Heavy music will always be generational. Because it’s a culture that’s survived primarily due to word-of-mouth promotion and unkillable curiosity, metal, hardcore, punk, goth, and hard rock have traditionally been passed down from older heads to younger generations.
And so often, this comes from older siblings, who are close enough to their little brothers and sisters to take part in this passing of the torch in the comfort of their own homes.
While we’re big fans of younger siblings in metal, we can’t deny that so many of our favorite artists found their way onto our speakers thanks to that mysterious figure in the room down the hall who seemed perpetually in the grips of puberty.
That said, some artists are more sibling-friendly than others, having specific qualities that make them a perfect totem to be handed down to little brothers and sisters. So in honor of this phenomenon, we decided to list some of the bands that we definitely heard of via our siblings.
Here are 14 bands who you probably learned about from your older sibling. Don’t tell mom, okay?
There’s something mature about Earth Crisis. They still go hard as fuck, but that seems genuinely entwined with their personal ethos; when these dudes yell, “I AM STRAIGHT EDGE,” you believe it. As such, they’re definitely a band that gets passed down, a token of seriousness that will hopefully inspire the younger sibling to put their heart into something. This of course would all be very annoying if the band didn’t kick like a mule; fortunately, this is not the case.
If there’s one thing an older sibling likes to do, it’s feel smart. No band offers that feeling more than Dream Theater, who are both conceptually and technically adventurous enough to suggest that their fans are mentally elevated. The band might bend a young listener’s mind at first, and may take them a little while to comprehend, but those new fans can take solace in the fact that it’s simply too mature for them to get yet. I mean, their older sister likes it. It must be smart.
The beauty of Snot is that they never really made it, even though nu-metal owes them everything. The band’s street-level status, and the tragic death of James Lynn Strait, cemented them as a permanent fixture of the underground. They’re a band it takes a little more research to discover and get into than acts like, say, Korn, or Slipknot. Old brothers and sisters are great for that passing on these lesser-known acts. You think that’s cool, you shoulda’ heard the guys who inspired them.
With Converge, there’s a lot of influencing by osmosis. Even if an older fan doesn’t physically pass on Converge’s music to their younger sibling, they usually wear their love of the band on their sleeve. There are only so many times a younger sibling can overhear a band, see their shirts, and watch them so deeply affect their older brother or sister before they want to know what’s up. These guys draw people into their field of gravity, like a black hole.
There’s a three-tiered attack with Muse – they’re heavy, they’re catchy as hell, and they’re widely accepted in mainstream circles. As such, the band are especially effective with those younger siblings who are growing out of metal, or at least drifting away from their immature entrance point into the genre. That said, the band’s ultra-polished arena rock songs will never quite scratch the itch for rock the way pure metal does. A band worth delving into, even if it’s just a phase.
When it comes to death metal, Morbid Angel are an excellent band to both hand down to someone and get handed down to you. On the one hand, the band’s spiky-ass logo and gnarly cover art feel metal as fuck, and inspire a, Whoa… in the onlooker. On the other hand, their unorthodox song structures and Lovecraftian themes set them apart from by-the-numbers acts within the genre. The result is a band whose unholy death knell can bring siblings together across generations. How sweet.
There’s a perfect confluence of ingredients when it comes to Opeth being an Older SIbling Band. They’re progressive and thoughtful, but have harder stuff earlier on in their career. They’re dynamic, but they’re listenable. They’re from Europe. All of these make the band interesting, culturally relevant, and a little loftier than your typical metal chugs about monsters. You may like Coal Chamber for now, but wait until you smoke weed with your sister for the first time, and she drops all these jazzy keyboards!
The World/Inferno Friendship Society
Weimar circus punks The World/Inferno Friendship Society brought both the order and the chaos – they were impeccably dressed and loved some old-school Charlie Chaplin flare, but they also promoted drinking like a fish and punching assholes in the face. As such, they’re a great step-up band who older siblings will forever love to introduce their younger brethren to. Yeah, all those spikes and safety pins are cool, but maybe a suit is even more punk rock. Ever think of that?
The thing about Sunn O))) is, you either get it or you don’t. That’s exactly why older brothers and sisters are a good entrance point for them, and why those listeners always be happy to introduce younger siblings to them: they get it. Again, being an older sibling usually means thinking you know better, and a band whose music sounds like a furious but malfunctioning air conditioner is definitely the kind of thing your beyond-normal-music-loving sibling thinks you should hear. They’re trying to teach you something, apparently.
Our older siblings were definitely huge in getting us into those bands JUST below the surface. Soundgarden were grunge and alternative royalty, sure, but they existed maybe a fifth of a step beneath the fame and heavy rotation of, say, Nirvana. As such, they’re slightly more metal sound was an excellent maturing point for our siblings to show us. Like, Man, those guys are famous, but this is the band doing it right.
Children of Bodom
Rip-roaring dance-metal from Finland – definitely not the kind of thing your average young ‘un trying to prove how hardcore they are is in love with. But here’s a situation where an older sibling can allow their little brother or sister to love something. An important part of introducing your siblings to metal is letting them know that they don’t have to be defensive about not going heavy as fuck all the time. It’s all right, dude. Just enjoy it. How much fun are those solos?
This arrangement is actually beneficial for everyone here, because if you didn’t see Primus and immediately want in, you kind of need someone to shepherd you into them. The band are weird enough, and diverse enough in their output, that having a guide is helpful. And who better to guide you than someone who wants to a) display their love of out-there music, b) wants to show you that they know something you don’t, and c) has a certain desire to see you be as cool as them? Meanwhile, songs like “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” give both siblings dirty jokes at which to snicker together.
We can hear that older sibling now: Aw, dude, you GOTTA check out Fetus! While slamming and misanthropic in their musical tastes, Dying Fetus’ fanbase are deeply enthusiastic about getting other people into the band. Not only that, but the band’s name is both a cool gross out – Check out THESE guys – and a cultural barrier – I know the name’s intense, but trust me, they rule – which older siblings will love to play on. Seems like a weird choice, but trust me, this is a generational band.
It seems like every KISS fan’s story about how they got into the band starts with a big brother or sister. There’s always some moment where their sibling gives them a tape, or dresses them up for Halloween, or takes them to a show, and they are IN. It’s weird, because unlike almost every other band on this list, there’s none of that haughty older-sibling pride here. No one feels superior for liking KISS. No one feels like they’re revealing the big truth to their younger sibling. They just want their younger brother or sister to know the beauty that is rocking and rolling all night, and partying every day. It’s pure.