Ireland has given the world some of the greatest writers of all-time: Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Bram Stoker, William Butler Yeats. etc. Everyone knows that Irish traditional music is the best. However, there is one thing from Ireland that does not receive enough recognition: METAL! For the record, I think that Thin Lizzy is the most important band to have emerged from Ireland. These hard rocking pioneers have influenced an insane amount of metal acts. Phil Lynott — Thin Lizzy's late co-founder, vocalist, and bassist — was the king. He collaborated with the Swedish band Heavy Load on a couple of songs: "Free" and "Stronger than Evil." On Motörhead's 1990 live album The Birthday Party, you can hear Lynott singing and playing bass on a cover of Hawkind's "Motörhead."
Bands from Ireland tend to be extremely individualistic. Irish bands not only excel at creating unique sounds, but they also tend to exhibit an incredible willingness to evolve. A lot of the bands on our list have made considerable stylistic shifts over the years. Before we reveal our main picks, we would like to name some honorable mentions: Steel Tormemtor, Cruachan, Gama Bomb, Dread Sovereign, Darkest Era, Sermon of Flames, Mourning Beloveth, Slough Feg, Nautilus, Weed Priest, Hashmaker, Slidhr, Gaoth, Leitourgos, ZhOra, Vircolac, Warpath, Apokathilosis, and Scáth na Déithe.
Without further delay, go ahead and enjoy our list of Irish bands that you need to listen to today!
Primordial is one of Ireland's most prominent metal bands. This Celtic folk outfit draws inspiration from black metal. Unlike many similar groups, Primordial does not fall into the trap of becoming hokey. Their strengths are their doomy drive and sense of rootedness. Primordial views 1991 as the starting point of their journey. For the first year or so, they were known as Forsaken. Shortly after issuing their first album, Imrama in 1995, Primordial put out a two-song split with the well-known Swedish group Katatonia. Primordial has released a total of nine full-length studio albums. The Dublin-based band is signed to Metal Blade Records.
This hallucinogenic black, death, doom band has been active since 2013. The group takes its name from Thomas Robert Malthus, who believed in limiting the earth's population. Malthusian will satisfy your need for primitive metal. They have only released one full-length album, Across Deaths in 2018. Expect a split release from Malthusian and the US-based band Suffering Hour called Time's Withering Shadow this spring.
Brothers Dermot and Ciarán O'Hagan were the driving forces that pulled together Waylander's original lineup in 1993. Dermot, who played guitar, began jamming with bassist Jason Barriskill; and soon, the band recruited drummer Den Ferran. Ciarán, who acts as Waylander's frontman, is the group's only remaining original member. Waylander delivers exactly what you want from Celtic folk metal. These warriors blend a wide range of influences: black metal, heavy metal, etc. In 2009, Gareth Murdock left to join Alestorm.
This Gaelic doom metal band certainly has a lot of personality. Mael Mórdha, which emerged in the '90s, borrows from diverse groups. Although this may seem a bit odd at first, Mael Mórdha's members have named Bathory, Impaled Nazarene, and My Dying Bride as inspirations. Mael Mórdha has developed their own unique sound, which is difficult to categorize. Mael Mórdha entered the Eurovision Song Contest in the mid 2000s with the hope of representing Ireland in Ukraine. In 2005, they released a split with Primordial. The band has not unveiled new content since their fourth studio album, Damned When Dead in 2013.
Valais released their self-titled debut album last year. The spooky black metal effort that you will hear below is actually quite refreshing, despite conjuring images of cobwebs covering Victorian trinkets and maggot-eaten flesh. You'll hear synths, keyboards, and the like used in an interesting way. Valais is sure to resurrect your love for underground music. We look forward to seeing what the future has in store for this group.
Necrokinesis is the one-man death/thrash project of Adrian Foley, who played with the defunct heavy metal group Stereo Nasty. Foley released Necrosis' self-titled debut album in 2020.
This quirky band from Dublin was formed in the '90s. When Gaesa first began, they were influenced by the likes of Darkthrone and Burzum. Their debut demo, Starside in 1996, gained a decent amount of notoriety. It has both black metal- and Celtic-oriented songs. Geasa's style became more Celtic after Starside, seeing as the band lost a crucial member. In total, Gaesa released three full-length albums, the last of which, Godslaughter, came out in 2015.
Altar of Plagues
Altar of Plagues was active from 2005 to 2013. International fans were devastated when the band decided to call it quits while seemingly at its apex. Nevertheless, Altar of Plagues reunited in 2015 to play their farewell tour. This extreme metal band is definitely a polarizing one. Altar of Plagues was far from everyone's cup of tea. Yet, this outfit is still known as one of Ireland's most popular "black metal" bands.
Altar of Plagues opted for a blackish direction with their debut album, White Tomb in 2009. They became more experimental with the advent of Mammal in 2011. On their third record, Teethed Glory and Injury in 2013, Altar of Plagues pushed in an even more avant-garde direction. Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist James Kelly explained that his music was affected by his move to London. Altar of Plagues will either become your new favorite band, or they will cause you to curse this century and pick up your early-'90s records.
Celtic Legacy was founded in 1997. This hard rock/heavy metal band has a pleasingly nostalgic sound. Celtic Legacy makes for extremely easy listening. Surprisingly, they began with a violin player instead of a second guitar player; however, this would soon change. Celtic Legacy has persevered through a high number of lineup shifts. Resurrection in 2003 is Celtic Legacy's essential album. The groups plans to release an updated version of their first album, Celtic Legacy from 1998, called Redux this summer. At the end of this month, a project titled Lost Soul will be available on Bandcamp.
Zom began their career in 2011 and have only released one full-length album, Flesh Assimilation in 2014, to date. Yet, this black/death metal band has earned a fair amount of recognition for an underground band. Guitarist MB of Malthusian told Bardo Methodology that with the exception of a few major players: " … the [brutal metal scene in Ireland] scene only came alive on an international scale — at least in my view — with Zom. They lit a fire under people's arses and we started gaining confidence for underground bands actually achieving something on the global stage."