The BEST episodes of Metal Evolution

Every episode of Metal Evolution ever, ranked from best to worst by thousands of votes from fans of the show. The best episodes of Metal Evolution!

Metal Evolution presents 11 episodes based on the much-debated Metal History "family tree" originally shown in Headbanger's Journey. This 24 sub-genre genealogical chart reveals the vast complex progeny of heavy metal--from Early Metal and Shock Rock to Thrash, from Progressive Metal to Grunge and Nu Metal. Using the chart as his road map, our host, metalhead turned anthropologist Sam Dunn, will crisscross the globe in search of the very essence of Metal, from bars and back alleys to the biggest open air festivals.

Last Updated: 4/6/2024Network: VH1Status: Ended
Power Metal
180 votes

#1 - Power Metal

Season 1 - Episode 10 - Aired 1/28/2012

Sam investigates Heavy Metal's most enduring sub-genre, power metal, and dissects its musical foundations, from the unmistakable influence of German classical composers like Wagner and Liszt to the patented twin-lead guitar attack of power metal architects Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing from Judas Priest. Ep 10 asks the questions: "Why is power metal so huge in Europe?," "What are its roots?" and "Why does it still prosper today?".

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New Wave of British Heavy Metal
245 votes

#2 - New Wave of British Heavy Metal

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired 12/10/2011

The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal marks no less than the establishment of hard rock’s very first heavy metal army. Loud ‘n’ proud of it, this jean-jacketed legion of headbanging air guitarists snarled back at punk ,expressed impatience with prog, and purposefully declared a banishment of ballads.

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Early Metal Part 2: UK Division
276 votes

#3 - Early Metal Part 2: UK Division

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired 12/3/2011

Pouncing on the power of heavy metal, the UK wasn't about to cede the rock & roll dominance that nation held over America since the insanity of The Beatles and the subsequent British Invasion.

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Glam Metal
329 votes

#4 - Glam Metal

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired 12/17/2011

Purveyors of glam such as Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil and Michael Anthony of Van Halen, will divulge their side of the story, revealing the attitudes, influences and decisions which guided them during those heady days of rampant excess on L.A.’s storied Sunset Strip. Contemporary musicians like Scott Ian from Anthrax and Slash from Guns N’ Roses will discuss the reasons behind the vilification of glam—the notion that glam reduced Metal to caricature, drawing on a shallow combination of pop cliché and sophomoric sexual pandering for its inspiration. 

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Progressive Metal
147 votes

#5 - Progressive Metal

Season 1 - Episode 11 - Aired 2/4/2012

Many rock academics have proclaimed that the truly progressive musicianship of the last 20 years has been found right here in the world of heavy metal, rather than obvious locales such as jazz, fusion or progressive rock. Much of this jaw-dropping virtuosity occurs within what's known as progressive metal, a genre that takes root with the likes of Rush in the '70s, Queensryche and Fates Warning in the '80s, and Dream Theater in the '90s. Since then, the genre has exploded with creativity, spawning mind-bending, genre-defying acts and Ep 11 looks at the extreme musicianship of these bands, as well as their often extreme literary prowess and conceptual strength.

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242 votes

#6 - Thrash

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired 12/31/2011

Next in the evolution of Metal comes a virulent strain called thrash, with the likes of Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax wreaking vengeance on hook and melody through a rhythmic discipline executed at breakneck tempos topped by harshly barked vocals.

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Early Metal Part 1: US Division
338 votes

#7 - Early Metal Part 1: US Division

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired 11/19/2011

Episode 2 traces the development of early metal in the United States from the guitar histrionics of Dick Dale to the protopunk madness of The Stooges and MC5.

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319 votes

#8 - Pre-Metal

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired 11/11/2011

The history of heavy metal is charted. The premiere chronicles the origins of the genre, from pioneering music in Memphis to the Kinks in England.

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Shock Rock
153 votes

#9 - Shock Rock

Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired 1/21/2012

Two central questions are raised: "Historically, where did the urge to shock an audience come from?" and "What are the antecedents of shock in rock music?" Starting with the ringmaster of mayhem himself, Alice Cooper, an artist who drew heavily on such diverse influences as Expressionist horror film and circus sideshows, we'll revisit a world of guillotines and gallows, electrocutions and sorcery.

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Nu Metal
208 votes

#10 - Nu Metal

Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired 1/14/2012

In Episode 8, Sam Dunn chronicles the rise and fall of nu-metal; starting with its ancestry: pivotal artists like Rage Against The Machine, Faith No More and Tool and their fiery amalgam of hard, heavy distorted rock and post-Prince funk. From there, Sam turns his attention to pioneering nu metal artists like Korn and Deftones, who produced the kind of cathartic, anti-authority anthems that found affinity with thousands of seething, repressed suburban kids. Through their own brand of heavy, groove-oriented, but brazenly hip-hop-influenced sounds, these bands managed to achieve both popularity and credibility within the metal community. But nu metal's moment in the sun didn't last long...

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238 votes

#11 - Grunge

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired 1/7/2012

An exploration of the grunge genre and how its rise precipitated the downfall of telegenic glam metal. Sam explores the Seattle Sound, from a decidedly fresher approach, inspiring two fundamental questions: “Why did grunge polarize the Metal community?” and “What are the true roots of grunge?"

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