Best Of British - Tea and Antipathy

Britain has not been a particularly pleasant place to reside over the last few years. So, it’s a good thing we’ve got a vast array of particularly outstanding heavy bands from these shores to pummel our brains into submission and help us forget all this nonsense.

2 months ago

Britain has not been a particularly pleasant place to reside over the last few years. Brexit was a ridiculous idea that has unsurprisingly been an unmitigated disaster. Covid was handled with all the grace and competence of a pig performing open heart surgery. We’re now on our second publicly un-elected Prime Minister in two years, the first of which plunged the country into a financial death knell (which we’re still recovering from) within weeks of getting the job. Don’t even get me started on the utterly illegal and insane policy of sending immigrants to Rwanda. So, it’s a good thing we’ve got a vast array of particularly outstanding heavy bands from these shores to pummel our brains into submission and help us forget all this nonsense.  

Ironically, the sordid mess that is Brexit may have played a part in shining a light on more British talent, mainly due to the fact it’s now more difficult for international bands to tour in the UK. Every cloud and all that. Smaller festivals certainly seem to be featuring more British bands, possibly as they are easier to book and come with fewer paperwork complications. As much as I love to see bands from across the pond, it’s also good to champion homegrown music and discover what’s on your (relative) doorstep.

A few disclaimers before we get started; I am not featuring the bigger, well known British bands here. Conjurer, for example, are amazing, but most people reading this will know about them, and they already get plenty of love in the mainstream music press. I’m focussing on British bands that may have gone under folks’ radar or (in my opinion) are criminally underrated.


These Geordies have been around for nearly 10 years, releasing their first record in 2015 and determinedly upping the ante and intensity on every subsequent EP or album. Geist’s brand of ferocious metalcore is dripping with blast beats and punk attitude. You can hear influences from bands like Converge and All Pigs Must Die. Ian Hunter’s unhinged acidic screams drag you through each song like it’s a bed of broken glass and once finished you can’t help but say, “thank you, that was lovely, can I please have some more?”.     

Whilst extremely comfortable at breakneck speed, they aren’t afraid to slow everything down. Latest effort, Blueprints to Modern Sedation, is their most accomplished yet, and features a mixture of frantic sub-90-second hardcore bombs (“Panic Addicts”) and 5-minute post-metal influenced beasts (“Vessel of Nothing”). The whole album clocks in at just over half an hour and it’s time well spent for anyone who takes pleasure in having angry filth blasted into their earholes.

I’m finally hoping to catch these guys live in 2024 and can’t wait to see what they unleash on stage. If there is any justice in the world Geist will be invited to various festivals and support slots on major European tours soon.  


Another Northern (Kingston Upon Hull) band that has been breaking necks and taking names for a decade or so, and Mastiff are getting better with age. Not so much like a fine wine, more like a craft stout that has spent a fair whack of time in a whisky barrel taking on all those deep smoky flavours. (Now I need a drink!)

Mastiff’s live shows are renowned for their unrelenting intensity. I was lucky enough to see them last Summer and was blown away by the energy they have (these guys aren’t spring chickens either). The crowd were in the palm of their hand from the get-go, with vocalist, Jim Hodge, whipping them up into a frenzy for circle pits, walls of death and general carnage.

Their sound blends hardcore, sludge and doom to create an unholy noise not for the faint hearted. This is heavy music, and I mean woolly-mammoth-sitting-on-your-face kind of heavy.     

2021’s ‘Leave Me The Ashes Of The Earth’ was a step up for the band in terms of their overall sound and production. The one and only James Plotkin (Khanate, Scorn, OLD, Phantomsmasher) mastered this bad boy, and it’s all the better for it.

Mastiff’s new album, Deprecipice, is coming out in March this year, and if the barnstorming single “Serrated” is anything to go by, it’s going to be an absolute monster.


Church Road Records are on fire and have become flagbearers for the UK metal scene over the last few years. Their ever-growing roster of rousing, talented bands is, quite frankly, ridiculous (I could have featured about ten of their acts in this aritcle). Run by Sammy Unwin and Justine Jones of Employed To Serve, they have helped propel the careers of UK bands such as Heriot (signed to Century Media in 2023) and Svalbard (signed to Nuclear Blast in 2022) among others.

Burner are relative newcomers, having only been around since 2021, but there’s a huge buzz around these South Londoners and their twisted take on metallic hardcore. Church Road released their debut full-length, It All Returns To Nothing, in June last year, and it has received nothing but praise from press and public alike. I’m probably showing my age here, but I can hear influences from hardcore bands such as Stampin’ Ground and Buried Alive intertwined with waves of blast beats and guttural growls that Nails or Cult Leader would be proud of.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how these guys grow and progress over the coming years. Big things lie ahead methinks.

Hidden Mothers

This Sheffield based quintet have only released an EP and a single, so whilst there’s not much to go on, these four tracks tell us that Hidden Mothers have huge potential. The description on Bandcamp states their sound as Blackened Post Hardcore / Screamo, and that’s pretty much on the money, but it will be interesting the see whether they lean more towards the Post Hardcore side of things given the space and time of their imminent full length.

Vocal duties are shared between band members, with a mixture of serrated screams and clean melodic singing complimenting their atmospheric and well-crafted songwriting. Apparently, they have had people say they sound like a combination of Lewis Capaldi and Amenra, which may be a slight exaggeration, but I can understand where they’re coming from.  

They’ve already graced the stage at ArcTanGent and are doing so again in 2024. This is a band on the rise, so you might as well get in early, then tell your friends “I was totally into them before their debut album came out” whilst you watch them headline a festival in 2028.


There are some serious underground music credentials within the ranks of healthyliving. Lead vocalist is Amaya Lopez-Carromero, also known as Maud The Moth, an angelic assassin in the same mould as Julie Christmas or Chelsea Wolfe. Her long-time co-conspirator, Scott McClean (guitars, bass, synth), is also in Ashenspire and Falloch among others. The band is completed by German drummer Stefan Potzsch of experimental outfit Lasse Reinstroem, a group all three members have been a part of at some point.  

healthyliving released their debut album, Songs of Abundance, Psalms of Grief, in April 2023 and it’s an ambitious, haunting statement of intent. To say it’s difficult pinning them down to a specific genre would be an understatement, as their sound and influences move around from song to song. You’ll find some post-metal, folk, black-gaze and doom on display, but it’s also much more than that. The only way to fully understand is to listen and if you dig bands like Messa, Big/Brave and Bent Knee, you should be all over this.


Another excellent band on Church Road Records (I told you their roster was ridiculous) who quite rightly have a huge amount of noise and expectation around them. Underdark’s latest full-length, Managed Decline, was released in November 2023 and it’s a progression of their trademark black metal/post-metal fusion. The production is magnificently full and lets their lighter melodic moments shine in amongst the brooding ferocity of black metal bombardments. To put it simply, this is epic!

Vocalist Abi Vazquez is a force to be reckoned with and it sounds like she’s quite literally spitting acid at certain points, either that or a Xenomorph was let loose in the recording studio. I also can’t help but hear similarities to Bryan Funck of Thou at his most ferocious best.

It’s difficult not to imagine this Nottingham quintet gracing much bigger stages in the near future.

Din of Celestial Birds

These guys gained some serious props and cult status for stepping in at the last minute when Tuskar had to cancel their appearance at Damnation festival in 2023. With less than 24 hours’ notice Din of Celestial Brids didn’t just save the day, they absolutely smashed it.  

The Leeds quintet play emotive, soulful instrumental post-rock and we don’t have many doing it better in the UK right now. There are elements and influences from bands like We Lost The Sea and Russian Circles, but there is also something quite unique and heartfelt about the music they create. It just feels incredibly genuine and that’s a word that doesn’t get used much in the music business.

Last year’s album, The Night is for Dreamers, showcases all their qualities and songwriting skills in one glorious 45-minute package. Who needs vocals when you can build sonic soundscapes like this.


TORPOR are doing their very best to give European bands like LLNN and Amenra a run for their money in terms of sheer scale and audio depravity. I’m genuinely proud that these guys hail from the UK…in fact they’re representing both England and Wales, which is even more patriotic!   

Their latest effort, Abscission, offers up five tracks of a bruising sludge/doom/drone/post metal assault. There are occasional melodic respites in the shape of a spoken word monologue or the soaring clean vocals on finale “Island of Abandonment”, but overall, they mean to do you harm. This album really sucks you in, but instead of then spitting you out, it decides to chew on you for a while longer.  

To level with you, I only discovered TORPOR recently and can’t believe I’ve been sleeping on such a quality homegrown band for so long. Don’t make the same mistake.  

So, there we have it, seven British bands to enjoy whilst you dunk a digestive into your builder’s tea and tut disapprovingly at the weather forecast. I have no doubt that many will be shouting at their screens about bands I didn’t mention, and that should be celebrated, as it just goes to show the depth of UK talent we currently have in 2024.  

P.S. I limited myself to two bands from Church Road Records in this article but could easily have featured a load more. So please check out their roster for other British beauties, including Mountain Caller, Helpless, Bastions, Grief Symposium, Celestial Sanctuary, Wallowing, The Suns Journey Through The Night, and more. Keep up the incredible work.

Phil Knock

Published 2 months ago