My comments on “Top 50 metal bands of all time”

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No technical stuff here, just a bit of fun.

I Stumbled upon this blogpost, it appeared in my Google Discovery feed I believe. Being a metalhead kid from the 1980’s, I was curious what a 2020 list would look like. I haven’t followed metal closely from – let’s say – 1991, when Kurt Kobain single handedly killed metal with his Nevermind album and the invention of Grunge music, until about 2010.


In the meantime, I listened to a lot of music to broaden my horizons. From Alison Krauss to J.S. Bach and from David Bowie to Madness. But I find myself coming back to metal nowadays and I’m excited by the new subgenres that have come across and all the new bands that arrived.

I feel, with 35+ years of experience under my belt that I am actually entitled to say something about the metal subculture and lists like this.

I did not read the list in advance to see who holds the top spot. I just started with number #50, Killswitch Engage and went on. Page by page, video by video. I noted my remarks as I went along. Again, I swear I didn’t scroll to see the top-10 before I got there :-).

I decided to watch the proposed video clip of every band in this list that I actually knew (whether I knew the song in the video or not). This is the list that I had to watch:


Band, song




Killswitch Engage

My curse

Saw them as a support act for – I think – Metallica in Gelredome, Arnhem in 2004 or 2006. I can only remember the double drum riser. Was quite underwhelmed at the time. In the end this song, My curse, is not a bad song at all, but it won’t end up in my playlist.



I want out

Expected this band to be higher in the list, but that could be due to the fact that it’s a personal favorite of mine. Never saw the original video of this song (from 1988), only live performances. Very, very nice song. One of the first speed/powermetal bands.


Nine Inch Nails

Know the name but can’t remember that I ever listened to a single song of them. So not watching the video.



Never heard of them.


Faith no more

See #48


In Flames

See #47


Five Finger Death Punch

See #47



Roots bloody Roots

Can’t say that I know a lot of them, but I have definitely listened to them back in the eighties. So I had to watch this video. Not bad at all, though it won’t end up on my record player.



It’s a mad house

Saw them as support act for – I think – Iron Maiden, back somewhere in the eighties. The song title and video didn’t ring a bell at first sight, but I remembered the madhouse setting once I saw it. Watched it on headbangers ball on MTV, back in the day. I could even sing along after a chorus or two. Absolutely not as extreme as I remembered Anthrax. Nice and catchy song.


Within Temptation

What about us

Good song, already some 6 years old now. It’s from WT a bit later in their career. Not as bombastic and symphonic as their earlier work, but more the pure metal sound. They should have put in a song/video without Tarja, however. What about us is not representative for their catalog, I believe.


Motley Crue

Kickstart my heart

One of their defining songs. I own a record or two from the Crue, including the 1989 Dr. Feelgood, which sports this song. Nice one. When you are picked up for dead (literally) from the streets after OD’ing, being brought back to life with some shots of adrenalin by a medical nurse who happened to be a fan, and later on write a song about it. So, so Crue.


Marilyn Manson

See #48



See #47



See #47


Amon Amarth

The way of Vikings

Well, I know them, so I had to watch the video, as defined in the rules of this quest. I like the instrumentation, the melodics and the rhythms by this band. But as soon as the singer opens his mouth, I leave. Simply terrible. Don’t like it. No, let me rephrase that. I hate it. The overkill of violence in the clip doesn’t help. But I watched the complete video. Goddammit, it lasted forever. Send me kudos.


Paradise Lost

See #47




At #34. ONLY at #34? My goodness, what follows in the rest of the list? Bismarck, a 2019 song but already a classic in my opinion. Such a strong song from one of the most influential and important bands in the metal scene at this moment. At #34. Sigh.



See #47


Type O Negative

See #47


King Diamond

See #48


Rage against the Machine

See #48


Linkin Park

See also #48. Really can’t remember to have heard a song from them.




Really? #28? Twenty-fucking-eight? See Sabaton. This list is becoming a joke, more or less. Nightwish is around for over two decades (!) now, it is so influential and important that it should have been in the top-15 at a minimum. Is this for real? It is more and more looking like an American List to me. Definitely not European. Anyway, Elan. Beautiful song from one of their best albums, with Floor Janssen, one of the best singers in metal history.



Well, after Nightwish I expected to know about every band in the rest of the list, but really haven’t heard of this group. So, see #47.


Alice in Chains

See #48. I know the name, but not one single song. Sorry.



Also, #48. Death or trash metal, right? Not my cup of tea, though I can appreciate a good melody and interesting chord progression in a song. But I really haven’t heard a single song of Mastodon.


Avenged Sevenfold

See #47. Who are they? Why are they higher in the list than Nightwish?



See #48.


Guns ‘n Roses

Sweet Child o’ mine

Exciting at the time, a bit of a tragical band right now after the reunion. With Axl Rose keeping up appearances and Slash being a caricature of himself with his top hat and bottle of Jack Daniels. This is a relevant song, though. Never saw them live.



Holy Diver

Of course. One of the best, if not the best metal singers of all time, out of the top-20. Ronnie Dio could have been the father of all the bands in this list that I don’t know. This list is composed by idiots, or people who are too young to know on which shoulder of giants the current bands stand. Listen to the intensity of Holy Diver. Not the fastest, not the heaviest sound, but my god, what vocals. Joakim of Sabaton played a bit of Holy Diver on his keyboard at concerts, during their last tour. As a homage, I assume.


Lamb of God

See #47. Who the fuck is Lamb of God? Have I missed that much during my absence?


Dream Theater

Another Day

Well, this is actually where I would expect a band like Dream Theater. Very influential, quite important on their own. I didn’t know the song Another Day, don’t especially like the saxophone in it. It just doesn’t fit, even in a ballad. I understand the song is about cancer. Very sad, but that doesn’t make this song any better. Not bad, but definitely not their best, I think.


System of a Down

See #48. Have heard of them, but never heard them.



Sorry. See #47. Never heard of them.



Ace of Spades

What can you say. If you haven’t heard of Motorhead, you’ve been living under a rock. Good song, decent position in my opinion. Lemmy is the only bass player I know who doesn’t care for playing it as a bass guitar. He plays it just like a guitar, with chords and solos and all. Love the classic line-up with Eddy Clark and Philthy Taylor.



Du Hast

I don’t particularly like Rammstein, I don’t particularly hate them. They just passed me by, somehow. It’s OK. I like it when a band sings German though. It’s a good language for metal.



Burgerkill. Who? Burgergkill? at #14? See #47.



Holy wars…the punishment due

Classic story of Dave Mustaine, being kicked out of Metallica and forming his own band as a revenge. And what a band. You may not like Megadeth much (personally I don’t own a single record or cd from them), but you can’t deny their importance.




I know Opeth but am not really into their style. I can appreciate their music though. But…higher on the list, much higer than Dio? Come on!



Fear Inoculum

I have to admit I only know Tool from the Guitar Hero franchise. I have the critically acclaimed 2019 album Fear Inoculum in my Spotify playlist, but rarely listen to it.



Gimme Chocolate

Oh pease, gimme a break. This can’t be serious right? Babymetal is admittedly entertaining, but most important metal bands of all time? People who voted for this Japanese formula franchise have clearly lost their minds. However, I know them, so I had to watch the Gimme Chocolate video. The whole 4:03 minutes.


Judas Priest


Well, at least the Priest is in the top-10 and they are higher than Babymetal. I expect all the bands in the top-10 to be equally important (with the exception of #10) and it is hard to order them. I ranked Priest a bit higher though, than at #9. They are arguably the most metal of all metal bands. I consider Judas Priest the best band that I never saw live. Yeah, shame on me. Painkiller is a good and heavy song. Not as good as the ones from the British Steel – Defenders of the faith – Screaming for Vengeance era, but not as bad as the Jugulator ones. Rob Halfords vocals are breathtaking here. Together with Dio he is in the top 5 of metal vocalists of all time. Classical double guitar Priest solos. “Breaking the what? Breaking the what?”



Fucking WHAT? See #47. Am I that dumb? Have I missed so much? Literally never ever even heard the name of this band.



Raining Blood

Ah, good old Slayer. Not my alltime favorite, but at least I don’t feel completely stupid now that I discover them on #7. A position where they belong, in my opinion. Of course in the lineup with the late guitarist Jeff Hanneman




I didn’t know this song, but I of course knew Pantera, with the regretted Dimebag Darrel, who was shot on stage by a ‘fan’. Quite influential, though not exceptional, IMO. Just not great songwriting, no surprising chord progressions, not very original, not the best singer. Pantera is well… OK, I guess. Would rank them outside the top-10.




I know the band is quite popular and has a huge, huge amount of fans. I just didn’t listen to it much. What is that gimmick with the masks? Again, I think this one went popular when I wasn’t into metal that much. Hmmm, can’t say that I missed much. Should not rank this band on #5, though. Then again, I’m an old fart.




Well, as much as I love AC/DC, I thought this was a metal list. And AC/DC is a lot. Like important, one of the biggest live bands on earth, one of the longest lasting bands, and what not. I own their complete catalogue on LP and cd. But it’s not metal I should say. It’s just kick-ass bluesy rock ‘n roll, notched a few bars up. Then again, Motorhead is also on this list. So yeah. AC/DC should be here also. A position of #4 does them justice. I don’t rank Thunderstruck one of their best songs, but it has definitely become a signature song of the Australian behemoth.


Black Sabbath


Yeah, well. Again, maybe not really metal, but at least metal before it even existed. This band of course defined metal. Especially with the classic Ozzy-lineup. The #3 spot makes up for the absence of Ozzy as a standalone artist in this list. What other song than Paranoid could be picked from Sabbath? Quick reminder: it is from 1970, so it is a mind blowing 50 years old this year. Half a century!


Iron Maiden

The Wicker Man

Completely agree here. Maiden is one of the bands I saw live the most I think. For the last time in the summer of 2018, with their Legacy of the Beast tour. Inexhaustible they tour the world. For a staggering 40 years now. Saw them for the first time on the legendary Live after Death tour in 1984. Iron Maiden is definitely one of the most influential bands around. What can I say. Well, allright. The Wicker Man might not be their most defining song, but admittedly it’s a good one. Brilliant bass play by Steve Harris. I think it’s from the Brave new World era, when Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith returned, only to rise to new heights. So, so good.



Nothing else matters

The moment I saw this list pop up, I thought “well, I’ll eat my boots if Metallica isn’t in the #1 spot.” And rightfully they are. I was literally blown away when I first heard the Kill em All album, at the age of 14, in the room of a friend of mine. The black, red and white album cover more or less defined my life at that point. A few years later, in middle school we formed a band and won a playback contest at the school dance, doing Whiplash. I was James Hetfield. I was actually the singer in a metal band at that time, though I faked the guitar parts – couldn’t play a note in real life, haha. I’m not that much into trash or death metal as you may have guessed by now, but Metallica is a part of my life. Saw them live a lot of times. Metallica is the biggest metal band of all time. Period.


Having read the whole list now and watched all the videos of the bands I knew (even if I didn’t know the song), I went back to the first page of the original blog. It states Here's, officially, the 50 best metal bands in the world. As voted by you.” But I think the “you” here is very, very American. I feel the visitors of this website, and hence the voters are mostly coming from the North American continent and therefore it is a very American List.


Missing bands

Composed by American voters. Otherwise I can’t explain the inclusion of bands like Killswitch Engage, Korn, System of a Down and, god forgive, Babymetal. At the same time, I can’t explain the absence of bands like Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions (selling 110 million records worldwide! More than Iron Maiden, just a couple of millions less than Metallica), Def Leppard, Michael Schenker, Accept and more European bands that definitely shaped and defined metal.

Sure, the list also doesn’t include Kiss, Whitesnake, WASP, and Van Halen (which are also American bands) but maybe the voters are to young to know them. Although they do vote for Paranoid, strangely.


Remember, metal didn’t arrive in the US untill the birth of Metallica – a band that is formed mainly by James Hetfield and Lars Ullrich, a Dane, for Christ sake. Thus, even the roots of Metallica are 50% European! Sure, it took of then, but not to the extent that this list pretends, I feel.

Also, a lot more – regarding to metal – is happening in Europe right now than in the US. And I feel the ‘modern’ European [powermetal] bands aren’t given enough credits in this list. Think Sabaton, Beast in Black, Nightwish, Within Temptation, Amaranthe, Stratovarius, Hammerfall, Dragonforce, Powerwolf, to name just a few.


I will now continue to watch and listen to the bands that I didn’t know. But a report on that will be for another time…

Peter Kassenaar – 29 March 2020

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