Most Influential Thrash Metal Bands

After the legendary Heavy Metal bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden etc defined and popularized the genre in 70's, Thrash Metal was innovated in early 80's mostly influenced by NWOBHM.

This is a list containing the most influential Thrash Metal bands to define the genre and to influence other bands.

The Top Ten

1 Metallica Metallica is an American 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.

You could argue validly that Megadeth has been better band for longer, and I would agree with that. But dang, Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets have more great (not good, but great) songs than Megadeth's entire song list. That's not taking anything away from Megadeth and I love their music, but for the entirety of the 80s and you could argue the early 90s, Metallica was THE band. Their first four albums were on a different universe.

If the question was who is the better band overall, I might go with Megadeth in a toss-up, but this question was who was more influential?

The answer to that is clearly Metallica simply because of their first four albums.

I think and metallica and megadeath were both the most influential bands in thrash skin... But I vote metallica cause many bands in late 80s and early 90s try to copy the style and sound of master and justice because of being aggresive fast and maimstream. For example listen to heathen's victims of diception and see that they try to be as technical as metallica's justice

Also megadeth couldn't be copied at 80's... They were far ahaid in their quality and difficulty of their music in contrast of many KNOWN bands in that decade... Bands that want to have thrash style want to have aggresive dirty and fast synthesis not technical

I hate new Metallica, I do, but come on! They created the first truly thrash metal album Kill 'em All, Dave Mustaine was a founding member, and they've inspired every single metal band since after time. Chuck Billy of Testament even stated in an interview with Revolver, "It's amazing to me that we all didn't just copy Metallica. Every single human alive today knows who Metallica is.

The original thrash band. James Hetfield created thrash with Hit the Lights. Megadeth comes in close second. Metallica did not sell out! They simply did something many bands are too afraid to do: they changed. They experimented, altering their sound. Think before you blindly hate!

Actually, it was Queen who " invented" thrash with "Stone Cold Crazy".

2 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.

Without Megadeth there wouldn't be 90s Pantera and without 90s Pantera, God only knows how the genre would look like today.

Don't get me wrong, I voted for Slayer too, I think that those two bands deserve top 2 spots on this list. Metallica is successful, but via turning away from thrash to more pop-oriented sound, so their impact for developing the genre is not that big as people might think.

Metallica's debut album has tracks written by DAVE MUSTAINE, the GOD OF METAL. So obviously Kill 'em All is good, but consider that Megadeth is way superior, they're just another level of thrash metal. No other band can probably come close to them. Definitely not Metallica ( the most overrated metal band in the world

I vote for Megadeth. Yes, Must-allica mostly invented thrash, along with exodus. However, Dave Mustiaine' guitar playing an singing has influenced every thrash band after him. And if you listen to Sepultura, Havok, and other "younger" thrash bands, you can hear a big influence.

Megadeth is not just a band... It's the purest form of thrash metal itself... Mustaine can drive anyone crazy with his riffs... Kirk hammet can not touch dave mustaine.. Megadeth fans for life... Long live megadeth... Make divine music

3 Slayer Slayer is 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.

Seriously why is Megadeth above Slayer!? This is a list for influence not best overall. Slayer has influenced all of extreme metal. Metallica are definitely the most successful metal band so they make a case for influence, but Megadeth no matter how good they are, are nothing more than Metallica's violent offspring. Rust in Peace is the best album of all time though.

Slayer made a change with Chemical warfare, it's up to the fans to put in the right place... Nobody's invented thrash metal all the undergrounds bands made it! the most influential band is clear, all want the place of Megadeth but nobody can play like them, so all want to be next Slayer... That is a real influence!

I don't like them but when it comes to influence... Slayer changed a lot in metal. They proposed the fully aggressive-oriented metal and countless bands followed in that direction.

Slayer fans, sorry to say, but Slayer was a very small influence on extreme metal. Kreator, Destruction, Venom, Holy Moses influenced extreme metal WAY more than Slayer.

4 Kreator Kreator is a German thrash metal band from Essen. Their style of music is similar to that of their compatriots Destruction, Sodom and Tankard; along with those three bands, Kreator has been referred to as one of the "big four" of Teutonic thrash metal, and they are often credited with helping pioneer ...read more.

Kreator is Pure THRASH. I do not consider Metallica as thrash metal except few songs. Sorry. They do not belong to this list. Their Thrash songs are not good either. Kreator rules! Go to the concert, feel the energy.

The king of the kings of tutonic thrash metal along with Sodom & Destruction.
Just listen to their album Pleasure To Kill and you will become a fan of this awesome band!

The vocals of Death Metal come from Mile's voice.

What Kreator, is more thrash than the big 4

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

They moved away from the aggression and brutality, tried to be different. It's amazing how fast they shred! Joey is one of the greatest vocalists ever! And Charlie IS the one who invented the blast beats! Anthrax are the ones who came up with the term THRASH METAL.

Anthrax should be 4 or 3.

6 Exodus Exodus is an American thrash metal band formed in 1979 in Richmond, California. Spanning a career of 37 years, Exodus has gone through numerous lineup changes, two extended hiatuses, and the deaths of two former band members.

Why do Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax get more attention and Exodus doesn't? Come on, not only did Exodus do a lot for thrash metal in the 80's, but they reign as the ultimate thrash metal band of all time.

Exodus were influential on the early Death Metal scene, Possessed cited them as an influence, which Jeff used high-pitched screamings in Seven Churches LP.

I like this band... Awesome work GARY HOLT is the heart of this band... Bonded by blood is the best album they gave.

Another lesson in violence.. Hardest live album

7 Venom Venom are an English extreme metal band formed in 1979 in Newcastle upon Tyne. Coming to prominence towards the end of the new wave of British heavy metal, Venom's first two albums—Welcome to Hell and Black Metal—are considered a major influence on thrash metal and extreme metal in general.

Apart from the fact that Venom actually basically created thrash metal... EVERY band on this list was influenced by them and most of the artists influenced by members of this particular list ALSO list Venom... It's only logical that they were the most influential thrash band (and possibly heavy metal band. ) of the 80s.

I laugh at the morons who believe Slayer created death metal, Slayer's first material to be considered SIMILAR to Death metal was "reign in blood" (1986)... more than 2 years after Death Metal's creation (Mantas "death by metal" (1984) Possessed "Death metal" (1984).

Also I'll point out that both DEATH and POSSESSED denied that Slayer were one of their influences... where as both bands credited Venom as their MAJOR influence.

What was the point of this rant, this isn't a list on death metal influences, it is Thrash Metal influences and why rant on the 1% of Slayer fans that think Slayer is anything more than Thrash/speed metal

Venom, Welcome to Hell, Black Metal, need I say more, those albums laid the blueprint of thrash, speed, death, and they did it all tongue in cheek, not the greatest musicians granted but they deserve a place in anyone's top ten for how influential they really where.

UH HELLO they created Created Thrash Metal so they should be number 1

8 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.

In my opinion, Testament is the uncrowned Kings of Thrash. With ferocious textbook style rhythm's, face-melting guitar solo's, and the greatest thrash power ballad's to demonstrate versatility, they've remained my favorite thrash metal band ever. Chuck Billy's vocals alone ooze Thrash Metal with his low range melodic style and baritone roars. The band has consistently stayed true to the genre. Metallica is great, but have experienced too much outside of the genre to be considered. Bands like Slayer, Kreator, Sodom and Sepultura are borderline Speed Metal more than true Thrash. An argument could be made for Megadeth, Overkill, Exodus and Anthrax but again Testaments consistency, dedication to stay relative to the genre, and Chucks thrash vocal work really seals the deal as far as I'm concerned.

Testament, Dark Angel, Overkill, Kreator - these four are the most consistent thrash bands in their entire discography (save Kreator’s 90s’ industrial experiments)... and the rest.
Slayer = hardcore crap with overrated RIB, except decent Abyss, Megadeth & Metallica are NOT pure thrash bands (nowadays it is hard rock (Collider), heavy, speed metal). Anyway consistent & mature heavy Puppets, technical Rust, catchy Countdown, surprising Endgame = three of these four albums can be considered more or less (case by case, with the exception of poppy Countdown (Ashes being the extremely satisfying end) as THRASH as well together with obvious Kill & Ride releases that started it ALL.
I forgot Anthrax (Living, Disease and last quite good rocky Worship). I don't like vocals in Exodus, otherwise I respect them (B is one of the seminal records, but for me Darkness Descends works way better! ). I like Forbidden (Twisted, Omega), Death Angel (shame that Onsegueda's vocals are really ...more

Pretty much under-rated among the Thrash giants... No doubt they deserved to be in the Big four of thrash... Even their last album- The dark Roots of Earth is amazing..

Chuck Billy one of the greatest Thrash Metal vocals!

9 Sepultura Sepultura is a Brazilian heavy metal band from Belo Horizonte. Their first album, Morbid Visions presented a proto-black metal sound with Wagner Lamounier of Sarcófago. Sepultura's sound varies by the album, from thrash metal, groove metal, and even death metal.

A talented brazilian band, but sold out.
It is a shame that they do not make albums like Morbid Visions, Schizophrenia, Beneath the Remains,
Arise, Chaos A.D. oR Roots anymore!

Beneath the remains was awesome

10 Annihilator Annihilator is a Canadian thrash metal band founded in 1984 by vocalist, guitarist, bassist, songwriter, engineer, producer, mixer and mastering engineer Jeff Waters and former vocalist John Bates.

They were very influential because their colleagues from the thrash genre listened to them carefully and learned certain things from them. Annihilator are known for their fast and technical riffs and solos (because Jeff Waters is a guitar god). I read somewhere that Annihilator’s debut album Alice In Hell (1989) influenced Megadeth’s Rust In Peace (1990). Annihilator just set the bar higher in certain areas and almost all thrash bands became more technical and sophisticated.

One of the pioneers of technical thrash. They've been putting out great albums for 25 years.

Can't believe that Annihilator isn't in the top 10, definitely underrated

The Contenders

11 Overkill Overkill is an American thrash metal band, formed in 1980 in New Jersey. They have gone through many line-up changes, with singer Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth and bassist D.D.

1st REAL thrash metal metal band( yes... even older than Metallica, Slayer, Exodus, 'thrax)... and maybe because of that they never left the genre, dwelling amisdt a lot of variations of it throughout the decades

Real force that pushed trash metal to its highlight and peak of popularity. If there wasnt overkill there probably wouldn't be big 4. Boby blitz is just awesome and his vocals are great.

These guys formed in 1981 and always stayed consistent awesome band

They formed in 1980 not 1981.

12 Sodom Sodom is a German thrash metal band from Gelsenkirchen, formed in 1981. They have gone through many line-up changes, leaving bassist vocalist Tom Angelripper as the only constant member.

One of the hardest Thrash metal bands of all time, when I first heard them back in 1987 (God I'm old) they blew me away! I can't believe they are classed in the same genre as Metallica (even though I'm a fan) Persicution Mania is pure genius

Sodom is very good and older and harder than megadeth. Megadeth is good too

13 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.

In some alternate universe pantera never made cowboys from hell and just stayed with hair metal... That's a god awful thought

The pioneers of groove oriented thrash metal, have influenced the NWOAHM movement, directly.

14 Anvil Anvil are a Canadian heavy metal band from Toronto, Ontario, formed in 1978. The band consists of Steve "Lips" Kudlow, Robb Reiner and Chris Robertson.
15 Destruction Destruction is a German thrash metal band. They are considered one of the "The Big Four" of the German thrash metal scene, the others being Kreator, Sodom and Tankard.
16 Dark Angel Dark Angel is an American thrash metal band from Los Angeles, California formed in 1981. Their over-the-top style (extremely fast, heavy and lengthy songs with lots of tempo changes, lyrics and extended instrumental parts) earned them the nickname "the L.A. Caffeine Machine". Although Dark Angel had ...read more.

Darkness descends is the most violent and aggressive thrash metal ever written. It's Reign in Blood pushed further honestly.

17 Nuclear Assault Nuclear Assault is an American thrash metal band from New York City, formed after bassist Dan Lilker left Anthrax in 1984. After releasing five full-length albums and touring relentlessly throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Nuclear Assault split up in 1995. They briefly reunited in 1997 and again ...read more.
18 Machine Head Machine Head is an American heavy metal band from Oakland, California. Formed on October 12, 1991, the group was founded by vocalist and guitarist Robb Flynn and bassist Adam Duce. They have received great critical success especially for their album "The Blackening" which is considered a modern metal ...read more.

They took thrash metal to a new level. The lyrics are thought provoking, sound has intense energy, Rob Flynn is a great singer and show man and the band members are creative, fluid and technically tight.

19 Havok Havok is an American thrash metal band from Denver, Colorado. Formed in 2004, their members currently consist of David Sanchez, Nick Schendzielos, Pete Webber, and Reece Scruggs.

They brought thrash back to the modern era. So underrated

20 Possessed Possessed is an American thrash/death metal band, originally formed in 1983 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Noted for their fast style of playing and Jeff Becerra's guttural vocals, they are routinely called the first band in the death metal genre. Possessed is the sometimes credited with being the first ...read more.

This list is made of fanatical kids that not know the true roots of thrash or metal. Possessed is the root of practically everything! even now in 2016 there is no record or band that match the ghastly sound and the cacophony in their riffs, Possessed is Alma Matter of thrash and death metal...

21 Death Angel Death Angel is an American thrash metal band from Daly City, California, initially active from 1982 to 1991 and again since 2001. Death Angel has released seven studio albums, two demo tapes, one box set and two live albums.
22 Gwar Gwar, often styled as GWAR, is an American heavy metal band formed in Richmond, Virginia, United States, in 1984, composed of and operated by a frequently rotating line-up of musicians, artists and filmmakers collectively known as Slave Pit Inc.
23 Evile Evile are an English thrash metal band from Huddersfield, formed in 2004. The band's debut album, Enter the Grave, was produced by Flemming Rasmussen at Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark and was released worldwide in 2007 by Earache Records to critical acclaim by fans and critics alike.
24 D.R.I. D.R.I. is an American crossover thrash band that formed in Houston, Texas in 1982. As of 2015, the band comprises two of its founding members, vocalist Kurt Brecht and guitarist Spike Cassidy, as well as drummer Walter "Monsta" Ryan and bassist Harald Oimoen.

Kings of crossover not best but most influential

25 Tankard Tankard is a thrash metal band from Frankfurt am Main, Germany, founded in 1982. Along with the bands Kreator, Destruction and Sodom, Tankard is often considered one of the "The Big Teutonic Four" of Teutonic thrash metal.
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