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10 Best American Metal Bands

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Heavy metal music may have originated in England and now spans every corner of the globe, but American bands have played a major role in dictating the evolution of the genre. In the ’70s, those contributions tended to pale in comparison to the aforementioned Brits, but the ’80s turned the tide with the rise of American thrash metal. And the ensuing decades have added further candidates to a long list of outstanding U.S. metal acts. We hereby celebrate their achievements with our picks for the 10 Best American Metal Bands. Check out the video above or the list below to see our choices.


Lamb of God



Of all the so-called New Wave of American Heavy Metal Bands that collectively threw headbangers a lifeline to start the current millennium, arguably none have produced as much quality metal, year in and year out — and thus endeared themselves to legions of fans — as Lamb of God. That’s reason enough to let Randy Blythe and company kick off our list of the 10 Best American Metal Bands.






In case you missed the memo, Chuck Schuldiner was God and his the group he fronted, Death, were America’s greatest death metal band. Plain and simple. What the band could have accomplished, had Schuldiner not died in 2001, is only vaguely imaginable thanks to the astounding evolution achieved before his passing. Listen and learn…






If heavy metal is ultimately about powerful sounds venting powerful emotions, then the masked marauders in Slipknot really do live up to their considerable hype — particularly onstage, where the Iowa misfits can typically be counted on to leave both Maggots and haters drained, wide-eyed and dumbfounded in the face of their singular intensity.






The first (but hardly the last) Big Four band to encroach upon our list, New York thrash titans Anthrax bear the distinction of taking the style to polar extremes of seriousness and humor before the ‘80s were through while also — oh yeah! — anticipating the union of metal and rap via their prescient collaboration with Public Enemy on ‘Bring the Noise’ as well as their ‘I’m the Man’ single.






Some members of Tool might actually be chafed over being included in our list of 10 Best American Metal Bands, but it was the metal community which first embraced the eclectic outfit led by the eccentric Maynard James Keenan. No single musical category can truly describe the group’s complex sound, yet the massive impact that Tool have made on the metal scene and beyond is undeniable.



System of a Down



System of a Down may be one of the most oddball bands to break through to the mainstream masses, but the simple fact is that they’ve put out some of the most infectious metal songs of the 21st century. The band’s sophomore album, ‘Toxicity,’ is a modern classic and managed to convert millions of fans to the group’s ever-quirky, thought-provoking and highly original spin on heavy metal.






Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine may be one of the metal world’s most polarizing figures, but he and his band are among its most prolific acts. After 30 years and counting and more lives than the average feline, there’s no denying Megadeth’s impressive discography and considerable influence on metal — and rightful placement among the 10 best American metal bands.






While most heavy metal bands struggled to earn their keep throughout the alternative rock-ruled 1990s, Pantera friggin’ RULED! Powered by the twin threats of Dimebag Darrell’s seismic guitar wizardry and Philip Anselmo’s imposing vocal prowess and sheer charisma, the Texas quartet was virtually unstoppable … until they stopped themselves.






While Slayer‘s importance in the metal world has never been questioned, the impassioned response to the recent passing of riff-master Jeff Hanneman highlighted just how much the band has influenced the genre. This American metal institution simply refuses to be silenced and continues to persevere. Oh and, when in doubt, just remember these three words: ‘Reign in Blood.’






Whatever your thoughts about Metallica’s recent releases, there’s no arguing with the stats. Whether you’re looking at record sales, influential reach or overall musical output (name another band that issued three absolutely essential albums in a row to start their career), Metallica take the crown as the best American metal band — and rank right up there with Sabbath, Priest and Maiden among the greatest metal acts of all-time.



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