Geography of Heavy Metal Bands

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It’s been about nine years since Reddit user depo_s  mapped out the density of heavy metal bands around the world in 2012. So has the geography of heavy metal bands changed since then?

Heavy metal is a music genre that originated in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Also referred to as metal, the music is known for its “distorted guitar ‘power chords’, heavy riffs, wailing vocals and virtuosic solos by guitarists and drummers” (Oxford Music Dictionary).

Since then, Heavy Metal has become enormously popular.

A 2015 Spotify survey found that heavy metal fans are the most loyal listeners. TuneCore, the platform for independent musicians, also released statistics on total user use (streaming and otherwise accessing the music) in 2018 that showed that heavy metal was the fastest growing genre with a 154% increase over 2017.

Photo: © Jon Glittenberg,  Petrified Pixels, used with permission.
Photo: © Jon Glittenberg, Petrified Pixels, used with permission.

Heavy metal’s fanbase has a global reach. Likewise, musicians in this genre also hail from a range of countries. This select list of classic bands and current standouts (compiled by Gryffyd Dempsey) highlights some of the countries of origin for heavy metal bands:

  • USA: Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, Pantera, Pig Destroyer, System of a Down, Cannibal Corpse, Red Fang, Mastodon, Morbid Angel, Rage Against the Machine, Queensrÿche, Dio, Tool
  • Canada: Voivod, Kataklysm
  • Brazil: Sepultura
  • UK: Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Napalm Death, Black Sabbath, Venom, Motörhead, Bolt Thrower
  • Germany: Scorpions, Accept, Kreator, Rammstein, Sodom, Destruction
  • France: Gojira
  • Sweden: Opeth, Amon Amarth, Meshuggah, Bathory, Entombed
  • Norway: Mayhem, Emperor, Dimmu Borgir
  • Switzerland: Celtic Frost

So where are heavy metal bands the most prevalent today?

Data Sources for the Geography of Heavy Metal Bands

To look at the geography of heavy metal bands, data was pulled from two sources. First, active listings of heavy metal bands based on country of origin was compiled from the Encyclopaedia Metallum. Heavy metal has numerous sub-genres and Encyclopaedia Metallum has specific requirements for the types of bands that can be included in their database. For example, Nu Metal, which integrates elements of other music genres, is not allowed.

July 2021 population estimates for each country were compiled from the CIA World Factbook.

For the purposes of this article, the countries counted include special administrative units and sovereign states in order to correspond with the associated entries in the Encyclopaedia Metallum and will be collectively referred to as countries.

The Åland Islands, which has a separate entry (3 bands), was grouped with Finland. Svalbard (1 band) was grouped with Norway.

How Many Countries Have Heavy Metal Bands?

Overall, 145 countries have at least one active heavy metal band. The collective total of active heavy metal bands for all 145 countries is 81,207.

This is a net increase of ten countries since 2012 (135) but a decrease of 2,035 active listings. Two countries no longer have active heavy metal bands: Congo and Guam. Twelve countries/territories were added with active bands since 2012: Afghanistan, Cambodia, East Timor, French Polynesia, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Isle of Man, Jersey, Mauritius, Palestine, Réunion, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and Zimbabwe.

Which Countries Have the Most Heavy Metal Bands?

As an absolute number, the United States stands out as the country with the most heavy metal bands. With 17,557 active entries in the Encyclopaedia Metallum, the United States has more than three times the number of bands that than the second country on the list: Germany with 5,726.

The top 15 countries with the most heavy metal bands are:

RankingCountryBandsPercentage of Total Bands
1United States17,55721.62%
2Germany5,7267.05%
3Brazil4,1735.14%
4Italy3,6234.46%
5United Kingdom3,2443.99%
6Russia3,0723.78%
7France2,9003.57%
8Canada2,7563.39%
9Mexico2,4002.96%
10Finland2,3812.93%
11Sweden2,2812.81%
12Chile2,0962.58%
13Spain2,0022.47%
14Argentina1,9072.35%
15Indonesia1,6011.97%
Top 15 countries with the most heavy metal bands. Source: Encyclopaedia Metallum

Which Countries Have the Highest Number of Heavy Metal Bands Per 100,000 Residents?

When per 100,000 resident value for heavy metal bands is calculated, the rankings shift. Finland may only be the 65th largest country in the world but it ranked number one both in 2012 and 2021 as the country with the highest ratio of heavy metal bands to 100,000 residents. There are now roughly 42.61 bands per 100,000 residents in Finland.

Nordic countries in general have continued to dominate in the per capita rankings with Iceland and Sweden ranking second and third respectively. Faroe Islands ranks fourth and newcomer to the list, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, ranks fifth with just one band and a population of 5,321. Norway ranks sixth on the list.

The complete table of bands per country can be found at the end of this article.

The top 15 rankings are as follows:

RankingCountryMetal bands per 100000 peopleBandsPopulation
1Finland42.6132,3815,587,442
2Iceland31.900113354,234
3Sweden22.2282,28110,261,767
4Faroe Islands21.1771151,943
5Saint Pierre and Miquelon18.79315,321
6Norway18.2771,0075,509,591
7Liechtenstein17.755739,425
8Greece11.6941,23610,569,703
9Chile11.4492,09618,307,925
10Malta11.06651460,891
11Estonia11.0651351,220,042
12Guernsey 10.396767,334
13Greenland10.381657,799
14Gibraltar10.164329,516
15Czech Republic9.00796410,702,596
Top 15 countries with the most per capita heavy metal bands. Source: Encyclopaedia Metallum

Interactive Map of Heavy Metal Bands by Country

This interactive map of heavy metal bands by country lets you explore the data. Hover over any country to see the number of bands, 2021 population, and per capita rate of heavy metal bands. You can also zoom in to see detail. Hover over the legend to see the countries that fall within each category highlighted.

A static version of this map is available immediately below this interactive map.

Note: Some of the smaller countries and territories were not able to be listed on the map.

Static Map: Number of Heavy Metal Bands Per 100,000 People

World map showing the number of heavy metal bands per 100,000 people by country.

Table: Number of Heavy Metal Bands Per Country, 2021

Here is the complete list of the number of active heavy metal bands per country along with the July 2021 population estimates for each country.

Country/TerritoryMetal bands per 100000 peopleBandsPopulation
Afghanistan0.005237,466,414
Albania0.22773,088,385
Algeria0.0371643,576,691
Andorra2.335285,645
Angola0.024833,642,646
Argentina4.1581,90745,864,941
Armenia0.631193,011,609
Australia5.9861,54525,809,973
Austria7.4736648,884,864
Azerbaijan0.088910,282,283
Bahrain0.39361,526,929
Bangladesh0.04065164,098,818
Barbados0.9943301,865
Belarus3.1032939,441,842
Belgium5.65466611,778,842
Belize0.2471405,633
Bolivia2.06724311,758,869
Bosnia and Herzegovina2.248863,824,782
Botswana0.29872,350,667
Brazil1.9554,173213,445,417
Brunei3.18415471,103
Bulgaria2.9342036,919,180
Myanmar0.016957,069,099
Cambodia0.012217,304,363
Canada7.2632,75637,943,231
Chile11.4492,09618,307,925
China0.0202841,397,897,720
Colombia2.9611,49150,355,650
Costa Rica4.5622355,151,140
Croatia5.8922484,208,973
Cuba0.4895411,032,343
Cyprus4.058521,281,506
Czech Republic9.00796410,702,596
Denmark8.4825005,894,687
Dominican Republic0.2933110,597,348
East Timor0.07111,413,958
Ecuador2.75047017,093,159
Egypt0.03941106,437,241
El Salvador1.471966,528,135
Estonia11.0651351,220,042
Faroe Islands21.1771151,943
Finland42.6132,3815,587,442
France4.2592,90068,084,217
French Polynesia0.3371297,154
Georgia0.466234,933,674
Germany7.1665,72679,903,481
Gibraltar10.164329,516
Greece11.6941,23610,569,703
Greenland10.381657,799
Guatemala0.64911317,422,821
Guernsey 10.396767,334
Guyana0.2542787,971
Honduras0.535509,346,277
Hong Kong0.427317,263,234
Hungary6.2096049,728,337
Iceland31.900113354,234
India0.0151961,339,330,514
Indonesia0.5821,601275,122,131
Iran0.1099485,888,910
Iraq0.0301239,650,145
Ireland4.4212315,224,884
Isle of Man1.100190,895
Israel1.8781658,787,045
Italy5.8073,62362,390,364
Jamaica0.07122,816,602
Japan1.0571,318124,687,293
Jersey2.9563101,476
Jordan0.1832010,909,567
Kazakhstan0.1302519,245,793
Kenya0.011654,685,051
Kuwait0.16553,032,065
Kyrgyzstan0.10066,018,789
Laos0.09277,574,356
Latvia4.456831,862,687
Lebanon0.475255,261,372
Libya0.05747,017,224
Liechtenstein17.755739,425
Lithuania3.9831082,711,566
Luxembourg5.94138639,589
North Macedonia2.960632,128,262
Madagascar0.0581627,534,354
Malaysia1.36645833,519,406
Maldives1.5366390,669
Malta11.06651460,891
Mauritius0.14421,386,129
Mexico1.8432,400130,207,371
Moldova0.752253,323,875
Monaco6.406231,223
Mongolia0.15653,198,913
Montenegro1.4829607,414
Morocco0.0602236,561,813
Mozambique0.003130,888,034
Namibia0.03712,678,191
Nepal0.0762330,424,878
Netherlands6.2521,08417,337,403
New Caledonia1.7035293,608
New Zealand5.7702884,991,442
Nicaragua0.561356,243,931
Norway18.2771,0075,509,591
Oman0.05423,694,755
Pakistan0.00819238,181,034
Palestine0.03412,949,246
Panama1.375543,928,646
Paraguay2.3931747,272,639
Peru1.24840232,201,224
Philippines0.232257110,818,325
Poland3.9881,52338,185,913
Portugal7.32775210,263,850
Puerto Rico3.2141013,142,779
Qatar0.12132,479,995
Réunion1.0489858,450
Romania1.27227021,230,362
Russia2.1593,072142,320,790
Saint Pierre and Miquelon18.79315,321
San Marino8.704334,467
Saudi Arabia0.026934,783,757
Serbia4.0862856,974,289
Singapore2.9491735,866,139
Slovakia6.5673575,436,066
Slovenia7.8021642,102,106
South Africa0.29016556,978,635
South Korea0.28214651,715,162
Spain4.2362,00247,260,584
Sri Lanka0.1303023,044,123
Suriname0.3252614,749
Sweden22.2282,28110,261,767
Switzerland7.4526308,453,550
Syria0.1082220,384,316
Taiwan0.3357923,572,052
Tajikistan0.03338,990,874
Thailand0.19013269,480,520
Trinidad and Tobago0.40951,221,047
Tunisia0.2122511,811,335
Turkey0.39932982,482,383
Turkmenistan0.03625,579,889
Uganda0.004244,712,143
Ukraine1.63471543,745,640
United Arab Emirates0.142149,856,612
United Kingdom4.9113,24466,052,076
United States5.24117,557334,998,398
Uruguay3.5611213,398,239
Uzbekistan0.029930,842,796
Venezuela1.18034329,069,153
Vietnam0.02021102,789,598
Zimbabwe0.013214,829,988
Sources: Bands: Source: Encyclopaedia Metallum, Population: CIA World Factbook

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