Los Angeles is a great town for metal, and continues to produce some of its most vital bands, across any number of subgenres.
Below are our picks for the best L.A. metal albums of the year. Some are doing things that have already been done in new and interesting ways, some offer sheer brutality. One band, meanwhile, is helping to push the genre forward.
On their second album, Huntress continues their forays into traditional heavy metal, as inspired by '80s masters like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Vocalist Jill Janus shows more restraint in her vocals -- favoring a throaty rasp as opposed to the "always on high" registers of their debut -- and it's for the better. This combined with a more confident approach to songwriting makes for a second effort that improves greatly upon their debut.
4. Holy Grail
Ride The Void
Like Huntress, Holy Grail also delivers a strong traditional heavy metal assault on their second album. The group's fist-pumping anthemic metal is boosted by a shredding guitar attack that is proficient in its dizzying technicality and keeps the mosh pit moving as well. James Paul Luna's vocals are the lynchpin, reminiscent of past masters but also full of a power that compels you to shout along with his choruses.
3. Seven Sisters of Sleep
Seven Sisters of Sleep are a whirlwind of pure nihilism. The caustic vocals of Tim McLary seem to hurt your throat when he hits the tendon-shredding barks. The music is a concoction of sludge, doom, and hardcore caked in layers of filth and grime. Whether your drug of choice is a downer or an upper, Seven Sisters of Sleep has got you covered.
2. Lightning Swords of Death
Black metal has been drifting towards progressive leanings the last few years, but not Lightning Swords of Death, whose third album is a cacophonous assault that calls to mind the darkest corners of Scandinavia, more than sunny California. The guitar duo of Roksva and Inverted Chris combine for some of the finest hooks in metal this year. The blood-curdling screams of vocalist Autarch only enhance the proceedings.
See also: What Makes Los Angeles Metal?
Intronaut are masters of combining the proggy adventurousness of Tool with thunderous riffs. This quartet's latest album sees these merchants of sludge and psychedelics getting more melodic, but there are still plenty of headbang-worthy moments. The growls may be gone, but guitarists/vocalists Sacha Dunable and Dave Timnick still roar with mighty bellows. Bassist Joe Lester and drummer Danny Walker, meanwhile, combine for one of the most powerful rhythm sections in the genre.
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