Grand Magus' guide to heavy metal: A true heavy metal playlist

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Are there any modern bands that embody the spirit of heavy metal better than Sweden’s viking warriors Grand Magus

With the band's return to British shores nigh, we decided to catch up with frontman JB Christoffersson to discover his thoughts on what it means to be a true heavy metal band, in the shape of ten bands he deems worthy nominees for the title of  greatest heavy metal band of all time.

It's important to note  that doom bands, AC/DC and the mighty Swedish viking metal pioneers Bathory are not mentioned (so no gettin' your panties in a twist!).

So, without futher a-do and in no particular order, here's J.B.'s top ten true heavy metal bands!


"Heavy metal is denim and leather, right? They wrote the fucking song, that settles it for me.

"I was early into Saxon since I was fortunate enough to grow up in the huge heavy metal boom of the early eighties.

"Swedish national radio actually had radio shows devoted to metal. Imagine that!"

Judas Priest

From fast and furious to epic and melodic, the quintessential metal band and creators of the steely edge of metal.

I got into Priest around the Defenders of the Faith album (still my favourite). A friend of mine bought it and he had a huge stereo system. We blasted The Sentinel at almost max level.

That'll do it for anyone vaguely into hard music. Strong contentender for my all-time favourite band.


"Undisputed kings of majestic, pounding metal glory.

"Hail to England was the first Manowar album for me. Kill with Power the first song i heard. They sounded like they were insane. It was heavy metal, but to my ears, much more aggressive than anything I had heard up to that point.

"Maybe also because they were rawer and less polished than most around that time, it was harsh and rough. Obviously that album also has some truly epic stuff, which they explored further with future releases."

Black Sabbath

"Originators of the sinister aspect of heavy music, unparalleled in the riffs department, regardless of era.

"Paranoid was the first album I bought with my own money. Brought it home, put on Iron Man and couldn't sleep for a week because I was so scared by the 'I am Iron Man"' voice and the evil sounding guitar bends combined with the kick drum in the start of the song. 

"Of course I loved it too. Electric Funeral and Hand of Doom also creeped me out to no end."


"Maybe not denim and leather primarily, but man Slayer never strayed off the path of ferocity.

"I didn't get to hear them until Seasons in the Abyss which I bought when it came out. I was mystified by it, mostly because of the stripped down sound, but once it got a hold of me i bought all the previous albums. 

"They've had a long career but they always stuck to their guns, which to me is very metal. I saw the original lineup at Roskilde festival in 1998. Forget about it!"


"Come on... what is often overlooked is how much groove they had in combination with that famous power.

"Too many big things to say about them, so I'll point out some personal observations. First album for me was Bomber (predictably still my favourite) and that album positively swings. Lemmy wasn't lying when he said they played Rock 'n' Roll. 

"Also a huge fan of Orgasmatron, I've read that they weren't pleased with the mix on that album, but I think it's a brilliant piece of work anyway."


"The elements of fantasy, melody and heaviness from Rainbow and Sabbath forged into a metal machine.

"Like I mentioned earlier, I was fortunate enough to be in my early teens in the early eighties. To be 12 and hungry for metal and getting to buy a new album called Holy Diver at the local record store was quite something. The album cover art alone was enough, which was often the case back then.

"I had no idea this was the same Dio that sang in Rainbow and Sabbath, I though the band was pronounced "Die-o". As soon as I heard the title track, I recognised his voice of course."


"The precision and melodic feel combined with Udo's voice and the awesome songs, 100 percent metal.

"A friend of mine had bought Restless and Wild. We listened to it at his home and Fast as a Shark came on. For me, this was a completely new sound with the very pronounced and fast double kick.

"It was different from Motorhead, because it was much more precise and much less blues-based. More classical, but not like Rainbow. A lot like Priest, but somehow a lot rawer, more adult somehow.

"I guess the lyrics also had a lot to do with it (well, maybe not the song Fast as a Shark, but really on the Balls to the Wall and Metal Heart albums). I didn't find out who Deaffy was until decades later."

Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force

"I just think this is ridiculously overlooked these days. A lot of people harp on about obscure NWOBHM bands that never even made a proper album. What Yngwie did on the first three albums was nothing short of revolutionary. 

"It was Rainbow turned into pure metal, incredible playing of course, but also great heavy metal songs. Things kind of went south over the years, but Marching Out and Trilogy still stand as two of the most exciting heavy metal albums of the 1980’s. And i fucking know what I’m talking about.

Iron Maiden

"Its number is 666."

Grand Magus kick off their UK tour March 5 in Bristol. Grab tickets here.

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Grand Magus UK 2020 tour dates

Mar 5 – Bristol, Fleece
Mar 6 – Manchester, Academy 3
Mar 7 – Dublin, Grand Socia
Mar 8 – Belfast, Limelight
Mar 10 – Glasgow, Audi
Mar 11 – Sheffield, The Foundry
Mar 13 – Birmingham, Asylum
Mar 14 – Norwich, Waterfront
Mar 15 – London, Dome