Top 10 Most Influential Bands in Heavy Metal Music History

heavy metal music 2010

Heavy metal music stands out with its distortion guitars, driving rhythms and intense vocals. It also evocatively explores topics like violence, social justice, politics and religion in deep and meaningful ways.

Heavy metal music often deals with some of society’s most pressing concerns. These songs will leave you thinking deeply about some of life’s toughest questions, and they guarantee to get you thinking!

Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath are one of the most iconic bands in heavy metal music history. Their songs have sold millions of copies worldwide and inspired countless musicians to pursue careers within this genre.

Schoolmates Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi formed the band in the late 1960s. Their sinister imagery, crude musicianship and menacing guitar riffs earned them harsh criticism from critics and radio programmers alike.

However, Black Sabbath’s relentless touring schedule and success cemented their place as a legend of heavy metal music. Albums such as Paranoid (1970) and Master of Reality (1971) helped define the genre, earning them several Grammy Awards along the way – eventually leading them to become its highest-selling act ever. Their legacy continues to this day – in 2010, Black Sabbath remains an influential presence within this genre.

Judas Priest

Judas Priest are one of the most iconic heavy metal bands ever. Their twin guitar sound and Rob Halford’s powerful vocal delivery helped shape the genre in the 1970s.

Over their nearly 50-year career, Judas Priest has earned a number of awards including a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance (2010), Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination and VH1 Rock Honors nomination. In 2018, they released Firepower which became both their highest charting album and commercial rock radio single in decades.

Angel of Retribution, the new album from Angels of Mercy, is an impressive showcase of their talent as creators of high-faluting material. While there are some near-clunkers on the record, these don’t detract from its overall quality; rather, this exciting record showcases both their abilities as well as their longevity. It’s truly an exciting album that showcases both sides of this talented quintet’s range.


Motorhead are heavy metal icons, and it’s impossible to imagine life without their thunderous sound. For four decades now, guitarist Lemmy Kilmister, bassist Mikkey Dee and drummer Phil Campbell have produced albums after albums that never fail to amaze.

Their latest album, Aftershock, finds the trio blending various genres to create a sound that blends their early classic sounds with some of the heaviest rock they’ve ever created.

The opening track on the album, “Heartbreaker,” opens with a bouncy boogie riff from their early days. Its crunch and melody blend perfectly, allowing for the band’s signature vocal performances to come through clearly.

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden are one of the most successful heavy metal bands, having sold more than 85 million records over their 30-year career. Their success has allowed the band to remain popular even as digital sales have diminished the old business model for record stores.

Since their reunion with lead singer Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith in 1999, Maiden has released several highly praised albums. Their 2010 release The Final Frontier reached the top of the charts worldwide and cemented Maiden’s place as an influential force within heavy metal music.

Iron Maiden’s most ambitious project to date, this 76-minute album showcased their stadium rockers and labyrinthine epics that play to their strengths. It’s both thrilling and pertinent, with infectious tunes like “El Dorado” giving way to progressive metal masterpieces like “Black Lake Nidstang.” An extraordinary accomplishment for any band but especially remarkable for Iron Maiden who continue to demonstrate themselves as one of the great heavy metal acts ever.


Metallica is one of the most influential bands in heavy metal music history. They created thrash metal and helped define its genre.

The band has released nine studio albums, with notable works including Master of Puppets, St. Anger and Death Magnetic.

They are composed of vocalist James Hetfield, bassist Robert Trujillo, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and drummer Lars Ulrich.

Metallica made their name in the early 1980s with their thrash style and fast tempos, making them a go-to choice for heavy metal fans. Their third album, Master of Puppets (1986), sold over three million copies worldwide.

Metallica’s fourth and fifth albums, Enter Sandman and And Justice for All, took a more traditional approach. They lowered their tempos and eliminated many progressive elements to make the music simpler and more approachable to mainstream audiences.

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne has had a storied career in heavy metal music, selling over 100 million albums and being considered one of the greatest musicians ever.

Osbourne is a British musician best known as the vocalist for Black Sabbath. After leaving their band, he went on to pursue success as an independent artist, releasing thirteen studio albums and earning multiple awards for his work.

In 2010, Ozzy made a comeback with his first solo album in over two decades, Ordinary Man. This was followed by an extensive Christmas tour and hit radio singles. Additionally, Ozzy featured on a reality television series that focused on his personal life and family.


Established in 1983 by guitarist Dave Mustaine, Megadeth has become one of the most iconic bands in metal history. Their thunderous guitar work, menacing vocals and powerful rhythm section have defined thrash metal as we know it today.

The band’s distinctive sound and live performances have earned them a place among the “Big Four” of thrash metal, alongside Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax. Frontman Mustaine also holds a legendary reputation for crafting some of heavy metal’s greatest songs.

Megadeth had their share of ups and downs in 2010, including a long-running feud with bassist David Ellefson. But they remained an influential force as they celebrated their 20th anniversary with the Rust in Peace tour, followed by Ronnie James Dio’s tragic passing from stomach cancer at 56 years old.


Anthrax was one of the original East Coast thrash metal bands and became a household name during the 1980s. Their classic era, featuring Joey Belladonna on vocals, is widely considered to be one of the most influential periods in heavy metal music history.

Over the years, however, the band’s lineup has undergone many changes. Current members include Ian Paice, drummer Charlie Benante, bassist Frank Bello and lead guitarist Jonathan Donais.

Worship Music, Anthrax’s tenth studio album, is an impressive masterpiece that blends the classic thrash sound of the ’80s with modern metal influences from the 90s. It serves to honor Anthrax’s legacy while also setting new benchmarks in heavy metal.

Anthrax has had their share of highs and lows over the years, but Worship Music stands as a testament to their talent. It can be counted alongside Metallica and Black Sabbath among great thrash metal records.


Darkthrone are widely considered one of the founding members of Norwegian black metal in the 1990s and have had an enormous impact on heavy metal music ever since. Their first three albums – A Blaze in the Northern Sky (1992), Under a Funeral Moon (1993) and Transilvanian Hunger (1994) – are considered classics within their genre.

Their early releases were heavily influenced by technical death metal bands like Entombed and Edge of Sanity, but later releases saw the band embrace a wider range of influences and musical styles, such as traditional heavy metal and crust punk. This can be clearly heard on their 2010 album Circle the Wagons which maintains certain unerring Darkthrone traditions while offering up an increasingly diverse style of metal music.

Darkthrone have established themselves as one of the most iconic bands in metal history since their formation in Kolbotn, Norway back in 2004. Their relentlessly heavy sound has inspired countless other bands throughout their career and continues to do so even today.


Enslaved is a Norwegian band founded in 1991 in Haugesund, Norway that has gone on to release 12 studio albums and tour the world with increasing success. Influenced by black metal music, they have developed their own distinctive sound which incorporates Viking imagery and folk elements into their music.

Their latest album, Axioma Ethica Odini, proves their ability to continue pushing the boundaries of black metal without succumbing to a boring or overly technical sound. This is most evident on the title track where an array of icy riffs weaves between monolithic to monolithic while vocalist Grutle Kjellson’s majestic wails and howls interweave in and out.

While much of the black metal scene has seen a downturn, Enslaved have maintained their edge with albums that continually challenge and amaze. Their latest, Isa, takes things to another level by incorporating elements of progressive metal, world music, and Norse folk into their sound.