Today, we honor the exceptionally cool bassists, who enrich our lives with their outstanding contributions to metal and rock. Unfortunately, bass players don't always receive the recognition they deserve. This is, of course, extremely unjust. The legendary Geezer Butler, for instance, should be as famous as Ozzy Osbourne, but that is not the case. Meanwhile, the masses aren't always going to properly reward the individuals behind radically inventive art; take Mysticum's Dr. Best or Hugh "Skoll" Mingay of Arcturus and Ved Buens Ende. Sturt of Troll is another rare talent, whose individualistic work will not be understood by everyone.
The tragically deceased bassist, frontman, and keyboardist Espen "Storm" Andersen of Strid has earned our eternal respect. Strid recorded what is regarded by some as the first depressive black metal song, "End of Life." The following three Trondheim-based multi-instrumentalists and collaborators serve as additional prime examples of visionaries who should be household names: Luctus, a.k.a. Wraath and Afgrundsprofet, who plays bass in Mare; the Italian-born Lord Nathas, who functions as Ritual Death's bassist; and HBM Azazil, a.k.a. Kvitrim and E. Blix, who fronts and contributes bass to Oslo's Norwegian Grammy-winning Djevel. Speaking of Djevel, we must also mention that Koldbrann's Mannevond previously had Azazil's role in the studio. Fortunately, he returns to Djevel to slay on bass at live gigs. Mannevond furthermore handles bass and vocals in NettleCarrier and provides bass in Urgehal, which has reunited for concert purposes.
Without further ado, we present our list of amazing bassists who deserve more love. The following picks happen to be some of the most interesting artists in our section of the music world. Discover what surprising hidden talents these extraordinary musicians possess.
Torstein Parelius is such a phenomenal artist. He is a bassist, lyricist, and film producer. Since 2001, Parelius has been an essential part of the legendary Manes. Parelius is more than Manes' bass player. He is also involved in their production, conceptual and visual aspects, and so forth.
For the unenlightened, Manes began as black metal pioneers. However, after their first album, Manes went on hiatus and reemerged as a totally different genre-defying entity with a whole new lineup around co-founder Tor-Helge "Cernunnus" Skei. That is precisely when our current man of honor came into the picture. Manes presently fuses several musical styles in their boiling cauldron of awesomeness. Both old and neo-Manes are defined by their rare magic. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of Manes' masterpiece of a sophomore album, Vilosophe, and the fifth anniversary of their latest triumph, Slow Motion Death Sequence.
The brilliant Parelius also plays guitar in the death metal band Chton and the inventive outfit Drontheim. As for Manes, he has written lyrics for groups, such as Keep of Kalessin, Lethe, Bloodthorn, Khonsu, etc.
Formed in 1989, Seigmen is royalty in Norway. Even Crown Prince Haakon adores them. However, the rest of the world needs to learn to properly appreciate their genius. Many describe Seigmen as a life-changing band. They are simply without an equivalent. Seigmen won the 1995 Spellemann / "Norwegian Grammy" for Metropolis.
Seigmen's bassist Kim Ljung is clearly an extraordinary talent. He provides vocals in Seigmen as well, though Alex Møklebust serves as the group's main vocalist. You can also enjoy Kim's work with the criminally pleasurable Seigmen side project Zeromancer, which was formed in 1999. We furthermore recommend Kim's Ljungblut, whose latest EP Sauda premiered in March. Kim mostly performed the music on this effort himself.
The Love Metal pioneer Mikko "Migé" Paananen has definitely stolen our hearts. Migé co-founded HIM in 1991 with Ville Valo and remained with the group until they disbanded in 2017. (Granted, HIM broke up for a limited period early on when Migé began his compulsory military service.) Migé and the rest of the HIM clan had phenomenal chemistry. Migé furthermore has a magnetic and vibrant personality. We truly miss watching him perform and give interviews with his former bandmates. Some might remember that Migé was also previously part of Daniel Lioneye, which began as a HIM side project of sorts.
Ville Valo has mentioned that Migé lent his support during the making of his first solo album, Neon Noir (2023). Mr. Valo told MetalSucks: "… at the end of the day, you have to remember that Migé is such a good friend that he’s always involved… He was like the sort of Rick Rubin of producers, like a guru… really influencing proceedings quite a bit."
Stian "Crowbel" Kråbøl is a true master. This year, he celebrated the release of Tulus' acclaimed latest triumph, Fandens Kall. The documentary about the record's making, 3 Decades of Uncompromising Black Metal, premiered at the end of 2022. Tulus is a classic TNBM band. This outfit was formed in 1991 after Thomas "Sarke" Bergli witnessed Darkthrone rehearsing for A Blaze in the Northern Sky (1992) and told his collaborator Sverre "Blodstrup" Stokland that they had to start playing black metal. Stian has been with Tulus since 2008 and Tulus' sister band, the Spellemann / "Norwegian Grammy"-nominated Khold, since 2013. Along similar lines, Stian appeared as a guest on Ugly (2005) by Vesen — the band of Ronny Østli, who has played a major behind-the-scenes role in Tulus' career.
Stian joined the funeral doom pioneering outfit Funeral in 2022 as a guitarist. He continues to play in bass in Minas, though he originally functioned as the band's guitarist. Stian co-founded this group in 1989 as Minas Tirith with the help of his brother — the equally talented Terje M. Kråbøl, who has drummed for an insane number of amazing groups. The siblings collaborated in Bergli's "solo project," Sarke, when it was nominated for a Spellemann. Stian functioned as Sarke's guitarist. Fortunately, he still continues to perform live with the band, though he is no longer a studio member. (We must add that Bergli is a great bassist himself. In Sarke, he handles bass and sometimes more, except on Gastwerso .) Along with Terje, Terje's son Brage of Misotheist and Enevelde, and M. Kråbøl, Stian is part of the emerging family supergroup Kråbøl, which I view as one of the most promising acts.
Black Anvil is New York's reigning black metal band. Paul Delaney is the outfit's frontman and bassist, of course. He is joined by Raeph on drums; Jeremy Sosville on guitars; and, the group's newest acquisition, Alex Volonino, on guitars as well. This extremely tightknit team possesses almost supernatural chemistry and clarity of vision. Black Anvil began heading in a magnificent new direction on their fourth album, As Was (2017), and totally blew our minds wide open by continuing further down this path on Regenesis (2022), their latest masterpiece.
Paul is definitely at the height of his game. He wowed us this year with his work on Duivel's latest masterpiece of an EP, Heiligschennis. He has been part of this Dutch black metal project since their self-titled debut EP. On a related note, we must also mention that the upstanding Paul has contributed to the most excellent yet truly demented project Kwade Droes among a long list of additional fantastic undertakings. Although Paul is clearly revered within the black metal world, he began as hardcore musician. Paul has played in bands, such as Kill Your Idols, which featured other future Black Anvil members, though he actually first met Raeph while playing with another hardcore act called Downlow. Paul has toured with Madball, for example, and thus shared the stage with Dissection.
Phil A. Cirone
Phil A. Cirone currently belongs to three of Sweden's best acts: Craft, Hypothermia, and Kall. Whereas Kim Carlsson's Hypothermia predated Lifelover and was actually the reason Kim united with his fellow Lifelover co-founder, Jonas Lars "B" Bergqvist, Kall rose from the ashes of Lifelover after B's tragic death. The music of both Kall and Hypothermia is shockingly authentic. As Carlsson has said, his goal isn't just to be legendary; he wants his art to be eternal. Phil has proved an ideal collaborator to help Kim realize his ambitions.
Phil actually played in the first band of Shining's Niklas Kvarforth. Eventually, Phil joined Shining on bass and keyboards. He initially served as the replacement for his older brother Tusk. Although Phil has parted ways with Shining a couple of times, his contributions to this pioneering powerhouse will prove immortal.
Rob "Blasko" Nicholson has had an illustrious career as a hired gun to the very best in the music world. Although Mr. Blasko currently describes himself as a retired rockstar, we doubt that he is actually done dazzling audiences. That would be a crime, but Blasko is a rare saint. Blasko is best known at this point as one of Ozzy Osbourne's most trusted and lethal weapons. Blasko has furthermore slayed beside his Ozzy Osbourne bandmate Zakk Wylde in Zakk Sabbath. Yes, Blasko still belongs to this killer outfit's roster. In the past, Blasko has played with the likes of Cryptic Slaughter, Danzig, Rob Zombie, and many others. Offstage, Blasko serves as an award-winning cat advocate, entrepreneur, manager, marketing wizard, charismatic and humorous social media presence, and much more.
Vitaly Dubinin is a bassist who has toured the world and is regarded as a hero in Eastern Europe. Yet, his work is still often overlooked elsewhere due to geographical reasons. Dubinin has been with the highly influential heavy metal powerhouse Aria since the late '80s. Dubinin and Vladimir Kholstinin serve as Aria's main songwriters. Needless to say, Dubinin is truly a fantastic composer. He also acts as a backing vocalist within the band. Dubinin has also done much work outside of Aria. For example, he put out a studio album and live record in 2022 and 2023 respectively with his eponymous solo project.
Other important Eastern European bassists who should be more known in the rest of the world include Alexander Titov, who has earned fame with Akvarium and Kino, and Nautilus Pompilius' original bassist Dmitry Umetsky.
As a vocalist and bassist, Nag has truly exceptional charisma. He is certainly one of metal's best frontmen. Yes, Nag is absolutely legendary, and so is Tsjuder; although Tsjuder is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential black metal bands, their art is still absurdly underappreciated. Fortunately, Tsjuder's latest album, Helvegr (2023), caused quite a storm. The highly regarded Scream Magazine, for example, awarded it a 6/6. Helvegr starred another one of black metal's greatest bassists, 1349's Seidemann.
On The Thomas Eriksen Podcast, Nag shared that his decision to become a bassist occurred when he was in elementary school. It was actually the result of coin flip with his friend Diabolus Mort, who eventually joined Tsjuder for a short period. Although the pair didn't even start a band together at the time, the story proves just how unwavering Nag's commitment has been over the decades. Indeed, Nag and Tsjuder's uncompromising attitude has already guided them through 30 glorious years of existence.
Of course, we highly recommend Krypt, Nag's project with ex-Tsjuder's Desecrator. We must also add that Nag belonged to the fabled Isvind for a period in the '90s. In addition, Nag has played live with the revered Gehenna and the unholy Beastcraft, the outstanding project of Sorath Northgrove and the late Trondr Nefas. He has furthermore made guest appearances on releases by (again) Beastcraft, Urgehal, Doedsvangr, Secht, and Svart Lotus.
The Carpathian Forest bassist Daniel Vrangsinn charms us time and time again with his artistry and daring sense of humor. In Carpathian Forest, Vrangsinn has also handled backing vocals, guitars, and keyboards. Unfortunately, Vrangsinn is going through a rough period right now and is taking a partial break from Carpathian Forest, but he has stressed that he isn't leaving the band.
Vrangsinn and Dirge Rep, formerly of Gehenna and Enslaved, co-founded a one-of-a-kind project that I consider to be among the rare jewels most worth recommending — Secht, which we actually named above. Secht's lone, self-titled 2006 album features an array of all-star guests. It should also be noted that Vrangsinn has supported Nattefrost's solo work both at gigs and in the studio; he has performed live with Krypt and Tsjuder, and thus ended up on a concert album by the latter; he made a guest appearance with Deathcult; he provided vocals for a Taake track; the list continues infinitely. You can currently find Mr. Daniel Vrangsinn thriving with the psychopath rock band Vrangsinn and the Arsonists.
Vrangsinn is not only an exceptional musician, but he is also a great writer, poet, visual artist, cat lover, and cannabis advocate. It comes as no surprise that Mr. Vrangsinn is a wonderful supporter of the community and has served as a labor union representative. This year, he made the paper for helping children create an anti-bullying song at his studio. In order to support like-minded musicians, in 2007, the generous spirit in question founded the non-profit label Misantrof ANTIRecords, which has acquired talents like the Belgian anti-Christmas band Plaag. Vrangsinn has actually appeared on a couple of Plaag's tracks, including "Santa Be Gone."
Nordjevel's DezeptiCunt is one of black metal's most exciting bassists. Nordjevel is certainly a fan favorite among those who have actually been paying attention to the genre. They released their latest victory, Gnavhòl, last year. In the underrated yet highly regarded group Nattverd, DezeptiCunt is known as Sveinr. Although Nattverd's history traces back to the '90s, this Bergen-based outfit did not officially form until 2014. Their members are some of Norway's greatest musicians. We urge readers to check out Nattverd's brutal yet majestic latest record, I Helvetes Forakt (2023). This victory was mixed, mastered, and partially recorded by Ruben Willem, whose work has earned three Norwegian Grammy Awards and eight nominations. Surprisingly, Nattverd only recently began playing live gigs. We hope that they will travel the globe with their frostbite-inducing sonic excellence. DezeptiCunt plays in many other bands, such as Nebular Mystic. We find it especially cool that he was a member of Ragnarok. DezeptiCunt furthermore serves as a live bassist to the fabled Gehenna.
Die Ärzte, or "The Doctors," are one of Germany's biggest punk rock bands. Their songs may be simple, but they are remarkably fun and catchy. Die Ärzte's lyrics often prove unusually amusing and even brilliant, among the best I've heard at times. Rodrigo "Rod" González may not be Die Ärzte's original bassist, but he has been with the band since 1993 and has always been a perfect fit. Although Farin Urlaub is technically the group's main vocalist, all three members, Bela B included, sing and write songs. Rod wrote "1/2 Lovesong," for example, for which he also served as the main vocalist. Rod has an amazing voice and has proved an extremely likable fixture. This charismatic performer is also known for his work as a producer.
Alice in Chains' original bassist, Mike Starr (1966-2011), will be eternally beloved for his role in crafting classic material. Unfortunately, this fun-loving ladies' man was misunderstood by many, but we view him as a heroic and resilient figure. In Alice in Chains: The Untold Story, David de Sola quoted Evan Sheeley: "Mike was more of a thrasher, which I think made the band, honestly. It was a big part of their [AiC's] sound." This is absolutely true. Mike brought his own style, character, and energy to AiC. Sadly, AiC's sophomore album, the unsurpassed masterpiece Dirt (1992), would be Mike's last effort with the group. We hear Mike's songwriting skills on "Fear the Voices," which was released both as a single and also on Music Bank (1999). However, if Mike's wishes were granted, this track would have been included on Dirt.
Bassist Jens Patrik "Dr. Schitz" Näsström was, in fact, an original member of the pioneering and ingenious outfit Morbid, which emerged in 1986. Morbid had a revolutionary style, which can be described as a fusion of extreme metal subgenres. Their music remains timeless and unique. Näsström told Bardo Methodology that back in Morbid's day "'Black Metal' was an album, not a concept — what we were listening to was essentially thrash and speed metal…" The material that Näsström was able to record with Morbid has already earned a place in the history books. Ika Johannesson, for example, has done exceptional work documenting Morbid as part of her chapter dedicated to Per Yngve "Pelle" Ohlin. During his time in Morbid, Pelle developed his "Dead" persona. As such, he would become the most iconic black metal vocalist of all time with Mayhem, for which he left Morbid, and imbued the genre with its mystical spirit. In other words, Pelle and Morbid created truthful art, as opposed to mere entertainment. We must note that before his death, Pelle started rehearsing with Morbid again, meaning that he and Näsström had big plans. The band not only intended to release a 7", but Näsström told Metalion of Slayer Mag that Pelle might have fronted Morbid and Mayhem simultaneously.
This January, Morbid reunited in Sweden for a slightly belated 35th-anniversary celebration of the December Moon (1987) demo. Näsström played beside other key members. As in the old days, Nässtrom served up a symbolic semla to do justice to the song "Disgusting Semla." Fortunately, this event at Klubb Fredagsmangel was not the first time Morbid teamed up after Pelle's death, nor will it be the last. The band will play another reunion gig in Oslo. Over the years, Näsström and his bandmates have set a touching example by honoring Pelle's memory in various other ways: private get-togethers, the releases of Ancient Morbidity (2010) and Year of the Goat (2011), the Morbid Clan Award, etc.