Who Are the Best Swedish Metal Bands?

The country of Sweden has always been a hotbed of heavy metal, launching the careers of some of the most successful metal bands. There were so many amazing bands to choose from that a few great groups didn't make the list. Let's take a look at some of the best metal bands that hail from Sweden that you won't want to miss.

01
of 20

Opeth

Opeth
Opeth. Roadrunner Records

Not only are they the best band in Sweden, Opeth rank right up there in the entire metal genre. They are an extremely diverse group, mixing death metal with many other styles, and even using acoustic instruments in some songs. The vocals are diverse as well, and the lyrics are exceptional.

In more recent albums, the band's sound has evolved into the progressive realm and away from death metal.

Recommended album: Blackwater Park" (2001)

02
of 20

Dark Tranquillity

Dark Tranquillity
Dark Tranquillity. Century Media Records

Dark Tranquillity formed in 1989 and was another band at the beginning of the melodic death metal movement. Unlike some groups whose time in the sun has come and gone, Dark Tranquility continues to progress and release great albums. 

Recommended album: "The Gallery" (1995)

03
of 20

Meshuggah

Meshuggah
Meshuggah. Nuclear Blast Records

Meshuggah plays a really diverse form of metal. It utilizes unusual time signatures and tempo changes combined with thrash and death metal elements along with a lot of experimentation. They tend to be hit and miss, but when they're on, they are really good.

Recommended album: "Destroy Erase Improve" (1995)

04
of 20

At The Gates

At The Gates
At The Gates. Century Media Records

At The Gates were at the forefront of melodic death metal in the early 90s. Before disbanding in 1996 they recorded several influential and respected albums. Some of their members went on to form The Haunted. The band reunited in 2007 and released their fifth full-length album, "At War With Reality," in 2014.

Recommended album: "Slaughter Of The Soul" (1995)

05
of 20

Bathory

Bathory
Bathory. Black Mark Production

The metal world was thrown back by the ungodly sounds that the Swedish band Bathory let out in the early 1980s. Arguably one of the first true black metal bands, Bathory had a major influence on the sudden rise in the genre during the early 90s.

Bathory would eventually evolve into an epic, Viking metal solo project that oozed a darkened atmosphere. The band ended with the death of frontman Quorthon in 2004.

Recommended album: "Under The Sign Of The Black Mark" (1986)

06
of 20

In Flames

In Flames
In Flames. Sony Music

Even with multiple lineup changes, In Flames continue to be at the top of the melodic death metal genre. Mixing death metal growls with clean singing, they have a wide appeal that grows with each release. Yet, their latter releases have been criticized by some for drifting too far toward the mainstream.

Recommended album: "The Jester Race" (1996)

07
of 20

Soilwork

Soilwork
Soilwork. Nuclear Blast Records

It may seem strange, but Soilwork has been accused of being "too commercial." Their style of melodic death metal is very palatable compared to some bands in the genre, but it's still unlikely that you'll be hearing any of their music on your local pop station anytime soon. They write really good songs and have a great mix of the brutal and the melodic.

Recommended album: "The Chainheart Machine" (2000)

08
of 20

Evergrey

Evergrey
Evergrey. AFM Records

In a country where melodic death metal reigns supreme, it may seem like an unusual choice to rank a progressive metal group like Evergrey so highly. However, when you factor in their extraordinary musical ability and great songwriting, it's an easy choice. Tom S. Englund has one of the best voices in metal and Evergrey are the complete package.

Recommended album: "Recreation Day" (2003)

09
of 20

Amon Amarth

Amon Amarth
Amon Amarth. Metal Blade Records

Originally called Scum, the death metal band Amon Amarth incorporate Viking imagery into their lyrics and a lot of melodic elements into their music. They are rousing and fun, but still plenty heavy and extreme.

Recommended album: "Fate Of Norns" (2004)

10
of 20

Candlemass

Candlemass
Candlemass. Nuclear Blast Records

Candlemass is one of the pioneers of doom metal, debuting back in 1984. Messiah Marcolin was their singer in the band's heyday, followed by Robert Lowe. Mats Leven is currently the vocalist.

The band continues to tour, even though they said that 2012's "Psalms For The Dead" would be their last studio album. In 2017, Candlemass released a picture disc of "Nightfall" and a "Dark are the Veils of Death" vinyl to celebrate 30 years since recording the hit album.

Recommended album: "Nightfall" (1987)

11
of 20

Arch Enemy

Arch Enemy
Arch Enemy. Century Media Records

Arch Enemy is unique in that they are a death metal band with a female vocalist. Angela Gossow screamed with just as much fury as anyone else and current vocalist Alissa White-Gluz continues that powerhouse tradition.

Recommended album: "Anthems Of Rebellion" (2003)

12
of 20

Katatonia

Katatonia
Katatonia. Peaceville Records

Katatonia is another band whose sound has evolved over the years. They started in the early 1990s as more of a death/doom band. These days their music is much more complex and dynamic, but still heavy. Jonas Renkse's vocals have also evolved from being harsh to melodic.

Recommended album: "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" (2003)

13
of 20

Therion

Therion
Therion. Nuclear Blast Records

Starting out as a no-frills death metal band, Therion would completely change their sound in the mid-90s, adding more operatic and classical influences. Choirs and orchestration would become the norm in Therion’s core sound.

Even with many lineup changes, Therion has kept to a symphonic metal sound, with the band’s mastermind Christofer Johnsson leading the way.

Recommended album: "Theli" (1996)

14
of 20

Marduk

Marduk
Marduk. Century Media Records

Marduk is more in the vein of Norwegian black metal bands, but they are Swedish. They've been around since the early 90s and their music is fast and intense with lots of blast beats and typical black metal shrieky vocals. Their lyrical topics are also typical black metal, focusing on evil and blasphemous subjects.

Recommended album: "Heaven Shall Burn...When We Are Gathered" (1996)

15
of 20

Entombed

Entombed
Entombed. Century Media Records

Entombed is largely credited for starting the Swedish death metal sound. The band’s music is an amalgam of thrash metal influenced by American death metal bands like Death and Morbid Angel. Relying on stout, primal riffs, Entombed eschewed many of the technical aspects entering into death metal at the time for a more stripped down and raw approach.

In the 2010s, Entombed split over legal disputes and guitarist Alex Hellid formed Entombed A.D. Yet, late in 2016, the original trio got back together for two shows and indicated they may be recording again.

Recommended album: "Wolverine Blues" (1993)

16
of 20

Dissection

Dissection
Dissection. High Roller Records

Dissection was another band whose musical accomplishments were overshadowed by their actions. They released two very influential death/black metal albums in the mid-90s.

Frontman Jon Nödtveidt was jailed for murder in 1997. After he was released from jail, Dissection resumed, and 2006's "Reinkaos" got mixed reviews. Nödtveidt committed suicide in 2006.

Recommended album: "Storm Of The Light's Bane" (1995)

17
of 20

The Haunted

The Haunted
The Haunted. Century Media Records

When At The Gates dissolved in 1996, three of the five members (the Björler brothers and drummer Adrian Erlandsson) formed a new band with guitarist Patrik Jensen and vocalist Peter Dolving. Dolving left for a few years and was replaced by Marco Aro. He returned in 2003, then left again in 2013 and was once again replaced by Aro.

The band's heavy thrash sound and Dolving's penchant for speaking his mind have kept the band in the headlines and on the charts.

Recommended album: "The Haunted Made Me Do It" (2000)

18
of 20

HammerFall

HammerFall
HammerFall. Nuclear Blast Records

Since their formation in 1993, HammerFall has been one of the leading bands in the power metal genre. Dark Tranquillity vocalist Mikael Stanne was also with HammerFall for their first few years but was replaced by Joacim Cans before the band's 1997 debut.

Recommended album: "Glory To The Brave" (1997)

19
of 20

Dark Funeral

Dark Funeral
Dark Funeral. Century Media Records

Dark Funeral is a black metal band started in 1993 by Lord Ahriman and Blackmoon. Their full-length debut was 1996's "The Secrets Of The Black Arts." Blackmoon and original vocalist Themgoroth left the band shortly thereafter.

Themgoroth was replaced Emperor Magus Caligula who was later replaced by current vocalist Heljarmadr. They are clad in corpsepaint and play fast, brutal, and intense black metal.

Recommended album: "Diabolis Interium" (2001)

20
of 20

Vintersorg

Vintersorg
Vintersorg. Napalm Records

Vintersorg is the creation of Andreas "Vintersorg" Hedlund and blends many different genres. Harsh black metal is combined with mellower folk metal and elements of more experimental and avant garde styles.

Their music has shifted through the years as well, and Swedish lyrics gave way to English ones. Yet, 2007's "Solens Rötter" saw the band return to their roots.

Recommended album: "Odemarkens Son" (2000)