The ten best Swedish metal bands
Metal can't get any more cold blooded than in Sweden, where you'll find brain-freezing, below zero temperatures and snow drifts taller than concert halls. Despite having the most frostbitten, blackened and disfigured hands in the metal world, the Swedes rip apart metal like nobody else. As brutal as a ceaseless blizzard and with growls more bone-chilling than falling below ice, Swedish death metal will always breathe fire into the hearts of metal fans worldwide. Keep reading for the ten best Swedish metal bands.
See also: The ten best Southern metal bands
10. Arch Enemy With vocal chords boiled in a cauldron, Angela Gossow is one of the few females in metal that puts growling vocals at the front of her arsenal. Walled along with the Amott brothers, a tight-knit duo shredding their own private language of leads, solos and melodies, Arch Enemy could knock the head off of any headbanger all the way from the swells of Sweden.
9. Entombed Not only did Entombed crawl out and lead the way for Scandinavian death metal in the late '80s, the act's sound also evolved, adding body parts of garage rock and hardcore punk, which eventually Frankensteined into something called Death 'n' Roll. The band's first two albums Left Hand Path and Clandestine features a unique sound similar to cutting up bodies with a chainsaw, but without snagging on bones -- BrrrBBRRrrrbbZzzdrrdZzzbrddZZdrrbZzzz.
8. Amon Amarth Longtime conquerors of metal music, sailing the ocean blue with lyrics that are armor thick with Norse mythology, old worlds, Vikings, bloody battles and epic journeys, Amon Amarth can still knock out its enemies with double bladed battle axes of exploratory fingering and alcohol corroded vocals fit for a king. If old world warriors had MP3 players and ear buds, they would have easily been pumped up charging into battle with the massive hull that is Amon Amarth crashing in their ears.
7. Dark Tranquility Dark Tranquility is one of the many quality melodic death metal bands birthed from the Gothenburg metal scene. Unlike many bands in this genre, this is one of the few bands that can boast a mostly stable line up, and rather than melting into the past, Dark Tranquility has forged ahead fearlessly with sound that continues to progress.
6. Bloodbath Bloodbath is one of the more gruesome and brutal old school sounding death metal undertakers. A supergroup, Bloodbath boasts a lineup that features former members from Katatonia, October Tide, Edge of Sanity and Opeth, and is known for providing a heart-pounding double-bass drums, radio-static thick pulverizing guitars and vocals ranging from low echo growls to heart-bursting shrieks.
5. At the Gates At the Gates were one of the big key gatekeepers and forefather's to swing open, forge and shape the sound of melodic death metal in Gothenburg, Sweden, throughout the early to mid-'90s. Welding a ferocious ore extraction of death screams with melody, rough riffs and crisscrossing guitars encircled with twisted songwriting, At the Gates melted the most extreme angry metal with instrumentation that puts a smile on your face.
4. Grave Formed in 1986, Grave has been operating from beyond the grave as one of the longest living Swedish death metal bands with a legendary debut album, Into the Grave. Grave brings an unadulterated powerful death metal assault with a guitar onslaught producing a low buzz-saw whirr alongside six-feet deep raspy growls that hardcore fans of this subgenre recklessly dig.
3. Katatonia Doom-de-doom-doom, doom-de-doom-doom-doom. Simplistically gloomy in its lyrics as it is in its music, Katatonia floats in a sea of melancholia. The band's music holds the haunting atmosphere of a young Stephen King with pages of depression that stop and smells the roses. Strictly doom and gloom this outfit is not, however. A careful ear can hear the progressive metal that lies underneath the blanket of misery.
2. Opeth If you have the mental strength to endure ten-minute songs of valley-low death growls, ice-clear vocals and broad ranges of progressive death metal, then Opeth is a great way to beef up your brain. Mikael Åkerfeldt's death growls reigned supreme on older albums while the band's newer work incorporates clean vocals. Over the span of its calling, Opeth hasn't been afraid to be influenced by other genres outside of death metal, seamlessly meshing its brutality with fibers of jazz, blues, folk and thick strands of acoustic guitar.
1. Meshuggah Even though Meshuggah stabbed its way into American metalheads hearts when Jack Osbourne blasted the act's music at full volume to annoy neighbors on The Osbournes, Meshuggah has been blowing minds for over a quarter-century with its technically innovative style. With ear-splitting aggression, Meshuggah has admirably pushed the boundaries of extreme metal beyond the comprehension of everyday Joes and into doctorate level ear-drum exploding.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.