Industrial Rock and Metal: 10 Greatest Bands in the Genre


Dark image of industrial metal band Fear Factory.

Fear Factory is one of the greatest industrial bands of all time – Author Anne Erickson, Photo via Stephanie Cabral

Metal music has lots of subgenres. There’s thrash, black metal, death metal, symphonic metal, doom, power and so many more. One of metal’s more popular subgenres is industrial metal, largely thanks to bands such as Filter and Nine Inch Nails bringing the sound to popular rock radio. So, what are the 10 greatest industrial bands of all time?

What is Industrial Metal and Rock?

Industrial metal and rock brings together the strong sounds of heavy metal with the electronic joys of industrial music. The result is really great workout music, often with fast, repetitive metal guitar riffs, sampling and angsty, distorted vocals. What’s not to like? The genre started in the late-1980s and exploded the following decade. Now, let’s get into 10 of the greatest industrial bands of all time. They’re the industrial rock and metal bands that deserve that honor.

10 Greatest Industrial Bands

10. Powerman 5000

Powerman 5000 came on the scene after some of the originators of the industrial rock and metal genre, but their influence was still important. Their second major-label album, “Tonight the Stars Revolt!” went platinum and featured the influential rock singles “Nobody’s Real” and “When Worlds Collide.” They had a refreshing and commercial-friendly style that wasn’t always part of the industrial sound.

9. Filter

Richard Patrick is one of the biggest personalities in industrial rock. After parting ways with Nine Inch Nails, Richard Patrick created Filter, staying in the industrial genre, and the band is still active today. Filter were huge out the gate, as their albums “Short Bus” and “Title of Record” both went platinum. They also had a hint of grunge in their sound, which didn’t hurt in the 1990s.

8. Killing Joke

Killing Joke may not be as famous some of the bands on this list, but they’re no less influential. That’s one of the reasons why Maynard James Keenan tapped the band to open for Tool on their massive 2019 tour in support of “Fear Inoculum.” Jaz Coleman and company are one of industrial metal’s earliest innovators, offering a very heavy-sounding metal sound with a bit of industrial grind. They’re certainly one of the best industrial bands ever.

7. Static-X

Static-X were part of the second wave of industrial metal in the late-1990s and early-2000s, so for some music fans, including myself, they were among the first industrial rock bands we ever heard. The band broke out with their platinum-certified debut, “Wisconsin Death Trip,” and that album is still legendary in the genre. What’s extra special about Static-X is how they mesh industrial metal with rapping and nu-metal. It fits their era. Rest in peace, Wayne.

6. Dope

As with Static-X, Dope were also part of the industrial metal’s second wave. Edsel Dope formed the band in 1997, and their sound meshed the best of classic industrial bands such as Nine Inch Nails and Ministry with a more modern and relentless electronic sound. Edsel has remained a force in heavy music from the 1990s to today.

5. Skinny Puppy

Skinny Puppy, without a doubt, are one of the pioneering forces in industrial rock and metal music. Without Skinny Puppy, many of the bands on this list might not have even formed. The Canadian industrial band had the reputation for wild live shows, which often had frontman Ogre hanging in the air amid a backdrop with menacing imagery that matched Skinny Puppy’s lyrics. Skinny Puppy have never been for the faint of heart.

4. Rammstein

Germany certainly had its industrial moments, and one of them was Rammstein. Musically, Rammstein’s industrial sound is thick, aggressive, wild and theatrical. Lyrically, they actually sing in their native language of Deutsch, which many thought would be a death sentence. But, it didn’t damped their popularity, and today, the band is super popular worldwide, including in the U.S.

3. Fear Factory

Including Fear Factory as the No. 3 most influential industrial metal band may be controversial, because the band could fall into so many other genres. They’re also very nu-metal and straight-ahead metal, but you have to admit that Fear Factory are one of the biggest and most important bands in industrial metal, too. The band’s penchant for combining technology and electronic sounds with their super heavy riffing makes them a joy of a listen. Fear Factory 101 includes a listen of their famed albums, “Demanufacture” and “Obsolete.”

2. Ministry

Al Jourgensen and Ministry were a pinnacle part of the formation of industrial metal, a genre that thrived throughout the 1990s. Jourgensen combined the pillars of industrial music, that electronic backbone, with the traditional sounds of heavy rock and metal, and fans ate it up. Ministry’s “Psalm 69,” an opus spearheaded by Jourgensen and Mike Scaccia, went platinum. That album is pretty much the blueprint for the genre. Oh, and have you read Jourgensen’s autobiography? It’s a doozy.

1. Nine Inch Nails

It might seem trite to put Nine Inch Nails as No. 1 on this list. I mean, they’re the most mainstream band in the industrial genre and one that even those who have never heard of industrial metal probably know. But, we can’t deny Trent Reznor’s influence in industrial music and beyond. Reznor is also a voice in other genres, including all his work on movie soundtracks. But, he’s really responsible for bringing industrial music together with radio-friends, commercial-sounding rock, and for that, Nine Inch Nails is No. 1 on our list of the best industrial bands.

There you have it. Audio Ink Radio’s list of the 10 greatest industrial bands of all time. Find the 10 greatest heavy metal riffs of all time here.

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Metal, Music