Without a doubt, the greatest debate in heavy metal history is arguing who the genre’s heaviest bands are. One person will say it’s X band, and then someone else will chime in, call that person names, and then say “No it’s really Y band.”
So to put everyone at ease, we wrote up a feature and confirmed who are the 10 heaviest metal bands of all time.
These are the 10 acts that not only create incredibly awesome tunes but exude such sonic intensity that, for the sake of your health, you better be wearing earplugs if you were to attend their shows.
Meshuggah’s music is controlled chaos; through brilliant songwriting, the band has constructed a plethora of compositions that not only display technical finesse but will light your adrenaline on fire. Meshuggah’s instrumentation is that of calculated, consistent pounding and clashing to the point where they basically birthed an entire genre from their heaviness. The metallic, industrial tone of their music not only stirs up an intense atmosphere, but it’s also flat-out crushing.
Among the bands on this list, Primitive Man may be the most horrifying in sound. The band’s blend of noise, sludge, and doom comes together for an experience that the casual metalhead may find to be repulsive – and that’s good. Primitive Man wants you to be repulsed. Over the course of a given song, the band work to present a consistent, gnawing air of dread-inducing drones that will not only create noxious nausea but will also push your eardrums to their limits.
The blistering deathgrind of Full of Hell is as captivating as it is abrasive. Though some of their songs make for slow burns of sonic horror, the band is primarily known for devastatingly fast instrumentation and vocal performances that are the equivalent of a hundred nails being scratched against a chalkboard. Every song the band creates is a gripping experience of all-out madness, making Full of Hell one of the most thrilling bands performing today.
Among this list, and in metal as a whole, Sanguisugabogg is the new kid on the block; however, within their relatively short career thus far, they have profoundly proven themselves. Their previous releases make for exciting death metal without a doubt, but 2023’s Homicidal Ecstasy… holy shit. If you somehow have not checked out that record yet, you are missing out on a truly brutal experience that is overwhelming with slamming death metal. The instrumentation and vocal performances on this record are MASSIVE sounding. When it comes to the new wave of young artists bringing back the old-school death metal sound, Sanguisugabogg stands out big time.
When it comes to ecstatic and over-the-top metalcore, Converge remains the king of the genre. There is a ferocious and savage flow to the band’s music; intense, harsh-sounding instrumentation flies forth, offering tonal and tempo whiplash throughout. Sort of combining the braininess of Meshuggah and the chaos of Full of Hell, Converge offer their listeners a brilliant form of abrasive music that is both intellectually fascinating and sonically maddening.
Though no longer active, the death-doom of Disembowelment is absolutely exhilarating. Picture yourself in a factory space where machines are going off left and right, and the sound of buzzing saws fills the air… that’s the music of Disembowelment. They were an absolutely awesome band technically and creatively, and it’s a shame they are no longer making albums today.
If you have ever thought to yourself, “You know, I just want something that will ruin my hearing,” then Swans is for you. Without a doubt, this band has proven to be one of the most abrasive-sounding acts in all of music. The utterly harsh, even painful levels of intense noise Swans unleash is next-level brutality. A Swans show back in the day without earplugs was a one-way ticket to seriously damaging your eardrums.
When not rocking out some seriously heavy sludge, Boris delivers intense noise. As one of the most creative bands working today, Boris has found a plethora of unique ways to deliver captivating and intense noise rock to their audience. Sometimes their music is harsh, sometimes it’s psychedelic, and sometimes it’s both of these qualities – but always, the intense droning compositions of Boris are captivating.
Easily the masters of drone. For many noise and drone artists, Sunn O))) is their gateway band. Blending black and doom metal alongside ambient music and noise, Sunn offers compositions that are fascinatingly deep; the band’s approach to songwriting allows them to create tracks that are immersive and surreal. Through their heavy use of drones, listeners experience sonic environments that exude a sincerely haunting essence.
The doom, sludge, and noise of Body Void are deeply unnerving; harsh drones and pounding bass will flood your eardrums and overwhelm your senses. The band’s music packs tremendous rage, whether that is through the devastatingly heavy instrumentation or the emotional delivery of the lyrics (backed by some intense screeching and shouts). Body Void is incredibly talented, and with each new release of theirs, they continue to build upon their iconic and ear-deafening brand of dread.