2.4k voters

The Best Classic Metal Bands

Updated April 14, 2020 26.7k votes 2.4k voters 37.6k views100 items

List RulesOnly bands that play classic metal style; no nu metal or extreme metal of any sort

When heavy metal first emerged at the beginning of the 1970s, naysayers would have never suspected that the bands from those early years would be considered some of the classic metal bands. These outfits are widely considered among the top heavy metal bands of all time, and with good reason. They are recognizable and their songs are some of the greatest songs in metal history. 

So, who are the best classic heavy metal bands? Every lists must have Black Sabbath at or near the top. The Birmingham, UK natives pretty much invented the genre, and all of heavy metal. Between Ozzy Osbourne's vocals and Tony Iommi's guitar, the entire foundation for all heavy metal bands was laid. If not for Sabbath, bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden or even Metallica may not have existed. Even the best classic metal bands owe a debt of gratitude to Black Sabbath. No matter which edition of Black Sabbath you like - Ozzy or Dio edition - they are easily the most influential classic metal band. 

What band should be at the top of the list of classic metal bands? If you're a heavy metal fan and know everything there is to know about the top classic metal bands, then you should have your voice heard. This list answers the questions "who are the best classic metal bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest classic metal musician ever?" if you notice that a popular classic metal band isn't on this list, feel free to add them. 

  • 1

    More Iron Maiden 

    The Best Iron Maiden Songs of All Time#122 of 221 Bands/Artists With Only One Great Album

  • 2

    More Black Sabbath 

    Drug-Fueled, Sordid Tales From Black Sabbath's Heyday That Prove Just How Unhinged They Really Were#23 of 265 Rank the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

  • 3

    More Judas Priest 

    Breaking The Law: Weird And Wild Stories About Judas Priest#133 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

  • 4

    More Dio 

    #141 of 298 The Best Frontmen in Rock#19 of 156 The Best Hair Metal Bands Of All Time

  • 5

    More Motörhead 

    #9 of 109 The Best Musical Trios Of All-Time#3 of 14 Rock Bands With The Coolest Custom Beers

  • 6

    More Ozzy Osbourne 

    Inside Ozzy Osbourne's Rough-And-Tumble Youth#522 of 739 The Best Singers Of All Time

  • 7

    More AC/DC 

    The Best AC/DC Songs of All Time#5 of 23 The Best Band Name Origin Stories

  • 8

    More Scorpions 

    #47 of 106 Which Bands Or Musicians Do You Most Want To See Before They (Or You) Kick The Bucket?#4 of 40 The Best Bands Named After Desert Animals

  • 9

    More Megadeth 

    #181 of 360 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame#7 of 392 The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

  • 10

    More Alice Cooper 

    The Best Alice Cooper Albums of All Time#69 of 227 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

  • 11

    More Saxon 

    #23 of 38 The Best Bands Like Metallica#2 of 78 The Best New Wave Of British Heavy Metal Bands

  • 12

    More Accept 

    #38 of 95 The Best Glam Metal Bands#224 of 238 The Best Sleaze Rock Bands

  • 13

    Motley Crue: absolute metal LEGENDS 
    Mötley Crüe was an American heavy metal band formed in Los Angeles, California
    -was ranked tenth on MTV's list "Top 10 Heavy Metal Bands of All-Time" and ninth on "VH1's All Time Top Ten Metal Bands">>INVENTED hair metal >>HOW COULD ANYONE FORGET?!

  • 14

    More Metallica 

    The Best Metallica Songs of All TimeMetallica’s Fight Against Napster Was The Least Metal Thing They’ve Ever Done

  • 15

    W.A.S.P. is an American heavy metal band formed in 1982. They emerged from the early 1980s Los Angeles heavy metal scene. The band's popularity peaked that decade, yet they continue to record and tour, making them one of the most enduring of the West Coast heavy metal bands. W.A.S.P. gained notoriety for their shock rock-themed image, lyrics and live performances. They have sold over 12 million albums.

    More W.A.S.P. 

    #85 of 254 The Best Bands With Animal Names#5 of 36 The Best Bands Named After Bugs

  • 16

    More Kiss 

    Wild Stories About The Debauched Life Of KISS Guitarist Ace Frehley#38 of 66 The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever

  • 17

    More Pantera 

    #466 of 489 Things That Are Not As Cool As People Think They Are#12 of 101 The Best Musical Groups Featuring Brothers, Ranked

  • 18

    More Savatage 

    #11 of 350 The Best Progressive Metal Bands#24 of 199 The Best Speed Metal Bands

  • 19
  • 20
  • 21


    #34 of 259 The Best Power Metal Bands#17 of 210 The Best Thrash Metal Bands

  • 22
  • 23

    More Blind Guardian 

    #29 of 256 The Best Symphonic Metal Bands#20 of 75 The Best Neo-Classical Metal Bands

  • 24

    More Dokken 

    #718 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time#772 of 1,728 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

  • 25

    More Queensrÿche 

    #13 of 20 Famous Bands That Changed Lead Singers#15 of 102 The Best Musical Artists From Washington