Every state thinks they have the best metal band around. They also think your state has the worst metal band ever. Are you gonna let them talk about your scene like that?
Here we present the best and worst metal band from every state, thus settling your little squabble. Luckily for you, we’re experts and we know what we’re talking about, so you can use this list as hard scientific evidence the next time some out-of-towner tries to tell you their state has better metal bands than yours does. And yeah, we picked our bands from the thousands of niche metal sub-genres. Deal with it.
Cancerslug’s discography covers horror punk, black metal, and death rock mixed with an alarming amount of male rage. The band has a lot of good stuff, but if you happen upon a Cancerslug fan older than 15 or so just put your head down and exit the room without making eye contact.
WORST: Temple of Blood
As is the case with many thrash bands, the excitement of hearing Temple of Blood’s sweet palm-muted riffs is quickly extinguished once the singer begins his clumsy mix of spoken word, pitchy falsetto, and half-baked harmonies. Not only that, Temple of Blood doesn’t even have the decency to adorn their album covers with brightly colored skeletons playing in nuclear waste barrels like a good thrash band should.
BEST: 36 Crazyfists
36 Crazyfists is one of those bands you first heard about in high school and then spent the next twenty or so years not listening to them. And that’s okay, there’s a lot of music out there and you have a life to live. As a matter of fact, we just listened to the band for the first time ourselves, and it turns out they play an infectious brand of radio friendly metalcore that should make any king crab fisherman want to drop their nets and go mosh on the poop deck.
WORST: Turbid North
Full disclosure: Turbid North is actually pretty badass, but they abandoned their native Alaska for the warmer pastures of Fort Worth, Texas. Leaving Alaska is a rite of passage for every Alaskan, so we’re not faulting them for that. Hell, even 36 Crazyfists relocated to Seattle in the ‘90s. But Alaska to Texas is a pretty long distance and we’re certain that the band’s parents don’t get to see them nearly as much as they would like to.
If you think that Florida is the only laughably conservative state that can churn out top-shelf death metal, think again, because Gatecreeper proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that Arizona brings it. Their 2021 EP An Unexpected Reality features “Emptiness,” an 11-minute death-doom opus that gives the band plenty of room to breathe while moving through wave after wave riffy, doomy goodness. Death metal purists might balk at such a progressive approach to head bangery, but since when have we listened to what death metal purists had to say?
Nu-metal is experiencing a worldwide renaissance as metalheads everywhere pretend to enjoy the bands they hated 20 years ago. Gridlokt is not one of those bands. We don’t hold the band’s childish internet-speak spelling against them, but we will make fun of them for basing their awful name around the completely un-metal concept of traffic congestion and poor urban planning.
When it comes to modern doom metal, few modern bands command the level of respect that Pallbearer does. You just don’t hear people speak badly about them. Their work has even been praised by The New York Times, NPR, and other publications with way less credibility than The Hard Times. Now if you’ll excuse us we’re going to go airbrush a sweet Pallbearer mural on the side of our van.
We’re just as surprised as you are to learn that Evanescence is from Arkansas, of all places. They have lots of fans no doubt, but we’d rather listen to Bill Clinton read the phonebook than endure another play of “Bring Me to Life.”
Testament is the single best metal band to ever emerge from California. For more than 40 years the band has consistently released ass-kicking albums that never sound dated or out of time. Even my non-metal-fan girlfriend couldn’t tell the difference between old and new songs when we saw them last year.The fact that Testament is not considered one of the so-called “big four” of thrash is nothing short of a travesty.
ACTUAL BEST METAL BAND FROM CALIFORNIA: Metallica (their ’80s output is like early seasons of ‘The Simpsons” it just can’t be denied)
The Hollywood glam scene in the 1980s was full of burnouts and straight up sexual predators. But Ratt was different. They were good kids from good families, and had they stayed in school they could have worked hard and really made something of themselves. Instead got way into partying and became just another group of has-beens. These days Ratt can be found desperately hoping to book county fair gigs opening for much more successful bands like Dokken, Winger, and Nelson.
BEST: Cephalic Carnage
Punishing mile-high metalheads since 1992, Cephalic Carnage is easily the best metal band from Colorado. Furthermore, they’re one of a small selection of metal bands with something of a sense of humor, which is odd considering the whole genre is such a big joke.
WORST: Dogs of Pleasure
This forgettable Colorado-based glam rock outfit only released one album before doing the rest of the world a favor and breaking up before anyone realized what was happening.
On top of being named the best metal band from Connecticut by The Hard Times, Hatebreed was recently given a lifetime achievement award by the New Haven Crossfit branch as well, further cementing their legacy.
WORST: Crossing Rubicon
Crossing Rubicon is doing their part to make sure that glam rock remains dead, buried, and where it belongs, because there’s no way in hell anyone ever listened to Crossing Rubicon and thought “more of this please.”
BEST: Foreign Hands
Foreign Hands plays the kind of hardcore that was popular in the early 2000s. With chugging guitars ready to break down at any instant, soft interludes, and a mixture of clean and screaming vocals. Now we’re suddenly feeling nostalgic for those hardcore shows in high school that featured like 25 bands for five bucks.
WORST: Vinne Moore
Vinnie Moore is a great guitar player, don’t get us wrong. But great guitar players are dime a dozen, so who gives a shit? We’ve always wondered why great guitarists release albums that sound like metal albums with all the evil-sounding stuff taken out, and the UFO guitarist’s solo records are no exception.
Death’s impression on the modern metal scene is undeniable. Formed in 1983, Death would become one of the most influential metal bands of all time, evolving from the punk inspired “Leprosy” into the more technical overtures of “Symbolic and The Sound of Perseverance.” Regrettably, band leader Chuck Schuldiner succumbed to brain cancer in 2001, leaving behind a trailblazing discography that inspired an entire subgenre full of bands that are much, much, much worse than Death ever was.
WORST: Six Feet Under
Included among bands that are much worse than Death ever was is Six Feet Under. After being replaced in Cannibal Corpse by George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher’s neck, vocalist Chris Barnes created Six Feet Under and has underwhelmed audiences ever since. This, despite the fact that nearly a third of the band’s discography comprises covers from bands that are much, much, much better than Six Feet Under ever was.
One thing that sets Mastodon apart from other stoner metal bands is that they feature elements of that “fuck you” feeling you get from other genres like punk or thrash without sacrificing the melodic grooves that stoner metal is known for. The band’s albums have garnered near universal acclaim since their first full length was released in 2002. Many of Mastodon’s records are concept albums centered around themes that include Moby Dick, being stranded on a mountain, and getting lost in the desert. They also have a whole album about a paraplegic that travels the universe through astral projection and gets sucked into a wormhole after having his golden umbilical cord burned off by the sun, maaaannn.
If you think that Atlanta’s Fozzy is going to be terrible just because it’s led by pro wrestler Chris Jericho, you’re right. They’ve released eight studio albums since 2000, and each one is worse than the one that came before it. Though we must admit that sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut, as we’ve had Fozzy’s “Judas” stuck in our head for years.