One of the really cool things about heavy metal is that it involves more aesthetic focus than most genres of music. Plenty of other bands and artists have a general look that they cultivate. Album art is always important, and usually there’s some kind of logo, or even just a font, that makes a band recognizable. With metal, though, image is everything. Many of the best groups and artists to ever play in the genre have had artwork every bit as recognizable as their hit songs.
There is no way to make a definitive list of the best of these logos, so we’re not presenting these in any order. But this is our look at some of the best and most distinctive metal band logos of all time.
Metallica’s logo is probably the simplest on this list. It’s simply the band’s name spelled out, usually in bold white or black, in a bridge style and with a sharp, inexplicably metal-ish font. You could definitely say that the outer strokes of the “M” at the beginning and the “A” at the end resemble guitars, but you could also just look at the font as a cool design. Whatever the case it’s become so legendary that there’s even a tool online with which you can generate any word or phrase you like in the same design. Go ahead and try it with your name and try to resist putting it on a shirt or hat for yourself.
Ozzy’s logo is another iconic one, and there’s a little more to it than Metallica’s. While the artist’s name is spelled out, again in a very angular, almost violent-looking font, it’s also set against a black background with an almost out of place, elegant border topped off by a skull in a crown. It’s a logo that speaks to the hybrid biker gang/goth aesthetic that so often accompanies metal and classic rock, and naturally, because it’s Ozzy, it can also be said to have helped set the tone for that same look.
Guns N’ Roses
It could be that there’s no more recognizable logo in music, save perhaps The Beatles’ name and font. The Guns N’ Roses emblem of, well, guns and roses, is purely iconic. It’s one of the few logos that really illustrate’s a band’s name rather than just repeating it, and it was still popping up even before the group’s recent revival. For instance, it’s currently serving as the cover art for an online gaming experience based on the band’s work. It’s just a slot arcade, but a popular one that drew fans in simple through being recognizable.
The AC/DC logo gives the Metallica one a run for its money in terms of simplicity, but the famous lightning bolt (which more or less doubles as a slash mark) adds a simple but powerful bit of design. This is a logo that almost inexplicably screams confidence, as if the band new the moment it was designed that it didn’t need anything flashier or more in-depth. Nowadays the logo is so well-known people make parody t-shirts and all kinds of other imitations.
The Van Halen logo is a surprisingly intricate one when you really look at it. The “V” and “H” initially appear about as simple as it comes, and make it clear which band the logo is referring to. But the wings sticking out from the letters in either direction add a certain dramatic touch and have since been imitated, even by Weezer in its own logo. Some have even compared the Van Halen logo to something that would be a decal or decoration on a fast car, which fits in with the band’s generally fast, flashy style.