As the old saying goes, if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention. The world around us is a tragedy being acted out by morons, which is why it’s not surprising that so much of the best music is a conduit for being furious. This is especially true of rock, punk, and metal, genres which have always existed with honesty as their core principle. The people who wonder how we can listen to that angry music all the time are, for the most part, the reason we need it.
That said, while plenty of bands come off as upset or salty, there are only a handful of them that sound believably pissed-off. These acts usually don’t have to put in the effort that others do to lay down that true rancor, and they’re often really decent people in their everyday lives because they have an outlet for it. So in honor of these incredible artists giving us an alternative to therapy, we decided to list those bands that we feel have the most genuinely-incensed music out there.
Here are the 15 bands who sound more pissed-off than anyone else…
15. Fuck the Facts
One doesn’t normally associate being unfathomably pissed-off with Canada, but Fuck the Facts are proof that it ain’t all syrup up north. The Juno-nominated grindcore four-piece manage the difficult task of sounding perpetually angry even while writing some wonderfully listenable riffs. While last year’s Pleine Noirceur brought a bit more groove to the mix, 2015’s explosive Desire Will Rot epitomizes just how uneasy and hostile the band can be. Talk about an act who earned the vulgarity in their name.
Unlike a lot of the bands on this list, punk legends Fear don’t necessarily have the most brutal distortion or lyrics about murder. But the adrenaline-junkie bellows of frontman Lee Ving and the band’s driving, disharmonious guitar work make them tangibly angry. And unlike so many classic punk bands, who sounded furious because they were smart and observant, Fear just sound like they need something else to hold onto, lest they fly into a frenzy. Why not have a war?
13. Dying Fetus
Historically, Dying Fetus are best remembered for how their big swingin’ riffs inspired the slam and deathcore scenes. But listening to their music proves that you don’t need to go fast and noisy all the time to sound totally enraged. Even the grooviest passages of the Maryland bvand’s gut-punching death metal lined with saltiness and contempt. The empty spaces can hold scorn and acid if you look for them hard enough.
It’s funny how Vein.fm are consistently hailed as nu-metal revivalists, when their strength lies in the exact place where nu-metal failed. That genre so often played at being angry or broken, while these guys genuinely sound as crushed as they let on. 2018’s throttling Errorzone is supremely pissed and miserable, but never seems to force that point, only express it. Bands like Adema and Crazy Town would’ve shit themselves around this band if they’d existed in the early 2000s.
Black metal is full of acts that claim to hate all of mankind, but Satyricon’s guitar tone and attitude suggest that they’re really all about it. The band reject lushness and symphonic elements, instead going all in on stark, stomping, razor-edged darkness. The result is a catalog that still revels in cavernous blackness, but does so with such so harsh a sound that it comes off as perfectly humorless. One of the genre’s acts that deserve more recognition for their bile.
10. Lamb of God
While they’re easily the most mainstream act on this list, Lamb of God have worked hard to earn their spot on it. Despite the catchiness of their grooves, the band bring a believable rancor to the mix on every single song; even their most singalong choruses drip with a desire to lash out at something. So much of that comes from frontman Randy Blythe, who acts as an emotional space heater that emanates discontent and fury everywhere he goes. Come for the chocolate, stay for the ghost pepper.
9. Lingua Ignota
Listening to last year’s SINNER GET READY, one imagines Lingua Ignota is pissed off the way a religious zealot is pissed off. The wrath isn’t acknowledged or healthy, but instead pushed through a series of psychological veils, until it comes spilling out unconsciously. In this way, Kristin Hayter sounds more believable in her ire than many of her peers – she isn’t playing at these emotions, and if she could choose, she probably wouldn’t have them in the first place. Terrifying in its mania.
8. Iron Monkey
One doesn’t normally think of the UK when looking for good sludge, but maybe that’s what made Iron Monkey sound so damn furious. The Nottingham crew’s music went slow and heavy, but traded the genre’s southern chill for an agitated rage that hit home harder than most. This is perhaps most audible on 1998’s Our Problem, whose cover art is an accurate depiction of the how the record makes you feel. Go apeshit.
7. All Pigs Must Die
On every song from every one of their albums, All Pigs Must Die sound like they’re having a breakdown. The band’s descending-ax riffs, sprinting rhythms, and frontman Kevin Baker’s vocals all feel apocalyptic on both a global and a personal level. This sense of very real fury is what instantly vaulted these dudes from underground supergroup to underground mainstay; that their line-up includes Converge’s Ben Koller only adds a sterling pedigree to the lancing of this psychological boil. While it’s not music for all the time, when you need that APMD, nothing else will do.
6. Strapping Young Lad
So much of Devin Townsend’s music is so elaborate and technical that it only made sense for him to start a band primarily to vent his spleen. Of course, Strapping Young Lad remain elaborate and technical, but the cyber-thrash act is always about disdain and ferocity first and foremost. Even on the band’s more hopeful moments, like 1997’s “All Hail The New Flesh” or 2003’s “Force Fed,” there’s an understanding that growth will only come from complete and total destruction. Beautiful music for when you’re seething – just don’t try to headbang to it, you’ll hurt yourself.
5. Carpathian Forest
Though Carpathian Forest’s name implies shadowy, atmospheric vampire metal, the band instead bring the boiling pitch of pure hatred with perfect consistency. If Nattefrost’s sneering howls and shrieks about having to live alongside idiots and assholes doesn’t get you, the band’s bone-grinding riffs certainly will. Even the cover of 2006’s Fuck You All looks like it was made to anger people, with its insectoid mess bisected by a giant cock. The soundtrack to your fantasies of decimating the world’s population using only your mind.
4. Brutal Truth
There’s something powerfully street-level about Brutal Truth’s unfathomable emotional violence. The New York grindcore act never sound larger than life or reaching for the stars, but instead seem focused on the concrete feelings of actually human beings. As such, there’s a liberating beauty to just how ferocious they sound; it reminds the listener that they, an average human being, can also be so angry they might burst into flames. Frontman Kevin Sharp might look like he’s gonna pour you a smooth whiskey, but when he gets onstage the dude is all battery acid.
Even we’ll admit, ‘pissed-off’ doesn’t really cut it for Portal. The Australian extreme metal act are upset the way the Lovecraftian gods must be upset when they watch humanity traipsing about their former vacation home. That cosmic level of disgust and resentment comes through gloriously in their music, which is as much a ritualistic dirge as it is an outcry against all light, life, and love. The human heart contains endless levels of hatred, but these guys sound like they’ve discovered the putrid stuff that lies in the lowest possible one.
2. Pig Destroyer
The old phrase “all elbows and knees” comes to mind when listening to Pig Destroyer – not that they’re scrawny, but that they seem made by the universe to shatter your eye socket with a hammer blow. On every album, the grindcore groundbreakers give fans songs that sound like they wish they could mutilate the entire world. Even 2018’s Head Cage, unquestionably one of their most traditionally metal releases, has the bedside manner of a bear trap and twice the teeth. In a world where so many bands posture as outraged, it’s comforting to watch one act pour out their poison for real.
1. Black Flag
Jesus, we don’t know what the fuck we did to Henry Rollins, but we’re sorry. That’s the beauty of Black Flag’s music, and why hardcore would not exist without it: it seems to take all of this very personally. From the disassociation of “Spray Paint” to the closed-door menace of “Rat’s Eyes” to the spine-rippling frenzy of “Forever Time,” the band’s music is instantly relatable in the ugliest, most agitative ways possible. They’re the sound of punching mood, where nihilism and bravado meet in a blast of vengeful gut instinct. This is music that’s boiling on a molecular level, angry down to the very bones it fractures while kicking a wall to death.
Words by Chris Krovatin