1. Say Sue Me - 10 (Busan, South Korea)
Genre: Indie Rock
Say Sue Me are a Surf Rock inspired indie band from Busan, South Korea. Members consist of Byungkyu Kim on lead guitar, Sumi Choi on vocals and rhythm guitar, Jaeyoung Ha on Bass and Sungwan Lim on Drums. Releasing their first album”We’ve Sobered Up” in 2014, and EP “Big Summer Night” in 2015, on Korean label Electric Muse, UK label Damnably Records released a self-titled compilation that paired their first record and EP in 2017, marking the band’s first release outside of Korea, which served as their introduction to International audiences. The band released their sophomore album “Where We Were Together” in 2018, which won widespread praise from the likes of Pitchfork, Paste Magazine, NPR, Billboard, i-D, The Independent, Stereogum, MTV, Uproxx, Fader, Drowned in Sound, DIY, The 405 & more. The band have toured across Europe and Japan and appeared as part of the line up at SXSW, The Great Escape, Zandari Festa, Pentaport International Rock Festival, and the first DMZ Peace Train Music Festival in Korea’s Demilitarized Zone. They count Yo La Tengo, Japanese Breakfast, Snail Mail, The Ravonettes, Speedy Ortiz, The Beths, and The Notwist as fans. Say Sue Me were nominated for 5 Korean Music Awards (and winning 2) in 2019, making them the second most nominated act of the year. They will embark on their first North American tour in December.
2. Fit For A King - Times Like This (Tyler, Texas)
Trauma and tragedy transfer from one generation to the next. As difficult as it may be, we still possess the power to break the cycle and start anew. Fit For A King ponder the pain of these cycles and the possibility to end them on their seventh full-length offering, The Hell We Create [Solid State]. The Texas quintet—Ryan Kirby [vocals], Bobby Lynge [guitar], Daniel Gailey [guitar], Ryan “Tuck” O’Leary [bass], and Trey Celaya [drums]—explore this ebb and flow with a deft, yet delicate balance of sharp metallic intensity and soaring melodic energy. “The album is a reflection of the events that happened throughout the pandemic,” recalls Ryan. “In short, my wife and I adopted children and had to homeschool them. She almost died from a stroke. The Hell We Create is by far the deepest and most personal record we’ve ever written.” In 2011, Fit For A King emerged out of Texas with a searing signature style rooted in metal and hardcore and uplifted by hypnotic hooks. Following the breakout LP Creation/Destruction , they earned four consecutive Top 5 debuts on both the Billboard Top Christian Albums Chart and the Top Hard Rock Albums Chart with Slave to Nothing , Deathgrip , Dark Skies , and The Path . The latter marked their first #1 on the Top Christian Albums Chart and Top 10 on the Billboard Top Album Sales Chart. Plus, the band collaborated with fellow heavy-hitters such as August Burns Red and We Came As Romans.
3. Sleeping with Sirens - Complete Collapse (Orlando, Florida)
Sleeping With Sirens breathe rarified air. After fourteen years, five studio albums, and thousands of shows, the band has outlasted many of their peers while crafting an undeniably unique path through modern alternative rock. With each release, the quintet — Kellin Quinn [vocals, keyboards], Jack Fowler [lead guitar], Nick Martin [rhythm guitar], Justin Hills [bass], and Matty Best [drums] - continue to hone their mix of unflinchingly honest lyricism, unforgettable riffs, and pulse-pounding percussion while boldly exploring new creative frontiers. That future-forward perspective, coupled with a deep connection to listeners, has established Sleeping With Sirens as a beacon of hope in a world desperate to find silver linings. On Complete Collapse, the band’s sixth studio album, Sleeping With Sirens cut straight to the bone, as they process life in modern times. “We’re coming to terms with the new reality we are in,” explains Quinn. “Things have changed so rapidly, and we’re all doing our best to process it. There’s a feeling of heaviness to the record, both in sound and emotion. We’re trying to figure out what’s going on and where we’re going. We’ve seen so much stagnation, but also a lot of change that wasn’t necessarily for the better. We’re realizing now that our voice, and what we’re able to say or should say, needs to come through the music. It’s not about what you can say on Instagram or Twitter, it’s about what you’re saying through your work.”
4. Wild Pink - ILYSM (Brooklyn & Queens, New York City)
Genre: Indie Rock
The fourth full-length from Wild Pink, ILYSM unfolds with all the fractured beauty of a dreamscape. Over the course of 12 chameleonic tracks, the New York-bred rock band build another world inhabited by ghosts and angels and aliens, inciting a strange and lovely daze as the backdrop shifts from the mundane (subdivisions, highways, hotel parking lots) to the extraordinary (deserts, battlefields, the moon). But within its vast imagination lies a potent truth-telling on the part of singer/guitarist John Ross, whose lyrics closely examine his recent struggle with cancer. The follow-up to 2021’s A Billion Little Lights—a critically acclaimed effort praised by the likes of Pitchfork, NPR, Vulture, and Stereogum, who named it “one of the prettiest rock records of the past decade”—ILYSM emerges as a truly revelatory body of work, transforming the most painful reflection into moments of transcendence.
Co-produced by Ross with Justin Pizzoferrato (Pixies, Body/Head, Speedy Ortiz) and Peter Silberman of The Antlers, ILYSM finds Wild Pink joining forces with a thrilling lineup of guest musicians, including J Mascis, Julien Baker, Ryley Walker, Yasmin Williams and Samantha Crain. As the most experimental work to date from Wild Pink—whose lineup also includes bassist Arden Yonkers and drummer Dan Keegan—the album embodies a finespun yet mercurial sound embedded with so many unexpected details.
5. Lorna Shore - Pain Remains (Warren County, New Jersey)
For LORNA SHORE, the triumvirate of songs at the heart of “…And I Return to Nothingness” are nothing short of an exorcism – and a plunge into something darker. From orchestral passage that opens the EP’s title track, straight into a bombast of blackened intensities and rampaging grandeur, these New Jersey-born extremists are back with their new frontman Will Ramos, rising from the askes like a phoenix. Reborn and sworn to the dark. A coming fire that even the LORNA SHORE faithful will be stunned by. As the world locked down in 2020, LORNA SHORE plunged deeper into the creative instincts that initially made them a fixture in the extreme metal scene with landmark albums: 2015’s “Psalms” and 2017’s “Flesh Coffin”. Since then, they’ve twisted together influences and ideas ranging from the symphonic grimness of European black metal to death metal’s complex fatal sonic formulas and hardcore’s aural intensities. What LORNA SHORE arrived at was a new level of blackened technicality and the next step in their darkside journey. Embellished with artwork by noted Polish painter Mariusz Lewnadowski (Bell Witch, Fuming Mouth) “…And I Return to Nothingness” reaffirms LORNA SHORE’s creative focus and intensity. The EP’s three tracks: “To the Hellfire”, “Of the Abyss” and the title track are proof that LORNA SHORE isn’t just continuing their fiery legacy. They’re reigniting it and spectacularly setting their very legacy ablaze.
6. Lacuna Coil - Comalies XX (Milan, Italy)
Genre: Hard Rock
Formed in 1994, Lacuna Coil quickly became one of Century Media’s biggest selling bands. From Comalies (2002) and Karmacode (2004) to Shallow Life (2009) and Broken Crown Halo (2014), the high-flying Italian act demonstrated an uncanny ability to pull in rock, gothic, and metal audiences. The band’s spirited and lauded live performances have also earned them a solid reputation for a band that not only delivers night in/night out, but also a band whose stage performance reverberates long after the show is over. Indeed, Lacuna Coil’s heartfelt, heavy, melodic, and rhythmic metal—a hybrid of gothic, groove, and alternative—has created a rabid worldwide following. Whether it’s “Our Truth” and “Delirium” or “Nothing Stands in Our Way” and “Trip the Darkness,” Lacuna Coil’s dual-vocalist assault is immediately identifiable.
7. Skullcrusher - Quiet the Room (Tarrytown, NY)
Genre: Indie / Folk
Helen Ballentine’s spellbinding first full-length album Quiet the Room is the sound of a window opening, a barrier dissolving. Across these fourteen tracks, the outside world seeps in and the inside world crawls out. The result is a stunning and quietly moving work that reflects the journeys we take through the physical and spiritual realms of ourselves in order to show up for the world. While writing the album in the summer of 2021, Ballentine drew inspiration from her childhood home in Mount Vernon, NY. What she set out to capture on Quiet the Room was not the innocence of childhood, as it is so often portrayed, but the intense complexity of it. Past and present merge Escher-like in this dreamlike space laced with elements of fantasy, magic, and mystery. Musically, this translates into a sound that feels somehow weighty and ephemeral all at once, like a time lapse of copper corroding.
As the album cover invites, these are dollhouse songs to which we bend a giant eye, peering into the laminate, luminous world that Ballentine has created. Like a kid constructing a shelter in a patch of sharp brambles, she reminds us that beauty and terror can exist in the same place. The complexities of childhood are so often overlooked, but through these private yet generous songs, she gives new weight to our earliest memories, widening the frame for us—even opening a window.
8. Birds In Row - Gris Klein (Laval, France)
Genre: Chaotic Hardcore
BIRDS IN ROW’s trio have been at the forefront of their genre for a decade. Their first album– 2012’s You, Me & the Violence – rocketed them from Laval-based unknowns to the world’s stage. Its rallying chords and venomous vocals were all classic hardcore, reinvigorated for a new generation, yet songs like Lovers Have Their Say totally flipped the script. 13 minutes, sinister and droning, it showed that Birds in Row will never kowtow to the rules. If that debut sparked listeners’ imaginations, then 2018 follow-up We Already Lost the World was an unyielding inferno of brazen ideas. Metal Hammer UK called it “intelligent, poignant art,” writing that “this downward spiral changes pace and weight at every turn.” It screamed for mutual respect in a world of increasingly extreme political divides, and used the vehicles of punk, post-hardcore and post-metal to carry its cries. After their last EU tour, supporting ALCEST in Feb/March 2020, the band entered into a long period of composition. They are now ready to get back on stage with a brand new live show and will travel Europe as headliner but also supporting CULT OF LUNA for 15 shows.
9. We Came As Romans - Darkbloom (Troy, Michigan)
Brotherhood lasts forever. No matter what happens, those bonds endure in memories and moments. We Came As Romans hold a similar link between them. After nearly 15 years together, countless sold out shows, critical acclaim, and over 250 million streams, the Michigan quintet—Joshua Moore [guitar], Dave Stephens [vocals], Lou Cotton [guitar], Andy Glass [bass], and David Puckett [drums]—weather their darkest time and emerge stronger in the name of a fallen brother and member: Kyle Pavone.
The group soldier ahead with a sixth full-length opus befitting of his memory.
After Kyle’s death in 2018, they made a careful decision to push forward, returning to the road with Bullet For My Valentine before gathering themselves in the studio with longtime collaborator Nick Sampson [Asking Alexandria, Born Of Osiris] and seeking perspective from Drew Fulk [Motionless In White, Lil Peep].
We Came As Romans introduce this next chapter with a pair of singles, “Carry The Weight” and “From The First Note.” Evocative clean guitar echoes at the beginning of “Carry The Weight” before giving way to a hammering groove and cathartic screams that culminate on a hypnotic chant—one of the band’s most irresistible.
Meanwhile, “From The First Note” hinges on thick guitars as it delivers a fast and furious elegy. Steamrolling forward on a punk gallop, the chorus rings out, “I can’t replace you.”
In the end, the brotherhood between We Came As Romans lives on.
10. Varials - Scars for You to Remember (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Genre: Hardcore/ Hard Rock
Balance occurs in the midst of extremes. Varials seamlessly alternate between moments of crushing power and melodic poise, unlocking harmony in the middle of opposite poles. The Philadelphia quintet—Mitchell Rogers [vocals], Mike Foley [bass], James Hohenwarter [guitar], Shane Lyons [guitar],and Sean Rauchut [drums]—continue to sharpen this signature style with searing intensity, uncontainable energy, and uncompromising creativity. They’ve carefully cultivated this sound over the years. The guys attracted a devout fanbase with Pain Again  and In Darkness . The latter yielded “Romance,” which amassed 3 million Spotify streams and counting. Of the title track, Decibel raved, “Varials have their own modern spin on hybridizing metal and hardcore into a powerful new amalgam.” Meanwhile, they hit the road with the likes of All That Remains, Wage War, Oceans Ate Alaska, Kublai Khan, and more. During 2021, Mitchell assumed full vocal duties for the band. After amassing tens of millions of streams and earning acclaim from Decibel, Revolver, and Alternative Press to name a few, the band deliver controlled chaos like never before on their third full-length album for Fearless Records Scars For You To Remember.
11. Ways Away - Torch Songs (Los Angeles, California)
Genre: Alternative Rock/ Punk
Vocalist Jesse Barnett (Stick to Your Guns) teamed up with Sergie Loobkoff (Samiam/Knapsack), drummer Jared Shavelson (BoySetsFire/Paint it Black) and Ian Smith (Racquet Club) in early 2019 for some melodic post hardcore. 10-song self-titled album produced by Beau Burchell out Now on Other People Records. Currently working on follow up album with producer Brad Wood.
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