From soulful occult rock to bar room boogie, black thrash to monastic doom, there’s plenty in store for ’24.
We shine the spotlight on 15 acts who are going to rock this year, tear it a new one, or drag it deep into a black hole…
“It is set to be the longest and darkest journey yet, by many measures,” said Abduction founder A|V when teasing the UK black metal act’s forthcoming fifth album.
Given the psychic horrors unleased on their previous records, we can only assume that Abduction have birthed something from far beyond hell with this release.
Recorded with a full band line-up for the first time – A|V previously played everything himself – the new opus could well be another leap forward for this mysterious act.
Be prepared. Rich Holmes
We were given a sneak preview of Andracca’s forthcoming blackened hymns back in November at Byker Grave Festival.
And they sounded damn good.
They’d already established themselves as a rising force in UK black metal by then, but the quartet are set to cast a longer shadow over Blighty this year, thanks to new album, To Bare the Weight of Death.
Look out for this “relentlessly honest and emotive” record on January 19 and get back to black metal’s roots… RH
Inspired by the story of Saint Cuthbert, a seventh century monk and the patron saint of Northumbria, Arð’s Take Up My Bones was a revelation.
And founder Mark Deeks – an accomplished musical director and pianist – has always promised that “Northumbria will speak again”.
The North Easterner (below) has been true to his word: he spent much of last year working on the second Arð album with the likes of cellist Robina Huy and Atavist sticksman Callum Cox, in between playing with Winterfylleth and even delivering a TEDx Talk on heavy metal…
New works of ‘monastic doom’ are expected on January 30. RH
Nottingham ‘subtle tech’ exponents Beyond Grace have, by their own admission, “had a few difficult years”.
But the quartet fought back in 2023. They covered Peter Gabriel’s Here Comes The Flood, then released the Welcome To The New Dark Ages Part 1 EP in November – an effort that demonstrated the sheer power of their cerebral, highly evolved death metal.
And they’ve promised we’ll be hearing more from them this year: Welcome To The New Dark Ages Part 1 was the first in a series of digital EPs, which will eventually be released as a full physical album in 2024. RH
Nashville-based singer songwriter Ruthie Collins has bagged herself a boyfriend from the North East of England and a whole load of inspiration for this year’s mooted EP series.
It’s four years since the Curb Records artist released Cold Comfort and fans can’t wait to hear what the New York state native has up her sleeve for 2024.
Last year’s UK tour with Matt Hodges went down a storm and Collins’ canny decision to drop a few new tunes further whetted the appetite for what’s to come this year. Simon Rushworth
Newcastle’s Crowley spent 2023 bewitching crowds up and down the country, and casting a spell over classic rockers, occultists, Sabbath-worshippers and on one occasion, shoppers at HMV.
Frontwoman Lydia Balaban’s soul and sorcery vocals are simply astonishing.
Lead guitarist and arch shredder Eliza Lee sprinkles earth magic on every song.
The quintet will be racking up the miles this year: in February they’ll be supporting Luke Appleton and appearing at Planet Rock’s Winter’s End bash, and they’ll be hitting fests such as Wildfire, Call Of The Wild, Hard Rock Hell and Love Rocks over the next 12 months.
We’re hoping that some new music will be in the works too… RH
Derby’s Devastator kicked up a black thrashing stink with their debut, Baptised In Blasphemy – one of our thrash metal albums of 2020.
And that stink clearly made its way to the offices of French label Listenable Records, who signed the quartet last summer.
They’ve since been hitting the road and building some Motörmentum ahead of the release of new album Conjurers of Cruelty, which is set to drop in March.
Check out the boys on February 17 at Rebellion in Manchester, where they’ll be playing the new album in full – and get those bulletbelts polished. RH
North East desert rockers Dunes shifted up a gear last year.
They took on Bloodstock, blasted Rotherham’s Tonehenge, supported Sasquatch, Ritual King and High Desert Queen, and generally made a nuisance of themselves across the UK.
And the trio also found time to decamp to The Old Church Studio in Thropton, Northumberland to start recording the follow up to 2022’s Gargoyle.
You might get a taste of some new material on February 2 at The Chameleon Arts Café in Nottingham, or at The Vault@Yorkshireman in Sheffield the night after.
You can also check out Dunes at London’s Masters Of The Riff Festival and Amsterdam’s Love For Loud Festival, both in March. RH
They hail from Sweden.
They used to be in Thundermother.
And they rock!
What’s not to like about new Napalm Records trio The Gems?
Debut album Phoenix drops later this month and from what we’ve heard so far, frontwoman Guernica Mancini is in the form of her life.
The groove laden throwbacks are really cooking on Queens, Domino and Silver Tongue.
The new jewel in the NWOCR crown? Welcome to The Gems. SR
Jack J Hutchinson
The blues brother come classic rock king claims producer and co-writer Josiah J Manning told him to ‘write meaningful lyrics more upliftingly’ on brand new album Battles.
And while we don’t want to say too much about a feisty new album before its February 9 release, let’s just say Jack’s the lad for 2024.
It feels like the versatile singer songwriter has been building up to this moment for some time – the defiant Don’t Let The Fuckers Get You Down is typical of a new attitude and approach.
Head to the album launch at London’s O2 Academy 2 on February 8 or check out www.jackjhutchinsonmusic.com for more dates. SR
The Karma Effect
London classic rockers The Karma Effect blew us away at 2023’s Call Of The Wild Festival and it’s little wonder Earache Records snapped them up.
The swaggering five-piece drop sophomore set Promised Land on May 3 and they’re on the road throughout February, March and April.
Southern rock-fuelled foot stomper Livin It Up dropped last month as a teaser for The Karma Effect’s new long player. More of the same please.
The world is starting to take notice of the Scottish death metal underground.
And Penny Coffin – along with the likes of Brainbath and Coffin Mulch – have been instrumental in the scene’s rise.
Combining lacerating riffery, spectral textures and some serious songwriting suss, they’ve evolved from 2021’s Τεφρα EP to 2023’s more expansive and complex Corrupted Morality – a real eye opener for the previously uninitiated.
Not seen the quartet in action yet? Penny Coffin will be appearing at UK death metal all dayer Dead Of Winter Fest on January 27 at Glasgow’s Ivory Blacks, they’ll be supporting Mastiff on March 23 at Audio Glasgow, and on May 25 they’ll be hitting the Necropolis Volume II festival at London’s New Cross Inn.
The Quireboys (Spike version)
Spike’s only got and got the old band back together – recruiting Thunder’s Luke Morley to fill in for the much-missed Guy Bailey.
Bailey contributed to a slew of fresh tunes before his passing and the new tracks will go live during a four-date tour this May.
The new album should be out around the same time with Spike promising festival appearances to follow.
“This sounds like The Quireboys are supposed to sound,” says the bandana-wearing frontman. That’s good enough for us. SR
The Quireboys (Griff version)
What’s in a name? With neither bunch of Quireboys prepared to take a back seat in 2024 this looks like being a vintage year for bar room rock n roll.
The Guy Griffin-fronted gang (including Paul Guerin and Keith Weir) have been busily wrapping up their new album of star-studded collabs in time for a 2024 release.
Medicine – featuring Buckcherry’s Josh Todd and Stevie D – dropped last summer and the likes of Joe Elliott, Dan Reed and Charlie Starr have all been pressed into service.
This year’s live action kicks off in Bedford on January 27 for the annual Griff’s Birthday Bash. Tickets are £15 from www.seetickets.com. SR
The multi-hued, jazz/grind/math/prog beast that is Utopia will be returning in 2024 – and delivering the follow-up to 2021’s spectacular Stalker.
Created by John Bailey (guitarist for Russell Watson and Aled Jones when he’s not making metal) and Corrupt Moral Altar vocalist Chris Reese, Utopia released Stalker with the help of a some formidable guest musicians.
But they’ve now opted for a settled line-up, and we’ll see the results of that on Shame, which will be torching our ear canals on February 2. RH
Crowley photo (top) by Adam Kennedy.
Arð photo by Gavin Forster.