As the title indicates, this will be a “Best metal band from each U.S. state” listing, with a main band for every state’s entry, plus one or more honorable mentions. In this piece we will be using the term “best” very loosely. Everyone has their own “best band” from certain states, but we have used some metrics that are objective, or at least somewhat objective, to determine the entries on this list. Record sales is one of those metrics, along with chart performance, name recognition, awards and accolades, longevity, influence on the genre or subgenre, and ties to the metal scene. For less populous states, factors such as social media presence, reputation, label affiliation, and amount of press generated needed to be taken into account. For some states, it was a clear-cut decision. Other states required serious debate and research. Metal scenes exist in every state, but for some states, it’s harder to explore it than others. Not going to lie, in a few of these entries there are no honorable mentions. Of course, you the reader, can change my mind with substantive arguments. Multiple references were used when coming up with these entries such as Encyclopedia Metallum, Ranker.com, Billboard.com, Wikipedia (with cross-referencing for accuracy), ToiletOvHell, Noisey, MetalSucks, Metal Injection, and MetalUnderground.com. Certain styles of metal did not revoke a band’s eligibility for an entry, nor the fact of whether a band was currently active or not. The one stipulation is that the band has to originate in said state, and either continue to be based out of that state, or have reasonable ties to that state. In the case of the latter, I will explain further in the entry. Of course I did not do this alone. This article was made in collaboration with my two co-reporters, Anthony and Joe. Let’s dive in.
Somewhat of a younger band formed inside The Heart of Dixie in Birmingham around 2009. Their self-released EPs of progressive metal earned them the attention of Tragic Hero Records. After two albums with them, ERRA went on to sign with Sumerian Records. Their latest two full-lengths, peeked at No. 1 of Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart. They are living proof that Alabama isn’t just home to country, blues, and southern rock. Although if southern-fried metal is your thing, Maylene & The Sons Of Disaster, also from Birmingham, fits the bill. And for fans of more extreme metal, let Moribund Records artist Wormreich from Huntsville pleasure your ears.
Alaska: 36 Crazyfists
Alaska, The Last Frontier, and home to 36 Crazyfists. Before signing to Roadrunner Records, they relocated to Portland, Oregon. However, the Anchorage-born band retains reasonable ties to this state off of the mainland, often described as one of Alaska’s finest exports. They have frequently headlined the Summer Meltdown Festival in Anchorage (not to be confused with the music fest in Washington State) before and after relocating, and even filmed their first live DVD there. Their past four albums have reached the Top Five on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. The music blends various elements of modern metal together. 36 Crazyfists latest studio offering is Lanterns from 2017, which was released on Spinefarm Records.
Arkansas – Pallbearer
Little Rock in The Natural State isn’t simply home to southern styles of music. Make way for Pallbearer, a band rooted in doom metal with influences of progressive rock. Formed in 2008 their demo caught the attention of Profound Lore Records, who would release their first two full-lengths. Their albums have been met with much positivity by publications such as Spin, Pitchfork, NPR, and Decibel. The doom quartet has since moved to Nuclear Blast Records. Their latest album Heartless reached No. 2 on the Vinyl Albums Chart. A little north to Pallbearer’s home base is southern sludge band Rwake.
Arizona – Alice Cooper
He may not be as heavy as his shock rock contemporaries such as GWAR, but this man certainly taught them what they know. Born Vincent Furnier, he went from fronting The Spiders, to splitting with them and carrying on as a solo act after legally changing his name to Alice Cooper. His on-stage antics, ranging from throwing a live chicken into the audience, to faking a beheading by guillotine, complement his music. His heaviness seems to have come and gone throughout the years. In the 80s, the songs off of Trash screamed as much bloody metal as the extreme metal scenes being birthed. 2008’s Along Came A Spider saw a return to this heavy, guitar-driven sound. It’s also worth noting that he and his original band are Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees. Phoenix certainly has a vibrant metal scene in The Grand Canyon State. The state capital had a roaring thrash scene in the 80s fronted by Flotsam And Jetsam and Sacred Reich, and is also the base of Max Cavalera’s projects post-Sepultura.
California – Metallica
The word “Metal” in their name. Nine Grammy awards among their 71 music awards and 112 nominations. Ten No. 1 hits on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Chart. Over one hundred and twenty-five million albums sold worldwide. The third best-selling artist since Soundscan began as a service. Headliner of the Big Four of Thrash Metal. An album that never stops selling. Their own installment of Guitar Hero. Their own festival. The first U.S. metal band to be inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and soon to be the first metal band period, to receive a Polar Music Prize (the music equivalent to a Nobel Prize). These metrics are undeniable whether you like them or not.
Having said all this, California, The Golden State, the most populous state, and heart of the music industry, is filled with too many honorable mentions for this article. Of course we have Metallica’s “Big Four” mates Megadeth (LA) and Slayer (Huntington Park), who are better thrash bands overall with more consistency. Metallica’s thrash days between LA and The Bay Area, are largely due to Megadeth’s front man, Dave Mustaine. The California spirit is embodied most in bands like Suicidal Tendencies (Venice Beach). Many bands integral to the development of their sub-genre are from this state. Avenged Sevenfold (Huntington Beach), Korn (Bakersfield), Deftones (Sacramento), Sleep (San Jose), Motley Crüe (LA), Deafheaven (San Francisco), Suicide Silence (Riverside), System Of A Down (Glendale), all from California. You have the incredibly unique bands like Tool (LA), the rising sounds of the underground from Nails (Oxnard), sensational parody bands like Mac Sabbath (Chatsworth). On and on the list of successful and influential metal bands from California goes, but we must move on.
Colorado – Havok
One of the front-runners of the New Wave of Thrash Metal, hailing from The Centennial State capital. Havok’s Pwn ‘Em All EP was pushed relentlessly until Candlelight Records signed them for an album deal. Their second album Time Is Up achieved global success, earning them a spot for various international metal tours. The latest album, Conformicide, is filled with “1984” imagery. It was released on Century Media Records, and was the first to feature bassist Nick Schendzielos who also plays bass for Cephalic Carnage, a technical deathgrind band from Edgewater. From Colorado Springs, you have Jag Panzer, a pivotal American power metal band.
Connecticut – Hatebreed
Hailing from New Haven in The Constitution state, they are one of the major players to blend metal and hardcore punk. Hatebreed’s career spans almost 25 years with 7 studio albums, two of them reaching No. 2 and No. 1 on Billboard’s Hard Rock Albums chart, and a Grammy nomination. The band also spearheaded a Northeast run of a tour featuring established and up and coming metal and hardcore bands, titled Stillborn fest. The band’s frontman, Jamey Jasta, founded Stillborn Records an independent record label primarily supporting bands of those genres. If you’re into more traditional metal with a progressive edge, Fates Warning from Hartford has you covered.
Delaware – Vinnie Moore
This shredder was born in The First State’s city of New Castle, just a few miles away from fellow Delawarean guitar great George Thorogood. After enough grinding, he caught the ear of Shrapnel Records earning an album deal, and the chance to showcase his abilities in a Pepsi commercial. Since then, he’s had a successful career as a solo musician. He has also helped the band Vicious Rumors kick off, toured and recorded with Alice Cooper, and in 2003 took the role of lead guitarist for UFO. His latest offering, Aerial Visions, was released independently. On this record, he included an interesting virtuoso spin on his cover of ZZ Top’s hit song “La Grange”.
Florida – Death
Besides oranges, The Sunshine State primarily exported Death Metal in the late 80s and early 90s. Every Floridan death metal band had their niche. From Tampa, Deicide focused on blasphemy and anti-christian lyrics the most, Obituary proved that slow metal is just as much of a thrill as fast metal, and Morbid Angel along with Nocturnus had an atmosphere to their music which would influence the second wave of black metal. Miami’s Cynic, before it’s first break-up, incorporated jazz and experimental elements into their death metal. And of course, there’s Death from Altamonte Springs. Death’s debut, Scream Bloody Gore, is considered to be the first death metal record (if you don’t count the first Possessed (CA) record). Their debut album and demos were heavily built on thrash metal. The later albums began to show frontman Chuck Schuldiner’s technical abilities with the guitar. The wave of technical and/or progressive death metal bands can be attributed to those later Death records. Whereas throwbacks to old school death metal can be attributed to Scream Bloody Gore, Leprosy, and Spiritual Healing. Besides death metal, two important power metal bands came out of Tampa. Iced Earth, defined U.S. power metal, while Kamelot took a more European-centric approach. While Brian Werner aka Marilyn Manson comes from Ohio, his band formed in Fort Lauderdale, same hometown of Hellwitch, a distinct blend of thrash and death metal with a level of technicality that progressive metal bands brought to the table.
Georgia – Mastodon
The Peach State, is where sludge metal went to evolve. One of the 00’s greatest debut albums, Remission, came from Atlanta’s Mastodon. Their sophomore album Leviathan, is considered ground-breaking as well. Both of those albums took sludge metal and blended elements of progressive metal, stoner rock, and other forms of experimentation. The quartet is one of few bands to have retained their original line-up after years and years of playing. Their last three albums have charted in the Top Ten in the Billboard 200 chart. They currently have 5 Grammy nominations, with one winning just last January for their song “Sultan’s Curse”. Mastodon continue touring the world and representing Atlanta, as does Royal Thunder. In a similar vein, Black Tusk and Kylesa’s styles of sludge has represented Savannah pretty well. Additionally, Baroness’ progression in their music put Savannah on the map before their move to Pennsylvania. They’re far from shy about their roots in Georgia. Back to Atlanta, Sevendust has achieved much success as an alternative metal band with three Gold records. As far as death metal goes, Dååth from Atlanta have been pretty noticeable with a multitude of influences including gypsy jazz. East of Atlanta, in Athens is home plate for Lazer/Wülf, an instrumental experimental groovy three-piece, that created a palindromic album in 2014.
Hawaii – Hawaii
Before joining Megadeth, even before hooking up with Jason Becker for Cacophony, Marty Friedman formed a band based out of Honolulu. This band originally began as Vixen, then existed under the name Aloha, before settling on the name Hawaii. The bass player, Joey Galisa, can be attributed to the band’s locality to the state, being from Nanakuli. The drummer, Jeff Graves, was the most consistent member besides Marty. Their existence was short-lived, only lasting 3 years and 2 full-length albums. The first album, One Nation Underground, was released on Shrapnel Records as one of the label’s earliest notable releases. One metal project from The Aloha State that is active and making noise is Darkest Path from Kailua. This melodic black/death metal project released it’s first independent full-length in 2014, titled Apostasy of Man.
Idaho – Septic Death
These guys were not a crossover thrash band in the same way bands like D.R.I. and Suicidal Tendencies were. They tended to gravitate more towards the punk side of extreme music. It’s worth noting however, that Boise’s Septic Death had a major impact on the bands Integrity, Napalm Death, and Extreme Noise Terror, and other bands in a similar vein, despite lasting only five years. As far as full-blown metal is concerned, looking further into The Gem State capital gives you Relapse artist Wolvserpent. Somewhat of a polar opposite to this entry, Wolvserpent play Drone/Doom metal with their latest EP clocking in at over 40 minutes for a single track.
Illinois – Disturbed
They initially rode on America’s wave of Nu Metal, but would later fully develop their sound to become one of our countries biggest bands. Their debut album, The Sickness, is one of the most recognizable albums of the 00s, and every album after that has consistently reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Their music has been easily satirized, but their presence and success is unquestionable. They hail from Chicago in The Land Of Lincoln, a city along with it’s surrounding areas, that is producing many metal greats. Sumerian artists Born Of Osiris, Oceano, and Veil Of Maya are all from the Windy City. Profound Lore’s The Atlas Moth and Yakuza, Century Media’s Starkill, Southern Lord’s Pelican, Relapse’s Weekend Nachos, U.S. Doom Metal giants Trouble, all from Chicago. The underground metal scene is kept fresh in the Windy City as well with bands like Nucleus and Cardiac Arrest.
Indiana – The Contortionist
While the cities of The Hoosier State are filled with punk and hardcore, you can still find some quality metal, most notably in the proggressive metal group The Contortionist from Indianapolis. They began as a technical deathcore band but continued to build on the sounds of Between the Buried and Me, Meshuggah, and Textures up to the point where their debut Exoplanet became a prog metal masterpiece. Looking at their latest record Clairvoyant we see such a contrast from their first EP. They’ve often toured with Between The Buried And Me, Periphery, and Toothgrinder, to offer a nice progressive package. Doom Metal trio The Gates Of Slumber, was also from Indianapolis.
Iowa – Slipknot
This is likely the most obvious entry in this listing. In an interview with Sam Dunn (BANGER TV) Slipknot & Stone Sour front man Corey Taylor intimated that there’s nothing to do in a town like Des Moines. That the most fun place to be was a cemetery. And it seems that out of that boredom Slipknot was formed. At the tail-end of the 20th century their self-titled debut was released. The various sounds on the album, considered timeless for nu metal, took the world by storm, as did the live shows which included matching jumpsuits and individual masks and aliases. They’ve been nominated for 10 Grammy Awards with “Before I Forget” (Vol. 3) winning Best Metal Performance. As of 2016, they’ve sold over 40 million records worldwide. Frontman Corey Taylor’s other band Stone Sour, took a more hard rock approach to music, earning 3 Grammy nominations over their career. Final point; All of those churches in The Hawkeye State certainly fueled the fire for Cedar Rapid’s black metal band Satan’s Almighty Penis.
Kansas – Origin
Out of the nothingness of The Sunflower State, was born Origin. More to the point, the band’s most consistent members, Paul Ryan (Guitar) and Mike Flores (Bass), are from Topeka. Both of these guys are known for their use of arpeggios and sweep picking, common in technical death metal. The band has seven earth-shattering albums released between Relapse and Nuclear Blast. On their Entity album, Origin recorded as a trio with Ryan and Flores performing vocal duties. Their current singer is Jason Keyser from New York, formerly of Skinless. If death metal isn’t your thing, and more traditional heavy metal is, you’ve got Manilla Road from Wichita.
Kentucky – Panopticon
After departing from black metal band Anagnorisis, Austin Lunn birthed his brainchild in the form of Panopticon. This project originally began in Louisville as a recordings-only deal, but has since included more musicians for live shows. It takes distorted guitars and fast drumming found in orthodox black metal, and mixes it with bluegrass and folk music with the inclusion of banjos, strings, and acoustic guitars. In 2012, Lunn relocated to Minnesota to operate a brewery while performing music on the side. However, his ties to The Bluegrass State are solidified in his most acclaimed album. Appropriately titled Kentucky, the album contains covers of traditional Kentuckian folk songs, and a portion of the albums’ profits went toward “Kentuckians For The Commonwealth” to fight mountaintop removal. As Panopticon carries on, Lunn’s old band Anagnorisis, also from Louisville, continues to represent Kentucky with more traditional black metal.
Louisiana – Acid Bath
Home to many forms of swamp music, it’s no surprise that The Bayou State would be the one where sludge metal emerged as a distinct genre. In the NOLA scene, Crowbar took the doom metal sounds of black sabbath and fused it with the aggression in hardcore punk. Eyehategod took this combination and inverted it, displaying more feedback and harsh vocals. Acid Bath was a sludge metal band that seemed to be all over the musical spectrum. Their debut album, When The Kite String Pops, presented bluesy riffs from “Tranquilized”, low-keyed and harsh tones from “Dr. Seuss Is Dead”, and “Scream Of The Butterfly” a somber ballad-like tale with hypnotic singing from Dax Riggs. Their follow-up album, Paegan Terrorism Tactics was no different, continuing to appeal with sludge metal’s various musical traits. Though the band’s career was cut short with the death of bassist Audie Pitre, their legacy as an underground classic remains. Their guitar player, Sammy Duet, went on to form Goatwhore, playing blackened death metal, based in NOLA. Exhorder, the masters of groove-oriented thrash metal are also from The Big Easy.
Maine – Last Chance To Reason
From the state capital in Augusta, exists a band that began as a very mathy one, then went on to be signed by Prosthetic Records and turn into a progressive journey. Throughout their 3 studio albums, they’ve been known for their video game imagery. They have even given us indie games, in the vein of Metroid and Contra, to coincide with their second album. Since the release and tour support for Level 3, the band has stalled with members leaving, and singer since Level 2, Mike Lessard, working full-time as The Contortionist’s singer (this article is looking especially kind to him). Drummer Evan Sammons, keeps busy as a producer, even doing pre-production work for The Contortionist. Other bands making noise in The Pine Tree State include doom metallers Ogre, melodeath band Absence of the Sun, and blackened folk metal band Falls Of Rauros, all from Portland.
Maryland – Periphery
A band known for popularizing a style of metal that includes distorted, high-gain, and low-tuned guitars, with technically complex and progressive tracks including palm mutes, and syncopated riffs. These elements were first utilized together in bands like Meshuggah, but Periphery’s founding guitarist Misha Mansoor, was an individual who popularized the term that unified these characteristics, “Djent” (describing his desired gear). From their home base in the D.C./Bethesda area they went through several different singers before going forward with Spencer Sotelo. In addition, Mansoor continues to churn out tracks under the moniker “Bulb”, some of which even make it to Periphery releases. They are one of Sumerian Record’s most treasured artists, releasing 3 standard albums, a double album, and two EPs with the label.
Putting aside a key point in the Djent movement, Maryland is most known for it’s doom metal scene, started by The Obsessed in Potomac, and carried out by later bands like Gaithersburg’s Iron Man. When glam metal was the trend, Kix represented Hagerstown. Clutch displays many styles emanating from hard rock but is well respected by the metal community, and hails from Frederick. The city of Baltimore is home to the annual extreme metal festival Maryland Deathfest. Originally established in the Old Line State, it now extends it’s operations to California, The Netherlands, and for the first time this year, Quebec. A regular performer on this fest is Annapolis’ death metal heroes Dying Fetus.
Massachusetts – Killswitch Engage
Metalcore, the blend of metal and hardcore punk, is a curious case in Massachusetts. You had a pioneering band in Boston’s Converge, leaning more towards the hardcore side, with a pivotal album in the form of Jane Doe. In the 00s metalcore bands began to gravitate more towards the metal side and produce more melodic content. The most notable being Killswitch Engage, from Westfield. Two albums by this group come to mind when thinking of metalcore. The sophomore album, Alive Or Just Breathing, pushed the band’s musical abilities, and was their first album released by Roadrunner Records. The following album, The End Of Heartache, moved founder Adam Dutkiewicz from the drums to the guitar, and featured new singer Howard Jones and new drummer Justin Foley, both former members of Blood Has Been Shed. The title track earned KSE their first grammy nomination. Both of these albums have been certified Gold by the RIAA. They continue to tour and release high-selling records with Jesse Leach rejoining in 2012. Their latest album Incarnate, reached No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and No.1 on the Top Rock and Hard Rock albums charts.
The Bay State has many other forms of metal to offer, particularly in the capital region. Before grunge was in full-swing Extreme graced the airwaves with their funky style of ’80s metal. Isis THE BAND, elevated post metal at the turn of the millennium. Powerglove, named after a Nintendo accessory, performs metal renditions of video game and television tunes. Revocation is known for their technically proficient blend of death metal and thrash metal. Meanwhile, in Greenfield, Lich King does their part to ensure that thrash metal stays fun.
Michigan – The Black Dahlia Murder
What a career this band has! They are highly influenced by Swedish death metal and Carcass. Though for some reason their debut album Unhallowed became highly influential to more hardcore-oriented bands as well as other death metal bands. By the time their third album Nocturnal was released, the band really shifted into gear, evoking the imagery of kids watching way too many horror movies. To this day Black Dahlia has 8 albums released under Metal Blade Records. Their front man, Trevor Strand, is a regular contributor to Metal Injection, exposing their audience to the glorious metal underground. Two lead guitarists from this band, Ryan Knight (ex) and Brandon Ellis (current), came from the band Arsis. The Black Dahlia Murder are based out of Detroit as is the band Acid Witch, a Halloween-themed death/doom band. Other Michigan bands include Battlecross from Canton. They are a blue-collar metal band with a blend of melodic death metal and thrash metal. In Flint, existed Repulsion, a cornerstone band to the development of grindcore, now out in California.
Minnesota – After The Burial
The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are home to After The Burial, formed in 2004. Their style is a blend of hardcore, melodic death metal, and progressive metal. One recognizable fact about this band is that their major label debut on Sumerian Records, Rareform, has two versions reflecting line-up changes, as well as the later version containing live drum tracking. ATB utilizes extended-range guitars, popularizing the 9-string guitar with the release of 2012’s Wolves Within. The group has been plagued with the departure and tragic death of founding guitarist Justin Lowe in 2015. After some time had passed, they released Dig Deep which charted No. 1 on both the Independent Albums and Hard Rock Albums charts. They were a part of the Sumerian Records 10-year anniversary tour which included ERRA. The Land Of 10,000 Lakes is also home to American Head Charge, another notable metal band from Minneapolis, displaying an industrial/nu metal style common in the early ’00s. Powermad, also from Minneapolis, played speed metal in the ’80s and in 2011 were joined by Dirk Verbeuren who recorded on their comeback album before he joined Megadeth.
Mississippi – Yzordderrex
The Magnolia State is the least metal state in the U.S. as shown by an analysis by Noisey. Only seventeen metal bands per capita. However, a single individual is making an effort to put extreme metal on the state’s map. Enter Jared Moran, of Gulfport, MS. He owns his own record label, Speed Ritual Records. According to Encyclopedia Metallum, Moran is in over thirty metal bands, many of them being one-man projects. For this entry, we’ve chosen the band with the most output, Yzordderrex, a slow sludgy doom metal project with 12 full-lengths and 3 EPs. Mr. Moran can be considered the U.S.’ answer to Russia’s Senmuth with all of his musical output. It’s unclear if any of his projects have performed live, or why metal bands outside of Mississippi have left Speed Ritual Records. Regardless, the ever-flowing stream of extreme metal from this man has earned this state an entry.
Missouri – Black Fast
Another relatively new band formed in 2010 in St. Louis. This is a group that sounds like if Goatwhore were more progressive. They released their first EP and first album independently. By 2014, they had signed to eOne Music, who would release their second full-length, Terms Of Surrender. Since 2014 they have toured with bands such as Battlecross, Havok, Vektor, Revocation, and more. They’ve had a pretty full touring schedule and are now at work on album number three. St. Louis is also home to other prog thrashers Anacrusis, now defunct. Elsewhere in the Mother Of The West, Independence is home to death metal band and Bigfoot enthusiasts Troglodyte, and Kansas City was home to Order From Chaos, who begat the death metal band Angelcorpse that relocated to Florida.
Montana – Onward
This is a power metal band from Billings, with a short life-span. They made an impact in their short time together, largely due to the connections that their guitarist had. Beginning in 2000, their first two albums were released on Century Media Records. They would tour and open for big names such as Exodus, Angra, Blind Guardian, Symphony X, and Agent Steel. They would also perform on festivals such as ProgPower, UltraSound, and November To Dismember. A third album was in the works, but Onward disbanded in 2003 shortly after producing the demo for it. In 2012, the band’s singer Michael Grant died of an untimely illness. The Treasure State is also home to groove/thrash metal act Universal Choke Sign, from Missoula. Arkheron Thodol, is an atmospheric black metal band from Bozeman, who self-released their first full-length in 2017.
Nebraska – Dirtfedd
One of the most distinguishing features about this band is singer Dustin Travels’ vocal range. Likely, this caught the interest of Slipknot’s Shawn “Clown” Crahan, who ended up producing the band’s second album, and convincing them to sign to eOne Music. They would go on to be a part of 2012’s Rockstar Mayhem Tour, as well as the first Knotfest. They have built themselves up as one of the bigger metal bands of the Midwest, hailing from the capital city of Lincoln. Their first album is appropriately titled Midwest Massacre. Close by, in the city of Omaha, existed Paria for most of the 00’s. Paria can be considered the Cornhusker State’s answer to The Number Twelve Looks Like You.
Nevada – Five Finger Death Punch
Their success is almost surreal. Five records with at least Gold status after illegally downloading albums became a norm. Their highest selling record to date is their RIAA-certified Platinum, sophomore effort War Is The Answer, which would help push their debut album to Gold status. Their style is a mix of groove metal and hard rock with occasional ballads thrown in, which has massive appeal. Many of their songs were written for active U.S. soldiers and veterans, earning them a U.S. Army Association award. On their album, The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Volume 1, they received vocal contributions from metal greats such as Max Cavalera, Jamey Jasta, and The Metal God himself, Rob Halford. Not surprisingly, on Volume 2, there exists a song called “Battle Born” which is the nickname for their home state. They’re from Las Vegas, same home to Slaughter from the big hair scene, Molotov Solution from the deathcore scene, and Righteous Pigs from the death/grind scene.
New Hampshire – Vattnet (Viskar)
Announced their break-up as of this February. Originally known as Vattnet Viskar, in 2016 they dropped the Viskar from their name. This was likely to coincide with their change in musical style, letting go of their black metal influence. They’re from Plaistow in the Granite State. Their first demo and EP were overwhelmingly black metal. The two studio albums that followed, were released on Century Media, and featured greater post rock influence. Album two, Settler is influenced by the events of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster, likely due to the fact that Christa McAuliffe, one of the crew members was a fellow New Hampshire citizen. Their former name was Swedish for “The Water Is Whispering”. Their latter name was simply “The Water”.
New Jersey – Overkill
Born in 1980, the thrash legends from Old Bridge, NJ have a career spanning eighteen albums. Up to the present day singer Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth and bassist D.D. Verni remain the band’s constant members. One can even argue that their earliest work predates the Big Four of Thrash. There was a period of time when Overkill eased up to experiment with different styles of metal, even teaming up with Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe in 2007. But since the release of Ironbound in 2010, they have gone back to their supersonic ways, really bringing it when it comes to their live shows. Their tenacity has made them one of the most important thrash bands of the East Coast. New Jersey’s thrash metal scene had other important figures such as Whiplash from Passaic, and Blood Feast from Bayonne. The Dillinger Escape Plan is also from the Garden State, based out of Morris Plains. They’ve recently retired their fast and furious music of a different color (mathcore/experimental). Power/Prog titans Symphony X of Middletown, mainly have their speed in their lead guitar player. Many fast bands from Jersey. Krieg, New Jersey’s choice black metal comes from Somers Point. Their vocalist Neil Jameson is also a regular contributor to Decibel Magazine. It’s worth noting that Danzig & Doyle, two after-projects of the Misfits, more metal-oriented, are based out of Lodi.
New Mexico – Kryoburn
Think of Fear Factory with just a bit more synth. They began in the local metal scene in Carlsbad in 1995, and then toured the U.S. relentlessly. They managed to acquire a record deal with Candlelight records. Kryoburn’s debut album Enigmatic Existence was released in 2005. Their next Candlelight record came out in 2010, the same year in which they disbanded. A close contender in this state is Albuquerque’s Void Ritual, a one-man project. While New Mexico is filled with many Christian Rock and Metal bands, Void Ritual band takes the sounds of Immortal, Sargeist, and Mgla, to evoke a dark presence within the Land of Enchantment.
New York – Dio
Ronnie James Dio. A man so godly in performance, worthy of his own hologram. His music career began in Cortland in Upstate NY, before landing the role of lead singer in Rainbow and then Black Sabbath. At the end of Ronnie and drummer Vinnie Appice’s (from Brooklyn) initial tenure in Sabbath they formed the band Dio. Up to RJD’s tragic death by stomach cancer in 2010, his band released ten studio albums, in total selling over ten million copies worldwide. His music lives on through two tribute bands featuring the several members of Dio over the years, Last In Line, and Dio Disciples. The latter will tour with the Ronnie James Dio hologram. In addition, the band has some pop culture influence as seen in an episode of South Park, the NES game Holy Diver, and in one of the major villains of the Japanese Manga Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.
Dio’s influence on metal alone earned this entry. You may argue that other metal bands of the Empire State have stronger ties to New York, and really embody the New York spirit. Anthrax from Queens/Yonkers, is the final component of the Big Four of Thrash. Long Island’s Twisted Sister, made anthems for a rebellious youth, and took on the PMRC. Type O Negative from Brooklyn, was one of the most unique Gothic Metal bands in history, and the thrash band that preceded them, Carnivore, was also a Brooklyn band. Biohazard from BK, reflects the NY attitude with their multi-genre style of hardcore and metal. Upstate in Auburn, is where loud-as-all-hell power metal titans Manowar hail from. Most notably though is New York’s death metal scene, encompassing NYC and Upstate. From Yonkers hails Mortician (now in Las Vegas but strong ties to NYDM), Immolation, and Malignancy. The Bronx, is home to the thrashier death metal band Demolition Hammer. In Long Island, Suffocation made albums that would influence the “Slam” movement. Past Westchester County, NY has Skinless from Glens Falls, the early years of Cannibal Corpse (relocated to Florida) in Buffalo, and Morpheus Descends from Middletown.
North Carolina – Corrosion Of Conformity
They began as a hardcore punk band in Raleigh. By 1989, Pepper Keenan joined the band as a guitarist, giving the band more of a groove and a sludgier tone on the album Blind in ’91. By 1994’s Deliverance, Pepper was singing full-time and the band took a southern rock direction. Two years and one album later, CoC received their first Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance for the song “Drowning In A Daydream”. While Pepper played in the supergroup Down, the band would take break and then reform with the band’s Animosity line-up. They are now reunited with Pepper and have just released No Cross, No Crown which has him back on lead vocals. Other sludge metal bands from the Old North State include Cape Fear’s Sourvein, and Wilmington’s Weedeater. If sludge isn’t your thing, keep in mind that Between The Buried And Me, the band responsible for one of progressive metal’s most important albums, Colors, is also from Raleigh. Finally, from Asheville is melodic doom metal greats, Daylight Dies.
North Dakota – Ghost Bath
A band that’s become well-known for catfishing their listeners, though it was for less nefarious purposes. They marketed themselves as a band from China, and to convince their audience, released their first full-length on Pest Productions, based in Nanchang. They were considered to be China’s answer to Deafheaven. After the release of their most acclaimed album, Moonlover, the jig was up. Some knew before Moonlover‘s release of this hoax, others caught on after a piece on the matter was released by Noisey, who were initially fooled themselves. They are actually from Minot, North Dakota. With this scandal behind them, they are currently promoting their newest album on Nuclear Blast, Starmourner, continuing their style of blackened shoegaze/blackgaze. Another band making a lot of noise lately in the Peace Garden State, is the death metal band Gorgatron from Fargo.
Ohio – Chimaira
Many metalcore bands have come out of the major cities of The Buckeye State. Of course you have the metallic hardcore bands Integrity and Ringworm from Cleveland. Also from Cleveland, is one of the bigger bands of the New Wave Of American Metal, Chimaira. Originally nu-metal like, they shifted toward a more groove and hardcore style by album two. Throughout their existence they’ve gone between notable labels Roadrunner, Nuclear Blast, Ferret, and eOne. On later records their musical output would feature more elements of death and thrash metal. The only constant member of this band has been vocalist Mark Hunter, who has been left as an only remaining member on two occasions. The band’s most commercially successful album to this day is 2007’s Resurrection. The fan favorite is 2003’s The Impossibility Of Reason. In late 2017 a reunion show took place with most of the original line-up. Mushroomhead hails from Cleveland as well, capturing the trends of metal from the late ’90s and early ’00s. And for those who enjoy extreme metal, there exists Midnight from Cleveland, Skeletonwitch from Athens, and Necrophagia from Wellsville.
Oklahoma – Angelical Tears
They are compared to and influenced by Evanescence, Nightwish, Within Temptation, and other symphonic gothic metal groups. Angelical Tears has rocked the Oklahoma City area and beyond since 2007. Their ties to the Sooner State are rock solid, engaging with the local and state radio stations and other broadcasting mediums. They currently have one album and a six-track EP to their name. Anti-Mortem, a band from Chickasha, now defunct, played a more southern style of metal and was even signed to Nuclear Blast. From Stilwell, hails Unhuman Disease, a black metal band signed to Moribund Records.
Oregon – Agalloch
It’s no surprise that Portland, one of the most musically diverse and vibrant cities in America would birth us Agalloch. Beginning with significant black metal influence, they would later cut this influence a bit and infuse more neofolk and other experimental elements into their music when signed to The End Records. Such a change was accelerated for their sophomore album The Mantle, which also features more acoustic elements. By album three, Ashes Against The Grain, the band had been performing live and brought back more electric guitars into the mix. When they made the switch to Profound Lore Records, they followed up with Marrow Of The Spirit which was met with much critical acclaim. As of 2016 the band members have parted ways after 20 years, 5 albums and much touring. Other notable metal bands from Portland include the thrashing sounds of Wehrmacht in the ’80s and Toxic Holocaust in modern times. YOB, now on Relapse Records, is also from The Beaver State, located specifically in Eugene. Their brand is doom metal infused with stoner rock and some classic hard rock elements with tracks usually clocking in at over 10 minutes.
Pennsylvania – August Burns Red
These guys began as another band formed in high school in Lancaster, and are now with 7 studio albums plus one Christmas album, and two Grammy nominations. Their last record with Solid State is a top 10 album on the Billboard 200 as is their first record with Fearless. August Burns Red is a very popular band among the Warped Tour crowd, as well as the Punk Goes Pop crowd. They’re also a staple band in the Christian Rock crowd, charting several times on Billboard’s Christian Music Charts. However, members have made it clear that they’re primarily using their music to entertain and not to preach. A runner-up for the Quaker State, is from the other side of the state in Pittsburgh. Code Orange, the band formerly known as Code Orange Kids, had a big year in 2017 touring and playing one-off shows with big names, as well as releasing Forever, their first record with Roadrunner, which received many positive professional ratings. More towards the middle of PA in Johnstown resides death metal greats Incantation, as well as their guitarists side-project with his wife, Funerus, also death metal.
Rhode Island – Vital Remains
The capital of The Ocean State spawned anti-christian death metal powerhouse Vital Remains. What’s distinctive about this band is the heavy use of Spanish-style and Neo-classical leads, and songs that approach or go over 10 minutes in duration. They are a band of many line-up changes with rhythm guitarist Tony Lazaro being the only remaining member since the band’s first demo. Their two most recent records have received the most critical acclaim, showcasing the fury of their session vocalist, Deicide’s Glenn Benton, and of their lead guitarist Dave Suzuki (who began at the Forever Underground album). Currently, the band allegedly has two albums worth of material. Some of it has been played live, yet the band has yet to produce recordings of it. Nevertheless, they continue to tour the world, and take the stage at various metal festivals inside and outside the U.S.
South Carolina – Nile
Karl Sanders, the band’s founding member, is known for his passion for Ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian history, as well as his heavy riffing and complex and fast leads on the guitar. Such themes have been consistent throughout Nile’s eight studio albums. In addition, Nile’s current drummer, George Kollias is one of metal’s most treasured drummers. Nile’s choice of lyrical themes and their skillful abilities on their instruments have made them a pivotal band for Relapse (’98-’05) and Nuclear Blast (’07-present). In 2017, long-time member Dallas Toler-Wade exited the band, and from there, was able to focus full-time on his own band Narcotic Wasteland. Keeping the death metal influence in the instrumentation, this band chose lyrical themes of drug addiction, religion, and misanthropy. Narcotic Wasteland is from the town of Taylors, which is very close to Nile’s home in Greenville in The Palmetto State.
South Dakota – Woman Is The Earth
This is a black metal band that has received many positive reviews from Decibel, Pitchfork, Noisey, and Cvlt Nation. They worked independently for their first three albums. After teaming up with Init Records and fully utilizing the Bandcamp model they managed to create quite the buzz for themselves. WITE are based out of Rapid City in The Mount Rushmore State. From Sioux Falls hailed Facedown & Victory Records recording artist Nodes of Ranvier, a metalcore band with songs of self-empowerment. Nodes of Ranvier’s drummer is also in a Sioux Falls death metal band called Tennessee Murder Club, complete with lyrics and stage costumes evoking serial murder imagery.
Texas – Pantera
One of the biggest four-piece bands out of Arlington, Texas had to take two steps to become the worldwide sensation that they became. First was to recruit a boy from New Orleans by the name of Philip H. Anselmo, to perform vocals with no guitar holding him back. The next step was to drop their Van Halen/Glam Rock phase for something more aggressive. Among their several achievements is a No. 1 album on Billboard’s 200 chart (Far Beyond Driven), four Grammy nominations, several gold and platinum records with one going double platinum, and over 9 million records sold worldwide according to Nielsen Soundscan. Two after-projects were formed in Dallas after the disbandment of Pantera. First was Damageplan which featured Pantera’s two founders the Abbott brothers, and lasted until Darrel’s tragic death in 2004. The next was Hellyeah, which features Vinnie, as well as Chad Grey from Mudvayne. Other bands associated with Pantera, featuring Phil and Rex, were based outside of Texas.
Being one of the more populous states, The Lonestar State would of course feature a little bit of every style of metal. From the early days of thrash was crossover legends D.R.I. from Houston, and Rigor Mortis between Dallas/Fort Worth. From the modern days of thrash you have Power Trip from Dallas retaining the 80s vibe of thrash metal. For metal that’s a little more trippy, there’s The Sword and Scorpion Child, both from Austin. Progressive metal is found in Galactic Cowboys in Houston, Watchtower in Austin, and Spastic Ink from San Antonio. Solitude Aeturnus, playing an epic doom metal style similar to Candlemass, originated in Arlington. The black metal and death metal scene has Absu and Devourment respectively, both from Dallas. San Antonio is home to Upon A Burning Body, a metalcore band signed to Sumerian Records, and Dallas’ Drowning Pool wrote one of the biggest Nu-metal anthems, “Bodies”. A band that really captures the spirit of Texans though, is Denison’s Texas Hippie Coalition, with their hard southern style of groove metal.
Tennessee – Whitechapel
Named after the London district in which Jack The Ripper committed several murders, Knoxville’s Whitechapel began writing songs about these murders as well as other horrific acts. After signing to Metal Blade Records, they expanded their lyrical content to include songs of anger, criticisms of religion, and addressing corruption in society. They are a staple in the deathcore movement but have recognition among the death metal crowd, particularly due to their lack of post-hardcore influence. Their highest charting album to date is 2014’s Our Endless War, reaching No. 10 on Billboard 200, and No.1 on the Hard Rock Albums chart. On their last album, singer Phil Bozeman experimented with clean vocals but still delivered his expected brutality. For those more interested in more orthodox and gritty death metal, The Volunteer state is also home to Brodequin, also from Knoxville, and Coathanger Abortion from Chattanooga. For black metal, try Alraune from Nashville, who’s debut album was released by Profound Lore Records.
Utah – SubRosa
Here’s a band on Profound Lore that is cultivating a unique style of metal in the Beehive State. This sludgy doom metal band from Salt Lake City adds a chilling atmosphere to their music by use of electric violins. Once their first record with Profound Lore, No Hope For The Mighty Ones was released, SubRosa was met with praise immediately by music critics. Their next record, More Constant Than The Gods caught the ear of Rolling Stone, earning them a spot on their “20 Best Metal Albums of 2013” list. They have shared the stage with other doom metal greats over the years, notably The Obsessed, Pallbearer, Kylesa, as well as a tour with Boris and The Atlas Moth. They continue to perform and record. Their last record, 2016’s For This We Fought The Battle Of Ages was unsurprisingly met with much acclaim. Salt Lake City is also home to metal and hardcore act Gaza, as well as its after-project Cult Leader. It is also home to Caladan Brood, Utah’s answer to Austrian Epic/Atmospheric Black Metal band Summoning.
Vermont – Barishi
This would be the band on this list with the latest start, whether or not you would count their early days without a vocalist and performing under a different name. They are a progressive metal band with gritty traces of black metal, from southern Vermont in the small town of Jamaica. After some self-released music and persistent touring, Barishi earned the backing of label Season of Mist for their sophomore album Blood From The Lion’s Mouth. In 2016 they completed a U.S. Tour with Weedeater, Author & Punisher, and Today Is The Day. As far as shows with even bigger names go, they’ve shared the stage with Mastodon and even The Flaming Lips.
Virginia – Lamb Of God
Now this is a band deserving of a story narrated my Jim Forbes (VH1’s Behind The Music). From their roots in death metal as Burn The Priest, to creating albums solidifying them as a staple in NWOAM, to front man Randy Blythe’s arrest, trial, and acquittal, to a glorious comeback, the story of this metal band from Richmond is one for the history books. By 2016 the RIAA certified Lamb Of God’s staple album Ashes of The Wake as a Gold record. Their highest charting record on the Billboard 200 is Wrath which came in at No. 2. The next two albums would come in at No. 3. Additionally, the band has 5 Grammy nominations under its belt. They are currently on hiatus, hopefully earning some real rest after continuously touring to pay off Randy’s legal fees. We’ll be ready when they return.
GWAR is another great contender in Old Dominion, also from Richmond. Packed with supernatural costumes, fake bodily fluids sprayed into the audience, staged executions of public figures, politicians, popes, presidents and others, and their own festival, their ties to metal are steel solid. Other prominent metal acts from this state include thrash revivalists Municipal Waste, and marijuana and death metal enthusiasts Cannabis Corpse, both from Richmond. Arsis, who championed technical and melodic death metal in the the new millennium is from Virginia Beach. From Alexandria is grindcore’s own Pig Destroyer. Doom metal acts Windhand and Pentagram come from Richmond and Alexandria respectively. Deceased, a death/thrash band with longevity and a cult following to show for it, hails from Arlington.
Washington – Melvins
The Evergreen State’s history of metal is an interesting case. Bands like Bellevue’s Queensrÿche and Seattle’s Alice In Chains gave heavy metal some mainstream exposure. Seattle also holds the story of Sanctuary, who evolved into Nevermore, and then returned as Sanctuary until singer Warrell Dane’s recent tragic death. But in the city of Montesano, was born a trio who would play a hand in developing the more experimental sides of metal later on. The Melvins are currently in LA, but their relationship to Washington state is laid out in how the band got its name from Buzz Osbourne’s experiences with a co-worker at a Thriftway in Montesano, who he dubbed a “Melvin”. In addition, the band’s music was a strong influence on Seattle’s grunge scene, as well as on Sunn0))), the notable drone doom metal band born in the same city. The Melvins’ early albums are especially heavy, considered to be incremental in developing sludge metal. Their years of experimenting with different styles including but not limited to, hardcore punk, doom metal, grunge, experimental rock, noise rock, dark ambient, and jazz, would earn them admiration from those outside of the grunge scene and state of Washington of course. They don’t have any Grammy nominations and it took them 26 years to crack the Billboard 200, but they do have much critical acclaim, and as clearly listed here, their influence on other metal bands has earned them Washington’s entry. Japan’s experimental power-trio Boris is named after a Melvins song.
Seattle has some great underground acts. Bell Witch, a funeral doom band, had it’s latest album split into a double album by Profound Lore due to the self-released version being a single track over 83 minutes long. Seattle is also home to crossover thrash giants The Accused, thrashing with horror movie imagery and their own zombie mascot, Martha Splatterhead. Outside of Seattle, Olympia has given us Earth (Post/Drone Metal), a bigger influence on Sunn0))), and modern black metal act Wolves In The Throne Room.
West Virginia – Byzantine
From the Mountain State capital in Charleston, is a blend of melodic death metal and groove metal lying within the band Byzantine. After attracting Lamb of God’s Chris Adler with their demo, they committed to an east coast tour with LoG, earning them a deal with Prosthetic Records, who would release their first three albums. In 2008, just a day after the release of the third album, they announced a break up. Two years later after reforming for some local shows, they decided to continue. They would release two studio albums independently, and then sign a 4-record deal with Metal Blade Records. If you’re looking for some black metal with an Appalachian Folk feel to it, that’s the specialty of two-piece band Nechochwen (location unknown other than West Virginia).
Wisconsin – Jungle Rot
Here and there, The Badger State has got some pretty badass bands. Kenosha’s Jungle Rot is one of the baddest. Their style is old school death metal with traces of thrash metal and hardcore punk in there as well. Named after a medical condition in which a foot becomes infected by wearing wet military boots for too long, the bands lyrics focus on war, violence, and other wide-scale atrocities. The band has released 8 albums, not counting their demo album Skin The Living from 1996. You may have seen them on tour with other death metal giants, or perhaps on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival back in 2015. It appears that in 2018 we can expect another full-length record from these guys, so prepare for impact. Also in Kenosha, Lazarus A.D. promoted the thrash metal revival until their drummers untimely death in 2015. Based in Kenosha as well, The Electric Hellfire Club is a band that is primarily industrial but mixes elements of goth, glam, techno, and psychedelia to make Satan-worship seem more sexy. The state capital in Madison, is home to stoner sludge group Bongzilla, whose mothership albums were released on Relapse Records. Morbid Saint, one of the most aggressive thrash bands, influencing death metal even, is from Sheboygan. Finally, I doubt you would call them metal, but it’s worth noting that the historic mash-up band Beatallica is from Milwaukee.
Wyoming – Reproacher
In a much rural state like The Cowboy State, it can be especially hard to pinpoint sources of heavy music. Cheyenne’s Reproacher has certainly been pinpointed by sources such as Toilet Ov Hell, Cvltnation, Svbterranean, Earsplit Compound, and The Sludgelord. Their style is characterized by downtuned instruments, hardcore vocals, and sludgy, noisey riffs. Reviews of their music have compared them to the likes of Harm’s Way, Full of Hell, and Trap Them. So not surprisingly, in 2012 when Code Orange Kids and Full of Hell stopped in Cheyenne for a free basement show, Reproacher shared the stage/basement with them and killed it. Big Horn, Wyoming is where Onward guitarist Toby Knapp resides with several musical projects. One of which, Waxen (Black Metal), had its last two records picked up by Moribund Records.
There you have it. These are the best metal bands in every state, with many honorable mentions. Do you agree with these entries? Do you agree with the “methodology” used? What are your choices for best metal bands in each state? Let us know in the comments section.