List of heavy metal bands

This is a list of heavy metal artists from the formative years of the movement. For bands that formed after 1981, please consult the lists for each heavy metal subgenre. In the late 1960s a number of bands began pushing the limits of blues rock into a new genre which would be called heavy metal.[1][2]

In 1981,[3] three of the 'Big Four' thrash metal bands emerged: Metallica,[4] Slayer[5] and Anthrax;[6] to be joined on the scene in 1983 by Megadeth, which was formed by Dave Mustaine after he was fired from Metallica.[7]

NameOriginYears activeBrief summary
220 VoltSweden1979–present
44 MagnumJapan1977–1989, 2002–present
A II ZUnited Kingdom1979–1982
Accept[8]Germany1976–1989, 1992–1997, 2004–2005, 2009–presentAccept played an important role in the development of speed metal and Teutonic thrash metal, being part of the German heavy/speed/power metal scene which emerged in the early to mid-1980s.[9]
Aerosmith[10]United States1970–present
Alice Cooper[9][11]United States1968–present
AngelUnited States1975–1981, 1987, 1998–present
Ángeles del InfiernoSpain1978–present
Angel WitchUnited Kingdom1977–1982, 1984–1998, 2000–present
AnthemJapan1980–1992, 2000–present
AnthraxUnited States1981–present
ArmageddonUnited Kingdom1974–1976
Atomic MassUnited Kingdom1977, 2003
Atomic RoosterUnited Kingdom1969–1975, 1980–1983, 2016–present
AtomkraftUnited Kingdom1979–1988, 2005
AttilaUnited States1969–1970Bandmembers included Billy Joel and Jon Small.
AxeUnited States1979–1984, 1997–2004
Babe RuthUnited Kingdom1970–1976, 2005–present
Bang[12]United States1969–1973, 2001–2004
BarnabasUnited States1977–1986
Barón RojoSpain1980–present
BattleaxeUnited Kingdom1980–1988, 2010–present
Bengal TigersAustralia1979–present
BeowülfUnited States1981–1995, 2000–present
Birth ControlGermany1966–1983, 1993–2014
BitchUnited States1980–presentFirst band to be signed by the Metal Blade Records label.
Black DeathUnited States1977–presentThe first all-African-American heavy metal band.
Black 'n BlueUnited States1981–1989, 1997, 2003, 2007–presentLead guitarist Tommy Thayer joined Kiss in 2003.
Black RoseUnited Kingdom1980–1989, 2006–present
Black Sabbath[13]United Kingdom1968–2006, 2011–2017Black Sabbath was formed by Ozzy Osbourne (lead vocals), Tony Iommi (guitar), Geezer Butler (bass guitar), and Bill Ward (drums). Alcohol abuse led to Ozzy Osbourne getting fired and replaced with former Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio. Black Sabbath is considered to be the progenitor of doom metal.
Black WidowUnited Kingdom1966–1973, 2007–present
Bleak HouseUnited Kingdom1972–1983
Blind IllusionUnited States1978–1989, 2009–present
BlitzkriegUnited Kingdom1980–1981, 1984–1991, 1992–1994, 1996–1999, 2001–present
BloodrockUnited States1969–1975
Blue Cheer[14]United States1966–1972, 1974–1976, 1978–1979, 1984–1994, 1999–2009
Blue Öyster Cult[15]United States1967–present
Bow Wow[16]Japan1975–presentAlso known as Vow Wow for part of their career (1984–1990).
BronzUnited Kingdom1976–1985, 1999–2000, 2003–2005, 2010–present
Edgar Broughton BandUnited Kingdom1968–2010Cited in the 2010 BBC TV documentary Heavy Metal Britannia as a formative influence on the genre in the UK.
Budgie[17]United Kingdom1967–present
BulldozerItaly1980–1990, 2008–present
Cactus[20]United States1969–1972, 2006–present
Captain BeyondUnited States1971–1973, 1976–1978, 1998–2003
ChateauxUnited Kingdom1981–1985
Cirith UngolUnited States1972–1992, 1996–2001, 2015–present
Cloven HoofUnited Kingdom1979–1990, 2000–present
CovenUnited States1968–1975, 2007–2008
Crimson GloryUnited States1979–1992, 1998–present
Crushed ButlerUnited Kingdom1969–1971
Death SSItaly1977–1984, 1988–present
DedringerUnited Kingdom1977–1985
Deep MachineUnited Kingdom1979–1982, 2009–2015
Deep PurpleUnited Kingdom1968–1976, 1984–present
Def LeppardUnited Kingdom1977–presentThe band began as a heavy metal outfit.
DemonUnited Kingdom1979–presentHeadlined the first British Steel Festival in 2006.[21]
The DeviantsUnited Kingdom1967–1969, 1978, 1984, 1996, 2002, 2011–presentSinger and writer Mick Farren died on July 27, 2013.
Diamond HeadUnited Kingdom1976–1985, 1991–1994, 2002–present
Die KruppsGermany1980–present
Divlje JagodeBosnia and Herzegovina1977–present
DokkenUnited States1978–1989, 1993–present
DustUnited States1969–1972Drummer Marc Bell joined The Ramones in 1978.
EarthshakerJapan1978–1994, 1999–present
Easy ActionSweden1981–1986, 2006–present
E.F. BandSweden1978–1986
Electric SunGermany1978–1986
ElfUnited States1967–1975Ronnie James Dio on vocals.
Ethel the FrogUnited Kingdom1976–1980
EuropeSweden1979–1992, 1999 (partial reunion), 2003–presentThe band began as a heavy metal outfit.
FalloutUnited States1979–1982
FistUnited Kingdom1978–1982, 2001–2006
Flotsam and JetsamUnited States1981–present
Flower Travellin' Band[22]Japan1967–1973, 2007–present
The Flying Hat BandUnited Kingdom1971–1974Glenn Tipton on vocals and guitar, later joined Judas Priest in 1974.
Lita FordUnited Kingdom1975-1995, 2008-present
GammaUnited States1978–1983, 2000
GeordieUnited Kingdom1972–1980, 1982–1985, 2001Singer Brian Johnson went on to join AC/DC in 1980, after the death of Bon Scott.
GillanUnited Kingdom1978–1983
GirlUnited Kingdom1979–1982
GirlschoolUnited Kingdom1978–presentAll-female band formed during the new wave of British heavy metal.
Grand Funk Railroad[23][24][25]United States1968–1977, 1980–1983, 1996–present
Grave DiggerGermany1980–1987, 1991–present
Great WhiteUnited States1977–2001, 2002–present
Grim ReaperUnited Kingdom1979–1988, 2006–present
The GunUnited Kingdom1967–1970
Sammy HagarUnited States1967–present
The Handsome BeastsUnited Kingdom1972–present
Hanoi RocksFinland1979–1985, 2001–2009
Hard StuffUnited Kingdom1971–1973
HawkwindUnited Kingdom1969–present
Heavy LoadSweden1976–1985
Heavy Metal KidsUnited Kingdom1972–1985, 2002–presentInitially featured actor Gary Holton on vocals.
High TideUnited Kingdom1969–1970
Hollow GroundUnited Kingdom1979–1982, 2007, 2013
HolocaustUnited Kingdom1977–present
Holy MosesGermany1980–1994, 2000–present
IconUnited States1979–1990, 2008–present
Iron Butterfly[22]United States1966–presentSecond guitarist Erik Braunn died in 2003 of a heart attack. Original bassist Lee Dorman died on December 21, 2012.
Iron ClawUnited Kingdom1969–1974, 1993, 2010–present
Iron MaidenUnited Kingdom1975–presentIron Maiden achieved success during the early 1980s. After several line-up changes, the band went on to release a series of U.S. and UK platinum and gold albums, including 1982's The Number of the Beast, 1983's Piece of Mind, 1984's Powerslave, 1985's live release Live After Death, 1986's Somewhere in Time and 1988's Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
Jag PanzerUnited States1981–1988, 1994–2011
JaguarUnited Kingdom1979–1985, 1998–present
Jameson RaidUnited Kingdom1975–1983, 2008–present
JerusalemUnited Kingdom1972–presentProduced and managed by Ian Gillan of Deep Purple. Early creators of Metal, Doom and Stoner rock. Remastered vinyl and CD versions of original Decca, Deram and Universal releases have been reissued by Rockadrome Records.
JosefusUnited States1969–2005
JPT Scare BandUnited States1973–present
Judas PriestUnited Kingdom1969–present
KatPoland1979–1987, 1990–1999, 2002–present
Kick AxeCanada1976–1988, 2003–present
Killer DwarfsCanada1981–1997, 2001–present
Killing JokeUnited Kingdom1978–1996, 2002–present
King's XUnited States1979–present
KissUnited States1973–present
KixUnited States1977–1996, 2003–present
Leaf HoundUnited Kingdom1969–1971, 2004–present
LeatherwolfUnited States1981–present
Led Zeppelin[26]United Kingdom1968–1980, 2007, 2011
Legs DiamondUnited States1975–present
LionheartUnited Kingdom1980–1986
Living DeathGermany1980–1991
LondonUnited States1978–1981, 1984–1990, 2006–presentEarly lineups featured future members of Mötley Crüe, Guns N' Roses, W.A.S.P. and Cinderella.[27]
Lone StarUnited Kingdom1975–1978
Los SuavesSpain1980–present
Lucifer's Friend[28]Germany1970–1982, 1993–1997, 2014–present
Mahogany RushCanada1970–1980, 1998–present
MaliceUnited States1980–1989, 2006–present
Yngwie MalmsteenSweden1978–present
Mama's BoysIreland1978–1993
Manilla RoadUnited States1977–1990, 2001–present
ManowarUnited States1980–presentDrummer Scott Columbus died on April 4, 2011.
MarseilleUnited Kingdom1976–present
Max WebsterCanada1973–1982
May BlitzUnited Kingdom1969–1972
MentorsUnited States1976–present
Mercyful FateDenmark1981–1985, 1992–1999King Diamond on vocals.
Metal ChurchUnited States1980–1994, 1998–2009, 2012–present
MetallicaUnited States1981–presentBassist Cliff Burton died on September 27, 1986.
MinistryUnited States1981–2008, 2011–presentStarted as a new wave act.
MisfitsUnited States1977–1983, 1995–present
MontroseUnited States1973–1976, 2005
MoreUnited Kingdom1980–1982, 1985, 1998–2000, 2011–present
Mötley CrüeUnited States1981–2015, 2018-present
MotörheadUnited Kingdom1975–2015Lemmy died on December 28, 2015.
Mountain[29]United States1969–1972, 1973–1974, 1981–1985, 1992–1998, 2001–2010
MoxyCanada1974-1983, 1999-2009
NazarethUnited Kingdom1968–present
Necromandus[22][30]United Kingdom1970–1973
The Next BandUnited Kingdom1978–1982
NightmareFrance1979–1987, 1999–present
Night Sun[31]Germany1970–1973
NightwingUnited Kingdom1978–1987, 1996–present
Ted Nugent[32][33]United States1975–present
The ObsessedUnited States1976–1986, 1990–1995, 2011–present
Ozzy OsbourneUnited Kingdom1980–present
OstrogothBelgium1980–1988, 2002, 2010–present
OzFinland1977–1991, 2010–present
Pagan AltarUnited Kingdom1978–1982, 2004–present
PanteraUnited States1981–2003Started as a glam metal band.
PentagramUnited States1971–1976, 1978–1979, 1981–present
Persian RiskUnited Kingdom1979–1986
PictureNetherlands1979–1987, 1997–1999, 2007–present
Pink FairiesUnited Kingdom1970–1976, 1987–1988
Praying MantisUnited Kingdom1974–present
Pretty MaidsDenmark1981–present
PrimevilUnited States1973–1974
QuartzUnited Kingdom1974–1983, 1996, 2011
Queensrÿche[34]United States1981–present
Quiet RiotUnited States1975–present
RainbowUnited Kingdom1975–1984, 1993–1997, 2016–presentGuitarist Ritchie Blackmore formed Rainbow in 1975 after leaving Deep Purple.
RattUnited States1976–1992, 1996–present
RavenUnited Kingdom1974–present
RiotUnited States1975–1984, 1986–2012
Rock GoddessUnited Kingdom1977–1987, 1994–1995, 2009, 2015–present
Rok MašinaSerbia1980–1982
Rose TattooAustralia1976–1987, 1993, 1998–present
Uli Jon RothGermany1968–present
Rough CuttUnited States1981–1987, 2000–2002
The RunawaysUnited States1975–1979
Running WildGermany1976–2009, 2011–present
Saber TigerJapan1981–present
Sacred RiteUnited States1980–1990
SaintUnited States1980–1989, 1999–present
Saint VitusUnited States1978–1996, 2003, 2008–present
SalemUnited Kingdom1979–1983, 2009–present
SamsonUnited Kingdom1977–2002
SatanUnited Kingdom1979–1988, 2005–present
SavageUnited Kingdom1976–present
Savage GraceUnited States1981–1993, 2009–2010
SavatageUnited States1978–2002, 2014–presentPrevious members of the band formed the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in 1996.
SaxonUnited Kingdom1976–present
Michael Schenker GroupGermany1979–present
Shark IslandUnited States1979–1992
Sir Lord BaltimoreUnited States1968–1976, 2006–present
SisterUnited States1976–1978
SkitzoUnited States1981–present
SorceryUnited States1976–1987
Sound BarrierUnited States1980–1987
Spinal TapUnited States1979–presentParody heavy metal band which first appeared on TV in 1979, with American actors playing the parts of fictional British musicians.
SpiderUnited Kingdom1976–1986
StampedeUnited Kingdom1981–1983, 2009–present
StarzUnited States1975–1979, 1980, 1990, 2003–present
SteppenwolfCanada/United States1967–presentThe 1967 recording "Born to Be Wild" was one of the first rock songs to contain the phrase "Heavy Metal" in its lyrics.
StormwitchGermany1979–1994, 2002–present
StrayUnited Kingdom1966–present
SuckSouth Africa1970–1971
Suicidal TendenciesUnited States1980–1995, 1997–present
Sweet SavageUnited Kingdom1979–present
TankUnited Kingdom1980–1989, 1997–present
TeslaUnited States1981–1996, 2000–present
Thin LizzyIreland1969–1984, 1996–2012
ThorCanada1976–1978, 1983–1986, 1997–present
TKOUnited States1977–2001
TobrukUnited Kingdom1981–1987
TranceGermany1977–1998, 2011–presentAccording to Manfred Meyer from Metal Hammer magazine, some would rank the band alongside Accept and Scorpions as the third most important hard rock band from Germany.
TrespassUnited Kingdom1978–1982, 1992–1993, 2013–present
TriumphCanada1975–1993, 2008–present
TrustFrance1977–1985, 1988, 1996–2000, 2006
Tucky BuzzardUnited Kingdom1969–1974
Twisted SisterUnited States1972–1988, 1997–2016
Tygers of Pan TangUnited Kingdom1978–1987, 1999–present
TytanUnited Kingdom1981–1983, 2012–present
UFOUnited Kingdom1969–1988, 1992–present
UrchinUnited Kingdom1972–1980
Uriah HeepUnited Kingdom1969–present
Van HalenUnited States1972–present
Vanilla Fudge[35]United States1967–1970, 1982–1984, 1987–1988, 1991, 1999–present
VardisUnited Kingdom1973–1986, 2014–present
VenomUnited Kingdom1979–presentPioneers of the Black Metal genre, with their 1981 album, Black Metal and subsequent releases.
Vicious RumorsUnited States1979–present
Virgin SteeleUnited States1981–present
VulcainFrance1981–1998, 2009–present
WarpigCanada1968–1975, 2004–present
White SisterUnited States1980–1986, 2008–2009
WhitesnakeUnited Kingdom1978–1990, 1994, 1997, 2002–present
White SpiritUnited Kingdom1975–1981
White WolfCanada1975–1986, 2007–present
Wild DogsUnited States1981–present
Wild HorsesUnited Kingdom1978–1981
Witchfinder GeneralUnited Kingdom1979–1984, 2006–2008
WitchfyndeUnited Kingdom1974–1984, 1999–present
WrathchildUnited Kingdom1980–1990, 2009–present
Wrathchild AmericaUnited States1978–1993
Y&TUnited States1974–1991, 1995–present
ZebraUnited States1975-present
ZoetropeUnited States1976–1993