2019 Award Nominations: Best New Band/Discovery ft. A&P Reacts

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Wheel, The Circus, Helsinki 2019

Welcome to the 2019 Musicalypse Award Nominations! It is our second year after having changed our Award system over to the staff vote, and to shake things up, this year we’ve invited A&P Reacts to join us in the nominating and voting for the best of 2019. For new or newish bands that have just come onto our radar this year, here are our choices for the Best New Band / Discovery of 2019!

This year our nominations will be in their own separate playlists! You can follow them on Spotify:

1. Wheel
2. Marko Hietala (solo)
3. Silver Bullet

This was actually a surprisingly good year for discovering new music. Early on in the year, I found out about the new Finnish prog authority, Wheel, after hearing their fantastic debut album, Moving Backwards, and catching them live at Tuska Open Air and Opera Festival Rocks. They proved themselves worthy in the studio and live, and I personally can’t wait to hear what’s next.

Marko Hietala isn’t exactly new on the scene, but as a solo artist he just released his Finnish debut this year, Mustan sydämen rovio, which surprised and impressed just about everyone who heard it. It shows off both the diversity of Hietala’s skill as well as the variety of influences he has and how creative he is as a person. It’s a must-hear, though if you want to wait for the English version, I can’t fault that.

Finally, we have Silver Bullet, who released their sophomore album this year in the horror power metal genre. The combination of influences mixed with experienced songwriting and great vocals leaves an album so full of potential that I can’t wait to hear what they do next.

Honorable mention(s): Metal de Facto; Smackbound

1. Gaahl’s Wyrd
2. This Gift is a Curse

I’ve never been the biggest Gorgoroth fan, nor have I really been following Gaahl’s career very closely. It was out of pure curiosity that I gave Gaahl’s Wyrd a chance. It then wormed its way into that black void I have in place of a soul. It’s hauntingly beautiful and eerie. Definitely my biggest new discovery of the year.

I’m sorry but how long has this band been around? Where was I that whole time? This Gift is a Curse is a complete gut-punch. It’s one of the most technically impressive black metal bands in recent memory. It’s brutal and consistently surprising but delivers it in a hazy, atmospheric soundscape.

I can never seem to get enough Morbid Angel-esque, approachable death metal. I suppose you could call VLTIMAS party death metal. “Something Wicked Marches In” is a battalion of awesomeness. It has a robust but clear production. One of the best new names in death metal.

Honorable mention(s): WHEEL; Heilung; Atom Works

1. Ray Alder (solo)
2. Silvertomb
3. Idle Hands

It feels a little amusing to nominate a veteran who’s been around in the scene for over 30 years already, Fates Warning frontman Ray Alder hasn’t released a solo album until now. The release of What the Water Wants came as a surprise to me, but it’s got a lot of strong songs born out of collaboration between Alder and FW touring guitarist Mike Abdow, making me hope the pair will write material for their main band in the future as well.

While Silvertomb doesn’t sound quite like Type O Negative (to be fair, nobody can), after Peter Steele’s passing and Josh Silver’s retirement from music, a band featuring Kenny Hickey (guitar) and Johnny Kelly (drums) is the closest you can get to the real thing. Edge of Existence is a solid slab of doom metal, even though it occasionally gets a little repetitive on the lyrical side.

Idle Hands, on the other hand, (no pun intended) was a recommendation of my friend’s, and their debut full-length album, Mana, has a good ratio of atmosphere and rocking hooks.

1. Silver Bullet

Silver Bullet is a great combination of pure talent, speed and power metal, with thrash influence. Like a modern Horror Show by Iced Earth in the form of a band theme, the theatrical horror soundscape is executed really nicely. Nils Nordling has a fantastic voice, a little rough around the edges but still cleans it up when need be. Combining power metal vocals with a whisky grit… it’s just exceptionally good.

1. Wheel
2. Metal de Facto
3. Smackbound

To be fair, I have known Wheel since before their debut album, however, this year was the first time I was able to catch the band play live, and their performance has stuck with me ever since. The band is on the rise, so better beware.

Metal De Facto is also a band that has been on my radar for a little while, creating a surprising debut album with lots of nostalgic and catchy songs.

Smackbound is a new hard rock act that reminds me of 80s rock bands, such as Deep Purple and also consists of some familiar faces from the Finnish music industry.

Honorary mention(s): Wilderun

1. Smackbound
2. Eramaa

It feels like there’s brand new era of bands with female singers starting who don’t fit into metal’s stereotypical operatic vs ethereal -dichotomy, and I’m 100% here for it. With the inimitable Netta Laurenne as their lead, Smackbound blew up into the scene as ready as a band can be, and holy balls do I love what they’re doing. Aptly coined “modern Roxette” by our dear editor-in-chief, Smackbound also brings some flashbacks from days when bands like Lullacry and Velcra were some of my jams – no big operatic vocals or almost-whispering ethereal voices, just women rocking the hell out because they want to and they can. Honestly, how can you not love this?

We’ve likely seen and heard almost everything that can be imagined in folk/epic metal done already, but still somehow Eramaa manage to breathe fresh air into the genre, while not exactly reinventing the wheel. It could be the half Finnish-sung lyrics and melodies, at the same time reminiscent of both Finnish folk music bands and metal bands like Battlelore and Crimfall. That being said, I’m yet undecided whether singing in both Finnish and English in same song works for me, but in any case, Eramaa is one of the extremely few new folk metal bands that I’ve gotten excited about in many, many years.

1. Wheel
2. Smackbound
3. Belzebubs

… [the band names are written in the clouds]

JP Ahonen, author of Belzebubs; Tuska 2019

A&P Reacts:
1. Tungsten
Great melodic/power metal band that has released a very well crafted debut record. A nice surprise for 2019.

2. Metal de Facto
Debut album from a band made up of veterans. These guys are rookies with years of experience and that is obvious in the quality of the work they put together in their debut release.

3. Belzebubs
From Finland came the band you love and can’t live without. Their debut record is a synopsis of their history, their stories, and perhaps what the future has in store for them.