Many assume you’ll have anywhere from one to three electric guitars when it comes to rock music. However, some bands are unique enough to consider alternatives. One such option leads to all bass guitar bands. So, what makes an all bass guitar band good?
The top all bass guitar bands in rock blend various genres to create unique sounds and enjoy both commercial and critical success. These include Death From Above 1979, Om, and Ruins.
They can generate meaty riffs that complement melodies in exciting ways. Some of these bands use their mastery of the bass to create best-selling records and reinvent the industry as we know it.
With that in mind, pack away the six-string ax and pay respect to the masters of the four-string behemoth. It’s time to look at some of the top all bass guitar bands of all time.
#1: Death from Above 1979
It took the world a while to appreciate the genius of Death From About 1979, but when they did, it took off big-time. Jesse F. Keeler and Sebastian Grainger formed the Canadian duo in 2001. They did this over a mutual appreciation for Sonic Youth, wasting no time creating a unique electro-punk style.
Their 2004 debut album “You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine” caught on with the mass media. This album put them in the spotlight with showcases on major US TV shows.
They were also part of game titles like SSX On Tour and Gran Turismo 4. Their music feels like a music history lesson spanning three decades in three minutes, coming from grungy bass riffs and synth overtones.
An impromptu break-up in 2006 left fans on edge for almost a decade. This breakup was until their reformation in 2011 gave fans hope of a new release.
It led to the 2014 release “The Physical World,” giving them a new shot at stardom. The album was well-received across the music world. It claimed the 2015 Juno Award for Rock Album of the Year.
Still going strong, the Toronto duo has shown that the top all bass guitar bands can survive anything no matter how long between albums.
Om has taken on world music influences to produce a truly unique sound. Formed by two-thirds of 1990s metal band Sleep, Om took on influences from Tibetan, Indian, and Turkish sounds when creating their first album.
The result was “Variations of A Theme,” an eclectic mix of world music, metal, and experimental music that was nothing heard before. It set a theme as subsequent albums such as “Pilgrimage,” “God is Good,” and “Advaitic Songs.” Over time their sound evolved, taking on more worldly tones.
What sets Om apart from the rest of the world is how non-conformist each song is. The ethereal vocals of Al Cisneros fade in beautifully. Each piece is a different mix of genres. The longer-than-average song time also contributes to their unique style.
While albums may number only 2-3 songs, many tracks don’t fall below 10 minutes. The longest is 21 minutes long – On the Mountain of Dawn on “Variations of a Theme.” If you do get through each musical journey, you will hear a mix of genres you won’t find anywhere else and a unique band that thrills to this very day.
For over 30 years, the Japanese band Ruins are a band that no one can replicate. Founded by drummer Tatsuya Yoshida in 1985, Ruins made intricate music that is infinitely complex. No album sounds the same and can switch between lo-fi indie to math-core metal in the blink of an eye.
Ruins take influence from other bands such as Magma, Ruins. They layer songs with basic bass riffs and straightforward drumming, adding overwhelming technical sections with insane time signatures.
The vocals are in a weird mix of languages ranging from English, Latin, and Japanese. Sometimes, they speak in gibberish. You will not find a stranger mix of sounds almost anywhere. Regardless, they have a cult following all over the world.
#4: Lightning Bolt
No one does a live show quite like Lightning Bolt. The Rhode Island duo immerses themselves within the crowd performing on the floor rather than on a stage. These are a form of “guerilla gigs,” as they involve more direct contact with their audience.
The technical playing of bassist Brian Gibson echoes high above the mad drumming and vocals of Brian Chippendale. This show displays a high degree of technical skill alongside their unique live performance style.
Lightning Bolt is also universally praised for its albums by critics who lap up their noise rock antics. However, they aren’t known for liking the studio recording process.
Both 2005’s “Hypersonic Mountain” and 2009’s “Earthly Delights” are acclaimed. The band was listed 8th on Metacritic for best bands of the 2000s because of their fantastic work.
#5: The Garden
Formed by brothers Wyatt and Fletcher Shears, the Californian duo looks as alternative as they sound. Their songs are short sharp musical journeys. The Garden has switched from hardcore screaming to a 90s shoegaze in one song.
There is no overwhelming technicality to their music. The Garden has simple bass riffs that interlude with many styles. Their drumming styles, for example, are from slow beats to rapid machine fills that switch through a song.
It’s a listening experience that takes you and high and low and back, overwhelming the senses in every way imaginable. It’s not your average metal, but it’s a style that they have honed to much critical success.
#6: Royal Blood
Some call them a throwback to yesteryear. Others say they are innovators. Whatever you say about Royal Blood, you can’t argue about their success.
The British duo has won over critics and fans, blending Britpop with indie and hard rock. This combination creates a wall of overwhelming sound.
The bass riffs of Mike Kerr sound like an electric guitar. These sounds include intense drumming from Ben Thatcher. Throw in vocal lines influenced by the styling of Radiohead and Muse, and you have a recipe for chart success.
It is precisely what Royal Blood has enjoyed. They’ve become one of the best-selling British acts of the 2010s. Their 2014 self-titled debut and 2019’s “How Did We Get So Dark” were massive hits. They topped the UK album charts, going platinum in the process.
They also have four singles topping the Billboard Mainstream Rock Charts in the US and the 2014 single “Figure It Out” going platinum in the UK. With more albums set to build on this success, they prove themselves to be one of the top all bass guitar bands of all time.
If this list goes to show anything, the top all bass guitar bands can be just as successful as their six-stringed contemporaries. Many bands such as Lightning Bolt and Ruins have formed unique niches. Arguably, those niches might not have existed without them.
Death From Above 1979 and Royal Blood have shown that all bass bands can take on the charts and be successful in the process too. With all this in mind, it shows that the top all bass guitar bands in the world today have mastered a craft that breaks away from modern music conventions as we know it.