20 Very Cool Heavy Metal Bands to See Live This Year

No one loves their genre of music more than heavy metal fans.  Headbangers have a real kinship.  It’s special to be a fan of metal.

The hard part about making a list of the 20 very cool heavy metal bands you must see live this year wasn’t finding 20, but narrowing it down to 20.  Our list could have easily been twice as long.

So how did we do it?  What criteria did we use, besides, you know, the band must be very cool?

The bands on our list love heavy metal.  It’s not what they do; it’s who they are.

Their zest and zeal for their genre is best experienced in concert.  The following acts are in their element when performing live.

Finally, they all create face-melting music.  These bands aren’t corporate shills.  They’re true artists.

Whether you see them when they come to town or make a road trip to one of their shows, in 2018 you must experience the following 20 very cool heavy metal bands live and in person.



Metalheads in Europe are well-acquainted with Accept.  The German outfit has been shredding ears with indominable heavy metal music since 1979.  In 2017, they released The Rise of Chaos with their two newest members, Uwe Lulis and Christopher Williams.  Peter Baltes and Wolf Hoffmann are Accept’s only constant members.  Mark Tornillo sings lead.  You’ll have plenty of chances to see them live in 2018.  Make sure you do.  They are very cool.





Atrocity released Okkult in 2013.  It was intended as the first album of a three-part series.  Unfortunately for Atrocity fans, the next chapter of the trilogy has yet to see the light of day.  That’s as close as Atrocity gets to disappointing. 

The heavy metal stalwarts started life as a death metal band but over the decades have dabbled in several subgenres, exceling at each one.  Atrocity comes from Ludwigsburg, Germany and formed in 1985.  The band is comprised of Thorsten Bauer, Alexander Krull, Joris Nijenhuis, and Pete Streit.  Krull is the only original member left. 



Burn Blue Sky

Heavy metal fans will enjoy Burn Blue Sky, especially live.  Yet, so will hard rock and grunge supporters.  Burn Blue Sky dips into several fonts to produce their heavy, but competent, sound.  Their music is accessible, but poignant.  They’re on their genre’s vanguard but still maintain a cool, retro spirit. 

BBS describes themselves the best, saying “[we play] loud rock n roll music.”  Calling Kent, Ohio home, Burn Blue Sky is Mike Carlton, Jeff Fahl, Beau McGranahan, Jason Stone, and Chris Williams.




Chaos Theory

So, we all agree that when Chaos Theory comes anywhere near your couch, you’ll get off it and go see them.  Until then, download their albums We Are Disaster and Chaos Theory.  Their recordings are faithful representations of how they sound live.  They are one of the few artists that manage to capture the energy of their live shows on wax. 

On April 21, Chaos Theory reminds everyone why they are cool musicians, as well as cool guys, when they perform at April Assault IX, a fundraiser for cancer research.  This is the fifth time that Lex Coulstring, Shaun Cowell, Tim Garagan, Rock Johnson, and Shane Purdy, collectively known as Chaos Theory, will have appeared at the event.





There’s a word many critics use to describe Dissona’s sound and it’s a word you don’t hear very often in heavy metal-dom.  The word is “imaginative.”  They have one of the most imaginative sounds in the business.  Other words one can use to describe this progressive metal band are dramatic, diverse, and dynamic. 

Dissona has toured with several prominent bands including Leprous, Three, and Opeth.  Hailing from Chicago, the group employs the talents of David Dubenic, Drew Goddard, Craig Hamburger, and Matt Motto.





Emerald came together in 1995 in Düdingen, Switzerland.  The group was formed by members of two other bands, Dark Crystal and Oppress.  Since that time, they’ve established themselves as one of the best heavy metal bands in Europe.  That includes the studio and the stage. 

Their latest album is Reckoning Day.  How’s this for the DIY spirit, the group completely financed their first two LPs.  Emerald has several shows plotted for 2018.  In March, enjoy them at Headbangers Night XV in Konken, Germany. 





Epica has been producing epic symphonic metal since 2003.  The Dutch six-piece, anchored by the powerful voice of Simone Simons, has soared due to their cool mix of metal memes and orchestral oeuvres. 

Simons is joined by Isaac Delahaye, Mark Jansen, Coen Janssen, Rob van der Loo, and Ariën van Weesenbeek.  On April 14, Epica will celebrate their 1,000th show with a performance in Tilburg, The Netherlands.





Excelsis are Koppigen, Switzerland’s favorite sons.  And why not?  Where else are you going to hear awe-inspiring heavy metal tuneage replete with bagpipes, didgeridoos, and flutes.  The answer is nowhere except at an Excelsis concert. 

Progenitors of folk/pagan metal, Excelsis coalesced in 1992.  Their first album, Anduin in the River, dropped in 1996.  They are fixtures of Europe’s robust festival scene.




Henry Metal

Henry Metal has perfected the art of self-expression.  He’s also pretty damn good at making metal music.  Even better, Henry has a wicked sense of humor.  His influences include Ozzy, Metallica, and Slipknot as well as Tenacious D.  That last influence tells you everything you need to know about this entry.  If you love metal, you need his album, So it Hath Begun, in your collection.




Lords of the Trident

Lords of the Trident know how to have fun.  They take heavy metal music very seriously, but not themselves.  This is evident in their live shows as well as in their stage names: Asian Metal, Baron Taurean Helleshaar, Fang VonWrathenstein, Master "Herc" Hercule Schlagzeuger, and Pontifex Mortis. 

Originating from Madison, Wisconsin, the award-winning LotT bills themselves as “the most metal band on Earth.”  They take metal mythology and run with it.  Of course, it all works because at the end of the day, these guys melt faces and shred ears. 




Memoriam hails from Birmingham, England and are comprised of Scott Fairfax, Frank Healy, Andy Whale, and Karl Willets.  The industry files their music under “death/grind metal,” but one listen and you’ll immediately realize they’re old school death metal—this outfit receives a lot of comparisons to Bolt Thrower. 

Memoriam has a several dates plotted for March.  On the 23rd of that month, the fellows release their second studio album, The Silent Vigil.  If you like classic death metal, then you need to remember Memoriam. 




Meridian is a Danish band minted in 2005.  They first went into the studio in 2007.  They’ve released two albums, Metallurgy in 2013 and Breaking the Surface in 2016.  They’ve made a name for themselves on the European metal scene thanks to their energetic and passionate live shows.  If you like your heavy metal music with a little descant, then you need Meridian in your life.




Municipal Waste

Municipal Waste will be touring the States in February and March.  We highly recommend you attend as many of their gigs as you can.  Their genre of choice is speed metal punk.  If you can see only one heavy metal concert in 2018—if that’s the case, what in the hell is wrong with you?—seriously consider making it a Municipal Waste show.  The lovable hellions that make up this super cool band are Tony Foresta, Landphil, Nick Poulos, Ryan Waste, and Dave Witte.




Old Season

Old Season leans toward lengthy and elaborate recordings.  Despite the complexity of their catalog, they manage to faithfully recreate their sound in concert.  They have a charisma and presence that few bands can surpass.  Seeing them live is a real treat. 

Coming to us from Ireland, Old Season’s roster includes Jimmy Blanchfield, John Bonham, Dave Copley, Jimmy Kiernan, Dermod Smyth, and Anto Walsh.  Their first full-length studio album, Archaic Creation, came out in 2009.



Product of Hate

Product of Hate has a lot of momentum behind them.  They’ve earned a legion of fans and admirers in a relatively short period of time because they’ve effortlessly thrashed without sounding like they’re from the mid-eighties. 

Their tempos are insanely fast, their riffs are mind-altering awesome, and they possess the perfect amount of aggression for a heavy metal band.  Founded in 2007 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, POH is Mark Campbell, Adam Gilley, Mike McGuire, Cody Rathbone, and Gene Rathbone. 




Secret Rule

Secret Rule’s latest album, The Key to the World, emerged in November of 2017.  In 2018, they have a bunch of shows planned, including several as part of the Symphonic Metal Nights Tour 2018.  They’ll also perform at the Carneval Female Metal Meeting in Mörlenbach, Germany. 

Secret Rule is an Italian metal band with a lineup of Nicola Corrente, Angela Di Vincenzo, Andy Menario, and Michele Raspanti—with external collaboration from Henrik Klingenberg.  They lean heavily on melody while dishing out commanding rhythms.  Their majestic music is ideal for the concert hall; they are the epitome of captivating.  Secret Rule brings so much fervency to the stage that it’s contagious.




Sick N' Beautiful

Sick N' Beautiful gives you the costumes, make-up, and visuals you want in a heavy metal show—nay, demand!  Of course, any band can do that, even one that’s not sick and beautiful.  What sets SNB apart, besides their immaculate lead singer, Herma, is they sound frickin’ amazing in concert.  The five-piece cadre brings a lot of energy to the stage and one heck of a good time.  After all, you must love a band that bills themselves as “rockin' freakshow pirates from outer space.” 



SnakeyeS knows how to get it done in concert.  Critics frequently refer to them as “pure heavy metal.”  They draw lots of comparisons to Judas Priest.  Basically, if you’re a heavy metal fan with integrity you’ll appreciate SnakeyeS.  Until you can make it to one of their shows, listen to their latest album, Sign of Death.  Snakeeyes is a four-piece ensemble with Spanish and Romanian roots.  Their lineup consists of Cosmin Aionita, Justi Bala, Carlos Delgado, and Jose Pineda.




Tonic Breed

What should you expect at a Tonic Breed show?  How about power, fury, mayhem, mischief, killer riffs, gallant solos, and plenty of opportunities to bang thy head.  This band was made to performed live and their penchant for putting on a memorable show is apparent from the moment they step onto the stage. 

Based in Sarpsborg, Norway, Tonic Breed has issued two albums with a third set for a 2018 birth.  This ultra cool band stars Jørgen Abrahamsen, Ole Danielsen, Rudi Golimo, and Patrik Kvalvik Svendsen.






Waldgefluster is a black metal band from Germany—the city of Rosenheim to be exact.  They adroitly weave metal with elements of folk and wrap the entire package in pagan themes.  Waldgefluster’s sound is epic, eerie, melancholy, soulful, and thoroughly mesmerizing.  They will grab a hold of you and not let go. 

The band’s first album, Stimmen im Wind, came out in 2006.  Their latest offering, Ruinen, hit the streets in 2016.  They have a bunch of European dates scheduled for February.  At the very least, you should attend one.  The members of Waldgeflusters are Arvagr, Thomas Birkmaier, Dominik Frank, Markus Frey, and Winterherz.



* All images courtesy of each bands' Facebook page.

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