From Judas Priest to Iron Maiden: the best heavy metal bands of the 80s

From Judas Priest to Iron Maiden: the best heavy metal bands of the 80s

From Judas Priest to Iron Maiden: The Best Heavy Metal Bands of the 80s


The 80s were the heyday of heavy metal, with an explosion of bands and sub-genres that brought the music to the forefront of the scene. From Judas Priest to Iron Maiden, the best heavy metal bands of the 80s have left a lasting impression on music culture. In this article, we'll delve into the music, history, and legacy of some of the most iconic heavy metal bands of the era.

Judas Priest: The Godfathers of Heavy Metal

Judas Priest is often considered one of the first heavy metal bands, with a sound that combined the hard rock of the 70s with the faster, heavier elements of the emerging sub-genre. Led by frontman Rob Halford, Priest set the stage for the 80s metal scene with their albums British Steel and Screaming for Vengeance. Their leather-clad image and Halford's high-pitched wails were a defining aspect of the band's appeal.

One of the standout tracks from Screaming for Vengeance is "You've Got Another Thing Comin'," a driving anthem that became a rallying cry for the metal movement. The song features a signature opening riff, pounding drums, and Halford's soaring vocals. Judas Priest's influence can be felt in the work of many of today's metal bands, making them one of the most important groups of the era.

Iron Maiden: The Kings of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal

While Judas Priest set the stage for heavy metal, Iron Maiden took the scene to new heights with their unique brand of "New Wave of British Heavy Metal." The band's trademark sound featured galloping bass lines, intricate guitar solos, and the operatic vocals of frontman Bruce Dickinson. With massive hits like "Number of the Beast" and "Run to the Hills," Iron Maiden became one of the biggest metal bands in the world.

One of the defining characteristics of Iron Maiden's music is their storytelling. Many of their songs are based on historical events or literature, giving their music a depth and complexity that set them apart from other metal bands. The band's mascot, Eddie, also became an iconic symbol of the metal scene, appearing on album covers and live performances alike.

Motley Crue: The Bad Boys of Metal

Motley Crue was one of the most notorious bands of the 80s metal scene, known for their wild partying and larger-than-life personalities. They combined elements of punk rock, glam, and metal to create a sound that was uniquely their own. One of their biggest hits, "Shout at the Devil," captured the rebellious spirit of the era.

Motley Crue's image was just as important as their music, with each member sporting a distinct look that embodied the excess and decadence of the era. Singer Vince Neil's bleach blond hair and tight leather pants became a fashion statement, while drummer Tommy Lee's over-the-top antics (such as performing while suspended upside down) added to the band's overall spectacle.

Metallica: Thrash Metal's Finest Hour

While Judas Priest and Iron Maiden were more traditional metal bands, Metallica emerged from the California thrash metal scene to become one of the most innovative groups of the decade. Their early albums such as Kill 'Em All and Ride the Lightning combined breakneck speed with complex song structures and introspective lyrics. But it was their 1986 album Master of Puppets that cemented Metallica's legacy as one of the best metal bands of all time.

Master of Puppets features several classic Metallica tracks, including the epic "Battery," the political statement "Disposable Heroes," and the haunting title track. The album's thrash metal sound was a defining moment for the genre, and it inspired countless other bands to push the limits of what was possible in heavy music.


The 80s metal scene was a time of innovation, excess, and rebellion. Whether you were a fan of Judas Priest's classic metal sound, Iron Maiden's epic storytelling, Motley Crue's punk-infused glam, or Metallica's thrash metal fury, there was something for everyone. These bands paved the way for countless others to follow in their footsteps, and their legacy continues to inspire new generations of metal musicians and fans alike.