It's undeniable how much Mexican culture permeates through everyday life in Southern California. It's all around us, from the food, local history, and the names of our streets and towns. We also can hear this influence from across the border in many types of music, including heavy metal. From death metal, thrash, black metal and grind, to old school traditional, classical style heavy metal/hard rock, Mexico has always been a haven for head bangers, fans of heavy metal and even many of the artists who create the music we all love. We now present our top 10 Mexican Metal bands.
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10.Rodrigo y Gabriella
OK, so technically this duo, from Mexico City isn't heavy metal. But, due to the background in metal music, and association with such greats as Metallica and Testament, we decided to include these classical, incredible talented guitar players on our list, because they rock. Just imagine the sound of two classical acoustic guitars, shredding beyond anyone's wildest imagination and creating some of the most soothing, melodic and beautiful music ever heard. Technicality doesn't even begin to describe the razor sharp sounds these two create, in the insanely orchestrated instrumentals, are a delightful mix of classical music, heavy metal, jazz, flamenco and rock, all rolled into a dazzling, exciting sound. In the early '90s the duo were part of a metal band called Tierra Acida, but eventually moved to Europe where their career as guitarists began and took off. Rodrigo y Gabriella has worked with guitarist Alex Skolnick (Testament) and has even covered the songs 'Stairway to Heaven' (Led Zeppelin) and 'One' (Metallica).
From a Mexican American background, and family based in East LA, these wild young men manage to successful bring together Mariachi music and heavy metal. Each live performance is a fusion of traditional the Mariachi sound, interpreted through various hard rock/Heavy Metal songs, by bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Rush, Slayer, Guns N Roses, Judas Priest, Pantera, KISS, AC/DC, Bon Jovi, and tons more. This band never fails to bring the party with each concert, and audience participation is mandatory.
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No long active, this group formed in 2000, in Tijuana and began playing all over the TJ/Baja underground extreme metal scene. Boasting a sound that rages with bits of dark thrash and blackened death metal majesty, the band's style evokes greats like Cryptopsy, Watain, Behemoth Dissection and Suffocation. Fast, pulsating and echoing of evil, the hellish vocals go well with the dark, enthralling riffs and blast beats arranged throughout.
With a solid base of fans throughout Mexico, Central and South America, this band of rockers formed in Mexico City in 1996, and have risen to become one of Mexico's leading prog metal bands, who merge hard rock and heavy metal's melodies and songwriting, to create a vibrant sound strong in the traditional virtuosity of early power metal. The band has gotten international acclaim by the likes of MTV, Rolling Stone Magazine and others, as a Latin American artist to watch out for. Over the past two decades, the band has shared the stages with everyone from Helloween, Symphony X, Motley Crue, Deep Purple and Megadeth, to Carcass and Morbid Angel.
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Hailing from the Tijuana area, this band is grindcore to the max. Brutal, guttural, sped up, and technical, this band is a must for fans of bands like Exhumed, Impaled, General Surgery and The County Medical Examiners. This is extreme music, fast and heavy, with lyrics sung in Spanish, for those who might even notice. But, with the buzzing, sharp riffs, machine gun blast beats and inhuman vocals, the band's technical metal sound is Carcass worship at its best.
Born in the early '90s, by former Transmetal vocalist Alberto Pimentel, Leprosy became known for a vigorous blend of death metal and melodic speed metal, with a style similar to Transmetal in terms of power metal and extreme metal. The band has established itself as a mainstay in the metal scene across Mexico, and still prowls on to this day, having recorded over eight full-length albums, including its most recent slab of brutality, Llueve Sangre (Rain Blood), from 2013.
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Though not too well known to most mainstream American heavy metal fans, Luzbel have been around f over 30 years. Since the band's inception in 1982, the band has been on the radar of real rock and metal fans across Mexico, young and old. With a very hard rock tinged proto metal/New Wave of British Heavy Metal influenced sound that took heavy doses of early Motorhead, Deep Purple, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, Luzbel underwent many line up changes over the years, but still remain active. With original founding member, guitarist Raúl Greñas, the band also includes singer Mike de la Rosa, Neo Medina on keyboards and guitars, bassist Vic Nava y Mata, and drummer Jorge Curiel.
An extreme metal band formed by Brujeria founder, guitarist Dino Cazares, also from Fear Factory, and this Mexican extreme metal band features bassist Tony Campos and drummer Emilo Marquez. With a brutal, thrashy, grinding death metal approach to songs about murder, narcoterrorism, and various violent, sexual and Satanic exploits, the band's name translates into Assassin in Spanish and with its songs, colors a vivid picture of the lives of killers for hire, corrupt police, drug smugglers and evil people on both sides of the border. Check out 2002's Corridos De Muerte (Tales of Death), and 2006's Cristo Satanico (Satanic Christ).
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Formed in Michoacán in 1987 the band has become an international staple in thrashy blackened death metal known as the pioneers of Mexican extreme metal, the band ushered in extreme metal, thrash and styles of black and death metal, into Mexico before these subgenres of metal were known. The band has been a cult classic for international extreme metal fans, but has made many live appearances throughout its career, touring extensively throughout the US, Canada and Mexico/South America over the past quarter of a Century.
We couldn't mention Mexico and metal without these masked, maniacs. For the uninitiated gabachos, Brujeria is Spanish for “witchcraft.” But, of course we're not talking about green ladies on flying brooms. We're talking south-of-the-border politics, in your face. Think the film Machete, in a music form, being that of groovy violent death metal with brutal lyrics sung in Spanish. These guys are no joke when it comes the lyrics. It's all about drug cartels prison gangs, marijuana, grisly murders, violent beatings, ghastly torture, and lots of narcotics like coke and meth. Mix in stories of prostitutes, Satanic Rituals, greedy, bloodthirsty coyotes and drug smugglers, corrupt cops, evil priests, and killing former California governor Pete Wilson (rechristened “Pito”–Little Dick) with an AK-47, and no wonder they've been THE cult metal band to emerge from Mexico.
With classic songs like “Matando Güeros' (Killing White Boys), you have to admire the humor, shock value, balls and political statements the band makes with its collection of albums over the years. The cover of the album for the above title track featured a real severed, back when a severed head used to really mean something. Brujeria have evolved from the infamous, regional, mysterious extreme metal band they once were, to an international metal band to be reckoned with, and they perform all across the globe.
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Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.