With its vast landscapes, turbulent political history and rich cultural traditions, there is plenty about Ireland to inspire musicians. So we’ve compiled a list of the ten best metal bands from the Emerald Isle. Irish metal bands: a great bunch o’ lads.
Altar Of Plagues
Avant-garde black metal fans were devastated when Altar Of Plagues called it quits in 2015. Their last record, 2013’s Teethed Glory And Injury was certainly a memorable way to bow out: an anguished, emotional and vastly experimental blend of black and post-metal. If you were lucky enough to witness any of their live shows, you’ll know they bring enough intensity to make even the burliest beardy dude weep. Ex-frontman James Kelly now focuses his energy on his electronic project WIFE; not quite AoP, but still worth checking out.
They may have AoP’s ex-drummer in their ranks, but musically Malthusian are a very different beast: expelling raw, twisted death metal with breakneck speed, repetitive riffs and some doomy black metal thrown into the melting pot. A rollicking, filthy good time.
From The Bogs Of Aughiska
Hailing from the craggy coastline of County Clare, this two man-drone project are an ambient, creepy and crushing presence that capture the bleak and eerie side of the Irish landscape. Live, FTBOA are an unnerving experience, playing masked while desolate imagery of rural Ireland flashes on screens behind them.
This Dublin collective have been something of a buzz band on the underground scene since their inception in 2011. A rumbling, primal mix of blackened death metal with lyrics about sorcery, perversion and the like, ZOM are a raucous, frenzied assault on the senses.
Well sure we couldn’t leave out these fellas, now could we? Primordial’s epic and dramatic black metal, with a distinct celtic twist and traditional and historical lyrics, have made them Ireland’s biggest extreme metal exports; not to mention frontman Alan ‘Nemtheanga’ Averill’s commanding and corpsepainted live persona that ups their live shows to legendary.
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Averill also fronts Dread Sovereign – a relatively new band that mix classic metal with old-school doom, presented with the same expansive delivery as Primordial. Or as Alan himself puts it in a more simple explanation, “a bunch of cunts from Ireland.”
So far this list might leave you to believe that Irish metal is all about the posty, doomy side of the heavy spectrum, but hat’s where Abaddon Incarnate come in. Formed back in 1991, these Dubliners are repping deathgrind with crusty ferocity. Their latest album is called Pessimist, which says it all, really.
While many bands on this list could come from any corner of the world, Mael Mórdha embrace their heritage full on. Their lyrics are about Irish history, they use traditional elements like an Irish tin whistle and Sean-nós style singing, they dress like Gaelic warriors and their unique sounds have even earned them their own sub-genre: Gaelic doom metal.
As you might have gathered from their name choice, Mourning Beloveth specialise in lumbering, dense doom metal led by vocals that flip from richly grandiose to guttural and growling. They’re not afraid to soften things up either, with beautiful melodic passages peeking out from within the darkness.
Loveable eejits Gama Bomb were part of the ‘new wave’ of thrash alongside the likes of Municipal Waste. With their goofball sense of humour (Smoke The Blow With Willem Dafoe, anyone?), classic thrash worship and madcap live shows, they’ve managed to outlast any passing trend.