Four weeks in, and 2023 is already shaping up to be a blockbuster. We’ve already had killer new songs from the likes of Ville Valo, Sabaton, J-metal sensations Hanabie, Grave Pleasures and Sleep Token (who have served up four songs!).
And then there’s Babymetal, who swept the board when it came to fan vote with Metal Kingdom, from their upcoming album The Other One. But that wasn’t the biggest shock – no, that would have been Metallica’s Screaming Silence, beaten into third place by In Flames’ Meet Your Maker, which is as good a sign as any that the Swedish melodeath warhorses have rediscovered their mojo.
What’s on the menu this week? Well, Ghost have dropped a brand new version of Spillways featuring Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott on vocals, prog metal nabob Ihashan returns with Contorted Monuments, the Sid Wilson-produced Swollen Teeth introduce themselves to the world and Lzzy Hale teams up with Avatar on Violence No Matter What.
We’ve also included a playlist of the best metal songs of 2023 so far, which you'll find at the bottom. But before you get there dive the 11 best new metal tracks to hear this week – and don’t forget to vote for your favourite below.
Ghost - Spillways (feat. Joe Elliott)
We’re going to take credit for this one. When we spoke to Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott back in April 2022 about his love of Ghost’s recently-released Impera album, he singled out Spillways as his banger of choice. Several months later, Tobias Forge has roped Joe in to provide some authentic 80s hard rock oomph to this re-tooled version. You’re welcome.
Ihsahn - Contorted Monuments
30 years since he helped transform the black metal landscape with Emperor, Ihsahn still proves to be an inimitable creative force. Contorted Monuments sees the icon fuse the frost-tipped nastiness of black metal with driving, powerful prog, complete with some huge guitar solos and subtle symphonics that show his ambitions have not been curbed over time.
Motorhead - Greedy Bastards
Proof if ever needed that there was much more to Motorhead than the fire and bluster of Ace Of Spades, unearthed and unreleased new song Greedy Bastards shows off the band’s bluesier side that became increasingly prevalent in their later years. Granted, it’s still injected with a healthy dose of skepticism that is perfectly underpinned by a monologue from Lemmy himself at the start of the track concerning politicians, but Greedy Bastards is a prime showcase of the band’s maturity.
Avatar - Violence No Matter What (feat. Lzzy Hale)
Avatar have been fairly bold about their aims with new album Dance Devil Dance, frontman Johannes Eckerström simultaneously described it as “death metal that fucks” and an album that can save heavy metal. Thankfully, with The Dirt I’m Buried In and Valley Of Disease the band have been offering up tunes that can deliver on that promise. New single Violence No Matter What sees Avatar team up with Lzzy Hale for a throat-shredding, pounding anthem that adds more fuel to the excitement for their new album Dance Devil Dance.
Swollen Teeth - Swollenteeth
Even if Swollenteeth’s debut EP hadn’t been produced by Slipknot turntablist Sid Wilson, there’s an air of grotesque nu metal nastiness that feels like a re-vamped take on the misanthropic nihilism of Iowa’s finest. Granted, the masks don’t hurt matters - but it’s the mixture of agonised vocal melodies and chugging riffs replete with blast-beats that really gives Swollen Teeth a sense of vicious vitality. Hopefully there’s a lot more where this comes from.
Tribulation - Axis Mundi
With the release of Hamartia in September, Tribulation showed they were still able to deliver the goth metal magic even after the departure of guitarist/songwriter Jonathan Hulten. Axis Mundi arrives with the announcement Hamartia will be the title of the band’s upcoming EP, their first release since 2021’s superb Where The Gloom Becomes Sound, its serpentine guitar licks and blackened rasps suggesting the future of the band is very bright indeed.
Oxymorrons - Enemy
Hailing from New York, Oxymorrons fuse anthemic alt-metal, electronica and hip-hop in ways that feel like a complete refresh on old school nu metal DNA, decidedly more indebted to modern hip-hop than the same 80s and 90s references that influenced the old school. Enemy comes ahead of a tour with Bad Omens in Europe later this year, offering plenty of opportunities for the newcomers to show what they’re made of.
Enslaved - Forest Dweller
Between the realms of prog and black metal, Enslaved have never really struggled to find a sense of grandeur and scope for their ambitious compositions. Forest Dweller sees the band in typically adventurous form, contrasting passages of light, Blackwater Park like melodious sections with sudden and explosive sections of blackened fury (complete with a decidedly 70s keyboard solo), like lava suddenly erupting beneath a serene meadow.
Deathstars - This Is
Announcing their return after eight years in the wilderness with new album Everything Destroys You, Sweden’s Deathstars are back with their latest effort in producing “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Rammstein”-style industrial metal. Glib comparisons to the Teutonic overlordsaside, the fact is Deathstars are storming out the gates with an absolute banger, flecks of goth and glam (with symphonic undertones) chucked into a melting pot and set to a relentless marching beat that’ll have you shouting “This Is” in no time. Nice to have you back, lads.
OTTTO - My Pain
Summer still feels a good way off yet, but the crossover thrash/punk stylings of newcomers OTTTO seem perfect for days spent drinking and pulling off dubious tricks a the skatepark. New single My Pain comes from the band’s upcoming debut Life Is A Pain and throws the sunny, bouncy punk energy of Turnstile or Dirty Nil into a blender with Suicidal Tendencies (not entirely a coincidence - OTTTO have supported ST in the past and bassist Tye is the son of former ST low-ender, now Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo), with a healthy heaping of old school thrash added on top for a delightfully headbangable combo.
Overkill – The Surgeon
“I am the surgeon!” squeals Overkill’s Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth like a man who has had plums squashed tightly in a vice since 1983 on this, the first song from the Noo Joisey thrash kings’ upcoming 375th studio album Scorched (OK, it’s their 20th). While we would definitely question his medical credentials, there’s no arguing with The Surgeon’s prime 1987-vintage velocity. Careful with that scalpel, Blitz!