Astral Noize’s Ones to Watch 2022

As we head into 2022, the overarching feeling is one of trepidatious hope. Covid’s still here, climate change is accelerating and these issues and many more are still being horrendously mismanaged by at best incompetent and at worse insidious politicians. None of that has gone anywhere. The future looks bleak. And yet, there’s a sense that 2022 will be different, even if it’s just on a personal level and largely as a result of us having hardened following years of shit and two years of a global pandemic. Maybe it’s a fool’s hope, but 2021 felt like the culmination of a lot of shit, and thus we’re heading into 2022 with a fresh start and a sense of optimism. One thing that never seems to let us down is music. There’s no shortage of killer new albums out each and every month, and though there’s always surprises along the way, it’s only natural that there’s some artists we have our eye on heading into 2022.

This list comprises both upcoming artists and more established names, all of whom are promising new music, tours or activity in 2022 that we can’t help but be excited for.

Chalk Hands

We all think about death from time to time. We don’t want to, but we do. Brighton’s Chalk Hands are seemingly no exception, given that they’ve had to remind themselves not to in the title of their upcoming debut album, Don’t Think About Death, which comes a full five years on from their promising debut EP. It’s a fitting album title for a band whose music sits somewhere between the emotive catharsis of post-hardcore and the more desperate longing of post-rock.

Kill Alters

Kill Alters have been releasing EPs, demos and mix tapes since 2015, but this February marks the release of their first album proper Armed To The Teeth L.M.O.M.M. via the musical bouncy castle that is Hausu Mountain Records. Their particular brand of glittering frenzy folds noise, hardcore and techno together to dizzying effect. All three band members have considerable bodies of work ready to be investigated, with singer Bonnie Baxter being especially prolific doing triple time as a solo artist and in pop-noise duo Prolaps. [LJ]

Trepanation Recordings

The metal scene is built upon a foundation of hardworking, dedicated folks who keep the underground moving with a fiercely DIY approach to recording, writing, releasing and promoting music. Trepanation Recordings’ Dan Dolby is one such individual. For years, Dolby has been consistently putting out high quality releases from the underground, handpicking standout projects and finding a constant stream of hidden gems. Whether it’s the folklore-obsessed doom/noise of Gnarl, the rousing post-metal of THÅRN or the genre-hopping exploits of Everson Poe, Trepanation are happy to give exciting DIY projects a platform. Dolby (also a member of Mastiff) already has releases lined up heading into 2022, and we cannot wait to see what else he unearths over the next twelve months. [GP]

Grave Pilgrim

Americana black metal is a thing now, from Wayfarer to Cobalt. Looking back the Old West’s unforgiving, isolating and scorched plains always seemed destined to get drenched in corpsepaint. Enter Oregon’s Grave Pilgrim, who use black metal as a railroad to deliver melodies that would sit as comfortably on a banjo as they do a guitar, injecting space into the songs on their 2021 self-titled album and creating an almost carnivalesque atmosphere, punctuated by more typical bursts of metal aggression that nonetheless reverberate as though created in dust and smoke. [LJ]

Heriot 

It seems strange to single out a band who have been around for nearly five years as “ones to watch”, but that is what this metal outfit really are. Having recently embarked on a UK tour with Svalbard, the quartet have definitely put themselves on many a heavy music fans’ radar. Musically the four-piece seamlessly blend earth shattering heaviness with crushing riffs, and though that may sound like a cliché in the metal world, Heriot bring a real intensity to their sound which cuts through a crowd. Having released a double single Near Vision / Enter The Flesh at the tail-end of 2021, this teaser really whet the appetite of what is to come for this crushing four-piece. [TB]

Tuskar

We’ve long heralded Milton Keynes duo Tuskar as one of the UK sludge scene’s most exciting prospects, so naturally we’re thrilled that their debut full-length is due for release next month through Church Road Records. The band have absolutely nailed the ability to make a piece of music sound fucking massive, with riffs that don’t so much attack the listener as they do viscerally overwhelm them. One of the singles released thus far is the mammoth closer ‘Grave’, which closes out with wave after wave of seismic intensity. Listening to it is guaranteed to have you salivating at the prospect of a full-length, not to mention the ensuing tour. [GP]

Labyrinth Tower

New rule for ‘22: everyone agrees it’s cool to stumble on a band because they have fantastic merch. Labyrinth Tower is a label and store that has weaponised the appeal of merch, grouping their releases of various tapes, shirts, and original artworks into monthly drops featuring new and recently established names in (typically) black metal. Smart marketing would be for naught if not backed up by memorable music; check out their 2021 work with Baazlvaat, Grandeur, and Trhä for a representative sample of the artists they’ve worked with, then get hype for their upcoming Night Of The Vampire tape. [LJ]

Apes

It’s definitely cheating to include a band who have already released something in 2022, but we’re expecting these Canadian bruisers to capture some significant attention from the metal scene this year. New EP Lullabies For Eternal Sleep takes the overwhelming heft of Cult Of Luna and marries it with truly savage grindcore blasting, with the occasional detour made for a stiflingly huge groove. The resulting sound is a melting pot of extremity that crosses boundaries with ease and sounds all the more ferocious for it. Apes need to be on your radar.

Spy

Probably one of hardcore’s worst kept secrets, Bay Area’s Spy have already been making one hell of an impact on their side of the Atlantic. Their brand of fast, straight-to-the-point hardcore comes absolutely drowned in reverb and has really captured the imagination of many who already love the genre. Their two EPs Service Weapon and Habitual Offender both take a hyper-aggressive, explicitly political approach to hardcore, with songs taking aim at the US government and police departments. Though already established stateside, the five-piece have teased that they will be heading to our shores in 2022. And if that is true, then be prepared to witness your new favourite live band. [TB]

Paris Texas

It’s easy to dismiss any rap-rock hybrids as standard, but between the UK’s Bob Vylan and the US’ Paris Texas, the merging of the two styles may finally be coming into its own. Paris Texas’ rough-around-the-edges sound merges aggressive hardcore with punky hip-hop without one diluting the other, and despite the vicious approach there’s an epic, almost cinematic scope to many of their tracks. They released two thrilling EPs last year and we’re expecting (hoping) to hear more from them this year.

Vinnum Sabbathi

Ten years ago Mexico City birthed sonic science fiction powerhouse Vinnum Sabbathi. They have soared along the riff-filled imaginative skies like an SR-71 Blackbird tearing through the higher altitudes of our atmosphere. Their instrumental sonic missions are almost as wild as the rumours spilling out of Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works over the years. However, Vinnum Sabbathi has obviously tended in the direction of the Iommic Path as opposed to releasing classified documents coupled with insane conspiracy theories. For example, their 2013 demo track ‘Warndenclyffe Signals’ payed homage to Nikola Tesla’s failed Wardenclyffe Tower. Most recently, Vinnum Sabbathi put together two tracks for a split with Sydney, Australia’s Comacozer, Here & Beyond (2020). The tracks continued their ‘HEX’ series, focusing on two monumental periods in North American air and space history – the X-15 aircraft, and the Cassini-Huygens mission. Based on their consistent output over the years it wouldn’t be surprising to see more music, or a tour, from them sometime in 2022 to coincide with their tenth anniversary. [GT]

Kurokuma

We’ve been asking Sheffield sludgers Kurokuma for a full-length for years at this point, but they’ve been too busy writing EPs based on obscure comic strips, releasings songs inspired by Ecco The Dolphin and even releasing their own cannabis seed. Now though, they’re finally delivering with an epic record based on ancient Mexican civilisations, Aztec deities, human sacrifice and the use of mushrooms in divine religious ceremonies. 


Words: Luke Jackson [LJ], George Parr [GP], Tim Birkbeck [TB], Garrett Tanner [GT]

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