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Top 10 British Metal Bands

VO: Richard Bush
Written by Andrea Buccino Step aside, Metallica. The true Gods of Heavy Metal come from the Old World. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 British Metal Bands. For this list, we take a look at the best bands to come out of the British metal scene, including pioneers and trailblazers that changed the shape of the genre and of music as a whole. Special thanks to our users Sharpoint, james cloutman and Elliott Twist for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 British Metal Bands


Step aside, Metallica. The true Gods of Heavy Metal come from the Old World. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 British Metal Bands.

For this list, we take a look at the best bands to come out of the British metal scene, including pioneers and trailblazers that changed the shape of the genre and of music as a whole.

#10: My Dying Bride

Hailing from Bradford in 1990, My Dying Bride are one of the great doom metal bands, and forebearers of the death-doom and gothic metal subgenres. Still recording and touring, they have made a calling card of their unique take on metal – a sound rich with slow tempos and heavy sounds interspersed with abundant strings and keyboards, and a drawling growl of baritone depression from frontman Aaron Stainthorpe. Though not against the use of more melodic riffs and tunes, they nonetheless acquire an appreciation for the heavier, more complex and challenging side of metal.

#9: Cradle of Filth

One of Britain's best known extreme metal bands, these shock rockers make Marilyn Manson look like little more than an angsty teenager. Cradle of Filth started their career with a low-fi black metal sound, but soon evolved towards a more accomplished gothic and symphonic style. Throughout their rise, frontman and founder Dani Filth's love for shock value has never abated, and their imagery remains some of the most brutal, excessive yet interesting in British music - with the band never really forsaking its satanic roots and hellish screams.

#8: Rainbow

The style of famed guitarist Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow has changed over the years, with the line-up going through minor and major rehauls with almost every studio album - in line with Ritchie’s ever-evolving musical direction. Legendary vocalist and future Black Sabbath alum Ronnie James Dio was behind the mic during the band's first iteration - a period best described as neoclassical metal - but left early in their run, being replaced by Graham Bonnet and later Joe Lynn Turner as Rainbow gained more and more commercial success and recognition.

#7: Carcass

Among the greats of death metal, and widely considered instrumental in the inception of grindcore and melodic death metal, Carcass are another British metal band whose seismic influence spreads far and wide. With gruesome artwork and charged, morbid and graphic lyrics, their iconography is still some of the most recognisable of any band. Relatively short-lived in their first incarnation, they lasted on the scene from 1988 to ’96, only to reform with every original member in 2007 – with the exception of drummer Ken Owen, who bowed out due to health-related issues.

#6: Diamond Head

They’re one of the great exponents of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and one of the biggest influences over thrash metal. And bands like Metallica and Megadeth, by their own admission, owe them a great deal. Diamond Head have been around since the mid '70s, but achieved most fame in the '80s. Their song "Am I Evil?" is universally recognised as one of the greatest achievements in Metal, with multiple bands covering it, yet none reaching the splendid heights of the anthemic original.

#5: Venom

The godfathers of black metal, Venom brought the extreme side of the genre into infernal light, paving the way for countless to follow, from Mayhem to Death and Metallica. Their satanic imagery, coupled with fast and hard riffs make them as hard-hitting now as they were in their heyday. Better yet, they can still carry a gig like nobody’s business, even when drunk, playing out of tune instruments and failing to keep the tempo while sprinting around the stage. But that, after all, is also what black metal is all about.

#4: Motörhead

Nobody embodied Heavy Metal quite like Lemmy, founder and frontman of Motörhead. The band he created, as well as being one of the coolest to ever step on a stage, preceded the new wave of British Heavy Metal and pioneered a style that would later find its way in new and numerous sub-genres. An icon and a monument, Motörhead are a band that every true metalhead absolutely needs to listen to. Preferably at a ridiculously high volume in a densely populated residential area.

#3: Judas Priest

They're consistently ranked as one of the greatest metal bands of all time – and that's because they are. Fast, hard and powerful, their music was unlike anything else in the ‘80s especially, with Priest setting the scene for much to come. This band are what pure, unadulterated metal sounds like, as the utter cool of their riffs and the power of Rob Halford’s voice is enough to fill any audience with awe. Halford was also one of the first to come out as gay in the world of metal, which earns him even more respect.

#2: Iron Maiden

They're probably the most popular metal band in the world, selling out arenas from London to Rio on a regular basis and sporting one of the largest discographies in the entire genre, including classics every metal fan knows every word of by heart. In fact, Iron Maiden are a true British institution, so much so they even have an ale to their name! From their iconic album covers to the stadium-slaying music they’ve been playing for decades, it’s no surprise Maiden hold a special spot in the blackened hearts of every metal fan.

#1: Black Sabbath

The true trailblazers of heavy metal, Black Sabbath set the scene for this entire sprawling genre, before bringing it to new and unheard of heights. It goes without question that these four Brummies pretty well single-handedly invented metal, and no list – let alone the genre itself – would be complete without them. From founder Tony Iommi’s visionary, doomy music, Geezer Butler's equally dark lyrics, Bill Ward's tight, driving drums, and original frontman Ozzy Osbourne’s haunting vocals, there are countless reasons they’re universally considered the greatest metal band of all time.
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