Music

The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time 

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Originally by Ranker Community
Updated March 16, 2020 893.3k votes 50.6k voters 681.3k views 454 items

List Rules Heavy 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.

list ordered by
1
Black Sabbath is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: Paranoid, Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell, Vol. 4, Master of Reality, + more

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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Drug-Fueled, Sordid Tales From Black Sabbath's Heyday That Prove Just How Unhinged They Really Were #349 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #12 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

2
Iron Maiden is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: The Number of the Beast, Iron Maiden, Powerslave, Brave New World, Piece of Mind, + more

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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The Best Iron Maiden Songs of All Time #3 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #314 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

3
Pantera is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: Vulgar Display of Power, Cowboys From Hell, Far Beyond Driven, The Great Southern Trendkill, Reinventing the Steel, + more

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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#237 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #850 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #249 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

4
Metallica is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: Master of Puppets, Ride the Lightning, Metallica, …and Justice for All, Kill 'Em All, + more

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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The Best Metallica Songs of All Time #278 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #27 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

5
Ozzy Osbourne is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Genre: Doom metal, Glam metal & Blues-rock; Nationality: England

Albums: Blizzard of Ozz, Diary of a Madman, The Ultimate Sin, No More Tears, Black Rain, + more

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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Inside Ozzy Osbourne's Rough-And-Tumble Youth #89 of 269 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #31 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists

6
Judas Priest is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance, Hell Bent for Leather, Defenders of the Faith, Painkiller, + more

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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The Best Judas Priest Albums of All Time #12 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #315 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

7
Dio is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: Holy Diver, The Last in Line, Sacred Heart, Dream Evil, Lock Up the Wolves, + more

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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#80 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #166 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #135 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

8
Motörhead is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
shisu added

Albums: Ace of Spades, 1916, No Remorse, Motorhead: Extended Versions, Bastards, + more

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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#25 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #274 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #144 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

9
Megadeth is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: Rust in Peace, Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?, Youthanasia, Countdown to Extinction, Cryptic Writings, + more

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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#216 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #361 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #203 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

10
System of a Down is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: Toxicity, Hypnotize, Mezmerize, System of a Down, Steal This Album!, + more

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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The Best System Of A Down Songs of All Time #340 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #256 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

11
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Genre: Glam metal, Experimental rock & Shock rock; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: Welcome to My Nightmare, Hey Stoopid, Brutal Planet, Trash, Constrictor, + more

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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The Best Alice Cooper Albums of All Time #11 of 269 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #90 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists

12
Slipknot is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: Slipknot, Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses), Iowa, 9.0: Live, Wait and Bleed, + more

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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The Most Metal Stories About The Members Of Slipknot #1,495 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #487 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

13
Alice in Chains is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: Dirt, Alice in Chains, Facelift, Jar of Flies, Black Gives Way to Blue, + more

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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The Best Alice In Chains Songs of All Time #250 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #147 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

14
Tool is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: Ænima, Lateralus, 10, 000 Days, Undertow, + more

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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The Best Tool Albums of All-Time #289 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #269 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

15
Guns N' Roses is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: Appetite for Destruction, G N' R Lies, Use Your Illusion I, Chinese Democracy, Use Your Illusion II, + more

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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At Their Peaks, Guns N' Roses And Nirvana Hated Each Other - But They Found Common Ground In Rock #53 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #11 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

16
Van Halen is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: Van Halen, 1984, Diver Down, OU812, Van Halen II, + more

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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The Best Van Halen Songs of All Time #160 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #19 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

17
Deep Purple is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: Machine Head, Live in Japan, Deep Purple in Rock, Perfect Strangers, Fireball, + more

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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The Best Deep Purple Albums of All Time #90 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #23 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

18
Rob Zombie is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
Genre: Horror punk, Noise rock & Nu metal; Nationality: United States of America

Albums: The Sinister Urge, Past, Present & Future, Hellbilly Deluxe, American Made Music to Strip By, + more

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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An Inside Look At Rob Zombie And Marilyn Manson's Complicated Friendship #240 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists #812 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time

19
Anthrax is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: Among the Living, Fistful of Metal, Spreading the Disease, Sound of White Noise, Persistence of Time, + more

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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#235 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #608 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #604 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

20
Scorpions is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: Blackout, Love at First Sting, Animal Magnetism, Lovedrive, In Trance, + more

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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#18 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #178 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #78 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

21
Sepultura is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: Chaos A.D., Arise, Beneath the Remains, Roots, Nation, + more

Sepultura (Portuguese: [ˌsepuwˈtuɾɐ], "grave") is a Brazilian heavy metal band from Belo Horizonte. Formed in 1984 by brothers Max and Igor Cavalera, the band was a major force in the ...more

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#885 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #233 of 408 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s #83 of 83 The Best Dadrock Bands That Are Totally Worth Your Time

22
Disturbed is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: Ten Thousand Fists, Believe, The Sickness, Indestructible, Music as a Weapon II, + more

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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#904 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #392 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #368 of 466 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singers

23
Mötley Crüe is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
shisu added

Albums: Girls Girls Girls, Shout at the Devil, Dr. Feelgood, Too Fast for Love, Theatre of Pain, + more

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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The Best Mötley Crüe Albums, Ranked #43 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #280 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

24
White Zombie is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1, Astro-Creep: 2000: Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head, Supersexy Swingin' Sounds, + more

White Zombie may refer to: White Zombie (band), an American heavy metal band from the 20th-century White Zombie (film), a 1932 American horror film

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Things Most People Don't Know About White Zombie #546 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time #268 of 326 The Greatest American Rock Bands

25
Rainbow is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Albums: Rising, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, Long Live Rock ’n’ Roll, On Stage, Difficult to Cure, + more

Rainbow were 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's American rock band Elf, but after ...more

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#159 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #338 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #153 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands