Now, before all you Metal fans out there go on the offensive, "How can Slayer be first in Thrash when Testament kicks ass?" Let's just say this isn’t about how much ass a band can kick, (everybody knows that both Testament and Slayer kick ass), but about how successful they are on social media and streaming services. In short, the more engagement, plays, and views a certain band has on different channels, the higher it ranks. Is everybody ok with that? Yeah? Brutal.
First, I’d like to mention the top 10 Metal bands on our overall Metal fan-based scale. Metallica is #1, followed by Slipknot, Rammstein, System of a Down, Iron Maiden, Korn, Bring Me the Horizon, Megadeth, Five Finger Death Punch, and Bullet For My Valentine. Metallica, Slipknot and Rammstein also made it among the most popular artists on the Viberate 200 overall chart. Now, Metal isn’t as popular as Pop and some other genres, but it has millions of die-hard fans all over the world.
Metallica is on top, as the band has the most followers and the highest engagement on channels such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, and SoundCloud. Being on social media can be a job in itself, but more and more Metal bands are starting to see the importance of using them. Let’s break it down and check who the top players are for specific subgenres of Metal.
Pioneers of Nu-Metal Korn have been around since 1993, and before you start ranting that they’re not Metal (even singer Jonathan Davis once said that Korn is more a Funk than a Metal band), it has to be said that they did make a big impact on the Metal scene, influencing bands such as Machine Head, Sepultura, and Slipknot. Korn have 3.4M Spotify followers, which is a lot for a Metal band, and they have 11M monthly listeners on YouTube. It may be because they know how to take care of their fans. Here’s an example: In 1998, 18-year-old high school student Eric Van Hoven was suspended for wearing a Korn shirt to school in Michigan. The shirt was declared indecent and vulgar, and the young man was suspended. The story made it into the papers and Korn sued the school while publicly supporting Eric.
Yeah, Metallica is great, up to the "Black Album", right? The fact is that Metallica is still one of the biggest Metal acts out there, and they have been one of the greatest since forming in 1981. Over the years, they've survived everything – the tragic death of Cliff Burton, the fiasco with Napster, Hetfield’s drinking, and quite a few lineup changes. A lot of fans sort of abandoned the band when they changed their style with the “Load” and “Reload” albums, but a lot of them returned after “St. Anger”. Even though the album didn’t get as much praise as their first records, the fans saw it as a step back to the early days, due to the raw sound. Interestingly, Metallica has around 164k followers on SoundCloud, which is arguably low for such legends. Apparently SoundCloud isn’t exactly big among Metal bands.
So, which is better, Slayer or Testament? Sorry, Testament fans, but Slayer is doing a little better according to digital popularity. But hey, there’s always next year. Slayer are an iconic Thrash Metal band and have been since 1981 (yup, they’re as old as Metallica). In an interview that shone light into the personal life of singer Tom Araya, he surprised his fans when he said that he’s a devoted family man and quite religious (the band is known for anti-religious lyrics). After his children were born, he took them and his wife with him on tours, because he missed them so much, but then stopped as it was too exhausting for them. But he stated that being apart from his family when touring is physically painful to him. Slayer finished their final tour on 30 November 2019, and confirmed that it was, in fact, the last one. The band said an emotional goodbye to the fans at Forum California (the last stop on the farewell tour), and ended their three-and-a-half-decades-long career.
Amon Amarth are the #1 Death Metal band in 2019. They basically have one message to deliver to the world: Vikings are awesome. (OK, it’s a bit more than that. Amon Amarth weave a fine tapestry of history and Norse mythology.) And people obviously agree with them as the band is one of the most popular Death Metal bands of all time. They are also one of the few Death Metal bands that do this for a living.
Swedish warriors Sabaton take the Power Metal top spot. The band mostly sings about historical battles, and that’s supposed to be Steven Spielberg’s fault. Joakim Brodén (lead vocals, guitars, keyboards) said in an interview once that he was watching "Saving Private Ryan" with bandmember Pär Sundström (bass, backing vocals) when they chose the theme for the band. In 2019, the band also launched a YouTube channel called Sabaton History, which explains the history behind their songs.
Even though Nightwish haven’t done anything new since 2015, they’re still one of the most successful Symphonic bands of 2019. They’re also the most successful Finnish band worldwide, with over 9M albums sold. Like most bands, they've had a lot of trouble replacing past members. In 2005, the band released an open letter sort of firing singer Tarja Turunen. She later stated that the letter came as a shock, as none of the band members said anything to her before the letter was out. By the way, Tarja is #5 on this list with her solo projects, so she’s doing great on her own. Many expected the band to fall apart after Tarja left, but they continued strong and are still at the top in 2019.
Metal bands mostly use social media to inform fans about concerts, new songs posting pictures from gigs, and that’s quite enough for most. Anyway, it would be hard to imagine seeing pictures of Johan Hegg (Amon Amarth), for instance, eating cream puffs, posting that on Instagram with inscription puffylicious, or something like that, though it would be funny as hell.
Cover photo: Metallica by Brett Murray. Source: official page.