, added in all the riffs and keys of groups like Rammstein and the flamboyancy of all the boring Nu Metal acts who were popular on MTV in the last decade.
Deathstars might look like another Mallcore act, but they’ve certainly got substance, fusing Industrial and Gothic and reminding me of my childhood playing Command & Conquer – the games which made me aware of Industrial music.
The most influential book I read this year was Hyperion. An epic science fiction frame story telling how life will be like in the 29th century, had the works of John Keats been emulated by the emergence of AI technology and intergalactic politics.
And what has made me enjoy genres like Power Metal are the flamboyant homages bands pay to their favourite writers, heroes, senpais and fantastical creations. It’s because of this I enjoy Blind Guardian for their homages to Elric and Moorcock.
So here we have a band that leads a fascinating mix of Power and Symphonic Metal – hailing all the way from Norway. It’s not just Hyperion they’ve written about but Babylon 5 and Armageddon have found their ways into the band’s repertoire.
This is the ultimate Power Metal band for science fiction nerds. If you’re well versed in the works of Isaac Azimov or Richard Matheson then Keldian are worth checking out.
3. Bell Witch
As mentioned in my recent run down of this year’s best albums, Funeral Doom is slowly becoming my favourite area of Doom Metal, a genre that has never truly stood out for me.
The name alone is enough to make any ghost story lover turn, for the Bell Witch legend is the most famous of all American ghost stories. And from my interview with vocalist/bassist Dylan Desmond, horror and ghostly themes are among the regular themes for this group.
I can also think of no other band capable of making some of the darkest, slowest and most bone chilling metal with just drums and a precision bass. Gives a whole new meaning to Drum N Bass music, eh?
This isn’t a band to listen to liberally, I must add. With their shortest songs in the realms of 6-8 minutes and their last album having only 4 songs on it, you need to sit down and concentrate to get the full blast of this band.
That is why I’ll post my favourite of their songs, clocking in at just over 13 minutes.
The classics are never too far away for me. This my friends, is the band who have shown the world you can experiment with any kind of music and still retain your place among the gods of Progressive and Arena Rock music.
Toto are that Adult Contemporary band who will appear as another easy listening group but will wow you with their extreme diversity. What more can you expect from a band made up of entirely of session musicians?
To many, this is a one-hit-wonder group because of the ever so present popularity of their highest charting song: Africa. But, not that many people know that Toto are alive and well today, still making excellent rock music. They incidentally released their 14th album: Toto XIV earlier this year, and still they are keeping it real.
I’ve looked far and wide beyond Africa and Rosanna, to see Toto as a group who aren’t shy to experiment, nor have they done anything to embarrass themselves. They also composed the soundtrack to Dune, one of my all time favourite films and another reason to love them forever.
So here’s to the band who certainly deserve the many Grammys they’ve received over the years.
Interestingly, now that Star Wars is in cinemas again, the vocalist for Toto is Joseph Williams, son of John Williams who composed the infamous film score. Here he is delivering his amazing vocal techniques in Straight For The Heart (1988).
And the number one best new discovery of 2015 is...
I’m always on the lookout for a band who have fashioned a unique sound by blending music into something amazing which you cannot compare to others. And this band, probably the most unique band from the vastness of Canada is just that.
A group who took the anger and agility of black metal and the gloominess and sorrow of doom metal and bound them together with roots of folk and indigenous Canadian music.
I encountered Woods of Ypres early on this year when a friend shared their first music video The Northern Cold on a Facebook thread. There was something quite mesmerising which stood out from the juxtaposing clean and growled vocals, espousing contemporary poetry about depression, loneliness, isolation and failure.
Looking through their back catalogue, I found nothing more than a wide array of hits which I’ve replayed again and again. Some fans even deem the band overlord David Gold (pictured second from left) to be a modern day poet, and I am of no difference to that.
I went through several bleak moments this year and David Gold was there to remind me how I was going to be alright. Having a band to turn to when you’re angry or scared about anything at all means you’ve mined a heart of gold.
A true heart of gold you were David – but sadly I’ll never witness your works in person. For David sadly lost his life in a car crash in late 2011. Woods of Ypres never toured Europe either, which has left many a fellow fan broken hearted. But I know your work will live on forever in the hearts and minds of those who turned to you as a way out.
Thanks Woods of Ypres – you didn’t just teach me about career suicide, but you kept me sane in all the moments I could have lost control this year. You’ve given Canadian metal an originality which I hope it takes full advantage of in the near future.
Happy New Year everybody! Hope you all discover many a good new band too.