Heavy Metal Football: The Kerrang! World Cup Of Rock
The domestic football season is over, the Champions League final is a distant memory and World Cup fever has well and truly taken hold. In celebration of the world’s biggest football tournament kicking off in Russia tomorrow, here we present to you the definitive World Cup Of Rock. Well, our version of it anyway. Below you’ll find a killer rock, punk or metal band from each of the 32 nations competing for the Jules Rimet trophy this summer. Read on to find discover which Spanish folk-metal veterans, Swiss post-punk weirdos and Argentinian space-rock cool kids have made our list….
RUSSIA, PUSSY RIOT
These feminist protest punks rose to prominence in 2012 after their performance at a Moscow cathedral was criticised as sacrilegious by Russian authorities. Outspoken against Presidents Putin and Trump and vocal supporters of women’s and LGBTQ rights, Pussy Riot continue to challenge the status-quo with their carefree, jaunty power-pop jams, whose aggressive lyrics contrast the easy-going music. With the World Cup just around the corner, don’t be surprised if you find this lot on your TVs once again as they spread their message of inclusivity, anti-authoritarianism and punk rock around the globe.
These Cairo-dwelling death metallers have been active since 2006 and have three records of brutal savagery to their name, with a fourth, Martyrs Of The Storm, due for release soon. They’re worth checking out if you’re into the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Dying Fetus and Broken Hope. Truly disgusting stuff… in the very best way.
SAUDI ARABIA, AL-NAMROOD
More heavy metal excellence here courtesy of Saudi Arabians Al-Namrood. Their Facebook page makes for quite the read, with the band citing their genre as “Arabian Occult” (nice), their interests as “Spreading pure Middle Eastern Metal globally” (very nice) and their influences as “Evil, history and tyranny” (very, very nice). This trio have formed a strong underground following since forming in 2008, and they have to stay underground because in their home country, it’s almost impossible for the group to perform without the hardline authorities coming down hard on them. Al-Namrood will release their compilation album, Ten Years Of Resistance, on July 20, just five days after the World Cup ends.
URUGUAY, TROTSKY VENGARÁN
Do you like your punk rock to be done how they did it ‘back in the day’? If the answer to that is yes, then get a load of Montevideo quartet Trotsky Vengarán. With clear influences from bands like the Ramones, the Sex Pistols and The Clash, these fellas deal in short, snappy bursts of catchy punk rock. They’re prolific songwriters, too, releasing on average one album every two years.
Formed in 2009 and currently based in Germany, Iranian alt. rockers Langtunes play a brand of music with clear indie and classic rock‘n’roll influences. Like Saudia Arabia’s Al-Namrood, the performance of rock music is frowned upon in their country, which makes putting on gigs in their home town and Iranian capital Tehran almost impossible. Despite the setbacks, the band have managed to release at least one EP internationally and have played shows around Europe, with their most recent gig taking place in Berlin back in March.
Maia’s Kandia celebrated their 10-year anniversary back in November with the release of ethereal single Clarity, which is the quintet’s most atmospheric output to date. This lot deal in an Evanescence-esque modern rock, with vocalist Nya Cruz’s huge vocals the centrepiece. The band’s roots lie in the relationship between Nya and brother/guitarist Andre, with the siblings forming the band in 2007 after bonding over their eclectic taste in music. Work on a new record is reportedly underway.
SPAIN, MÄGO DE OZ
We could’ve picked massive indie band Hinds as Spain’s representatives here, but that wouldn’t have been very metal of us, would it? Instead, how about some ludicrous folk-metal to tickle your ears? These guys are massive back in their home country, and since forming in 1988 have released a whopping 13 studio albums. Their 2014 LP, Ilussia, is a concept record that revolves around a dead circus abandoned in a forest which comes back to life, summing up just how bonkers this band is. There’s 10 of them in Mägo De Oz, too. Sharing dressing rooms on tour must be a nightmare.
Veteran Moroccan trio Lazywall have been combining traditional Arabic instruments with a classic rock sound since forming in 2003. Initially coming together in Reading, the band moved back to Morocco in 2009 after the release of debut album Apoptosia. Before then, Lazywall had recorded their first EP with acclaimed producer Steve Albini, demonstrating the impressive pedigree that lies behind a band who put out their most recent album, The Hundredth Monkey, in 2017.
One of the most exciting new bands of 2018 and flagbearers for the blackgaze scene, Denmark’s MØL produced a stunning record in Bruma, which dropped back in April on Holy Roar. Combining vocalist Kim Song Sternkopf’s devastating screams with an atmospheric and utterly mesmerizing musical backdrop, MØL – along with their label mates Employed To Serve and Conjurer – are forging a new way in heavy music. A phenomenal band.
One of the world’s best metal bands, Bayonne natives Gojira have been melting faces for over 20 years. And whilst their nation’s football team is notorious for flaking out in major tournaments come crunch time, Joe Duplantier and co. never let their country down. They didn’t have much fierce competition (no offence, Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! fans) to claim the title of France’s best band, but if you’re not familiar with Gojira, rest assured that they are fucking wicked.
PERU, EL JEFAZO
If you’re a stoner rock fan, Peruvian instrumental trio El Jefazo are well worth a listen. Last year’s self-titled EP is a corking half-hour of groove-laden, fuzzy riffage, complete with some stonking solos to boot. Also, El Jefazo translates as ‘The Boss’, proving that these guys know just how good their funked-up tunes are.
ICELAND, AGENT FRESCO
Reykjavík’s genre-bending quartet Agent Fresco are an intriguing proposition. Combining elements of math-rock, metal, alt.rock and more, these guys make forward-thinking, progressive music that’s brimming with ideas. Fans of Karnivool, Arcane Roots and Black Peaks should get on this band.
NIGERIA, 1 LAST AUTOGRAPH
Just ignore the terrible name for a second – especially if you’re into post-hardcore – because, whilst this young Nigerian band are definitely not the finished article, they’re stacked with potential. There’s not a whole lot of material out there at the moment, but it looks as though they’re working on new stuff, so if you like what you hear, keeps your eyes and ears peeled.
‘Atmospheric post metal background music for porno movies’ is how Croatia’s Emphasis describe their brand of experimental heaviness. There’s something to enjoy here for those who dig proggy post-rock/metal, but be warned – the vocals from this lot are savage. Still, if you’ve ever wondered what a metal score for a porn film might sound like….
ARGENTINA, ÉL MATÓ A UN POLICÍA MOTORIZADO
Yeah, trying saying that after you’re 10 rounds into a World Cup drinking game. The name of these Buenos Aries space-rock natives translates as ‘That boy just killed a motorcycle cop,’ which the band supposedly stole from some dodgy subtitles on a copy of the film ROTOR. El Mato… have three LPs to their name – the last of which was last year’s La Sintesis O’Konor – and are for fans of Weezer, the Pixies and Sonic Youth.
The Belo Horizonte four-piece celebrate 34 years as a band in 2018, and they’re still just as technically astute as their nation’s famed footballers. Last year’s 14th album Machine Messiah proved that, with Sepultura crafting an immersive record that revolved around modern-day society’s reliance on technology. Comfortably Brazil’s most successful heavy band, and suitable reps for one of the beautiful game’s best.
COSTA RICA, PNEUMA
Back in our South By Southwest preview, we named Costa Rica’s Pneuma as their nation’s best metal band, and we’re sticking by that assertion here. The San José quartet deal in an experimental thrash sound that incorporates elements of melodic death metal, with their earth-shattering latest album, 2017’s The Game, displaying Pneuma’s eclectic influences. This is lovely (and fiercely heavy) stuff.
SERBIA, DAVID MAXIM MICIC
Something a bit different here courtesy of Serbia, with Belgrade solo artist David Maxim Micic being a guitar player famed for his intricate playing and illuminating compositions. Micic released a full-length record, Who Bit The Moon, last year, whilst he’s also recorded music with the metal band Destiny Potato, whose 2014 LP Lun is worth checking out if proggy, tech-metal is your deal.
SWITZERLAND, VEIL OF LIGHT
Industrial synth-laden post-punk from Zurich? We’re in. Veil Of Light’s 2017 track Soul In Ethanol – taken from the album Front Teeth – is an avant garde prog-punk banger. There’s definitely some Depeche Mode and New Order influences in there, but fans of bands like Ho99o9 and Death Spells will probably dig this, too. Veil Of Light are a delightfully off the wall proposition.
It’s only right that Rammstein are representatives for one of world football’s most metal nations. The Germans could well end up being the ones to take the Jules Rimet trophy home, and if their footballers hit top gear in Russia, expect even more pomp and showmanship on the pitch than you find at a Rammstein gig. Odds on Mesut Özil sporting dual arm-mounted flamethrowers whilst singing Du Hast at this summer’s tournament?
Sweden are the home nation of one of world football’s most rockstar-like players in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, so it’s fitting that they’ve also got one of rock’s hottest bands right now in mysterious metal titans Ghost. But could the band’s upcoming album Prequelle be the soundtrack to Swedish glory in Russia this summer? Seeing as Zlatan isn’t playing, the answer is probably not… Still, good band, backed hard.
SOUTH KOREA, BURSTERS
Seoul post-hardcore quintet Bursters dropped new single Eternal last month, and it’s a track which calls to mind bands like Sleeping With Sirens and Underoath – emotive vocals and serene guitars give way to crushing riffs, frenzied screams and some rapid fire drumming. Nice.
Mexico’s answer to Napalm Death, grindcore mob Brujeria released the ferocious anti-Donald Trump number Viva Presidente Trump! back in 2016. In addition to taking the piss out of the current U.S. President, these Tijuana natives have also been known to delight in performing under drug lord pseudonyms and even wield the odd machete in their videos. Bonkers and brilliant in equal measure.
This punk trio dropped one of last year’s stand-out releases in Burst; an angry yet catchy and melodic record, it was a collection which announced that these Belgians meant business. As well as appearing at 2018’s 2000trees, Brutus are touring across Europe this summer with Thrice and Chelsea Wolfe. Don’t sleep on this band.
ENGLAND, EMPLOYED TO SERVE
Okay, so there are obviously a lot of candidates for this spot, but after decimating the K! Pit! recently and releasing our 2017 album of the year, we’ve decided that Employed To Serve may as well represent us in this rundown. The Holy Roar Records mob continue to stretch the limits of heavy music, and besides, vocalist Justine Jones is also an amateur footballer, so really there’s no denying they’ve got the footballing credentials.
‘What subgenre of rock do Cage9 belong to?’ we hear you ask. Well, if you have a look at the band’s Facebook page, that’ll be the category of “Rock/Rock/Rock/Rock/Repeat.” And when you actually listen to these Panama City natives, that makes perfect sense. Fans of Alter Bridge and Shinedown’s brand of rock will enjoy this lot.
Soaring metallic riffs combined with enchanting vocals? We’ll take that any day. Tunisia’s Persona are two albums into a career that promises much, with 2017’s LP Metamorphosis seeing the band blend classic metal and hard rock with synths and orchestration, progressing from the simpler construction of debut record Elusive Reflections. They’re also apparently Kate Bush fans, so extra points for that.
We hope you’ve said your prayers to the Fox God, because Babymetal are continuing along their path to world domination. 2016’s killer Metal Resistance album proved that this band is far more than a curiosity, with mega-hit Karate flying onto playlists and into rock clubs all over the globe. They’ve even got their own label, Babymetal Records, now. Get on board or move over, because Babymetal aren’t going anywhere.
One of the founders of Poland’s underground extreme scene, Nergal and cohorts continue to spread the gospel of death metal across the world. It has, however, been four years since The Satanist, Behemoth’s last proper record, so we’re hoping the band won’t be spending much time watching football this summer, and choosing instead to get a wriggle on with new music. Nergal told K! back in April that the band are approaching the mixing stage, so hopefully fresh material is coming soon.
COLOMBIA, LOS SUZIOX
Medellin’s Los Suziox would be right at home at Blackpool’s legendary throwback punk festival, Rebellion; there are Clash and Stiff Little Fingers references all over this lot’s music. Los Suziox (which translates as ‘The Dirty’) have been touring since 2003, with one LP, 2013’s El Fin Justifica Los Medios – The End Justifies The Means – available for listeners to stream on Spotify. For fans of rumbling, old-school punk.
Okay, we’ll admit it: we have, much like England’s footballers at major tournaments in the past, fallen at the final hurdle. We’ve trawled the farthest reaches of the world wide web, and we literally can’t find a single rock, punk or metal band from Senegal. The closest we’re getting is Senegalese-American rapper Akon and his collaboration with No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani (if we’re talking pop bangers, The Sweet Escape is a corker, right?). Do you know of a brilliant rock band from Senegal? Hit us up on Twitter @KerrangMagazine!
Words: Jake Richardson