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.
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.
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."
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."