Music

The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time 

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Originally by Ranker Community
861k votes 48.6k voters 658.4k views 434 items

List Rules Heavy Metal bands only. No other subgenres of metal

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.

list ordered by
1
Iron Maiden is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
The Number of the Beast, Iron Maiden, Powerslave
Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. The band's discography has grown to thirty-nine albums, ...more

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#89 of 505 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '80s #64 of 179 The Best Hair Metal Bands Of All Timefeaturing All Iron Maiden Albums, Ranked Best to Worst

2
Metallica is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Master of Puppets, Ride the Lightning, Metallica
Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles by vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, and has been based in San Francisco for most ...more

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#46 of 505 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '80s #7 of 632 The Greatest Live Bands of All Timefeaturing The Best Metallica Songs of All Time

3
Black Sabbath is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Paranoid, Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell
Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and singer Ozzy ...more

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#80 of 505 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '80s #13 of 350 The Greatest Classic Rock Bandsfeaturing Drug-Fueled, Sordid Tales From Black Sabbath's Heyday That Prove Just How Unhinged They Really Were

4
Judas Priest is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance, Hell Bent for Leather
Judas Priest are an English heavy metal band formed in West Bromwich in 1969. They have sold over 50 million copies of their albums. They are frequently ranked as one of the greatest metal bands ...more

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#53 of 179 The Best Hair Metal Bands Of All Time #94 of 350 The Greatest Classic Rock Bandsfeaturing Breaking The Law: Weird And Wild Stories About Judas Priest

5
Megadeth is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Rust in Peace, Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?, Youthanasia
Megadeth is an American thrash metal band from Los Angeles, California. The group was formed in 1983 by guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson, shortly after Mustaine's dismissal ...more

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#258 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #35 of 179 The Best Hair Metal Bands Of All Time

6
Pantera is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Vulgar Display of Power, Cowboys From Hell, Far Beyond Driven
Pantera () was an American heavy metal band from Arlington, Texas. The group was formed in 1981 by the Abbott brothers—drummer Vinnie Paul and guitarist Dimebag Darrell—along with lead vocalist ...more

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#668 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #121 of 179 The Best Hair Metal Bands Of All Time #106 of 283 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

7
Motörhead is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
shisu added
Ace of Spades, 1916, No Remorse
Motörhead () were an English rock band formed in June 1975 by bassist, singer, and songwriter Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, who was the sole constant member, guitarist Larry Wallis and ...more

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#209 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #255 of 465 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singers

8
Ozzy Osbourne is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Blizzard of Ozz, Diary of a Madman, The Ultimate Sin
John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne (born 3 December 1948) is an English singer, songwriter, actor and reality television star who rose to prominence during the 1970s as the lead vocalist of ...more

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#245 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #92 of 299 The Greatest Living Rock Songwritersfeaturing Surprising Revelations About Ozzy And Sharon Osbourne's Relationship

9
Led Zeppelin is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
gamedemon24 added
Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin II
Led Zeppelin were an English rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham. ...more

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#4 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #79 of 505 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '80sfeaturing The Best Led Zeppelin Songs

10
Dio is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Holy Diver, The Last in Line, Sacred Heart
Dio was an American heavy metal band formed in 1982 and led by vocalist Ronnie James Dio, after he left Black Sabbath with intentions to form a new band with fellow former Black Sabbath member ...more

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#403 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #55 of 179 The Best Hair Metal Bands Of All Time #110 of 350 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

11
Slipknot is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Slipknot, Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses), Iowa
Slipknot is an American heavy metal band from Des Moines, Iowa. Formed in September 1995, the group was founded by percussionist Shawn Crahan and bassist Paul Gray. After several line-up changes ...more

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#147 of 411 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s #151 of 632 The Greatest Live Bands of All Timefeaturing Animosity, Anger, and Aggression: Behind-The-Scenes Stories From Slipknot's 'Iowa'

12
Anthrax is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Among the Living, Fistful of Metal, Spreading the Disease
Anthrax is an American thrash metal band from New York City, formed in 1981 by guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Dan Lilker. The group was considered one of the leaders of the thrash metal scene ...more

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#477 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #189 of 411 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s

13
Tool is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Ænima, Lateralus, 10
Tool is an American rock band from Los Angeles. Formed in 1990, the group's line-up includes drummer Danny Carey, guitarist Adam Jones, and vocalist Maynard James Keenan. Justin Chancellor has ...more

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#244 of 350 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #83 of 632 The Greatest Live Bands of All Timefeaturing The Best Tool Albums of All-Time

14
Alice in Chains is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Dirt, Alice in Chains, Facelift
Alice in Chains (often abbreviated as AIC) is an American rock band from Seattle, Washington, formed in 1987 by guitarist and vocalist Jerry Cantrell and drummer Sean Kinney, who later recruited ...more

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#201 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #219 of 632 The Greatest Live Bands of All Timefeaturing The Best Alice In Chains Songs of All Time

15
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Welcome to My Nightmare, Hey Stoopid, Brutal Planet
Alice Cooper (born Vincent Damon Furnier; February 4, 1948) is an American singer, songwriter, and actor whose career spans over 50 years. With his distinctive raspy voice and a stage show that ...more

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#158 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #36 of 299 The Greatest Living Rock Songwritersfeaturing The Best Alice Cooper Albums of All Time

16
Guns N' Roses is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Appetite for Destruction, G N' R Lies, Use Your Illusion I
Guns N' Roses is an American hard rock band formed in Los Angeles, in 1985. The classic lineup as signed to Geffen Records in 1986 consisted of vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm ...more

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#48 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #16 of 505 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '80sfeaturing The Time GnR And Metallica Joined Forces To Put On One Of The Worst Concerts In Music History

17
Deep Purple is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Machine Head, Live in Japan, Deep Purple in Rock
Deep Purple are an English rock band formed in Hertford in 1968. The band is considered to be among the pioneers of heavy metal and modern hard rock, although their musical approach changed over ...more

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#68 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #15 of 350 The Greatest Classic Rock Bandsfeaturing The Best Deep Purple Songs of All Time

18
Disturbed is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Ten Thousand Fists, Believe, The Sickness
Disturbed is an American heavy metal band from Chicago, formed in 1994. The band includes vocalist David Draiman, guitarist/keyboardist Dan Donegan, bassist John Moyer and drummer Mike Wengren. ...more

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#806 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #256 of 632 The Greatest Live Bands of All Time

19
System of a Down is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Toxicity, Hypnotize, Mezmerize
System of a Down is an Armenian-American heavy metal band from Glendale, California, formed in 1994. The band currently consists of Serj Tankian (lead vocals, keyboards), Daron Malakian (vocals, ...more

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#240 of 350 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #160 of 2,218 The Best Rock Bands of All Timefeaturing The Best System Of A Down Songs of All Time

20
Van Halen is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Van Halen, 1984, Diver Down
Van Halen is an American hard rock band formed in Pasadena, California in 1972. Credited with "restoring hard rock to the forefront of the music scene", Van Halen is known for its ...more

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#18 of 505 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '80s #17 of 350 The Greatest Classic Rock Bandsfeaturing The Best Van Halen Songs of All Time

21
Scorpions is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Blackout, Love at First Sting, Animal Magnetism
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. The lineup from 1978–1992 ...more

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#131 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #12 of 179 The Best Hair Metal Bands Of All Time #56 of 350 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

22
Mötley Crüe is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
shisu added
Girls Girls Girls, Shout at the Devil, Dr. Feelgood
Mötley Crüe is an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1981. The group was founded by bassist Nikki Sixx, drummer Tommy Lee, lead guitarist Mick Mars and lead ...more

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#272 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #90 of 505 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '80sfeaturing The Best Mötley Crüe Albums, Ranked

23
Rob Zombie is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
The Sinister Urge, Past, Present & Future
Rob Zombie (born Robert Bartleh Cummings; January 12, 1965) is an American musician and filmmaker. He is a founding member of the heavy metal band White Zombie, releasing four studio albums with ...more

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#761 of 1,057 The Best Singers of All Time #177 of 411 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90sfeaturing Rob Zombie Is A Vegan Who Absolutely Loves Animals And Champions Their Cause

24
Dream Theater is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, Images and Words, Metropolis
Dream Theater is an American progressive metal/rock band formed in 1985 under the name Majesty by John Petrucci, John Myung, and Mike Portnoy while they attended Berklee College of Music in ...more

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#647 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #240 of 283 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Famefeaturing The Best Dream Theater Albums of All Time

25
Queensrÿche is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Operation: Mindcrime, Empire, Promised Land
Queensrÿche is an American heavy metal band. It formed in 1980 in Bellevue, Washington, out of the local band The Mob. The band has released 15 studio albums, one EP, and several DVDs, and ...more

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#470 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #265 of 411 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s #224 of 2,218 The Best Rock Bands of All Time