Top Ten Founders of Metal

The Top Ten

1 Black Sabbath 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. more.

The most important metal band
1. Black Sabbath - initial inventor dark sound
2. Deep Purple - gave the shredding guitar, add classical influence and speed for metal
2. Judas Priest - savior of metal from punk attack in mid 70's, first from the twin guitar leads (there are others but this is talking metal), making a standard arrangement style for metal, removing the hippy style and giving a leather style culture to metal
3. Big 4 Thrash - raise the level to be heavier
4. Pantera - savior of metal from grunge attacks in early 90's to exist and the gate for subgenre development

Deep Purple is better. - Userguy44

Black sabbath started Metal!, And For the ones, who votes for SOAD, SOAD are awesome, but they didn't start anything, The ones that deserves to be here is, Sabbath, Zeppelin and Deep purple for starting metal, Motorhead, Judas priest and Iron maiden, for starting metal as we know it today, Metallica, Slayer and Testament for starting thrash metal, And maybe Pantera (Dont know), and Blue cheer, but not SOAD and Not HIM! - D2Demon

Black Sabbath can be credited for invention of doom metal, and influencing creation of goth metal. But not for creation of metal in general. All fast metal genres, that are currently the biggest, use the template for metal music invented by Deep Purple. - Metal_Treasure

V 10 Comments
2 Deep Purple 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, more.

A revelation, a moment of grace when deep purple was born. Something like this makes history. Their music is not for sweeties in badroom or to scary children before sleeping. No comercial rubbish, but pure art and inovation. Exquisite.

Deep Purple is heavier, true vocal for metal, more fast, more shred in early 70's. Ritchie Blackmore is the man!
Black Sabbath is only darker.

How would this band create heavy metal without Ian Gillan? He has a great voice and he really shows it. Hands down...Purple is totally the prototype along with Sabbath

Harder, faster, Deep Purple in Rock!

V 5 Comments
3 Rainbow Rainbow Rainbow are a British rock band led by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore from 1975 to 1984 and 1993 to 1997. They were originally established with Ronnie James Dio as the lead singer and lyricist. Rainbow were ranked No. 90 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. The band has sold over 28 million albums more.

Ritchie Blackmore started it all in Deep Purple (1968-1974) by mixing rock and classical music (now known as heavy metal) and perfected it in Rainbow with Dio (1975-76).
Dio confirmed the top notch metal singing and also introduced the famous horns (one of the metal symbols).
Credits for inventing subgenres like power metal and neo-classical metal go exclusively to Rainbow. They also perfected the traditional metal and speed metal, added certain epic feel and some proggy nuances.
Check out their genre defining songs:
From the 1976 album: Stargazer, A Light in the Black, Tarot Woman
From the 1978 album: Gates Of Babylon, Kill The King, LA Connection
Metal instrumentals (neo-classical): Still I'm Sad 1975; Difficult To Cure 1981 - Metal_Treasure

4 Judas Priest 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”. more.

"Maiden wins this list by far... Sure Sabbath founded it but maiden took it to the next level... Also the reason why metal still lives is 'because of maiden..." what comment by fanboy, who's doesn't know the history. In your view the metal band only Maiden is nothing else? Lol moron

Most important after Black Sabbath

Why the hell everyone says black sabbath started metal and nothing for judas priest? Sabbath is great but priest must have at least 70% of their glory BECAUSE SABBATH WAS CREATED AT 1968 AND PRIEST WAS CREATED AT 1969!

Year of formation doesn't matter. Both bands had to remove lots of blues and psychedelic elements in order to achieve that non-bluesy, pure metal sound (developed by Deep Purple and Rainbow). And Judas Priest did that before Sabbath. - Metal_Treasure

SOAD ahead of them? What is the world coming to? - PeterSteveBobGraemeBloke

V 6 Comments
5 Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin was an English rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of Robert Plant (Vocal), Jimmy Page (Guitar), John Paul Jones (Bass, Keyboard) and John Bonham (Drums). The band's heavy, guitar-driven sound, rooted in blues and psychedelia on their early albums, has earned them recognition more.

At most, they're hard rock. - IronSabbathPriest

Yes the heavy metal genre started with Black Sabbath. But Led Zeppelin planted the seeds. Without Zeppelin I think that metal would be very different. - Grouse

Not directly. Indirectly. - zxm

Zeppelin were around before Sabbath, and obviously influenced Sabbath. Listen to Dazed and Confused and You shook me from their first album. Both songs anticpated Sabbaths dooms sound by two years.

V 7 Comments
6 Iron Maiden 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 more.

Please Maiden is only popular. They are not founders.

Iron Maiden is the only metal band in this top 10 list! Purple, Uriah Heep and Zeppelin have nothing to do with metal...

Maiden's the best

irons made it through punk. best british band ever there is no black sabath or led zeppelin only irons created a wave of metal. bruce dickinson ki maa ki chut

V 4 Comments
7 Blue Cheer Blue Cheer Blue Cheer was an American rock band that initially performed and recorded in the late 1960s and early 1970s and was sporadically active until 2009. Based in San Francisco, Blue Cheer played in a psychedelic blues rock style, and are also credited as being some of the earliest pioneers of heavy metal, more.

They were heavy but not heavy metal - unfortunately their heavy sound was based on blues and did not influence heavy metal very much (if any). It's because the canvas of metal is classical music and metal musicians distance themselves from blues. It took Judas Priest and Black Sabbath almost 10 years to get rid of blues and psychedelic elements in order to become metal bands, i.e. to achieve the pure metal sound, developed by Deep Purple and Rainbow.

I'd say Blue Cheer were heavy blues rock and hard rock, which is cool but different from heavy metal. - Metal_Treasure

No one really knows who they are but way back before Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath they were consider the heaviest band -

There ain't no cure for the summertime blues

8 Uriah Heep Uriah Heep Uriah Heep are an English rock band formed in London in 1969 that was one of the top rock bands in the early 1970s. Twelve of the band's albums have made it to the UK Albums Chart (Return to Fantasy reached No. 7 in 1975). Uriah Heep's distinctive features include a massive keyboard sound, strong vocal more.

They also have a metal song with John Lawton on vocals called "Free 'n' Easy". - HEAVYMETALTHUNDER12345

A great band with true metal content, not just any heavy sound. They were very popular and influential in the 70s and should be in the top 5.
They are still active, still touring. - Metal_Treasure

Their sound was a fusion of progressive/art rock/heavy metal. David Byron's quasi-operatic vocals contributed to their metal sound, too. The song Bird of Prey (1971) is a metal song, with metal vocals and screams: awesome vox even from today's metal viewpoint.

Their debut album 'Very 'Eavy...Very 'Umble' (1970) was one of the first albums with the word (H)eavy in the title. It contained progressive rock, hard rock, heavy metal, blues rock.

Their epic piece Salisbury (1971) is 16:20 min long and sounds to me like early symphonic metal with prog elements. It's length can compete with the lengthy stuff of current metal bands. Give it a chance and be convinced. And surprised.

Their metal songs were influenced by Deep Purple but they were cool in their own right. Some other metal songs: Look At Yourself, 1971; Easy Livin', 1972. - Metal_Treasure

9 Metallica 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". more.

Metallica didn't create heavy or thrash metal. - zxm

they didn't start the whole thing but they kept it going - seether62

One of the most influential thrash metal bands - SoldierOfFortune

Metallica are one of the best bands ever I think black sabbath are 1 because they started it all but metallica should be 2

V 5 Comments
10 Iron Butterfly Iron Butterfly Iron Butterfly is an American rock band best known for the 1968 hit "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida", providing a dramatic sound that led the way towards the development of hard rock and heavy metal music.

No, they were heavy but not exactly heavy metal - they were mostly heavy blues rock and psychedelic rock. Metal is FAR from that - it took Judas Priest and Black Sabbath almost 10 years to get rid of blues and psychedelic elements in order to become metal bands, i.e. to achieve the pure metal sound, developed by Deep Purple and Rainbow.

Not every heavy sound is heavy metal sound. In the 60s and 70s many music movements produced more or less heavy sound. These movements had different origins but co-existed in a syncretic form, in that the differences were not clear and there were some overlaps - especially early metal, early punk and early hard rock. But in 2015 differences are known - many non-metal subgenres may sound heavy but stylistically they are completely different. - Metal_Treasure

The Contenders

11 UFO UFO UFO are an English rock band that was formed in 1969. They became a transitional group between early hard rock and heavy metal and the new wave of British heavy metal.

Very underrated. - Userguy44

Great to see UFO in the top 10. They seem to be the forgotten one's on all other lists - sextysex

Formed in 1969, they became a transitional group between early hard rock / heavy metal, and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM).
Their song Doctor Doctor (1974) was covered by Iron Maiden. - Metal_Treasure

12 The Kinks The Kinks The Kinks are an English rock band formed in Muswell Hill, North London, in 1964 by brothers Ray and Dave Davies. They are regarded as one of the most important and influential rock bands of the 1960s.

More punk and hard rock than metal - they have often been labelled as "the original punks".
The riff of "You Really Got Me" is really cool though. - Metal_Treasure

13 Motörhead 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 more.

Although Mötorhead is often considered as a heavy metal band, Lemmy has always described Mötorhead's music as simply rock and roll. In 2011 he said: "We were not heavy metal. We were a rock'n'roll band. Still are. Everyone always describes us as heavy metal even when I tell them otherwise. Why won't people listen? "

Lemmy has stated that he generally feels more kinship with punk rockers than with metal bands. Motörhead, Lemmy states, have more in common aesthetically with The Damned than Black Sabbath, and nothing whatsoever in common with Judas Priest. Lemmy says he feels little kinship with the speed metal bands".

I think Lemmy is right - I don't hear much metal (if any) in their stuff. - Metal_Treasure

There was time I believed Motörhead were metal but currently I'm not sure at all. They mostly play hard rock, fast Rock N Roll and blues rock - all those with some punk air to it. Lemmy himself stated that they were closer to punk rock than to metal.
Overall, Motörhead are not metal or borderline metal at best.
Maybe their punk-ish attitude influenced thrash metal somewhat but it's just my speculation. - Metal_Treasure

14 Queen Queen Queen are an English rock band formed in 1970. Members were Freddie Mercury (Vocals and Piano), Brian May (Guitar, Vocals), Roger Taylor (Drums, Vocals), and John Deacon (Bass Guitar, Vocals). Before forming into Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor had played together in a band named Smile. Freddie Mercury more.

Metal influence, but not a metal band. - Userguy44

Their earlier albums were metal. - zxm

Surprise Surprise - Queen were not considered as metal or metal influence back then but things changed over time.
They actually wrote and performed the first thrash metal song - Stone Cold Crazy. It was written by Freddie in 1968 and recorded a bit later when he joined Queen. Metallica did a cover.
Another pretty aggressive and dark song is Dead On Time.

In contemporary metal music you can hear more Queen than Led Zep, for example. The famous multi-layered /canon vocals from Bohemian Rhapsody became a feature of Blind Guardian, late Savatage and many other metal bands. - Metal_Treasure

15 Thin Lizzy Thin Lizzy Thin Lizzy are an Irish rock band formed in Dublin in 1969. Their leader Phil Lynott was composer or co-composer of almost all of the band's songs, and the first black Irishman to achieve commercial success in the field of rock music. Thin Lizzy's most successful songs, "Whiskey in the Jar", "Jailbreak" more.

They were one of the first bands that used twin guitars - maybe even before Judas Priest. - Metal_Treasure

Early metal songs are Massacre, Emerald, released in 1976.
Their song Thunder And Lightning came out before Kill 'Em All but it was a thrash song.
Massacre was covered by Iron Maiden, Emerald - by Mastodon (there's a very cool and extended instrumental section in Emerald).
My fave metal songs: Angel of Death, Thunder And Lightning, Killer On the Loose, Cold Sweat, Massacre.
Their most popular songs/hits were not metal, which is normal - in the 70s and early 80s metal was far from the mass tastes.

Many metal bands did awesome cover versions, which revealed the metal potential of Thin Lizzy songs and Phil Lynott's great songwriting abilities. Most of the covers are thrash and death metal style - the originals had this potential.
I just started a new list on the Top Tens:
Top Ten Best Cover Versions of Thin Lizzy Songs - Metal_Treasure

16 Slayer 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. more.

This band brought Metal to its demonic and satanic figure

There's another list for founders of thrash metal. Slayer shouldn't be on this list - here is 60s and 70s - Metal_Treasure

These guys are the true founders of thrash metal.
I only voted for them because they're way too low on the list, otherwise I'd vote for black sabbath.
"Black Sabbath invented heavy metal, Judas Priest perfected it."))

Black Sabbath didn't invent heavy metal and one of the proof is that Judas Priest (and Iron Maiden) perfected something but it wasn't Black Sabbath. - Metal_Treasure

17 The Jimi Hendrix Experience The Jimi Hendrix Experience The Jimi Hendrix Experience was an English-American rock band that formed in Westminster, London, in September 1966. Composed of singer, songwriter, and guitarist Jimi Hendrix, bassist and backing vocalist Noel Redding, and drummer Mitch Mitchell, the band was active until June 1969. During this time more.

Where do you hear metal in his stuff? There's no metal.
Jimi's range of genres includes Psychedelic rock, hard rock, blues, rhythm and blues.
But metal is with NO Blues, Psychedelic and 'Roll' elements. - Metal_Treasure

Metal is with NO Blues, Psychedelic and Rock and Roll elements? Listen to " Black Sabbath " first album and you will find exactely all those elements. You don't know what you're talking' about and if you still ignore that fact then you're probally not a real rocker / metalhead and just an ignorant metalhead.

18 Mountain

Obviously should be higher, Mississippi Queen is such a heavy song you’d think it came out in the late 70’s but it was actually 1970! Way ahead of its time

19 Scorpions Scorpions Scorpions are a German rock band formed in 1965 in Hanover by Rudolf Schenker. Since the band's inception, its musical style has ranged from hard rock to heavy metal.

Their style in the 70s was completely different from their 80s mainstream ballad style. Check out at least the song 'Sails of Charon' (1977). There are also cool cover versions by Yngwie and Testament. - Metal_Treasure

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

Not metal. It's rock n' roll and hard rock. They also made rock ballads. Still a great band though. - Userguy44

21 Accept Accept Accept is a German heavy metal band from the town of Solingen, originally assembled by former vocalist Udo Dirkschneider, guitarist Wolf Hoffmann and bassist Peter Baltes.

Their success came in the early 80s but they were close to metal in the 70s, too.
Debut album - Jan 1979, metal

Uriah Heep, Thin Lizzy, UFO, Scorpions and Accept were closer to metal than Led Zep, Blue Cheer and Iron Butterfly. So the first group of bands should be in the top 10 instead of the second. - Metal_Treasure

Really? Accept is one on the first pioneers of speed metal and they are listed at 22! Ahh this list is beyond bogus

22 Megadeth 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 more.

Why are they on this list? Megadeth didn't start anything. - Userguy44

It is even more questionable why Testament, KISS and Death Grips are on the list. - Alkadikce

23 The Stooges The Stooges The Stooges, also known as Iggy and the Stooges, are an American proto-punk band from Ann Arbor, Michigan, first active from 1967 to 1974, and later reformed in 2003. Although they sold few records in their original incarnation, and often performed for indifferent or hostile audiences, the Stooges are more.

Punk, not metal - Protopunk, garage rock, hard rock, punk rock, punk blues, punk jazz - Metal_Treasure

24 System of a Down System of a Down System of a Down formed in 1994 as an Armenian-American Nu Metal group from Glendale, California . The band name is sometimes shortened to System or SOAD. more.

They are not even a metal band. - Metal_Treasure

Their first album DEFINES metal! - moose4life19

25 Testament 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.
26 Death 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 more.

They are the first not possessed seven churches was thrash

27 Alice Cooper Alice Cooper Alice Cooper is an American singer, songwriter, musician and occasional actor whose career spans over five decades.
28 Anvil 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.

They wrote thrash songs before the thrash explosion - started in the late 70s but peaked circa 1980-81. - Metal_Treasure

Black Sabbath invented metal. Motorhead sped it up. Anvil invented thrash. That's the way I hear it.
Black Sabbath 1970 (Black Sabbath)
Ace Of Spades 1980 (Motorhead)
666 1982 (Anvil)

Everything's wrong here: Black Sabbath invented doom metal (bluesy) but not the entire metal - the rest of metal went non-bluesy. Motorhead has never been a metal band. The first thrash songs were written by Queen, so they invented it. I agree Anvil wrote thrash songs before the thrash explosion. - Metal_Treasure

29 Budgie Budgie Budgie are a Welsh rock band from Cardiff. They are described by author Garry Sharpe-Young as one of the earliest heavy metal bands and a seminal influence to many acts of that scene, with fast, heavy rock (an influence on the new wave of British heavy metal being played as early as 1971. The band has more.

Breadfan for example. - HEAVYMETALTHUNDER12345

Awesome early 70's heavy songs! The first album 1970 Budgie is essential!

30 Death Grips Death Grips Death Grips is an American experimental hip hop band from Sacramento, California, formed in 2010. The group consists of vocalist MC Ride, drummer and producer Zach Hill, and recording engineer Andy Morin.

Heaviest extreme metal band of the 2010s - Userguy44

Haha this is funny trolls - HEAVYMETALTHUNDER12345

31 Pantera 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 more.

these were the who never sold out... pantera saved the metal during 90's... - deadlydawn

90s? ... we are talking about the 60s and 70s here! Pantera were late to this party. - Metal_Treasure

Metal was invented 20+ years before Pantera and they are not even near to the founders. - Metal_Treasure

32 H.I.M.

LOL, they are not even metal and they were too late to the party. - Metal_Treasure

They invented a tiny, one band (HIM) sub subgenre called Love Metal - SoldierOfFortune

33 Diamond Head Diamond Head Diamond Head are an English heavy metal band formed in 1976 in Stourbridge, England. The band is recognised as one of the leading members of the new wave of British heavy metal and is acknowledged by thrash metal bands such as Metallica and Megadeth as an important early influence.
34 Possessed 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 more.
35 Venom 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.
36 Bloodsuckers
37 Steppenwolf Steppenwolf Steppenwolf is a Canadian-American rock group that was prominent from 1968 to 1972. The group was formed in late 1961 in Toronto by vocalist John Kay, keyboardist Goldy McJohn, and drummer Jerry Edmonton.

Not metal - Userguy44

38 Killswitch Engage Killswitch Engage Killswitch Engage is an American metalcore band from Westfield, Massachusetts, formed in 1999 after the disbanding of Overcast and Aftershock.
39 KISS KISS Kiss is an American hard rock band formed in New York City in January 1973 by Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons and the band's original manager, Lew Linet.
BAdd New Item

Related Lists

Top 10 Founders of Power Metal Top Ten Founders of Death Metal Top 10 Founders of Black Metal Top 10 Founders of Progressive Metal Top 10 Founders of Heavy Metal Bands

List Stats

500 votes
39 listings
10 years, 104 days old

Top Remixes (7)

1. Black Sabbath
2. Deep Purple
3. Blue Cheer
1. Deep Purple
2. Rainbow
3. Uriah Heep
1. Rainbow
2. UFO
3. The Kinks

View All 7


Before You Cast Your Vote, Read This.

Error Reporting

See a factual error in these listings? Report it here.