SBR Top 7 Debut Albums of 2023

We’re in the early 2020s. Doesn’t that sound strange? It’s not as easy on the tongue as the “early 90s” or the “early 2000s.” But this decade has seen some exciting new artists release their first records. Many of the class of 2021 returned this year with strong sophomore efforts – think of Urne, Pupil Slicer, Autarkh and Vexed. All proved that they have the potential to evolve into great artists.

Last year saw Anglo-French hardcore quartet, Cage Fight, storm the SBR debut album and overall best album of 2022. This year sees English record labels, Church Road Records and Trepanation Recordings, unleash some of the best new bands on these shores. Further afield, establishment labels like Season of Mist and Century Media continue to find new artists rather than wait for the boutique underground record companies to cultivate their talents.  

The doom and post-metal sub-genres produced a host of interesting debutants in 2023. Death metal and black metal continue to churn out new bands faster than China can produce solar panels. A saturated market of indistinguishable artists is the unfortunate result. On the other hand, prog metal often dominates these lists but had a quiet twelve months. Likewise, few supergroups produced anything of note in this field.

Which of the 2023 generation will prove to be influential in the future? We have our favourites. These are the SBR Top 7 debut albums of 2023…

7. Grief Symposium – …In the Absence of Light

What we said at the time: “The down-picking rhythms are heavier than the soul of an apostate. There’s nothing sludgy about these riffs. You could argue that the guitar tone has more in common with Decapitated and Gojira. Each scale fill and fret progression squirms through the amps like blood seeping through the walls… Grief Symposium’s debut album shows us that death-doom is far from a one-dimensional concern for unambitious artists and pessimists.”

Country: England

Style: Death-doom

Released: 27/01/2023

Label: Church Road Records

Read the original SBR review here.

6. Benthic Realm – Vessel

What we said at the time: “How much can you achieve with such a simple set up of instruments turned up to maximum volume? It’s a question that haunts doom metal artists and alienates many metal acolytes who are sceptical of the lethargic tempos and shameless Black Sabbath worship. Benthic Realm are not one of these bands… There’s a reason why people like Krista Van Guilder persist with their art over three decades for no material gain – they do it because they need to be in the studio or on stage to find meaning in their lives. We can all take inspiration from this and learn the lesson of self-belief.”

Country: USA

Style: Doom metal

Released: 01/07/2023

Label: Self-released

Read the original SBR review here.

5. Temic – Terror Management Theory

What we said at the time: “At fifty-eight minutes in length, Terror Management Theory is a prog metal treat. How rare do we say that about albums longer than forty minutes? The reasons behind this are manifold. Temic’s grasp of melody is pompous enough to make your eyes expand. Bergerson’s vocals command the highest technical standards in rock. Gillette’s mellifluous guitars talk to Tejeida’s keyboards and conspire with the drums to leave you winded.”

Country: International

Style: Prog metal

Released: 17/11/2023

Label: Season of Mist

Read the original SBR review here.

4. Burner – It All Returns to Nothing

What we said at the time: “It’s clear that Burner waste no energy on this record. Every downward crunch of the guitar has a purpose. Churning basslines rumble underneath the distortion like loose wagon trailers threatening to break off from their master vehicles at the first sign of a pothole. Vocalist, Harry Nott, screams into his microphone like a starving man with a plate of chicken wings in front of him… Burner will be a devastating live act if they capture only fifty percent of the energy on this LP. “

Country: England

Style: Hardcore/Death metal

Released: 23/06/2023

Label: Church Road Records

Read the original SBR review here.

3. Trounce – The Seven Crowns

What we said at the time: “The fact that this art-school veneration of noise and unhinged aggression revels in monstrous low-guitar tunings is almost as surprising as the absence of screaming vocals. How many bands would inject a monotone growl of death metal phrasings or hysterical goblin shrieks over the top of this canvass?… Trounce could become a black metal equivalent to what Voivod did to thrash metal when they took it apart and rebuilt it as an astral audio experience.”

Country: Switzerland

Style: Avant-garde extreme metal

Released: 20/10/2023

Label: Hummus Records

Read the original SBR review here.

2. Predatory Void – Seven Keys to the Discomfort of Being

What we said at the time: “Listen how sporadic grooves work their way through the music like sepsis. The noise and filth of the distortion are menacing enough to leave you with tinnitus. Do you feel your mouth making silent hissing shapes as the muddy down-picking guitars threaten to jump out of the speakers?… This is the sound of isolated misery from a person cut off from all human relations.”

Country: Belgium

Style: Extreme metal

Released: 21/04/2023

Label: Century Media

Read the original SBR review here.

1. Novere – Nothing Stays Hidden in Daylight

What we said at the time:Nothing Stays Hidden in Daylight is an existential meditation on lost love, despair, and addiction. It’s the sound in your head when the demons of your alter-ego try to drag you into their mischievous love of self-doubt. You might hear the pulsating rhythms and glimpse the brooding melodies as you would a train on the horizon. Its presence disturbs your equilibrium, yet its power and purpose leave you in awe as you watch it race through the countryside like a hungry juggernaut.”

Country: England

Style: Post-metal

Released: 01/10/2023

Label: Trepanation Recordings

Read the original SBR review here.

Honourable mentions

Gendo Ikari – Rokubungi (Self-released)

Henget – Beyond North Star (Season of Mist)

KOLLAPS\E – Phantom Centre (Trepanation Recordings)

Mairu – Sol Cultus (Trepanation Recordings)

Master’s call – A Journey for the Damned (Fireflash Records)