May 27, 2015

NZ Music Month: NZ Metal Bands to Check Out

Brutal Tunes

arc of assent

Every year, the month of May is NZ Music Month. During this month, the NZ music industry spends a shit ton of money to promote local talent on the international stage. It’s also the month where the NZ Music Awards occur. 

Now, being that most of the bands being promoted and praised during this month are quite mainstream and commercial, metal doesn’t usually get much of a presence. Some people get quite annoyed about this, but I think it’s kind of useless to argue that underground music should be promoted alongside the likes of Lorde, who may be fucking awesome (seriously, I love her), but they’re not the same thing.

But New Zealand has some fantastic metal bands, as well as a lot of other awesome shit. A lot of our local music writers do what they can to promote some of the lesser-known talent during this month. So, I’m throwing my hat into the ring, with a list of some kiwi bands I dig that you should have a listen to:

arc of assent

Arc of Ascent

Sadly, Arc of Assent called it quits in 2014, and it is one of the greatest losses for the local experimental music scene. This Hamilton trio played a unique form of arty, celestial stoner rock, infused with jazz and ambience and just plain weirdness. Live, they were a mesmerising act. I’ve reviewed their last album, The Higher Key, in another post, but everything in their extensive discography is worth a listen.



Jakob are our country’s most beloved post-rock group, and with good reason. The trio won the prestigious Taite Music Prize in 2015, for their 2014 album, Sines, a masterpiece of ambient, rock-laden sensuousness to the band’s already incredible discography. If you listen to one new band off this list, make it these guys, because their creative, dynamic sound will leave you utterly captivated.

exordium mors

Exordium Mors

Definitely my favourite extreme metal band in NZ, Exordium Mors throw down a punishing slew of black/thrash madness in their Apotheosis of Death release. I’ve reviewed this album already, but I mention it again here because it’s one of the finest debuts recorded on our soil, and it deserves all the international kudos it has garnered.



If you like your lyrics cheesy, your vocals melodic, your riffs epic, and your dragons slain, then Stormforge is the kiwi band to look out their. Their debut EP, Sea of Stone, is an excellent addition to the virtuoso, sword-and-sorcery genre of metal. Vocalist Courtney O’Leary’s vocals are particularly notable – the guy has some serious pipes!

spook the horses

Spook the Horses

OK, I’m not really a fan of the post rock/hardcore mix. Something about the vocals in this style doesn’t ring true to me. In saying that, Spook the Horses manages to make this work on their newer material. Their second album, Rainmaker, delivers a dark, violent, punch.


These ginger warriors are making waves across the country. Bloodnut are an all-ginger doom/punk band with an entire discography of songs about being ginger and playing in an all-ginger doom/punk band. They put on a great live show and always draw a crowd. Sadly, I don’t think they have any releases yet, though – so this is one you’ll just have to catch live.



I mean, do I even have to mention these guys? Beastwars are fucking amazing and they deserve every ounce of success they have achieved so far. If you ever hear someone complaining that it’s hard to get an international success being in a tiny country at the bottom of the world, then point them toward these boys.

I’ve reviewed their 2013 album Blood Becomes Fire, and I stand by everything I said. It is amazing – richly textured, morose, passionately moody. It is near perfect. Listen now.



I don’t think I’ve seen an extreme metal show in New Zealand that didn’t open with Malevolence. These guys have been the backbone of death/grind in New Zealand for as long as I can remember, and probably even longer than that. Their sound is rooted in grind, but there’s an obvious, violent black metal influence. 2014’s Relentless Entropy proves that this band still deliver on their brutal, blood-soaked promises.

two wolves

Two Wolves

I discovered Two Wolves via Six Noises, and I’m absolutely digging them right now. Any band who lists The Proposition and Cormac McCarthy as heavy influences are going to be a band I enjoy. Their debut The Roar and Peel of Distant Thunder is rough, gritty and caked in dirt, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.



I wanted to add something ridiculously obscure and mysterious for lovers of Witchrist and Heresiarch. This 4-track demo of murky, groovy death metal kind of appeared out of nowhere, and the identity of the band and its members is still a bit of a mystery in the local scene. Good album though, if you’re into that raw, icy blackened death that NZ seems to be getting known for.

If you want more NZ music, then hop over to the Six Noises blog and check our Ye Old Rivetheads, a round-up of some of our older, more classic metal and punk.

What other kiwi albums have you enjoyed? List ’em in the comments!

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