Hello everyone and welcome to my inaugural list of this brand new endeavor of Heavy Debriefings. While the podcast, reviews, etc will be going strong; I wanted to do a weekly list write-up to keep myself busier in the dark times both you and are currently live. While this idea is by no means innovative or original; I am doing my spin on it and in the rules below, I will lay out what’s in store. With this very first list, I am doing my top 10 favorite bands at the moment. Not of all time, though some of them easily fit into that list as well. These 10 bands are the ones I keep going back to the most over almost all others when I am not studying up for an interview or album reviews. The bands I put on when I’m gaming and need a good soundtrack. The bands I listen to when I’m feeling ok or when I am at my lowest of lows (which seems to be almost always). The bands that are hitting me the most as of late are both bands I’ve rediscovered, always loved, or may consider being the best in their styles. So let’s get to those rules so we can get down to business.
1.) These lists are in no particular order unless otherwise noted (alphabetical order, year of release, etc). Ranking these is not needed as I wouldn’t be covering these bands, songs, albums, etc if I did not love them.
2.) The lists will be formatted with the subject, FFO (For Fans Of), and a blurb (roughly a paragraph) about said subject. The FFO section is subject to change if the list is entirely about one particular subject (the genre for example)
3.) This will be a weekly series. Every Wednesday unless otherwise stated. Delays and postponements are entirely possible, but I will be keeping this up until my mind tells me to stop.
4.) No negative lists. I know that’s cool, and the clickbaity thing to do is to make lists that people can tear apart, argue over, let me know how wrong I am for including or excluding a band, etc. That’s just not me. I may occasionally make a funny title for humor’s sake, but never to just get clicks with no substance. My integrity still means something to me even if that makes me less popular.
5.) A Spotify Playlist will always accompany each list. 1 song to accommodate every point listed so 10 songs in total, unless otherwise stated in the list(s).
6.) I will still be doing my monthly album reviews and my year-end lists per usual. This is just a bonus.
7.) All thoughts are entirely my own. No paid sponsorships, no begging or pleading from any label or band. Just me and my thoughts.
So, Let’s Begin!
FFO- Black Metal, Industrial, Soundtrack To The End Of The World
Anaal Nathrakh is a US/UK collaboration between Mick Kinney and Dave Hunt that started as some of the grimiest black metal and grindcore-driven metal you could imagine. The rawest of production, the most chaotic of songwriting, and the most outlandish of songwriting and vocal styles. But the band did experience a bit of an awakening where they realized they found the perfect formula. Create pristine production, keep the apocalyptic chaos, but add some of the catchiest choruses you could hear amid absolute destruction. This was the perfect recipe for their doomsday style and eventually got the attention of Metal Blade Records who has helped the band reach new heights and be able to tour more than they had ever before. Over time, the formula has gotten stronger with more melodic solos and leads, more inhumanly absurd with riffs and blast beats, and what may be the greatest Iron Maiden cover I’ve ever heard with their rendition of Powerslave. Even if this style of music is too out there or extreme for your normal tastes, I highly recommend giving this band the proper amount of time to digest in your system. It will fester in you and may become a new favorite band of yours like it has for me.
FFO- Horror Metal
Bloody Hammers is a duo of Anders Manga and his wife Devallia creating what I can only call horror metal. I say this because every album, while still sounding like the band, has a different sound. If you want gothic rock, they have you covered. If you want heavy metal, they have a perfect album for that. If you want something that’s more punk, they of course do that so very well. There is no limit to what the band can achieve other than what they want to accomplish every album cycle. They can write some of the catchiest songs while singing about some of the best horror stories, films, tropes, and original ideas. As long as you can appreciate some doom and gloom and of course clean vocals, Bloody Hammers has at least one album for you. Throughout the years of loving this band, they helped me re-appreciate horror. I always had dug it, but they helped me to accept my love of it (much like the next band I’ll talk about below). I can’t say enough good things about this band and I simply can’t wait to see what their next release has in store.
Dog Fashion Disco
FFO- Experimental, Alternative Metal, Progressive Metal
DFD has become one of my favorite bands of all time and with every passing day, they inch closer to the top. How can you properly describe this band? Simply...you can’t, at least musically. Lyrically, they cover so many horror grounds. Be it anything from the grotesque to real serial killers to their own concept album of a private eye; they have any kind of horror you are looking for and then some. I guess with that said I should at least attempt to describe the band musically. Say, Frank Zappa, Mike Patton, John Carpenter, Devin Townsend, and Stephen King just said, “Fuck it, we’re starting a band!” With Zappa-like orchestration (including brass and woodwind sections), Patton/Townsend vocal ranges, sometimes goofball lyrics and metal stylings, & Carpenter/King subject matters. Whether I need something to match my mental intensity, I need a good laugh, I wanna hear some insane musical sensibilities or I just want something heavy but so diverse; DFD covers all the ground I need and then some. Seriously, go check them out. And check out their side and solo work including Polkadot Cadaver, Knives Out!, El Creepo, and so much more!
FFO- Progressive Metal
One of the most undervalued bands in all of music. Green Carnation are the absolute masters of writing some of the darkest progressive metal you’ll ever hear. Coming from black metal beginnings and evolving into the underground juggernaut they are today; GC is a band that grabs your heartstrings and never lets us go. Be it the pain-driven lyrics, the captivating riffs, the jaw-dropping vocal lines, or just the overall presentation; the band just hits you in ways that other progressive bands are simply incapable of achieving. To many, they are the band that wrote the 60-minute epic; Light of Day, Day of Darkness (my favorite song of all time), and as much as I do love the song, they are so much more than that. They can hit any genre of metal in a 5-minute song, a 15-minute song, or a 60-minute song and it will give you the same amount of chills throughout, no matter if it’s an acoustic ballad, a Black Sabbath cover, or an hour-long epic. They are a band that puts me near the edge of tearing up every time I hear them, their music is simply that powerful. They just may have the same impact on you as well. If you want a progressive band that is not about musical wankery and so much more about subject and substance, seriously...give this band they love they deserve.
FFO- Death/Doom (early on) Alternative Metal (middle), Progressive Metal (now)
Katatonia is a band of many hats and styles but never a band that changes just to fit in. If anything, they are a band for those that have never fit in. It’s amazing how a band that could write Brave Murder Day could also be the same one that wrote Last Fair Deal Gone Down or Night is the New Day or City Burials. Always writing what the band is inspired to do from prog to more gothic to more alternative. While the band is more or less been done with death/doom for well over 20 years; their early albums are just as enjoyable as anything that came after that time. The live experience can be just as sorrowful as when you sit alone in the dark and throw on an album and gives you a great atmosphere that not many other bands can achieve (if anyone at all). If you only like growls and screams, I’d recommend just their 2 or 3 albums, but for those that want to hear some of the most heartbreaking and gorgeous clean vocals you could ever imagine in metal; Katatonia has you covered and it will be one of the most welcoming and haunting experiences when you take your first deep dive into the band. After that, you will always want to go back and see what else the band has accomplished. With their latest album, City Burials being a bit more electronic than previous work, I am very curious to see what’s next for the band, will they go heavier, more electronic, more acoustic? Time will tell. I just know I’m chomping at the bit in anticipation.
FFO- Doomed Heavy Metal
I simply took the name of their latest EP to describe the band and its the most accurate portrayal of the band. It’s doomed heavy metal. Being at the forefront of doom metal, the band is not afraid to incorporate other styles ranging from death to thrash to prog when needed and called for. Easily one of the best bands to come out of the past decade and it’s not even an option. This is how I love my doom metal with astounding clean vocals and the occasional scream, music that’s not afraid to push the boundaries, tear-jerking lyrics, and that sense of existential dread that looms over all of us. I, of course, can’t forget how unbelievably catchy the band is as well. When they are not writing their next sorrowful opus, they have done unbelievable covers of the likes of Dio, Alice in Chains, and even Lloyd Chandler. A band not for the faint of heart, yet easy for anyone who can appreciate doom metal, classic metal, or simply amazing musicians making incredible music together. Khemmis has been on the rise ever since they started and are soon to be going out on tour with Mastodon and Opeth in the states. The band deserves all the praise they receive and more. Simply put, once again, they are one of the best newer bands going today.
FFO- Metalcore, NWOAHM
One of my first gateway bands of metal. Metallica came first, then came Dream Theater and Opeth, then came the Freddy Vs Jason soundtrack and I instantly fell in love with KSE. Their mixture of metal, hardcore, and melody, while duplicated beyond infinity since then, I had never heard before. No matter if You enjoy the Jesse Leech era or the Howard Jones era...you’re not wrong. Both eras of the band have heartfelt and emotional songs that can hit you so hard with breakdowns, circle pit-inducing riffs, soaring vocal lines, and an undeniable sense of musicality. As eluded to, they have a blend of heavy verses and clean choruses that so many bands have taken and made their own since KSE started, but no band has done it as well and as often as KSE themselves. The lyrical content also just hits home for me be it songs about overcoming adversity, preventing suicide, letting bridges burn, or trying to mend what's left of a relationship; they have something that anyone can relate to and if you are like me, will be inspired by. While this list is filled with bands that have a lot more dark and negative connotations, Killswitch is one of the most positive bands that are not a Christian band or a power metal band. A real-life band based in the real world that sings about real things we all go through in every emotion possible, but almost always leaves you feeling more positive than negative if you let things sink in. While I get the hate a lot of metal fans have over metalcore and KSE, I will never be one of them. KSE has been there for me in some of my darkest times and many times when I’ve been looking to not do another suicide attempt. While they may never see this, I do wanna thank them for what they have done over the past 20+ years. I am broken just like they are and sometimes you just need to hear that repeatability to get through the day, let alone life.
FFO- Progressive Metal, Alternative Metal, Groove Metal
King’s X has been a band that has always been one of my favorite bands and over the last several years, they inch ever closer to being my favorite band of all time. While I would be lying if I said I loved all 15 KX releases so far, like a majority of the fan base, the 3 album span from 2000 to 2003 is just not much of my bag, but every other release has been absolutely solid from start to finish. Whether they are misquoted for being a Christian band (still so puzzled by that), hitting Woodstock 94, or having one of the most loyal fan bases in all of music. The band can span any genre of rock and metal they choose and just make it completely their own. The songs can groove so hard, hit you so hard in your emotions, kick your ass with their riffs, or make your jaw drop with their technical proficiency. They are also one of, if not the longest-reigning bands around to this day that still has their original recording lineup. Seeing this band live twice has been life-changing moments for me. Both in 2009 and 2016 were pivotal times in my life and seeing Dug, Ty, and Jerry playing live spoke to me in ways that no other live band has ever done. Catchy, heavy, melodic, and straight from the heart. King’s X is just that perfect band to me and I can’t wait to hear their new album that I hope comes out sometime in 2022.
FFO- North American Folk Metalcore
I describe Panopticon as North American folk metal as it’s truly is the aptest description I’ve heard about the band. Combining the dark atmosphere of black metal with North American folk like bluegrass, Americana, and country and you get one of the most unique sounding bands in black metal. They also have some of the deepest lyrics you’ll hear in the genres attached covering everything from politics, ghosts, mountains, and our dying planet. Originating from Kentucky and now being a Minnesota band (I’m so proud to be able to say that), Panopticon has put out some of the most iconic albums since 2007 and every album just gets stronger than the next. What makes this band stand out amongst any band that could be considered peers? This is a one-man-band, Austin Lunn does everything on every album outside of occasional guest spots that involve string instruments or guest vocals. It's so inspiring to see someone not only be able to pull that off but to make every instrument sound so flawless. While the production on many albums is quite raw, there is nothing inaudible and everything is clear and mixed right where it needs to be. You may not instantly like or even “get” this band right away, but just give it a chance and you may be very pleasantly surprised. Even if you don’t like the metal aspects of the band, they do have Eps, splits, and albums that have at least some full-on folk, country, bluegrass, Americana, and acoustic songs that will hit you just as hard, if not harder, than the fury of blast beats and tremolo picking you’ll hear in the black metal sections. An absolute gem of a band
FFO- Gothic Metal, Heavy Metal
While being originally known as Idol Hands in 2020, the band changed their name, and their debut album under their new moniker is one of the strongest albums I’ve ever heard come from 2021. Sadly, I didn’t discover this band till 2022, well after I made my Top 100 Albums of 2021 list. Had I heard it back when it was originally released, it would have EASILY been a top 3 if not top 2 albums of the year for me. Their mix of heavy metal and gothic metal with the right amount of cynicism and quirky moments make this a band that you have to hear for yourself. When I hear them, it feels like a mix of Type O Negative, Danzig, early day albums from The Cult, and I dare say Manowar at times. It sounds so familiar, but it’s unique at the same time. Every song is catchy in its own way being a brutal metal track, a darker power metal sounding song, or a straight-up goth rock dance club anthem. All of their past work has been re-released under the Unto Others umbrella now, but the new moniker is still dark and fresh. Their next album is going to absolutely destroy everything in it’s path and I simply can’t wait. I dare say it’s my most anticipated album when it eventually gets recorded and sent my way. I want them to become huge on that next release. Check them out now and let’s make that happen!
And there you go folks. My Top 10 Bands At The Moment. Or really, the top 10 bands I’m listening to the most as of late. This has been fun to write this down and not have to worry about brand new albums and just talk about bands I love and have loved. Tune in next time for my next installment.
Same Heavy Time, Same Debriefings Channel! See Ya!
Josh Rundquist (Heavy Debriefings)