3 hell-raising bands taking modern metal guitar to new heights

Heriot's Debbie Gough performs live at 2000 Trees Festival
Heriot's Debbie Gough performs live at 2000 Trees Festival (Image credit: Harry Shaw)

The year of Our Lord 2022 has been a banner year for metal guitar, blessed by new albums from the heavy hitting box-office triumvirate of Slipknot, Lamb of God and Machine Head.

But outside of the arena there’s a storm brewing, now as always, and here Total Guitar identifies another trio of bands – confrontational, abrasive, unique – who the discerning metal fan would do well to check out. 

Stylistically, no two are alike, yet they represent a taste of the future noise to come.

Chat Pile

Chat Pile

(Image credit: Bayley Hanes)

With the recent arrival of their debut album God’s Country, Oklahoma City’s Chat Pile seek to secure themselves a hefty lot of real estate in the space where sludge metal and noise rock collide. 

While the four-piece have released a selection of singles and EPs since their 2019 formation, God’s Country, interwoven throughout with the “fatalism of daily life in the American Midwest”, is their most visceral work yet, highlighting the group’s stratospheric potential.

The band is composed of four anonymous members, who adopt mysterious pseudonyms to conceal their identities. They include vocalist Raygun Busch, guitarist Luther Manhole, bassist Stin and drummer Captain Ron. On the surface of Chat Pile’s music shines Busch’s desolate and often-blood-curdling vocals, which grip with a tangible sense of immediacy and grit.

But underneath lies an ever-present bedrock of dirty distorted guitars laid down by Manhole. His style exacerbates the angst which permeates the music, tapping into dissonant chord structures, endlessly overdriven riffs, speaker-rattling feedback and even space-y cleans.

The band’s bleak approach to existentialism has yielded them a considerable following in just a few short years, their doomy synthesis of noise rock and sludge with both industrial and nu-metal influences already resonating with thousands of fans.

But despite the desolate feeling ignited by their music, Chat Pile possess the ambition of a rising band making waves in the scene. In addition to the release of God’s Country, they’ve enjoyed a recent string of live shows, and have even composed the score for an upcoming indie film, Tenkiller.

Heriot

Heriot

(Image credit: Heriot)

While a relatively young band in terms of time since formation, British metal outfit Heriot boast an impressively mature sound. Uncompromisingly heavy, their debut EP Profound Mortality packs in eight tracks of unbridled chaos, driven chiefly by the one-of-a-kind vocal partnership of Jake Packer and Debbie Gough, but also by the stellar electric guitar work of guitarists Gough and Erhan Alman.

Utilising elements of sludge, hardcore and modern metalcore, Gough and Alman drop tune their guitars and lay waste to Profound Mortality with a barrage of brutal riffs, which help bolster the already savage vocals of frontman and bassist Jake Packer.

But there are moments of respite tastefully placed throughout the EP’s 20-minute duration, in which the pair shackle their six-strings to let electronically influenced soundscapes rise to the surface. Such instances can be heard on Coalescence, Mutagen and Abattoir, the latter being a two-and-a-half-minute instrumental with irregular electronic kick drum hits and enveloping sound design elements placed across the stereo field.

Indeed, Heriot’s brief but hard-hitting catalogue positions them as inevitable frontrunners in the modern metalcore scene, and their ability to bring complex arrangements to the stage – performing at hallowed British metal festivals Download and Bloodstock, as well as Cheltenham’s 2000trees in 2022 – only strengthens the prospect of their impending success.

The band’s next steps are shrouded in mystery, but we’d bet our money on one thing: there’s only one way from here for the British upstarts, and that’s up.

Moodring

Moodring

(Image credit: Moodring)

Floridian four-piece Moodring are a hard band to define. Their music tiptoes the fences separating metal, alt-rock, and even synth-pop. Regardless, their proprietary amalgam of sound has thrust the trio into relevance, their debut EP Showmetherealyou garnering them enough of a following to land a record deal with Aussie metal label UNFD.

Being hard to characterise is a central tenet of Moodring’s musical philosophy. “I grew up on the alternative bands of the 1990s,” says frontman Hunter Young. “No matter what new interests might come and go, I am forever drawn back to the classic albums of that era; they feel larger than life, not bound to a fad or trend – timeless. That’s what we aspire to with our band, to create songs that can transcend any scene.”

And the band’s debut full-length, Stargazer – which arrived in June – is expectedly difficult to pigeonhole. From its ethereally cinematic opener How To Leave Painlessly to the hooky choruses of Constrict, to the heavier metal-esque riffing of SYNC.wav, Stargazer is full of surprises, and highlights guitarist Sean Dolich’s versatile approach to crafting parts for the electric guitar.

In stark juxtaposition with the chuggy drop-tuned antics of SYNC.wav and Red Light Gossip, the likes of Novocaine Bones finds Dolich offering spacier leads amid a lighter alt-rock arrangement, while Peel is packed with uber-melodic chord runs.

In their quest to expand their following, Moodring have toured extensively this year, performing at multiple dates over the summer in the US, no doubt gaining a multitude of new fans in the process.

  • Stargazer (opens in new tab) is out now via UNFD.

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Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar (opens in new tab).