The metal scene is like a living organism that is in constant change and evolution as each and every new band that claims a spot under the limelight brings something new and refreshing to the table. I have put together a list of (what I consider to be) ten of the best bands that have emerged during the last decade (2010 – 2019), keeping things fresh and interesting with their blend of styles and/or unique sound. These ten bands have already put their stamp on the current metal scene and are gaining a cult following for good reason.
Is it metalcore? Is it melodeath? Or is it pop-metal? How about ‘all of the above’ plus something else. That is the beauty of AMARANTHE’s sound – you can’t exactly put a definite label on what it is, but it really is super melodic and hooky. Their self-titled debut album, “Amaranthe,” came out in April 2011 puzzling critics and fans alike with their signature triple vocal attack and layered soundscapes. One thing was certain: it was different and appealing. Over the course of the decade they released five more albums, pushing their sound in all possible directions, and their latest studio effort, “Manifest,” their most diverse (and arguably best) offering to date, shows how much AMARANTHE has evolved and matured.
Beyond The Black
Fronted by the lovely and talented Jennifer Haben, BEYOND THE BLACK has been around for about six years, as the band was formed in 2014 and released their debut, “Songs of Love and Death,” in February 2015. Though young, they are a big part of not only the German metal scene but also of the symphonic metal scene, performing regularly at Wacken Open Air. With 2018’s “Heart of the Hurricane” and even more so with 2020’s “Hørizøns” the band has significantly darkened their sound by pushing it in a more modern direction and letting go of some symphonic layers. This shift makes them stand out all the more as a band with a fresh take on the music they are producing.
We could all have guessed that the shy yet talented act that put together “Lucidity” (2006) and “April Rain” (2009) would one day become a phenomenon. And seeing DELAIN’s growth and development after their break-out album, “We Are the Others” (2012), was such a gratifying experience, as with each subsequent release the band grew more and more confident in their skills. Vocalist Charlotte Wessels also matured a lot, not just in appearance but also in sound, being a true symphonic metal diva that could stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Simone Simons or Tarja Turunen. Check out their latest opus, “Apocalypse & Chill,” and enjoy the many facets of this band; from the poppier “We Had Everything” to the stunning “Masters of Destiney,” this is one solid album.
DYNAZTY is probably one of Sweden’s best-kept secrets. With seven albums under their belt, each progressively better than the last, and many tours across the globe (including a stop at ProgPower USA in 2017) it is still a wonder why they are not more well-known in the metal spheres. Considering the sheer quality of just their post-2014 releases – “Renatus” (2014), “Titanic Mass” (2016), “Firesign” (2018), and “The Dark Delight” (2020) – DYNAZTY should be playing headline shows. Their anthemic blend of melodic metal and high octane vocal power from exceptional vocalist Nils Molin is well suited for larger audiences. If you don’t believe me, give “The Dark Delight” (2020) a listen. This album will give you a perfect idea of the band’s sonic identity and creative prowess, eclectic and diverse as it may be, as it marries their affinities for classic rock music and the modern metal scene in one dynamic and engaging package.
Known mostly for their outlandish outfits and tongue-in-cheek image, Swedish metal act GHOST was formed in 2006 and released its breakthrough debut album, “Opus Eponymous,” in October 2010. Tobias Forge and his posse of Nameless Ghouls have captured the imagination of millions across the globe with their enigmatic appearances, eccentric live performances, and aura of mystery they have masterfully build around themselves. The play with the occult has been part of the rock ‘n’ roll formula since BLACK SABBATH’s debut album came out in 1970; however, GHOST took it a step further bringing it more into the collective consciousness. By reversing the assigned roles, Tobias Forge’s persona – Papa Emeritus / Cardinal Copia – can be seen as a “demonic anti-pope” that worships Lucifer instead of the Holy Trinity. The music is equally as intriguing and mystical as their videos and costumes, ranging from hard rock and heavy metal to doom metal and psychedelic rock, and their latest album – 2018’s “Prequelle” – is a dark collection of hymns and elegies.
If there is one word that could really describe HALESTORM it’s “perseverance” as the band was formed in 1998, but word of their music started spreading more around 2009 when the band released their self-titled debut record. 2012 saw the release of their breakthrough album, “The Strange Case of…,” which showcases the band’s diverse sounds and Lzzy Hale’s powerful vocals. HALESTORM continued to climb the ladder of success with its 2015 release “Into the Wild Life,” and with 2017’s “Vicious,” they became a household name on the American rock scene. Such songs as “I Miss the Misery,” “Love Bites (So Do I),” “I Am the Fire,” “Mayhem,” “Black Vultures,” “Vicious,” or “Uncomfortable” are a staple of their direct and unapologetic lyrics and sassy attitude.
The best way to describe JINJER’s rise to prominence is with the expression “from rags to riches.” What started out as a metalcore band somewhere in the Ukraine has now become a leading force in the scene and their latest outputs – the EP “Micro,” the full-length “Macro,” and the live concert “Alive in Melbourne” – have only solidified their position and status. You’d be hard-pressed to find a metalhead who hasn’t heard of them or isn’t impressed by Tatiana Shmailyuk’s fierce vocal power. But what makes JINJER different from any other extreme metal band is their wild but surprisingly cohesive blend of styles that sounds both refreshing and intriguing.
With a heavier sound than big sister EPICA, MAYAN is a Dutch symphonic death metal band formed in 2010 by vocalist Mark Jansen, guitarist Frank Schiphorst, and keyboardist Jack Driessen. MAYAN currently features in their ranks the incredibly talented Marcela Bovio and Laura Macrì, whose clean and operatic vocals add a touch of elegance to the music and counterbalance George Oosthoek and Mark Jansen’s growls as well as the aggressiveness of the backing instrumental. Over the course of the years MAYAN released three studio albums – 2011’s “Quarterpast,” 2014’s “Antagonise,” and 2018’s “Dhyana,” – and as always with anything that involves the creative mind of Mark Jansen, the songs relate to religion, politics, world events, philosophy, and self-awareness.
Who knew Tunisian traditional music can blend so well with metal instrumentation? The talented members of MYRATH, that’s who, as it is their charming songs that have put Tunisia on the worldwide metal map. Though the band started as a progressive metal act with some oriental influences in 2001, MYRATH’s direction changed paths with 2011’s “Tales of the Sands” and even more so with 2016’s “Legacy” and 2019’s “Shehili,” as more and more North African elements were being incorporated into their sound. In doing so, the band, fronted by powerhouse vocalist Zaher Zorgati, have created a distinct genre of their own, called “blazing desert metal.” With outstanding live performances (go and check out their show at Sweden Rock Festival from 2019, or their DVD “Live in Carthage”) MYRATH’s star is definitely on the rise in the musical firmament.
Oceans of Slumber
Progressive metal has never sounded any better than on OCEANS OF SLUMBER’s self-titled fourth album, released earlier this year. Though formed in 2011, the band really came into their own after charismatic vocalist Cammie Gilbert joined in 2014 and became the main songwriter. Their subsequent album – 2016’s “Winter,” 2018’s “The Banished Heart,” and 2020’s “Oceans of Slumber” – only solidified their status on the metal scene as they have received many positive reviews from critics and fans alike. Their blend of doom metal aesthetics, Gothic grandeur, and progressive intricacies is as impressive as it is emotional, making OCEANS OF SLUMBER one of the most innovative and exciting acts to hail from the US. Let yourself be charmed by their melancholy soundscapes, lush atmospheres, textured vocals, and melodic heaviness if you haven’t already.
Written by Andrea Crow