Ah, noise rock, the bastard child of punk and metal. This form of music came to prominence in the ‘90s with bands like Unsane, The Jesus Lizard, and Cherubs and labels like Amphetamine Reptile. Here was music that was loud, heavy, weird, and a bit unseemly—perfectly fitting in with the time in which it was created.
But guess what? It never went away. In fact, it’s enjoying a mini-resurgence in the loud rock underground. So, with that mind, here’s our list of some of the top bands in the genre. We tried to strike a balance between the well-known and the up-and-comers. Hopefully, you’ll find a new favorite band on this list—or maybe it will inspire you to further explore this wild and woolly subgenre.
This power trio from Atlanta have come a long way since they formed in 2010. Whores. have released two killer EPs, 2011’s Ruiner and 2013’s Clean, as well as a full-length, Gold., which landed on a bunch of Best Of lists in 2016. In addition to their unfuckwithable discography, the band are a can’t-miss live act, burning down every stage they play. They are currently on a West Coast tour with Helms Alee and Bummer—wrapping up April 28 in Atlanta—and are working on a follow-up to Gold., which is sure to be a monster.
A scabrous four-piece from Reno, Nevada, Elephant Rifle wowed people with their Ivory album back in 2015, opening up many ears to their aggressive, weird, and wonderful sound. Their new album, Hunk, drops May 4 through Humaniterrorist. Expect another burner. Definitely keep an eye out for it.
Hailing from Miami, Wrong feature current and ex-members of Capsule, Torche, and Kylesa and play a riff-heavy style of noise rock that draws heavily from the playbook of Helmet and Unsane. Far from being mere copycats, the band put their mark on a classic sound, creating something that is truly their own. Their new album, Feel Great, dropped April 13 through Relapse Records, further honing their vicious sound. It’s faster, meaner, yet more melodic. You won’t want to miss it.
4. Couch Slut
New York City-based Couch Slut have to be one of the most dangerous bands in captivity. Their aggressive, transgressive sound can be heard in full effect on 2017 Gilead Media release Contempt, which is one of the most vicious noise rock albums of the past few years. It turned a lot of heads. In addition, the band are an equally terrifying and exhilarating live act. Listen at your own risk.
Didn’t we mention Bummer a little higher up on this list? Yes, we did. These freaks from Kansas City, Missouri, bring it with a punk-influenced brand of noise rock that is sure to please all fans of the weird and aggressive. And like many other bands on this list, they slay live. Bummer recently put the finishing touches on a full-length album, one we’ll hopefully hear soon…
This four-piece from New York City netted tons of praise for their Sing Praises EP in 2014. Haan play a heavier style of noise rock that draws on metal, just as much as it does punk. It’s quite the concoction. In addition, they are yet another band who own whatever stage they play. Their debut full-length, By the Grace of Blood and Guts, will be dropping July 6 through Aqualamb Records.
Usually, when you think of aggressive music from Connecticut, you don’t think of noise rock—but Grizzlor are doing their best to make sure you do. They turned many heads with their debut full-length, Destructoid, in 2017, and hopefully soon, we’ll hear new music from them. Their heavy and bummed-out style of noise rock goes down quite smooth. Here is another band you shouldn’t sleep on.
8. Child Bite
Child Bite, the long-running band from Detroit, have two distinct phases of their career. When they started, they were a more art damaged band of misfits, but they got more aggressive as the years went on. Their current sound merges hardcore punk, metal, and noise rock to great effect. Their most recent album, 2016’s Negative Noise, which came out on Housecore Records, opened up many new ears to their twisted sounds. A rarities album entitled Burnt Offerings comes out May 11, also through Housecore. Catch them somewhere—anywhere—on tour, since they live on the road.
9. Tongue Party
This wrecking crew from Minneapolis, Minnesota, are about to unleash their debut album, Looking for a Painful Death, through Learning Curve on May 5. We’ve already heard the album, and, trust us, it slays. For people not in the know, Tongue Party play a fast, thrashy style of noise rock that takes no prisoners. So, now you know. And you should check them out.
What is it with noise rock bands and unseemly band names? Well, here’s another one. Intercourse are more of a hardcore band, but if we’re going to split hairs, they’re definitely more Deadguy than Madball, if you catch our drift. So, if you like hardcore bands who play in the weird, noisy, and mathy side of the pool, you should definitely check them out. They just put out a new album in March through Constant Disappointment and Eye Tape Records, the wonderfully titled Everything Is Pornography When You’ve Got an Imagination, which you’ll definitely like if you’ve made it this far down the list…
Honorable Mention: Sperm Donor
Another weird, noisy rock band from New Haven, Connecticut. (Guess where I live?) And you thought there wasn’t more to Connecticut than melodeath and breakdown-heavy metalcore… No comment. Anyway, Sperm Donor just released their sophomore album, Sleight Coincidence, on March 13, and it needs to be heard. They might be a little obscure, even by noise rock standards, but they are definitely worth seeking out. A hidden gem from the Nutmeg State, if you please.