When you need the crushing tones of heavy metal packaged into an amp, you need the best heavy metal amps money can buy. So, today we're looking at the best amps for heavy metal so you can melt faces in the studio and on stage

As metal guitarists we need the best heavy metal amps available, as we crave high gain tones, compression and fat boosted distortion that helps us melt faces when we’re shredding away on stage, at home or in the studio. If your amp isn’t cutting through the mix, your riffs aren’t beating the crowd into submission and your lead tones aren’t etching their way into people’s brains then your amp is simply not cutting it.

We've already looked at the best guitars for heavy metal, so today, we’re going to look at some of the best amps for heavy metal so you can walk on stage with an amplifier that can give you the power you need, deliver the articulation you want and the big distortion sounds you crave. Get a mop and bucket – you’ll be melting faces and minds with these amps in no time.

These are some of the best metal amps ever created and some new additions to the ranks you need to check out (in no particular order).

1. Marshall JCM800 2203 Vintage Series Guitar Tube Amp Head

Marshall JCM800

Let’s start off with a classic. The JCM800 is responsible for pretty much every hard rock and heavy metal sound of the 80s and early 90s. Angus Young from AC/DC, Kerry King from Slayer, and Zakk Wylde of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Label Society, Dave Mustaine from Megadeth, James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett from Metallica and Lee Malia from Bring Me The Horizon are all JCM 800 users or have used them frequently, so you’re in good company when you add this to your heavy metal arsenal. An original is likely to set you back the cost of a new car and is pretty hard to get hold of, to say the least.

Fortunately, the team at Marshall have released the Marshall JCM800 2203 Vintage Series Reissue, which perfectly recreates the original amp from back in 1981 and places it in reach of the everyday guitarist.

2. Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier Guitar Amplifier Head

Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier Guitar Amplifier Head

Mesa Boogie have been ever-present in the world of heavy metal, crafting some of the best metal amps to ever grace a stage. Cannibal Corpse, Ministry, Lamb Of God, Suicide Silence – the list is far too long to go on, but the Mesa Boogie metal family is BIG. This is thanks to the brands’ focus on boosted, high gain articulation and the ability to create amps that sound amazing when cranked into gritty distortion. Put simply, they perform best at high-gain levels and are designed for metal guitarists.

Why is this one of the best metal amps?

For lovers of heavy metal with limited room, the 25 watt Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier Guitar Amplifier Head is a great choice for practising your riffs at home with a small cab. The sound you get out of it makes it one of the best metal amps ever crafted. Its ability to drop the wattage from 25 to 10 means you get the same bone-crushing tone at a lower volume that won’t destroy your windows or annoy your neighbours – ideal for apartment use.

But, power up to the full 25 watts and you get huge sounds out of this two-channel amp. Channel 1 features a rhythm orientated section with CLEAN mode and PUSHED mode. Clean can be overdriven into a sparkling blues tone, whereas PUSHED takes you to higher gain riff territory. Channel two features the VINTAGE and MODERN channels. VINTAGE provides the high gain, 80s metal style tones we love whilst the MODERN setting thrusts us firmly into the modern high gain aggression we need with all the articulation we expect from modern amplifiers. A perfect choice for the gigging metal musician with limited room. Perfectly matched with the Mesa 1X12 Mini Rectifier Slant CAB.

3. BOSS Katana 100/212 MkII Guitar Amplifier

BOSS Katana 100/212 MkII Guitar Amplifier

Since the BOSS Katana series of amplifiers were released, guitarists of all levels have enjoyed these high-quality solid-state amps. The ability to dial in any of the 5 selectable amp characters and utilise any of the preloaded 55 BOSS effects within the flagship range has been a huge draw for BOSS fans and fans of high-quality amplifiers in general– especially metal guitarists.

Why is this one of the best metal amps?

The BOSS Katana 100/212 MkII Guitar Amplifier is ideal for metal guitarists of all levels and genres thanks to the huge amount of tones and effects available within the amp. We think this is one of the best metal amps due to the Crunch and Lead sounds, which are capable of some huge high gain tones. Simply crank up the gain switch on either amp and enjoy tight dynamics and spectacular articulation.

The Brown character in particular has been specifically designed to recreate the sounds of the late 70s and early 80s So-Cal metal scene which guitarists have tried to emulate for years. Add in the 65 effects and the ability to use 15 in unison (including the Metal Zone!) and you’re on your way to heavy metal heaven!

4. Orange Brent Hinds Terror 15w Signature Valve Amp Head

Orange Brent Hinds Terror 15w Signature Valve Amp Head

Let’s be honest here. Anything with Brent Hinds’ signature on it is going to be amazing for heavy metal. The Mastodon guitarist is renowned for sculpting some of the most iconic sounds in metal and being a true tone geek, so you know that when the collaboration between Orange and Hinds was in the works the result was going to be pretty brutal.

Why is this one of the best metal amps?

Orange amplifiers know how to make heavy metal amps – they’re ubiquitous on the scene relied upon by almost everyone from Sleep to Mastodon to Deftones… the list goes on. The Orange Brent Hinds Terror 15w Signature Valve Amp Head is the culmination of years of work between the Mastodon guitarist and the team at Orange and is based on the lunchbox Terror design, but with added personality and tonal options as designed by Brent himself.

The all-valve amp features two switchable channels and an all-new gain structure which sets it apart from the other Orange amplifiers. You have a natural channel which go from clean to creamy blues distortion and the Dirty channel which takes you from low gain distortion, to doom laden heavy rock tones thanks to a new circuit that pushes the amp far higher than in previous models, brightening up the sound at lower levels, and fattening it up the more you dial it in. A warm amp that retains the thickness and bottom end you need when you want those riffs to really hit home and one of the best metal amps the team at Orange have ever created.

5. Line 6 Firehawk1500 Stage Amp

Line 6 Firehawk 1500

The loudest amp on the market today easily makes our best metal amps list thanks to the 1500w output. If you want your guitar amp to sound like a jet plane landing, then the Line 6 Firehawk1500 is the one for you. Award winning tone, loads of volume, a 6-speaker design and loaded with a plethora of world-class collection of HD/ XT amps, cabs and effects – what’s not to love?

Why is this one of the best metal amps?

You have 132dB at your disposal, which is the equivalent to a 200 strong marching band, best of all, each amp emulation within the Line 6 Firehawk1500 Stage Amp and effect will perform accurately without distorting at the highest volume. Whether you’re busting out huge riffs at home with the amp dialled in at 1 or playing festivals with the amp cranked all the way up, you’ll enjoy crystal clear articulation and accurate dynamics.

You can even change tones on the fly via the onboard controls or use the Firehawk Remote app and make changes whilst you’re on the other side of the room!

We could write all about it, but its probably best if you watch the video and see for yourself as to how this is one of the best heavy metal amps:

6. PRS MT15 Mark Tremonti Signature Amp Head

PRS MT15 Mark Tremonti Signature Amp Head

When Mark Tremonti announced he was releasing a signature amp in partnership with the team at PRS, we freaked out! One of the greatest hard rock and metal guitarists of our generation was allowing us into his world of tone! The results certainly didn’t disappoint.

Why is this one of the best metal amps?

The PRS MT15 Mark Tremonti Signature Amp Head allows for a world of dynamics and sonic versatility. Not all metal guitarists want high gain at all times, we want the ability to clean up, add a little distortion and THEN hit the crowd with the huge tones when the song kicks in. Fortunately, the PRS MT15 is as versatile as Mark Tremonti himself, providing us with five gain stages before the Master capable of delivering massive sounds thanks to the two 6L6 tubes, and six JJEC tubes at the Preamp stage. This means you can enjoy subtle tube grit to all-out, valve saturation. Best of all you can utilise the one-button footswitch to switch between the Clean and Gain channels whenever you need to.

7. Orange Crush CR120C, 120W Guitar Amp Combo

Orange Crush CR120C

For fans of high power solid-state crunch, the Orange Crush CR120C is a great option and makes our best metal amps blog with ease thanks to the huge 120 watts of power and fully switchable channels with split dual gain stages. Best of all its way under £600 making it a pretty affordable option for guitarists of all levels.

Why is this one of the best metal amps?

We think the Orange CR120 Combo is one of the best amps for heavy metal due to the fact you have access to the coveted Orange Dirty channel featured on the likes of their Rockerverb series. You also have a lush Clean channel at your disposal, but if you want huge sounds and gritty distortion, you’ll love the Dirty channel when you crank the 120 watts of power and feel the air being pushed around by the 2 x 12” speakers.

The amp is easy to operate, features onboard digital reverb to expand your sound and offers highly responsive manipulation Gain options via the on-board EQ. A great amp for metal guitarists.

8. Fender Mustang GT 200 Combo Amplifier

Fender Mustang GT 200 Combo Amplifier

What do you do when you’re a fan of multiple genres of Metal music? You look to a modeling amp with plenty of presets and effects built-in, like the Fender Mustang GT 200 Combo Amplifier.

Why is this one of the best metal amps?

With 21 classic amp models and 47 effects built-in, this is one of the best heavy metal amps in terms of sonic options, but you also get a huge amount of sound out of a highly portable amp. You have 200 watts busting out of two 12” Custom Celestion speakers – more than enough power for the stages of the world.

We also think it’s one of the best amplifiers for metal as you have a range of metal tones built-in like the 'Basic Metal 2000' which provides a modern, high gain sound and the 'Basic British '80s' amp which provides that quintessential 1980s metal tone, plus many more options. Whatever your style, genre or sonic requirements, this can handle it all. When you want to change your sound up quickly, you can also use the Fender Tone App with your phone or tablet and make direct changes to the amp via wi-fi making it a great performing partner.

9. Blackstar ID:Core Stereo 150 2x10 Guitar Combo Amp

Blackstar ID:Core Stereo 150 2x10 Guitar Combo Amp

The Blackstar ID:Core Stereo 150 2x10 Guitar Combo Amp combines high power with a vast amount of Voice control settings capable of providing even the most ardent and fussy of metal fans with the tones they need to rock out. This 150-watt (2x75 Watt Stereo) amplifier hails from the award winning ID:Core series offering a world of tonal versatility at your fingertips, as well as a selection of amazing effects.

Why is this one of the best metal amps?

We think this is one of the best amps for heavy metal thanks to its high power, stereo output, and the 6 channels you can choose from, all of which help to give you an extremely useful gigging amplifier. The Clean Warm, Clean Bright, Crunch, Super Crunch, OD 1 & OD 2 channels can really come in handy whether you want the classic metal sound, doom, black metal and everything in between. Thanks to Blackstar's patented ISF control you can sculpt the tone further to your needs. The on-board effects such as modulation, delay and reverb offer a new dynamic for players who need something more.

10. EVH 5150 III 2X12 Tube Combo Amp in Black

EVH 5150 III 2X12 Tube Combo Amp in Black

When we’re talking best amplifiers for heavy metal, we have to include the EVH 5150 III 2X12 Tube Combo Amp, as almost anything Eddie Van Halen puts his name to is perfect for that classic metal sound and capable of helping us hit high gain heaven. This has been designed for the lovers of distortion and valve purists out there.

Why is this one of the best metal amps?

There are seven (seven!) JJ ECC83 (12AX7) preamp tubes and two JJ 6L6 power tubes packed into this thing, all of which help sculpt the luscious tones within each of the three channels – clean, crunch and lead. Each of these channels can be activated via the included four-button footswitch, allowing you to go from overdriven cleans to riff worthy crunch tones and then earth-shattering lead tones at the stomp of a switch. There’s also 50 watts of power to play with – more than enough for the stages of the world. If you want a smaller, more compact version, the smaller EVH 5150III 1x12 version still brings the noise.

11. Marshall DSL40CR 40W 1x12 Combo with Reverb

 Marshall DSL40CR 40W 1x12 Combo with Reverb

If you want a portable, yet very powerful amp for the modern metal player, then the Marshall DSL40CR 40W 1x12 Combo with Reverb is perfect.  The fact you have an Ultra Gain channel means you can get some screaming riffs out of it too! This compact valve amp is ideal for the home studio owners, small gig players and those in need of a high-quality practice amp. It's easy to carry around! Best of all, the 40-watt output can be dropped to 20 watts making it a great option for home and apartment use.

Why is this one of the best metal amps?

Did we mention it has an Ultra Gain setting? The Marshall DSL40CR 40W features 40 watts of all-metal goodness with a Low/Standby/High power switch for you to alter the amp's output (from 40 Watts to 20 Watts) – without blowing out the windows. Although this is only a 40-watt amplifier, the output is massive and the dual-channel design with Classic Gain and Ultra Gain, in particular, can really create some face-melting tones, whilst the patented added reverb and tonal controls allow you sculpt your perfect metal tone.

Shop a full range of guitar amplifiers over at PMT Online today or call into your local PMT store to chat to one of our guitar experts about your needs.