Here at Revolver, we pride ourselves in living on the cutting edge of heavy music, from metal and hardcore to industrial and goth, and we try to keep you on the front line, too, by giving you a deep look at the innovative noisemakers poised to shape the sound and the scene. To that end, we've rounded up a handful of musicians who, we think, are on the rise across several different genres. Spanning from breathtakingly heavy U.K. metalcore (Heriot) to experimental rap that pulls from industrial and black metal (Backxwash), here are five artists you'll want to get on now.
RIYL Knocked Loose, Code Orange, Nails
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE If you're feeling a little burnt out on the latest wave of metallic hardcore bands, Heriot are your antidote. The Swindon, U.K., quartet play an utterly decimating form of heavy hardcore that brings elements of industrial, sludge and death metal into the fold, resulting in a sound that's simultaneously more crushing and creative than most of their peers. After a mere three singles, the band just got scooped up by Church Road Records and are writing an album that's set to arrive later this year. Do not sleep.
QUOTE "We want our music to hit hard sonically and bring textures and sounds to the forefront that aren't usually explored in modern metal," bassist-vocalist Jake Packer says of their eclectic mission statement. "I'm a huge Slayer fan and love collecting anything Slayer. Julian [Gage, drummer] is big on his nu-metal — he has a White Pony tattoo and a vast record collection. Deb [Gough, guitarist-vocalist] loves Lamb of God and has an Ashes of the Wake tattoo. Erhan [Alman, guitarist] lives for Limp Bizkit and has watched their 'Woodstock '99' set over 100 times."
RIYL Coheed and Cambria, Daughters, Heavy Heavy Low Low
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE After concocting a titillating fusion of djent and spazzy post-hardcore on their 2018 debut, Why Did You Do It?, Philly's Kaonashi have only gotten weirder. The self-proclaimed "emo mathcore" group just signed to Equal Vision Records for their upcoming full-length, Dear Lemon House, You Ruined Me: Senior Year, which is a totally bonkers concept record about a fictional high-schooler named Jamie that sounds like everything from the Blood Brothers to Coheed and Cambria to Periphery. Frontman Peter Rono's flamboyant screeches are their calling card, but this band's wobbly tightrope walk between heavy, hooky and lyrically touching is an impressive feat to witness.
QUOTE Rono and Kaonashi drummer Ryan Paolilli both got hooked on Coheed and Cambria and the Dillinger Escape Plan when they were young, and that set them on their current path. "I don't really do much else outside of music and I don't really want to," Rono says. As for that enigmatic Jamie character they've written about on multiple projects: "Jamie is a kid that goes to school at Lemon House High," the vocalist explains. "They don't really do much besides get drunk and high and listen to music. Jamie is an amalgamation of us as a band and the influential friends we've loved and lost. I can try to explain it but it wouldn't really make sense."
RIYL Ghostemane, Scarlxrd, Lingua Ignota
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE You've heard trap-metal, but not like this. The Montréal-based rapper-producer Backxwash makes a brooding form of hip-hop that draws as much from horrorcore and art-rap as it does industrial and black metal. Her phenomenal 2020 album, God Has Nothing to Do With This Leave Him Out of It, earned her a coveted Polaris Prize, but its impending follow-up levels up from Black Sabbath samples to actual collaborations with high-profile acts like clipping. and Code Orange. Rapping with visceral intensity about her experiences as a trans woman of color over menacingly textured beats, there's no one else who's making such a hair-raisingly heavy blend of rap and metal.
QUOTE "Metal was such a taboo thing growing up that I gravitated to it quite easily," Backxwash says of her intro to the genre. "When people told me not to listen to Black Sabbath, I ended up listening to Black Sabbath. Even though I was terrified, there is something to it that was just special. I think it was [me] growing up Christian." As for this new album, she says that it's "mostly about living in the moment of your mistakes and flaws, and feeling powerless against them."
RIYL Deadguy, Botch, Isis
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE While most present-day metalcore bands are building their sound around breakdowns and thrash riffs, Colonial Wound are taking a different approach to the genre. On their new EP, Degradation, the Jacksonville, Florida, trio split the difference between sludgy hardcore and heavy noise-rock, creating a loud, angry and churning style of metalcore that also boasts the post-metal flair of Neurosis and Pelican's most gnashing material. It's a strain of hardcore that hasn't enjoyed the same resurgence that beatdown and crossover have, but Colonial Wound make a strong case for a full-on Deadguy-core revival.
QUOTE "Our music tastes span many different genres and eras," says guitarist Ben Clifton. "I'm heavily into so many things, from Björk to Infest to Archers of Loaf. My first tattoo was actually an Infest tattoo." Naturally, that level of artistic nuance also carries over into the band's core principles. "We hope to bring awareness to the lack of introspection in this modern sociopolitical climate," Clifton adds. "And to disband the systems that keep us perpetually divided."
RIYL Fugazi, Fiddlehead, Angel Du$t
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE Ian Shelton is already dominating the fast side of hardcore with his powerviolence band Regional Justice Center, and now he's poised to take over the genre's melodic hemisphere with Militarie Gun. Birthed from the doldrums of the pandemic, this new band, which boasts members of Drug Church and Modern Color, makes exquisite indie-pop songs that are filtered through downtrodden, post-hardcore exteriors and delivered with Shelton's seething yawp. The four tracks on All Roads Lead to Gun, their first of two 2021 EPs that were produced by hardcore heavyweight Taylor Young, are as pained and urgent as anything he's made with RJC — except you can actually hum along to these ones. In fact, you won't be able to stop.
QUOTE Unlike the big picture concepts he tackles in RJC, the "abrasive pop music" Shelton makes in Militarie Gun is rooted in day-to-day struggles and ruminations. "I wanted to be able to talk about love, money and drugs in a way that might be weird in a hyper-aggressive space like RJC," he tells us. "Some songs can be as basic as, 'I'm having a fucked-up day,' and some can be bigger with concepts, like finding a new understanding of addiction." So far, his favorite part of the project is how it forces him to stretch his creative boundaries. "At least once every other week, Militarie Gun will completely crush my spirit and ego because I will try to do something I've never done before and I'll suck at it. I have to come back the next week after practicing and relentlessly thinking about that thing [in order to] get it done."