9 Best Cymbals for Metal that Make an Impact

February 26, 2024

Heavy metal demands powerful drumming, and cymbals are at the heart of it. 

They’re the loudest part of the set, essential for the genre’s intensity. Choosing the right cymbals for metal can be daunting, but I’ve got you covered.

With 15 years of experience and thorough research into top brands and user reviews, I’ve curated a list of the top 9 cymbals for metal. 

I’ve factored in budget, suitability, standout features, and overall sound. Let’s dive into the best cymbals for your metal needs!

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

Best cheap cymbal for metal:

  • Meinl Classics Custom Dark
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What I look for

Loud and heavy

If you want to play that metal sound as you should and stand out with your cymbals, you have to go with loud and heavy ones. I looked for the best metal cymbals that would cut through any distortion but yet still be subtle so it does not overpower the rest of the instruments.

Highest durability

I have to go with durability in case when metal and rock music are at the table. You have to make sure your cymbals will withstand hard and intense practice sessions, heavy hitting, and constant gigging without losing their quality.

Distinct bell sound

Metal cymbals are popular for their distinct bell sound and without such features you will lose that metal authenticity when playing them. I search for those cymbals that stand out with their metal sound.

Strong attack

I looked for a fast and strong compressor with fast attack and release. Such a feature should be able to cut the transients and highlight the cymbals' ring.

Best Overall Cymbals for Metal
elloy casagrande cymbals

Paiste Rude


Why this cymbal?

Because it is the loudest, most heavy cymbals available on the market

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.

Who is it for?

Anyone who wants an extremely loud yet high-quality set of Paiste cymbals. They’re the ideal sound for raw, relentless, and forceful musical intensity. Aside from metal drummers, they are suitable for rock and punk as well.

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


Why this cymbal?

As I stated above, they are perfect cymbals set with full potential which is great for those loud sounds.

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.

Who is it for? 

It is for versatile players who are not afraid of experimenting with their sound. Even though they are thin, they are very loud and great for metal players but if you want to spice up things a bit, they are your go-to’s.

Most versatile
aax cymbals for rock

Sabian AAX


Why this cymbal?

They are one of the more affordable Sabian models.

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.

Who is it for?

For those versatile drummers that love changing their drumming style. They are perfectly balanced cymbals for jazz music but also for pop and, of course, metal.

The Loudest Cymbal On The List
sabian paragon

Sabian Paragon


Why this cymbal?

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.

Who is it for? 

For those drummers who are searching for a powerful, bright, and extremely musical set of cymbals. Also, for those who love to have a unique-look set of cymbals that will just blow away the audience when set on stage.

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


Why this cymbal?

Because it is so durable that it can handle all hitting ranges of heavy metal drumming.

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. 

Who is it for? 

For those who love stunning, brilliant-finish, and perfectly-designed cymbals for their stage performance. Besides the look, they are great for drummers that love getting attached to a pair of cymbals since these ones will last you a lifetime.

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


Why this cymbal?

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

If you want that extra volume and cut, again, you are where you are supposed to be.  

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.

Who is it for? 

If you are a fan of the classical look and sound of rock and metal, then Meinl Byzance Brilliant cymbals are for you. Remember, classic never goes out of style. They are versatile in metal and rock music, but if you want to experiment with different genres I recommend Sabian AAX rather than Meinl Byzance. 

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



Why this cymbal series?

Because it is very unique, different and aggressive cymbals that you just love it.

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.

Who is it for? 

Everyone who likes experimenting, especially if you are looking for your groove. Also, for those more experienced drummers that prefer this kind of sound and way of drumming, the Concept series is for you. 

best affordable cymbals

Meinl Byzance Dual



Why this cymbal?

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.

Who is it for? 

Great for drummers that love experimenting just like Meinl. This also entails us that they are pretty versatile but remember that they are not as loud as the mentioned-above ones.

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



Why this cymbal?

Because these cymbals deliver good sound with great looks at an affordable price. I can say that they are the best bundle for sound. 

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.

Who is it for? 

These cymbals are great for those lower tone music or softer styles as well as for metal and rock.

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.

How I Picked

I applied the same criteria to each and every cymbal series I chose. This implies the loud and heavy feature, distinct bell sound, high-quality craftsmanship, high durability, and a strong compressor with fast attack. 

I didn’t limit my search by paying attention to the price. My goal was to bring to the table the best possible cymbals for metal that will really make an impact on your drumming. 

This means that this is not a list of affordable metal cymbals or budget-friendly cymbals suitable for beginners. I choose high–quality cymbals from renowned manufacturers that excel in their craftsmanship and are highly endorsed among respected drummers. 

I eliminated all metal cymbals that didn’t fit my above “look for” criteria. I spent hours and days choosing my top 9 picks and I did it with very thorough research – including testing and playing on almost all of them in my 18-year-long career. 

How I Tested

I tested these cymbals by checking their durability with constant heavy practice with some of the hardest playing metal songs. Are they suitable for this type of music? If the answer is yes, according to the manufacturer’s description, do they fulfill my standards and expectations?

I also tested my ‘look for’ criteria because those things are important to me as a drummer when I want to play metal music genre. I compared them with each other and made a list accordingly.

Overall, you should know that cymbals can be very differently preferred, even in the same type of genre. Thus, ensure to check my criteria and the things I searched for before checking my list of the 9 best cymbals for metal. 

As a drummer and percussionist with over 15 years of experience, I’m deeply passionate about drumming. My insights and writings have earned recognition in Drum Magazine, reflecting my commitment to the drumming community. 

I focus on providing authentic advice and well-researched recommendations, drawing from extensive hands-on experience. My aim is to deliver relatable and informative content that supports drummers of all levels in their musical journey.

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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