10 incredible non-metal albums made by metal bands

Photos of Bring Me The Horizon, Loathe, Myrkur and Paradise Lost performing live
(Image credit: Bring Me The Horizon: Erika Goldring/Getty Images | Loathe: Kevin Nixon/Future Publishing via Getty Images | Myrkur: Duncan Everson/Metal Hammer | Paradise Lost: Ullstein Bild via Getty Images)

What do you need to be a great metal band? While many would surely say it’s qualities like brutal riffs and attention-demanding hooks, more important than everything else is fearless vision and originality. And the 10 albums listed below pack that in spades. On masterpieces from Opeth’s Damnation to Myrkur’s Folkesange, top-tier metal acts have all shed their heavy skin entirely, without compromising on the quality of their output. Whether they represent an artist going pop, ambient or even electronic, these are brilliant non-metal albums released by metal bands:

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Bring Me The Horizon – Amo (2019)

The hot topic among 2019’s heavy metal elitists was arguing that Bring Me The Horizon sold out. In truth, though, Amo represented the apex of a climb the Brits had been making since Sempiternal. Such pop-rock anthems as Mantra and Medicine fully embraced the electronic edge Jordan Fish first added six years prior. 

Opeth – Damnation (2003)

After 2001’s Blackwater Park, Opeth decided to go big, writing a double album where one disc continued their progressive death metal grandeur, while the other pursued a sombre rock tangent. The label shooting down a twinned release made Damnation a pensive standalone, which unknowingly predicted the Swedes’ prog rock metamorphosis from 2011 onwards.

Paradise Lost – Host (1999)

After touring extensively during the 1990s, Paradise Lost suffered an identity crisis, ditching their gothic metal majesty on One Second and the even softer Host. The latter diving headfirst into dark, Depeche Mode-esque electronica was controversial at the time, but mainstays like So Much Is Lost have since earned their rightful goodwill.

Myrkur – Folkesange (2020)

Just two albums into her career, Amalie “Myrkur” Bruun became one of the most talked-about newcomers in black metal, casting the genre against her gorgeous voice and folky overtones. The musician then decided to let her beautiful, shamanic idiosyncrasies define album three, Folkesange, reaffirming her as a refreshing prospect in metal.

Alcest – Shelter (2014)

After Alcest debuted as shoegaze dreamers in 2007, the Frenchmen’s later output saw them reintegrate the black metal of their early EPs into their new, gorgeous soundscape. That is, except on Shelter. Neige et al went full dream pop in 2014, before reverting to their heavier ways two years later.

Katatonia – Dethroned And Uncrowned (2013)

2012’s Dead End Kings was the most dense and progressive album of Katatonia’s career when it came out. To demonstrate the layers of their then-recent music, the band released Dethroned And Uncrowned one year later, where the electric guitars were stripped away to reveal a tapestry of gorgeous, symphonic music.

Wolves In The Throne Room – Celestite (2014)

By 2014, Wolves In The Throne Room had become leaders in the US black metal scene, thanks to their distinctly spacious and atmospheric compositions. The duo decided to explore that appeal even further with the soundtrack-like album Celestite, and its dynamic, synthy crescendos only reaffirmed how untouchable this band were.

Ulver – Kveldssanger (1996)

Ulver have never played by anyone else’s rules. After the collective became late players in Norwegian black metal with 1995 debut Bergtatt, they immediately carved their own path on Kveldssanger: a moody folk detour completely devoid of shrieks and riffs. That fearlessness is now responsible for 30 years of avant-garde masterpieces.

Blood Incantation – Timewave Zero (2022)

Never ones to toe the line of genre expectations, Blood Incantation pushed death metal into wildly technical and cosmic territory on Hidden History Of The Human Race. Then, followup Timewave Zero fucked heavy music off entirely, indulging the American’s spacy fascinations with ambient notes worthy of soundtracking 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Loathe – The Things They Believe (2021)

Since day one, Loathe’s appeal has been their convergence of metalcore with nu metal and ambient, Vangelis-like synths. The UK rabble-rousers went all in on their more atmospheric, cinematic inclinations on The Things They Believe: a release that, although not as impactful as the band’s two other masterpieces, presented a brilliantly bleak sonic universe.

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.