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The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Updated March 16, 2020 840.2k votes 52.0k voters 697.1k 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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  • 26
    Avenged Sevenfold is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    5,821
    5,568

    Avenged Sevenfold

    City of Evil, Waking the Fallen

    Genres (Music)Thrash metal, Deathcore, Rock music, Experimental rock, Metalcore

    Avenged Sevenfold is an American heavy metal band from Huntington Beach, California, formed in... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 27
    Rainbow is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    3,631
    4,115

    Rainbow

    Rising, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow

    Genres (Music)Blues-rock, Progressive metal, Power metal, Heavy metal, Neo-classical metal

    Rainbow were a British rock band led by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore from 1975 to 1984 and 1993... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 28
    Blue Öyster Cult is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    1,959
    2,182

    Blue Öyster Cult

    Agents of Fortune, Tyranny and Mutation

    Genres (Music)Rock music, Heavy metal, Stoner rock, Progressive rock, Psychedelic rock

    Blue Öyster Cult (often abbreviated BÖC or BOC) is an American rock band formed on Long... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 29
    Danzig is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    2,097
    2,298

    Danzig

    Danzig III: How the Gods Kill, Danzig II: Lucifuge

    Genres (Music)Horror punk, Doom metal, Post-metal, Blues-rock, Metallic Doom Rock

    Danzig is an American heavy metal band, formed in 1987 in Lodi, New Jersey. The band is the... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 30
    Thin Lizzy is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    1,439
    1,570

    Thin Lizzy

    Live and Dangerous, Dedication: The Very Best of Thin Lizzy

    Genres (Music)Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music, Heavy metal, Hard rock

    Thin Lizzy are a hard rock band formed in Dublin, Ireland, in 1969. Two of the founding... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 31
    Testament is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    3,394
    3,833

    Testament

    Practice What You Preach, The New Order

    Genres (Music)Thrash metal, Groove metal, Heavy metal, Speed metal, Death metal

    Testament is an American thrash metal band from Berkeley, California. Formed in 1982 under the... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 32
    Def Leppard is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    4,182
    4,670

    Def Leppard

    Hysteria, Pyromania

    Genres (Music)Glam metal, Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock, Hard rock

    Def Leppard are an English rock band formed in 1977 in Sheffield as part of the new wave of... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 33
    Marilyn Manson is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    3,891
    4,464

    Marilyn Manson

    Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death), Smells Like Children

    Genres (Music)Glam metal, Nu metal, Industrial metal, Rock music, Industrial rock

    Brian Hugh Warner (born January 5, 1969), known by his stage name Marilyn Manson, is an... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 34
    Gojira is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    1,567
    1,551

    Gojira

    From Mars to Sirius, The Way of All Flesh

    Genres (Music)Thrash metal, Progressive metal, Groove metal, Technical death metal, Heavy metal

    Gojira are a French heavy metal band from Bayonne. Originally formed as Godzilla in 1996, they... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 35
    Kiss is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    4,498
    5,517

    Kiss

    Destroyer, Icon

    Genres (Music)Glam metal, Rock music, Heavy metal, Rock and roll, Hard rock

    Kiss (often stylized as KIϟϟ) is an American rock band formed in New York City in January 1973... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 36
    Queensrÿche is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    3,253
    4,098

    Queensrÿche

    Operation: Mindcrime, Empire

    Genres (Music)Progressive metal, Rock music, Power metal, Heavy metal, Progressive rock

    Queensrÿche is an American heavy metal band. It formed in 1980 in Bellevue, Washington, out... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 37
    Faith No More is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    2,154
    2,681

    Faith No More

    Angel Dust, The Real Thing

    Genres (Music)Nu metal, Rock music, Heavy metal, Hard rock, Experimental rock

    Faith No More is an American rock band from San Francisco, California, formed in 1979. Before... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 38
    Opeth is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    2,199
    2,530

    Opeth

    Blackwater Park, Damnation

    Genres (Music)Doom metal, Thrash metal, Progressive metal, Technical death metal, Heavy metal

    Opeth is a Swedish progressive metal band from Stockholm, formed in 1989. The group has been... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 39
    Misfits is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    564
    527

    Misfits

    Legacy of Brutality, Famous Monsters

    Genres (Music)Horror punk, Heavy metal, Classic Punk, Punk rock, Hardcore punk

    Misfits are an American punk rock band often recognized as the progenitors of the horror punk... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 40
    Mastodon is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    2,409
    2,950

    Mastodon

    Crack the Skye, Leviathan

    Genres (Music)Post-metal, Progressive metal, Groove metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

    Mastodon is an American heavy metal band from Atlanta, Georgia, formed in 2000. The group is... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 41
    Amon Amarth is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    2,632
    3,155

    Amon Amarth

    Twilight of the Thunder God, Versus the World

    Genres (Music)Melodic death metal, Viking metal, Technical death metal, Heavy metal, Death metal

    Amon Amarth () is a Swedish melodic death metal band from Tumba, formed in 1992. The band... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 42
    Exodus is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    2,309
    2,826

    Exodus

    Bonded by Blood, Fabulous Disaster

    Genres (Music)Thrash metal, Groove metal, Heavy metal, Speed metal

    Exodus is an American thrash metal band formed in 1979 in Richmond, California. They have gone... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 43
    Black Label Society is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    2,335
    2,724

    Black Label Society

    Stronger Than Death, The Blessed Hellride

    Genres (Music)Groove metal, Grunge, Black metal, Heavy metal, Stoner rock

    Black Label Society is an American heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California formed in... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 44
    Bruce Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    2,026
    2,456

    Bruce Dickinson

    Accident of Birth, The Chemical Wedding

    Genres (Music)Progressive metal, Heavy metal, Alternative rock, Progressive rock, Hard rock

    Paul Bruce Dickinson (born 7 August 1958) is an English singer, songwriter, musician, airline... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 45
    Dream Theater is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    3,676
    4,771

    Dream Theater

    Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, Images and Words

    Genres (Music)Progressive metal, Rock music, Heavy metal, Progressive rock, Hard rock

    Dream Theater is an American progressive metal/rock band formed in 1985 under the name Majesty... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 46
    Tony Iommi is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    818
    911

    Tony Iommi

    Fused, The 1996 DEP Sessions

    Genres (Music)Doom metal, Blues-rock, Heavy metal, Jazz, Blues

    Anthony Frank Iommi (; born 19 February 1948) is an English guitarist, songwriter and... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 47
    Twisted Sister is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    2,809
    3,597

    Twisted Sister

    Stay Hungry, You Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll

    Genres (Music)Doom metal, Glam metal, Rock music, Shock rock, Heavy metal

    Twisted Sister was an American heavy metal band originally from Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, and... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 48
    Killswitch Engage is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    2,001
    2,379

    Killswitch Engage

    Alive or Just Breathing, The End of Heartache

    Genres (Music)Progressive metal, Metalcore, Heavy metal

    Killswitch Engage is an American metalcore band from Westfield, Massachusetts, formed in 1999... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 49
    Cannibal Corpse is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    1,914
    1,929

    Cannibal Corpse

    Butchered at Birth, Kill

    Genres (Music)Brutal death metal, Death metal

    Cannibal Corpse is a death metal band from Buffalo, New York, now based in Tampa, Florida.... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 50
    W.A.S.P. is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    2,533
    3,400

    W.A.S.P.

    WASP, The Crimson Idol

    Genres (Music)Glam metal, Thrash metal, Rock music, Shock rock, Heavy metal

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