While Stranger Things has brought in number of new fans to metal, and more specifically to Metallica (now even more new fans can complain about Lars online!), there are so many bands that never got the spotlight or popularity that they deserved.
There are many acts out there who have a ton of talent but just never made it as big as they should have. As such, it’s high time we showcase some killer metal artists that never got the break that Metallica did. These are the bands that don’t get played on the radio all that often, don’t get placed in movie soundtracks, and don’t get mentioned in too many lists. And we’re about to change that list bit.
With a career that spans nearly 40 years and 13 full length records, this trio has remained intact since the day they formed. Known for their lush harmonies, their integration of funk and the high level musicianship, King’s X has a loyal following but never quite reached the level of stardom many of us believe they deserve.
There was once a time when the band nearly broke through with a couple of videos on MTV’s Headbangers’ Ball, but then Pearl Jam came along and ruined everything for everybody.
Yes, *that *Blaze, the singer for Iron Maiden who wasn’t Paul Di’anno or Bruce Dickinson. We know all about the disdain the internet has for the two Maiden records he was featured on, but if you think those two records at all represent that body of work that Blaze has put forth, you are deeply mistaken. Blaze has released no less than 10 solo records (including a trilogy of concept albums) since he left Maiden and they’re all solid releases, with 2021’s War Within Me showing up on a number of the year’s “Best of” lists.
The musicianship in Misery Index is phenomenal, but it doesn’t come at the expense of their biting lyrics that feature commentary on politics, the economy and the overall state of the world. The vocal duo of Jason Netherton and Mark Kloppel is punishing and drummer Adam Jarvis has skills many can only dream of. They release record after bludgeoning record that are absolutely brilliant from start to finish.
Rotting Christ is one of black metal’s best bands right now. Period. Their live shows are legendary, and after 13 LPs they only seem to keep getting better. Of course, don’t tell this to Dave Mustaine who refuses to play with the band given Dave’s (literally) holier-than-thou religious beliefs.
“The Fifth Illusion” is one of the genre’s very best compositions.
One of the hardest working bands in all of metal. Goatwhore is always on tour, always great to their fans and always giving it all they got. There are no duds whatsoever in their entire catalog and guitarist Sammy Duet is one of the very best there is. These guys should be playing arenas.
Nervosa just released one of the best records of 2021 and still they haven’t seem to caught on with the masses. Guitarist Prika Amaral is so damn talented and does just so much with her signature sound.
Helheim is perhaps Bergen Norway’s best kept secret. Active since 1992 and with a discography of 14 records, this foursome has brought a number of new sounds and dimensions to black metal while invoking a wealth of Norse history in their art. Breathtaking videos and ultra-tight live shows haven’t been quite enough to help them break through.
Puerto Rico’s Dantesco has some riffs that are right up there with Sabbath and Cathedral. It’s doomy, thick and heavy. At the center of it all was the larger than life Erico “La Bestia” Morales who’s powerful vocal delivery and presence was legendary. Sadly, La Bestia past away in 2021, but his importance to the Puerto Rican metal scene will never be forgotten. More folks on the mainland need to give Dantesco a listen. Here’s a great documentary from metal scholar Nelson Varas-Diaz that features some amazing Dantesco footage.
Canada’s greatest doom metal band that full-throatedly delved into the darkness of depression and adversity. Blessed with a voice that so closely resembles that of Peter Steele, main man David Gold was taken way too soon from us in a tragic auto accident back in 2011, cutting short what could have been a legendary career.
This band really seems to have it all. Solid vocals, great musicianship and killer riffs. These expert purveyors of blackened thrash seem to always be overshadowed by other Swedish bands, but there’s no doubt that Witchery has been crushing it since the late 90’s.
Incorporating elements of goth, death and black metal, Sweden’s Tribulation is varied and diverse. Abrasive when they need to be yet strangely alluring at the very next breath, Tribulation is respected by many of their peers. For some reason, however, especially in North America, they keep flying under the radar. One of the best bands I’ve ever seen perform live, this Swedish foursome deserves all their critical praise and then some.
Sometimes avant-garde, sometimes proggy but always entertaining, Norway’s Vulture Industries are quirky and entirely unique. Known as master musicians in their native Western Norway, this band relies on varied songwriting and a closeness to their audience to really engage their listeners. Perhaps too dark for some, or maybe because they aren’t easily categorized, these vultures seem to fly under the radar.
Similar to Vulture Industries, the difficulty in categorizing Into Another seems to have worked to their disadvantage. An amalgam that was originally comprised of two New York Hardcore legends (Richie Birkenhead from Underdog and Drew Thomas from Bold), one thrash bassist (Tony Bono of Whiplash) and guitar extraordinaire Peter Moses, this band put out some of the very best music in the 90’s. They almost had their big break when they signed to Hollywood Records, but sadly Hollywood had no idea what to do with them.
Don’t let the name fool you, this band has nothing to do with country music. Ridiculous riffs and even more ridiculous harmonies, this band never got the fame they once seemed destined for. Extremely tight in the live performances, with entertainingly unique song structures and quirky lyrics (with the personalities to match), Galactic Cowboys has a rather extensive catalog that is progressive yet accessible.