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The time of year has come where we look back at the year of 2023, at not only happy memories that we have all made but also the incredible music from hidden talents around the world.

This year we have 6 categories to be awarded to 6 artists that have featured on Novacaine over the last 12 months. The decision of which bands are awarded was a difficult one to make as there is so many to choose from, and it was a very difficult call to make as the majority of reviews I have written this year have all been 10/10 because most of them are absolute belters!

Despite this, the artists chosen for these categories have all stood out to me and blew me away upon my first listen and have even made their way into my own personal playlist and are on daily repeat.

Here are the 2023 categories (in no particular order):

Album of the Year

Single of the Year

EP of the Year

Debut EP of the Year

Debut Album of the Year

Best Live Act of 2023

So, without further adue, let's get down to the awards!

Debut Album Of The Year 2023

Kim Dracula, otherwise known as Samuel Wellings or 'Tasmian Devil' is an Austrailian alternative/indie artist who rose to fame on TikTok with releases such as their cover of Lady GaGa's hit 'Paparazzi' and their own original track 'Killdozer' which is still popular amongst fans.

In 2023 Kim Dracula released their debut album 'A Gradual Decline in Morale' of which I gave the album a 10/10 rating as it completely took me by surprise. The entire album is unique in every way, Kim has brought their own unique sound and even managed to pull off a collaboration with the legendary vocalist Jonathan Davis of KoRn on the track 'Seventy Thorns' which also came with an insane music video, which was another factor for my reason of rating. Each music video they have released for tracks from this album is unique in every way and portrays each track perfectly showcasing Kim Draculas unique style.

Due to their incredible talents and extremely hard work into this album, they have managed to tour with the legendary Avenged Sevenfold on their US tour. Not only was touring with Avenged impressive, but also to be Kim's first ever live performance which was at Freedom Mortgage Pavillion Camden. A first live performance is difficult to do anyway due to nerves, but performing in a sold out venue with one of the biggest bands in the worlds as a headliner amplifies that by sevenfold. (get it?, I'll leave, sorry).

This album immediately got added to my personal playlist, and it wasn't just some of the tracks, the entire album is played pretty much daily. Not one track missed, which is why I would like to award Novacaines best debut album of the year, to Kim Dracula!

Stream 'A Gradual Decline of Morale' below:

Follow Kim Dracula on Social Media:

Single of the Year 2023

Shadow Smile is a Metal band from Sheffield, UK and they kicked off 2023 with an epic single 'Signed In Blood' which is the title track from their debut album that released on 18th August 2023. Not only was the album their debut, but it was entirely crowd-funded by their fans and was put together with no management team or label to support them. Every decision was made by the band. Of course external professionals where called in to help produce and mix the album but even then, everything was crafted by Shadow Smile with epic artwork created by the incredible Dan McClean.

The track 'Signed In Blood' absolutely took me by suprise, it felt like I was listening to their release of 'Digital God' back in 2018 for the first time. I was impressed then, and I was even more impressed now. Shadow Smile has evolved into an incredible creative force to be reckoned with.

The bands live performances match the energy of their releases, ensuring their show blows everyone away and making sure the crowd is involved with everything they do. Shadow Smile undoubtely deserves this award, and if it wasn't for the fact Kim had their debut this year, they would be awarded Debut Album of the Year as that album is their finest work to date and they have truly given themselves a challenge for their future releases.

Shadow Smile are smashing it and clearly have much more to come, which is why I am awarding them 'Best Single of 2023'.

Stream 'Signed In Blood' Below:

Follow Shadow Smile on Social Media:

Best Live Act of 2023

Beyond Your Design are a 4 Piece Melodic Death Metal Act from the East Midlands, UK.

The band have been releasing music since 2020 with their first track 'From Apathy to Waste' and have even gone on to release 2 EPs, 'Together We Rise' in 2021 and their 2022 EP 'United We Fall' which received positive feedback from both fans and media outlets.

Earlier this year, Beyond Your Design competed in Bloodstock Festivals Metal 2 The Masses in Nottingham on Saturday 8th July 2023, competing against 3 other artists to win the chance to perform at Bloodstock Open Air 2023, the competting artists were, Thirteenth Sign, Buried By My Heartache and Dead Demons, the competition was headlined by Drip Fed Empire. However, the headliner was never given a chance to perform due to technical issues at the venue, this also meant that Beyond Your Designs set was cut short as they was the final competiting band that night.

Despite the technical issues, the band put on an epic performance, completly exceeding all of my expectations. The band interacted with the crowd, hyping everyone up and even had a pit opening up in the crowd. All members of the band did not just stand still, they moved around on stage even though the stage was the size of the average living room, also making sure they had a theatrical entrance at the start to get everyones attention, all eyes on BYD!

When the technical fault occured, there was no panic from any of the band members. They took control of the situation and guided everyone to the nearest fire exit, ensuring everyones safety. They didn't just walk off stage, they didn't leave anyone confused, they acted in an extremely professional manner.

Unfortunately, we had to leave to head home shortly after the technical fault, so we didn't get to witness Beyond Your Design winning the competition which was 100% deserved. Each band that night put on an awesome performance, but BYD blew it out of the water and showed everyone what they was there to do and they smashed it. Which is why I am awarding Beyond Your Design 'Best Live Act of 2023'.

Watch Beyond Your Design Live at Metal 2 The Masses 2023 below:

Stream Beyond Your Design Below:

Follow Beyond Your Design:

Album of the Year

Spirit Adrift is an American Heavy Metal act and on 18th August 2023 they released their fifth full-length studio album 'Ghost At The Gallows' which is rammed with godly riffs, resounding heavy metal vocals, irresistlable beats and lyrics that compet you to thrash your hair about without a care in the world.

The reason I chose this album to be the Album of the Year is because there are multiple tracks from this release that are played on my personal playlist on a daily basis and each time it feels like I am listening to it for the first time. This album absolutely blew me away and I couldn't believe what I was hearing when I first hit that play button.

Unfortunately, this was released after Download 2023 which meant I had no clue who they were until I was sent this album as PR and I wish I'd come across them sooner as I would've loved to witness their incredible talents live on stage at one of the biggest UK music festivals.

Spirit Adrift is a band to watch, with this album release they are on the path to major success and you do not want to miss it.

Stream 'Ghost At The Gallows' below:

Follow Spirit Adrift:

Debut EP of the Year

The Rattlebacks are a 5-piece Rock Act from Brighton, England. On 17th November 2023 the band released their debut EP 'KINK' symbolising a fresh start for the band and completely rebranding their image.

The Debut EP 'KINK' throws you back to the old school rock 'n' roll sound but it is given a massive serving of Rattleback poision. Every track on this EP is incredible, jam-packed with incredible electrifying riffs and gritty yet powerful vocals from their new vocalist Josh Clarke who is ready to help The Rattlebacks take their music to new heights. The band as a whole came together and created something truly unique and as someone who has known the guys for a few years, I was not expecting an EP like this at all. Completely blew my mind and exceeded my expectations.

Which is why I am awarding The Rattlebacks 'Debut EP of the Year 2023'. I cannot wait to see what they have in store for 2024!

Stream 'KINK' Below:

Follow The Rattlebacks:

EP of The Year

Akkadian is a Metal Act reigning down from Cambridge, UK and on 28th October 2023, the band released their brand new EP 'The Devil Has Evolved' and it is a f*cking masterpiece, despite only having 3 tracks on the EP, it just hits you in the 'F*ck Yes!' spot.

If you are like me and love bands like Gojira, then Akkadian is a band you NEED to check out. They've taken elements of Gojira, Lamb of God and Tool, smashed them all together, added their Akkadian spices to create something truly special.

This EP is packed to the nines with brutal riffery, towering vocals, enough to have your face melting off into a puddle. After this release, Akkadian has become one of my top artists to watch of all time, this band is going straight into the stratosphere and beyond.

Follow Akkadian:

Stream 'The Devil Has Evolved':

Thank you all for checking out Novacaine's New Music Awards 2023. Each category was extremely difficult to give awards for and I even at one point was tempted to cancel because we have had so many incredible artists featured on this site this year that have just completely smashed it out of the park, I could not come to a decision easily. Which is why I have one more award to announce.

When picking 'Single Of The Year' I had so many bands to choose from, there has just been an absolute ton of insane singles over the course of 2023, I came to the decision of Shadow Smile's Signed In Blood because it just gives me chills whilst listening to it and it is a solid single release.

However, there was one other single that did the exact same thing to me when I first listened to it, and that is Zebedy's Single 'The City Is Ours' which was released before their new album 'Waiting For The Tide' was released on 3rd February 2023.

Zebedy is a Welsh Progressive Metal Act, and they released their single 'The City Is Ours' on 17th January 2023 and I absolutely fell in love!

Zebedy give off Biffy Clyro vibes but they do have their own unique twist on their sound, this track in particular showcases exactly what Zebedy are all about. This track is a powerful catchy song which will have you singing along within your first listen. I absolutely love this track and it is played more than once a day and they are certainly a band that I would like to see live in 2024.

Follow Zebedy:

Stream 'The City Is Ours':

Thank you all for your support over the years, 2023 has been an absolute blast, rammed with incredible music from artists all around the world and I am sure 2024 will be even better!

Any artists that where not featured in this years New Music Awards, please remember it is not because we didn't enjoy your music, these awards are all for a bit of fun and to end the year on a high! It was such a difficult decision to make as the majority of the bands I review are added to my personal playlist, in the end it was all based off how often I listen to each track on a daily basis.

In 2024, our New Music Awards will be voted by YOU, our readers. We will be working hard to set up a fair and easy to use system that everyone can have fun and get involved with.

As for the bands that were awarded this year, over the next 7 months, I will be buying merch from each band, so make sure you've got some goodies on the store! I will also be sending out physical award certificates in the new year!

Thank you all again for your support, we cannot wait to see what 2024 has in store for us all!

Have a Happy New Year Everyone!


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