Barely Music: The Best of Heavy Metal

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Check out our list of the best heavy metal albums of all time, including Metallica, Black Sabbath, and Megadeth.

Defining Heavy Metal

Though it can be argued that heavy metal is simply a subgenre of rock, it is widely accepted as its own distinct style of music. This is due in large part to the unique sound that metalheads have cultivated over the years. So what is it that defines heavy metal?

The Roots of Heavy Metal

The roots of heavy metal can be traced back to the early days of rock ‘n’ roll. In the 1950s and 1960s, a number of bands began experimenting with distortion, feedback and other sonic innovations that would eventually become hallmarks of the heavy metal sound. Among these early innovators were the British bands Cream and The Rolling Stones, as well as the American bands The Jimi Hendrix Experience andRCA Records.

In the 1970s, a number of bands took these sonic innovations to new levels of intensity, creating a new genre of music that would come to be known as heavy metal. These early heavy metal bands include Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Kiss. By the 1980s, heavy metal had become one of the most popular genres of rock music, with bands such as Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax achieving massive success.

Today, heavy metal remains one of the most popular genres of music, with millions of fans around the world.

The Birth of Heavy Metal

It is generally accepted that the birth of heavy metal occurred sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s. This was a time when rock music was evolving and experimenting, and heavy metal was a natural extension of that. The first bands to really lay down the foundation for the genre were Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple. These bands took the blues-based rock sound and cranked up the volume, distortion, and attitude. They also added elements of classical music, which helped to give their sound a more epic feel.

The Best of Heavy Metal

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It typically has a thick, heavy sound, distorted guitars, and emphatic rhythms. This section will cover some of the best heavy metal bands of all time.


Formed in 1981, Metallica is one of the most influential and commercially successful heavy metal bands of all time. The group’s first album, Kill ‘Em All, was released in 1983 and was followed by a series of successful albums, including Ride the Lightning (1984), Master of Puppets (1986), …And Justice for All (1988), Metallica (1991), and Reload (1997). The band has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide and is one of the most awarded bands in music history.


Slayer is an American metal band from Huntington Park, California. The band was formed in 1981 by guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, drummer Dave Lombardo, and bassist and vocalist Tom Araya. Slayer’s fast and aggressive musical style made them one of the founding “big four” bands of thrash metal, alongside Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax. Slayer’s current lineup comprises King, Araya, drummer Paul Bostaph and guitarist Gary Holt. Hanneman and Lombardo left the band in 2013; Bostaph was inducted into the band that same year.

Since its debut album in 1983, the band has released twelve studio albums, two live albums, a box set, six video albums and 37 singles. Four of the band’s studio albums have received gold certification in the United States. Slayer has also played at several music festivals worldwide, including Unholy Alliance Tour (with Lamb of God), Mayhem Festival (2008), Download Festival (2009) The Big Four shows with Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax (2010), Gigantour (with Megadeth) (2005/2008/2011/2013), Fun Fun Fun Fest (2011), Ozzfest (1996/1997) headline tours , as well Soundwave Revolution , Soundwave festival Australia 2012 , Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival 2012 .

The band has received five Grammy Awards: two for Best Metal Performance (“Eyes of the Insane” in 2007; “Final Six” in 2008), one for Best Hard Rock Performance (“Psychopathy Red” in 2010) and one for Best Metal Performance with Vocal Duo or Group (“Implode” with Junior Reid). In 2015 Rolling Stone ranked Slayer number 86 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.


Megadeth is an American heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California. The group was formed in 1983 by guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson, following Mustaine’s expulsion from Metallica. A pioneer of the American thrash metal scene, the band is credited as one of the genre’s “big four” with Anthrax, Metallica and Slayer; Megadeth’s debut album Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good! was released in 1985. The band has since released fifteen studio albums, four live albums, five compilations, and forty-six singles. As of October 2013, Megadeth has sold over 38 million records worldwide.


Anthrax is an American heavy metal band from New York City, formed in 1981. The band is considered one of the pioneers of the thrash metal genre, and they have released ten studio albums, three live albums, and two compilation albums. Anthrax’s first album, Fistful of Metal, was released in 1984 and was well-received by critics. The band’s second album, Spreading the Disease, was released in 1985 and was also well-received by critics. Anthrax’s third album, Among the Living, was released in 1987 and is considered their breakthrough album. The album was well-received by fans and critics alike, and it remains one of their most popular albums to date. Anthrax’s fourth album, State of Euphoria, was released in 1988 and was also well-received by fans and critics alike. The band’s fifth album, Persistence of Time, was released in 1990 and is considered their best album by many fans and critics. The album was very successful, debuting at #4 on the Billboard 200 chart.


If you’re looking for the best of heavy metal, you can’t go wrong with Pantera. Hailing from Arlington, Texas, Pantera was one of the most influential heavy metal bands of the 1990s. With their unique blend of thrash and groove metal, they helped to redefine the genre and pave the way for a new generation of heavy metal bands.

Pantera rose to prominence with their fourth album, Cowboys from Hell (1990), which is widely regarded as a landmark achievement in heavy metal history. From there, they went on to release a string of critically acclaimed albums, including Vulgar Display of Power (1992), Far Beyond Driven (1994), and The Great Southern Trendkill (1996).

While Pantera’s musical achievements are undeniable, they are also remembered for their tumultuous personal relationships. Tensions between vocalist Phil Anselmo and guitarist Dimebag Darrell led to Anselmo’s departure from the band in 2002. Tragically, Dimebag Darrell was shot and killed onstage by a crazed gunman in 2004. Despite these tragedies, Pantera remains one of the most revered and influential heavy metal bands of all time.

The Future of Heavy Metal

Heavy metal music has been on the decline in recent years. With the rise of other genres like rap and pop, metal has been pushed to the sidelines. However, there are still a diehard group of metalheads who are keeping the genre alive. But is it enough?

The New Wave of American Heavy Metal

The New Wave of American Heavy Metal (NWOAHM) is a movement in the late 20th and early 21st century that saw a resurgence in the popularity of heavy metal music in the United States. It began in the 1990s with bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, and Pantera, who were all signed to major record labels and enjoyed commercial success.

The NWOAHM continued into the 2000s with bands such as Lamb of God, Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage, and Trivium. These bands were often signed to independent record labels and did not have the same level of commercial success as their predecessors, but they were able to gain a significant following through constant touring and by making use of the internet.

The NWOAHM petered out in the 2010s, but its influence can still be seen in the work of contemporary metal bands such as Avenged Sevenfold, Mastodon, and Gojira.

The New Wave of British Heavy Metal

The New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) was a musical movement that started in the late 1970s and peaked in the early 1980s. It was a reaction to the declining state of heavy metal music in the 1970s. While bands like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple were still selling records and touring, they were no longer as influential as they once were. New bands like Judas Priest and Motörhead had emerged, but they were not yet able to fill the void left by the older bands.

The NWOBHM was characterized by its raw, unpolished sound, as well as its DIY ethic. Bands often self-released their records, and many concerts were organized without the help of booking agents or record labels. The scene was also notable for its inclusion of non-metal bands like Gary Moore and UFO, who helped to broaden the genre’s appeal.

The NWOBHM had a major impact on heavy metal music, both in the UK and abroad. Many of the genre’s biggest names got their start in the movement, including Iron Maiden, Metallica, Def Leppard, and Megadeth. The influence of the NWOBHM can still be heard in metal today.

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