Top 10 Best Hard Rock Bands of the '90s

The Top Ten
1 Nirvana Nirvana was an American grunge band that was formed in Aberdeen, Washington in 1987. Nirvana disbanded after Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994. The drummer of the band, David Grohl, went on to start the Foo-Fighters, an alternative rock band... read more

While Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam, as much as I respect them, spawned dozens of imitators, nobody could replicate Nirvana, mostly because of the unique talents of Cobain. This is truly the sign of an all-time great rock band. While Kurt obviously melded influences of The Pixies, The Melvins, and others, no subsequent band sounds quite like Nirvana.

Nirvana was truly an idol in the world of rock for many reasons. Their songs had meaning. They experimented with what you could do with music. Kurt was a legend and will be remembered for years to come. His music was truly inspirational to many people and bands.

2 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 are the true gods of metal! These guys defined and perfected what metal is. They are a true inspiration to all things rock and are the best that ever was. They are not only the best metal band of the '90s but also the '80s, 2000s, and now! The best album ever, the "Black Album", is the number one album ever sold in the rock industry. My personal favorite is "ReLoad"!

"Oooh, my favorite band is the best!" Let's not be too subjective, people. I don't care if you like Metallica or not. They rock. They sold a lot of albums. They earn a top spot.

3 Red Hot Chili Peppers The Red Hot Chili Peppers is an American funk-rock and alternative rock band, that was founded in 1983.

The band's members are Anthony Kiedis (Vocals), Michael "Flea" Balzary (Bass), Chad Smith (Drums) and numerous guitarists, most well-known being John Frusciante.

The band is among the... read more

The sheer mass amount of A+ songs pushes the Red Hot Chili Peppers to the Greatest Band Ever spot for me, let alone in the '90s. Blood Sugar Sex Magik had some of the most memorable and awesome songs ever to be played. It had a perfect mix of fast and slow, plus punk and funk, which morphed into this orgasm of an album. When someone can play an album from song one to the last without pause, it indicates its greatness. And hell, I'm only talking about just one out of the three albums they had in the '90s, mainly because that's all they need to be #1. Other albums are amazing as well!

4 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.

This may be the most stacked-for-talent four-man band of all time. Mike Starr had some of the most hair-raising basslines of the era. Sean Kinney was one of the tightest drummers of the time. Jerry Cantrell, in my humble opinion, should go down as one of the best songwriters of all time. Not to mention, the guy could take one finger and write a riff that would blow your socks off.

And then there's Layne freaking Staley. The guy was a freak of nature. Arguably one of the loudest and most powerful singers of all time, wielding a voice that could move mountains as well as tear them down. And yet, he never had to scream or growl to create intensity, and they could do all this without ever really playing that fast.

To me, their tempo is one of the things that makes them so influential. It made their music hit so much harder and heavier. In my opinion, they should be talked about as one of the all-time greats.

5 Pearl Jam Pearl Jam is a grunge/alternative rock Band formed in Seattle, Washington in 1990. The band had comprised of Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament... read more

Pearl Jam is the second most influential hard rock band of the 1990s, right behind Nirvana. They rank third if you want to make an argument for Alice in Chains. They were the biggest band in the world for at least half of the decade. The first three albums were mega-huge, selling in the range of 25 million copies. Pearl Jam's last album, released in 2009, went to number one on the charts. They are excellent live and still continue to sell out arenas worldwide.

P.S. This is supposed to be a list of the top hard rock bands of the 1990s?! Get Bon Jovi off of here! They are an '80s band through and through. I would rather see Seven Mary Three make the list because at least they were a '90s band!

6 Guns N' Roses Guns N' Roses is an American hard rock band from Los Angeles formed in 1985. The classic lineup, as signed to Geffen Records in 1986, consisted of vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Steven Adler. Apart from hard rock they are also... read more

The AFD album is one of the greatest. Slash has an unprecedented tone during those sessions. Use Your Illusion were good albums as well, but in a way, they had the potential to become maybe the best ever.

A good frontman, a true guitar god, a steady bass player, and drummer with excellent backing vocals and songwriting ability from their rhythm guitarist. But the days they did have were stunning. They were the biggest and most followed band in the world the day AFD released and up until the day they split. Their original stuff has stood the test of time. The entire AFD album and acoustic takes like Patience and Used to Love Her are still on every rock radio show on the planet.

7 Soundgarden Soundgarden was an American grunge/alternative metal band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1984 by singer and rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Chris Cornell died on May 17th, 2017.

The '90s produced some of the most original new sounds that forever changed the rock and metal scene. Among the most original is Soundgarden. There is no mistaking Chris Cornell's vocals. Vocalists alone, he is the best, with no comparison. Anyone with an ear for music would have to agree. Added to the rough and raw sound of the band, Chris' vocals are a perfect match. Soundgarden really should be the number one rock band of the '90s. The world of music truly would not be the same without Soundgarden, and without Chris Cornell. Oh, and let's not forget Temple of the Dog and "Hunger Strike". Thank God for Soundgarden and Chris Cornell!

8 The Smashing Pumpkins The Smashing Pumpkins is an American alternative rock band from Chicago, Illinois, formed in 1988. Formed by frontman Billy Corgan and James Iha, the band included D'arcy Wretzky and Jimmy Chamberlin in its original incarnation. They are also considered to be one of the most influential alternative... read more

Maybe a few spots too high. Smashing Pumpkins had some great tunes, but as unique as they were, they were always just behind in about every aspect of a band. Vocals? Staley, Cobain, and Cornell were all better. Guitar? Cantrell, Morello, and Slash were more talented, and their tones shine through. The songwriting is just a touch behind the likes of other bands. But take nothing away. Smashing Pumpkins is a part of American rock history and rightfully so. They were a very good band.

I have so much love for this band. There is no other band that can even come close to having a sound like The Smashing Pumpkins. When I think back to the '90s, I think about bands like this one and songs like "Today", "1979", "Bullet with Butterfly Wings", "Tonight, Tonight", "Landslide", "Cherub Rock", and so on. I could talk about this band all day. But those of us who know and love this band know that this band should be at least in the top 5!

9 Green Day Green Day are an American pop punk/punk rock band formed in East Bay, California in 1987. The members include Billie Joe Armstrong (vocals and guitar), Mike Dirnt (bass), Tré Cool (drums) and Jason White (guitar). Green Day are associated with punk rock, pop punk and alternative rock. Some of their... read more

Green Day was at its best in the '90s. 'Dookie', their best album, brought them into the mainstream and gave us classics like 'Basket Case' and 'Longview'. 'Insomniac' had an angrier punk sound but still continued to have mainstream success with classics like 'Walking Contradiction' and 'Armatage Shanks'. Finally, 'Nimrod' evolved Green Day's sound by incorporating acoustic guitars, trumpets, and other odd instruments while still retaining a punk sound. 'Nimrod' had classics like 'Hitchin' a Ride' and 'Prosthetic Head'.

10 Stone Temple Pilots Stone Temple Pilots is an alternative rock band formed in San Diego, CA in 1989.

The band currently consists of brothers Dean and Robert DeLeo (guitarist and bassist, respectively), and Eric Kretz (drummer). Their main vocalist from their formation up to 2013 was Scott Weiland. He was fired in... read more

STP is #1 in my heart because they had diversity in their musical styles throughout each album. You never knew exactly what you were going to get from a new STP album -- all you knew was that it was going to sound amazing. Most of these other bands can be boiled down to three or four general sounds that repeat through their entire discographies (if you're lucky). That is not the case with STP -- they were so talented that they could allow themselves to explore a wide range of styles and sound damn good doing it.

The Contenders
11 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

Creativity has never been so delicately assembled in a band like this one before. Adam Jones and his hard, haunting, and unique riffs complement Maynard's voice and vocal delivery in a way no other band has achieved. The bass line can hardly be called "rhythm" or "background" because, along with Danny Carey's ingenious syncopated and dissonant drum lines and bass lines that lead as much as guitar, this band can easily be named one of the greatest masterpieces of music and art on the planet.

Literally the most technically and lyrically advanced band. Danny Carey is legendary on drums and is considered by many to be up there with Neil Peart. Justin Chancellor redefined how to play bass. Adam Jones's creativity on guitar is incomparable to any other guitarist, and Maynard's very complex lyrics, pure emotion, soul, and energy on stage make listening to Tool's music a very intense experience.

12 Nine Inch Nails Nine Inch Nails is an American industrial rock band, founded in 1988 by Trent Reznor in Cleveland, Ohio.

One of the most innovative and underrated mainstream acts of the '90s. "The Downward Spiral" and "The Fragile" were way ahead of their time. I would argue that Trent Reznor's contributions to music are as important as Nirvana's. Plus, he's the reason anyone gives a damn about Marilyn Manson, which is a huge contribution in and of itself.

Nine Inch Nails dropped two amazing albums and an amazing EP in the '90s. Who else did that in the '90s? Metallica? Load, Reload? What? Their self-titled album was good, though, but better than The Downward Spiral, The Fragile, and Broken? No.

13 Foo Fighters Foo Fighters are an American alternative rock band, formed in Seattle in 1994. The band was founded by Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl after the death of Kurt Cobain and the dissolution of his previous band. The band consists of Dave Grohl (lead vocalist, rhythm guitar, main songwriter), Pat Smear (rhythm... read more

The Colour and the Shape was their best album ever (other than maybe Wasting Light). The first album was not great, but Dave was the only one doing anything, so that's 1/4 of the creativity. There Is Nothing Left to Lose had great songs too (Learn to Fly, Stacked Actors, Breakout).

Hard to believe Nirvana spawned such an awesome band. They are still one of my favorites of all time, while Nirvana is one of my most hated. Is that weird?

But they were definitely better in the 2000s. Aurora, Generator, Breakout, For All the Cows: all quality songs from the '90s!

14 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.

Much like Guns N' Roses, they left the rock world a bit short and unfulfilled. Unlike Guns N' Roses, they don't have quite the extensive catalog in depth. But the tunes they did record are stunning and shook the world. Ahead of their time, no doubt. I just wish they'd have done more.

The hard rock sound of Morello and Commerford, along with the great rapping skills of De La Rocha, complemented by the simple yet awesome drumming, makes Rage the best '90s band ever and, in my opinion, one of the best ever.

Zack de la Rocha. Text and spirit. So much underrated!

15 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

Pantera had the best guitarist, best drummer, a great singer, and a good bassist. You get the best band of all time. The band got me through so many times in my life, from anger to having my children. Number 1 for me all the way!

Pantera, without a shadow of doubt, the best damn metal band ever. I drove 200 miles to Nashville, Tennessee, to buy Great Southern Trendkill when it was released, as all the music shops near me wouldn't have it for another week. Mind you, gas was only 80¢ a gallon back then, well worth it!

Best by far.

When you sell millions of albums without radio or MTV, you are a musical phenomenon.

Literally, every album is gold, all but one platinum. Some of the most consistent album sales in music history show how impressive they were live, as that was their only real promotion.

16 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

Yeah, this is WAY too low for Korn! Are you kidding me? When MTV played music, Korn beat out the ridiculous Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, and Britney Spears for the number one song/video, and the Got the Life video had to be retired because it was on top for so long! Korn put hard music on the mainstream map and kicked Pop in the face! They are easily top ten, if not higher.

Huge in the 90's. Like the biggest band by the end of the 90's. They released very good music right up to the end of the 90's.

Freak on a Leash and Blind defined the 1990s! Way underrated band. Should be much higher than this!

17 AC/DC AC/DC are a Australian hard rock band, formed in November 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, who continued as members until Malcolm's illness and departure in 2014 . They were fronted by Bon Scott until his untimely death due to alcohol poisoning in 1979, after which they hired Brian Johnson... read more

For me, AC/DC is a top 5 band in the '70s and '80s. The tone of Malcolm and Angus is downright scary good. They have stood the test of time, and there isn't a band in the world whose riffs are being played more in commercials, ads, movies, Super Bowls, etc., than AC/DC. They didn't call it quits after losing a singer or after a few good albums. They produced massively inspiring albums like High Voltage and Highway to Hell with the great Bon Scott and developed themselves even further with the great Brian. Absolute legends. And they may even be a top 10 in the '90s, but definitely top 5 in the '70s and '80s.

18 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

Best metal band ever, that I've heard.

19 Bon Jovi Bon Jovi is a hard rock/pop rock band formed in 1983, which had a streak of successful albums in the late 1980s. The band originally consisted of lead vocalist Jon Bon Jovi, guitarist Ritchie Sambora (left in 2013), bassist Alec John Such (left in 1994), keyboard David Bryan, and drummer Tico Torres... read more

While most of the other bands are alternative or grunge, Bon Jovi truly is a 'Rock Band'. It was definitely at its height in the '90s, and yet it still continues today. So many 'classic' hits, namely 'Livin' on a Prayer', 'You Give Love a Bad Name', 'Wanted, Dead or Alive', 'Runaway', 'Keep the Faith', 'Lay Your Hands on Me', 'Bed of Roses', 'In These Arms', and many more.

Bon Jovi released three albums in the '90s: Keep the Faith, Cross Road, and These Days. All were absolutely amazing! Songs like Keep the Faith, Dry County, Always, In These Arms, This Ain't a Love Song, etc., were all superhits. The best band ever!

20 Aerosmith Aerosmith is an American rock band, sometimes referred to as "the Bad Boys from Boston" and "America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band".

Aerosmith. One hit every year since 1973. Biggest band ever.

21 Deftones Deftones are an American alternative metal band from Sacramento, California. The band, which was founded in 1988, consists of Chino Moreno, Stephen Carpenter, Frank Delgado, Abe Cunningham and Sergio Vega. They have released a total of 9 studio albums. Some of their most popular songs are Change (in... read more

The Deftones are able to blend hardcore heavy riffing with amazingly soft vocals. They are heavy when they feel like it, and softer when they feel like it, but never stray too far from the road of badass! Will listen to them forever.

Perfect blend of quiet and meaningful lyrics to relax to, and hardcore screams and heavy riffs to get you pumped up for a big game or a workout set.

Even the new albums that they release are amazing. To this day, still the best live band I've ever seen!

22 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

To be this low is ridiculous Dave Mustaine probably one of the best ever

23 Melvins The Melvins are an American sludge metal band that formed in 1983 in Montesano, Washington. They usually perform as a trio, but in recent years have performed as a four piece with two drummers.
24 Three Days Grace Three Days Grace is a Canadian post-grunge/alternative rock band formed in Norwood, Ontario in 1992 with a line-up consisting of guitarist and lead vocalist Adam Gontier, drummer and backing vocalist Neil Sanderson, and bassist Brad Walst. Their original name was Groundswell until they changed it to... read more

They actually formed in 1992. They changed the band name in 1997, but they started in 1992 as Groundswell.

25 Kyuss Kyuss was an American stoner rock band, formed in Palm Desert, California, in 1987 by Josh Homme, John Garcia, Brant Bjork and Chris Cockrell. After releasing an EP under the name Sons of Kyuss in 1990, the band shortened its name to Kyuss and recruited Nick Oliveri, replacing Cockrell as bassist.

Every time I listen to them, I'm surprised they weren't more popular. Easily one of my top 5 favorite bands of all time.

100? Is this a joke, or is this list based solely off radio Top 40 play?

Kyuss should be way higher than 100.

My top 3 personally... 111 is laughable.

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