top 15 metal
[Photos via Spotify]

Metal is a wide-reaching genre with countless incredible new bands popping up constantly. Whether it’s death metal, black metal, prog, doom, sludge or any other subcategory, it can be difficult wading through what’s worth looking into.

Here are 20 of the best newer acts bringing heavy sounds you need to check out.

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1. ASAGRAUM

HQ: Netherlands
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CHECK OUT: “Transformation,” “Leviathan,” “Black Sun Prayer”

If you’re looking for some new music to help you feel closer to Satan, Asagraum have you covered. The band’s drive for classic black-metal styling comes across spectacularly on their debut album, Potestas Magicum Diaboli, with a never-ending stream of blast beats and harsh shrieks coupled by atmospheric guitar riffs. While there’s no doubt that women can pull off this type of music, it’s worth mentioning that the band consist of only women in a genre which seldom sees musicians who aren’t men, let alone the entire band.

2. DAWN RAY’D

HQ: Liverpool, England
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CHECK OUT: “The Abyssal Plain,” “Emptiness Beneath The Great Emptiness,” “Held In A Lunar Synthesis”

Black metal’s history with Nazism and skinheads is deeply rooted, but luckily there’s a pack of bands within the genre fighting against this movement. Dawn Ray’d are one such band, taking their blazing black-metal riffs in a decidedly political direction. Their sound is entrenched in the foundations of black metal but takes a slightly experimental route with no bass guitar present, but rather a violin that cuts through the chaos.

3. ENTHEOS

HQ: Santa Cruz, California
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CHECK OUT: “The World Without Us,” “Pulse Of A New Era,” “Suspended Animation”

Entheos are a prog-metal supergroup of sorts, comprising former members of Animosity, Animals As Leaders, the Faceless and more. The band bring in some interesting jazz influences and manage to create a super-heavy sound without clouding the instruments in distortion while singer Chaney Crabb delivers a heavier vocal style. The synth sounds add an interesting dynamic while the guitar’s odd plucking creates a jarring tone that really make their songs pop off.

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4. THE FIFTH ALLIANCE

HQ: Breda, Netherlands
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CHECK OUT: “Your Abyss,” “Death Poems,” “Dissension”

The Fifth Alliance are a slow-burning band. As a doom-metal project, that shouldn’t be overly surprising. The fact that most of their songs start from a quiet, melancholic place but end in a distorted mess of heaviness is a testament to the power of building momentum in a song. They also draw on elements of hardcore which can be heard in the guitar and vocals, creating a refreshing dynamic for the genre.

5. FRONTIERER

HQ: Scotland, U.K.
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CHECK OUT: “Tumoric,” “Bunsen,” “Glitcher”

Frontierer sound like a train crashing into your skull at maximum speed. The band’s Meshuggah-esque drop-tuned riffs combined with their chaotic technicality and glitchy industrial elements make for a devastating tone. While the band started out as a side project to their more hardcore-leaning band Sectioned, they’ve quickly emerged as a standout among metal fans.

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6. GENOCIDE PACT

HQ: Washington, D.C.
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CHECK OUT: “Conquered And Disposed,” “Pain Reprisal,” “Ascendancy Absolved”

Old-school death metal has been making a major comeback in the past few years, and Genocide Pact are one of the best bands of the bunch. Their raw production style helps build their filthy sound which bounces between ’90s death-metal grooves and lightning-fast bursts of aggression, coupled with burly low-down vocals.

7. INFERNAL COIL

HQ: Boise, Idaho
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CHECK OUT: “Crusher Of The Seed,” “Wounds Never Close,” “Bodies Set In Ashen Death”

No genre quite hits the ears as hard as grindcore, and Infernal Coil’s determination to pummel the senses through their cavernous take on the genre is admirable. The band never aim to be catchy, but rather punish listeners with nonstop violence and rabid riffs. Their lo-fi, raw production style only adds to their dark sound, creating an ominous vibe among the insanity.  

8. MOON TOOTH

HQ: Long Island, New York
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CHECK OUT: “Trust,” “Rhythm & Roar,” “Thumb Spike”

Fans of Mastodon will instantly fall in love with Moon Tooth. The band are like a more psychedelic version of the prog-metal legends but with a heavy-rock punch, bringing in some stoner-metal riffs to their groovy prog madness. Even though clean vocals are plentiful in their music, they have a bite that hits just as hard as their instruments.

9. NECKBEARD DEATHCAMP

HQ: Bordeaux, France
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CHECK OUT: “The Left Are The Real Fascists,” “Incel Warfare,” “Please Respond (I Showed You My Penis)

What started out as a joke project has turned into one of the greatest bands to piss off Nazi-supporting black-metal fans. In case you couldn’t tell from their band name, song titles or online persona, Neckbeard Deathcamp are taunting the way-too-serious, racist side of black metal through harsh, lo-fi tracks that are built to burst eardrums. They may be a joke band, but there’s something endearing about their aggressive, unpolished sound that goes beyond infuriating far-right metal elitists.

10. OOZING WOUND

HQ: Chicago, Illinois
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CHECK OUT: “Tween Shitbag,” “Filth Chisel,” “Deep Space”

It’s becoming increasingly rare for thrash metal bands to create new and exciting sounds beyond what’s already been done before, but Oozing Wound manage to generate something entirely their own. The experimentalists sit weirdly between thrash, noise rock, sludge and other genres while keeping everything tightly knit into a hard metal sound.

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11. OUTER HEAVEN

HQ: Douglassville, Pennsylvania
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CHECK OUT: “Bloodspire,” “Vortex Of Thought,” “Putrid Dwelling”

Death metal comes in so many different styles these days, but no one is doing knuckle-dragging midtempo tracks quite as well as Outer Heaven at the moment. The band’s debut album, Realms Of Eternal Decay, calls to mind Morbid Angel or Vile-era Cannibal Corpse but with a tighter focus on groove rather than speed to exude brutality. They also place horror and sci-fi themes throughout their lyrics with a concept of a bacterial infection causing hallucinogenic cannibals to roam the world driving their debut record.     

12. PRIMITIVE MAN

HQ: Denver, Colorado
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CHECK OUT: “My Will,” “Victim,” “Sugar Hole”

Think metal needs to be purely fast and heavy? Prepare to be sorely mistaken, because Primitive Man are easily one of the heaviest bands to emerge in recent times despite their decelerated approach. The band’s brand of death metal could neatly fit into doom metal if it weren’t for their buzzsaw guitar tones and beefy guttural vocals. A hefty dose of feedback added into every moment of their discography makes it clear they’re here to rattle your consciousness.   

13. SERPENT OF GNOSIS

HQ: Boston, Massachusetts
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CHECK OUT: “The Colorless Capsules,” “Cognitivity,” “Fragile Vessel of Serenity”

While deathcore-turned-death-metal giants Job For A Cowboy have been inactive for the past five years, most of their members have reunited for a new death-grind project, Serpent Of Gnosis. Where JFAC left off delivering prog-leaning death-metal masterpieces, Serpent Of Gnosis step in with fast and short blasts of aggression touching on grindcore and powerviolence with the signature elements of their former band creating a sense of familiarity.

14. SIGNS OF THE SWARM

HQ: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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CHECK OUT: “Cesspool Of Ignorance,” “Lifeless Visitors,” “Final Phase”

Deathcore naysayers have always complained of the genre’s lack of originality and skill, but Signs Of The Swarm throw away the deathcore rulebook and bring in a devastating level of technicality. The band’s sound soars above most in their category by having vocals that push to the lowest depths possible, drums that blaze at a mile a second and guitars that are razor sharp.

15. SPIRIT ADRIFT

HQ: Phoenix, Arizona
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CHECK OUT: “Angel & Abyss,” “Divided By Darkness,” “Born Into Fire”

If you’re familiar with death-metal act Gatecreeper, you should get comfortable with Spirit Adrift. The band’s bassist Chase Mason also fronts the up-and-coming death-metal act, but Spirit Adrift’s sound is closer to Black Sabbath than Deicide. If you’ve been itching for a new straight-forward metal act with a heavier touch than the classic acts, this is a band worth checking out.

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16. SUNROT

HQ: Northern New Jersey
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CHECK OUT: “Gormandize,” “Death’s King,” “Agonal State”

While death metal and black metal seem to be abundant at every juncture, sludge bands are still kicking around their filthy, fuzz-drenched sounds. Sunrot are one of the most fun new bands within the genre right now with a sound that’s like Eyehategod being injected with a dose of drone and noise.  

17. TOMB MOLD

HQ: Toronto, Ontario
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CHECK OUT: “Final Struggle Of Selves,” “Manor Of Infinite Forms,” “Accelerative Phenomenae”

Toronto death dealers Tomb Mold are quickly making a name for themselves through their doomy take on pummeling old-school death metal. The band masterfully mix chugging, brutal grooves with melodic moments entangled in their web of furious death metal. If that isn’t enough to sell you on Tomb Mold, tack on a hefty measure of horror and sci-fi in their lyricism that calls to mind some of the best works of H.P. Lovecraft.

18. VENOM PRISON

HQ: South Wales, U.K.
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CHECK OUT: “Uterine Industrialisation,” “Matriphagy,” “Self Inflicted Violence”

Unfortunately, extreme metal has a history of misogynistic lyricism, but U.K. death-metal act Venom Prison are flipping the genre’s narrative. Vocalist Larissa Stupar has been involved in political protests from a young age and drives her lyrics into issues such as rape culture, forced pregnancy and religion among other things backed by some seriously heavy sounds. Their overall tone is a no-holds-barred assault of vicious grinding death metal with an explosive approach built from razor-sharp riffs.

19. VILE CREATURE

HQ: Hamilton, Ontario
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CHECK OUT: “Circuits, Bending & Breaking,” “Forest, Subsists As A Tomb,” “Harbinger Of Nothing”

Sludgy doom-metal duo Vile Creature tackle issues of oppression through their hazy, feedback-heavy downtempo riffs. Their music is equally as heavy as the topics they write about, taking the genre’s typical death and despair themes into a more political direction driven by their upbringings and involvement in the LGBTQ+ community. The vocals cut through the deafening noise with harsh shrieks that would be right at home with any extreme metal band.  

20. VULVODYNIA

HQ: Durban, South Africa
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CHECK OUT: “Flesh Tailor,” “Psychosadistic Design,” “Mob Justice”

South African slam lords Vulvodynia have some of the burliest sounds going on right now. Their music is jammed with crushing breakdowns, gnarly blast beats and filthy guttural vocals that sound like they came from some sort of swamp monster. Not only is their music ultra brutal, but their album art will make you feel like a kid discovering death metal for the first time all over again with its horrifically graphic imagery.  

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