Alt-Metal A To Z: 26 Bands That Define The Genre

Fearless pioneers who forged new frontiers in making metal heavy

Alternative metal arose in the late 1980s after thrash bulldozed down any walls separating metal from punk, hardcore musicians who had mastered their form’s minimalist requirements developed advanced technical skills through which to explore their expanding musical imaginations, and heavy funk acts on the order of Fishbone, Living Colour, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers just kept getting heavier and funkier.

The grunge sound from Seattle, rooted as it was in ’70s hard rock, infused hardscrabble punk rage with the stadium-stomping grandeur of Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Ted Nugent, and side two of Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps.

In 1991, Nirvana broke as the biggest band in the world by utilizing the formula “Black Flag plus Black Sabbath plus the Beatles.” Triumphantly, then, alternative rock had been rescued from limp-wick ’80s synth-feebs on the order of the Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen, and potently repurposed with the pomp and power of heavy metal.

From there, the Lollapalooza Nation conquered mainstream music and alternative metal came to define the decade. A new generation of artists and aficionado has arisen since then, forever rejecting constrictions and pushing metal forward into new realms and realizations.

Here now is an A to Z guide to our picks of acts and artists who set the standards for alt-metal, and who continue to inspire no-limits sonic exploration.


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