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The Greatest Industrial Metal Bands of All-Time

The Greatest Industrial Metal Bands of All-Time

Industrial metal bands know that if there’s one thing that the soundtrack to The End of the World won’t need, it’s subtlety. Industrial metal groups are loud, scary-sounding, and look intimidating. They’ve also made some of the greatest alternative music of the past decades.

That’s why today I’m dressing like an extra from “Mad Max,” washing up my Berghain spandex shorts, digging up my vintage drum machine, and ranking the greatest industrial metal bands of all time.

KMFDM

KMFDM are sonic provocateurs, a band daring listeners toward the very edge of the tolerance of their eardrums. But they have two good reasons for doing all of this. They’re fighting political oppression, and they want to party.

The German band KMFDM has always been a brash unit of political activism. Albums like “Nihil” or “Angst” expressed their beliefs and helped ignite a whole European scene for industrial-metal music.

Skinny Puppy

Skinny Puppy was one of the pioneering bands of the genre. The group owed more to the sonic terrorism of groups like Throbbing Gristle.

Once their younger peers achieved platinum success, Skinny Puppy changed little of their sound, instead relying on angst-ridden, bleak motor-powered metal to represent them. Consequently, their popularity within this niche has never wavered.

In 2014, Skinny Puppy filed a $666000 lawsuit against the U.S. government for using their music to torture Guantanomo inmates. That makes you think of who the real sickos really are, eh?

Pitchshifter

Pitchshifter believed 1990s industrial music to be the natural heir to punk rock. Their sound and attitude toward listeners and critics denoted this.

The band’s sound was aggressive and uncompromising, turning them into one of the biggest groups of the burgeoning industrial-rock underground.

Their mix of sample-based sounds and metallic riffs has been highly influential. Pitchshifter continued releasing albums into the early 2000s.

Godflesh

Godflesh was a concept more than it was a band. Like Napalm Death, a group also started by Justin Broadrick, Godflesh dared to test out the very limits of feedback, metallic sounds, and “push it to 11” bass sounds.

They were sonic pioneers beloved by critics and, almost naturally, ignored by most music listeners, except for a brave, daring few.

However, albums like “Streetcleaner” have certainly helped influence the groups that pushed industrial to an unexpected commercial zenith during the 1990s.

Rammstein

Rammstein became one of the biggest bands in the world on the strength of a sound they dubbed “tanz-metal” and an aesthetic that echoed the grim East Berlin landscapes where the group was started.

Blending catchy melodies, humor, and a strong dose of Euro horror, Rammstein scored numerous hits with songs like “Engel,” “Du Hast,” or “Ich Will” and remain one of Germany’s biggest musical export. Still, recent allegations against singer Till Lindemann risk putting the band’s future and legacy in danger.

Fear Factory

Fear Factory was, in many ways, a visionary musical project. Burton C. Bell’s innovation was to take thrash metal a la Metallica and blend it with hyper-modern, aggressive elements belonging to industrial rock or 80s-synth pop.

Even though the band never achieved tremendous commercial success, albums like “Obsolete” or “Demanufacture” should be enough to list them as one of the finest industrial metal groups of all time.

Besides this, the band has kept moving at a fierce pace, with Bell being its sole original member.

Mindless Self Indulgence

Mindless Self Indulgence certainly took industrial-metal’s sound into the dementedly danceable territory it always seemed destined to travel toward. But, at the heart of it all, MSI was a new form of pop music. For a while, major record labels issued a bidding war to sign them.

The ultra-loud and very fun “You’ll Rebel to Anything” turned Mindless Self Indulgence into unlikely stars. The group, led by singer Jimmy Urine, played many of the similar provocation cards launched by Marilyn Manson.

While the hype eventually did die down, Mindless Self Indulgence continued, albeit with less punk-rock edge, until their final album in 2012.

Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson was at first an industrial metal band indebted to Ministry and Nine Inch Nails and later a vehicle for the controversial rockstar of the same name.

At the height of Manson’s popularity, he sold millions of records and constantly appeared on MTV. At the very same time, his shows also attracted mass protests from religious organizations. Furthermore, his music drew attention to the violent imagery incorporated in lyrics and videos.

Beyond the controversy, albums like “Antichrist Superstar” or “Holy Wood (In The Shadow of the Valley of Death)” have stood the test of time. These are some of the more interesting, I think, records of the period. And, certainly, they are some of the most successful rock releases of that era.

Nine Inch Nails - Industrial Metal

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails not only pushed industrial metal to the mainstream forefront. Trent Reznor also proved that a gigantic wall of sound could be produced, virtually, by one man behind a computer.

The band’s debut, “Pretty Hate Machine,” strongly echoed the influence of Ministry. However, the concept album “The Downward Spiral” was one of the biggest critical and commercial achievements of the 1990s.

With “The Fragile,” NIN’s scope extended further. In recent years, Reznor’s work as a film composer has been lauded, earning him an Oscar, and Nine Inch Nails has earned the respect the musician craved so much.

White Zombie / Rob Zombie

Rob Zombie shared an interest in flashy, horror-themed visuals with his industrial-metal counterparts. Like Marilyn Manson, Zombie also had a wealth of ambition and a vision that extended well past the familiar common tropes of the genre.

With the band White Zombie, Rob achieved mainstream success with albums such as “La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1” and “Soul Crusher.”

The singer took a similar groove-oriented approach for his solo career. Besides music, Rob Zombie has earned a great reputation as a horror movie director and has turned his little passion for B-movie shlock into a bustling career.

Static-X

Tremendous excitement accompanied Static-X’s debut, “Wisconsin Death Trip.” In 1999, the record was the best melding of industrial and nu-metal sounds.

As predicted, singles like “Push It” turned Wayne Static’s group into the toast of the town for a while.

While the following albums didn’t reach quite the same heights, Static-X still managed to earn a reputation as one of industrial metal’s finest bands. This reputation remained untarnished until the tragic death of Wayne Static in 2014.

Ministry Albums Ranked

Ministry

No band did more for the success of industrial metal than Ministry. Extreme, zany, and often hilarious, Al Jourgensen’s crew of misfits created music that seemingly blended together sounds of violent revolution and debauched parties.

Jourgensen’s interest lay as much in esoteric philosophy or protest songs as in illegal substances and kinky sex.

Ministry was the first band of its kind to achieve this kind of success. Along the way, the group created a number of undeniable classic albums, such as the refreshingly titled “Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs” or “The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste.” 

About author

Eduard Banulescu is a writer, blogger, and musician. As a content writer, Eduard has contributed to numerous websites and publications, including FootballCoin, Play2Earn, BeIN Crypto, Business2Community, NapoliSerieA, Extra Time Talk, Nitrogen Sports, Bavarian FootballWorks, etc. He has written a book about Nirvana, hosts a music podcasts, and writes weekly content about some of the best, new and old, alternative musicians. Eduard also runs and acts as editor-in-chief of the alternative rock music website www.alt77.com. Mr. Banulescu is also a musician, having played and recorded in various bands and as a solo artist.
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