The Top 10 Heaviest Bands Ever
"Heavy", when it comes to music, is really a subjective term in that everyone has a slightly different impression of what heavy is, and therefore, what makes a band sound heavy. Regardless, there's still a few common traits that all heavy bands share: volume, aggression, and a viciously bleak delivery. What form that takes is where the artisanship of the trade emerges.
Source: Redferns/Getty Images
With a name inspired from a newsletter/zine that guitarist/vocalist Chris Smith put out in high school (an acronym that stands for "Kill All Redneck Pricks"), Olympia, Washington-based Karp terrorized the indie rock landscape throughout the 1990s with an unrelenting mixture of Melvins-meets-D.C. hardcore, often with cynical, sometimes ridiculous, lyrical themes that somehow seemed to fit the band's sound perfectly.
Since the band broke up in 1998, members have gone on to form various other bands, most notably Big Business, who've recently been touring with The Melvins. Keep an eye out for the documentary due out this year chronicling Karp's exploits.
Burzum is the brainchild of Varg Vikernes (a.k.a. "Count Grishnackh") and is considered one of the forefathers of the Norwegian Black Metal scene of the early 1990s. In case you aren't familiar with the reputation of that scene, Norway's Black Metal bands started gaining notoriety at the time because of how brutally insane the members of these bands were and how seriously they took the whole idea of "Black Metal." And amongst this group, Varg maybe be the most notorious of them all.
Burzum began releasing records in 1991, and Burzum's abrasive sound was born of Varg's desire to create "the worst quality recording possible" using the cheapest microphones he could find and shoddy guitar amps. This approach actually combined to give Burzum a whole new sound of their own: thrashing, buzzsaw distortion which saturated all aspects of the records, combined with an unstoppable barrage of pummeling drums and shrieking, distorted vocals - most of which ended up becoming hallmarks of Black Metal.
In 1993, Varg was convicted of numerous felonies, including burning down several churches in Norway and the murder of Euronymous, a friend of his and a member of the band Mayhem. Despite his imprisonment, Vikernes continued to record and release albums from prison, which included the release of the classic record Filosofem.
Vikernes' two albums from behind bars were notably less aggressive than earlier records due to obviously limited access to musical equipment in jail, but the brutality of the earlier work is inarguable.
In 2003, Varg made an attempt to escape from prison, but was caught shortly thereafter. Despite that small blemish on his record, he's scheduled to be released sometime in 2009, so you might want to keep an eye out for this one.
8. High on Fire
Hailing from Oakland, California, High on Fire was formed in 1999 by Matt Pike, the former guitarist for the influential (and extremely heavy) stoner metal band Sleep. Essentially picking up where Sleep left off, High on Fire takes the churning, downtuned aspects of stoner and sludge metal and sets them to thrash metal tempos.
Formed in Sweden in 1987, Meshuggah have rose to become the frontrunners of their trade, a culmination of the aggression of thrash metal, the technical precision and complex song structures of progressive metal, and the insane speed of death metal.
When a band can combine insane musicianship with the constant, inescapable assault of the most fierce aspects of metal, the results are astounding. Throughout their years as a band, Meshuggah have enjoyed little mainstream success but continuously championed in scenes where extreme music thrives.
Considered by many to be the godfather's of the late 80s/early 90's "Grunge" sound, the Melvins are much heavier than most of the bands that would later follow their formula (Mudhoney, Nirvana, Soundgarden).
Despite being considered the origin point for Sludge Metal, they had actually started as a hardcore punk band, but later ended up unabashedly worshiping at the alter of Black Sabbath, taking the slowest, most downturned aspects of Sabbath several steps further and creating a sound which embodies the ideologies of "heavy."