10 heavy metal TV shows that need to come back

The logos of Metalocalypse, Headbangers Ball, Metal Evolution and TFI Friday
(Image credit: Metalocalypse: Adult Swim / Headbangers Ball: @MTVClassic/Twitter / Metal Evolution: BANGERTV/YouTube / TFI Friday: Channel 4/Facebook)

These days, there are so many streaming platforms, TV channels and production companies – so why the hell aren’t there more shows tailor-made for metalheads?! Granted, we get the odd film here, a documentary there, but it’s really not good enough! Shouldn’t we have our own dedicated channel at this point?

It’s particularly annoying when you consider there were plenty of quality shows that were happy to embrace metal but vanished from our screens. Where have they gone? And why?! We don’t actually know but, regardless, here are 10 TV programmes all metalheads should want to see return to our screens somehow.

Metal Hammer line break

Headbangers Ball (1987–2007)

The big daddy of metal TV. Whether you remember this MTV staple from its initial mid-’80s run, the ’90s glory years of the Riki Rachtman-hosted US show, the Vanessa Warwick-fronted European version, or the 2000s reboot with Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta, we’re sure you’re well aware of Headbangers Ball’s legacy. It remains the most iconic of the TV shows solely dedicated to heavy music, responsible for inspiring countless channel-hopping kids to become metal fans. Bring it back – now! 

Metal Evolution (2011)

Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey director Sam Dunn hosted this 2011 series, which was an amazingly detailed look into metal’s various subgenres. Dedicating one episode each to power metal, thrash, nu metal and so on, it might well be the most exhaustive look at the genre ever committed to film. However, at just 11 episodes (plus an extra online-only instalment under the umbrella of extreme metal), there is plenty more room for more: industrial, metalcore, stoner, djent, deathcore, alt-metal – we’d love to see them finish the job.

Raw Power (1990–1997)

As great as the shows already mentioned were, you needed a satellite dish or cable to see them. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, British terrestrial TV consisted of a mere four channels – and getting metal on Eastenders or Coronation Street was never going to happen. So thank God for Raw Power. Launched by ITV in 1990, it moved around the schedule in the most frustrating way (usually being shown way past our bedtime) and clearly had less budget than a village fete puppet show. However, for those of us without a Sky subscription, its weekly dose of riffs was a godsend.

Metalocalypse (2006–2013)

An adult cartoon about a fictional metal band who were “the seventh-largest economy in the world”, Metalocalypse bludgeoned the world with the wonders of Dethklok and featured a who’s-who of the metal world making cameos. It belongs alongside Bad News and Spinal Tap in the pantheon of great metal satires, but was cancelled in 2015. There is a new movie called Army Of The Doomstar that’s about to be released though, so let’s get it back for good on the small screen too!

ECT (1985)

Channel 4 has always had excellent coverage of music, but before TFI Friday or The Word and coming after The Tube there was ECT. Standing for Extra Celestial Transmission, it may have the honour of being the first dedicated metal show on terrestrial UK television. Only 10 episodes ever aired, but the format of just getting great heavy bands to play live in a studio – Motörhead, Venom, Girlschool and Warlock were amongst the performers – still seems fresh and exciting today.

Superock (1995–1997)

By 1995, MTV had cancelled Headbangers Ball but Alternative Nation was thriving, so a combination of the two was planned in the form of Superock. Metal fans were sceptical, thanks to the initial promise of rap and indie being part of the show, not to mention much of the airtime being taken up by host Julia Valet babbling in a mockup trashed hotel room. However – with Korn, Type O Negative, Faith No More and more amongst the first guests – Superock ended up winning most people over, including us. We’d be more than happy to see it return.

Uranium (2002–2005)

A twist on the Headbangers Ball format, Uranium started in 2002 on TV channel Fuse, right as the New Wave Of American Heavy Metal was coming to life. Its grittier, more stripped-down and gonzo style was perfect for the look and sound of metal at the time. Host Juliya Chernetsky taking a camcorder around the country to capture the heavy music scene is essentially a metallic twist on what a host of influencers do now, so let’s bring the original back, yeah?

Metal Asylum (2005–2006)

A spin-off of Uranium, Metal Asylum featured the same host on the same channel. However, this time it was much more focussed on new releases and videos, rather than getting out and about in the world. The show might not have had as much of charm and uniqueness as its predecessor, but it still helped to break bands like Municipal Waste to a larger audience. For that alone, we want it back on our screens.

TFI Friday (1996–2015)

OK, yes – Chris Evans’ ’90s Friday-night chat show was definitely not a dedicated outlet for metal. But when you look back at the artists that appeared on the show over the years, there was far more for fans of heavy music on TFI than anywhere else on TV at the time: Metallica, Faith No More, Foo Fighters, At The Drive-In, Therapy? – and who can forget those performances from Napalm Death and Slipknot, both of which have become legendary? Bring it back and get Evans to book Cattle Decapitation, we say.

120 Minutes (1986–2013)

The more polite sibling of Headbangers Ball, 120 Minutes was a show far broader in scope, yet still featured plenty of heavy music. Hosted by Matt Pinfield during its ’90s peak, it was the show that famously debuted Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit video. Sure, its dedication to indie might mean that you’d have to sit through a Morrissey video to get to some of the heavier stuff, but 120 Minutes’ willingness to embrace Alice In Chains, Danzig, Faith No More, Bad Religion and more means we’d love to see it return.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.