Industrial music is such a vague, broad term. But in general, one might imagine a typical sound attached to it. Yet there are countless subgenres of Industrial, and the lines between these types of music are blurred with many bands incorporating multiple styles into the music.
Industrial music can be rock made with bass, drums and guitars. But mostly, the music is made with keyboards, electronic mechanical drum beats, experimental noise machines, and often avant-garde methods of incorporating samplers, distortion, synthesizers. The results usually produce cerebral, and raw, sometimes malevolent sounding beats. The scene can be related to punk, with some slightly different philosophies, style, attitudes, and lyrical subjects mixed in with their DIY approach. This is experimental, sometimes dystopian, and unpredictable music that borrows heavily from DJ subculture, heavy metal music, the use of samplers, synthesizers and other machines to create what is commonly referred to as Industrial. It's also popular all over the globe, especially in places like Germany, Canada, and even North and South America. We now present our list of the 10 Best Industrial Bands.
This electronic-based Industrial music project finds its origins in the mind of Rudy Ratzinger, a German DJ, who gave up the turntables in the early '90s to create a form of Industrial music with heavy hints of Goth and Electronic, Acid House and more. It blew up in Southern Germany and across Europe, to eventually reach fans in North and South America as well as Asia and Australia. The music was always mixed and sprinkled with various random political audio samples and quotes from German films. With Wumpscut, Ratzinger has managed to earn an underground, cult-like following for his numerous albums and releases, but to this day never having played a live show under his Wumpscut moniker.
This German Industrial band have been making music since 1980, and was formed by Jurgen Engler. The group's sound has varied from techno electronic, to more of an industrial rock/metal direction. This group has always had a consistent and huge fan base and following in Germany and the rest of Europe but are also world wide, among Industrial fans. The band's use of synthesizers is matched by an equally powerful metallic percussion throughout with heavy textures of very processed and danceable beats rhythms and brief spasms of electro thrash, and continues making electric musical noise to this day.
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8. Velvet Acid Christ
A project based out of Denver, this electronic Industrial group has been making music for over two decades. After forming in 1990, they burst onto the international dance club music scene with a new blend of cynical, yet psychedelic Industrial, mixed with Techno, Goth, Darkwave, House music and more. It's all pretty dark and heavy, and influenced by drugs, hedonism, misanthropy, religion, and sometimes social commentary. Bryan Erickson has been the band's main musician, songwriter and vocalist, among numerous line up changes of musicians. The music of Velvet Acid Christ was heavily into programmed samples and drum machines, as well as sequencers, electric guitars and pedal distortion for effects. The group became a staple of the underground dance clubs in Europe in the '90s, and the band now has millions of fans worldwide.
With a base of Industrial music, this Norwegian group is labeled by many Aggrotech, sound swishing together everything from Dakrwave, Electronic, Techno Drum and Bass and more. Formed in 2003, the music is abrasive, yet the tone and beats are constantly switching around in a very erratic way. Combichrist creates music that is electric and screaming; echoing with laser-like sounds and fast, heavy percussion-thumping bass lines. By the way, fans in SoCal can catch them playing in Pomona at The Glass House on Oct 17.
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6. Frontline Assembly
Hailing from Canada, Front Line Assembly formed in 1986 in Vancouver. This could easily be one of the most underrated bands of the entire Industrial genre. Merging a love for aggressive Industrial and mechanized sounds with Techno music, FLA would be what Fear Factory would sound like if they weren't a metal band. The band was created by the musical mind of founding member Bill Leeb, after his stint in Skinny Puppy. Along with Leeb, the project has had a rotating line up of musicians but at one point, Rhys Fulber was included, which makes sense when considering the comparison to Fear Factory, since Fulber helped to produce the LA Industrial metal band's seminal album Demanufacture. The robotic beats and sound waves of FLA make heavy use of synthesizers, mixers, and samples, and give the music a vibe that would fit at a death metal inspired rave. FLA is considered by many to be pioneers of the Electro Industrial sound.
This Canadian group formed in 1982 and has been consistently led by cEvin Key and mystifying front man Nivek Ogre, who founded the band. They're another band considered to be at the forefront of the Industrial music sound, with a style that was unique, as well as a bit macabre and menacing. Live, Skinny Puppy created what many considered to be performance art, using influences of shock rock, ambient noise rock, and horror infused thematic, with songs written about various issues such as drug abuse, animal rights, pollution, war and corruption. Throughout their three-decade career, Skinny Puppy has had a revolving door of musicians but at one time, Al Jourgensen of Ministry, and Bill Leeb from Front Line Assembly.
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Led by good old Uncle Al (Al Jourgensen) this band has also had many countless musicians in line up, since spawning into the world in the early '80s as a dark wave/dance music project. But, over time, Ministry, led by Jourgensen, has evolved into a more metallic, super heavy, electronic thrash group, still going strong, despite Jourgensen's years of debauchery and partying. From the time Ministry was an alternative metal sensation, alcohol, heroin, groupies, hallucinogens and more surrounded the band. Jourgensen has had many stints in rehab and still battles with his inner demons, often speaking publicly about drug overdoses and near death experiences. Ministry has always made confrontational music, with lyrics that take stabs at the New World Order, war and government corruption. Of course the band's iconic hits include “Thieves,” “N.W.O.” and “Jesus Built My Hot Rod,” but be sure to check out the latter catalogue of Ministry as well; with over 13 albums, some of the band's greats come from offerings such as Rio Grande Blood (2006), The Last Sucker (2007), Relapse (2012) and From Beer To Eternity (2013).
3. NIN (Nine Inch Nails)
Without a doubt, a defining '90s band, Nine Inch Nails is still going strong today, a quarter of a century after it was formed by frontman and musical mastermind Trent Reznor. With nine studio albums, a legion world wide fans, and millions of albums sold, Nine Inch Nails are probably the most successful, mainstream Industrial band, and were a quintessential period of time in the '90s when the Lollapalooza music festival and Alternative music was in. Reznor's tortured soul is heard in the dark, aggressive, and sometimes-erotic songs throughout NIN's career. The band was launched into Alternative rock super stars with a handful of radio hits in the '90s and beyond, even having won several Grammy Awards. Reznor and NIN show no signs of slowing down, at all, despite a hiatus lasting from 2009, to 2013. Reznor also helped to launch the career of Marilyn Manson.
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Formed in1984, this German band was part of the same scene as Ministry and NIN when it came to that dark, electronic-infused alternative metal sound. With uber fast break beats and drums and bass, the band's aggressive sound has merged metallic electro rock with Industrial.
Over three decades of musical mayhem, KMFDM has released 18 studio albums and two dozen singles, with sales of more than two million records worldwide. The band is led by German multi-instrumentalist Sascha Konietzko, and also shows no signs of calling it quits anytime soon.
Arguably the forefathers of industrial music from the mid to late '70s, this iconoclastic, peculiar group coined the term 'Industrial' with the slogan “industrial music for industrial people.” The band formed in 1976 in a wasteland, industrial part of England's decrepit countryside. The band made music that was unlike anything anyone had ever heard. Based more on odd and eerie vibrational patterns, abstract noise, erratic beats and weird sounds, the band's music was as eerie and electrifying as it was avant garde and mysterious. The band utilized taped sounds, programmed loops, random samples, keyboards, piano, distorted sounds violins, horns and synthesizers, not only creating industrial music for future generations, but revolutionizing it along the way as well.
Aside from the music, the band's philosophy and style was bleak and dark, and caused some controversy. They used images, artwork and lyrics based on morbid subjects like serial killers, concentration camps, ghastly injuries and drug abuse. The group broke up in 1981, but did reunite 2004 for a second stint before finally breaking up again, in 2010 when original member Peter Christopherson passed away.
Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.