Top Ten Thursdays: The Top Ten Heavy Metal Bands of All Time

This evening's Metallica performance at the BankAtlantic Center will surely attract a tumultuous sea of testosterone covered in black T-shirts and ripped jeans -- and maybe even a few women. This all-ages army of metal maniacs will bang their heads, stomp their boots, throw the devil horns and look for someone to shove. And over a pre-show smoke don't be surprised if you hear a heated debate about the greatest metal bands of all time. Here's our Top 10 list -- ranked in order of awesomeness.

Metallica, with Lamb of God, Gojira. Thursday, October 1, BankAtlantic Center, One Panther Pkwy, Sunrise. Show starts at 7 p.m., tickets cost $49.50 to $69.50.

1. Black Sabbath

The original heavy metal warriors, Black Sabbath's early records sound as beautifully brutal today as anything ever made. And frontman Ozzy Osbourne went on to have a pretty damn fine solo career. Here's Sabbath's violent plea for peace "War Pigs" -- yeah, they were kind of like heavy metal hippies -- delivered with massive might at a 1970 gig in Paris.


2. Metallica

Thrashers capable of terrifically intricate work, Metallica's self-titled, 1991 commercial blockbuster pissed off many longtime fans but was actually a good album. That said, it led to an amazingly dreadful 17-year creative drought. Fortunately, all was made right last year with the Rick Rubin-produced return to glory Death Magnetic. Here's Metallica performing a fierce version of "Fade to Black" -- from 1984's Ride the Lightning -- in concert last summer.

 

3. Judas Priest

New Wave of British Heavy Metal heroes were able to play it hard-n-fast while penning seriously catchy tunes. Priest also features metal best vocalist, Rob Halford, who was even able to make good on a Joan Baez song about being dumped by Bob Dylan! Here's Priest crushing with Baez's "Diamonds & Rust" in concert a few years back.

4. Slayer

Seated on their thrash throne, Slayer continues to be a formidable force nearly a quarter century after issuing their speed metal sensation Reign in Blood, which included the sublime opening salvo "Angel of Death." Here's a live version of the title song from 2006.

5. Mastodon

By far the youngest band on this list, Atlanta's highly ambitious Mastodon has injected metal with a fresh brand of eclecticism, bounding from brute to melodic from Cookie Monster growls to intelligible singing from tricky time signatures to straightforward speed. The band's latest album, Crack the Skye, easily ranks as the most important metal record since, well, their 2006 release Blood Mountain. Off Crack the Skye, here's Mastodon delivering a delightfully vicious "Divinations."

6. Motörhead

Lemmy Kilmister, with his ever-changing Motörhead crew, pretty much invented speed and thrash metal. A former roadie for Jimi Hendrix, Kilmister remains a powerful presence on stage and one of the coolest rock stars around. Here' Kilmister leading Motörhead through a rousing rendition of the timeless anthem "Ace of Spades."

 

7. Iron Maiden

Sure, the band has had more than its share of Spinal Tap moments, but like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden played a key role in bringing British metal to the masses. Read the lyric and you will laugh, but listen to "Fear of the Dark" and it's hard not to be swept away by its juvenile charm. Here's a live clip from 2001.

8. Megadeth

Guitar hero, songwriter, and singer Dave Mustaine leaves Metallica and forms Megadeth, a similarly sounding band that goes on to leave a legacy nearly as impressive as Metallica's. The Internet's full of Metallica vs. Megadeth battles. We dig 'em both, but maybe Metallica a bit more, maybe because in numerous interviews Mustaine comes across as a total dick. Here's a 2005 clip of Megadeth doing a mean version of their best-known battle cry, "Symphony of Destruction," which made for a junior high fave of this writer back in '92.

9. Death

Death played a crucial role in the development of death metal (along with fellow Floridians Deicide and Obituary, of Tampa Bay). Death issued such genre-defining albums as 1987's Scream Bloody Gore and 1991's Human the before leader Chuck Schuldiner died of brain cancer in 2001. Here's Death doing "Zombie Ritual" in 1987 at what appears to be the Brass Mug in Tampa.

10. Pantera

Groove-metal gods ruled the 1990s, performing a distinctive brand of heavy sonics that managed (from 1990 on) to steer clear of the hair metal that came before it, the grunge of the time, and the burgeoning nu-metal. Originally on the Texas band's killer '90 major label debut Cowboys from Hell, here's a most potent performance of the title track from the '91 "Monsters of Rock" fest in Moscow, which drew an estimated 1,000,000 attendees.


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