So many bands have come and gone in the Metal Music Scene. In fact, Heavy Metal has evolved and grown many subsets throughout the years. VH1 Classic had an awesome documentary on Heavy Metal this past summer that gave a chronological history of Metal Music and it’s roots. Of Course…the Forefathers of Heavy Metal was Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. There was also Rainbow, AC/DC, Aerosmith, And many other bands alike that pushed Heavy Metal to the forefront of the music industry. Whether it be “one hit wonders,” like Autograph or bands that have stood the test of time like AC/DC or KISS….there have been so many good metal bands to surface from the early nineteen eighty’s until modern day metal. Many bands have made their mark and changed the style of music and how it is played. However, some Bands have risen above the rest to make significant impacts on the music genre known as metal and these bands have influenced these styles in ways that are unfathomable. The following article shares my Top 10 Bands that have changed and influenced Heavy Metal today.
1) Iron Maiden- Iron Maiden was formed in 1975 in England by Steve Harris. Since their inception, Iron Maiden has produced 15 Studio Albums, 10 Live Albums, and 7 Video Compilations. They were pioneers of the new wave of British Heavy Metal. In most music congregations…Maiden is considered an underground Metal Band because of their lack of Television and radio support and exposure. Iron Maiden has sold 85 million records, which is a huge accomplishment for a band that does not hit the radio circuit. For most of their career, Bruce Dickinson has piloted Maiden as the lead vocalist…except for it’s very beginning when Paul Diano was the lead singer and also 1994-1999, when Blaze Bayley took over the Helm. They have played over 2000 live shows all over the World and have produced many hit singles. A lot of their style and sound is progressive and uses melodic and harmonic style of guitars. They have produced a few concept albums using this creative style. I would venture to put Bruce Dickinson right up there with the all time great vocalists in Metal History. Iron Maiden has definitely influenced Metal in enormous proportions. Their best album is probably Number of the Beast which includes the title track and Run to The Hills…another Maiden Classic.
2) Judas Priest- Judas Priest was also formed in England, Birmingham to be exact in 1969. Judas Priest was one of the first Metal Bands to feature the “Twin Guitar” style. Glenn Tipton and KK Downing have been able to modernize this sound and perfect it’s effect on the metal style of music. When you combine these two phenomenal Guitarists with the vocals of Rob Halford, you have the making of a Super Power Band. Rob Halford may even be a better vocalist than Bruce Dickinson. Judas Priest was the first band to truly use the double guitar strategy and thus produced a very heavy fast dark sound of music. They were also responsible for introducing the black leather and S/M look to the Metal Scene. They have produced 16 Studio Albums…their last one being a Concept Album “Nostradamus” about the life of Nostradamus who was an ancient philosopher and prophet. Judas Priest is in the Metal Hall of Fame an they continue to tour and make kick ass tunes. In fact…they will release their 17th studio album in 2013. Judas Priest was a catalyst for the New wave of British Heavy Metal, which has totally influenced all major styles of modern metal today. They have sold 50 million records and stood the test of time.
3) Def Leppard- Another English Heavy Metal Band, formed in 1977 in Sheffield England. Def Leppard truly brought a new sound and style to the table and they really took off in the early eighties. They were the first Metal Band to enjoy major commercial success and their high point was between the early eighties and nineties. Def Leppard has produced twelve studio albums and as mentioned achieved huge success in the commercial record area and mainstream metal population. High and Dry, which was their second album (released in 1981) and the single “Bringing on the Heartbrake” became the first metal song played on MTV Videos. Their next album, Pyromania turned Def Leppard into huge stars and the song Photograph was released in 1983 and also received major airplay on MTV. As of 2004…Pyromania was ranked 384 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of all time. In 1987, Def Leppard released Hysteria which topped the charts in both the United States and United Kingdom! This album alone has gone on to sell over 20 million copies worldwide and Hysteria reached 12x Platinum in 2010, one of the most successful albums ever. The album spawned 6 Hit Singles in the Billboard Top 100. Def Leppard is one of five bands to have two albums certified as Diamond Platinum (Pyromania/Hysteria) 2 Original Studio Albums to sell over 10 million copies each. They are the number 1 album seller of all time in the US ha ing sold over 100 million records. Def Leppard was recently ranked 31 in the top 100 Hard Rock Bands of all time. Def Leppard brought Metal to new grounds and was the first metal band to achieve huge commercial success. They will always be recognized as a band who changed the face of Metal.
4) METALLICA- METALLICA was formed in 1983 in Los Angeles California and they are known as the founding member of the BIG 4, which is a term for the 4 greatest thrash metal bands of all time. They were the pioneer of Thrash Metal, which became the most popular form of metal music in the mid 1980’s! METALLICA in it’s roots was a Heavy Metal Underground Icon and achieved commercial success with their third album, Master of Puppets. This album is still considered one of the most heavy influential heavy metal albums of all time. Many Thrash Bands were formed during Metallica’s rise including Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer who join METALLICA in the Big 4. Other Thrash stars included Tetament, Overkill, Quiet Riot, Metal Church, and many others. METALLICA hit their high point when they released their Fifth Album “Black” which debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard Top 100. Thus far…METALLICA has produced 9 Studio Albums and since 1991 is the highest selling band in the Music Industry. Like Def Leppard, METALLICA too has sold over 100 million records worldwide. The Black Album is actually the 25th most sold album in United States History. METALLICA will always be known for it’s tremendous influence on the emergence of “Thrash” metal which incorporated speed heavy fierce guitars with powerful double bass drums and screeching vocals. Thrash Metal is still one of the most popular forms of Heavy Metal today.
5) Motley Crüe- Motley Crüe was formed in Los Angeles California in 1981 by Bass Guitarist Nikki Six and Drummer Tommy Lee, and were later joined by Mik Mars and Vince Neil on Vocals. Through the years, Motley Crüe is has been considered the most notorious Rock Band of all time. Motley Crüe was the catalyst for the Hair Metal revolution, which was basically heavy metal bands that played themes such as sex, drugs, and rock n roll and they sported long hair and wore makeup. Motley Crüe has produced nine studio albums and are currently working on their tenth. They have been ranked 10th on the MTV Top 10 Heavy Metal List and 9th on the VH1 Top 10 Heavy Metal list respectively. Motley Crüe was a raucous bunch that provided fast heavy guitar with cutting vocals from Vince Neil. Between all of the band members…they probably have all been in trouble with the law than any other heavy metal bands. Motley Crüe achieved great commercial success and thrived with their popularity with MTV exposure…especially among ladies.
6). Poison- Poison was another Hair Metal band that was formed in Pennsylvania by Vocalist Brett Michaels and they combined Motley Crues look with a more mellow sounding rock sound. Poison was also more popular with the ladies. They actually became the catalyst for Glam Metal Bands in the mid eighties which took on a huge part of the metal population. Other bands that followed Poison’s success included Warrant, Skid Row, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Ratt, Winger, Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Wasp, and many more bands. Poison is most known for their album Open up and say Ahh…their best hit number 1 single “Every Rose Has it’s Thorn.”. Poison popularized Ballads which used heavy guitar but incorporated a mellow sad sound. So many bands followed this trend.
7). Guns N Roses- Guns N Roses was formed in 1985 in Los Angeles California by Slash, Duff McKagan, Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin, and Steven Adler. The band only released six studio albums but managed to still sell 100 million records worldwide. This gives you a little clarity on the enormous impact that this band had on Heavy Metal. Appetite For Destruction debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard Top 100 and their single “Sweet Child O Mine” reached number 1 on the Top 100 Billboard singles. The album had sold over 18 million copies in the United States alone making it the Number 1 Debut album of Metal history of all time. Guns N Roses has to receive credit for popularizing heavy metal in an era where pop music had taken over the industry. Guns N Roses had a Rolling Stones type of demeanor and they brought Metal to another level. They were not the classic thrash metal or British style…nor were they the hair glam style either. They brought their own style to the table…a combination of hard rock, punk and metal that thrived and gained quick popularity. The Band was around only a short time but they still remain one if the Greatest American Heavy Metal Bands of all time! The Band’s classic lineup was just recently inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012…the Band’s first year of eligibility. This was a tremendous accomplishment considering they were only around a very short time.
8) Nirvana- Nirvana was formed by Kirk Cobain and Dave Grohl in 1987 near Seattle. They quickly became the catalyst for a new style of Metal known as Grunge. Many Grunge Bands were formed in Seattle in the late eighties. The Grunge style of metal relied on dynamic contrasts in sound, between quiet verses and loud heavy choruses. Nirvana’s second Album, NeverMind achieved dramatic success in the grunge community as well as the Alternative Style of Metal. The band was short-lived as Curt Cobain died in 1994. Even with their short lived career…Nirvana has managed to sell over 25 Million Records in the United States alone and over 75 million world wide. Nirvana set the stage for many other bands including Alice In Chains, SoundGarden, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Collective Soul, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Nirvana is kind of like the Beatles of the 1990’s even tho the Beatles lasted much longer. Curt Cobain is John Lennon. The star vocalist whose life was cut way too short.
9). Pantera- Pantera was formed in Arlington Texas in 1981. However…it wasn’t till many years later that the band made it’s mark. They began as a glam metal band producing four albums in the eighties. In 1990, Pantera released “Cowboys From Hell” which was much more of a thrash metal sound. Then Vulgar Display if Power was released which was even heavier. Finally, Far Beyond Driven which was heavier yet. They are responsible for the New Wave of American Heavy Metal which spawned many bands that are still popular today…KORN, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit, Marilyn Manson, White Zombie/Rob Zombie, Tool, HateBreed, Mastadon, and the list goes on and on. Pantera saw it’s high point during the early 90’s and were famous for their mosh pits. The Band disbanded after the brutal murder of it’s star guitar player…Dimebag Darrell on stage by a crazed fan. Pantera is still considered one of the Best Heavy Metal Bands o all time today.
10). Lamb of God- Lamb of God is like Pantera on Steroids. They carry the torch today for Heavy Metal Music and have a Dark Side but they are not quite raucous enough to be considered Death Metal. The band was formed in 1990 in Richmond Virginia and they have produced 6 Studio Albums. They have a cult fan base and thrive on live shows. Ashes of the Wake is their best selling album and they have sold over 10 million albums in the United States alone and over 15 million world wide. Lamb of God uses Pantera like riffs and the demonic vocal sound of Randy Blythe to get the crowds into a rucus. Lamb of God is carrying the torch now for the New Wave of Heavy Metal. Thy have spawned such bands as Avenged Sevenfold, Buck Cherry, Bullet For My Valentine, Killswitch Engage, and As I Lay Dying. They have stood the test of time also.
Honorable Mention- Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot. Well…that is my top 10 list and it’s not in any particular order. If I had to pick the number 1 band for influence it would be Guns N Roses. Stay tuned for the next Heavy Metal installment.