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The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

Updated March 16, 2020 838.9k votes 51.9k voters 696.1k 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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  • 1
    Black Sabbath is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    15,129
    5,928

    Black Sabbath

    Paranoid, Black Sabbath

    Genres (Music)Doom metal, Blues-rock, Power metal, Heavy metal, Stoner rock

    Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 2
    Iron Maiden is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    16,669
    7,058

    Iron Maiden

    The Number of the Beast, Iron Maiden

    Genres (Music)New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Heavy metal, Hard rock

    Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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    The Best Iron Maiden Songs of All TimeAll Iron Maiden Albums, Ranked Best to Worst

  • 3
    Metallica is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    16,724
    9,622

    Metallica

    Master of Puppets, Ride the Lightning

    Genres (Music)Thrash metal, Rock music, Heavy metal, Speed metal, Hard rock

    Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles by... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 4
    Pantera is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    10,899
    6,237

    Pantera

    Vulgar Display of Power, Cowboys From Hell

    Genres (Music)Glam metal, Thrash metal, Groove metal, Rock music, Heavy metal

    Pantera () was an American heavy metal band from Arlington, Texas. The group was formed in... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 5
    Judas Priest is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    10,710
    6,326

    Judas Priest

    British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance

    Genres (Music)New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Thrash metal, Power metal, Heavy metal, Traditional heavy metal

    Judas Priest are an English heavy metal band formed in West Bromwich in 1969. They have sold... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 6
    Ozzy Osbourne is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    9,359
    5,366

    Ozzy Osbourne

    Blizzard of Ozz, Diary of a Madman

    Genres (Music)Doom metal, Glam metal, Blues-rock, Heavy metal, Alternative metal

    John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne (born 3 December 1948) is an English singer, songwriter, actor... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 7
    Dio is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    8,597
    4,903

    Dio

    Holy Diver, The Last in Line

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

    Dio was an American heavy metal band formed in 1982 and led by vocalist Ronnie James Dio,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 8
    motörhead is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    8,839
    5,482

    motörhead

    Ace of Spades, 1916

    Genres (Music)New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Thrash metal, Rock music, Heavy metal, Rock and roll

    Motörhead () were an English rock band formed in June 1975 by bassist, singer, and songwriter... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 9
    Megadeth is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    10,059
    6,428

    Megadeth

    Rust in Peace, Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?

    Genres (Music)Glam metal, Thrash metal, Rock music, Heavy metal, Speed metal

    Megadeth is an American thrash metal band from Los Angeles, California. The group was formed... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 10
    System of a Down is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    7,980
    6,452

    System of a Down

    Toxicity, Hypnotize

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

    System of a Down is an Armenian-American heavy metal band from Glendale, California, formed in... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 11
    Alice in Chains is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    6,114
    5,134

    Alice in Chains

    Dirt, Alice in Chains

    Genres (Music)Rock music, Grunge, Heavy metal, Alternative rock, Traditional heavy metal

    Alice in Chains (often abbreviated as AIC) is an American rock band from Seattle, Washington,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 12
    Slipknot is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    9,635
    7,654

    Slipknot

    Slipknot, Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses)

    Genres (Music)Nu metal, Groove metal, Rapcore, Heavy metal, Alternative metal

    Slipknot is an American heavy metal band from Des Moines, Iowa. Formed in September 1995, the... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 13
    Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    5,412
    4,527

    Alice Cooper

    Welcome to My Nightmare, Hey Stoopid

    Genres (Music)Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock, Psychedelic rock

    Alice Cooper (born Vincent Damon Furnier; February 4, 1948) is an American singer, songwriter,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 14
    Tool is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    7,568
    5,903

    Tool

    Ænima, Lateralus

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

    Tool is an American rock band from Los Angeles. Formed in 1990, the group's line-up includes... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 15
    Van Halen is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    5,415
    4,685

    Van Halen

    Van Halen, 1984

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

    Van Halen is an American hard rock band formed in Pasadena, California in 1972. Credited with... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 16
    Deep Purple is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    5,825
    5,336

    Deep Purple

    Machine Head, Live in Japan

    Genres (Music)Blues-rock, Classic rock, Heavy metal, Progressive rock, Psychedelic rock

    Deep Purple are an English rock band formed in Hertford in 1968. The band is considered to be... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 17
    Guns N' Roses is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    7,234
    6,443

    Guns N' Roses

    Appetite for Destruction, G N' R Lies

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

    Guns N' Roses is an American hard rock band formed in Los Angeles, in 1985. The classic lineup... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 18
    Rob Zombie is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    4,922
    4,115

    Rob Zombie

    The Sinister Urge, Past

    Genres (Music)Horror punk, Noise rock, Nu metal, Industrial rock, Heavy metal

    Rob Zombie (born Robert Bartleh Cummings; January 12, 1965) is an American musician and... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 19
    Sepultura is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    3,982
    3,772

    Sepultura

    Chaos A.D., Arise

    Genres (Music)Nu metal, Heavy metal, Extreme metal, Death metal, Crossover thrash

    Sepultura (Portuguese: [ˌsepuwˈtuɾɐ], "grave") is a Brazilian heavy metal band from Belo... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 20
    Disturbed is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    5,820
    5,855

    Disturbed

    Ten Thousand Fists, Believe

    Genres (Music)Nu metal, Rock music, Metalcore, Heavy metal, Rap metal

    Disturbed is an American heavy metal band from Chicago, formed in 1994. The band includes... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 21
    Anthrax is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    5,182
    5,192

    Anthrax

    Among the Living, Fistful of Metal

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

    Anthrax is an American thrash metal band from New York City, formed in 1981 by guitarist Scott... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 22
    Lamb of God is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    3,941
    3,454

    Lamb of God

    Sacrament, Ashes of the Wake

    Genres (Music)Thrash metal, Groove metal, Melodic death metal, Black metal, Metalcore

    Lamb of God (sometimes abbreviated as LoG) is an American heavy metal band from Richmond,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 23
    White Zombie is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    3,841
    3,639

    White Zombie

    La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1

    Genres (Music)Horror punk, Noise rock, Industrial metal, Groove metal, Industrial rock

    White Zombie may refer to: White Zombie (band), an American heavy metal band from the... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 24
    Scorpions is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    5,319
    5,514

    Scorpions

    Blackout, Love at First Sting

    Genres (Music)Glam metal, Heavy metal, Hard rock

    Scorpions are a German rock band formed in 1965 in Hanover by Rudolf Schenker. Since the... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 25
    Avenged Sevenfold is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time
    5,815
    5,554

    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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