We have so many threads dedicated to albums, I'm actually a fan of dedicating one specifically to bands. So with that said here's
RelentlessOblivion's Top 20 Metal Bands
Nile tend to be a divisive band. You either like them or you don't. I love the Egyptian vibe present in both their music and lyrics. Their earlier albums are their best but that's ok plenty of great bands peaked early. Essential album: Annihilation Of The Wicked.
I loved Anathema's death/doom work but the atmospheric rock road they've gone down since doesn't work for me which is why they sit so low. Essential Album: The Silent Enigma.
There's a lot to like about Pentagram, heavy groovy riffs, competent vocals, good songwriting. The only thing not to like is how sporadic their albums are. Essential album: Day of Reckoning.
17. Iron Maiden
Call it fan-boying if you want but with nearly 40 years in the business Maiden must be doing something right. So far as I'm concerned six of their first seven albums are near untouchable for heavy metal but they've not done much of note since so that hurts the rating a bit. Essential album: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
The kings of melodic black metal, and that one melodic death metal album, deserve to be recognised for their achievements. Spin these guys in the middle of winter for the optimal listening experience. Essential album: The Somberlain
When Cathedral are good they craft a stunningly heavy, often psychadelic sound that simply can't be topped. When they're not good though it's often a boring experience. Essential album: Forest of Equilibrium.
Another band with extraordinary longevity Candlemass have brought their brand of epic doom to the world for thirty some years at this point and show no signs of slowing down. The Door to Doom may not be their best ever album but you still get the feeling these ageing rockers have plenty to give and their early albums are some of the heaviest traditional doom albums you could ever hear. Essential album: Nightfall.
13. Blind Guardian
The Tolkien-inspired imagery and lyrics paired with folkish melodies make Blind Guardian a memorable band. All of their efforts go into creating a sound which does the grandeur of Tolkien's Middle Earth justice. If you ever wondered what sort of music elves would make with electric guitars this is the band for you. Essential album: Nightfall In Middle Earth.
The grindcore-turned-melodic death metal nutters have written some of the most furious songs in metal, and some of the most interesting melodic lines in death metal. They can be somewhat divisive but I love them. Essential album: Necroticism.
11. Sadistik Exekution
Intense, that's the best way of summing up Sad-Ex. There is absolutely no let up, no end to the pummeling. From start to finish it's an assault on the ears courtesy of a punk/death/black metal fusion. Essential Album: We Are Death, Fukk You.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if the ocean could write music? So did Ahab and so they set about writing music which captures that odd musing. Their sound alternates between tranquil, almost soothing, sections and crushing heaviness which hits like a tidal wave. Throw in some Moby Dick inspired lyrics and imagery for an epic win. Essential album: The Divinity of Oceans.
9. Type O Negative
Like Requiem I don't absolutely love everything TON put out but even their weaker material (Life Is Killing Me imo) is still at least half enjoyable. Pete's vocals got better with time and the band never lost their sense of humour. 'Til the end they were just four dicks from Brooklyn out to have a good time. Essential album: Bloody Kisses.
8. Judas Priest
Another classic heavy metal icon. Priest deserve the Metal Gods label for their longevity, consistency, and the fact that they are still releasing quality albums. They're past their prime but Priest can still rock it with the best of them. Essential album: Stained Class.
7. Black Sabbath
Without Sabbath there would be no metal it really is that simple. It has been said that every great riff in metal is just putting a spin on something Tony Iommi has already written and whilst I wouldn't go that far he has written a crazy number of iconic riffs. When even non-metal fans recognise your riffs you are an icon. Essential album: Master of Reality (but don't make me choose).
6. Bolt Thrower
Bolt Thrower are a pillar of the UK death metal scene. Their consistency is incredible and once you've heard one album you'll instantly recognise the band. Listening to Bolt Thrower is like being slowly crushed by a tank, but in a good way. Essential album: Warmaster.
Trouble's first four albums are the heaviest traditional doom has to offer. It's music which seems at odds with the overtly Christian lyrics and imagery the band frequently use. Then again some of the most violent art ever made was inspired by Christianity so maybe it's not so strange. Anyway if you like your doom to be super heavy (and isn't that the point) this is for you. Essential album: Psalm 9.
I know, I know, the number four spot and they only released one full-length album and a compilation. It speaks to the quality of that release doesn't it? dISEMBOWELMENT crafted a crushing, bleak, cavernous sound. The vocals are about as low as growls can go and the tempo fluctuates between crawling atmospheric sections and frenzied onslaughts. These Australians mastered funeral doom/death before it was really even a thing and for that they deserve to be heard. Essential album: dISEMBOWELMENT compilation (it's the best way to hear everything they ever did on one record).
3. Mournful Congregation
Mournful Congregation are, without a doubt, the best band to ever come out of South Australia. They craft an intricate melodic kind of funeral doom that loses none of the heaviness you'd expect from the style. The atmosphere is melancholic and the melodies are beautiful, funeral doom doesn't get much better. Essential album: The Monad of Creation.
Bathory started as a thrashy first-wave black metal band and played the style magnificently. They then, along with Enslaved, pretty much invented Viking metal and mastered that style as well. With 8 classic albums that you simply must hear Bathory are as close to flawless as you can get (unless you're the number 1 band on my list). Just ignore the retro thrash rubbish they briefly flirted with and you'll be fine. Essential album: Hammerheart for viking metal, Blood Fire Death for black metal.
Chuck Schuldiner's Death are quite simply flawless. Despite numerous personnel changes and three distinct sounds Death never released a bad, or even an average album. Their debut is a thrashy, raw, extreme metal album. They followed that up with two records which epitomise the Floridian death metal sound before evolving into a technical/melodic death metal juggernaut. They finished off with a progressive, technical, masterpiece which sounds like nothing else in death metal before or since. Quite simply Death are as good as it gets in Death metal. Listen to them, now! Essential album (as if I could pick just one): The Sound of Perseverance.
Honourable mentions: Morbid Angel, Mayhem, Angel Witch, Thergothon, Dark Angel.