The Best Rock + Metal Songs of May – Staff Picks + Essentials
The Weekly Wire playlist is still roaring, packed with 50 new songs each week and, here, we're recapping the Best Rock + Metal Songs of the Month for March with a mix of essential songs and choice selections from the Loudwire staff. Maybe you'll even discover a new band that rules!
You know these bands and you probably heard these songs the instant they came out — midnight Spotify lurkers, we see you...
- Follow Loudwire's 'Best of the Month' playlist on Spotify here.
AFI, “Tied to a Tree”
Andrew W.K., “I’m in Heaven”
Angels and Airwaves, “Euphoria”
At the Gates, “The Paradox”
Ayron Jones, “Supercharged”
Beartooth, “Fed Up”
Born of Osiris, “Angel or Alien”
Fear Factory, “Fuel Injected Suicide Machine”
Green Day, “Pollyanna”
Helloween, “Fear of the Fallen”
KK’s Priest, “Hellfire Thunderbolt”
L.A. Rats, “I’ve Been Everywhere”
Mammoth WVH, “Mammoth”
Maria Brink, Tyler Bates + Andy Biersack, “Meet Me in the Fire”
Mastodon, “Forged by Neron”
Myles Kennedy, “Love Rain Down”
Of Mice & Men, “Bloom”
Perry Farrell’s Kind Heaven Orchestra, “Mend”
Rise Against, “The Numbers”
Sabaton, “Defence of Moscow”
Shaman’s Harvest, “Bird Dog”
Spiritbox, “Secret Garden”
The Black Keys, “Goin’ Down South”
The Devil Wears Prada, “Nightfall”
The Glorious Sons, “Daylight”
Times of Grace, “Burden of Belief”
Twenty One Pilots, “Saturday”
Yngwie Malmsteen, “Wolves at the Door”
BAND: JJ Wilde
RELEASED: May 14
JJ Wilde is definitely one of my favorite rising artists. The Canadian singer has a powerhouse set of pipes that are complemented by the perfect amount of grit, which allows her to sound incredible singing pretty much any genre. Her latest EP Wilde is a diverse set of songs, and opener “Bushweed” has a relaxed, almost hip-hop, feel to it. However, it still remains loyal to her rock ‘n’ roll roots, simply making it an exciting genre-blending song.
BAND: Luna Kills
SONG: “Honey Trap”
RELEASED: May 28
“Bitter songs come easy,” reads Luna Kills’ bio on social media — and damn, does that quote show through in their latest single “Honey Trap.” We’ve all felt trapped before, whether it’s in a relationship or by a job or some other entity in life, and the Finnish trio managed to sonically convey just what that entrapment feels like with explosive riffs and a chugging bassline. There is certainly a pop tint to the song in the verses, but I would say it’s best-classified as hard rock overall.
BAND: Moon Fever
SONG: “Payphone Blues”
RELEASED: May 1
I’m one of those “old souls” who loves music that came out way before they were even alive. It tends to be a blessing and a curse at the same time, but when bands like Moon Fever come around, my old soul is satiated. “Payphone Blues” has an unfiltered rawness to it that is just lacking in a lot of other contemporary music right now. It does teeter the line of being a ballad, but we all need to be in our feels every once in a while, right?
BAND: Laurenne / Louhimo
SONG: “Bitch Fire”
RELEASED: May 20
Boasting what is, in my estimation at least, the most unforgettable chorus of 2021, Finnish singers Noora Louhimo (Battle Beast) and Netta Laurenne (Smackbound) partner up to bring us the scorching “Bitch Fire,” a song bearing the time-honored theme of burning witches. This is pure Painkiller-styled Judas Priest worship and how could that ever conceivably be a bad thing? Sing it with us… THIS IS A BITCH FIYAHHHH!
BAND: Hooded Menace
SONG: “Blood Ornaments”
RELEASED: May 19
As a sneering owner of a Hooded Menace hoodie (putting the ‘meta’ in ‘metal’ over here) and as someone who spent a week listening to Abigail five to six times a day after first picking it up, seeing that King Diamond axeman Andy LaRocque guested on the first single from the Finnish death-doomsters was quite titillating. LaRocque produced the forthcoming The Tritonus Bell, so it was only natural, especially when the riffs are an obvious nod to the one true King. “Blood Ornaments” is absurdly catchy, like all of Hooded Menace’s dance worthy doom, so it’s business as usual… and business is good!
RELEASED: May 26
For the second consecutive month, I’m highlighting a new song from tech-death masters Pestilence. “Deifivcs” is a bit more restrained than its predecessor, “Morbvs Propagationem,” going heavy on the synth orchestration that firmly puts the Dutch group into fresh territory, even with how exploratory they’ve been in the past. Stubborn riffs and those orchestral touches drive all of the tension behind this one, positioning the rest of the album as another high point in an already esteemed catalog.
RELEASED: May 28
It still never fails to amaze me how little love Creeper get here in the States, but that doesn't stop them from cranking out jam after jam. A band you should definitely check out if you like spooky punk, classic rock and a flair for the dramatic. Their latest, “Midnight,” is special in that we see keyboard player and sometimes vocalist Hannah Greenwood step into the spotlight more than ever with her powerful voice. I really hope this dynamic interplay between Greenwood and fellow vocalist Will Gould will become a regular staple.
BAND: Ida Maria
SONG: “Dirty Money”
RELEASED: May 14
Listen, who doesn’t get sick and tired of money? Trying to get it, trying to keep it, using it to maintain certain things we think we need. This is the song you play when you finally decide to say f*** it to capitalism and corporate greed and give the grind a rest — even if it’s just temporary.
BAND: The Warning
RELEASED: May 21
This trio of sisters from Mexico have never taken their eyes off of the prize — becoming rock stars — and with their latest song “Choke” they are ready to finally break through after years of hard work. You may remember them as the young girls who went viral covering Metallica or playing “Crazy Train” on the Ellen show, but they are ready to show the rock world that they’ve got talent, their own songs and are here to stay. I, for one, am definitely excited to see them bring some much-needed freshness to rock radio and festival bills.
If you’re into the new wave of punk-inspired pop stars or if you went to Warped Tour in the 2010s you are probably already familiar with Travis Mills (formerly known as T. Mills). The latest track from his pop-punk duo Girlfriends also features the Travis Barker-backed up-and-coming rapper Jasiah, which should come as no surprise given that Mills was an early adopter of mixing hip-hop and pop punk and has remained quite involved in the latest wave of hip-hop artists doing just that. But this song in particular is pure 2000s nostalgia.
BAND: Frank Turner
SONG: “The Gathering”
RELEASED: May 6
“The first time that the beat drops in the bar is gonna be biblical!” That’s the first line of Frank Turner’s new song “The Gathering,” delivered with Turner’s trademark passionate vocal as he encompasses the feelings we all have yearning for the return of live music as a shared experience. It’s also the first taste of new music from his forthcoming album and packs an extra punch with Muse’s Dom Howard on drums and Jason Isbell laying down a guitar solo. Turn this one up and we’d be surprised if you’re not banging down the doors of your local music venue by the time it’s finished.
BAND: Keith Wallen
SONG: “It Finds Us All”
RELEASED: May 20
Most will know Keith Wallen from Breaking Benjamin, but he’s also written for a number of other name acts and is now forging ahead with a solo album. His second offering from the This World or the Next album is “It Finds Us All,” a song that like its opening line is “Floating light as a feather,” weaving along a hypnotic soundscape that brings you to soaring peaks and vulnerable valleys. This radio ready track deserves to be found.
SONG: “The Fray”
RELEASED: May 27
So what happened to Red Sun Rising and Wilson after the two bands dissolved in recent years? Part of the answer is the new band Monarch, which features Red Sun Rising guitarist and songwriter Ryan Williams, Wilson’s rhythm section of James Lascu and Matt Puhy and new vocalist Sebastian Duke. Their introduction is the new song “The Fray,” emboldened with an infectious guitar line, the slow burn low end build and a subtle swinging beat. The future looks promising for this new band.
BAND: Zeal & Ardor
RELEASED: May 24
What dark path are Zeal & Ardor taking us down this time? Mastermind Manuel Gagneux is back with a truly sinister sounding statement laying the groundwork for an album to come. “Run” opens with a throaty primal vocal, segues to a fast-paced tribal drum beat and later adds guitars and bass to accentuate this warning call portending a swift vengeance is coming for those who don’t flee quickly. It’s an aggressive first impression that whets our appetite for what else is on the horizon.
BAND: The Smile
SONG: “We Don’t Know What Tomorrow Brings”
RELEASED: Performed on May 22
Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood have formed a new band with Sons Of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner called The Smile. Their new song “We Don’t Know What Tomorrow Brings” debuted during the ticketed Glastonbury livestream event, Live at Worthy Farm on May 22. Not much is known about the band besides the fact they took their name from a Ted Hughes poem, they have at least seven songs (which they performed) and that they sound good. One thing we do know is that we don't know what tomorrow brings, so it's a friendly reminder to return to the moment and enjoy the music. Timely!
BAND: Motionless in White
SONG: "Voices (Synthwave Edition)"
RELEASED: May 14
Motionless in White recently reached back to their past with an entirely re-recorded version of their Graveyard Shift banger "Voices," the new rendition performed in a glossy synthwave style. It sure gives the original number an added wrinkle, and it only adds to the anticipation for whatever project Motionless in White have planned next. Just don't let the voices in your head pull you under.
BAND: Kat Von D
RELEASED: May 14
Kat Von D this month revealed to listeners her debut single, "Exorcism," the song a preview of her upcoming studio album, Love Made Me Do It. "Exorcism" finds the tattoo artist celebrity heading in a modern pop direction as a musical artist — the moody tune showcases the kind of melodic hooks and sonic sheen that wouldn't go unnoticed among the heavy hitters in the Top 40. Hey, if anyone can do it, Kat Von D can.
SONG: "Sheila Can Do It"
RELEASED: May 7
On nearly every modern Weezer album, it seems like singer-songwriter Rivers Cuomo includes some sonic callback that could excite only the most old-school of Weez-heads. On May's Van Weezer, the veteran alt-rock act's 15th album, that token is the inclusion of a studio version of "Sheila Can Do It," a Cuomo original the rocker first debuted live in 1997 with his then-solo band, Homie. It had never emerged on a record, however, until now. And it sure sounds like Cuomo's having fun.