If you’re a fan of hard-hitting, heavy music that sends chills down your spine, chances are you’ve rocked out to Slayer at some point in your life.
As one of the Big Four thrash metal bands alongside Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax, Slayer set the bar high for aggressive metal music from their formation in 1981 until they disbanded in 2019.
Luckily for fans craving more intense tunes like those served up by this legend, there’s no shortage of similar artists to sink your teeth into. In this post, we’ll delve into 15 incredible bands similar to Slayer to whet your appetite. Let’s get started!
First up on the list is a heavyweight in thrash metal. Exodus emerged as a formidable force in 1979 and thrived alongside Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax.
As one of the top bands dominating the early mid-80s before Metallica and Slayer rose to prominence, they secured their place among other iconic groups like Testament, Death Angel, Vio-lence, Sepultura, Dark Angel, and more.
Over the years, Exodus has released 12 studio albums, each contributing to their legacy in the thrash metal scene. Notable among these is the 2014 Blood In, Blood Out, which landed at #38 on Billboard 200, their highest on the chart to date.
Formed in Berkeley, California, as Legacy back in 1983, Testament is an American thrash metal band renowned for their impact on the Bay Area metal scene. Their powerful sound and memorable albums have placed them among the influential bands in the world of heavy metal music.
Testament has released several well-regarded albums, such as Brotherhood of the Snake, The Ritual, and Dark Roots of Earth. This latter, released in 2012, is their highest-charting album, peaking at #12 on Billboard 200.
Despite many changes over time within the band’s members and musical influences, Testament remains a constant presence in today’s vibrant metal scene, captivating audiences worldwide through energetic live performances and meticulously crafted studio recordings.
Slayer wasn’t the only great in thrash metal. Anthrax also holds a significant place in the history of the genre, being one of the Big Four bands that helped define and popularize it.
This iconic group emerged in the early 1980s as pioneers of heavy metal with their unique blend of intense guitar riffs, headbanging rhythms, and infectious energy on stage.
Following several lineup changes, the band settled on a formation of Ian (rhythm guitar), Charlie Benante (drums), Frank Bello (bass), Joey Belladonna (vocals), and Dan Spitz (lead guitar). This lineup went on to record the band’s second album, Spreading the Disease, which was their first to chart on the Billboard 200.
As of today, Anthrax has sold over 2.5 million records in the US since the beginning of SoundScan, and an estimated 10 million worldwide.
Yet another of the thrash metal heavyweights is Megadeth. Formed in 1983 by frontman Dave Mustaine, they are one of the most influential bands in the genre.
The band achieved its greatest commercial success in 1992 with their fifth studio album, Countdown to Extinction. This release debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200, and the singles “Symphony of Destruction”, “Sweating Bullets”, and “Skin o’ My Teeth” received significant airplay on rock radio stations.
Despite various lineup changes and personal issues among the band members, Megadeth continued to release successful albums throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century. Their longevity is a testament to their musical talent and resilience.
Next up is Pantera. This Texas group was formed in 1981 by brothers Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell Abbott. They began as a glam metal band, covering songs by the likes of Kiss, Van Halen, and Metallica before transitioning to thrash metal, heavily influenced by Slayer’s music style.
Their album Vulgar Display of Power (1992) was a major success for the band and has since been regarded as one of the most influential heavy metal albums ever released.
Featuring tracks like “Mouth for War,” “This Love,” and “Walk,” the album showcased the band’s ability to combine raw aggression with intricate musicianship. The band went on to release many more albums, including Far Beyond Driven, a chart-topping hit.
The French extreme metal band Gojira is next. From the small town of Ondres, the band was formed in 1996, originally under the name Godzilla, by brothers Joe and Mario Duplantier. They were later joined by Christian Andreu and Jean-Michel Labadie.
Gojira’s sound is a unique blend of death metal and groove metal, with elements of progressive metal thrown into the mix. Their early music was heavily influenced by bands like Slayer, as seen in their song structures and lyrical themes.
The band’s discography is impressive, with each album showcasing their evolution as musicians. Their most successful album to date, Magma, was released in 2016 and received widespread critical acclaim. The album, as well as the track “Silvera,” received Grammy nominations for Best Rock Album and Best Metal Performance, respectively.
Established in Essen in 1982, the German band Kreator was initially known as Tyrant, then Tormentor, before adopting the name Kreator. They quickly carved a niche for themselves in the burgeoning thrash metal scene.
Debuting in 1985 with Endless Pain, they went on to release 14 more albums. The last three—Phantom Antichrist (2012), Gods of Violence (2017), and Hate Über Alles (2022)—landed in the top five spots on German charts.
Despite several lineup changes over the years, Kreator continues to actively produce music and tour. They’ve garnered a large and dedicated fanbase worldwide and inspired numerous other bands.
Our next band, similar to Slayer, is Sepultura, a renowned Brazilian heavy metal group that was formed in 1984. It was founded by brothers Max and Igor Cavalera, who served as the lead vocalist and drummer, respectively.
The band’s early years were defined by a raw, death-metal-influenced sound, as can be heard on their debut album Morbid Visions (1986). However, Sepultura’s music evolved over time, fusing elements of thrash metal, groove metal, and, later, elements of traditional Brazilian music.
One of their greatest album releases is Roots, in 1996. An experimental album, it incorporated elements of Brazilian tribal music. This album showcased the band’s innovative spirit and willingness to push the boundaries of metal music.
The thrash metal band Overkill originated from New Jersey in 1980, and they have been making heavy music ever since. Their sound has been compared to other famous bands like Slayer, Megadeth, and Metallica due to the fast-paced guitar riffs and intense vocals.
Their extensive discography includes classic albums such as The Years of Decay, which features one of their most popular tracks, “Elimination.” Other hits include “Hello From the Gutter” from their album Under the Influence.
They’ve received critical acclaim throughout their illustrious career. Today, they continue to release music and perform. Their latest album was released just in April 2023, titled Scorched.
In 1982, Destruction emerged, trailblazing the German thrash metal band along with Kreator, Sodom, and Tankard. Consisting of Marcel Schirmer, Mike Sifringer, and Tommy Sandmann, their music is characterized by rapid, aggressive guitar riffs and powerful, fast-paced drumming.
Destruction’s body of work is extensive and influential. They were part of the second wave of thrash metal in the mid-to-late 1980s, standing shoulder to shoulder with American bands like Testament, Sacred Reich, and Death Angel.
Some of their notable albums include Infernal Overkill, Eternal Devastation, and Release from Agony, which are considered classics in the thrash metal genre.
11. Death Angel
Hailing from Daly City, California, Death Angel has been a great presence in the American thrash metal scene since their formation in 1982.
Throughout their discography, Death Angel has consistently pushed the boundaries of thrash metal. Their recent album, Humanicide, is a testament to their relentless pursuit of musical evolution. Yet even as they experiment and evolve, they have never strayed far from their thrash roots.
In a career that has spanned 30 years, Death Angel has shared stages with some of the biggest names in thrash metal.
In 2018, they completed a grueling 17-shows-in-17-days tour alongside Exodus, Sodom, and Suicidal Angels. Their performances are known for their high energy and raw power, making them a must-see act for any fan of the genre.
12. Dark Angel
Another band that fans of Slayer should check out is Dark Angel. This American thrash metal band formed in 1981 and has an old-school vibe that will take you back to the early days of metal.
In their career, Dark Angel was able to release four albums. Darkness Descends and Leave Scars are considered classics in the thrash metal genre and have served as a major influence on many later bands.
Despite disbanding in 1992 and many reunions and separations later, Dark Angel remains significant in the thrash metal scene. If you’re looking for some intense thrash metal with all the speed and aggression of Slayer but something a little less mainstream, be sure to give Dark Angel a listen.
13. Lamb Of God
Penultimate on this list is the heavy metal band Lamb of God. Formed in 1994, they have been praised for their unique blend of thrash, death, and groove metal with punishing guitar riffs, blistering drum beats, and intense vocals.
Their debut album, New American Gospel, in 2000, was a success despite not charting. It introduced the world to their distinct sound.
This was followed by several other successful albums such as Sacrament, Wrath, Resolution, and VII: Sturm und Drang—all top-10 hits on the Billboard 200.
Lamb of God has toured extensively across the world, both as headliners and as part of major heavy metal festivals. They’ve even shared the stage with notable bands like Slayer, Megadeth, and Iron Maiden.
14. Cannibal Corpse
Slayer fans and thrash metal lovers meet Cannibal Corpse, a death metal band that has been blazing a path of gore and terror since their formation in 1988.
Inspired by thrash metal bands like Metallica, Slayer, Dark Angel, S.O.D., Sadus, Sodom, and Kreator, as well as other death metal bands like Morbid, Cannibal Corpse is considered one of the seminal death metal bands.
One of the band’s most popular albums is Tomb of the Mutilated, released in 1992. This record is infamous for its disturbing themes and savage musicality, solidifying Cannibal Corpse’s reputation as masters of horror-themed death metal.
Cannibal Corpse remains active today. As we look forward to their upcoming release, Chaos Horrific, slated for September 2023, it’s clear that the band remains as relevant and vital as ever.
Closing this list is Warbringer. This Los Angeles, California, powerhouse group arrived on the music scene back in 2004, and they’ve been making some serious noise ever since.
The band has a strong following, with over 147,000 fans on Facebook and 44,000 followers on Instagram. They regularly share updates and interact with their fans on these platforms, further strengthening their connection with their audience.
Their latest album, Weapons of Tomorrow, was released in 2020 and showcases the band’s musical evolution. Tracks like “Firepower Kills,” “Remain Violent,” and “The Black Hand Reaches Out” perfectly embody Warbringer’s signature sound — characterized by fast-paced riffs, powerful drums, and raw, growling vocals.
In less than two decades, Warbringer has carved out a place for themselves in the thrash metal scene. They’ve shown they’re not afraid to take risks and try new things, and if their past work is anything to go by, we can expect plenty more head-banging tunes from this talented group in the future.
Summing Up Our List Of Bands Similar To Slayer
As you have read, a variety of bands offer similar sonic experiences, like Slayer for those who revel in the band’s thrash metal intensity.
There’s a wealth of heavy metal mastery to explore, so we hope this list has been helpful. Perhaps you might have even found new favorites!
If you feel we’ve missed any bands that deserve a mention, please don’t hesitate to share your recommendations so we can add them here to keep the spirit of thrash metal alive!