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54.3k voters

The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Updated October 29, 2020 353.0k votes 54.3k voters 728.0k views392 items

List RulesHeavy Metal bands only. No other subgenres of metal

Update: Follow Ranker's official New Metal 2020 playlist on Spotify!

Creating some of the best metal songs of 2020, the greatest heavy metal bands ever include some of the most iconic names in music. Famous bands, like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, paved the way for many of today's biggest acts. They're bigger than just heavy metal -- they're among the best rock bands/artists of all time. Which one is the best? That's up to you to decide with your votes. Vote up the good heavy metal bands you're a huge fan of, and vote down any that you just don't like. Also, feel free to add any cool heavy metal bands that might be missing from the list, and rerank the choices in the order you believe is the best! If you're looking for something harder than hard rock, these heavy metal bands have got the music for you. 

Not surprisingly, some incredibly well-known classic heavy metal bands top this list, including American bands Metallica and Pantera as well as '70s English band Iron Maiden and '80s metal band Megadeth. Some newer bands are also included. Tool and Korn, for example, formed in the 1990s. Sadly, some of these bands don't include all of the original members or singers (Alice in Chains, for example), but that doesn't mean they're forgotten, not popular, or not worth including. From old school and the 2000s to the new and current, we're ranking the all-time best heavy metal groups. 

Which heavy metal band is the best? Be sure to vote and don't forget to rerank this list your way, too.

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  • 1
    14,683
    5,907

    Black Sabbath

    Paranoid, Black Sabbath
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  • 2
    16,154
    6,815

    Iron Maiden

    The Number of the Beast, Iron Maiden
    Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist...  more

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  • 3
    16,219
    9,144

    Metallica

    Master of Puppets, Ride the Lightning
    Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles by...  more

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  • 4
    10,546
    6,057

    Judas Priest

    British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance
    Judas Priest are an English heavy metal band formed in West Bromwich in 1969. They have sold...  more

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  • 5
    9,061
    5,324

    Ozzy Osbourne

    Blizzard of Ozz, Diary of a Madman
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  • 6
    8,464
    4,763

    Dio

    Holy Diver, The Last in Line
    Dio was an American heavy metal band formed in 1982 and led by vocalist Ronnie James Dio,...  more

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  • 7
    9,887
    6,103

    Megadeth

    Rust in Peace, Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?
    Megadeth is an American thrash metal band from Los Angeles, California. The group was formed...  more

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  • 8
    10,465
    6,186

    Pantera

    Vulgar Display of Power, Cowboys From Hell
    Pantera () was an American heavy metal band from Arlington, Texas. The group was formed in...  more

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  • 9
    8,615
    5,316

    motörhead

    Ace of Spades, 1916
    Motörhead () were an English rock band formed in June 1975 by bassist, singer, and songwriter...  more

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  • 10
    5,246
    4,497

    Alice Cooper

    Welcome to My Nightmare, Hey Stoopid
    Alice Cooper (born Vincent Damon Furnier; February 4, 1948) is an American singer, songwriter,...  more

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  • 11
    9,218
    7,611

    Slipknot

    Slipknot, Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses)
    Slipknot is an American heavy metal band from Des Moines, Iowa. Formed in September 1995, the...  more

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  • 12
    7,628
    6,474

    System of a Down

    Toxicity, Hypnotize
    System of a Down is an Armenian-American heavy metal band from Glendale, California, formed in...  more

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  • 13
    5,825
    5,080

    Deep Purple

    Machine Head, Live in Japan
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  • 14
    5,891
    5,107

    Alice in Chains

    Dirt, Alice in Chains
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  • 15
    5,394
    4,574

    Van Halen

    Van Halen, 1984
    Van Halen is an American hard rock band formed in Pasadena, California in 1972. Credited with...  more

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  • 16
    7,268
    5,773

    Tool

    Ænima, Lateralus
    Tool is an American rock band from Los Angeles. Formed in 1990, the group's line-up includes...  more

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  • 17
    6,962
    6,307

    Guns N' Roses

    Appetite for Destruction, G N' R Lies
    Guns N' Roses is an American hard rock band formed in Los Angeles, in 1985. The classic lineup...  more

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  • 18
    3,855
    3,784

    Sepultura

    Chaos A.D., Arise
    Sepultura (Portuguese: [ˌsepuwˈtuɾɐ], "grave") is a Brazilian heavy metal band from Belo...  more

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    #923 of 1,728 The Best Rock Bands of All Time#233 of 383 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s

  • 19
    4,617
    4,212

    Rob Zombie

    The Sinister Urge, Past
    Rob Zombie (born Robert Bartleh Cummings; January 12, 1965) is an American musician and...  more

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  • 20
    5,252
    5,232

    Scorpions

    Blackout, Love at First Sting
    Scorpions are a German rock band formed in 1965 in Hanover by Rudolf Schenker. Since the...  more

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  • 21
    4,976
    4,992

    Anthrax

    Among the Living, Fistful of Metal
    Anthrax is an American thrash metal band from New York City, formed in 1981 by guitarist Scott...  more

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  • 22
    3,616
    3,846

    Rainbow

    Rising, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow
    Rainbow were a British rock band led by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore from 1975 to 1984 and 1993...  more

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    #28 of 259 The Best Power Metal Bands#39 of 95 The Best Glam Metal Bands

  • 23
    5,377
    4,722

    Mötley Crüe

    Girls Girls Girls, Shout at the Devil
    Mötley Crüe is an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1981. The group...  more

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  • 24
    3,773
    3,482

    Lamb of God

    Sacrament, Ashes of the Wake
    Lamb of God (sometimes abbreviated as LoG) is an American heavy metal band from Richmond,...  more

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  • 25
    5,508
    5,431

    Avenged Sevenfold

    City of Evil, Waking the Fallen
    Avenged Sevenfold is an American heavy metal band from Huntington Beach, California, formed in...  more

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