Vocalists are often the main focus of a band no matter how good the other members are at their instruments. On the flip side, there wouldn’t be any music to back the singer without instruments, and some bands are doing an incredible job of creating complex and captivating material without any words necessary.
From prog metal to jazz-influenced rock to tech death and more, instrumental bands are just as capable of crafting incredible songs. Take a look below at 10 instrumental bands killing it in the scene right now.
Math-rock act CHON are masters at crafting breezy, soulful tunes with fast, technically complex and innovative riffs. They’ve made their way to the top of the pack of instrumental bands, positioned for success among prog-metal fans due to their ability to expand their skills with each new release.
Animals As Leaders
Animals As Leaders are easily one of the most well-known instrumental metal bands, and for good reason. Their brand of metal-influenced jazz is ear candy for fans of technical guitar work, and their use of eight-string guitars provides extra freedom to come up with interesting soundscapes, unlike any other band.
Scale The Summit
Through a mash of soothing, atmospheric melodies and tight, furious metal sections, Scale The Summit have created a sound that lets them flex their chops while also digging into imaginative ideas. They gained a lot of attention quickly through tours with bands such as Dream Theater and Between The Buried And Me, and despite being six albums deep into their career, they’re still managing to find new avenues to explore.
While less technical than the bands previously mentioned, Russian Circles are a fantastic example of an act who don’t need vocals to take their music to new heights. The post-metal band, who features members of Botch, Sumac, These Arms Are Snakes and more, create massive droning soundscapes that draw you in with sinister atmospheres, making them a perfect match if you’re into bands such as Neurosis or Isis.
With the birth of djent came a slew of new progressive bands, and as acts such as Periphery, Erra, Intervals and more have caught the attention of metalheads, Polyphia got picked up and went viral through playthrough videos of their own tracks. While they fit neatly with the rest of the djent pack, their sound breaks away from the standard elements of progressive metal and includes bits of funk, hip-hop and more.
Blending the sonic noise of post-metal with the raw, gritty sound of doom metal, Pelican are one of the most notable instrumental metal bands to ever exist. Their abrasive take on post-metal has both harsh and soothing moments, drawing out melodies and moments with a slow-building approach that pays off every time they hit their peak.
Countless bands like to claim they don’t write music to match a style or genre but are pretty easily set into a section of similar-sounding bands, but Dysrhythmia are actually hard to classify. Sometimes they come across like a thrash-metal band, other times a death-metal band, but most of all, they build wildly complex, experimental metal that jumps between sounds and moods.
Dark Matter Secret
If you’ve ever found yourself listening to technical death metal but wanted to focus more on the rhythms than the vocals, Russian shredders Dark Matter Secret are here to fill that need. While still fairly fresh-faced with only a debut album under their belt, the band have come to impress right out of the gate with chaotic death-metal grooves and tight shredding that would only be brought down by adding in vocals to distract from the melodies.
Behold… The Arctopus
Bringing in influence from technical death metal, prog metal, black metal and more, Behold… The Arctopus is almost like someone took the vocals away from the first Dillinger Escape Plan album and sped it up a bit. Through jarring polyrhythms, machine-gun tight shredding and blasts of grinding death metal, the band are a spectacle to listen to.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Godspeed You! Black Emperor are easily one of the most influential post-rock bands of all time, and their soothing melodies, off-kilter instrumentation and stunning visuals in their live format make them a band everyone should experience. They’ve earned national music awards in Canada despite their experimental nature and evoke a sense of political displeasure without the need of a vocalist pushing themselves as the face of a movement.