Oh Rolling Stone. The 44 year-old magazine pretty much ignored metal until Metallica’s Black Album came out, famously trashing albums by Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC when they came out before changing their minds years later. Now the magazine has unveiled an online readers poll online of “The Top 10 Metal Bands of All Time.” It’s worth a view, and there aren’t too many surprises, with a few exceptions. First of all, it’s obvious that the typical Rolling Stone reader is seen as a baby boomer in their 40s or 50s, which might explain why Led Zeppelin came in at number 8 in the poll. Sure, you can talk about how they were one of the first heavy bands out there, and that Jimmy Page’s guitar skills and Plant’s, um ‘Golden God-ness’ influenced legions of metal bands, but I can’t imagine anyone under the age of 40 that would consider Led Zeppelin metal at all.
Another puzzling inclusion is that of Dream Theater. Not to take away from them, because they’re a fine band that have been around for well over 20 years and are still relevant today. But the band came in at #2, just behind Metallica. That says a lot more about their fans being able to mobilize and rally on the interwebs more than it does anything else. They’re definitely a metal band, but it’s hard to imagine anyone outside of their hardcore fans mentioning them in the same breath as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Pantera Slayer and Black Sabbath. As they note in the article, at least they did go on pure votes, instead of disqualifying them because they didn’t fit the magazine’s idea of who one of the top ten bands should be.
Tool, who came in at #10, would probably hate to hear themselves referred to as metal, and whether they qualify in the grand scheme of things as a metal band is a different article for a different time, but we’re fine with their inclusion. It is telling that of the ten bands on the list, they’re the only one that formed after 1990. As for the rest of the list, this is Rolling Stone at the end of the day, so anyone expecting the likes of Mayhem, At the Gates or Voivod to appear on the list should probably pick up Decibel instead and be happy that Bon Jovi didn’t make it on. Check out the full list here.