11 Heavy Bands From Ukraine You Should Be Listening To

The invasion of Ukraine is nothing short of heartbreaking. Every day this country does its best to repel a fascist invader. Every day the rest of the world seems to continue to argue about how to best support them. Here at Wall Of Sound we can’t ship weapons to help defend against the invader hell bent on genocide. But what we can do is send love, support and get the word out around the world about some of the best heavy bands Ukraine has to offer. I’ll leave it up to you if you want to rank them but as far as I’m concerned they all deserve the top spot.

Jinjer

First up, the undisputed Kings (and Queen) of Ukrainian metal – Jinjer. These maniacs burst into the heavy scene back in 2014 with the release of the debut album ‘Cloud Factory’. They signed to Napalm Records records, toured relentlessly and the rest is history. In 2022 the band were given permission to leave the country and tour as official ambassadors to Ukraine by the Ministry of Culture. Now that’s my kind of government ministry.

We recently had a chat with Jinjer about their experiences when they played Good Things Festival. Check out the full interview here.

Follow Jinjer on Facebook

Defiant

Defiant could not have chosen a better name. Little did they know back in 2008 years later the name would mean so much more. Hailing from Zaporizhzhya the prog/power/speed metal quartet have been banging heads all over Ukraine. They are yet to make a splash outside their home country, but from what I’ve seen and heard it’s only a matter of time, and peace.

Follow Defiant on Facebook

1914

Orchestral arrangements mixed with doom and death metal are the staple for the legends from Liviv. Formed on the 100 year anniversary of the First World War 1914 set out to retell the stories of war. From their Bandcamp page: “Ukrainian blackened death/doom metal offensive 1914 continue to reflect the gruesome tales of World War I, its soldiers’ fate, their death, fear and feats to be never forgotten…” Tragically in 2023 the band now may have a whole lot of new stories to retell to future generations. Not so fun fact: The band were recently kicked off Instagram for telling the truth about the war.

Follow 1914 on Facebook

Balfor

If you like your metal very black, there are non-more black than Balfor. The band is credited with creating the genre Ukrainian Barbaric Black Metal and no one does it better. Melodic, atmospheric, and crushingly heavy; if Balfor aren’t already in your favourite extreme metal playlist get them in there now!

Follow Balfor on Facebook

Morton

There’s room for everyone here so if the doom is getting you down Morton will lift your spirits. Starting out as a solo project by producer and multi-instrumentalist Max Morton a live band was soon assembled. The Kyiv natives were soon signed to a label and playing across Ukraine and Europe. With a history of collaborations Morton most recently teamed up again with the amazing Tatiana Shmayluk of Jinjer on the 8-minute epic ‘Horror of Daniel Wagener’.

Follow Morton on Facebook

Zgard

“Folk-influenced atmospheric pagan black metal”… Well if a sentence is going to stop you in your tracks it’s that. Created by Yaromisl Hladokress one man band Zgard has been bringing a furious darkness since 2010. One for the black metal connoisseurs with tales of magic, spells and legendary mysticism, the music is dense and haunting. Not for the faint of heart.

Follow Zgard on Facebook

Scarleth

Don’t wait a minute longer to get down with Scarleth. This crew from Donetsk continue the very European tradition of excellent female-fronted metal bands combining a perfect mix of heavy music and beautiful haunting vocals. A change of lead singer hasn’t slowed the band down with their latest release Vortex one of their strongest yet. The band like so many from Ukraine are spending their time raising money and awareness of the genocide.

Suss Scarleth out on Facebook

Space Of Variations

Genre-defying legends Space Of Variations have a huge following in their home country and with good reason. Hooky choruses combined with brutal unclean vocals these guys out of Vinnytsia have made the world sit up and take notice. Having just finished a US tour with fellow countrymen Jinjer saw the band get into the hearts and minds of a whole new audience. If you dig hardcore riffs, massive breakdowns with cleans and screams give their latest album Imago a spin and thank me later.

Follow Space Of Variations on Facebook

Hell:on

In their own words this band is “Just pure f#@*ing metal”. I for one can get down with that. Since their formation in 2005 the brutal quintet from Zaporizhzhia Hell:on have been releasing world class thrash/death metal. I dare anyone who delves deep into the band’s discography not to find some of the best heavy music ever released. The band tick every box for great brutal heavy music, there’s an old school vibe with a very modern sensibility. Playing at 100 miles an hour is this band just getting warmed up.

Give Hell:on a follow on Facebook

Ignea

Combining elements of death metal with symphonic melody female fronted outfit Ignea quickly became a favourite since I discovered them. Helle Bohdanova’s vocals switch effortlessly between soaring operatic and blood curdling death growls. Add to that some fully sick breakdowns and an orchestra you have some of the best damn music the country has to offer. Like so many others on this list the band have stayed in Ukraine to raise money and help defend it.

Follow Ignea on Facebook

Sinoptik

This trio from Donetsk were voted Best New Band at the Global Battle of the Bands in Berlin, 2016. A few years later the band pulled off the impossible by recording a live EP in the middle of an active warzone. If anything epitomises the strength, courage and resilience of the Ukrainian people it’s Sinoptik. Filmed on an iPhone, the power rock trio had a little over an hour and a half between air raid sirens and rocket strikes to record this message of hope. So give up 16 minutes of your life for something that could have cost the band theirs.

Follow Sinoptik on Facebook

That’s just a taste of what the Ukraine heavy scene has to offer, there are obviously countless more bands. So if I missed one of your favourites, don’t get mad bro, add it in the comments and spread the love.

If you want to do more than just spread the love, hit up any of the above band’s socials, they all have links for ways you can help. Buy some music, band merch or consider donating to Médecins Sans Frontières Ukraine Appeal

Slava Ukraini!

Written by Gareth Williams

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About Gareth Williams (124 Articles)
Resident ranga and Heavy Metal Poet. The only guy dumb enough to recite poetry at Soundwave, star of stage and radio. Now writing words for Wall Of Sound