Heavy metal, particularly extreme metal in the form of melodic death, black, doom, and groove, is having a creative renaissance as smaller bands take the stage to prove they have what it takes.
Nearly every metalhead has gotten loose headbanging to Metallica, Iron Maiden, Testament, Motorhead, and other icons of the genre. While traditional heavy metal artists may be enjoying the swan song of their careers, according to Vice, there is a new wave of extreme metal taking their place that is hungry for change in the cultural landscape.
Given that there’s never been more metal talent spanning the world coinciding with the ability to share beyond simple borders, there’s never been a time quite like the present to take a look at some of the more obscure names populating the extreme music landscape. The first five bands listed include an embedded video, and are followed by the runners-up.
1. Wolfheart – Boneyard
Unrelenting blast beats and a guttural growl punctuate the sonic attack that is Boneyard by Wolfheart. A Finnish extreme metal band with a penchant for aggression and beauty in equal measure, the Tuomas Saukkonen fronted effort has nowhere to go but up. One listen is worth a thousand words.
2. Woods of Ypres – Death is Not an Exit
The eponymous song from their final album – vocalist and composer David Gold passed away tragically in a car accident in December 2011 – Death is Not an Exit is both haunting and headbang-worthy. Known for their philosophical lyrics and use of stentorian bass underneath intricate melodies, doom metal in Canada never saw a peak as high as that created by the artistic vision behind Woods of Ypres.
3. Anthelion – Obsidian Plume
With wonderfully whimsical videos complete with grim imagery and sharp focus, Anthelion is a Taiwanese black metal band that has never quite gotten its proper due. Extremely tight guitar work and percussion blend together to produce a thrash element that segues quickly into light and lilting piano accompaniment. Such finesse within a genre committed to brutality is noteworthy and creative.
4. Revocation – The Grip Tightens
David Davidson and crew dress up as elderly members of a nursing home and completely burn the place to the ground. Face-melting riffs, intricate drum work, and pitch-perfect harsh vocals complete the ensemble. The American band defies categorization, as they span everything from thrash to death metal.
5. Whispered – Strike!
What list would be complete without some Samurai-inspired melodic death metal? Sounding somewhat similar to Children of Bodom with a flair for Japanese history and musical instruments, Whispered’s Strike! tosses together some Asian fusion with some pure heavy metal and does so with gusto and aplomb.
6. Taake – Myr
Norway proud forever, Taake is a one-man band with a huge supporting cast shrouded in mystery. Myr is perhaps one of the most interesting songs in the list given the almost insane juxtaposition of banjo with hardcore black metal stylings. The result is surprisingly impressive and the rest of the album holds up just as well with this daring standout.
7. Deadgaard – Sanctity of Death
Hailing from the island of Newfoundland, a rocky Canadian province steadfast in the icy-cold waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, Deadgaard reigns supreme over the local metal scene with wild live shows. Paying tribute to their major inspirations by covering Dethklok, Amon Amarth, and Slayer, Deadgaard (formerly Weapon) have released two death metal albums to date. Blistering solos, perfect harmonies, a booming bass tone, and hammer-down drumbeats make for a must-listen sound.
8. Screaming Savior – Semblances of the Void
A Chinese symphonic black metal band that mixes pure, noisy black tremolo and thundering double kick with crooning and crowing, pecking at the lyrics by time and then moving back to savor them, Screaming Savior is an avant-garde entry into the extreme metal genre. They are noteworthy not only for their stuffed-to-the-brim aural soundscapes but also the severity of their rasping voice work.
9. Forgotten Tomb – Let’s Torture Each Other
Nasty, loud, and filled to the brim with black-and-roll attitude, Forgotten Tomb’s Let’s Torture Each Other is a testament to just how groovy black metal can get while retaining the devil-may-care ethos that is present in all quality work in the style. This Italian band blends something like Pantera with a more classic groove delivery that will shake the foundations of even the most hardened fan.
10. Steel Panther – Gloryhole
Excessive and lascivious and so talented that the band bleeds authenticity, Steel Panther is perhaps the best glam metal band left on the planet. They’re also the best comedic heavy metal act touring the world. The video is beyond adult in content, the lyrics are laughably lewd and the look of every member of the band is modeled from the glory days of hairspray and headbands. If Weird Al Yankovic could clone himself and had a penchant for pulse-pounding 80s party anthems, he would have formed Steel Panther before they’d even left the Vegas strip.
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