13 Incredible Bands Similar To Motörhead

Written by Dan Farrant

Emerging from the ashes of the ’70s rock scene, Motörhead was the creation of bassist and singer Lemmy Kilmister. His vision was simple yet potent: to make loud, fast, and vicious rock. And that he did, leading to 40 years of heavy metal dominance that forever altered the landscape of music.

Their sound also resonated with extreme metal and punk bands that emerged in the 1980s, proving their wide-reaching impact on the music scene.

Thus in this post, let us introduce you to 13 incredible bands like Motörhead, each echoing their style and sound in a unique way. Dive in and discover who they are!

Motörhead by Mark Marek Photography (CC BY-SA 3.0)

1. Saxon

First up, we have the English heavy metal band Saxon. Emerging during the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) in the late 1970s, they soon became a prominent force. They began their career by supporting established bands such as Motörhead and Ian Gillan Band before making a name for themselves.

Saxon’s rise to fame was not immediate, but when it happened, it was phenomenal: Wheels of Steel, released in 1980. This album marked a pivotal moment in their career, landing at #5 on the UK Albums Chart and putting the band at the forefront of the heavy metal genre.

Despite a decline in their fan base in America around 1988, Saxon found continued success in Europe. Now with over 40 years of rocking, they remain active and relevant in the music scene, even enjoying a late-career resurgence.

2. Venom

Emerging from Newcastle upon Tyne in 1978, amidst the surge of the new wave of British heavy metal, Venom began to make waves. Their unique sound, often considered the first instance of black metal, paved the way for the extreme metal genre.

Despite facing challenges, including an unsuccessful album release with The Waste Lands in 1992 and significant lineup changes, the band persisted. A highlight came in 2015 when three former members reunited at the Keep It True Festival in Germany, birthing Venom Inc.

Venom’s influence on the heavy metal scene remains palpable today, over four decades since its formation. Testament to their pioneering spirit, they continue to inspire new generations of metal bands with their groundbreaking sound and relentless dedication to their craft.

3. Judas Priest

Formed in Birmingham in 1969, Judas Priest quickly rose to prominence as a major force within the heavy metal music scene during the new wave of British heavy metal era.

Their impact is often compared to that of Motörhead due to their shared punk rock influences and uncompromising approach to creating powerful, high-energy music.

The band gained significant popularity between 1975 and 1985 with iconic albums like British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance, and Defenders of the Faith. These works not only cemented their status in the music world but also laid the groundwork for speed and death metal.

A remarkable moment in Judas Priest’s career was when their album Firepower debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 in 2018—a career-best in the States. Their success isn’t limited to album sales; they’ve managed to maintain their relevance for nearly four decades too!

4. Iron Maiden

Formed in the heart of East London in 1975, Iron Maiden took the world by storm with their distinctive brand of heavy metal. The band was the brainchild of bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris, whose vision guided the band through numerous lineup changes and onto global success.

Rising to prominence with their self-titled debut album, Iron Maiden quickly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the rock music scene.

Their discography is filled with iconic albums and singles that have become staples of the genre, from “The Number of The Beast” to “The Trooper” and the Grammy-winning “El Dorado.”

An interesting facet of Iron Maiden’s story is their official soccer team, which has even claimed victory over FC Barcelona. This unique venture underscores the band’s diverse interests and deep connection with their fans.

5. Girlschool

Forming in 1978, the British band Girlschool rose to fame as part of the new wave of the British heavy metal scene. What sets this band apart from other bands in the genre is its all-female lineup, with Kim McAuliffe, Enid Williams, Denise Dufort, and Jax Chambers making up the group’s roster at various points throughout its history.

Despite facing barriers due to their gender, Girlschool’s talent earned them tours with some of rock’s biggest names, including Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Rainbow, and of course, Motörhead.

In recent news, Girlschool has released a new music video for their single “Cold Dark Heart.” Despite the passage of time, Girlschool remains a powerful presence in the rock music scene, embodying the spirit of female empowerment in a predominantly male-dominated genre.

6. Black Sabbath

One cannot discuss heavy metal bands without mentioning one of its pioneers: Black Sabbath. The band formed in Birmingham, England in 1968, with Tony Iommi on guitar, Geezer Butler on bass, Bill Ward on drums, and Ozzy Osbourne as their vocalist.

The distinct sound of Black Sabbath is characterized by Iommi’s heavy riffs and dark lyrics that deal with themes such as war, death, religion, and social injustice. Songs like “Paranoid,” “Iron Man,” and “War Pigs” are among their most well-known hits that have stood the test of time.

Despite going through several lineup changes throughout their career (with Ronnie James Dio replacing Osbourne as lead vocalist), Black Sabbath’s impact continues to this day. Being a recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award is a testament to that.

7. AC/DC

The legendary rock-and-roll band AC/DC has been entertaining audiences for over four decades. Formed in Sydney, Australia, in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, their music has influenced countless other heavy metal bands over the years, including Motörhead and Judas Priest.

AC/DC’s discography includes numerous iconic albums and songs, with Bon Scott’s snarling vocals driving many of their defining acts of ’70s hard rock. One of their most acclaimed albums is Back in Black, often hailed as one of the greatest albums of all time.

The band’s enduring success is a testament to their musical prowess and influence. With over 200 million albums sold worldwide and a street named after them in Melbourne (AC/DC Lane), AC/DC is undeniably one of the most significant bands in rock history.

8. Overkill

Formed in New Jersey in 1980, Overkill is a heavy metal band that draws inspiration from Motörhead’s aggressive music style. In fact, the band’s name comes from one of Motörhead’s songs.

Overkill has released multiple albums over the years and has toured extensively to promote their music. Their journey to stardom began with their first major label deal in 1987, with the release of Taking Over, released in 1987. It was their first to land on the Billboard 200 chart.

Throughout their career, the band has sold more than 16 million records worldwide, including over 600,000 records in the United States since the start of the SoundScan era. This impressive record sales figure reflects their widespread appeal and the enduring quality of their music.

9. Thin Lizzy

Next up is Thin Lizzy, a hard rock band from Dublin, Ireland, that has been active since the late 1960s. Their music incorporates a variety of influences, including blues, soul, and psychedelic rock, resulting in a distinctly unique sound.

The band’s discography includes celebrated albums like Jailbreak and Thunder & Lightning and popular singles such as “Whiskey in the Jar,” “Waiting for an Alibi,” and “Dancing in the Moonlight (It’s Caught Me in Its Spotlight).”

Their unique twin-guitar sound, pioneered by guitarists Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson, became a signature feature of their music and has been influential in the rock and heavy metal genres. If you’re a fan of Motörhead’s hard-hitting sound, then Thin Lizzy will not disappoint you either.

10. Diamond Head

Also echoing similar styles as Motörhead is Diamond Head, a British heavy metal band that was formed in 1976. The band achieved success during the new wave of British heavy metal movement, but they never quite reached the level of popularity as bands like Motörhead.

Their self-titled debut album, released in 1980, was a defining moment for them and marked their sound with fast-paced guitar riffs, gruff vocals, and pounding drums. It showed off their exceptional musicianship skills, which influenced countless other artists to follow in their footsteps.

Diamond Head’s legacy can be seen through contemporary bands who attribute their inspiration to them, such as Metallica (who covered several Diamond Head songs), Megadeth, and Slayer, among others.

11. Metallica

If you want the titan in the world of heavy metal, then Metallica is your band. With a legacy that spans over four decades. Formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, the band was heavily influenced by earlier heavy metal bands like Motörhead and Saxon.

The band’s discography is extensive, with each album reflecting their musical evolution and growth. Their third album, Master of Puppets, released in 1986, is often cited as one of the heaviest and most influential metal albums, marking their breakthrough into mainstream success.

The following album, …And Justice for All (1988), earned them their first Grammy Award nomination, further cementing their status in the music industry.

In addition to their studio work, Metallica is known for their electrifying live performances. As of 2023, they continue to tour across multiple countries, showcasing their enduring appeal and energy on stage.

12. Anthrax

Alongside Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth, Anthrax is one of the Big Four in thrash metal and influenced by bands like Motörhead, Iron Maiden, and Black Sabbath.

Their 1987 release, Among the Living, is often regarded as their breakthrough album. It features fan favorites such as “Caught in a Mosh” and “Indians” and is noteworthy for its exploration of social and political themes.

After a long recording hiatus in the early 2000s, Anthrax returned with Worship Music in 2011. This album welcomed back Joey Belladonna as the lead vocalist and featured another Grammy-nominated song, “In the End.”

Despite the changes in musical direction and band members over their career, Anthrax continues to be active and relevant in the music scene.

13. Megadeth

Closing this list is the thrash metal band Megadeth, formed in 1983. Like the previous two bands we’ve discussed, Megadeth was influenced by heavy metal bands like Diamond Head and Motörhead.

The band came together in California in 1983 and released their debut album, Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good, in 1985. They went on to release 15 more studio albums over their long career, selling almost 40 million records worldwide.

One of their most notable works is the album Rust in Peace, which received a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance in 1990. After several nominations over the years, the band won their first Grammy in 2016 for Best Metal Performance for their song “Dystopia.”

Summing Up Our List Of Bands Like Motörhead

That concludes our list of bands also taking up the heavy/speed metal torch the way Motörhead did, with each band adding their unique twist to the genre.

We hope this journey into the raw, high-energy realm of rock has helped you find some new favorites and perhaps even rekindled your love for some old ones.

However, this list is far from complete. Who have we missed? Let us know so we can add them here!

Photo of author

Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.