America: love it or leave it — though if you’re a metalhead and you leave it, we kind of get it. The U.S. of A.’s influence on heavy music is undeniable, but in the modern day, the nation is a contender alongside several other countries throughout the world in terms of sheer dedication to metal. If you live and die by the riff, and would rather dwell in Helsinki or Tokyo than Newark, we’re not going to judge you.
That said, there are a number of metal bands throughout the world who we feel deserve honorary American citizenship. Whether it’s due to how much they shaped the American metal scene, or how their sound cribs from the States’ metallic traditions, these bands feel American even if they hail from as far away as possible. So in celebration of the 4th of July this weekend, we’ve listed the acts who we think can pull off the stars and stripes any day of the week.
Here are 10 non-American bands whose Devil’s music is right at home in God’s country…
It’s sort of astounding how much Arch Enemy influenced American metal culture, even though they’re Swedish and Canadian. That war-torn exposed-tatters clothing and look? They brought it. The hard-candy melodeath with bitchin’ NWOBHM moments? They did it. Pulling Euro fest moves like waving a flag onstage at Ozzfest? Yeah, that was them. At this point, so much of what one expects from an American metal musician is informed by Arch Enemy that they can enter this country whenever and however they like. No gods, no visas.
I think we can all agree this is pretty obvious. Sepultura’s mixture of thrash, groove metal, and proto-nu-metal (wow, writing that term tasted bad) is so much of what American metal bands based their sounds and identities off of from the mid-’90s onward. Not only that, but their sweaty, hard-hitting approach brings a certain monster-truck-ralliness that lies at the heart of American metal. Those tanks could be on any streets — even Cleveland.
With Kataklysm, it all boils down to one and a half words: tank-tops. The Canadian death metallers’ music always comes with an outdoor-festival grind that has a distinct place in the U.S. metal scene. Somehow, they’ve managed to stay entirely true to the oath even as their music is the perfect soundtrack to getting swole at the gym. These neighbors to the north can come on down and wreck our stages any day of the week.
Church of Misery
Thick, crusty stoner doom about serial killers? Sounds like it came straight out of the swamps of NOLA — but nope, Church of Misery hail from Tokyo. That said, CoM’s gnarly sound displays just how much both Japan and America appreciate goddamn overkill — the band really don’t pull any punches, going all-in on the ugliness of the human soul. These dudes would’ve been perfect tour mates for Charles Starkweather.
Write all the songs about the Swedish Royal Guard you want, Sabaton, but deep down you know that Muscles Mohawk has the heart of a ‘Murican. Your countless songs about the specific details of specific battles in specific wars feel tailor-made for the Guns & Ammo crowd, while your anthems to sticking it to the fucking Nazis are the stuff of American military dreams. Sure, you’re the epitome of Wacken metal, but we know deep down that you long to headline a fairground in Cedar Rapids or Missoula. Primo Victoria, motherfucker!
On paper, Parkway Drive might not seem all that American, what with being a progressive-minded metalcore act whose frontman is an avowed vegan. But it’s the sound that these Australian fist-clenchers have developed over the years that lands them on this list. A track like “The Void” has a chug and smirk to it that feels at home deep in the core of the U.S. of A. That, plus the crew’s road-dog attitude, make them a much-needed protest soundtrack for metalheads across this great nation.
Ancient Greek death metal? Hel-loooo Tucson! Septicflesh may not be an obvious inclusion here, but their music grasps a concept that’s vital to American culture: BIG. No one sounds as huge as this band, whose rolling blastbeats and sweeping strings project a panoramic scale. Most of their songs evoke the image of a cathedral rising from out of the underworld — but let’s be honest, how much scarier would it be if it was a Walmart?
Claiming Gojira for America would be no easy feat. The band’s causes and collective mindset are liberal and progressive in a way that the red, white and blue isn’t exactly known for. More so, they’re French — a country whose history of art and cuisine is fairly at odds with our own heritage (it’s the nation of cheese, guys…and we have American cheese). That said, the band’s swinging juds are so vital to contemporary American metal that they will always have the borders open to them. We’d raise the salary cap for these dudes.
With Lacuna Coil, it’s simple: they really showed up for America. The band have toured slavishly in the States, bringing their all to the stage in every U.S. city that’ll have them. And while plenty of bands tour the U.S. consistently, it’s extra awesome because Lacuna Coil are from fucking Italy, where all of the art and the good food comes from. They could just chill in a sun-drenched piazza eating seafood caught that morning. Instead, there they are, on a Tuesday, blowing the grins off of goth kids in Topeka. These guys might as well be drinking High Life on the hood of a Chevy.
How in the fuck are Aborted going to be from Belgium? A country whose biggest exports are chocolate, waffles, Van Damme and beers that taste like bubblegum? Listen to this band, man — that’s Florida you’re hearing! That’s a humid-ass warehouse half-reclaimed by plants where three teenage gun-owners are drinking 40s of Olde English and checking out a book on anatomy one of them stole from school. These dudes get American citizenship from the album art alone.
Words by Chris Krovatin