For my entire life, Metallica has been the biggest act that metal had to offer. Like most other 90s kids that grew up listening to heavy music, The Black Album was a staple of my developmental years. The album that brought us Enter Sandman, Sad But True, and The Unforgiven was a staple in my childhood. I am undoubtedly a huge fan of Metallica, and would never try to deny the impact they have had on metal. Last year, after Metallica released Hardwired… to Self-Destruct to an incredible amount of (well-deserved) fanfare, it became apparent that no amount of time or questionable music directions (remember Lulu, the album with Lou Reed?) could take Metallica from their throne as the kings of heavy metal. And they know it.
In a post-album release interview, I heard drummer Lars Ulrich say that the members of Metallica didn’t listen to any current metal bands. In fact, he feels like even though the band is older and have families of their own, they have to keep making music, because there is no band ready to have the torch passed to them. While you will never hear me say that I won’t be excited about Metallica releasing new music, it got me thinking — is the state of heavy music as bleak as Metallica (read: Lars) thinks? I’d say no — here are five bands that I think are ready to carry that torch, and why:
The most logical place to start is with the band that Metallica chose to support them during their Hardwired tour. The similarities between A7X and Metallica are plentiful. You can tell that Metallica has had a strong impact on the band, from the strong, shredding guitar solos to the extended, lengthy tracks. Hell, there are several songs on 2014’s Hail to the King that may as well actually BE Metallica songs. They have the sound, they have the insane stage shows, and they have the diversity. Much like Metallica, A7X has shown their hand in heavy thrash, melodic shredding, and have even mixed in some slower heavy ballads. Avenged Sevenfold is definitely Metallica’s most well-groomed replacement.
Stone Sour is another band that I have always likened to the Kings of Thrash. For the casual fan, songs like Through Glass and Bother may have put a mellow perception of this band in your mind. But make no mistake, Stone Sour rocks. The biggest advantage that Stone Sour has to be the next big thing is their commercial appeal. Much like Metallica, Stone Sour has been able to take metal to the mainstream. Songs like Through Glass and Bother showed their softer side and put the band on pop radio, but it also got their tunes on the Alt and Rock charts, which allowed some of their more heavy stuff to get radio play. And don’t forget, Corey Taylor is a bonafide rock star. The Slipknot frontman is as heavy as they come and knows how to work a large crowd, and he is diverse enough to appeal to fans from heavy metal to alternative.
Simply put, Halestorm rocks. Much like Stone Sour, the band capitalizes on a broad appeal. They are definitely not the heaviest band on this list, but that’s not to say that they don’t know how to rock out. As I eluded to before, part of what I have always attributed to Metallica’s incredible success was that they were incredible musicians who knew how to transcend metal. Metallica was never put “in a box”; they have always been as diverse as they are innovative. Halestorm is much the same way. They have some tunes that appeal to the alt rock charts, but they have some tracks that appeal to the metal crowd as well. Plus, their annual EP of covers has shown their diversity as they take on some of rocks most iconic bands. Don’t believe they should be on this list? Check out their recent cover of Ride the Lightning. Then we’ll talk!
Beartooth may not be ready to take the crown today, because they haven’t quite ‘arrived’ yet. But they will. If you haven’t heard of Beartooth, stop reading this and run to your musical outlet of choice. These guys are heavy, gritty, hard working, and put on a hell of a live show. This is a band in the early stages of their career and they couldn’t remind me more of early Metallica. Sure, there is a lot more screaming, but the metalcore sound of Beartooth really embraces the thrash sound that Metallica is known for. Beartooth is not going to take the torch yet, but they are definitely a band who can lead the next generation of metal to prominence.
What is a list like this without a reach? Not that Nothing More isn’t talented, and they deserve to be at the top of any list, but they don’t draw a whole lot of similarities to Hetfield and Co. Actually, they don’t draw a lot of comparisons to anyone — and that is exactly why they are here. Metallica has remained at the zenith of heavy metal for so long, because no one has changed the game like they did when they first came on to the scene. If any band is capable of that, it is Nothing More. These guys have the most unique sound I have ever heard. And they weld a friggin’ giant instrument that takes 3 guys to play before every show. Check them out, you can thank me later.
What do you think, Spinning Thoughts? Am I totally off base? Did I snub someone? Or is Lars right — will Metallica be the only face of metal for the next generation?
JBone — Hard Rock/Metal Contributor. Follow Jay on Twitter: @JBoneBass