14 Bands That Metallica Fans Should Listen To

Ever since Metallica stormed the rock industry with its aggressive, fast-paced style in 1981, the band has become important to many people, albeit for several different reasons (per Britannica). Most notably, the band was instrumental in the creation of thrash (or speed) metal. It also played a massive role in introducing a larger amount of the population to heavy metal as a whole, predominantly after the release of the "Black Album" in the early 1990s, which had mainstream appeal (via Spin).

These days, Metallica still has its core of diehard fans that have been with the band from the beginning and always will, but overall its base has expanded far outside the borders of heavy metal to an audience that's more diverse than ever. Punk rockers, alternative aficionados, and many others all appreciate Metallica. The band's large fan base means there are a great number of other acts fans will dig as well, all with ties to the various subgenres related to the band. Here are some of the best groups Metallica enthusiasts are sure to enjoy rocking out to.


For heavy metal fans that love Metallica, listening to Megadeth is a must (if somehow they have not done so already). Not only is Megadeth one of the top thrash metal groups of all time, but it was created by a founding member of Metallica, Dave Mustaine. In 1983, the lead guitarist was controversially thrown out of the band without any sort of heads-up. As he recalled to Loudwire, "The thing that really upset me was that they never gave me a warning and I never got a second chance. It was just, 'Hey man. You're out. See ya later.'"

Mustaine didn't let the upsetting decision keep him down, though, and worked quickly to establish his new project that same year with bassist David Ellefson (per AllMusic). Over the decades, Megadeth has had several members come and go, but the primary founder has remained all this time, and so has his characteristic, intense style of music. If you want to find a similar sound to Metallica with fast-paced guitars and especially dark lyrics, Megadeth is the perfect solution.


When it comes to thrash music, Metallica is considered the best by a significant number of metalheads. However, Slayer is often a solid second. Along with Megadeth and Anthrax, the band is an essential part of the exclusive group known as the "Big Four" of thrash metal and is, thus, necessary listening for those who cannot get enough of the extreme style of music. The band is so extreme, in fact, that its iconic album, "Reign in Blood," was rejected by its label Columbia Records in 1986 because of lyrics involving Nazis and Satanism, according to Billboard. Luckily, Geffen Records came to the rescue so the speed metal classic could reach the masses.

Since Slayer is pretty much the embodiment of hardcore metal, the band may be too much for those who prefer the softer tunes of Metallica post-1990. On the other hand, it would be nearly impossible to find a more renowned group with brutal songs and guitar solos of the same quality.


Among the "Big Four" legendary thrash bands, Anthrax may be the least consistent, given the band has been willing to push its music into other, sometimes radical, new directions. Even guitarist Gary Holt of the hugely respected band, Exodus, admitted to Metal Asylum that while members of Anthrax are old friends, "if you listen to those first few records they have definitely changed." 

While the guitarist does not specifically mention the works that he is referring to, it is hard to argue with the statement since the band made the revolutionary move to team up with Public Enemy for "Bring the Noise." That collaboration played a major role in creating the new hybrid subgenre of rap-metal, for better or worse (per Billboard).

Despite Anthrax's openness to experiment and alter its sound later in its career, the band was such an integral part of the thrash music scene from the very beginning that they should definitely be heard by anyone who enjoys Metallica. To dismiss Anthrax for a so-called lack of thrash purity would simply be a travesty because they will forever be legendary within the metal world. So, for those who like it when bands are not afraid to switch it up, Anthrax is a great option.

Flotsam and Jetsam

When thrash metal was thriving in the 1980s, there were many awesome bands outside of the "Big Four" who also played a huge part in forming the subgenre. Without a doubt, Flotsam and Jetsam is one of these groups and rose within the scene just a few years after Metallica.  The rock stars of Metallica were certainly impressed with at least one member of Flotsam and Jetsam, Jason Newsted, since the bassist joined the band after the tragic death of Cliff Burton in 1986 (per the Arizona Republic). 

The remaining members of Flotsam and Jetsam admitted that losing such an important bandmate was rough, but they overcame it and produced some great music in the following decades.

One aspect of Flotsam and Jetsam that sets it apart from some other bands in the genre is the quality of the clean vocals from lead singer Eric "A.K." Knutson. Although still solidly thrash, the voice of the talented frontman leads to a more melodic sound as opposed to the harshness of some other major rivals, like Slayer.


The success of Metallica in the 1980s may have put heavy metal music on another level, but they were far from the first in the genre, which was already firmly established in the 1970s (per Britannica). Among these early pioneers, Motörhead was a band that made a profound impact on Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, especially due to the harsh vocals of its frontman, Lemmy Kilmister. When talking with Rolling Stone as part of a tribute to the late singer, Ulrich said, "Lemmy is probably one of the absolute primary reasons that I wanted to be in a band. It's that simple."

Like the later thrash music embodied by Metallica, Motörhead were masters of intense, high-tempo songs, mixed brilliantly with a hard rock sound and solid guitar solos. Ulrich jokes that he is the unofficial president of the Motörhead Fan Club in the U.S. for good reason, so fans of the drummer's music are sure to dig his idol's albums as well.


As Motörhead played a crucial role in Lars Ulrich's decision to pursue a career as a musician, UFO had the same effect on the young Kirk Hammett. In a conversation with Guitar World, Metallica's lead guitarist explained why UFO's album "Force It," made the biggest impact on his life: "That record taught me a lot about solo structure, phasing and melody, as well as playing for the song. I was amazed how UFO could be so heavy and so melodic in the course of one song."

With a history reaching back even before 1971, when the band took on the name UFO, the British rockers were among the first major players in the metal scene (per AllMusic). So, for those who seek an OG in the genre that has hard rock credentials and a quality layer of the early progressive style, UFO is essential listening. Since Hammett was clearly impressed by the band upon discovering them, Metallica fans are likely to feel the same the first time they hear them as well.

Iron Maiden

Along with bands like UFO and Motörhead, Iron Maiden is among the legendary rock bands of the U.K. who paved the way for future metal acts both in that country and across the sea in the U.S. (per AllMusic). This is so true that Metallica co-founder Lars Ulrich credits Iron Maiden as the most influential in the forming of his own band. In an interview with Apple Music, the drummer told Zane Low, "They have always been, [of] the hard rock bands, the one that's probably inspired Metallica the most, they had cooler record covers" (via Metal Injection).

However, the badass artwork of the band's album covers is only a minor reason why Iron Maiden is so revered, not just in heavy metal circles, but throughout the entire rock industry. Most importantly, the band features epic lyrics, impressive dual-guitar solos, and intense yet melodic vocals. Listening to the metal gods is fun in a lot of scenarios, but the music is especially perfect for the gym, as Ulrich emphasized. "I've been hitting the first couple Iron Maiden albums, which always are great to work out to," he told Apple Music. 


As a Metallica fan, checking out Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax may already seem like a given, since all three bands are almost as well-known as Metallica. On the other hand, Kirk Hammett's first band, Exodus, does not receive nearly as much recognition as it truly deserves, despite being considered to be the same superb quality of thrash metal. When the Metallica guitarist was talking about his former group with Metal Hammer, he admitted, "I think their first album is just as good as [Metallica's] 'Kill 'Em All.'"

Hammett is not the only one to heap such praise on the veteran heavy metal act. His deep respect for Exodus is shared by the Megadeth frontman as well. In an interview with Radio.com, Dave Mustaine was asked if any other thrash masters belonged in the prestigious "Big Four," and replied, "I think probably Exodus, because there was nobody else at the time that had that kind of pull or that kind of importance in the metal community" (per Blabbermouth).

Understandably, Exodus guitarist Gary Holt could not agree more with that assessment. As he told Metal Asylum, "I think it should be the 'Big Five' with Exodus because we were there at the start of thrash metal with Metallica in the real early 80s." Such vital figures within the metal world cannot all be wrong, which is a major sign to Metallica fans that if they have not done so already, they need to listen to Exodus.


Voivod is one of, if not the, best thrash metal bands to come out of Canada. They too are longtime veterans of the genre with decades of experience, since the group formed back in 1981 (AllMusic). The fact that Jason Newsted became a member after leaving Metallica a couple of decades later shows the band's quality, since the talented musician likely had all sorts of options at that time.

The bassist was certainly satisfied with the switch, however, telling MTV, "I've been a fan of Voivod for many, many years," and adding, "I get to live two dreams in one lifetime, and very few people get even a chance for one." Plus, Newsted went so far as to reveal that he believed he was in a better position having left his former group, stating with confidence, "I think that I'm in a band now that can kick their ass."

It is up for debate whether Voivod is actually the better of the two bands, but what is certain is that the Canadian rockers should not be ignored by those who can't get enough thrash metal. Not only would Metallica fans definitely enjoy Newsted's contribution to the group, but there is also a good chance they will find the band's effective use of hard rock and progressive metal, along with a hint of jazz, quite refreshing.

Guns N' Roses

While Guns N' Roses is more hard rock-oriented with aspects of heavy metal, the band was at its height when Metallica veered a bit away from its traditional thrash style in that direction for the "Black Album" in 1991 (and with great success). As Slash explained to Spin, "The Black Album crossed over in a way that made them a household name and they achieved that while maintaining their sonic integrity, songwriting and attitude. They took their signature style and recorded an album that became universally accessible, but still f***ing cool."

Diehard fans may not have been pleased with the more mainstream approach of the iconic album (as well as the music like it that Metallica released afterward). But for those who appreciate what they created outside of the thrash borders, Guns N' Roses should be near the top of the list of bands to check out. The group has not had the longevity of Metallica, but that does not diminish how Guns N' Roses stood alongside Metallica at the top of the rock industry in the early 1990s (per Ultimate Classic Rock).

Alice in Chains

Like Guns N' Roses, Alice in Chains was another major hard rock act of the 1990s, but with far more diversity in its musical style. The group not only had strong connections to the rising grunge movement of the era, but its effective mix of alternative music with a heavier sound made them one of the pioneers of the developing subgenre of alternative metal (per AllMusic).

The heavy metal roots of Alice in Chains alone make it ideal listening for Metallica fans, especially those who enjoy music from the "Black Album" onwards. But the opinions of the Metallica band members themselves should also reinforce that belief. Metallica members had such respect for their fellow musicians that the band's 2008 album, "Death Magnetic," was created in part to honor the Alice in Chains frontman after his tragic struggle with drug addiction. James Hetfield told Guitar World, "Lyrically, it started as a bit of a tribute to Layne Staley and all those who've martyred themselves in the name of rock and roll. But it grew and evolved from there."

The Misfits

The Misfits are a great band for Metallica fans to check out, but not because it has similar, heavy music. Instead, metalheads should consider giving the punk rockers a listen simply due to the fact that Metallica members are such huge fans themselves, and have been for a very long time. The Misfits were founded shortly before the metal band in the late 1970s, and it was not long after that one of Metallica's earliest members, Cliff Burton, got a "crimson ghost" tattoo, the traditional mascot of the punk group, says Metal Sucks. Later, as the rockers grew in popularity, Metallica was also more than happy to support the punk band by wearing its shirts in public.

The Misfits were the first to establish what would later become horror punk, but have been strongly connected to the hardcore metal scene as well. And since thrash is essentially the fusion of heavy metal with hardcore punk, Metallica fans will probably find themselves pleasantly surprised with The Misfits' music. 


In its decades as one of the greatest rock bands of all time, Metallica went from being inspired by the original heavy metal legends to becoming one themselves, and now serves as inspiration for future acts. Mastodon is one of these later groups that was heavily influenced by Metallica, especially when it comes to bassist Troy Sanders. He told ARTISTdirect, "Metallica is a giant reason why I picked up the bass and why I'm where I'm at today" (via Blabbermouth). So, it was understandably sort of surreal for the bassist when his own band got to perform with the rockstars he looked up to for so many years. Sanders added, "It's just Mastodon and Metallica across Russia for a couple of shows. If you flashback and told 13-year-old Troy this information, my head would've exploded."

Founded in 1999, Mastodon is solidly metal, yet with a more modern-alternative and progressive style than the older masters of thrash (per AllMusic). For Metallica fans who want to see how heavy metal has evolved over the decades, Mastodon is a good option.  

Killswitch Engage

Like Mastodon and many other more recent metal bands, Killswitch Engage is another group that has been heavily influenced by Metallica's massive contribution to the thrash subgenre. When interviewed by Radioactive Mike at KCAL 96.7, guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz revealed, "James Hetfield has pretty much shaped the guitar player that I am. I grew up on Metallica, pretty much. Those riffs taught me how to play guitar" (via Metal Sucks). 

The guitarist added, "Right when '...And Justice For All' came out, that's when I was, like, 'What the hell is this? This is so sick.' And then I kind of worked my way backwards. I feel like the entire catalog, from the 'Black Album' back, is just, like, a classic, man."

Killswitch Engage may not be thrash, but the band was hugely responsible for raising the popularity of the newer subgenre metalcore, after their album, "Alive Or Just Breathing," was released in 2002 (per Metal Hammer). Very similar to the thrash style of music, metalcore also has its roots in hardcore punk, but is distinguished by its more frequent use of melodic vocals and guitars amidst contrasting breakdowns and harsh screams. Out of the many heavy metal acts established in the last two decades, is almost guaranteed that Metallica fans will appreciate what KSE has contributed to the genre.