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Best Local Heavy Metal Bands In Minnesota

Musical genres are becoming increasingly more subject to interpretation as hybrids appear on the scene, deriving influences from multiple musical stylings. What exactly is "heavy metal?" Pose the question to 100 people and you will likely receive 100 different answers. From those who align their perceptions of heavy metal to its more traditional roots to those who are more inclusive of modern interpretations, metal can encompass a lot of variations. Here is a subjective listing of some of the best (or at the very least, entertaining) local "heavy metal" bands that the Twin Cities has to offer, from the obscure to the locally reputable.
Nightlife & Music Heavy Metal, After The Burial
Photo Credit: After The Burial via Facebook

After the Burial
Hometown: White Bear Lake, MN
Sounds Like/Influences: Meshuggah, Between the Buried and Me, Periphery, Born of Osiris, Circle of Contempt, Veil of Maya
Where they've played: First Avenue, Station 4, Canterbury Park

This popular metal/hardcore/progressive band has enjoyed quite a bit of success, both locally and across the nation, since its start in 2004. After the Burial was signed to Sumerian Records shortly after the release of their first album, Forging a Future Self (2006). The band's sound is decidedly aggressive, with heavy shreds and soaring guitar duels punctuating their music, which is coupled with crushing vocals. After the Burial is often credited with contributing to the djent movement, which is a prog-metal spin-off known for its high-gain, distorted palm-muted guitar sound. An ideal blend of hardcore and progressive styles, After the Burial is said to to appeal to both metal purists and experimental metal fans alike. Give them a listen for yourself and see what the local buzz about After the Burial is all about.

Nightlife & Music Heavy Metal, Zebulon Pike
Photo Credit: Zebulon Pike via Facebook

Zebulon Pike  
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Sounds Like/Influences: Judas Priest, Mountain, Pentagram, Captain Beyond, King Crimson, Rush, Bela Bartok, Arvo Part, Carl Ruggles
Where they've played: Turf Club, Hell's KitchenFirst AvenueStation 4

Formed in 2002, Zebulon Pike is best categorized as an instrumental progressive metal band, one that "combines the impact of metal with the considered approach of 'art' music." Since their appearance on the local music scene, Zebulon Pike has been awarded several honors, perhaps most notably snagging the titles of "Best Hard Rock Group" and "Best Hard Rock Recording" at the 2004 and 2006 Minnesota Music Awards, respectively. Their overall sound pits heavy-hitting riffs with eerie, intoxicating melodies, creating a unique juxtaposition of musical stylings. Zebulon Pike's art-metal associations have earned them a reputation for targeting "metal nerds," but fans who appreciate progressive metal bands like Mastodon are encouraged to give them a listen. If Zebulon Pike's early work leaves you in a limbo of indecision, try giving their latest release Space is the Corpse of Time (2012) a shot.

Related: Best Hipster Hangout Spots In Minneapolis

Nightlife & Music Heavy Metal, Blue Felix
Photo Credit: Blue Felix via Facebook

Blue Felix
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Sounds Like/Influences: Mushroomhead, Hed PE, Gwar
Where they've played: First AvenueStation 4

Commonly categorized as metal/hard rock/groove metal, Blue Felix is anything but ordinary. The band, which was named after a certain strain of LSD, is known for creating music and putting on live performances that live up to their psychedelic name. Formed in 2004, Blue Felix has a unique metal fusion sound punctuated by high-energy guitar riffs, haunting synthesizers, bone-chilling screams, catchy lyrics and trippy melodies. Often compared to the likes of Hed PE and Gwar, Blue Felix's live performances are visually stimulating, never ceasing to entertain fans with their deranged stage get-up and energetic antics. If you're looking to experience a trip - minus the physical side effects - experience a live Blue Felix show for yourself.

Nightlife & Music Heavy Metal
Photo Credit:

Hometown: Twin Cities, MN
Sounds Like/Influences: Kiss, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath
Where they've played: First AvenueStation 4, The Cabooze

This shock rock/metal band (also dubbed "horror rock/metal") has been around since 1983, making Impaler the longest-running local metal band to appear on this list. Tipper Gore unwittingly gave the band its break in 1985 when she used their album Rise Of The Mutants as an example of the unsavory influences rock music had on our nation's youth. The band is known for putting on theatrical shows, incorporating the use of gruesome props like fake blood, coffins, and latex appendages into their live performances, which often end with a simulation of a particularly horrific, bloody death. Lyrically, a majority of Impaler's songs focus on B movie horror flicks, and their most recent release, Cryptozoology (Creatures of God?) (2009), is a concept album dedicated to mythical monsters (including a trio of songs dedicated to Bigfoot).

Nightlife & Music Heavy Metal, Malice
Photo Credit: Andrew Smith

Hometown: Valhalla
Sounds Like/Influences: Odin, Thor, William Wallace, Thomas Jefferson, MANOWAR, Hammerfall, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Jack Starr's BURNING STARR
Where they've played: Station 4

Malice's origins are somewhat of a mystery, since their Facebook page indicates they are from Valhalla, which, according to Norse mythology, refers to the "hall of the slain," a majestic place where war heroes chosen by Odin find a blissful, eternal afterlife. Regardless of origins, Malice's lyrics, which are inspired by brotherhood and war and are characteristically barbarian, capture the spirit of the Norse Gods and speak to Minnesota's once Viking-occupied history. Described as traditional power metal, Malice reportedly appeals to those who consider themselves "metal purists." Check out their latest release, Triumph and Glory (2012) and decide for yourself.

Feel free to subjectively suggest a local heavy metal band that you feel is worthy of making this list (but is unfortunately absent) in the comments section below.

A Minnesota native that was born and raised Up North, Minneapolis is where Christina Kalinowski currently calls home. Christina appreciates irony, loves bacon, enjoys a hearty libation (drink responsibly, folks), and is an avid proponent of the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness. Her work can be found at

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