Before you get started on reading this one, scroll down and start listening to the embedded Spotify Playlist that accompanies this article! Ok, you ready? Ok. Here we go!
Not too long ago, http://www.vh1.com (yes, that’s a real thing) released a list of the 15 Metal Bands You Should Be Listening to in 2015. Yeah. My thoughts exactly. The network that brought you very little worthwhile metal comes up with a list of metal bands that YOU should be listening to in 2015. The last time I checked, no real, reputable metal fan would even think of going to VH1 to find out what metal they should be listening to. Maybe some of them will stupidly watch That Metal Show or watch some of the awesome Sam Dunn stuff but for music? Vh1? Really? Hell, I’m not even going to give them the benefit of posting their list but trust me when I say that their list read like a roll of used toilet paper.
Anyways, I know that everybody has their opinions as to what bands you “should” be listening to. One of the things that I love so much about running this site is that I have the opportunity to share some bands with readers that they probably wouldn’t hear about on the more commercial websites or blogs. It always makes my fucking day when someone tells me that they discovered a new favorite band because of this site. That right there makes it all worthwhile to me.
As you can imagine, for someone like me, picking ONLY 15 bands was impossible as I feel that I could’ve made this list 30 bands you should be listening to but in the face of challenge, I whittled it down to 15 (sorry if I left your band off the list but ya know I love ya.) If you’ve been reading this site for a while, very few of these bands will really come as a surprise. For those that are new here, you are about to read what I consider to pretty much be the cream of the crop of metal these days. I hope you will maybe find one, two, three, or more new favorite bands because of this list. Well, without further ado, here are 15 Metal Bands I feel like you should be listening to this year… and every year!
1 – Jess and the Ancient Ones
Finland’s Jess and the Ancient Ones is a band that literally came out of nowhere and very quickly solidified themselves in the top tier of my favorite bands. Jess and the Ancient Ones have a sound that is so unique yet so familiar. This band has managed to create a cohesive blend of psychedelic 60’s rock, elements of metal and surf guitar to create a sound that is, well, Jess and the Ancient Ones. I had the opportunity to see them support King Diamond I was so blown away by the musicianship and mystical vibe that they put out. Live they just bring it on so many levels and it’s a really moving experience to see and hear. In my opinion, JATAO are riding high as the reigning kings (and queen) of occult rock right now. The band is currently putting the finishing touches on the follow up to their mind blowing Astral Sabbat EP hopefully to be released this year.
2 – Brave
This Virginia based sextet is a band that has very sadly been lost in the cracks of the metal world. Some metal fans might find them not metal enough while some prog fans might consider them not prog enough while fans of hard rock music might say they’re too heavy and progressive. Well, that’s just tough shit because while this may be true, Brave is a band that is nothing but fantastically awesome. I love the fact that Brave covers all of the bases of prog, metal, and hard rock while throwing in a bit of Celtic inspired melody that creates a sound all their own. In a time where bands seem to lack versatility, it’s so refreshing to hear a band not afraid to combine all of their influences in one band. This is why I love Brave so much and never tire of them as they have something for all of my moods.
3 – Lucifer
From the ashes of the stellar occult metal band The Oath comes Lucifer. Singer/songwriter Johnna Sadonis has once again enlisted the powerhouse groove of former The Oath/Angel Witch drummer Andrew Prestidge and along with former Ladytron bassist Dino Gollnick have created something really fucking special. Instead of sounding like a continuation of The Oath, Lucifer sounds more like a whole new book of its own as it writes an all new chapter to the occult metal encyclopedia. Where The Oath seemed to have almost a more NWOBHM influence, Lucifer seems to pull more from the early doom laden groove of bands like Black Sabbath and Pentagram. Lucifer band released its debut 7” single “Anubis” earlier this year and along with the b-side “Morning Star” delivered a tease that without a doubt had me wanting more. This single has me very excited to see what we will get from Lucifer’s full length debut album which is due in June of this year.
4 – Venom
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Brainfart. Why is Venom a band to look out for in 2015? Aren’t they old?” Well, the first answer to that question is because Venom has released their latest album From the Very Depths and its hands down the best fucking record they’ve put out since At War with Satan. The answer to that 2nd question is SHUT THE FUCK UP! Venom isn’t old. They are fucking legends and with this new album proved that they can still do it and fucking do it every bit as good if not better than the bands that have been inspired by them. Venom really fucking nailed it with this album and I cannot wait for a North American tour. Venom just proves that, much like with Maiden, the veterans just do it better. Sit up kids and fucking learn something from the masters.
5 – Father Sky
This Austin four piece released their sonic, fuzz fury EP Tower Heist this year and the minute I heard it my face was melted clean off. This style of music seems to be having a renaissance of sorts which means there are a plethora of bands doing it. This also means that one has to weed out the insincere ones; the ones who you can tell are just riding the wave of popularity. Father Sky is one of those bands you can just tell loves this kind of music and has a pure, unfiltered passion for playing. Tower Heist has me calling myself a Father Sky fan without a doubt and also has me looking forward to just what lies ahead for this band.
6 – Black Star Riders
When Scott Gorham decided to put together his own lineup of musicians as Thin Lizzy to pay tribute to the life and legacy of Phil Lynott, shit hit the fan. Some fans were outraged, some fans were ecstatic but regardless of how you felt, Gorham was bringing the music of Thin Lizzy to a whole new audience of people that wouldn’t’ get to hear it live. Well, it would’ve been easier for them to just keep up as Thin Lizzy but they chose to be a band of their own so they became Black Star Riders. Black Star Riders continues to keep the spirit of Thin Lizzy alive but by doing so with their own material that I feel stands strong on its own. In 2015 BSR released The Killer Instinct which I feel is not just their strongest release but one of the best albums I have heard this year. This band is one to keep an eye out for and if you get a chance to catch them, you won’t be disappointed as they tip their hats to the Thin Lizzy classics while kicking ass with their own songs as well.
7 – Axel Rudi Pell
Axel Rudi Pell is one of those guys that you probably have never heard of but the minute you hear his stuff you’ll feel like you’ve heard him all your life. As a member of the legendary Steeler, ARP laid the foundation as a member of a band that would go on to inspired many others but it’s his vast solo career that I find to be one of the best kept secrets in metal. Alongside longtime singer (and former Hardline vocalist) Johnny Gioelli, ARP has put out some of my all time favorite metal releases. It’s a sound that is so easy to grasp onto as it’s pure, classic metal in its rawest form with a vocalist that can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand at full attention. In 2015, ARP released Magic Moments: 25th Anniversary Special Show which featured former band mates joining ARP for songs spanning this unsung guitar hero’s vast career. If you aren’t listening to ARP at this point, you should be.
Saturn broke away from the pack of Swedish stoner/psychedelic hard rock (which I adore) and cast their own mold with a brand of music that they coined as “HEAVY METAL SPACE ROCK.” I couldn’t think of a better tag for this amazing band that beckons back to the sound and attitude NWOBHM bands of old. Their debut album Ascending (Live in Space) is a juggernaut of an album that sounds like it very well could’ve been recorded back in 1980 in some dingy studio somewhere in England. Saturn was one of the most exciting bands I heard last year and their debut album really has me excited for what the future holds for not just the band but for anyone who was blown away by them as much as I was. This is without a doubt a band to be watching out for. If they hit it this hard with their debut, I can only imagine what greatness this band will be bringing to the masses.
9 – Graveyard
In my opinion, nobody (except for Iron Maiden) is doing it better than Graveyard. In my opinion, Graveyard is the reigning kings of the Swedish hard rock/metal movement. With just three albums under their belt, Graveyard already sounds like a timeless band that has been doing this for 20 years or so. Each passing album showed significant growth as they put out some of the best written material the genre has ever seen. Graveyard managed to take the influences of bands such as Fleetwood Mac (Peter Greene era) and Black Sabbath and mold them into their very own and very distinct sound. Graveyard is hitting the road in 2015 as a support act on the Clutch/Mastodon tour (they will reign supreme on this one) and there is also a handful of headline dates in-between on off dates. The band is also putting the finishing touches on the follow up to their stellar Lights Out album that is due out sometime in the fall.
10 – Purson
Purson is hands down one of the most versatile hard rock bands that I’ve heard in a long fucking time. This London based quintet is lead by guitarist/singer/songwriter Rosalie Cunningham and with just one album and an EP under their belts they have really blown me away with the quality of writing and performance. Their 2014 EP In the Meantime was one of the most sadly overlooked releases of the year (yes, even by me) but like I always say, “Better late than never.” Purson can switch gears from groovetastic psychedelic infused occult rock to Deep Purple inspired jams only to turn corner into beautifully played acoustic realms ala the song “Death’s Kiss.” This year Purson will be releasing their next full length album Desire’s Magic Theater and I can only imagine that this will be yet another exciting release that will show the many faces that this super talented bands is capable of wearing.
11 – Vindicator
Why am I telling you that Vindicator is a band you need to be listening to? Well, maybe that’s because if I don’t tell you to fucking do so, nobody else will which is a crying fucking shame. This Ohio based quartet has been playing the metal game for over 10 years and the fact that they have flown this far below the radar is really sad. Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Vic Stown has been leading Vindicator from the very beginning writing songs that are well constructed, intelligent, and at times even humorous. With anthem songs like “Bastards of Noise and Aggression” and the politically charged “Hail to the Thief,” Vindicator proved to me that they were without a doubt one of the most important yet overlooked metal bands of the last decade. Vindicator has put out some of the highest quality metal that I feel can not only compare but at times reside on the same level as the very bands that inspired them. Vindicator is a band that you must be listening to if for anything just at least acknowledge the greatness of their contribution to heavy metal. Vindicator may not be a massive touring band or a band that you see on all the trendy metal sites but trust me; this is a band that once you hear them you’ll wonder how you went this long without knowing and loving them.
12 – The Heavy Eyes
Straight out of Memphis comes this facemelting trio delivering their own brand of psychedelic blues rock that sounds both timeless and surprisingly modern at the same time. The Heavy Eyes put out one of my favorite albums of 2011 yet managed to completely fly under my radar while putting out their amazing follow up album Maera in 2012. I totally didn’t even realize that they had put out a follow until last year and was so blown away by what I heard. Their song “These Men Are Wolves” is hands down one of the best fucking songs I’ve heard and Maera as a whole was a stellar album. It’s not your typical southern sludge but its psychedelic hard rock with just enough drawl and swagger to show its deep rooted southern, Delta influence. The Heavy Eyes has an album in the can for what I hope will be a 2015 release. These boys are doing something really special and still flying under the radar of way too many people. Put them on yours and you’ll be glad you did.
13 – Holy Grail
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already pretty much know about the masterful awesomeness that is Holy Grail. If not, well then, consider yourself really fucking lucky that you’re hearing about them right now. From the ashes of the original White Wizzard line up (High Speed GTO) raised a phoenix called Sorcerer who would eventually change their moniker to Holy Grail. Holy Grail’s last release, 2013’s Ride the Void, was an epic metal juggernaut that caught the attention of some of the most legendary metal bands landing them opening slots with Exodus, Anthrax, and Blind Guardian just to name a few. Holy Grail is the real deal pulling from all facets of metal such as thrash, shred, and even a healthy dose of NWOBHM that solidified them as a band making a serious mark on the face of metal. These guys are the real fucking deal and they are one of the most exciting bands I’ve seen in years. Live they really know how to captivate an audience and seeing them live is akin to seeing Maiden at Ruskin Arms back in 1979. Holy Grail is putting the finishing touches on their new album as we speak and I can only hope that we’ll see it by year’s end.
14 – Kyng
What can I say about Kyng? Since first laying ears on them back in 2011, Kyng has been residing in my top tier of favorite bands. This LA based trio has been roaddogging it hard since the release of their debut album and has grown into this powerful force that knows no boundaries. With influences ranging from Black Sabbath to Alice In Chains with and all else in between, Kyng is just a big fucking goulash of nearly all of my favorite bands. Their 2014 album Burn The Serum showed just how much a band can grow both musically and lyrically in just 3 years of hardcore touring and ended up being one of my top albums of 2014. Kyng’s live performances are so much fun and the band is absolutely electrifying on stage as they give 110% every time. Kyng is currently writing for their follow up album so while you wait, go and get their previous releases and get caught up.
15 – Sabaton
Swedish metal masters Sabaton just may be one of the single greatest live bands out on the road today. If you’ve seen Sabaton live you can attest to this and if you haven’t then just watch any of their live DVDs/videos and you’ll see just what I’m talking about. Sabaton totally graduated from the Iron Maiden Academy of Kick Ass Fucking Metal Bands with honors and just over the past 5 years or so have grown into this live juggernaut that just kills from the first song to the very last. Just when you think a band is giving you everything they have, you see a Sabaton show and suddenly feel short changed by every other band you’ve seen (sans Maiden of course). In 2014, Sabaton released their best album to date, Heroes, and hit the road performing some of their biggest shows to date across Europe and growing by leaps and bounds here in the US. If the metal masters ever had any concerns as to what bands could carry the torch for them when they are gone, they can rest easy knowing that Sabaton will hold that torch high and proud leading the pack.