Kerrang! recently published their "definitive, objective, indisputable list of the best heavy metal band from every U.S. state." It is certainly a bold and adventurous move for Kerrang. It probably goes without saying that a piece like this would lead to hearty debate. So far, in the three days since its posting, it has generated a lot of buzz. Throngs of people quickly jumped to offer their two cents on the list by way of alternative choices and harsh criticisms. Many choices seem easy enough: Metallica (California), Mastodon (Georgia), for example. This list does become much more challenging to make when tackling states completely devoid of any metal scene. There is also the problem of bands who split their place of origin or aren't from the United States. For the sake of this piece, the band must be originally from the state.
Further still, there were some picks that have me scratching my head enough to offer this actual TRUE LIST OF BEST BANDS FROM EACH STATE.* This isn't necessarily a criticism of the piece itself, but more of a light-hearted rebuttal to the original piece. Writer Ethan Fixell should be applauded for the time and effort that went into this undertaking. After attempting this myself, it's incredibly difficult to figure this out. There is, of course, no right answer to a list like this. Take a look at Fixell's map below, then continue on to see my options for the 50 states of metal. As a disclaimer, this is purely subjective and only my thoughts, choices, and hot takes for these states and the bands who call them home. These may not necessarily reflect the rest of the staff at Metal Injection.
* Denotes critically high levels of sarcasm. Again, as I said three sentences ago, all of this is purely subjective. I needed a reason to air out some of my hot takes and seek validation from the world. If you want to fight me, you can do so on the internet via Twitter.
Kerrang: Maylene and the Sons of Disaster
Cody: Maylene and the Sons of Disaster
Maylene has been active since 2004 and released a number of albums that have cracked various international charts. Their blend of sludge and metalcore is refreshing for a genre that grew pretty tiresome in the mid to late aughts. I actually listened to this band a lot when they were fairly new.
Kerrang: 36 Crazyfists
Cody: 36 Crazyfists
Begrudgingly, I have to agree. Alaska is a bit lacking in metal and my only other possible contender, death metal band Turbid North. With 36 Crazyfists following Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, it became quickly evident a chunk of Kerrang's list are old metalcore bands.
Kerrang: Flotsam & Jetsam
Cody: Alice Cooper
No offense to Flotsam & Jetsam, they're a sensational band, but Alice Cooper arguably has done much more for metal and its image during his career in music. The showmanship, the corpse paint, the shock and awe he created decades ago—there's no question.
I feel like I will say "no offense " quite a bit in this piece… The same thing applies here. As great and illustrious as Pallbearer has become in such a short time, Rwake established themselves as Arkansas titans roughly a decade before Pallbearer formed. True, tenure doesn't imply being the best. However, Rwake's first decade as a band produced some of the best sludge metal of the last 20 years.
Kerrang: Cephalic Carnage
Cody: Primitive Man
Colorado offers a wealth of riches when it comes to metal bands. In fact, it presents the exact opposite problem that states like Alaska have. How in the hell do you pick just one? I dug a little deeper into Colorado's music scene–and I'll do so more when I move there in a few months—and saw that it's not simply Primitive Man's music that makes them the best from Colorado, but the work that vocalist/guitarist Ethan McCarthy puts into the local scene. McCarthy is among some of the most important people for Colorado's metal, working relentlessly to make Denver one of the brightest metal scenes in the United States. Intangibles, people.
Kerrang: Fates Warning
Cody: Fates Warning
I really wanted to make an Emmure joke, but isn't the band itself the ultimate joke? Fates Warning is the clear winner for Connecticut. You could also argue Hatebreed if you wanted to open that can of worms, I suppose.
SCORCHED SLAPS. LISTEN TO SCORCHED. DELAWARE DEATH METAL.
You could honestly fill a dartboard with Florida death metal bands, close your eyes, and throw; you're bound to land on a fantastic band. My heart wants me to pick Morbid Angel, but my brain says Death. Can I have two best bands for a state?
If anyone remotely knows me, they know this is the only state I unequivocally, wholeheartedly agreed with. Mastodon is forever my favorite band.
Sure. I think if you're bold enough to name yourself after the state and you've got Marty Friedman in your ranks, you win.
If you haven't taken the time to check out Wolvserpent's wonderful blend of drone, doom, and many other musical styles, I highly advise it. You will not regret it.
Pelican is wonderful and has long created some of the best instrumental metal. They've been the clear front-runner in their field since 2003 thanks in part to their vast variation in styles and influence in their music. Plus, Ministry hasn't been good since 1992.
Kerrang: The Gates of Slumber
Cody: The Gates of Slumber
This may change in a few years if Ecferus keeps making the kind of black metal he's been making. However, The Gates of Slumber made great doom metal in the vein of Saint Vitus when they were active.
This is probably a no-brainer too. You're lying if you say you never liked Slipknot. If you want another great Iowa band, check out Aseethe.
Cody: Manilla Road
COME ON NOW. Picking the best band from Kansas was supposed to be easy! Nearly 40 years of almost immaculate, epic heavy metal is more than enough to justify the Wichita-based Manilla Road as the best band from Kansas.
Though he lives in Minnesota now, Austin Lunn is Bluegrass State to the bone. Much of his sensational discography was written in Kentucky, including the eponymous album. These records are where the one-man black metal force forged his legacy. Interestingly enough, it has been interesting to see how his music has shifted in these recent years.
Eyehategod is great, but, personally, Thou is better. The Baton Rouge group has yet to miss on any music they've released. Their discography is significantly more diverse and riveting and they've done it in a shorter time period than Eyehategod. Gilead Media just announced vinyl reissues of Thou's early works too.
Cody: Falls of Rauros
The Portland-based Falls of Rauros make an atmospheric/folk black metal in the vein of Panopticon. They do it in a captivating manner that has made them one of the preeminent names on Bindrune Recordings (along with Panopticon…)
Cody: Dying Fetus
Clutch isn't metal. Dying Fetus is.
I have a hard time calling Converge metal. If anything, they're more punk/hardcore, but they often are named pioneers of metalcore? So, here we are.
Cody: The Black Dahlia Murder
The consistency and progression of The Black Dahlia Murder's death metal are almost unparalleled. Their evolution into modern, melodeath titans has been such a joy to see. I feel like I've grown up and matured with this band.
Obsequiae originally began as Autumnal Winds in 1998, a moniker under which they released a handful of demos. Then, they changed their name and began making medieval and melodic black metal in 2007. Their discography, though small—then again so is Powermad's—is utterly captivating and unforgettable.
Cody: Jute Gyte
Adam Kalmbach is one of the most dynamic minds in black metal. His comprehensive understanding of music theory and uncanny ability to play multiple instruments results in some of the most mind-bending and avant-garde black metal today.
This one is purely personal preference. Eneferens' albums are great displays of atmospheric black metal. Jori Apedaile's two full-length records in 2016, The Inward Cold and In the Hours Beneath, are well worth checking out.
Perhaps it's my aversion to most power metal, but Cellador doesn't cut it for me. Instead, the best band in Nebraska is the death metal quintet of Garoted. They've been working tirelessly to bring an old school death metal spirit to Nebraska for roughly a decade now.
Kerrang: Guttural Secrete
Cody: Guttural Secrete
There are a few bands that relocated to Nevada (Gehenna, Mortician), but they aren't from Nevada. Five Finger Death Punch is laughable. The scene in Nevada is slim, why not throw in a slam band?
Cody: Ronnie James Dio
Dio was actually born in New Hampshire. Dio is a God and invented metal's universal hand signal, therefore there is no debate.
Cody: The Dillinger Escape Plan
I will hear no arguments on this. It should be universally understood that TDEP is the best Jersey band. Second place is Evoken. Feel free to put Overkill wherever you want after those two bands.
Kerrang: Predatory Light
Cody: Old Man Gloom
I love Predatory Light's music. The guys behind the band make excellent black/death metal. However, I've got to say Old Man Gloom. The all-star lineup makes such a memorable blend of sludge and noise that only the parts of its whole could make. It's hard to beat Aaron Turner and company.
Cody: Type O Negative
HOT TAKE: Anthrax is not good and Kiss was never metal. Peter Steele is more of a man than many of us will ever be and Type O Negative has a ubiquitous gothic/doom metal sound that is unmatched. It should be without saying, Type O Negative is the best band from New York.
Kerrang: Corrosion of Conformity
Cody: Between the Buried and Me
Ah yes, my home state. Corrosion of Conformity is undoubtedly a great pick for North Carolina. The Raleigh natives have built a great career on crossover and sludge. Pepper Keenan returning is a wonderful thing as well. However, fellow Raleigh natives Between the Buried and Me take the cake for me. They're a band who have taken numerous risks and explored new avenues with great success. Albums like Colors and The Parallax II are staples in modern progressive metal.
Ghost Bath lied and said they weren't from North Dakota when they actually were. Therefore they're excluded. Egypt wins by default.
Fistula has been making downright filthy and excellent sludge and doom since 2001. The consistency and tenure beats out Skeletonwitch for me.
Read my feature on their most recent album, Unforgiving Landscapes, and you'll see why they're my pick. The atmospheric funeral doom band has been one of my favorite recent discoveries.
Kerrang: Red Fang
Yob is less of a band and more of a spiritual entity. Mike Scheidt, Aaron Rieseberg, and Travis Foster possess the ability to move their audience to tears and visible emotion. There aren't many bands who are able to do that. The trio is one of the best bands around. "Marrow" should be the United States' new National Anthem.
Kerrang: Code Orange
Code Orange is bad. Incantation is death metal royalty. How does one drop the ball so heavily? Also, shout out to Johnstown. Mother Nature thought the great flood of 1977 could take out my great-grandfather? Think again.
Kerrang: Vital Remains
Cody: Vital Remains
I actually forgot Vital Remains was from Rhode Island so this made life way easier for this state's pick.
Yeah, this is the obvious choice and by the time I finish typing this sentence, it will almost be as long as a Nile song title.
Kerrang: Woman is the Earth
Cody: Woman is the Earth
Totally agree. Black Hills' Woman is the Earth is exactly what I look for in atmospheric black metal. Instead of using worn-out Cascadian tropes, they tap into the vast expanses of their home state.
Kerrang: Today Is the Day
Cody: Today Is the Day
It's hard not to pick Today Is the Day. They've built quite the resume over the years. Another Tennessee band worth listening to is Yautja. They're an excellent and relatively new (compared to Today Is the Day) grind band that's making great music.
Phil Anselmo being a human dumpster fire and a genuinely terrible person does a lot to tarnish Pantera. Dimebag Darrell was an amazing guitarist and he's responsible for numerous memorable riffs and some good groove metal. Yet, the consistent and inescapable foot-in-mouth situations Anselmo puts himself in has essentially ruined Pantera for me. Instead, Absu is Texas' best. They've been one of the United States' longest running and most prolific death and black metal bands since 1991. Also, Tara is necessary listening.
Matt Bacon's favorite band is also the best band from Utah. The Salt Lake City effort makes absolutely ethereal, beautiful long-form doom metal. Their inclusion of electric violins in addition to standard metal instrumentation makes for simply striking albums like For This We Fought the Battle of Ages and More Constant Than the Gods
Barishi's actually really cool and Vermont doesn't have a whole lot to pick from, unfortunately…
Kerrang: Lamb of God
I just feel like you can't pick anyone other than GWAR here. Does Lamb of God have their own annual barbeque? I didn't think so… On a different note, give it another few years and Inter Arma will be occupying this spot. I can promise you that.
I was going to go with Sunn O))), who is a close second, but the drone metal pioneers are simply too good to not put in this list. Dylan Carlson and company founded a wonderfully meditative sound through sustained riffing and psychedelia. Look for Carlson's solo album later this year as well.
Kerrang! had too much metalcore on their list and Byzantine makes fun groove metal.
Kerrang: Misery Signals
Again, Kerrang has too much metalcore on their list. I had forgotten Misery Signals was even a band. However, Northless is a band and they are a very good band. Erik Stenglein crafts a hate and misery-fueled, violent brand of sludge on par with Primitive Man (for comparison's sake.) Their most recent album, Last Bastion of Cowardice, is an excellent example of this. Check out an interview I did with Stenglein last year for this site.
Cody: Toby Knapp
So, it's almost certain that Ea is actually from Russia, not Cody, Wyoming (and neither am I.) Instead, check out Toby Knapp, a multi-instrumentalist who has had a role in a number of small bands in Wyoming. He's also got some solo work and a track that features Attila Csihar.