Top 10 Best Metal Bands of All Time

Metal music is the ultimate expression of power, passion, and rebellion. It has been rocking the world since the late 1960s, when bands like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest unleashed their heavy riffs and dark lyrics. Since then, the genre has never stopped growing and innovating, with bands like Slipknot and Avenged Sevenfold taking it to new heights of intensity and complexity.

This top ten list features the bands that have made the most impact on the metal world, with their original and influential music, their amazing live shows, and their legacy for the future of metal.
The Top Ten
1 Metallica Metallica is an American Heavy/Thrash 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"... read more

Metallica! That sums it all up. The world of metal would never be the same without them. They've been through it all, creating masterpieces and even experiencing their downfall. Yet, they still came back strong with albums like Death Magnetic.

They've played pure thrash, heavy metal, ballads, and more. You name it, they've done it. Black Sabbath influenced them, but that can't be a reason why they can't be better. Nobody can deny their epic products, especially in the 80s. Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets are truly masterpieces.

Megadeth, Black Sabbath, Slayer, Pantera, Judas Priest, Anthrax, Ozzy Osbourne should be placed higher or at least in the top 10. X Japan is a great band, but their place is unacceptable. Newer bands such as Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, Lamb of God, Slipknot, and Children of Bodom should be on the list, but definitely not in the top 10. Guns N' Roses and Korn are not even metal in my humble opinion. Linkin Park can GTFO and kiss every single band's asses. They should be written off forever.

2 Iron Maiden Iron Maiden are an English Heavy Metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. The most critically acclaimed period for the band was from 1983-1989. With vocalist Bruce Dickinson, bassist Steve Harris, lead guitarist Dave Murray, rhythm guitarist Adrian... read more

Iron Maiden is one of the most revolutionary and original metal bands in the history of metal. Not only are they a huge role model for other bands, such as Metallica, but they are also original in terms of lyrics and song meanings. Their songs aren't about sex and drugs, but usually about mythical stories.

Their signature songs captivate the audience with a slow and delicate introduction, which then jumps into a fitting arpeggio of melodies and riffs, making up the concerts that are voted as some of the best.

3 Black Sabbath Black Sabbath were a Heavy Metal band formed in Birmingham, England in 1968 by guitarist and songwriter Tony Iommi, singer John "Ozzy" Osbourne, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward... read more

Black Sabbath is seminal. Without them, half the bands out there would not exist. They were the founders of the original "heavy sound." Just listen to albums like "Black Sabbath," "Masters of Reality," "Paranoid," and "Vol. 4," and tell me they don't belong in first place. Black Sabbath essentially pioneered the gloomy sound that led to the creation of metal. They have remained consistent even to this day, with their new album "13."

What did Avenged Sevenfold create? From what I've heard, their new album is essentially a rip-off of Metallica's Black Album. Black Sabbath was original and innovative at a time when there were no other bands like them. They all came from a working class in a working town, and their music reflects that grit. Tony Iommi played despite two of his fingertips being cut off. Meanwhile, Ozzy Osbourne was a scientific marvel, given the amount of drugs and alcohol he consumed. Yet, he still produced some of metal's best albums.

4 Megadeth Megadeth is an American thrash metal band from Los Angeles, California. Megadeth was formed in 1983 by guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson, shortly after Mustaine was fired from Metallica. They have released 15 studio albums to date, and have gone through many lineup changes, with Dave... read more

The best metal band of all time for sure, their masterpiece "Rust in Peace" album redefined the thrash metal genre with more technical and complex riffs, as well as the wonderful guitar solo works from both Dave and Marty. Also, their "Peace Sells" album is considered one of the heaviest metal albums of all time, especially considering it was released in the 80s (even heavier than Metallica's "Master of Puppets"). Lars Ulrich even admits that he liked "Peace Sells." The guitar work in all their albums, including "Risk," is brilliant if you pay extra attention to it. Dave Mustaine is a true guitar genius. If he had continued in Metallica, I believe there would not be a "Big Four" or anything. There would only be the one!

5 Judas Priest Judas Priest are a British heavy metal band that formed in Birmingham, England, in 1969. They are often referred to as one of the greatest metal bands of all time, and are even commonly called “The Metal Gods”, after one of the songs on their 1980 album “British Steel”... read more

This is a humiliation. The Metal Gods should easily be number 1. If you've heard various legendary metal bands, you should understand. Are you kidding by saying Iron Maiden are the Gods of Metal? They are more like happy metal than heavy metal. Only their mascot, Eddie, and the font-logo are true metal horror, but their music is happy metal.

Judas Priest has a more evil sound, is more technical, and is more varied. It's funny seeing Maiden fans say they're revolutionary - what a joke! Their sound, lyrical themes, and arrangements have always been the same from the start, and it's boring. On the other hand, Judas Priest is the most revolutionary metal band ever. They have explored multiple genres, from blues rock and psychedelic rock to hard rock, heavy metal, glam metal, progressive metal, speed metal, thrash metal, groove metal, nu-metal, and even symphonic metal.

Let's not forget that Judas Priest existed long before Maiden. They are basically a '70s band. Their music and look have had more influence on metal than Maiden has. Maiden is just one of many bands from NWOBHM and is not a pioneer.

Don't get me wrong. I don't hate Iron Maiden. At first, I was a huge fan and always considered them to be number 1 in metal. But this ranking is not fair. As I began to listen to and explore other metal bands, I discovered many other perspectives. I just want others to open their eyes and not be blind before forming an appropriate opinion.

6 Slayer Slayer was an American thrash metal band from Huntington Park, California, formed in 1981 by guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King. They rose to fame with their 1986 album Reign in Blood, and is credited as one of the big four of thrash metal bands, the others being Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax... read more

Metallica may have been more popular, Megadeth may have been more lauded, and Anthrax may have been more accessible, but no one reigns (pun intended) over thrash and metal's perspective like Slayer. Both 'Show No Mercy' and 'Hell Awaits' are staples of the sub-genre and their early sound. Of course, the trio of 'Reign in Blood,' 'South of Heaven,' and 'Seasons in the Abyss' redefined what metal is and how it exists today, specifically with 'Reign in Blood.'

Slayer was, or is - still going strong after 30+ years and sounding great - never meant to be universally loved. People weren't supposed to easily wrap their arms around and embrace this band. Jeff and Kerry's shredding, Tom's ferocious vocal style, and Lombardo's powerful double-kick generated love or loathing from listeners. The riffs were as memorable as they were brutal, and the solos were as fast as they were imitated. Everything about Slayer was different from anything metal had seen up to that point. They took it further than imaginable and, in turn, revolutionized extreme metal, setting the thrash benchmark for eternity. They are to the harder, harsher metal subgenres what Sabbath is to metal in general: they started a revolution.

Slayer deserves a spot in the top three for everything they've contributed to metal. Either way, the fans win with the abundance of great bands on the list.

7 Pantera Pantera was an American heavy metal band formed in 1981 by guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul. The band started out as a glam metal act in the 1980s with little success. After discarding their original lead vocalist and enlisting Phil Anselmo, the band signed a major record deal with... read more

The second my friend played me the opening of "Mouth for War," I was immediately sucked into the world of Pantera. From "Cowboys From Hell" to "Reinventing the Steel," they have made several classic albums, especially "Vulgar Display of Power." The sounds that come out of Phil Anselmo's mouth? Wow.

Pantera is the Led Zeppelin of metal. They're not the first, not the last, had a short run, were total animals, and their songs were not mainstream. But they are the most pure metal band to ever exist. If you're reading this and really haven't been exposed yet, do yourself a favor and put on any of their five albums. Tell me they aren't as good as your current favorite metal band.

What separates them is the high energy (again, like Led Zeppelin is to rock) and the talent of these four guys. I wish I had seen them live, but I would've been scared to get caught in one of their mosh pits.

8 Dream Theater Dream Theater is an American progressive metal band from Boston, Massachusetts. The band was formed in 1985 under the name of "Majesty", only to change its name to Dream Theater later... read more

I've never felt this much comfort while listening to other metal musicians. This band gives me the feeling that there's always hope, but I should win it on my own. I mean, come on, their lyricists are poets. They pour their adventures into their songs.

Look at "The Count of Tuscany". Petrucci wrote that song because he felt he was going to be murdered that day by some count in Italy while they were touring Europe. And yet, that song is a masterpiece. You should try this band. Don't rush it. Give it time, take your time, and feel the musicality. You'll start to think about the true meaning of life.

9 Death Death was an American death metal band formed in 1983 by Chuck Schuldiner. Death is considered to be one of the most influential bands in heavy metal and a pioneering force in death metal. Its debut album, Scream Bloody Gore, has been widely regarded as the first death metal record, while the band's... read more

The greatest Death metal band of all time by far. Extremely innovative and influential, they have created some of the most masterful albums in all of metal. They put out seven amazing albums in less than 10 years.

They should be way higher.

Death deserves to be in the top 5. I think the only reason they aren't is that people don't give them a chance, simply because they are categorized as "death metal." However, Death isn't the kind of death metal that most people think of, where it's all just growling, screaming, satanic lyrics, and horribly sounding guitars. Chuck Schuldiner produces great solos and riffs, and their songs have meaningful lyrics.

For anyone who hasn't listened to them, I strongly urge you to listen to these songs first to get a feel for the band:

- Crystal Mountain
- Voice of the Soul
- Flesh and the Power It Holds
- Lack of Comprehension
- Empty Words
- Spirit Crusher
- Pull The Plug

The list goes on. If you are new to death metal, I recommend listening to the album "Symbolic" first, followed by "The Sound of Perseverance," as these are their more thrashy-type albums.

10 Avenged Sevenfold Avenged Sevenfold is an American heavy metal band, that was formed 1999 in California. Their longest lineup of members was M. Shadows (Vocals), Synyster Gates (Lead Guitar), Zacky Vengeance (Rhythm Guitar), Johnny Christ (Bass Guitar), and The Rev (Drums)... read more

I don't like that people think you have to be a certain age to be great. Newer bands can be just as great, and even greater than bands from the '80s. Since their very first album, they've been god-like. Even when they switch up their sound, it still sounds incredible. They are great performers, great people, and definitely one of the greatest bands ever.

Every single person in this band has unbelievable talent. They may not be considered "classic," but Jimmy can lay down the same rapid beats as any famous drummer in history. Synyster rips on the guitar. Zacky's rhythm weaves in perfect harmony with Syn's. Johnny's bass is the foundation of their songs. Matt has a beautiful singing voice, and yet, he can still scream in a way that sends shivers down your spine.

They're dedicated musicians who suffered the death of their best friend for life and still managed to finish touring and put out another album. Their music is unique. They experiment with all different sounds and they rock my face off. Besides that, once you fall in love with the band's music, you fall in love with the members too. Every fan has an intimate relationship with them because they're impossible not to like or respect.

The Contenders
11 System of a Down System of a Down, formed in 1994, is an Armenian-American alternative metal group from Glendale, California. The band name is sometimes shortened to System or SOAD. They've always been a very political band since their inception. Often being against genocide and war most notably in songs like: Pluck,... read more

Longevity, impact, and generation-spanning material are what make the best of the best. That's why Metallica, Maiden, Sabbath, Slayer, Megadeth, and Priest are the greatest of the greats, while System of a Down is not.

Whatever happened to the true giants of metal is irrelevant because they're still viable, valid, and visible to this day. You can be 10 years old and think 'Death Magnetic' is the best metal album you've ever heard. But by the age of 12, you can dig further into Metallica's back catalog and realize that 'And Justice for All...' is the best. I'm just using Metallica as an example, but the same applies to all the greats, except for System of a Down.

12 Slipknot Slipknot is an American metal band formed in Des Moines, Iowa in 1996. The band is best known as one of the pioneers of the New Wave of American Alternative Metal during the late 1990s - 2000s and are distinguishable by the band's clothing choices, consisting of black/red jumpsuits and horror inspired... read more

I haven't heard X Japan, but I can't believe Avenged Sevenfold is above Slipknot! All of Slipknot's members are so unbelievably talented. If most people tried to form a metal band with nine members, they wouldn't be able to combine that many instruments and make it sound nearly as good as Slipknot.

Not only are the instrumentals excellent, but the lyrics also have so much depth, power, and meaning. I mean, I like Avenged Sevenfold alright, but they're just okay. Maybe they're just not hard enough for me. But Slipknot certainly should not be number 6 on this list.

13 Tool Tool is an American alternative metal/progressive metal band, that was formed in 1990.

The band is set together between Maynard James Keenan (Vocals), Danny Carey (Drums), Adam Jones (Guitar) and since 1995 Justin Chancellor (Bass).

The band is known for their influences from electronic... read more

No offense (which means get ready for an insult), but it seems like a significant number of people who listen to metal here have no regard for the suspense, mystery, and intelligibility of the songs.

I'm not surprised that Tool is not in the top ten. Not many people appreciate them. Not many people understand them or appreciate lyrics. If you do, you'll have great regard for what they are singing. Not many have reached that significant switch of perspectives.

I wager that many of these people don't listen to classical music. What does that have to do with Tool? It means you are not resilient. You only like metal. That is all.

14 Motörhead Motörhead were an English heavy metal band formed in June 1975 by bassist, singer, and songwriter Ian Fraser "Lemmy" Kilmister, who was the sole constant member; guitarist and songwriter Larry Wallis; and drummer Lucas Fox. The band's harsh vocals and fast paced tempos helped inspire speed metal and... read more

Without Motörhead, none of these other bands would even be here. They heavily influenced thrash metal and basically pioneered the whole speed metal genre. Lemmy is truly the epitome of a badass who does things his own way, makes them work, and makes the task easier and better for everyone to come. The whole metal, punk, and rock communities honored his passing, which is a huge feat when your influences stretch that heavily to three different genres. We all still wish he'd have stayed longer. Motörhead were innovators, icons, and a true titan of the genre. Ian may have gone to the next life, but Lemmy will live forever. Anyway, he's probably making the afterlife even better than paradise.

15 Dio Dio was an American heavy metal band formed in 1982 and led by vocalist Ronnie James Dio, after he left Black Sabbath with intentions to form a new band with fellow former Black Sabbath member, drummer Vinny Appice.

The absolute best! His solo records epitomize heavy metal songwriting. The sheer talent in every faction of the Dio band should be recognized for its virtuosity and showmanship. This is the template for all who dare to step into this ring. Holy Diver is the Bible, and Dio is God!

This is the only thing on the list I'm annoyed to see where it is. Even though Iron Maiden is better than Metallica, I can tolerate it being first. What I can't tolerate is Dio being so low on the list. I don't know why he isn't as appreciated as some of the others ranked higher. Maybe it's just me.

16 Anthrax Anthrax is an American thrash metal band from New York City, formed in 1981 by guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Dan Lilker.

Anthrax at 16th? Is this a joke? Why is this amazing band so underrated? They are also in The Big Four, along with Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer. For me, they should be 4th, just after Megadeth, Black Sabbath, and Metallica.

Iron Maiden is a bit overrated, as is Avenged Sevenfold, but the latter is even more so. Just listen to the Among the Living or Spreading the Disease albums to hear true thrash metal. They have very heavy and awesome riffs and amazing Belladonna vocals. Come on, Anthrax deserves to be much higher.

17 Opeth Opeth is a Swedish progressive death metal band from Stockholm, formed in 1990 by David Isberg, who invited Mikael Akerfeldt into the band as a bassist. Isberg ended up leaving the band, which lead to Mikael becoming the band's vocalist, guitarist, principal songwriter, and driving force. Along with... read more

Below Disturbed and Avenged Sevenfold? What a joke. Whether you like their older death/prog stuff or their more recent stripped-down rock albums, Opeth has something for both metal connoisseurs and new fans.

Good music is playable over and over again, with something new to be discovered nearly every time in either complexity or simply feeling. This is Opeth. It is ALWAYS in my playlist.

Especially appreciative of truly talented musicians and writers such as Opeth are other musicians. Conversely, it scares me to think there are such high numbers of mindless, tone-deaf, laggard souls out there to vote garbage like Metallica and Sevendust to the top.

If you haven't given Opeth a listen yet, their earlier music is on the death metal side and their newer music is on the progressive psychedelic side. They mature and grow in depth with every album. Thank you, Opeth, for the countless hours of enjoyment you bring to so many ears and souls!

18 Disturbed Disturbed is an American alternative metal/nu-metal/hard rock band from Chicago, Illinois. The band comprises vocalist David Draiman, bassist John Moyer, guitarist Dan Donegan, and drummer Mike Wengren. They are known for songs like "Down With the Sickness" and "Stricken".

Disturbed is definitely one of the better "newer" metal bands. They have their own sound, which is what I like about them. The guitar riffs are dark and melodic at the same time. The lyrics and vocals are very good.

The best songs by Disturbed, in my opinion, are "Stricken," "Inside the Fire," "Land of Confusion" (cover), and of course, their iconic song "Down With the Sickness."

In my opinion, Disturbed is number 1, and Metallica is number 2. After that, you guys can decide. Disturbed has been my favorite band for over 6 years now. Since 4th grade, they have gotten me through a lot with their music.

Disturbed got me into metal, and without them, I wouldn't have even dared to listen to metal or rock. I think, and this is very important to understand, Disturbed has done something only Metallica and one other band (which I forgot) have done: gotten 4 number 1's on the Billboard charts in a row. They are destined for greatness, and I hope one day they save metal and get back together. Disturbed has been, is, and always will be my favorite band.

19 Testament Testament is an American thrash metal band from Berkeley, California. Formed in 1983 under the name Legacy, the band consists of vocalist Chuck Billy, guitarists Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick, bassist Steve DiGiorgio and drummer Gene Hoglan.

Extremely underrated. A New Order is one of the best thrash albums, and they have a great band with a lot of musical skill and several fantastic albums.

The combination of Alex Skolnick and Chuck Billy makes Testament a force to be reckoned with. They should be the fifth member of the "Big 4." For those who don't know, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax are considered the "Big 4" of thrash metal.

Testament has been writing great music since the '80s, and they are still producing great music. They are one of my favorite bands.

Chuck Billy and Testament won human indigenous rights awards for their video for Native Blood. That alone makes them great and further enhances metal's reputation, despite those who attempt to undermine it. Crushing Bay Area thrash doesn't harm the cause either.

20 KoRn Korn is an American nu-metal band from Bakersfield, California, formed in 1993. The band's current lineup includes founding members Jonathan Davis, James "Munky" Shaffer, Brian "Head" Welch, and Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu, with the addition of Ray Luzier, who replaced the band's original member, David... read more

Okay, as far as a list goes, I don't know exactly where the placement of Korn should be. But I know one thing: personally, it should be just a bit higher than this. Jonathan Davis has an amazing voice and can do a wide range of different things with it. And it's not just about their overplayed songs. I'm talking about the songs you don't hear much.

There is so much emotion put into their music. You can literally feel the anger and pain in some of their harder and softer pieces. The crazy things they do with their instruments really make their music very different. Fieldy slaps his bass like a pro, and Munky is an exceptional guitarist who takes different approaches. And no matter who was playing the drums at the time, they were amazing. I just think this band should be a bit higher on the list.

21 Blind Guardian Blind Guardian is a German power metal band formed in the mid-1980s in West Germany. They are often credited as one of the seminal and most influential bands in the power metal and speed metal subgenres. Heavily influenced by Queen, they use the technique of overdubbing. They also incorporate large... read more

Blind Guardian should be cruising in the top five, at least, below only the true greats like Iron Maiden, Sabbath, and Metallica. Blind Guardian is one of the only bands I know that actually tells a good story in their music (Maiden is one of the others). All the other bands are pretty much just meaningless mainstream stuff with no story behind their music.

The best kind of metal is the kind that can tell a tale from an old masterpiece in an intense and epic way. For example, in Guardian's best album, Nightfall in Middle Earth, each song tells a different part of one of the greatest fantasy books in existence, The Lord of the Rings' predecessor, The Silmarillion. For example, Time Stands Still tells of a one-on-one battle between the elf king Fingolfin and the dark lord Morgoth. Mirror Mirror tells of the founding of the hidden kingdom of Gondolin. Into the Storm tells of the strife between Morgoth and Ungoliant over the Silmarils they had just stolen.

22 Rage Against the Machine Rage Against the Machine is a rap metal band formed in Los Angeles, California. The band consists of vocalist Zack de la Rocha, bassist Tim Commerford, guitarist Tom Morello and drummer Brad Wilk.

Agreed, why the hell is this band down at 44? They are one of the most important bands not only of the 90s, but of all time. Very political and very heavy. Definitely heavier than most of the bands on this list, and the lyrics are also controversial and heavy. Only Metallica, Black Sabbath, and Iron Maiden match up to these guys.

Half the groups above this one in this ranking aren't even metal groups... Rage Against the Machine should doubtlessly be at least Top 15, even though it's not as known as A7X, Metallica, and all these. I also think Rammstein should be Top 5, along with Slipknot.


23 Deep Purple Deep Purple are an English rock band formed in Hertford in 1968. They are considered to be among the pioneers of heavy metal and modern hard rock, although their musical approach changed over the years. Originally formed as a progressive rock band, the band shifted to a heavier sound in 1970. Deep Purple,... read more

Amazingly, they helped lay the groundwork for all recent metal, along with Sabbath. They had the original metal sound in the '70s and contributed two great albums to '80s metal shred. They gave us the epic intro to The Battle Rages On in the '90s. In 2013, they gave us an astounding progressive metal album, Now What!? Clearly, they are one of the best metal bands of all time.

They are epic, were heavy as hell for their time, and are pioneers of metal - no matter what lineup changes occurred. They have released some of the greatest metal albums of all time, particularly 'Machine Head.'

The Blackmore riff in the title track of 'Perfect Strangers' is one of the best I've heard since Hetfield and Hammett went stark bonkers with that riff in 'Orion.' They are one of the all-time greats of heavy metal.

24 Alice in Chains Alice in Chains is an American grunge/alternative metal band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1987 by guitarist and songwriter Jerry Cantrell and original lead vocalist Layne Staley.

"Them Bones" - even ignoring the fact that Layne was the greatest and most original, distinctive male vocalist of all time - even ignoring the fact that virtually everything they did was pure genius, honest beauty... There is "Them Bones." Even that track alone would make them a notable case for a Metal Top 10. I mean, it's iconic - you know it's coming, and it knocks you down and runs over you like a thundering steam train of nihilistic existential pain. It's raw, rough, aggressive, and you feel it in your chest. They make great music and thankfully didn't find it necessary to 'fit in' with genre stereotypes.

25 Trivium Trivium is an American Heavy Metal band from Orlando, Florida, formed in 1999. Their frontman, Matt Heafy, lead guitarist Corey Beaulieu and Bassist Paulo Gregoletto are the band's most consistent members and have appeared in every album since.

Trivium released their debut album, Ember to Inferno, in 2003 under Lifeforce Records. A moderate success, Trivium would later sign to Roadrunner Records... read more

First of all, most of you guys are really inconsiderate because your favourite band is not higher on this list. People doesn't have to share the same excellent musical taste of yours. That's why everyone should start respecting each other and stop insulting bands or even people. Additionally; I vote Trivium because I like their music. All of their albums are simply magnificent, in my opinion, and the mixing and production is absolutely amazing. I like and listen to almost every band on this list but my favourite is Trivium.

I'm not voting for Trivium because I think they're the best metal band but because they have to be higher on this list. If A7X deserve Top 10 then Trivium do too. Nothing against A7X but Trivium are just simply more metal.
Also when it comes to deciding between Iron Maiden, Metallica and so on, it is just pure preference. Let's just make sure that we get all the legends into the Top 10 and all the uprising legends into the Top 20 at least. Trivium being 36 is a desaster and they're even behind some bands who aren't metal which shouldn't even be possible in the first place.

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