Everything but the singer!
November 3, 2014 12:46 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find some good hard rock (or hard rock-ish) background music with no vocals?

I like to have lyric-free music to write to. I sometimes use movie scores and EDM/trance, but I'm really a hard rock/metal guy. Sometimes I play just regular bands, but vocals become distracting while I write. Unfortunately, most of the instrumental rock music that I can think of is stuff like Satriani, where the guitars get complex enough that it's almost as distracting as a singer.

Any suggestions? I like a lot of classic rock and '80s hair metal, but new stuff like Shinedown, The Pretty Reckless, Halestorm and Rev Theory are my kinda thing, too.

High-energy, pumped-up stuff is really helpful, but moody stuff can also be good.
posted by scaryblackdeath to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Russian Circles!

I also listen to a lot of music that not in English as background music so I don't get distracted by the lyrics. Especially French pop which is often kind of dreamy and samey and makes great white noise.
posted by fshgrl at 12:51 PM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Godspeed You! Black Emperor is definitely close to what I think you're looking for. Explosions in the Sky is kinda close, but you still might like.
posted by General Malaise at 12:54 PM on November 3, 2014

I can't recommend them specifically, but more on the nose.
posted by General Malaise at 12:56 PM on November 3, 2014

Have you checked out the Allman Brothers. They have lots of music without lyrics.
Most notably, Mountain Jam, on the classic album Eat A Peach.
posted by Flood at 12:56 PM on November 3, 2014

I'm not too familiar with the rest of their catalog, but I find Zombi's album Surface to Air pretty good for this application.
posted by usonian at 12:59 PM on November 3, 2014

Complex guitars knocks out stuff like Blotted Science or Animals as Leaders, but what about something like Liturgy?
posted by saladin at 1:04 PM on November 3, 2014

From General Malaise's link, I can definitely recommend Pelican. If you want to go even heavier than that, you could try Isis.

On the guitar side of things, you could try some of John Petrucci's (Dream Theater) solo stuff.

And lastly, on the synthier side of things, you could give Ratatat a whirl.
posted by tau_ceti at 1:05 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Can you get karaoke tracks of the music you like or would the existence of known lyrics distract you?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:06 PM on November 3, 2014

The Fucking Champs is exactly what you're asking for.
posted by whuppy at 1:12 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I recommend Year of No Light and the already mentioned Pelican, Red Sparowes, Russian Circles.
posted by disaster77 at 1:34 PM on November 3, 2014

You may want to consider some 70s Fusion: Return to Forever or Weather Report, for example.
posted by CincyBlues at 1:35 PM on November 3, 2014

Hi, @scaryblackdeath. I'm in the same boat as you, so lemme offer some suggestions.

Former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman also has a long solo career, and a new album called Inferno.

Is Liquid Tension Experiment too prog for you, or are you already familiar with them? :)

Dunno if you like Final Fantasy or not, but most of what The Black Mages do is instrumental. A lot of Shoji Meguro's music for various Shin Megami Tensei games also flirt with metal.

Perturbator is more 80s sci-fi movie synth than hard rock/metal, but you might like it. Mostly instrumental, with occasional vocal samples.

There's a list of instrumental bands on Wikipedia; have you had a look at it?
posted by starbreaker at 1:37 PM on November 3, 2014

Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts. Other singles from albums are instrumental.
posted by geek anachronism at 1:44 PM on November 3, 2014

Yes, post-rock. The corresponding subreddit is filled with amazing stuff.
posted by jbickers at 1:57 PM on November 3, 2014

I just recently started a Pandora station with ABB's "Mountain Jam" as the seed for the station. I fine-tuned the station but thumbing down any song that has lyrics. It's turned out to be a fairly serviceable station. If you combined that with a Pandora station based on some of the other selections suggested here and relentlessly weeded out lyrics, you'd be in a pretty good place!
posted by Gronk at 2:11 PM on November 3, 2014

Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet
posted by Poldo at 2:22 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Maybe try Travis Larson Band (listen here) - they might check the right boxes. They're big fans of (and influenced heavily by) Rush.
posted by routergirl at 2:26 PM on November 3, 2014

posted by doctord at 3:16 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don Caballero
posted by hydrophonic at 3:45 PM on November 3, 2014

Okay, it's a list compiled by VH1, but I found this:

20 Greatest Heavy Metal Hard Rock instrumentals.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:55 PM on November 3, 2014

Mogwai is more moody, but pretty badass as well!
posted by mchorn at 5:03 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding Mogwai. Also Isis, especially Panopticon.
posted by bookworm4125 at 1:57 AM on November 4, 2014

Colour Haze is not fully instrumental but vocals are relatively few and far between and blend into the sound as they are more interested in constructing long and smooth psychedelic stoner jams than in flashy instrumentation and look-at-me choruses. They have this timeless, understated "classic" rock distortion sound which makes them endearing and easy to listen to. I always listen to them while working.

Also 2nding Earth and 3rding Russian Circles
posted by procrastinator at 2:27 AM on November 4, 2014

Maybe you'll like this: West One Music - Rage Racer
posted by Harald74 at 4:38 AM on November 4, 2014

Perhaps you could find some bands who sing in a language you don't know? It might be that "gibberish" vocals are not so distracting.
posted by Harald74 at 4:46 AM on November 4, 2014

Teeth of the Sea [Instrumental electro psych rock. The album you'd be looking for if this fits the bill is Master (2013)].
GONGA [Instrumental stoner rock; this is off Concrescence (2013).]
Woodsman [Instrumental up-tempo psych rock; this is off Woodsman (2013).]
White Hills & Gnod [Instrumental space rock, at least on this album: Gnod Drop out with White Hills II (2010), which is just great to write to in my experience.]
Grails [Instrumental post-rock; this is a rip of the entirety of Take Refuge through Clean Living (2008).]
Cul de Sac [Instrumental post-rock (one of the first bands actually to attract the description, which they hated). This is off I Don't Want to Go to Bed (1995).]
posted by Sonny Jim at 11:11 AM on November 6, 2014

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