Over a third of the way into 2017, the year has already given us a wealth of extreme music from bands both old and new. With that said though there is still plenty more to come. We’ve picked ten predominately younger bands who seem set to turn heads and make the world of extreme sit up and pay attention over the course of this year.
Conjurer are already making their presence known in the United Kingdom in a pretty respectable way. Signed to Holy Roar Records putting them alongside some of the UK’s best upcoming bands such as Svalbard and Employed to Serve, last year’s debut EP from Conjurer entitled I showed plenty of promise. With slots at many of the UK’s best heavy music festivals including Bloodstock, Damnation, Ritual and the replacement shows for the cancelled Temples Festival though, it’s in the live environment where Conjurer have got tongues wagging the most. Their sludgy blackened post-metal recalls Isis or Neurosis stuck in a blizzard. With a debut album coming later this year, don’t be surprised to see this name spoken a hell of a lot more of.
Formerly known as Cloak, this San Francisco outfit changed their name to Succumb to release a self-titled debut at the beginning of May. It’s an album that packs more ideas into 34 minutes than most death metal albums can in twice that, a strange and unconventional whirlwind of warped sounds and twisted riffs. Death metal tropes are evident but often subverted, riffs travel in directions you wouldn’t expect them to, and most strikingly of all vocalist Cheri Musrasrik largely disposes of traditional death growls altogether in favour of an unsettling pained yowl that echoes atop the chaos of the instrumentals to give the impression of dwelling inside a dimly-lit torture chamber. Her lyrics also go beyond the norm into deeply perverse poetry, and if Succumb go on the road at all in 2017 to support this release they’re sure to be a must-see.
Oceans of Slumber
Oceans of Slumber’s 2016 debut album Winter was one of the outstanding albums of last year. It was a sweeping canvas of immersive progressive metal with plenty of beauty to be found but slathered in a bitter black metal chill, driven by the explosive drum-work of Insect Warfare sticksman Dobber Beverly. Even with that, its vocal performance was maybe its most striking aspect, Cammie Gilbert bringing a fiery and incredibly soulful touch that left jaws hanging. Incredibly after such a monumental work, they’ve not wasted any time in jumping into the studio to record its follow-up, offering a number of glimpses into the process of creating what is undoubtedly one of the most exciting releases of 2017.
The rate at which Switzerland’s Schammasch produce music of such grand scale is obscene. Not content with releasing a double album in 2014, mainman C.S.R. and co. produced a TRIPLE album entitled Triangle just two years later, and now with that chapter having been concluded in C.S.R.’s words the band are to set foot in yet more territories with another series of interlinked records. With the band’s core sound akin to the ritualism of Behemoth meshing with the weight and gothic grandeur of their countrymen Triptykon, Triangle brought in yet more ideas across its three discs, going further into gothic metal than ever before on its second disc and even moving into ambient music on its third, the record cycle culminating in a recent slot at the ever forward-thinking Roadburn Festival in which they played all 100 minutes of Triangle’s three movements in full. The first edition of their new series of releases based on the novel Les Chants de Maldoror is due later this year, and it’ll be fascinating to see where this singular act move next.
The occult doom subgenre may have become somewhat oversaturated over the course of the past decade, but it’s bands like Bathsheba who deserve to shine through the weed smoke and incense and rise to the surface. Including members of ex-Cathedral guitarist Gaz Jenning’s Death Penalty, Bathsheba not only dish out monolithic and entrancing doom riffs and conjure up a diabolic mystical atmosphere, but do so with more unique ideas than most of their peers. Tracks like Ain Soph from their debut album Servus include lashes of black metal and wailing saxophone alongside the thick-textured doom. After the album’s release in February, Bathsheba look set to spend much of the rest of the year playing in support of it, and they’re certainly a proposition to keep an eye on.
The Lurking Fear
Tomas Lindberg is pretty much the coolest man alive, and therefore any new project of his immediately demands attention. The frontman is joined by his At the Gates colleague Adrian Erlandsson along with members of The Crown, Skitsystem and Disfear in a group that aims to bring death metal back to its original spirit, with influences like Possessed’s seminal Seven Churches album and an emphasis on horror and primitive ugly power. Just one track is available at the moment, the ferocious Winged Death, but it’s a solid indicator of what filthy glories are to come on an upcoming EP and then debut album in 2017. The Lurking Fear are already playing shows, and seeing musicians of this calibre tear through this material is a tantalising thought.
Misþyrming are arguably the shining star of the currently burgeoning Icelandic black metal scene. The brainchild of Reykjavik musician D.G. but since having expanded into a full band for live appearances, 2015’s debut full-length Söngvar Elds Og Óreiðu set the underground alight with a distinctive and passionate burst of fiery and chaotic but melodic fury. Their live performances have also become much renowned, being named as the Artist In Residence at 2016’s Roadburn Festival, appearing at Iceland’s own celebration of culture Eistnaflug, and recently blowing away a UK audience at Scotland’s North of the Wall festival. A recent split with fellow Icelandic act Sinmara gave the world the first new material from Misþyrming since that debut album, and hopefully a sophomore effort is not too far off on the horizon. Misþyrming’s appearance on this list also doubles up as an entry for the Icelandic black metal scene in general, which with Sinmara, Svartidauði, Draugsól, and Naðra, continues to be one of the fruitful scenes in the underground right now.
For the grindcore fan who wants a bit more to their music than mere blasts of white hot aggression, Cloud Rat have become of the most intriguing and exciting acts to emerge in recent years. If the turbo-charged fury of Qliphoth wasn’t stunning enough, Cloud Rat seem to have it made their mission to release as much music as possible in 2017 leaving no stylistic stone unturned. Splits with Crevasse, Moloch and Disrotted have already been made available within the first half of this year, painting a band with many strokes to their brush, even seeing them dabble in goth-tinged electronica on the Moloch split and an 18-minute blackened sludge dirge with Disrotted. Cloud Rat don’t seem done yet, with further releases and maybe even a full-length follow-up to Qliphoth on the horizon, and they’re a very welcome progressive presence both musically and politically in the metal landscape of the day.
Ancst’s vehement anti-fascist message sits perfectly with their visceral blackened take on crust punk, birthed from the political hotbed of Berlin with some serious power and tangible anger. A band with the guts to not just target right wing politics in society but directly call out fascism and racism from other bands within their own musical scene is something all too refreshing, and it helps that they’re a hard-working machine in terms of touring and output too. Debut full-length Moloch is only a year old, and yet Ancst have already released a dark ambient EP Stormcaster and a return to blackened crust on the Furnace EP with an increased sense of melody and melancholic emotion. Furnace is the first in line of a series of EPs to follow throughout the year, and hopefully Ancst will find their way onto our shores in the not-too-distant future.
With the reformation of British extreme luminaries Akercocke last year and the first album in ten years from them on the horizon along with the band seemingly playing anywhere and everywhere since their return, some worried for the future of Voices, the fiercely forward-thinking and individualistic black metal act formed by ex-members of Akercocke during the hiatus whose 2014 deranged but cinematic opus London is arguably one of the masterpieces of British extreme music. Thankfully though, Voices seem to be aiming for even grander and boundary-pushing things in 2017. A recent trailer containing snippets of new music suggests that their upcoming third record will be more experimental than anything prior, and there’s even talk of a movie of sorts as the band move further into visual art to compliment their musical output. Voices seem set to make some of the most fascinating moves of the year ahead.