The BEST Episodes of Metal Evolution

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Sep 17, 2020

Network: VH1

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.

Power Metal

#1 - Power Metal

Season 1 - Episode 10 - Aired Jan 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?".

star 8.19
177 votes
Early Metal Part 2: UK Division

#2 - Early Metal Part 2: UK Division

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Dec 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.

star 7.95
277 votes
New Wave of British Heavy Metal

#3 - New Wave of British Heavy Metal

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Dec 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.

star 7.94
246 votes
Glam Metal

#4 - Glam Metal

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired Dec 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. 

star 7.90
330 votes
Progressive Metal

#5 - Progressive Metal

Season 1 - Episode 11 - Aired Feb 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.

star 7.88
149 votes

#6 - Thrash

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired Dec 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.

star 7.81
242 votes
Early Metal Part 1: US Division

#7 - Early Metal Part 1: US Division

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Nov 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.

star 7.76
338 votes

#8 - Pre-Metal

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Nov 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.

star 7.71
317 votes
Shock Rock

#9 - Shock Rock

Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired Jan 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.

star 7.63
152 votes
Nu Metal

#10 - Nu Metal

Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired Jan 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...

star 7.57
209 votes

#11 - Grunge

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired Jan 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?"

star 7.49
239 votes