Heavy Metal World Records: Five of the Loudest Bands Ever

Last week at the O Music Awards, rock musician Andrew W.K. set the world record for Longest Drum Session in a Retail Store after he spent 24 consecutive hours (from June 19-20) at his drum set.

While the songwriter/instrumentalist/party connoisseur was hitting the skins, lots of other rock musicians sat in and jammed with him, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Chad Smith, ex-Ramone Marky Ramone, and ?uestlove.

I was surprised that I hadn't heard of someone trying to do this before, but then again, most metalheads aren't too concerned with such trivial things as world records. As it was, I was surprised that Andrew W.K. was able to pull himself away from his partying long enough to try.

After doing some research, I was surprised at just how few musical world records there really are. But I did stumble across a couple gems.

Take, for example, the Melvins. The band holds the record for the fastest tour in the United States, after they played 51 shows in 50 states within 51 days last year. (That tour took them to Crescent Ballroom last October.) Guns N' Roses' "November Rain" peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 10 chart, making it the longest song in history to enter the top ten. Or how about when Ozzy Osbourne led a Dodger Stadium crowd of over 52,000 in setting a record for the longest scream by a crowd? And -- even though this didn't end up as an official record -- I still think it's awesome how at 2007's Download Festival, Devil Driver tried to classify one of their circle pits as the biggest in history, but were actually denied by the Guinness Book of World Records.

But metalheads don't really give a damn about official records and what looks best on paper. Everyone has their own go-to bands, axmen they hold in high esteem, and beloved vocalists. There are plenty of nights when I've sat with friends, listening to metal, debating the greats, and beer-bonging whiskey -- well, beer-bonging whiskey happened only once. Tony Iommi versus John Petrucci? Dimebag Darrell versus Scott Ian? Tom Araya versus Rob Trujillo? Exodus or Nuclear Assault? Max Cavalera versus Corey Taylor? Cannibal Corpse's most offensive song titles?. (I think it was a tie between "Meat Hook Sodomy" and "Entrails Ripped from a Virgin's C*nt").

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The only thing we can know for sure is what can be scientifically measured -- gauging sound decibels during live performances to figure out which metal bands are the loudest in the world. Any volume measured at more than 85 decibels (dB) is considered dangerous since it can potentially cause hearing loss or damage (does that ringing known that you sometimes hear after concerts, known as tinnitus, ring a bell?)

So here are five metal bands that are officially the loudest around, with volumes checking in at an eardrum-crushing 115 dB and higher.

AC/DC From the get-go, these Aussie maniacs were set on becoming the world's loudest band with the help of Angus Young's Gibson SG-powered wall of amps. During the Back in Black tour, AC/DC hit 130 dB, but had to lower it a few notches due to promoter complaints.

Mötorhead These veterans of speed metal have always known they were louder than the rest -- just give a listen to their third album, Everything Louder Than Everyone Else. And with Lemmy's thrashing bass playing, the band regularly hits between 120-123 dB.

Deep Purple At London's 3,000-seat Rainbow Theater in 1972, Deep Purple's 117 dB of sound in such a small space left three fans unconscious. Of course, The Guinness Book of World Records took notice and crowned Deep Purple the world's loudest band.

Led Zeppelin In 1969, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association measured Zep's performance of "Heartbreak" at 130 dB.

Manowar These New York metal legends ruined the metal record book for everybody else--in 1984, Guinness recognized them for the loudest musical performance on the books at 129.5 dB. Perhaps realizing that the record offered some dangerous hearing-damage incentives, Gunness stopped tracking this particular world record soon after.

KISS During a 2009 show, Gene Simmons and company reportedly clocked in at 136 dB but were forced to turn it down after the police responded to neighborhood complaints.

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