Comprehensive musicology encompassing all genres and styles

The Biggest Heavy Metal Bands in History‍

Heavy metal music is a genre that has exploded in popularity over the years. Current heavy metal bands have widespread global appeal and are becoming more popular than ever. With some of the biggest bands seeing a resurgence in attention (thanks to videos on YouTube and streaming sites), now is the perfect time to take a look at the biggest heavy metal bands of all time. Heavy Metal band is a group of musicians who performs Heavy Metal songs. They are usually identified by their scary appearance, committing wild antics on stage, and aggressive style of playing instruments. Their songs feature fast beats with distorted guitar riffs, growling vocals, and aggressive lyrics dealing with topics like violence, war, occultism, etc.


Metallica is at the very top of this list of the biggest heavy metal bands ever. This iconic band has been around for over 3 decades and shows no signs of slowing down. They are one of the only bands on this list that has managed to achieve mainstream success and commercial acceptance for a style of music that has long been associated with the “outcast” culture. Metallica formed in the early 1980s when drummer Lars Ulrich placed an ad in a local newspaper searching for “like-minded musicians” who wanted to start a heavy metal band. Ulrich had previously been in a band called “Disrupt” that had broken up before they had the chance to record a single song. Guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield responded to the ad, and a few years later, the two of them recruited bassist Cliff Burton to complete the iconic lineup. The band has since sold over 110 million albums worldwide. Metallica has won 9 Grammy Awards, has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice (as a group and as members of Metallica), and is the biggest heavy metal band of all time.

Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath is easily one of the most influential heavy metal bands of all time. The band is so influential, that the term “heavy metal” was coined after the release of their debut album. Black Sabbath pioneered the “dark” side of heavy metal music. Their lyrics and imagery were very occult-focused and were often compared to horror imagery. The group has sold over 80 million albums worldwide, and the band’s first 8 albums are included in the “Rolling Stones” list of “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” Guitarist/vocalist Tony Iommi formed Black Sabbath in Birmingham, England in 1968. The band’s lineup included singer Ozzy Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler, and drummer Bill Ward. Though the lineup has changed over the years, Black Sabbath remains popular thanks to their classic first 8 albums. Their self-titled debut album Black Sabbath is often credited as the first ever “heavy metal” album. Their second album, Paranoid, is often credited with bringing heavy metal into mainstream pop culture.

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne is the lead singer of Black Sabbath and is credited for bringing gothic themes to the heavy metal genre. He is often given the title of “The Godfather of Heavy Metal.” He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has sold over 100 million albums worldwide. Ozzy Osbourne’s rise to fame began in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s as the lead singer of the Birmingham, England-based band Black Sabbath. The band’s first two albums are widely regarded as heavy metal classics and are credited with pioneering the “dark side” of the genre. In 1979, Osbourne’s excessive drug use led him to be fired from the band. He initially struggled to make a name for himself outside of Sabbath’s cult following but eventually outgrew his “Godfather of Heavy Metal” reputation and found success as a solo artist.

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin is one of the most popular rock and roll bands in history. The band was one of the first rock groups to feature a bassist who was given lead vocal duties in the form of John Paul Jones. The band has sold over 100 million albums worldwide. Led Zeppelin formed in 1968 after bassist/vocalist John Paul Jones discovered guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Page. Page had just left The Yardbirds, a band that he was the leader of. Together, Page and Jones recruited drummer/vocalist John Bonham and created the iconic lineup of Led Zeppelin. The band’s first album was released in 1969, and they remained active and relevant until the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980. Zeppelin has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has 11 Grammy Awards. Their first 4 albums are widely considered to be some of the best albums in music history.


Rush is one of the most successful progressive rock bands in history. The band is known for their complex song structures and discordant, yet expertly played guitar solos. Rush has sold over 80 million albums worldwide. Rush formed in the early ‘70s when drummer/vocalist Neil Peart and guitarist Alex Lifeson joined Geddy Lee’s band. At the time, the band was playing more bluesy rock and was looking for a different sound. In 1974, they released their self-titled debut album Rush, which was the band’s first attempt at a progressive rock sound. The album was a critical success but failed to produce any major commercial success.