The 9 Best Metal Bands in OC – Orange Coast’s Heaviest

man playing drums

Have you ever thought that Orange Coast was just all Mickey Mouse and waves? I used to before I learned better. Sure, it’s sunny, and those beaches are postcard perfect, but this place has an edge! Seems like everywhere you turn there’s some band that is blasting power chords.

It might not sound like surf tunes, but it does pack quite a punch. Now I know what you’re thinking – this doesn’t quite fit with all the sunny atmosphere right? Well, wrong. Metal scene was alive here for a long time.

Today, I will take a look at some of the best bands that got their start busting out around here. Trust me, once you hear them you’ll see OC’s got way more going on, and I’m pretty sure you even know about some of these names.

1. Avenged Sevenfold

Avenged Sevenfold, or A7X, started way back in 1999 down in Orange County. At first they played that hardcore punk stuff, but they took things to the next level really fast. Their songs have so many solos and changing parts, it’s like they’re always keeping you on your toes.

It’s crazy how popular they got with music that complex and crowds really digged their performances. Nowadays, Avenged Sevenfold is selling out huge shows anywhere they go. Major festivals arena tours – they’re playing for thousands of screaming fans all over the planet. And deservingly so.

Sounds Similar To:

  • Bullet For My Valentine
  • Trivium
  • Stone Sour

Tracks You Should Check Out

  1. Bat Country
  2. Unholy Confessions
  3. Nightmare
  4. Beast and the Harlot
  5. Blinded In Chains
  6. Almost Easy
  7. Hail to the King
  8. Afterlife
  9. Gunslinger

2. Phobia

Phobia was formed way back in 1990 when all the other bands were too busy moping around playing the grunge. But not Phobia! They knew what was up, and they played some nerve-racking grindcore.

And they’ve been jamming to that fast and furious style ever since. It’s been over 30 years, and they’re still at it, still touring city to city. What’s even more impressive is that they still go all out, and they sure know how to put on one intense performance.

Sounds Similar To:

  • Kill the Client
  • Extreme Noise Terror
  • Agathocles

Tracks You Should Check Out

  1. Beer, Bitches, and Bulletbelts
  2. Submission Hold
  3. Get Out of My Head
  4. Continue Insane
  5. Bring the War
  6. Ultimate Suffering

3. Dystopia

Formed way back in 1991 down in Orange County, California, Dystopia played a mix of crust punk and sludge metal – pretty heavy stuff. They definitely stood out from other bands, as they were not afraid to get real dark with their music.

They dealt with some pretty tough topics, such as racism, drugs, and animal rights. Because of all that serious subject matter, Dystopia developed a strong following both in the punk scene and with metalheads.

Sounds Similar To:

  • Nausea
  • Disrupt
  • Noothgrush

Tracks You Should Check Out

  1. My Meds Aren’t Working…
  2. Backstabber
  3. Cosmetic Plague
  4. Stress Builds Character
  5. Control All Delete
  6. Sanctity
  7. Learning With Intent to Fall

4. Throwdown

Throwdown started way back in 1997 down in Orange County. Usually, bands try to keep at least one member from the original lineup, but nowadays, Throwdown has None of the original guys left. Still, they’ve managed to hit some pretty big tours.

They did Ozzfest, Underground Sounds, and even Hellfest. They also did Warped Tour and played with bands like In Flames, Lamb of God, As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engage, Korn, and Cavalera Conspiracy.

Sounds Similar To:

  • Hatebreed
  • Chimaira
  • Bleeding Through

Tracks You Should Check Out

  1. Holy Roller
  2. Walk Away
  3. This Continuum
  4. Burn
  5. Hellbent (On War)
  6. The Scythe
  7. Weight of the World

5. Leatherwolf

Leatherwolf was founded in 1981 down in Huntington Beach, California. They called themselves the “Triple Axe Attack” because of all the axes (guitars) they used. But it wasn’t all sunshine and surfing. They split up back in 1992, but then in 1999, they got the pack back together.

Nowadays, they have Keith on the mic, Rob and Geoff shredding the guitars, Paul holding down the bass, and Dean banging the drums. They put out five albums over the years. But keeping a band together ain’t easy – there was lots of comings and goings of members. Seems like the only thing constant was change.

Sounds Similar To:

  • Lizzy Borden
  • Fifth Angel
  • Lilian Axe

Tracks You Should Check Out

  1. The Calling
  2. Hideaway
  3. Street Ready
  4. Rise or Fall
  5. Thunder
  6. Gypsies and Thieves
  7. Take a Chance

6. Fu Manchu

Fu Manchu started back in 1985. For a long time in the 80s and 90s they were switching up their lineups, but since 2001 it’s been the same crew. The band is still led by the original guitar player, Scott Hill, except now he’s the main singer too. Helping him out is bass player Brad Davis, lead guitarist Bob Balch, and drummer Scott Reeder.

Fu Manchu has also been tied to all the other bands around Palm Desert for years. You probably know groups like Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, and Mondo Generator that all started there, too.

Sounds Similar To:

  • Brant Bjork
  • Hermano
  • Kyuss

Tracks You Should Check Out

  1. Eatin’ Dust
  2. Evil Eye
  3. Hands of the Zodiac
  4. Moongoose
  5. Godzilla
  6. Shift Kicker
  7. Urethane
  8. King of the Road

7. Bleeding Through

Bleeding Through started in 1999. Now, before they were Bleeding Through, they went by a different name – Breakneck. This band was formed in 1998 by the guys you may have heard of. The singer was Brandan “Ohrly” Schieppati.

He’s been part of other bands too, such as Eighteen Visions and Throwdown. They also had two guitarists – Javier Van Huss who was in Eighteen Visions and Enewetak, and Scott Danough from Daggers and Sever. The bassist was Chad Tafolla from Taken. And on drums was Troy Born, also from Taken.

Sounds Similar To:

  • Unearth
  • Himsa
  • It Dies Today

Tracks You Should Check Out

  1. On Wings of Lead
  2. Love Lost In a Hail of Gun Fire
  3. Rage
  4. Kill to Believe
  5. Revenge I Seek
  6. Love In Slow Motion
  7. Sweet Vampirous

8. Hirax

Hirax has been playing some kickass speed metal since back in the 80s. They took the fast parts of punk rock and cranked that up to 11 with heavy metal fury. Usually, speed metal was more of a German and Brazilian thing back in the day, but these guys proved that punk’s attitude can travel worldwide.

They blended together thrash metal’s intensity with punk’s rebellious spirit.  The result is some fast-paced, in-your-face tunes that get crowds wild even nowadays.

Sounds Similar To:

  • Mortal Sin
  • Hallows Eve
  • Whiplash

Tracks You Should Check Out

  1. Bombs of Death
  2. Hostile Territory
  3. Guardian Protector
  4. Blitzkrieg Air Attack
  5. Defeat of Amalek
  6. Destroy
  7. The Gauntlet
  8. Blind Faith


That about does it for my rundown of the best metal bands from right here in OC. Between the legends like Hirax, who started it all, and up-and-comers who are taking it to the next level, there’s no shortage of heavy hitting talent in OC, that’s for sure.

Who would’ve thought mosh pits and face melting solos could come from a place known for beaches and traffic?

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