It Came from Beneath the Sea: The Best Heavy Metal Music

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


It Came from Beneath the Sea: The Best Heavy Metal Music is a blog dedicated to finding and sharing the best heavy metal music from around the world.

The Best of the Best

There are a lot of great metal bands out there, but only a few can truly be considered the best of the best. In this article, we will countdown the top five heavy metal bands of all time. These are the bands that have defined the genre and have set the standard for all other metal bands to follow.


Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, California by drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist James Hetfield, and has been based in San Francisco, California for most of its career. The group’s fast tempos, instrumentals, and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding “big four” bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer. Metallica’s current lineup comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine (who went on to form Megadeth) was a member of the band from 1982 to 1983. Bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.


Formed in 1981 by guitarist Kerry King and drummer Dave Lombardo, Slayer quickly became one of the most important bands in the development of thrash metal. With their aggressive guitar sound and screaming vocals, they were one of the first bands to truly capture the dark and chaotic energy of metal. Over their career they have released some of the genre’s most classic albums, including Reign in Blood (1986) and South of Heaven (1988). While their early work was focused on Satanism and death, they later began to explore more social and political themes in their lyrics. Regardless of the subject matter, Slayer’s music is always brutal and intense, making them one of the most respected and influential metal bands of all time.


Formed in 1983 by Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson, Megadeth went on to become one of the most popular and influential heavy metal bands of all time. With a string of Grammy nominations and critical acclaim, the group has released 15 studio albums, selling over 38 million copies worldwide.

With a musical style that combines elements of thrash metal, speed metal and progressive metal, Megadeth are known for their complex songwriting and aggressive musicianship. Mustaine is considered one of the most talented guitarists of his generation, with his highly technical and speedy solos becoming a signature sound of the band.

Over the course of their career, Megadeth have tackled a wide range of subject matter in their lyrics, ranging from politics to personal relationships. They have also been outspoken critics of organized religion, and their song “Holy Wars” caused controversy due to its criticism of both Christianity and Islam.

If you’re looking for some of the best heavy metal music out there, then you can’t go wrong with Megadeth. With their complex songwriting, skilled musicianship and aggressive sound, they are sure to get your head banging.

The New Wave

In the early 1980s, a new style of heavy metal began to take shape. It was darker, heavier, and faster than what had come before. This new style, which would come to be known as thrash metal, would soon dominate the heavy metal world.

Lamb of God

Lamb of God is an American heavy metal band from Richmond, Virginia. Formed in 1994 as Burn the Priest, the group consists of bassist John Campbell, vocalist Randy Blythe, guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler, and drummer Chris Adler. The band is considered a significant member of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement.

Since their formation, Lamb of God has released eight studio albums, one live album, one compilation album, and three DVDs. The band’s eighth studio album Wrath was released in February 2009. On May 18, 2012 Lamb of God entered the Billboard 200 chart at number two with their seventh studio album Resolution selling 54,000 copies in its first week. Bassist John Campbell said about the new album: “Resolution is not a departure from what we’ve been doing … It’s just a refinement and an expansion of all the things we’ve experimented with in the past.”


Formed in 1996, Gojira is a French heavy metal band from Bayonne. The band’s music is characterized by its unique blend of death metal, thrash metal, and groove metal influences, as well as its use of environmental and anti-war themes.

Gojira has released seven studio albums, three live albums, and two EPs. The band’s most recent album, Magma, was released in 2016 to critical acclaim.

The band is widely considered to be one of the best heavy metal bands of all time, and their song “Clone” was voted the best metal song of all time by viewers of VH1’s Classic Metal Mania in 2006


Mastodon is an American heavy metal band from Atlanta, Georgia, formed in 2000. The group is composed of bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders, guitarist/vocalist Brent Hinds, guitarist Bill Kelliher and drummer Brann Dailor. Mastodon has released seven studio albums, as well as a number of other records. Their debut album, Remission, released in 2002, garnered significant critical acclaim for its unique sound. Leviathan, Mastodon’s second album, features more conventional and accessible song structures compared to the band’s prior work. Blood Mountain was released in 2006 and once again received high praise from critics.

Crack the Skye is the band’s fourth studio album, released on March 24, 2009. The album debuted at number 11 on the Billboard 200 chart and received universal acclaim from music critics. The Hunter is the band’s fifth studio album, released worldwide on September 27, 2011 by Roadrunner Records to positive reviews from music critics; it debuted at number 10 on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States. Once More ‘Round the Sun was released as the band’s sixth studio album on June 24, 2014; it debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 chart in America and received positive reviews from music critics upon release.

The Classics

Though it may have come from the underground, heavy metal has produced some of the most enduring and classic tracks of the past few decades. From the anthemic to the spine-tingling, these are the tracks that define the genre.

Black Sabbath

Formed in 1968, Black Sabbath is often cited as the first heavy metal band. Their self-titled debut album, released in 1970, featured the now-classic tracks “Black Sabbath” and “N.I.B.” The band’s dark, demonic sound had a profound impact on the world of metal, and their influence can still be felt today. Black Sabbath went on to release a string of successful albums throughout the 1970s, including “Master of Reality,” “Paranoid” and “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.” They remained one of the most popular metal bands in the world until their dissolution in 2017.

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden is an English Heavy Metal band formed in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. The band’s first album, 1980’s self-titled Iron Maiden, was written primarily by Harris with vocalist Paul Di’Anno. 1984’s Powerslave was the first album with vocalist Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith. 1986’s Somewhere in Time featured the band’s first use of synthesizers. The following year’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son was the first concept album based on a story by Harris.

Judas Priest

Formed in Birmingham, England in 1969, Judas Priest is one of the most influential and iconic heavy metal bands of all time. The band is known for their powerful guitars, twin lead vocals, and operatic themes, and they are often credited with helping to pioneer the “heavy metal” sound. Judas Priest has released 18 studio albums, and they have sold over 50 million copies worldwide. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

Judas Priest’s early albums, such as “Rocka Rolla” (1974) and “Sad Wings of Destiny” (1976), were commercially unsuccessful but were important in establishing the band’s sound. The band’s breakthrough came with the release of “Stained Class” (1978), which included the song “Exciter” – one of the first heavy metal songs to use double-kick drums. This was followed by the album “Hell Bent for Leather” (1979), which contained the hits “Take on the World” and “Living After Midnight”.

Judas Priest achieved their commercial peak in the 1980s with a series of successful albums such as “British Steel” (1980), “Screaming for Vengeance” (1982), and “Defenders of the Faith” (1984). These albums cemented Judas Priest’s reputation as one of the biggest heavy metal bands in the world, and they continue to be hugely popular to this day.

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