SUNSET & CLARK’S TOP 12 GREATEST ENDURING HEAVY METAL BANDS
When Ozzy Osbourne proclaimed in 1982 that “you can’t kill rock and roll,” he and fellow enduring metal icons like Metallica, Motley Crue and KISS have gone on to prove that notion over and over again by keeping arenas packed and the charts rocking decades after first plugging in their amps.
Rockin’ and rollin’ all night and partying every day are only a few of the enviable rewards of rock superstardom, which for some bands, ahem, Quiet Riot, often ends as quickly as it begins. Or, once-iconic groups continue to carry the torch, but in name only, such as the current incarnation of Axl Rose‘s Guns N’ Roses and the Sebastian Bach-less Skid Row.
But that’s not the case with the monsters of metal below that are as relevant today as they were back when your favorite guitarists wore mascara and had big, poofy hair.
Launched in Hollywood, California in 1981, Metallica has survived the death of original bassist Cliff Burton, image controversy and an infamous battle with Napster only to come out on top over 30 years later as the reigning kings of metal.
James Hetfield and the band have revealed that Metallica is working on a new album for a possible 2015 release. Lars Ulrich recently confirmed to Rolling Stone that the project is in the “fourth inning.”
2. MOTLEY CRUE
In the Motley Crue classic “Kickstart My Heart,” when frontman Vince Neil sang, “When we started this band all we needed, needed was a laugh. Years gone by, I’d say we’ve kicked some ass,” he wasn’t kidding! Since forming in 1981, the Bad Boys of Hollywood have become one of the biggest-selling American rock bands in history, selling over 80 million albums worldwide. Crue is currently rocking the planet on its farewell tour that makes a stop at Hollywood Bowl on July 21.
3. VAN HALEN
Surviving three incarnations of the band and years of behind-the-scenes boozy brawls, health scares, rocky on/off reunions and personality clashes, the near-original lineup of Van Halen, fronted by David Lee Roth, continues to rock arenas and the charts — minus bassist Michael Anthony, who has been replaced by Eddie’s son, Wolfgang Van Halen. In April 2014, on his podcast The Roth Show, the singer teased about currently “working on a great Van Halen project.”
In 1973, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss put on makeup, plugged in their gear and changed rock ‘n’ roll forever, becoming the most iconic and recognizable band in the world. Since then, KISS has endured lineup changes and short-lived reunions to become a certified pop culture institution. The ever-touring rockers recently launched an arena football team, L.A. KISS, and are currently moonlighting as models for fashion designer John Varvatos.
5. IRON MAIDEN
Formed in the mid-Seventies, British metal masters Iron Maiden had almost as many different band members as Spinal Tap had exploding drummers. But when Bruce Dickinson joined in 1981, the band released one future classic after another, with “Number of the Beast” and “Run to the Hills” becoming Maiden’s signature songs. Still packing arenas on its 2012-2014 Maiden England World Tour, Dickinson and crew also recently headlined Europe’s Monsters of Rock fest at Castle Donington for a fifth time.
6. JUDAS PRIEST
Sure, Britain’s Judas Priest had other frontmen throughout its career, but only Rob Halford really matters.
The on-again/off-again singer has been back with Priest since the early 2000s, and band tells Rolling Stone that their Summer 2014 release, Redeemer of Souls, is going to be a “very heavy record.”
7. BLACK SABBATH
Black Sabbath, which formed in England in 1968 and has had various famous lead singers, has regrouped again with original frontman Ozzy Osbourne in 2011. Since then, Sabbath has been rocking the world on a global tour, and the charts with the band’s latest album, 13.
8. BON JOVI
Sure, Richie Sambora may be M.I.A., but with Jon Bon Jovi at the mic, Bon Jovi will undoubtedly continue to rock a million faces with sold-out arena shows. Rumors are swirling that Sambora is looking to step back into the band soon, and that’s awesome news, but his sudden departure didn’t damper the success of Bon Jovi’s 2013 Because We Can: The Tour, which proves the iconic band’s superstar success has come near to piquing just yet, not even after 30 years as the best American rock band on the planet.
9. DEF LEPPARD
Powerhouse arena rockers Def Leppard lit the world on fire in 1983 with the British band’s third album, Pyromania. Instant rock classics like “Foolin’,” “Photograph” and “Rock of Ages” remain among Leppard’s concert staples, including on the band’s 2014 summer tour with KISS.
Legendary Hollywood thrash band Megadeth was launched in 1983 after frontman Dave Mustaine had a falling out with his former band, Metallica. Mustaine has since ended his feud and continues to keep Megadeth on the charts and selling out arenas alongside ’Tallica. Megadeth is currently in the studio working on the follow up to 2013’s Super Collider, which hit No. 6 the Billboard 200 albums chart.
Southern California rockers Slayer have been bringing their brash brand of thrash metal to the masses since 1981, and the band shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In Spring 2014, Slayer debuted a new single, “Implode,” and announced that a new album is due in 2015.
Anthrax put NYC’s thrash metal scene on the map in 1981 and went on to release countless hard rock hits, including “Bring the Noise,” “Indians,” “Antisocial” and, from 2011’s Worship Music, the 2012 single “I’m Alive.” Anthrax is currently touring and working on a new album to be released in Summer 2014.