Most Influential Heavy Metal Bands of the 80s and 90s

A list reflecting your views on the most influential heavy metal bands of the 80s and 90s. I'd love to also add the 2000s but we are yet to see A big impact from any of these bands (as A lot of these bands are still "new")


I do not want to see anything similar to the following (These are examples of bands that aren't really metal an shouldn't be on this list.... obviously ANY band that formed or didn't release albums until the end of the 90s or the start of the 2000s should NOT be on this list.

Systems of A down
Linkin Park
Avenged Sevenfold
Limp Bizcuit
Black Veil Brides
ect ect

Notice how I left bands like SLIPKNOT and UNEARTH.... that's because UNLIKE the above bands they are HEAVY METAL bands. This warning isn't here because I'm trying to be an elitist.... it's to make sure that only heavy metal bands are on the list... and that they at least formed before 2000.)

The Top TenXW

1Iron Maiden

I'd love to have put these guys at the top but because of fanatic Christians in the US Iron maiden were never popular there (ironically bands like slayer, Metallica and megadeth were commercially successful. ) And therefore had little influence on A lot of US based extreme metal HOWEVER still had A big impact in Europe.

Iron maiden are often regarded as the biggest influence on early prog metal, power metal and 80s traditional heavy metal. They also heavily influenced genres like Melodic death metal and black metal Along with A lot of Folk metal and symphonic metal bands. - technicalbrutaldeath

2MetallicaMetallica is an American Heavy Metal band formed in 1981. The original lineup was James Hetfield (Vocalist and Rhythm guitarist) Dave Mustaine (Lead Guitar) Lars Ulrich (Drums) Ron McGovney (Bassist) The group came into mainstream from their Self-Titled album and the hit single "Enter Sandman". more.

I'm not A fan of neither slayer nor Metallica BUT slayer and Metallica were easily some of the most influential metal bands of the 80s and 90s. I think I could of got away here putting either of them however A lot of bands rejected slayer as an influence (Although many admitted later on that they were an influence. )

I think Metallica's influence unlike slayer's was definitely more prominent in the early 90s than it was in the 80s although they definitely influenced quite A few bands in the 80s as well. - technicalbrutaldeath


Probably the single most Influential EXTREME METAL band of the 80s. Without them there would be no bands like Metallica, slayer, Megadeth, Coroner, Anthrax etc etc. Thrash would have sounded completely different without them.

Death metal: Deathcore, metalcore, groove metal, nu metal, grindcore, deathgrind, goregrind, Death/Thrash, Melodic death metal, technical death metal, Brutal death metal or MIXTURES of the above genres.

Black metal, Symphonic black metal, melodic black metal, folk metal, viking metal, celtic metal, "unblack metal" etc etc.

Or genres like funeral doom, death/doom, gothic doom, symphonic metal, drone doom etc etc.

Along with thrash fusion genres like power metal

In other words modern metal wouldn't have existed without venom and heavy metal MAY HAVE died out. One of heavy metal's strengths was/is it's ability to change or adapt to modern times where as other genres of music just don't have this dynamic. - technicalbrutaldeath


Slayer were very influential among extreme metal bands especially in the mid 80s. Slayer Influenced SOME death metal bands along with many black metal and extreme thrash metal bands. Their influence continued in the 90s with bands like pantera and sepultura (their 90s material. ) along with later bands like slipknot and Lamb of god. - technicalbrutaldeath

5Death / Mantas

Death are considered to be one of and in some cases the first Death metal band. Of course they not only laid down and archetype for death metal but were also very famous for incorporating prog influences into some of their later music.

Death are one of the most commercially successful death metal bands to date although never gained A lot of commercial success in the US because YOU GUESSED IT, Christian fanatics (although ironically morbid angel along with deicide and cannibal corpse were more commercially successful. ) - technicalbrutaldeath

6PanteraPantera was a Heavy Metal band formed in 1981 by guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul. The group got into mainstream after changing from Glam Metal to Groove Metal. Their most succesful album is the title "Vulgar Display of Power" more.

All these new school metal bands are trying to be pantera

8Celtic Frost

Another hugely influential Thrash styled extreme metal band. Formely known as "hellhammer" they were Very influential in black metal and death metal mainly during the 80s and were influential for some thrash metal bands as well. - technicalbrutaldeath

9Mercyful Fate

Like venom these guys were influential even to those now famous thrash metal bands along with black metal bands and even some death metal bands BUT mercyful fate were also quite influential for prog and traditional heavy metal bands along with doom metal bands (like candle mass. ) - technicalbrutaldeath

10Napalm Death

Many people will argue that they are not A metal band but Grindcore is A mixture of extreme metal like thrash and speed metal and hardcore punk and sound less like hardcore punk than many SLAYER songs do.

Napalm death are often credited with bringing Blast beats to extreme metal as well as coining the term (as they originated in jazz. ) and were an influence on many Death metal and grindcore bands along with many punk and rock bands to come. (and their aggressive drumming was also adopted by many thrash metal bands and later influenced many NWAHV bands. )

Napalm death were also famously features - technicalbrutaldeath

The Newcomers

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The Contenders


I had to put them on the list because Death are on here. Along with Death they are credited with created death metal. Their music is heavily influenced by Venom's ideas of speed and aggression (although as Death metal developed A lot of this would be taken out of the music. ) They laid the groundwork for thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of Death metal bands after them and were one of the first (only behind Mantas) to use deep guttural vocals that would later be known as growls. - technicalbrutaldeath

13Angel Witch

There were many bands I could have put in this place but by the end of it the list will look completely different. Angel witch influenced MOST of the above bands however no album after their self titled album was anywhere near as influential... which is why they failed to influence many bands after the early-mid 80s. Still without them Metal may not be the same today which is why they needed A mention. - technicalbrutaldeath


I don't like this band, but you've gotta admit they were pretty influential.

17Morbid Angel
20Black SabbathBlack Sabbath are a Heavy Metal band formed in 1968 by guitarist and songwriter Tony Iommi, Singer Ozzy Osbourne, Bassist and Main Lyricist Geezer Butler and Drummer Bill Ward. The band got into mainstream after inproving after their debut album got negative feedback. In 1978, Ozzy was fired and replaced more.
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Related Lists

Most Influential Traditional Heavy Metal Bands Best Thrash Metal Bands of the '80s, '90s, '00s Best Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Bands of the 90s Best Heavy Metal Bands Top 10 New Wave of American Heavy Metal Bands

List StatsUpdated 1 May 2016

27 listings
2 years, 118 days old

Top Remixes (5)

1. Venom
2. Iron Maiden
3. Metallica
1. Iron Maiden
2. Metallica
3. Venom
1. Metallica
2. Iron Maiden
3. Slayer

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