How These Metal Bands Got Their Names

Iron Maiden: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son - Heavy Metal Album Cover Art

Here are an evil Lucky 13 metal bands, representing a variety of genres, for you to listen to, plus learn the Wikipedia versions of their name origins.

The rules: Only metal is included; no rock, blues, or punk feature in this round. No origin stories from anywhere but Wikipedia are allowed. No eponymous artists (Lita Ford, Yngwie Malmsteen, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, etc.) are included – only band names. The list needed some boundaries…!

Links to Planetmosh reviews are included with bands we’ve covered. Women, children, the disabled, multiple religious or political stances, and people of many ethnicities are included: metal is such a diverse and accepting style to celebrate.

Is Wikipedia correct? Hooray, you’ve just learned where the band you’ve focused on got its name. Is Wikipedia incorrect? Then correct it: anyone can! Make sure to include your published source link. Don’t see a band on the list? The origin of the band’s name specifically might not be in it’s article: Saxon, Grave, Entombed, Slayer, Incantation, Immolation, Hatebeak, Carcass, Napalm Death, and others fell victim. If you have a written, published source for the band’s name origin, please edit the band’s Wikipedia article to include the name origin story and link. Metalheads the world over will thank you for supporting the scene!

The Chosen Few…

“The band was originally called Avalanche, until May 2009, when the band was forced to change their name, due to legal issues. The members chose to rename the band Amaranthe.” Wiki

“The band was named after the disease of the same name which Ian saw in a biology textbook. The name was chosen because it sounded “sufficiently evil”.” Wiki

The vocalists are all teenage girls; the band’s image is tightly controlled and carefully cultivated. “According to Kei “Kobametal” Kobayashi, the band’s executive producer, the band was formed under the idea of a new type of metal, and the members of the band receive “divine messages” from Kitsune, the Fox God. Additionally, he rejected the notion of the band being a “metal” or “pop” act, preferring “the one and only Babymetal.”” Wiki

Black Sabbath
“While playing shows in England in 1969, the band discovered it was being mistaken for another English group named Earth. They decided to change the name. A cinema across the street from the band’s rehearsal room was showing the 1963 horror film Black Sabbath (starring Boris Karloff, and directed by Mario Bava). While watching people line up to see the film, Butler noted that it was “strange that people spend so much money to see scary movies.” Following that, Osbourne and Butler wrote the lyrics for a song called “Black Sabbath”, which was inspired by the work of horror and adventure-story writer Dennis Wheatley, along with a vision that Butler had of a black silhouetted figure standing at the foot of his bed. Making use of the musical tritone, also known as “the Devil’s Interval”, the song’s ominous sound and dark lyrics pushed the band in a darker direction, a stark contrast to the popular music of the late 1960s, which was dominated by folk music and hippie culture. Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford has called the track “probably the most evil song ever written”. Inspired by the new sound, the band changed its name to Black Sabbath in August 1969, and made the decision to focus on writing similar material, in an attempt to create the musical equivalent of horror films.” Wiki

Children of Bodom
“The band was required to create a new name to sign up to Spinefarm Records. The contract with Shiver Records had already been signed under the name of Inearthed. The answer to that problem came as the members looked for good names in their local phone book. When they stumbled upon Lake Bodom, they realized that it was a name with impact, one which had an interesting story behind it. A long list of possible names involving the word Bodom was then made, and they settled with Children Of Bodom. The band’s name is derived from the Lake Bodom murders.” Wiki

“In 1984, Schuldiner dissolved Mantas and quickly started a new band under the name Death. Tim Aymar, in an article written in December 2010, states that Chuck Schuldiner renamed the band Death in order to turn his experience of the death of his brother Frank years earlier into “something positive”.” Wiki

“In 1979, guitarists Kirk Hammett and Tim Agnello, drummer/vocalist Tom Hunting, and bassist Carlton Melson formed the initial lineup of Exodus. Hammett had named the band after Leon Uris’ 1958 novel of the same title.” Wiki

Iron Maiden
“Iron Maiden was formed on Christmas Day ,1975, by bassist Steve Harris shortly after he left his previous group, Smiler. Harris attributes the band’s name to a film adaptation of The Man in the Iron Mask (based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas), the title of which reminded him of the iron maiden torture device.” Wiki

Judas Priest
“An earlier band, with a different line-up, had been formed in the West Midlands area in 1969 by Al Atkins (lead vocals), Bruno Stapenhill (bass guitar), John Partridge (drums), and John Perry (guitar, now deceased). Stapenhill came up with the name Judas Priest from Nobel laureate Bob Dylan’s song “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest”, and they rehearsed at his house. The group disbanded in April 1970.
The line-up that took over the name of Judas Priest included lead guitarist Kenny “K. K.” Downing, bassist Ian “Skull” Hill, and drummer John Ellis.” Wiki

King’s X
“While in Houston, the group (then called Sneak Preview) met Sam Taylor, then vice president of ZZ Top’s production company. Taylor quickly became interested in the trio and convinced them to change their name to King’s X.” Wiki

“Ulrich talked to his friend Ron Quintana, who was brainstorming names for a fanzine. Quintana had proposed the names MetalMania and Metallica. Ulrich named his band Metallica.” Wiki

“The band originated in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1983, when San Pablo and El Sobrante residents Mike Torrao (guitar) and Mike Sus (drums) started a garage band with vocalist Barry Fisk (now deceased), and bassist Jeff Andrews under the name Possessed.
At about the same time, a band called Blizzard had formed in the neighboring city of Pinole. This band had Jeff Becerra on vocals, Larry LaLonde and Danny Boland on guitars and Michael Miner on drums, all of whom were high school students in the same graduating class. Becerra would leave Blizzard and replace Possessed’s Andrews (who had also played on Exodus’s 1982 Demo) on bass, and also took over vocal duties. Brian Montana was recruited on guitar, and the second incarnation of Possessed was created.” Wiki

“The band’s name was inspired by Darth Vader from the Star Wars film series.” Wiki

For the curious, there are many more band name origin stories – not just for metal bands – here.


About Iris North

My formal position is: editor and music reviewer. I joined the PlanetMosh army in 2012. I enjoy extreme metal, 'shred' guitar, hard rock, prog rock, punk, and... silly pop music!