Stereotypically, dancing and metal do not go well together. When one pictures a young metalhead, they’re often standing at the edge of the dance floor wondering if the DJ is going to honor their request for Exhumed (there’s even a meme of it). This is because dancing is often related to being hip or cool or traditionally sexy, and metal often stands in the face of that, because people who are hip or cool or traditionally sexy usually listen to bad music and act like dickheads. Moshing is the closest thing we get, and that’s really more about bone-shaking impact than the rhythm being a dancer.
That said, not every metal album is all headbanging and sneering. There are a handful of metal bands and records that seem tailor-made for shaking one’s hips, booty, and groove thing. So because summertime brings out the goofy wedding guest in us, we decided to list the ten metal albums that get us readiest to dance. Here’s what put the bomp in our bomp-bah-bomp-bah-bomps…
10. Danzig, Danzig II: Lucifuge (1990)
There’s a thin line between dancing and dry-humping in public, and Danzig II: Lucifuge is straddling it in leather pants. The album is, with lack of better words, humid, and has such side-effects as sweaty undulation and pressing one’s beer against one’s neck. The result is a record that the Vatican have always feared, inspiring corporeal sin in the listener, which will no doubt please Danzig immensely. Satan’s gift to strippers the world over.
9. Static-X, Wisconsin Death Trip (1999)
Though ‘evil disco’ never truly caught on, Static-X will always be remembered as the band who did their damnedest to get metal kids on the dance floor. Wisconsin Death Trip certainly packs a lot of acid and chainsaws with its blistering riffs, but the band’s coupling of that serrated edge with driving 4/4 rhythms made them perfect for breaking it down midway through the metal concert. That so few other bands saw the potential of rave-flavored metal is a little silly, but Wayne the Electric Toothbush knew what was up. Push it real good.
8. Clutch, Blast Tyrant (2004)
Maryland’s Clutch have always poured lots of boogie onto their spring-heeled stoner metal, and on Blast Tyrant they added the perfect amount of danceability. Tracks like “Cypress Grove,” “Promoter (of Earthbound Causes).” and the funked-out “Worm Drink” make this a record that zaps asses out of their seats. At the same time, though Clutch often err on the side of hard rock over metal, this album sees them going all-in on big riffs, dark themes, and a sense of in-your-face kinetics. Let’s groove tonight.
7. Fear Factory, Obsolete (1998)
If Fear Factory had tired to write Obsolete with traditional death metal rhythms, it wouldn’t be nearly as heavy. The record’s raw power comes specifically from its steady, throbbing beat throughout. Opener “Shock” and the punishing “Edgecrusher” are obvious metal club anthems, but let’s not forget the buoyant “Descent” and the upbeat “Resurrection” later on in the tracklisting. A dark, powerful album that sounds especially excellent while coming up on Molly.
6. BABYMETAL, Metal Galaxy (2019)
Metal Galaxy’s danceability is everything that’s awesome about BABYMETAL — and everything that pisses off metalheads about them. Poppy, sweeping, and loaded with thousand-megaton drops, this record is the proof that you can write a chainsaw-guitared record that still makes a crowd jump in unison. Sure, it’s total sonic overkill, but even Lemmy would’ve approved of elaborate techno metal if it got a room of young people rubbing up against one another. There’s a reason over-the-top anime uses songs like this for its theme music.
5. Motörhead, No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith (1981)
More than anything, Motörhead’s infamous 1981 live album does what live albums dream of: it takes your there. Put on No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith and you’ll feel instantly transported to some beer-slick UK club in ‘81, with young Lemmy barking concrete platitudes between sips of Jack. Even if the band’s speed-blues didn’t make you want to bop around a room, the unbridled sense of public excitement this record gives off will do the trick. Dance like you don’t wanna live forever.
4. Corrosion of Conformity, Deliverance (1994)
It can be easy to think of “dance metal” as belonging solely to techno-oriented bands, but Corrosion of Conformity‘s Deliverance is a reminder that you can still shake your tailfeather to some good ol’ bluesy rock music. Tracks like “Heaven’s Not Overflowing,” “Clean My Wounds,” and the massive title track have big, swinging asses on them that always keep the rhythm. This one might be more sawdust-floored dive than downtown club, but it’ll still get your feet itching like crazy.
3. Disturbed, The Sickness (2000)
For some metal bands, making dance music is a pointed effort; on The Sickness, Disturbed seem to do it without even trying. None of the songs on the album are meant to be dance tracks — this is definitely a nu-metal album through and through — yet the riffs are so bouncy, and the rhythms so steady, that it’s hard to listen to it and not want to move your body. It’s hard to imagine this band performing a track like “Down With The Sickness” without a room of people moving along with it.
2. Rob Zombie, Hellbilly Deluxe (1998)
It’s telling when an album gets a remix record made out of it — and the original is still more danceable. Being able to hump the air to its songs was always part of Hellbilly Deluxe’s appeal, and indeed Rob Zombie’s whole MO. The fastest track on this record moves at a solid techno pace, while the more sinuous cuts explode with a grody sexuality that shake the ass all their own (is any track more stripperfific than “Living Dead Girl?”). A morbid body-mover if there ever was one.
1. Rammstein, Sehnsucht (1997)
If you’re surprised that this album is #1, then you aren’t dancing hard enough. Sehnsucht saw Rammstein bring danceable metal to the masses, proving that riffs bigger than God can make even the most misanthropic of hips shake like crazy. Whether it’s the frantic pump of the title track, the jangling bop of “Tier,” or the cinematic throb of “Alter Mann,” this record brings one track after another that’ll turn any club into the Zion scene from the second Matrix movie. If you can’t trust the Germans to get you bouncing on the balls of your feet, who can you trust?
Words by Chris Krovatin