21 Best Metal Bassists: A Deep Dive into Thunderous Strings

Buckle up, ’cause we’re about to dive headfirst into the world of metal’s unsung heroes – the bassists. Now, before the keyboard warriors get typing, yes, everyone in a band is essential, but come on, who can resist the sheer power of a well-played bass riff? Not us! So, if you’ve ever been curious about who’s laying down those thick, groovy lines in your favorite headbangers, look no further. From legends of old to modern maestros, we’re covering them all!

The Classics

1. Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath)

Say what you want about Ozzy, but let’s be real: Geezer is the man behind some of metal’s most iconic basslines. Think of tracks like “N.I.B.” or “War Pigs.” Those are bass masterpieces, my friends. Apart from delivering the grooves, Geezer also penned many of the band’s lyrics. Yep, he’s not just a bass god but also a word wizard!

2. Steve Harris (Iron Maiden)

Got galloping basslines? Thank Steve Harris. The man’s fingers seem like they’re on fire every time he plays. Tracks like “The Trooper” or “Run to the Hills” are enough proof of his prowess. And let’s not forget he’s a key songwriter for Maiden. Respect where it’s due!

3. Cliff Burton (Metallica)

The late, great Cliff Burton. Not only did he bring a raw, unique energy to Metallica, but he also expanded the boundaries of what a metal bassist could do. Listen to the instrumental “Orion” or his bass solo in “Anesthesia – Pulling Teeth” and try not to get goosebumps. We still miss him.

Modern Masters

4. Justin Chancellor (Tool)

Complex rhythms? Odd time signatures? Mesmerizing sounds? Justin’s your guy. With tracks like “Schism” and “The Pot,” Chancellor isn’t just playing the bass; he’s making it sing. Tool’s sound owes a lot to his intricate and almost otherworldly basslines.

5. John Myung (Dream Theater)

If there’s ever a name synonymous with technical proficiency, it’s John Myung. Playing in a band like Dream Theater requires some mad skills, and Myung delivers, every time. Just listen to “Metropolis Pt. 1” or “Dance of Eternity.” It’s like his bass has a mind of its own!

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6. Nikki Sixx (Mötley Crüe)

Okay, let’s switch gears a bit. Nikki might not be as “technical” as some others on this list, but the man knows how to create catchy basslines. Plus, he’s the primary songwriter for the Crüe! “Dr. Feelgood,” “Wild Side,” and many more owe their vibes to Nikki’s grooves.

Alright, take a breather. We’ve still got more bass goodness coming up!

Unsung Heroes

7. Dan Briggs (Between the Buried and Me)

BTBAM is known for their genre-bending style, and Dan plays a huge role in that. From jazz to rock to metal, he covers it all. If you’re into progressive metal and haven’t heard him yet, start with tracks like “Selkies: The Endless Obsession.”

8. Jeroen Paul Thesseling (Obscura, Pestilence)

Dive into the world of seven-string fretless bass with Jeroen. His work is not just technical but also very atmospheric. It’s like the bass is telling you a story. With Obscura’s “Septuagint” or Pestilence’s “Malleus Maleficarum,” you’re in for some bass-driven delights.

9. Shane Embury (Napalm Death)

The world of grindcore and death metal wouldn’t be the same without Shane’s relentless and aggressive bass approach. While the guitars and drums are going haywire, Shane’s bass lines maintain the groove and intensity. Dive into “Scum” or “You Suffer” if you want a quick taste of his style.

The Next Generation

10. Evan Brewer (The Faceless)

Evan is one of those bassists who take the instrument to the next level. His solo work is a testament to what the bass can achieve. With The Faceless, he brings technicality and flair, especially in tracks like “Autotheist Movement.”

11. Neige (Alcest)

While primarily known as a guitarist and vocalist, Neige’s work as a bassist is ethereal and atmospheric, perfectly fitting the post-metal/shoegaze blend of Alcest. Check out “Opale” or “Kodama” to drift into his sonic landscapes.

Women Who Rock the Bass

12. Jo Bench (Bolt Thrower)

Let’s start this section by breaking some gender stereotypes! Jo Bench, as the bassist of the iconic death metal band Bolt Thrower, has laid down some of the heaviest and grooviest bass lines in the genre. Her powerful presence in tracks like “The Killchain” and “Those Once Loyal” are enough to give anyone a lesson in badassery.

13. Doris Yeh (Chthonic)

Hailing from Taiwan, Doris has not only provided thumping bass lines for the symphonic black metal band Chthonic but also is a striking stage presence with her energetic performances. Dive into “Takao” or “Broken Jade” to get a taste of her capabilities.

Innovators and Experimenters

14. Liam Wilson (The Dillinger Escape Plan)

With mathcore pioneers The Dillinger Escape Plan, Liam’s bass playing isn’t just about following the groove; it’s about creating chaos and then finding order within it. “43% Burnt” and “Milk Lizard” show how he intertwines his bass lines with erratic rhythms and time signatures.

15. Les Claypool (Primus)

How can we talk about innovative bassists and not mention Les Claypool? This man doesn’t play the bass; he makes it dance, sing, laugh, and cry. His unique slap-pop technique combined with fingerstyle gives birth to mind-bending tracks like “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver” and “Tommy The Cat.”

Bassists from the East

16. Toshiya (Dir En Grey)

Japanese metal has a unique flavor, and a part of that flavor in the band Dir En Grey comes from Toshiya’s dynamic bass playing. His versatility shines in tracks ranging from ballads like “Vinushka” to more aggressive numbers like “Saku.”

17. Tetsu (L’Arc-en-Ciel)

Another legend from Japan, Tetsu from L’Arc-en-Ciel, showcases how bass can be both melodic and powerful. Songs like “Blurry Eyes” and “Ready Steady Go” exhibit his ability to create catchy bass lines that stick with you.

Bassists in Extreme Metal

18. Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse)

It’s not easy to make your bass heard in the sonic assault of death metal, but Alex Webster does it with finesse. His speed, combined with technical proficiency, is awe-inspiring. Tracks like “Hammer Smashed Face” and “Evisceration Plague” showcase his monstrous skills.

19. Orion (Behemoth)

Orion’s dark, moody, and aggressive bass lines provide a solid backbone to Behemoth’s blackened death metal sound. The sinister vibe of tracks like “O Father O Satan O Sun!” and “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” owe a lot to his atmospheric bass playing.

Groove Machines

20. Paolo Gregoletto (Trivium)

Paolo doesn’t just follow the guitars; he creates his own path. His groovy and melodic bass lines have become a cornerstone of Trivium’s sound. Just give a listen to “Strife” or “The Sin and the Sentence” to know what we’re talking about.

21. Rex Brown (Pantera, Down)

Rex Brown’s thick and groovy bass lines were a massive part of Pantera’s sound. Tracks like “Walk” and “5 Minutes Alone” are iconic, not just because of the riffs or vocals but also due to that underlining bass groove that gets your head banging.

There you have it, folks. Another roster of epic bassists who’ve shown us the versatility, depth, and sheer power the bass guitar can bring to metal. Whether it’s providing the backbone or taking the lead, these players prove that bass is much more than just ‘background noise.’ D

Wrapping Up…

Okay, so we could go on and on because the world of metal bassists is VAST. But, these are some of the legends, pioneers, and rising stars that we believe deserve a salute. So the next time you’re headbanging to a metal track, take a moment to appreciate the deep, rumbling force driving that song forward – the unsung heroes, the mighty bassists. ive into their music, and you might just discover a newfound appreciation for the instrument! Rock on! 🤘🎸