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Bands Main Bands A-Z: Black Sabbath News Archive: Black Sabbath
1. Black Sabbath
2. Judas Priest
4. Iron Maiden
10. Motley Crue
Celebrity Top 10's
The MTV Metal Brain Trust
The Brain Trust has spoken and now the readers have weighed in. Check out their top 10s and share your own in You Tell Us.
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When you're talking about the greatest of all time, "honorable mention" is no disgrace — and the dozen brilliant bands listed below show just how tough this competition was. The debate over the top 10 lasted for more than two hours, so the brain trust reverted to the mathematical list for the runners-up. We noticed a couple of trends at work here: Bands who have been enormously influential in the metal world but aren't necessarily metal bands (Alice in Chains, Faith No More, Tool, Van Halen), and others who are established but haven't been around long enough to cross into greatest-of-all-time status (System of a Down, In Flames), and are likely contenders for a G.O.A.T. list in five or 10 years time.
Alice in Chains
Nirvana and Mudhoney may have approached grunge from a punk direction, but Alice in Chains poured their sludge through a filter of gleaming metal. Their songs were filled with desperation and loaded with hooks, highlighting a duality between beauty and ugliness that inspired a new generation of songwriters. Sadly, frontman Layne Staley was just as troubled and agonized as he sounded, and died from a heroin overdose in 2002.
Along with Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth, Anthrax were pioneers of thrash metal in the '80s and recorded the essential 1987 platter Among the Living (produced by Hendrix/ Zeppelin/ Kiss vet Eddie Kramer). They also helped pave the way for rap-metal via their 1991 collaboration with Public Enemy on "Bring the Noise." But in 1993, with alternative music on the rise, they fired singer Joey Belladonna and brought in the grittier John Bush, a move that alienated some fans. Then, in 2005, Anthrax rehired Belladonna and the rest of their classic late '80s/early '90s lineup for a tour of the golden oldies. Future recording plans have not yet been announced.
Faith No More
Cited as the most influential band to the nu-metal movement, Faith No More were wonderfully strange and creative, molding aspects of metal, hard rock, funk, prog, rap and pop into an eclectic battery of songs. Fronting the assault was Mike Patton, one of the best, most bizarre and individual singers ever to bang his head. While metal was just one element of FNM's wildly eclectic sound, their influence is immense and enduring.
The progenitors of Swedish melodic death metal along with At the Gates, In Flames combined monstrous growls with progressive rhythms and hypercharged guitar harmonies redolent of Iron Maiden. While the band was 100 percent metal, it had a major influence on the current crop of metalcore acts including Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall and Atreyu.�
It doesn't hurt to be a founding member of Metallica when you're vying for a place as one of the top metal bands of all time. After being ejected from the band in 1983, just weeks before Kill 'Em All was recorded, Dave Mustaine formed Megadeth, which released four great technical thrash albums, including 1990's virtuosic Rust in Peace. Between 1992 and 2002, however, Megadeth strived to be more commercial and lost much of their heaviness. Fortunately, they returned to classic thrash form with 2004's The System Has Failed.
Like Venom before them, Denmark's Mercyful Fate wrote unrepentant metal songs that glorified evil. But while Venom were a horror show, Mercyful Fate were fronted by an actual Satanist, King Diamond, whose stage makeup may have been stolen from Kiss, but still influenced hordes of future Norwegian black metal face-painters. Mercyful Fate's songs were crushing and multifaceted, combining deft guitar work reminiscent of Judas Priest with harrowing, melodramatic vocals.
While they started out as an electronic pop band, Ministry eventually became the most confrontational industrial-metal group, paving the way for Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. Frontman Al Jourgensen and his right-hand man, Paul Barker, achieved their grating, oppressive sound by combining computerized noise and sound bytes with pounding beats and shearing metal riffs. Barker left the band in 2003, but Jourgensen continues to spread the ill will.
Brazil's most successful metal band started in the mid-'80s playing a frantic hybrid of Slayer-esque thrash and early death metal. By the early '90s, however, they had evolved into an innovative outfit that incorporated hardcore and tribal rhythms in their sound and helped to lay the groundwork for nu-metal and metalcore. Frontman Max Cavalera quit in 1997 and formed Soulfly; Sepultura carried on, but without Cavalera they've never been as strong.
System of a Down
A bizarre and artful combination of thrash, hardcore, pop and the traditional music of Armenia (a cultural heritage all four members share), System of a Down create insanely challenging songs that still retain mainstream appeal. Credit guitarist Daron Malakian, who can make even the heaviest riffs catchy enough to hum, and singer Serj Tankian for addressing themes of political significance alongside Dr. Seuss-style lunacy.
They'd be the last ones to call themselves heavy metal, but if you scan metal chatboards you'll find Tool getting as much love from extreme-metal fans as they do from the mainstream. That's because they're the definition of integrity, playing progressive, psychedelic and ominous songs that are alternately dreamy, drifty and heavy as a brick-filled suitcase.
There was much debate in the brain trust over whether or not Van Halen is a metal band (Is David Lee Roth a metal artist? Is Sammy Hagar?), which is the reason for this comparatively low placement. Still, it's impossible to deny the strength of the band's first four albums or the guitar prowess of Eddie Van Halen, who virtually revolutionized the metal guitar lead.
This Newcastle, England, trio predated thrash and black metal with a roaring, Satanic sound that combined the speed (but not skill) of Motörhead, the sinister quality of Sabbath and the showmanship of Kiss — on a low budget. The quality of their songs is debatable, but they clearly influenced Slayer, Bathory and Possessed. Plus, Venom get bonus points for coining the term "black metal" with their 1982 album of the same name.
Do Danzig deserve another listen? Take a crack at your own metal-greats list and check out other reader responses in You Tell Us.
NEXT: But enough about the past, here's a look at metal's future ... Photo: MTV News
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