Six Totally Insane Japanese Metal Bands

man with a mission

By now, you’re probably well aware of Babymetal–the totally bonkers viral sensation that super-collides cutesy J-pop and extreme riffage–but the group is hardly the only whacked-out heavy-music monster to raise its bizarro head from the country that brought us Godzilla and tentacle porn. Kicking things off with a dose of Babymetal (because can you really get enough?), here are some of our favorite metal acts from the land of the rising sun–ranging from werewolf party rock to baseball-jersey-clad Warriors-worshipping beatdowncore.

You know them, you love them. Metal has never been cuter.

Maximum the Hormone
As if this band’s manic mix of thrash, grind, doom, and nu-metal styles weren’t insane enough, watch this video–and keep watching the video. When it switches from high-energy performance footage to multi-headed high-energy performance footage, things truly get unhinged.

Man with a Mission
This group’s music is poppy nu-metal lite–nothing too off the wall there. But in some ways, Man with a Mission’s accessible, unoffensive sound makes their decision to wear wolf masks at all times seem even more demented.

Musically, long-running extremists Sigh have always pushed boundaries, mashing together black metal with psychedelic rock, jazz, classical music, and horror-movie soundtracks. But what takes the group to another level is the female half of its vocal duo: Dr. Mikannibal, a Physics PhD-certified, saxophone-wielding siren with a penchant for little clothes and lots of blood. Not to mention fire-breathing and eating bugs.

Ever wonder what would happen if the baseball gang from The Warriors decided to form a tough-guy hardcore band, but also if they were Japanese and had very bad English skills? Neither had we, but now we know the answer. As for the band’s name, Sand, we can only assume that it’s an oblique reference to The Warrior‘s beach-side Coney Island location.

Active since the mid ’90s, Swarrrm are ostensibly a grindcore outfit but play grind like you’ve probably never heard before, taking sharp left turns into indie rock, noise, and even pop. Their penchant for confrontational live performances and mind-melting psychedelic videos only encourage the sense that this is a band made up of truly insane individuals.


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  • Santeri Saarela

    This was absolutely great. Thanks, Revolver! Sand’s English skills were… ai habu zu rafu 😀

  • Dingo

    Wow, congratulations on one of the most poorly researched articles in the history of ever. It’s absolutely true that Japan has loads of batshit crazy (and oftentimes amazing) metal bands – so why didn’t you find any of them for this piece? Apart from two bands that everyone should know, you’ve found a band that’s “totally insane” because they wear masks, a band that’s “totally insane” because they aren’t all too good at english, and a band that’s “TOTALLY INSANE” because they are…HOLY SHIT!…female! Well done, Revolver.

    • joins

      so where are your suggestions?

    • wymps

      You picked a strange thing to get so emotional about. Do you go to Westboro?

  • Cory Cook

    X Japan and Dir En Grey. I miss Dir En Grey before they “Americanized” their sound and image though. They’re still pretty cool. I don’t know a lot about Japanese metal though.

  • Zizzy LiveChild

    Where is NINGENISU?

  • Hakan Günar

    King’s Evil,no?

  • seth0et0holth

    Why the hell is X Japan not here? Even softening and going more prog-metal and ballady over 1996-97 and 2007 onwards, they are, aside from Sigh, THE Japanese metal band. Seeing them ignored is like seeing a “best British metal bands” article ignore Judas Priest and Iron Maiden

  • seth0et0holth

    Also, even though he may be more known for classical instrumental shows now, Yoshiki’s drumming earns him and X Japan a place on this list alone, regardless of anything else. Seriously. “Totally insane Japanese metal” isn’t guys in masks or singing bad English, it’s a 20something already-virtuoso drummer (if you look at his lives back in 1989 when he was that age) doing 800bpm without extended drum techniques and looking like a frenzied demon. THAT is insane Japanese metal.

  • Sophelia

    How on earth are you defining “metal”?!

  • Nayalan Moodley

    I thought there were going to be metal bands on this list.

  • The Death of Music


  • …..

    maximum the hormone was the best on this list…they should’ve included Dir en Gray on the list

    • Jordan Ciel-Phantomhive


  • star

    fuck where’s my dir en grey and gazette?!! x japan man

    • Briar Foley

      Blood Srain Child, Yousei teikoku

    • Jordan Ciel-Phantomhive

      i know right the gazette and dir en grey are the best

  • Guest

    Totally missed the boat by not including Onmyo-za.

  • PinkPantherPunk .

    what about church of misery

  • Jordan Ciel-Phantomhive

    I love maximum the horemone

  • Jordan Ciel-Phantomhive

    the gazette and dir en grey should have been here kyo has a great voice (dir en grey) and ruki (the gazette) is one of the most recognisable voices and their songs are much better then most of the bands on this list i only agree with maximum the hormone here

    • Sys Meta

      I have watched 4 metal bands playing at Budokan..! Dream Theater,Mr. Big,DEGrey n BabyMetal.The winner for best replay value,best stage design, best performance,best setlist,best crowds n best drama is BabyMetal…take

  • Collyne Peek

    Oh my god..the only band’s i like are baby metal and swarrrm. BM is so kawaii!!!

  • fkhrmlwn

    X Japan, Loudness, Dir en Grey, The Gazette, Sex Machineguns, Galneryus,

    • Sebastian Fudali

      I was just about to write the same.

  • Machine Gun Matt

    Yeah, where’s Crossfaith?

  • Sonam Lama

    “Church Of Misery” and “Gotsu Totsu Kotsu”. Nuff Said.

  • fdajsdiufba8usg

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas!

  • deon lemarks

    Biosphia and Deathgaze are much better than any of these shits.

  • Robin WollStoff

    Where is? Anthem, Loudness, Sabre Tiger, X-Japan, Rosenfeld, Outrage, Aion, Harkenkreuz and this awesome Speed Metal Band “Mein Kampf” 😀

  • :)

    mutyumu, vampillia

  • Aron Rodríguez

    Pay Money to my Pain???? Gotta be there with Crossfaith ffs.

  • Christian Winters

    Sand like The Sandlot.

  • Dailon Huskey

    Thanks! Maximum the Hormone blew my mind and this article
    Has helped guide me as I am now getting into Japanese metal big time
    Also a thanks to commenters for mentioning more bands for me to check

    • Ruchesko

      Nice to see someone not just bitchin’ about who Revolver didn’t mention.

      Also, try Thousand Eyes.

  • Phil Airborn

    MELT BANANA! Why you no mention the best Jap metal band?

  • SadRaven

    Oooooh ! Fucking SHIIT ! I LOVE “SAND” MothaFcker ! !

  • Dario Valdez

    U forgot SIM !!! dude, that band is insane!! they reaaaally know how to mix styles

  • Gustav Kuriga

    Please note people that this says “totally insane” metal bands, not “best” metal bands.