Inspired by the famous “Big 4” of thrash metal — Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax – we published our ultimate ranking of the top four acts in 17 other metal subgenres. It was a polarizing piece, for sure, but one that simply had to be made (and was a blast to put together). Now, we’re setting our sights on the main four within 10 formative rock and punk categories.

From the seminal days of British rock and classic rock to the heights of indie, grunge, hardcore, emo and more, each of the following 40 bands deserves acclaim for their contributions. After all, they formed the musical, political, social and aesthetic backdrops of our lives.

As usual, our picks won’t always align with your picks, so we invite you to contribute to the discourse by telling us what we got right, what we got wrong, and what we missed entirely!

The 'Big 4' of 10 Rock + Punk Subgenres

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