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A Beginner's Guide To Heavy Metal #18 - Industrial Metal

Updated on November 30, 2013

Rise Of The Machines

In 1977, a pioneering group of English musicians under the name of Throbbing Gristle, led by the creative innovator Genesis P. Orridge, released what can be considered the first album to ever carry the name industrial music. Over time, the concepts began by Throbbing Gristle of using tape loops, electronic noise and sound samples as actual musical instruments began to be incorporated by more enterprising musicians seeking to combine the disturbing atmosphere Orridge had captured with the intensity of a heavy metal guitar sound, and in time brought a new sound to the forefront of the metal world. Futuristic sounds and electronics combined with heavy distortion created a perfect soundtrack to a dystopian future, an angst ridden youth, and everything in between.



Alice Cooper - Dragontown

I don't think I need to state how important Alice Cooper is to heavy metal as a whole. A pioneer in every sense of the word, it should be a surprise to no one that he would put forth some entries into industrial metal. A sequel to his album Brutal Planet, a concept album detailing an apocalyptic world, Dragontown is the worst place to be on the Brutal Planet, and an infectious mixture of heavy guitars and industrial rhythms serve to make this one hell of an album.

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White Zombie - Astro-Creep: 2000 – Songs Of Love, Destruction And Other Synthetic Delusions Of The Electric Head

Rob Zombie is one of the most widely known names, not just in industrial metal, but in metal in general. But this is where he got his start and where some of his best work came out. Grooving synthesizers and keyboards backing a non-stop beat, insanely heavy guitars and bass, samples from horror movies, and Zombie's trademark gravely vocals and lyrics about everything from strange creatures from beyond to questioning our humanity, this is an easy album to get lost in.



Godflesh - Streetcleaner

This album obeys the letter, if not the spirit of industrial metal. It is absent the cacophony of electronic noise and abundance of samples that have become the mainstays of the genre, but from a technical standpoint, it fits in perfectly. There is not a real drummer on the recording, all of the drums are provided via machine, giving the recording a terminator-ish futuristic sound. The crushingly heavy guitars and roaring vocals only serve to further make this one of the most disturbing albums on this list.

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Killing Joke - Killing Joke

Some of the originators of what we call industrial today, Killing Joke combined a post-punk musical attitude, heavy riffs, and an abundance of electronic effects to create a disturbing, yet incredibly catchy masterpiece. Serving as an influence to any number of bands, many even outside of the industrial scene, this very well could be the most important album on this list to metal as whole.

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Marilyn Manson - Antichrist Superstar

If there is any name you know on this list, this is likely it. And it is unfortunate that for many who hear this name, his music is the last thing that comes to mind, because that is what got him known in the first place, and I think that it is what he is best at. This album in particular, with it's controversial name, concept drawing heavy influence from Nietzschean and anarchist themes, and terrifying imagery that accompanied it, made Manson the undisputed new king of shock rock, and for industrial metal fans, this is a must.

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Hanzel Und Gretyl - Uber Alles

Another industrial metal rock opera, featuring a space themed WWII backdrop, this album draws heavy influence from the German industrial scene and manages to be both incredibly heavy and get stuck in your head in a way that typically only the best metal musicians manage to achieve. I guarantee a listen to the first half will get you pumped up for just about anything you need to do.

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Ministry - Psalm 69: The Way To Succeed And Suck Eggs

One of the first bands to truly embrace the idea of combining metal guitars with drum programming, this is rightly considered to be one of Al Jourgensen's best works, as well as a masterpiece of the metal world in general. Drawing influence from punk rock, dirty puns, and the work of Aleister Crowley, this one will likely still be discussed quite some time from now.



Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine

Industrial metal was brought to mainstream consciousness when this album was released. Hailed by many as a tortured genius, Trent Reznor became the figurehead of the electronic underground and a pioneer of it as well. Sporting all of the classic industrial features, but never forgetting make sure that there were plenty of solid riffs and melodies to go around, if you're just looking for a place to start with industrial metal, I cannot think of a better place.



KMFDM - Nihil

If anyone were to ask me to define industrial metal, I would be hard pressed to find a better definition than just handing them a copy of this album. I really cannot think of a more perfect melding of the two (well, maybe one but we'll get to that). The drum programming, keyboards, samples and aggressive vocals are all there, but also included are chugging guitar riffs and absolutely ripping guitar solos, making sure that ravers and headbangers alike will be pleased.

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Rammstein - Sehnsucht

Pretty much the de facto name in industrial metal, these German juggernauts have all but dominated the genre. Anyone who has come to think of industrial metal as something angsty teenagers listen to needs only to listen to a few minutes of Til Lindemann's deep guttural yet nearly operatic vocals, fronting an absolutely pummeling background of heavy music and distorted electronics, to know that they are sorely mistaken. The only thing more intense than their music is their pyrotechnics heavy live shows, though this album gives even those a run for their money.

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The Future Is Loud

I've said before that one of the many things that makes heavy metal so special to me is just how incredibly diverse and all encompassing it is. One of the ways that is true is it's ability to incorporate the past, such as with folk metal, and branch into the future, as with industrial. It is one of the many things that ensures there will always be a place in the world for heavy metal.


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