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5 Incredible Instrumental Metal Albums

Mike Grindle is a freelance culture writer with a love for film, music, and literature.

If you haven't heard these instrumental metal albums, you're in for a treat.

If you haven't heard these instrumental metal albums, you're in for a treat.

Everyone loves a great frontman or woman, but they're in no way a necessity for producing killer music. That's especially true regarding a genre with instrumentation as potentially complex as metal. And as a result, there have been some seriously outstanding instrumental metal albums over the years.

With that in mind, here are five incredible instrumental metal albums from across the genre that are worth your time.

Harvs, Illuminate (2018)

Harvs, Illuminate (2018)

1. Illuminate by Harvs (2018)

In 2018, guitarist and composer Harv quietly released this prog metal record into the world, and it's been one of metal's best-kept secrets ever since.

Utilizing moments of atmospheric calm between its more ferocious technical assaults, Illuminate stands out from the rest of the prog rock crowd due to Harv's controlled and measured approach to each track's theme. And while there's plenty of ferocity throughout, the synth-guitar melodies are some of the more gorgeous you'll ever hear in metal.

And just as an aside, how about that artwork?

Recommended Track: "Under an Illusion"

Mick Gordon, DOOM soundtrack (2016)

Mick Gordon, DOOM soundtrack (2016)

2. DOOM Original Soundtrack by Mick Gordon (2016)

When looking for killer instrumental albums, you can't go too wrong looking back over the history of video game soundtracks. Indeed, games such as Quake, Dynasty Warriors, and the Command and Conquer series all come to mind for their brilliant soundtracks. But the DOOM soundtrack might just be the most iconic in this regard.

Interestingly, according to Mick Gordon himself, the DOOM soundtrack was originally envisioned to be something very different. "When I started on DOOM, there was real resistance to guitars," he noted during an interview years later, "because the thinking was that they were very eighties, and they felt it dated the game."

Thankfully, guitars did, in fact, sneak their way onto the soundtrack, resulting in a heavy metal onslaught aided by industrial synths and hellish soundscapes. And let's be honest, could you imagine blowing up demons to anything else?

Recommended Track: "Rip & Tear"

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Animals as Leaders, The Joy of Motion (2014)

Animals as Leaders, The Joy of Motion (2014)

3. The Joy of Motion by Animals as Leaders (2014)

Are you looking for something a little more technical or experimental? Well, Animals as Leaders is the kind of band that will straight up dislodge your brain on first listen. But while their music might not be the most approachable, they're certainly a group worth exploring. And The Joy of Motion is as good a jumping-off point as any.

The album sees the band mix their own unique blend of prog rock with elements of dance, mathcore, jazz, and Latin music to produce a unique dynamic of gentle moments, funky bass, and heavy onslaughts. Just don't expect to stick this one on in the background because The Joy of Motion demands the listener's full attention.

Recommended Track: "Physical Education"

Little V, Wants To Battle Again! (2016)

Little V, Wants To Battle Again! (2016)

4. Wants To Battle Again! by Little V (2016)

As we've seen, gaming and metal have an interesting link. But one exciting sub-genre that has emerged in recent years is heavy metal video game covers. And if one individual has managed to corner this market, it's Little V.

If you're a wrestling fan, you might know little V as the guy behind AEW star Kenny Omega's theme tune "Battle Cry." But while he's primarily focused on original vocal-based singles these days, he built his name on gaming cover albums.

The most notable has to be his Pokémon-themed (Pokemon, wrestling, gaming, and metal—can this article get any more nerdy?) "Wants to Battle" and "Wants to Battle Again."

Yes, I know, metal covers of Pokémon tunes aren't exactly the height of culture, but I'll be damned if they aren't a lot of fun to listen to, especially the second of these, "Wants to Battle Again."

Recommended Track: Dialga's fight to the finish

Jason Becker, Perpetual Burn (1988)

Jason Becker, Perpetual Burn (1988)

5. Perpetual Burn by Jason Becker (1988)

We can't talk about metal instrumental albums without mentioning Jason Becker, and Perpetual Burn is largely regarded as his magnum opus of sorts.

Taking inspiration from Italian violinist and composer Niccolò Paganini, Becker proved with his debut solo album that there's so much more to shred guitar than showboating and mindless riffage. Indeed, if you were to replace the instruments, the whole thing would probably sound quite like a classical music piece. And there's plenty of variety on the album, too, to keep things interesting.

Recommended Track: "Perpetual Burn"

5 More Instrumental Metal Albums Worth Checking Out

  • Meridian by The Helix Nebula
  • Separate Realities by Trioscapes
  • The Void by Andromeda
  • Set Course for Andromeda by Sithu Aye
  • Vision by Fifth Quadrant

© 2022 Mike Grindle

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