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The Best Classic Metal Bands

Updated April 14, 2020 27.7k votes 2.5k voters 38.9k 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.