It’s debatable as to who actually coined the term “grunge”. Some accredit it to Mark Arm of the band Mudhoney; others attribute it to various music journalists or Sub Pop records founder Bruce Pavitt. At the end of the day though, grunge was just a word. A word used to categorize a very diverse set of rock bands that just so happened to originate from the Pacific Northwest and played loud, electric guitar rock. For better or worse, these bands were all lumped together, even though each one had its own unique style, sound and influences. Nirvana was influenced by punk. Pearl Jam took cues from classic rock. And then there were the metal guys. The sludgy, dark, heavy bands – like Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Tad.
These bands were a different beast, using hard rock and heavy metal as the basis for a more sinister sound. Sure, some of the more popular material had enough of a pop sheen for Midwest moms to exclaim “Hey, I like that song!,” but in reality a lot of the music was too difficult for the casual music fans. Here’s a list of 10 Alt Rock Bands That Were Coated in a thick layer of Metal. The bands that favored the heavier side of things and we loved ‘em for it.
The combination of Chris Cornell’s banshee wails and Kim Thayil’s tuned-down psych-metal riffs led critics to often compare their dark, sound to early metal icons Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
Alice in Chains
Heavily distorted, detuned guitars and bleak, dark lyrics are the prime reasons why some fans actually consider them a metal band. Especially when combined with Layne Staley’s distinct, gritty vocals.
This Seattle-based band used huge riffs and mammoth volume to play the songs of heavyweight lead singer Tad Doyle.
The sludge metal band are perhaps the heaviest band on this list, and they are considered one of the early godfathers of grunge.
Though the band played many different styles, they definitely dipped their toes in some metal territory. They never achieved mainstream success but were a big influence on other grunge acts like Soundgarden and Screaming Trees.
The versatile band definitely favored the metal side of grunge, touring alongside heavyweights like Alice in Chains and Pantera.
My Sister’s Machine
The band released two critically acclaimed albums before breaking up in 1994. They reunited in 2010 for the Layne Staley Tribute and Benefit Concert as lead singer Nick Pollock had played in the early glam incarnation of Alice in Chains.
Mother Love Bone
Though only releasing one album in 1990, the late Andrew Wood-led band bridged the gap between ’80s glam metal and early ’90s alternative rock before spawning Pearl Jam.
The band’s debut EP, Come on Down, is cited by many as the first grunge record and former members would form the nucleus of the Seattle scene playing in such bands as Mudhoney, Pearl Jam and Mother Love Bone. Their early material mixes punk and hardcore influences with early metal influences like Alice Cooper and Kiss.
This all-female grunge band emanated from the fertile L.A. underground scene and had strong ties with legendary hardcore band Black Flag and could match any male band in attitude and volume.