SBR Top 7 Musicians of 2023

The multi-instrumentalist captures the imagination as the artist who thrives off solitude. They sleep in their home studio and live off takeaways. Hours spent staring at a computer screen are as common as minutes spent tuning instruments. Pizza boxes and empty wine bottles pile up in the corner. The blinds remain drawn. Repeat playthroughs end up erased and replaced with new overdubs. The click of the mouse becomes more common and more violent. Hands grip on imaginary drum sticks. Teeth grind on finger nails as a guitar solo shreds through the speakers on playback. Eyes expand at the mixing desk when reverb effects add a ubiquity to the vocals.

Long hours of practice and many moments of frustration are worth it in the end. Those artists who master their instruments can bask in the satisfaction of knowing that they worked hard to get where they are. The seven musicians we selected need music in their lives like sparrows need earthworms, but the poor earnings potential in the industry might not be as kind to their bank accounts. Some of them can read music, others rely on their ear and a rudimentary knowledge of scales and modes. All hope to leave something of value to posterity.

These are the SBR Top 7 musicians of 2023…

7. Alex Bossen (Oxx)

Danish guitarist and vocalist, Alex Bossen, has the unenviable task of performing both in unnatural time signatures on a live stage. His band, Oxx, call their music avant-hardcore, and there’s no doubt their experiments with Afro-beats and jazz fusion lend their aggression a unique flavour. Seldom does Bossen stray from his staccato style, but the tasty scale runs are enough to make Frank Zappa fans wince. Like all hardcore vocalists, he takes pride in inflaming his throat with natural pain rather than manipulating it to produce the pseudo-aggressive bombardments of his metal peers.

Read the original SBR review of The Primordial Blues by Oxx here.

6. Navene Koperweis (Entheos)

Last year, he filled in for Machine Head on the drum stool, and next year will see him do the same for Job for a Cowboy’s long-awaited return. But Navene Koperweis is more than just a hired gun. Five minutes spent browsing through YouTube reveals a man who can fret the guitar as well as he can lay down a 16th note groove. Koperweis and his fiancée, Chaney Crabb, produced a tech death odyssey this year with the release of the third Entheos album via Metal Blade Records. It might require more attention than a Ukrainian anti-missile unit, but there’s no doubt that Koperweis operates at the highest level of virtuoso musicianship.

Read the original SBR review of Time Will Take Us All by Entheos here.

5. Pierre Carroz (Herod)

This is Pierre Carroz’s last year as a composer. He announced the end of Herod on 1 December and confirmed that a band as ambitious as this could not co-exist with his responsibility as a father and professional agriculturist. What a damn shame! After twenty years of writing violent but spacious music as frantic as Dillinger Escape Plan and as challenging as Meshuggah, the Swiss native hangs up his guitar for a new life at the helm of a tractor. Thank you for the music, Pierre.

Read the original SBR review of Iconoclast by Herod here.

4. James ‘Jimbob’ Isaac (Silverburn)

Welshman, James ‘Jimbob’ Isaac, is a legend in his home city of Swansea, and you might remember him as the singer and guitarist of sludge metal trio, Taint. He then returned in the mid 2010s with Hark and released two albums via Season of Mist. It took him twenty years to realise that he can do it all by himself without any bandmates to let him down. The result is Silverburn, a one-man mathcore-cum-groove metal assault that takes the best of Helmet and Deadguy and leaves you wondering how many brain cells went into overdrive during your audio experience.

Read the original SBR review of Self Induced Transcendental Annihilation by Silverburn here.

3. Diego Tejeida (Temic)

People wondered what might become of Diego Tejeida when he left Haken in 2021. As a former touring keyboardist for Devin Townsend and Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress project, we knew he had no shortage of important friends in the industry. He returned this year as the keyboardist, sound designer and principal songwriter of Temic and dazzled us with his multi-coloured song arrangements and sophisticated vocal melodies. The band make their live debut in the Netherlands in February 2024, and you can expect to hear them announce further dates soon.

Read the original SBR review of Terror Management Theory by Temic here.

2. Voi (Novere)

London post-metal quartet, Novere, produced one of the finest debut albums of recent years. Introspective, meditative, aggressive, violent – it aches in a lonely world of lost love, addiction and anguish. Behind the drum kit and hovered over the microphone, you’ll find lyricist, Voi, bearing his soul in a cocoon of self-reflection. His lung-stripping roars and thoughtful falsetto croons juxtapose each other like night and day. This is the immersive experience you need when solitude comes calling. How can so much come from the energy of one man?

Watch our Behind the Album interview with Novere here.

1. Acle Kahney (Tesseract)

A man who hates the limelight and loves the studio, Tesseract’s chief composer is the quintessential visionary who sees drop-tuned guitar riffs and ethereal melodies as part of the same colour palette of sound. Tesseract’s fifth album emerged after five long years and granted us a pardon from the stressful realities of life, like a visit to an Austrian spa town. He might have the best singer on the planet to bring his compositions to life, not to mention a world-class drummer and bassist, but his bandmates are only as good as the songs he gives to them. They sound like no other band on the planet, and nobody could hope to sound like them. Tesseract’s musical architect is a true talent.

Read the original SBR review of War of Being by Tesseract here.

Honourable mentions

Michel Nienhuis (Autarkh)

Luana Dametto (Crypta)

Óscar Martín Diez-Canseco (aka Nightmarer) (Deemtee)

James McBain (Hellripper)

Mark Broster (Aeffect)