The Best Heavy Metal Music Videos of the 80s

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Looking for some headbanging tunes from the 80s? Check out our list of the best heavy metal music videos of the decade! From classics like Metallica’s “One” to newer hits like Slayer’s “Raining Blood,” these videos are sure to get you pumped up.


The 1980s was a golden era for heavy metal music, with some of the genre’s most iconic bands and musicians releasing new material. It was also a great time for music videos, with many artists using the medium to push the boundaries of what was possible.

Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the best heavy metal music videos of the 80s. We’ll be considering a range of factors including production values, creativity, and overall impact. So sit back, crank up the volume, and enjoy!

Metallica- “One”

“One” is a song by American heavy metal band Metallica, released as the third and final single from their fourth studio album, …And Justice for All (1988). Written by band member James Hetfield, the song is credited to the entire band.

“One” entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 35, making it the highest-charting Metallica song until “Until It Sleeps” peaked at number ten in 1996. The music video for “One” was awarded Best Metaphorical Video at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards. Despite its success, drummer Lars Ulrich has called it “one of [their] most misunderstood videos”.

Megadeth- “Symphony of Destruction”

“Symphony of Destruction” is a song by American thrash metal band Megadeth, released as the lead single from their fourth studio album, Countdown to Extinction (1992). The song was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1993.

In 2009, it was ranked number 291 on VH1’s Top 500 Greatest Songs of the 80s. In October 2011, Loudwire ranked “Symphony of Destruction” at number 8 on its Top 20 Greatest Metal Songs of the ’90s list.

Slayer- “Raining Blood”

The “Raining Blood” video is one of the most well-known and controversial metal videos of all time. It features the band playing in a dark and foreboding forest, with occasional shots of them performing in a dark and dreary room that is slowly filling with blood. The video was banned by many TV stations due to its graphic content, but its iconic status has made it one of the most popular and influential metal videos of all time.

Anthrax- “Indians”

The video for Anthrax’s “Indians” is a classic example of early-’80s metal. The performance footage is intercut with images of American Indians in traditional dress, as well as with footage of the band members in various bizarre costumes (including a gorilla suit and a Nazi uniform). The overall effect is somewhat unsettling, but also very funny.

Exodus- “Toxic Waltz”

The song “Toxic Waltz” is a signature Exodus track, and the accompanying music video is just as iconic. The video was directed by Wayne Isham, who would go on to helm some of the biggest videos of the decade for artists like Bon Jovi, Metallica, and Mötley Crüe. “Toxic Waltz” perfectly captures the energy and intensity of Exodus’ live show, making it one of the best heavy metal music videos of the 1980s.

Testament- “Over the Wall”

Released in 1987, “Over the Wall” was the first music video from Testament, and it instantly made them a force to be reckoned with in the metal world. The video is a perfect example of the post-apocalyptic wasteland that many metal bands were obsessed with at the time, and it features some truly awesome practical effects work. It’s a brutal, dark track that still holds up today, and it’s one of the best examples of 80s metal you’re likely to find.

Sepultura- “Refuse/Resist”

Sepultura’s “Refuse/Resist” is a metal anthem for the ages. The song is a seething, thrash attack against government oppression, and the video is a perfect accompaniment to the song’s message. The video features footage of police brutality and violence from around the world, intercut with shots of the band performing in a dark basement. The video is powerful and unsettling, and it perfectly captures the rage of “Refuse/Resist.”

Pantera- ” Cowboys from Hell”

Few bands were as influential – or as heavy – as Pantera during the peak of their powers in the early to mid-’90s. The Texas metal outfit, who formed in 1981, helped revitalize metal in the aftermath of grunge with a potent blend of thrash, speed metal, and groove metal. By the time they released Vulgar Display of Power in 1992 and Far Beyond the Great Southern Cowboy’s Vulgar Hits in 1994, Pantera had become one of the most popular bands in America – and their videos were an integral part of their success.

“Cowboys from Hell,” the opening track and first single from Vulgar Display of Power, is a perfect example of Pantera’s signature sound: a chugging guitar riff from Dimebag Darrell Abbott underpinning Phil Anselmo’s roared vocals. The song is an ode to headbanging – “We’re going down/ The only way we know how/ We’re gonna make it through/ This time we’re gonna do it right” – and the video is a perfect visual representation of that sentiment. Filmed in black-and-white and set against a backdrop of smokestacks belching industrial waste, the video features the band performing against a wall of amps while Anselmo prowls the stage like a caged animal. It’s a simple concept, but it perfectly captures Pantera’s raw power.

Honorable Mentions

-Warrior by W.A.S.P.
-Cherry Pie by Warrant
-We’re Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister
-Smokin’ in the Boys Room by Motley Crue
-Round and Round by Ratt

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