6 Best Cymbals For Metal + 3 Alternatives

Heavy metal and drumming go hand in hand from the inception of the genre. 

Heavy guitar riffs, loud bass guitar, and double bass drums create one of the most hardcore music genres in the world.

But, drumming in heavy metal is a lot more than just a double bass. 

To really have a drumming kit worthy of one Joey Jordison, Dave Lombardo, Mike Portnoy, Lars Ulrich, or dare I say, John Bonham, you need a good set of cymbals to elevate your playing.

Cymbals are a very tricky thing to choose. Even the best jazz cymbals will sound unnatural when jamming with some heavy metal band. 

Picking the best cymbals for metal requires a lot of experience, age, and trying various models.

To ease the process of choosing the right cymbals for your drum kit, I assembled a list of what we believe are the best cymbals for metal. 

Why spend time on the internet searching for the right model when you can spend that time jamming to your favorite songs?

Here are the 6 best cymbals series for metal music:

  1. Best Overall – Paiste Rude
  2. Best in brilliant finish – Paiste Signature Reflector
  3. Most versatile – Sabian AAX
  4. The loudest – Sabian Paragon
  5. Best built quality – Zildjian A Custom
  6. Strongest cut trough – Meinl Byzance Brilliant

Want to experiment use:

  • Meinl Artist concept
  • Meinl Dual

Want to go cheap use:

  • Meinl Classics Custom Dark
  •     Strongest cut trough
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Things to know before buy

Clean-sounding – cymbals that utilize a B10 bronze alloy will provide you a loud and bright punch with rich musical tones. These cymbals, such as Meinl Cymbals, are designed for clarity.

Brilliant Finish – brilliant finish will give you glassiness and shimmers. Less settling into the music, and more floating above the music with a higher frequency.

Thick and heavy – the thicker the cymbal, the higher the pitch! The brightness or darkness of a cymbal has to do with its weight. If you are into Metal music, go with Zildjians. They tend to make thicker cymbals that’ll give you beautiful dark undertones.

A distinct bell sound – a bell that gives a long and bright ringing sound. Bell should be able to cut through any mix with ease giving you a great cymbal option for a metal setup.

The score reflects how suitable a particular cymbal series is for metal music along with overall quality in sound, durability and value for money.

Best Overall Cymbals for Metal
elloy casagrande cymbals

Paiste Rude


As the title suggests, this is the loudest model on the list. Parents liked to treat heavy metal as noise, and why not give them just that.

The Paiste Rude got its name from its characteristic surface. 

It looks like someone randomly hammered it down on purpose while having a beautiful bell area. 

While this may sound disgusting, it is actually a very beautiful model that looks very good to the eye.

Prepare to use your heaviest sticks in your arsenal. These cymbals are heavy, but that is one of its major advantages. 

They may require more brute strength and force, but they produce a loud, aggressive, yet pleasant sound, and that is clearly a point of heavy metal in general.

Paiste uses a signature B8 bronze, better known as 2002 alloy. 

Another signature rude characteristic is its bell. Heavy metal drummers love to have a big cymbal bell, and this model is no different. 

It has a powerful, clear sound, that at the same time sounds aggressive and heavy. 

Strike the cymbal, then leave it, and you will hear a beautifully clear layer of signature Paiste sound.

There is no bigger recommendation than the fact that Dave Lombardo used these cymbals on the metal magnum opus Reign in Blood

Try to find a heavier album than this, I dare you.

Full potential of brilliant finish
best metal cymbals

Paiste Signature Reflector


Paiste surely knows how to make perfect cymbals for heavy metal players. 

It is not by accident that they are one of the top dogs in this genre and the cymbal industry in general.

Next, I have the Paiste Signature Reflector model, which is a metal cymbal through and through, but you can even jam some sweet blues and jazz on it.

The most metal thing about this set is the 22” ride, which was made in collaboration with Iron Maiden’s drummer, Nicko McBrain

This fact certainly shows a powerful yet glassy bell sound that will serve you even on the live stage. 

But, when I tried it for blues and jazz, I was surprised by adapting to that genre.

Paiste Signature Reflector is one of the thinnest models we reviewed. 

That fact is unusual since the previous Paiste model was one of the heaviest on the market. But that does not stop it from being on the list.

Crashes are loud, they can overcome the whole bend, and they are very easy to strike. 

This set even offers a 20” thin crash that looks like a ride, but it produces one of the heaviest, or one of the more mellow sounds, whichever you prefer. 

This fact, along with many more, is why I consider it the one of the most versatile on the list.

Most versatile
aax cymbals for rock

Sabian AAX


While they are one of the more affordable Sabian models

But, the intermediate price point does not mean fewer quality cymbals. 

In fact, this series is one of the most popular among metal musicians like Mike Portnoy.

The first thing you will notice when you unbox this model is the brilliant finish. 

Many heavy metal musicians adore the brilliant finish since it basically packs more punch. 

AAX has a very modern sound, and that is its main characteristic. If you prefer versatility, this is one of the better models on the list, alongside Paiste Signature Reflector. 

The sheer number of musicians who use these cymbals ranges from jazz musicians, pop, to ultimately, heavy metal.

We don’t even have to write about the excellent bell sound, because it is essential to every good metal cymbal. 

Metal drummers like to accent the bell more than the body, unlike, for example, jazz musicians.

I had no problems playing on a stage. Through the powerful metal guitar and bass riffs, I was always heard, which is essential for every metal musician in us. 

Despite its sound, the cymbals were never too loud to outshine my bandmates, but they melted nicely with the band.

The Loudest Cymbal On The List
sabian paragon

Sabian Paragon


The Sabian Paragon series is not as well-known as HHX or AAX, but that does not mean that it is worse. 

On the contrary, this is one of the most unique cymbals not just from Sabian but also on the market.

Even its looks distinguish this model from the rest of the Sabian pack. 


You even have the option to go for the brilliant finish, but we recommend natural since it will unlock the full potential of these cymbals. 

Its natural finish will not provide the modern sound, but hey, we do not rank the best cymbals for pop or modern jazz, but the best metal cymbals. 

Still, Sabian Paragon is extremely versatile and will let you play some jazz, funk on it.

What makes it perfect for metal is its pitch and vintage sound provided by the finish.

The fact that the most famous drummer that played them is Neil Peart only confirms this statement. 

To be a drummer in a band such as Rush, and still be heard is a feat by itself. 

The main point of the Paragon is their sound and that can’t be said in a text. 

That must be heard. So, run to your closest music shop and try this distinct Sabian model.

Best Built Quality And Design
best cymbals for rock

Zildjian A Custom


In my opinion, Zildjian is not the greatest choice for heavy metal drummers. 

It is not bad per se, but the other manufacturers such as Paiste and Sabian do a better job at making dedicated metal cymbals.

However, that does not stop Zildjian A Custom to be a great product of its own. 

Buying a Zildjian model will ensure you years and years of playing in the studio or gigs. And this model is no different. 

Right out of the box, this certainly is the most beautiful model we have here on the list. 

Looks are not everything, but Zildjian A Custom has the excellent build quality that is now synonymous with the company. 

The standard Zildjian family B20 Bronze alloy delivers yet again, as it did so many times in the past. 

They sound great at the concerts, the sound is clear, and is easily heard through the horde of guitar riffs. 

But, something about its sound screams jazz to me. The cymbals do not pack an aggressive sound that is needed for heavy metal. 

That is just my preference. Zildjian endorses many famous metal musicians such as Tommy Lee, Lars Ulrich, and more.

Strongest cut trough

Meinl Byzance Brilliant


If you want a set that screams heavy metal, you are in the right place. 

Meinl introduces a different kind of set. It doesn’t give off the new age kind of feel. Its main goal is to cater to the classical sound of rock and metal. 

Meinl is a well-established company that doesn’t need any kind of further affirmation from anybody. 

They know their music and how to make a quality product that will always have metalheads reaching for them first.

We can call this set a versatile one but in terms of rock and metal music. Anything softer is a big no.

The main advantage of this model is the dry sound. 

Along with that they are very explosive, have an excellent delay, and offer a beautiful dark overtone. 

This is just proof of experimentation that Meinl made in the last years.

Their prices go hand in hand with their music. 

They go hard. In the last couple of years, they have been slowly increasing their prices making them less affordable to regular drum players. 

They offer exclusivity and good quality but is it worth the money? I say it’s your choice if you can afford it why not, but don’t expect that if it costs more it’s ultimately better.

Excellent Alternatives To The Best Cymbals For Metal

I would also like to present a few experimental models. 

These cymbals are not dedicated to metal, but they can serve that purpose and manz metal drummers use these exact cymbals.

We recommend these models for the pro drummers who like to experiment and get more out of their drum set.


best cymbals for heavy music

Meinl Artist Concept Series

Top picks



The main attraction of the Concept series is that the cymbals come in stacks of 2 or more cymbals on top of each other. 

For beginner drummers, this is a completely new concept, but more experiences among my readers will know that this is the thing that drummers like to do when experimenting.

If this concept is interesting to you at first, do not just jump right into the car and go to the store to buy it. 

Take your old cymbals, put them on top of each other, and experiment yourself. If this sounds interesting, try experimenting a little more, and you will get the aggressive and a little bit chaotic sound that is perfect for metal. 

If you like this sound, definitely consider the Meinl Artist Concept Series.

best affordable cymbals

Meinl Byzance Dual



The two models of Meinl in this category definitely tell us that Meinl likes to experiment with the cymbal sound.

When you unbox the Meinl Byzance Dual you will notice it does not come with the traditional Ride Cymbal

This may seem a bit weird at first, and it takes some time to practice on them, but the payout is excellent. 

Dry bell sound along with the thrash, dark, and washed aggressiveness provided by the cymbals, hi-hats, and china.

You can even combine them with some ride cymbals to get a more traditional drum kit.

Cheaper Alternative To The Best Cymbals For Metal

Not everyone has the pocket for the best of the best. 

Some beginners or casual drummers just want some cheaper product that will help them jam in the garage to their favourite heavy metal band. 

In the end, drumming is not always wanting to become the new Mike Portnoy or Joey Jordison, some people just want to play some metal after a hard day of work.

These people do not want to spend a fortune on their kit, so we present an excellent, cheaper cymbals for metal that will satisfy their heavy metal needs for these kinds of drummers.

Cheapest alternative
best cymbals for metal

Meinl Classics Custom Dark



For the asking price, Meinl Classics Custom Dark is an excellent addition to your new drum kit. 

The B10 Bronze alloy produces a surprisingly good sound, and the cymbals look beautiful. 

Even their dark finish looks very heavy metal.

The ride is good, but it did not impress me, but the crashes are in the range of some of the better models on our list. 

They have a dark, trashy sound that is perfect for hardcore, punk rock, and metal. 

The ride on the other hand has a brighter sound and is not very crashable. 

Hey, at this price range we could have got worse.

This is an optimal option for beginners and casual drummers. I myself, would not mind paying even a few bucks more. 

Meinl Classics Custom Dark is that good.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, the ultimate choice comes down to you. 

Heavy metal is not just one genre, it has numerous subgenres that are all diverse in sound, drum kits, playing style, and thematics. 

Not every model will be perfect for every type of metal, but we believe we did a good classification and made a good platform for you to choose your optimal cymbals.

Every model is carefully chosen and you won’t make a mistake if you choose any of them

Now, open your garage door, grab some drum sticks, warn your neighbours (or don’t) and play some heavy metal!


Denis Loncaric

Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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