Swedish Metal Bands

Metal bands from Sweden: The best Swedish metal bands of all time

Today, we’re going to be celebrating the magic of the Swedish metal band. Aside from listing some of the top metal bands from Sweden, we’ll also be giving you an insight into the history of Swedish metal bands, and what makes these musicians so popular.

As the home of the Vikings, it’s probably no surprise Scandinavia has a strong metal scene. Sweden represents one of the biggest producers of Scandinavian metal in the world. 

Swedish metal, and most Scandinavian metal, captures the hearts and minds of audiences with incredible amounts of passion and depth. If you’ve ever encountered a metal band from Sweden, you know these professionals are truly dedicated to their craft. 

Today, we’re going to be celebrating the magic of the Swedish metal band.

Aside from listing some of the top metal bands from Sweden, we’ll also be giving you an insight into the history of Swedish metal bands, and what makes these musicians so popular.

So, if you want to know about Swedish metal bands, let’s rock and roll!

Why are there so many Swedish metal bands?

Scandinavian metal bands date back to around 1983. 

Probably the first well-known Swedish metal band, Bathory introduced the country to one of the most influential acts in Swedish heavy metal. Bathory, defined as the “blueprint for Scandinavian black metal”, were pioneers of heavy metal and Viking metal. 

These artists went on to inspire a host of other Swedish metal bands, including Mayhem, Empoeror, Moonsorrow, and many others.

While the Bathory group didn’t play death metal, they had a huge impact on this musical genre. One of the more “extreme” metal bands to appear in Sweden after Bathory was Torment (later Mefisto). Over time, the Swedish metal scene began to grow.

Stockholm in particular emerged as one of the key destinations for Swedish metal lovers, with countless bands and events hosted throughout the years. 

Even Gothenburg followed suit, showing its own passion for the metal scene, though Stockholm remained among the top metal scenes in Scandinavia. 

Sweden was crucial to the development of black metal in the first and second waves, ushering in new concepts in the form of Viking themes. The country is also home to some of the world’s most popular progressive acts too — who helped to shattered pre-conceived ideas about music in the mid-90s. 

Swedih Metal Bands

How popular is metal in Sweden?

According to Gislounge, Sweden is the second largest country worldwide for metal bands. There are around 37.14 metal bands per 100,000 residents. 

Swedish metal was essential to the history of metal music, and it’s been extremely influential for the genre around the world too. Without Swedish metal, who knows where the Scandinavian scene might have ended up? 

So, why are there so many Swedish metal bands?

It’s anyone’s guess why Swedish is so committed to its metal heritage. The country was responsible for ushering in an era of Viking metal, so it may be this music helps Sweden to connect to its roots. 

There’s also a theory in the musical world, the happier the country is, the darker the music can be. Since Sweden is ranked among other Scandi countries as one of the happiest places in the world, it’s easy to see why the metal would be so good.

Musical historians believe the location of Sweden and other Nordic countries also play a part in the development of so many metal bands. It makes sense the bitter winters of Norway and the harsh weather would inspire darker, more extreme thoughts and sounds. 

Theories also suggest the quality of the music comes largely from the climate of Sweden too. People spend more time in their homes crafting new songs, and less time outside because of the weather. 

Sweden’s government also subsidizes music schools, and even used to subsidize musicians who could prove they were a band in the 90s — hence an explosion of musical experimentation. 

Who is the greatest Swedish metal band of all time?

So, which Swedish metal band is best?

It all depends on your tastes. There’s something for everyone in this Scandinavian region, from Swedish black metal to Swedish power metal. 

The influence of Bathory, as well as Swedish producers like Dan Swano and Peter Tagtgren means Swedish metal usually has something to it which sets it apart from death metal you’ll hear elsewhere in the world. 

Swedish metal is often high-gain, melodic, and cold-sounding. It’s this distinctive atmosphere which has helped Sweden’s metal scene to grow so aggressively over the years.

Here are some of our favorite metal bands from Sweden. 

Swedish death metal

Swedish death metal is among the most popular forms of metal in the country. The majority of Swedish death metal artists are linked to the “melodic” death metal movement, which means you can expect a different sound from other variations of death metal. 

Gothenburg, in particularly, has a huge number of Swedish death metal bands. 

Some of the leading bands include:

At the Gates

This band, which started during the 1990s, launched an album called “Gardens of Grief”, which many Swedish music lovers consider to be crucial to the death metal scene. The band has since released a selection of new albums, each including primal vocals and stunning melodic sounds. 

At the Gates offers a steady groove from a combination of drums, bass, and guitar music — perfect for those who love a fast rhythm.

Dismember

Formed in 1988, Dismember is one of the better-known Swedish death metal bands in the country’s history. Formed in Stockholm, the group has earned a cult following around the world and is known for creating some of the most pioneering rock experiences of all time. 

The first album released by the group in 1991 was “Like an Ever Flowing Stream”. The most recent album is Dismember, which came out in 2008. 

Opeth

Opeth blurs the line between progressive metal and death metal, according to most fans. The group has been through a variety of changes over the years, including the replacement of every member from the original brand. 

Opeth is a unique metal band because it’s constantly bringing elements of blues, jazz, folk, and other musical types into the metal landscape. Many songs include “death growls”, strong acoustic guitar passages, and dynamic shifts in pace and sound. 

Entombed

Entombed is widely regarded as one of the biggest bands in Swedish death metal, ranked alongside groups like Grave and Dismember. If you’re a fan of heavy music, Entombed is sure to have an impact on you. 

Entombed started their career as one of the earliest pioneers of death metal, with a distinctive “buzzsaw” guitar tone which still captures attention today.

Swedish black metal

Swedish black metal includes more screaming or shrieking vocal styles, as well as faster tempos and heavily distorted guitar riffs. The biggest inspiration to Swedish black metal bands is Bathory, the original Swedish metal band who launched a new genre of music in Sweden. 

Here are some of the biggest Swedish black metal bands: 

Dissection

An extreme Swedish metal band formed in 1989, Dissection is one of the better-known black metal creators in the Swedish landscape. The group only ran for a short time, between 1989 and 2006. 

However, many Swedes say the albums and Eps of Dissection helped play a central role in the development of both the black metal and death metal scenes. 

The final lineup of the band featured Set Teitan on rhythm guitar, Tomas Asklund on drums, and Jon Nödtveidt on vocals and lead guitar. 

Marduk

One of the longest-running black metal bands in Sweden right now, Marduk launched in 1990, and they’re still popular today. The band’s guitarist, Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson, said he created the group with the quest of becoming the most blasphemous band in the world. 

Marduk is primarily a black metal band, but it’s influenced by death metal too. Marduk has released quite a few albums over the years, with the most recent being Viktoria in 2018.

Nifelheim

This Swedish black metal band formed in 1990 with twin brothers Per and Erik Gustavsson. The stage names of the two men are Hellbutcher and Tyrant. Nifelheim is best known for its “old school” approach to black metal. 

The music created by this Swedish black metal band is inspired by groups like Bathory and Venom, as well as Brazilian thrash metal bands. The most recent album released by the group was the Envoy of Lucifer in 2007. Since then, the band has released two vinyl EP records. 

Swedish power metal

Swedish power metal is another fantastic example of Sweden bringing its own unique flavor into the metal scene. Power metal bands often have a combination of melodic vocals, high-octane guitar riffs, and powerful bass sections. 

Many Swedish power metal bands also have a Viking element to their music, which has led to many groups identifying themselves as “Viking” metal. 

Bloodbound

A 6-piece Swedish power metal band launched in 2004, Bloodband is heavily influenced by classic heavy metal bands like Hammerfall and Iron Maiden. This band is best known for its unique use of makeup on album covers and in shows. 

Bloodbound released their first full album, Nosferato in 2005. Today, the most recent album to emerge came out in 2021, named “Creatures of the Dark Realm”.

Hammerfall

Among the most popular Swedish power metal bands of all time, Hammerfall was formed in Gothenburg during 1993. Recognized as a pioneer in the Swedish metal scene, Hammerfall is still touring today. 

The band is also a major influence behind some of the biggest modern metal bands in Sweden. Current members include Oscar Dronjak on guitar and backing vocals, Fredrik Larsson on bass, and Joacim Cans on lead vocals. 

Tad Morose

Another fantastic Swedish heavy metal and power metal band, Trad Morose is led by Christopher Anderson, and it’s popular all around the world. The most successful album the group has released to date is the 2003 Modus Vivendi. 

Although the group isn’t as popular in America, it has a strong European following. Current band members, aside from Christoppher Andersson, include Johan Lofgren on bass, Ronny Hemlin on vocals, and Andreas Silen on guitar.

Morgana Lefay 

Morgana Lefay started off as two separate Swedish metal bands. Today, the group is one of the most popular in the power metal scene, with slightly slower-paced music than most power metal bands. The haunting and dramatic vocals create a unique sound for any listener to enjoy. 

Morgana Lefay actually split up once in 1997, but in 1999, a new album was released. The band most recently reformed in 2012 with Tony Eriksson on guitar, and Charles Rytkönen on vocals. 

Swedish heavy metal

Swedish heavy metal bands and power metal bands often go hand-in-hand. Heavy metal is all about big, thick sounds, characterized by larger guitar solos, loud noises, and distortion. 

Lyrics are often associated with aggression in heavy metal, but they may have Viking elements in the Swedish landscape. 

Some of the biggest Swedish heavy metal bands include:

Meshuggah

An extreme or heavy metal band, Meshugga is best-known for its innovative musical style, which features polymetered song structures and complicated rhythms. The band rose to fame from an underground music environment, and quickly became an influence for modern metal bands. 

Meshuggah was named as one of the most important heavy metal bands of all time by Rolling Stone. 

Anon Amath

Another excellent example of Swedish melodic heavy metal, Amon Amarth formed in 1992, and took its name from the Sindarin name for Mount Doom in the J. R. R. Tolkein Middle Earth books. 

The lyrics include a lot of Viking mythology and history, which is why this band is often associated with Viking metal. 

Sabaton

A heavy metal band from Falun in Sweden, most of the songs created by Sabaton are about heroism in war, and battles. The band, which formed in 1999, is best-known for inciting feelings of pride and power. 

The lyrical and musical style has a strong focus on the history of Sweden, and the Great War. 

Swedish hard rock bands

Finally, for Swedish hard rock bands, we’re looking at all kinds of Swedish rock-and-roll artists with an impact on the metal landscape. As one of the biggest landscapes for metal music in the world, Sweden is home to a huge selection of heavy metal pioneers. 

It’s hard to list all of the incredible creators here, but here are a few extras we didn’t want to miss out. 

Katatonia

Formed in Stockholm during 1991 by Anders Nystrom and Jonas Renkse, Katatonia is a Swedish metal band created from a love of death metal. Over the years, the two men added more members to their band for performances and events, leading to an ever-changing selection of sounds.

The Hives

A Swedish hard rock band who rose to fame in the early 2000s during the revival of Garage Rock, The Hives are somewhere between Swedish hard rock and garage punk. One of the better-known songs from the group is “Hate To Say I Told You So”. 

Critics consider the Hives to be one of the best rock bands of all time for live events. 

Evergrey

Coming from the popular heavy metal music scene in Gothenburg, Sweden is a progressive power metal band which offers a unique alternative to melodic death metal. 

The band’s lyrics are a little darker than most melodic metal bands. This has helped the group to gain a powerful cult following over the years. 

Arch Enemy

Another fantastic Swedish melodic death metal band, Arch Enemy was formed in 1995, with members from bands like Carnage, Carcass, and Armageddon. The band was originally created by the guitarist of Carcass, Michael Amott. 

Most people describe Arch Enemy’s music as a blend of progressive and death metal sounds. 

Dark Tranquility

Considered one of the major pioneering acts of the Gothenburg death metal music scene, Dark Tranquility is one of the most popular Swedish hard rock bands of all time. The band was originally launched in 1989 by vocalist and guitarist Mikael Stanne, and guitarist Niklas Sundin. 

Celebrating Swedish metal bands

Swedish metal bands represent one of the biggest parts of the music scene in Sweden. Although the whole of Scandinavia has earned a reputation for incredible metal music over the years, few countries have had the same impact as Sweden. 

While Sweden officially joined the metal scene long after the original inception of the genre, the impact of the country is evident worldwide. Scandinavian heavy metal bands are built on Swedish foundations. 

The best Swedish metal bands introduced the world to new styles and forms of metal, with sub-genres like death metal, melodic death metal, and even Viking metal. Hardcore punk helped to launch the Swedish metal scene, which supported the evolution of various new sounds and experiences. 

Gothenburg and Stockholm are now hubs of musical innovation for Swedish metal lovers, and they continue to be home to some of the biggest festivals in the world. 

For unique experiences and musical transformation, it’s hard to find a country with more of an impact on the world than Sweden. If you’re a fan of the metal landscape, make sure you take some time to check out the Gothenburg and Stockholm events whenever you have chance. 

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