Online is where our voyage of discovery has taken us

One of the best things about working in music is that you can spend several nights a week watching live music and get away with calling it work. Or at least, that used to be the case. It’s been just about 14 months now since I last attended a live show. An unused ticket to Sleater Kinney still sits on my desk – a show I passed up, ironically, because I was too busy working on Roadburn in the run up to what should have been the 2020 edition.

I look back at the shows I used to attend, the shows I used to take for granted, and I can barely imagine being back there. Aside from the close proximity to people, the sensory overload feels like it might just be too much to bear – for a while at least. For me, the day that I am back in the Soup Kitchen in Manchester – and it doesn’t feel weird – will be a day worth celebrating. No doubt it would be the same for Walter, in dB’s in Utrecht. No doubt it will be the same for you, in whatever your local small venue is.

But shows in tiny bars, gigs in beautiful rooms, concerts in huge venues – that’s where so much inspiration comes from, for Roadburn and beyond. And without live music, we’ve had to turn to other means to seek out new bands. The internet, I mean the internet: online is where our voyage of discovery has taken us. To a place where bands may only exist in 2D but they are still capable of creating a technicolour, all consuming experience.

Whilst we always like to think we have our ear to the ground when it comes to new music, there’s no doubt we’ve had to strain a little harder to hear what’s good these last twelve months or so. We miss being able to see bands in their natural habitat, in full bloom; that’s how you can so often get the true measure of a band. But in lieu of that, we’ve done our best to keep up in an all-digital world and have pulled together a few recommendations of bands we think you may like, and might even give you cause to will along the return of normality just a little bit harder.



Knoll was brought to my attention by Becky – and I knew they’d be a great fit for Roadburn Redux, but more than that, I knew they’d be a great live band to see (when circumstances allow). They’ve infused grindcore with death metal in a way that’s intense beyond measure. If the company someone keeps is a sign of their character then it may be helpful to know that their debut album, Interstice, was mixed by Kurt Ballou, and the album artwork handled by Ethan Lee McCarthy. Worth checking out.



We’ve always got our eye on Finland! They churn out stellar bands at a rate of knotts like it’s no big deal. I’ve not seen Surut in magazines yet, and – obviously – I’ve not seen them live, so I can only assume they’re still Finland’s best kept secret. They’re working on a debut full length, but for now, there’s a self titled EP and I definitely recommend giving over half an hour of your time to check them out if you like anything vaguely post-hardcore-ish.



To keep things psychedelic and noisy, France’s Slift has also put out one of the most exhilarating and hypnotic albums of last year. With the sprawling Ummon under their belt, the band is reshaping space rock into a futuristic whatnot, and were poised to blow many a club or festival to cosmic shreds – COVID-19 had other plans, unfortunately. Let’s keep our highs up for Slift to conquer the galaxy as soon as possible. They are the future of heavy psych!



Featured a few times on our Roadburn playlist, and championed in both mainstream alternative and metal publications alike, Divide and Dissolve may seem like an unusual inclusion – they’re not much of a secret. There’s no doubt that this band rules on record, but something tells me that their live performance would be just as distinctive and evocative. I hope they make it round to this side of the globe sooner rather than later; I personally firmly believe they belong on a Roadburn stage, but at this point, I’d be thrilled to welcome them to my back garden if only to see them play live.



Flying their freak flag for many moons, Germany’s Acid Rooster only released their much acclaimed S/T debut last year, and not to exaggerate — it’s one of the best contemporary psych records around. Unfortunately, they were halted in their tracks like everyone else, and they’re one more reason we can’t wait for the world to open up. Acid Rooster need to catapult us into orbit in a maelstrom of psychedelic flavors, whether it’s blistering guitar pyrotechnics or the downtempo check-ins with your consciousness, generated on stage and in front of a live audience.



This is not a new band, but this is a great band – and one that’s been on my radar for a while. However, whilst lockdown has been stifling for some, it has turned Sunrot into a prolific hit machine… if you consider a 13 minute guided meditation a hit. Which I do. There’s something inspiring and invigorating about a band who forge a path towards doing exactly what they want to do, exactly how they want to do it. It’s why we jumped at the chance to premiere a track of theirs this weekend, and it’s why they appear on this list – keep your eye on them.



Embracing the weird and the wonderful, Polymoon proved that Tampere (FIN) is still a hotbed of creativity with the release of Caterpillars of Creation, easily one of the best psych albums of 2020. Their prog psych explosion in technicolour also took Roadburn Redux into hyperspace, and we can’t wait for Polymoon to take us further down the rabbit hole… uh… down the road.



With influences that tick many of my boxes (think Broadcast, Emily Haines, Grouper), and the associated pedigree of their work with Thou, this release from KC Stafford under the moniker Karenia Brevis is one to keep your ear on. The release is an ethereal beauty and a ‘celebration of the feminine divine’. There’s no physical release (yet) and not much out there on social media, so if this one does make it out into the spotlight, maybe you can say you heard about it here first.