The 10 Best Live Bands in Metal Right Now

Behemoth leader NergalEXPAND
Behemoth leader Nergal
Levan TK

Last year, Spotify named fans of heavy metal the most loyal music fans in the world. While metal fans keep coming back over and over again to their favorite albums, lifetime band allegiances are mostly won in the live arena. In a genre where album sales are rarely enough to make an income, careers and fan bases are truly made by providing a killer live show, and inspiring fans to come back again and again — and, of course, buy the tour shirt every time.

The 10 bands below are the best live metal bands today, and here’s why:

10. Alestorm
This Scottish pirate-metal band sings jaunty metallic odes to the pirate life and drinking. Using some of the structures of traditional pirate sing-alongs and amplifying them with metal guitars and keyboards, Alestorm provides an atmosphere of sheer fun that is in contrast to the overly serious nature of many metal bands. In the live setting, it’s nearly impossible not to shout along with songs like “Drink” and “Wenches and Mead,” with frontman Christopher Bowes sporting a pirate hat, shouting pirate chants between songs, and tossing in killer keytar solos to boot.

9. Amon Amarth
These Swedish metal masters have spent 20 years mining a seemingly endless supply of blood-soaked Viking stories and Norse mythology for their melodic death metal. Frontman Johan Hegg effortlessly replicates his hearty death bellows in live performances and the rest of the band are reliably strong, but their live show took an even more epic turn on this year’s Jomsviking tour. Songs such as “The Way of Vikings” featured two sword-wielding warriors in full chainmail engaging in battle and standing guard with bows and arrows throughout the show, adding a heavy metal Medieval Times atmosphere to the band’s already stellar live show.

8. Lamb of God
There is nothing fancy or gimmicky about what Virginia metallers Lamb of God do. For almost 20 years, the band has engaged in a no-frills aggro-metal approach that takes classic Pantera-style riffs and injects them with steroids. Onstage, the raw power of the band’s sound on anthems such as “Walk With Me in Hell” and “Now You’ve Got Something to Die for” inspire some of the most viscerally violent mosh pits found today. Frontman Randy Blythe stalks the stage, his posture and stance matching the power of the music — and he's singing with renewed vigor since he was acquitted of manslaughter charges relating to the death of a stage diver at a Lamb of God show in the Czech Republic in 2010.

7. Devin Townsend Project
Many mosh pits at metal shows are populated by angry scowls and death glares. Devin Townsend is the antithesis of that. On his 2012 album, Epicloud, the Canadian metal mastermind screams during the chorus of "Liberation": "The time has come to forget all the bullshit and rock!" And that’s exactly what happens at a Devin Townsend live show. While he very much takes his songcraft seriously, Townsend is all smiles when he performs his infectiously catchy prog-metal opuses. His engaging stage presence, bolstered by wickedly humorous stage banter, stokes a mosh pit fueled by smiles instead of anger.

6. Dillinger Escape Plan
Here are things I have witnessed Dillinger Escape Plan vocalist Greg Puciato do at his band’s live shows: Start the set by stage-diving into the crowd. Throw the mic stand out into the crowd like a javelin and hit the back of the room. Crowd-surf his way over to the House of Blues VIP section and start heaving the heavy wooden chairs into the crowd. Swing from the lighting fixtures at the Center for the Arts Eagle Rock. Confuse a shitload of Metallica fans at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards with his antics and come up bleeding from the forehead two minutes into the band’s set. Sing a shockingly faithful cover of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher.” And the rest of the band is just as batshit insane.

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