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100 Best Heavy Metal Songs of the ‘80s and ‘90s

Updated on May 6, 2020
Ansel Pereira profile image

I have been an online writer for over four years. I am passionate about books, philosophy, music, and the music industry.

Heavy Metal Rules
Heavy Metal Rules | Source

While the roots of heavy metal emerged towards the end of the ‘60s, the movement took off in the ‘70s giving rise to a plethora of new sounds in the genre. Experimentation in musical structure and in the realms of metal helped new sub-genres emerge. Heavy metal songs from various subgenres have a diverse sound because of their varied influences that stem from wide music genres. In the ‘80s heavy metal became excessively popular globally, with the glam metal scene reaching it’s height of success.

Heavy Metal Concerts
Heavy Metal Concerts | Source

Mainstream Popularity of Heavy Metal in the ‘80s and ‘90s

Many pioneering acts from extreme metal genres of the ‘90s emerged through the ‘80s metal scene. Hard rock bands with heavy metal influences achieved a great deal of commercial success in the ‘80s. The brand of heavy metal emerging from Scandinavian countries became insanely popular with metal fans globally. Although not many power metal bands tasted commercial success, a significant number of bands in this genre garnered a cult following globally. The popularity of alternative metal in the ‘90s propelled heavy metal to dizzy heights. Furthermore, with music television channels promoting metal in a big way, the genre reached a wider genre spectrum of heavy metal fans and achieved significant mainstream popularity.

Long Live Lemmy!
Long Live Lemmy! | Source

‘80s and ‘90s: The Heavy Metal Years

Heavy metal which was considered non-mainstream suddenly found the spotlight in the ‘80s. Songs of heavy metal bands became a symbol of rebellion with youth in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Many bands in this genre landed recording contracts with major record companies. Record labels such as Metal Blade Records, Roadrunner Records, Noise Records and Earache Records played a pivotal role in signing new and upcoming metal bands in the ‘80s and ‘90s. A number of speed metal bands, thrash metal bands and death metal bands from US and Europe became hugely popular through the ‘80s and ‘90s. The Norwegian black metal movement sprung forth to a new level in the ‘90s. Many pioneering acts in extreme subgenres of heavy metal are cited as influences by present-day metal bands.

Glam Metal in the ‘80s

The ‘80s also saw a phenomenal rise of glam metal bands. Many hair metal bands had a string of successful singles in the ‘80s. Needless to say, the ‘80s were the glory days for hair metal and glam metal. Several hair metal bands released commercially successful albums. Thanks to MTV, the music television channel showcased singles of numerous bands in the realms of heavy metal. Furthermore, several metal bands received regular airplay on radio stations.

Heavy Metal Or No Metal At All!
Heavy Metal Or No Metal At All! | Source

The Emergence of Extreme Genres in the ‘90s

Whilst the alternative and grunge movement did put the brakes on the glam metal scene in the 90s, many new extreme metal genres came to the forefront with an amalgamation of complex odd time musical structure. Progressive metal which surfaced in the late ‘80s was taken to another level by bands in this genre. The complex music structure in progressive metal has led to diverse sounds in various subgenres of metal. Heavy metal in the ‘80s and ‘90s unlocked doors to new sounds that gave shape to the nu-metal sound in 2000s.

The lines below showcase an epic list of ‘80s and ‘90s heavy metal songs from different subgenres. If you are a fan of metal you will have a lot to say. Feel free to say it all in the comments section.

Heavy Metal Bands are known for their exceptional showmanship!
Heavy Metal Bands are known for their exceptional showmanship! | Source

Top 10 Best Heavy Metal Songs of the ‘80s

1. “Breaking the Law”—Judas Priest (Heavy Metal)

2. “Ace of Spades”—Motorhead (Heavy Metal/Hard Rock/Speed Metal)

3. “Welcome to the Jungle”—Guns N’ Roses (Heavy Metal/Hard Rock)

4. “Master of Puppets”—Metallica (Speed Metal/Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

5. “Raining Blood”—Slayer (Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal)

6. “Run to the Hills”—Iron Maiden (Heavy Metal)

7. “Dead Embryonic Cells”—Sepultura (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

8. “We’re Not Gonna Take It”—Twisted Sister (Hard Rock/Heavy Metal)

9. “Peace Sells”—Megadeth (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

10. “Holy Diver”—Dio (Heavy Metal)

Best Heavy Metal Songs of the ‘80s #11—20

11. “Heaven and Hell”—Black Sabbath (Heavy Metal)

12. “Alison Hell”—Annihilator (Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal)

13. “The Number of the Beast”—Iron Maiden (Heavy Metal)

14. “Caught In A Mosh”—Anthrax (Speed Metal/Heavy Metal)

15. “Paradise City”—Guns N Roses (Hard Rock/Heavy Metal)

16. “Seek and Destroy”—Metallica (Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal)

17. “The Toxic Waltz”—Exodus (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

18. “Crazy Train”—Ozzy Osbourne (Heavy Metal)

19. “Practice What You Preach”—Testament (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

20. “Future World”—Helloween (Power Metal/Heavy Metal)

Best Heavy Metal Songs of the ‘80s #21—40

21. “Rock You like A Hurricane”—Scorpions (Heavy Metal)

22. “Whiplash”—Metallica (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

23. “Mother”—Danzig (Heavy Metal)

24. “Hallowed Be Thy Name”—Iron Maiden (Heavy Metal)

25. “Bounded By Blood”—Exodus (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

26. “Death is Certain”—Dark Angel (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

27. “Elimination”—Overkill (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

28. “Pleasure to Kill”—Kreator (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

29. “Electric Eye”—Judas Priest (Heavy Metal)

30. “Hall of the Mountain King”—Savatage (Heavy Metal)

31. “One”—Metallica (Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal)

32. “The Last in Line”—Dio (Heavy Metal)

33. “Jump”—Van Halen (Hard Rock/Heavy Metal)

34. “Heavy Metal Maniac”—Exciter (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

35. “The Trooper”—Iron Maiden (Heavy Metal)

36. “Hail and Kill”—Manowar (Heavy Metal)

37. “Chapel of Ghouls”—Morbid Angel (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

38. “Solitude”—Candlemass (Doom Metal/Heavy Metal)

39. “The Unknown Knows”—Voivod (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

40. “Remember the Fallen”—Sodom (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

Best Heavy Metal Songs of the ‘80s #41—60

41. “Guardian”—Fates Warning (Heavy Metal)

42. “Metal Heart”—Accept (Heavy Metal)

43. “Seventeen”—Winger (Glam Metal/Heavy Metal)

44. “I Wanna Rock”—Twisted Sister (Heavy Metal/Hair Metal)

45. “Hell Awaits”—Slayer (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

46. “Battery”—Metallica (Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal)

47. “Kill as One”—Death Angel (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

48. “Screaming For Vengeance”—Judas Priest (Heavy Metal)

49. “Mad Butcher”—Destruction (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

50. “Denim and Leather”—Saxon (Heavy Metal)

51. “Into the Crypts of Rays”—Celtic Frost (Heavy Metal/Thrash)

52. “Beneath The Remains”—Sepultura (Thrash Metal Heavy Metal)

53. “Evil”—Mercyful Fate (Heavy Metal)

54. “Betrayer”—Kreator (Speed Metal/Heavy Metal)

55. “Don’t Talk To Strangers”—Dio (Heavy Metal)

56. “Metal on Metal”—Anvil (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

57. “Queen of the Reich”—Queensryche (Progressive Metal/Heavy Metal)

58. “Am I Evil”—Diamond Head (Heavy Metal)

59. “War Inside My Head”—Suicidal Tendencies (Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal)

60. “Black Metal”—Venom (Heavy Metal)

Best Heavy Metal Songs of the ‘80s #61—80

61. “Human Insecticide”—Annihilator (Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal)

62. “The Tempter”—Trouble (Heavy Metal)

63. “Disciples of the Watch”—Testament (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

64. “Youth Gone Wild”—Skid Row (Heavy Metal/Glam Metal)

65. “Cum on Feel the Noize”—Quiet Riot (Heavy Metal)

66. “Hot for Teacher”—Van Halen (Hard Rock/Heavy Metal)

67. “Turn Up the Radio”—Autograph (Glam Metal/Heavy Metal)

68. “Metal Health”—Quiet Riot (Heavy Metal)

69. “Cult of Personality”—Living Colour (Hard Rock/Heavy Metal)

70. “Angel of Death”—Slayer (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

71. “Black Wind Fire and Steel”—Manowar (Heavy Metal/Power Metal)

72. “Edge of a Broken Heart”—Vixen (Glam Metal/Hard Rock/Heavy Metal)

73. “Watch the Children Play”—Metal Church (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

74. “Heavy Metal Love”—Helix (Heavy Metal)

75. “Majesty”—Blind Guardian (Heavy Metal)

76. “Kickstart My Heart”—Motley Crue

77. “Girlschool”—Britny Fox (Glam Metal/Heavy Metal)

78. “Poison Ivy”—Faster Pussycat (Glam Metal/Heavy Metal)

79. “Fight Fire with Fire”—Metallica (Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal)

80. “Possessed By Fire”—Exumer (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

Best Heavy Metal Songs of the ‘80s #81—100

81. “Under the Blade”—Twisted Sister (Heavy Metal)

82. “Hello from the Gutter”—Overkill (Speed Metal/Heavy Metal)

83. “Cry War”—Kreator (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

84. “Lay it Down”—Ratt (Glam Metal/Heavy Metal)

85. “Wait”—White Lion (Glam Metal/Hard Rock/Heavy Metal)

86. “Talk Dirty to Me”—Poison (Hard Rock/Glam Metal/Heavy Metal)

87. “I Want Out”—Helloween (Power Metal/Heavy Metal)

88. “Poison”—Alice Cooper (Heavy Metal/Hard Rock)

89. “The Burning of Sodom”—Dark Angel (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

90. “Strike of the Beast”—Exodus (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

91. “Fast as a Shark”—Accept (Heavy Metal)

92. “It’s Not Love”—Dokken (Heavy Metal/Hard Rock)

93. “Get it On”—Kingdom Come (Glam Metal/Hard Rock/Heavy Metal)

94. “Smoot up in Ya”—Bulletboys (Hard Rock/Heavy Metal)

95. “In My Darkest Hour”—Megadeth (Heavy Metal/Speed Metal)

96. “Gutter Ballet”—Savatage (Heavy Metal/ Progressive Metal)

97. “Live Wire”—Motley Crue (Heavy Metal/Hard Rock)

98. “Years of Decay”—Overkill (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

99. “Screaming In the Night”—Krokus (Heavy Metal)

100. “I’m On to You”—Hurricane (Heavy Metal/Hard Rock)

Which is the Best Heavy Metal Song of the '80s?

See results

Top 10 Best Heavy Metal Songs of the ‘90s

1. “Enter Sandman”—Metallica (Heavy Metal/Speed Metal)

2. “Walk”—Pantera (Groove Metal/Heavy Metal)

3. “Painkiller”—Judas Priest (Heavy Metal)

4. “Roots Bloody Roots”—Sepultura (Groove Metal/Heavy Metal)

5. “Wait and Bleed”—Slipknot (Heavy Metal)

6. “Bulls on Parade”—Rage Against the Machine (Alternative Metal/Rap Metal)

7. “Symphony of Destruction”—Megadeth (Speed Metal/Heavy Metal)

8. “War Ensemble”—Slayer (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

9. “Freak on A Leash”—Korn (Alternative Metal)

10. “Closer”—Nine Inch Nails (Industrial Metal/Heavy Metal)

Best Heavy Metal Songs of the ‘90s #11—20

11. “Cowboys from Hell”—Pantera (Heavy Metal/Groove Metal)

12. “Du Hast”—Rammstein (Industrial Metal/Heavy Metal)

13. “43% Burnt”—The Dillinger Escape Plan (Metalcore)

14. “Hangar 18”—Megadeth (Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal)

15. “Metropolis Pt. 1”—Dream Theater (Progressive Metal/Heavy Metal)

16. “Dance of the Dead”—Corrosion of Conformity (Heavy Metal)

17. “Hammer Smashed Face”—Cannibal Corpse (Death Metal/Heavy Metal)

18. “Blind”—Korn (Nu Metal/Alternative Metal/Heavy Metal)

19. “Sad But True”—Metallica (Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal)

20. “Territory”—Sepultura (Heavy Metal/Groove Metal)

Best Heavy Metal Songs of the ‘90s #21—40

21. “New Millennium Cyanide Christ”—Meshuggah (Extreme Metal)

22. “Souls of Black”—Testament (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

23. “Tornado of Souls”—Megadeth (Heavy Metal/Speed Metal)

24. “Killing In the Name”—Rage Against the Machine (Heavy Metal/Rap Metal)

25. “Davidian”—Machine Head (Heavy Metal)

26. “Monkey Business”—Skid Row (Heavy Metal/Hair Metal)

27. “I Am the Black Wizards”—Emperor (Black Metal/Heavy Metal)

28. “Refuse/Resist”—Sepultura (Groove Metal)

29. “The Philosopher”—Death (Death Metal/Heavy Metal)

30. “Dixie Whiskey”—Eyehategod (Sludge Metal)

31. “Revolution Calling”—Queensryche (Progressive Metal/Heavy Metal)

32. “People of the Lie”—Kreator (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

33. “Divine Wings of Tragedy”—Symphony X (Progressive Metal/Heavy Metal)

34. “Slaughter of the Soul”—At the Gates (Death Metal)

35. “The Beautiful People”—Marilyn Manson (Industrial Metal)

36. “Blinded By Fear”—At the Gates (Heavy Metal)

37. “Time”—Anthrax (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

38. “More Human than Human”—White Zombie (Heavy Metal)

39. “You Could Be Mine”—Guns N’ Roses (Glam Metal/Heavy Metal)

40. “Stone the Crow”—Down (Heavy Metal)

Best Heavy Metal Songs of the ‘90s #41—60

41. “Somewhere Out In Space”—Gamma Ray (Heavy Metal/Power Metal)

42. “Dead by Dawn”—Deicide (Death Metal/Heavy Metal)

43. “The Sun No Longer Rises”—Immortal (Black Metal)

44. “Demon of the Fall”—Opeth (Progressive Death Metal)

45. “Engine No. 9”—Deftones (Heavy Metal)

46. “Dead Skin Mask”—Slayer (Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal)

47. “Loco”—Coal Chamber (Gothic Metal/Nu Metal)

48. “Five Minutes Alone”—Pantera (Heavy Metal/Groove Metal)

49. “Detox”—Strapping Young Lad (Extreme Metal)

50. “A Blaze in the Northern Sky”—Darkthrone (Black Metal)

51. “Heartwork”—Carcass (Extreme Metal/Heavy Metal)

52. “My Own Summer (Shove It)”—Deftones (Heavy Metal/Alternative Metal)

53. “Locust Star”— Neurosis (Avant-Garde Metal)

54. “Dante’s Inferno”—Iced Earth (Heavy Metal)

55. “Space Lord”—Monster Magnet (Heavy Metal/Hard Rock)

56. “Lost At 22”—Life of Agony (Alternative Metal)

57. “Future Breed Machine”—Meshuggah (Extreme Metal)

58. “Infectious Hospital Waste”—Demolition Hammer (Thrash Metal/Heavy Metal)

59. “Stinkfist—Tool (Progressive Metal)

60. “Cruelty Bought Three Orchids”—Cradle Of Filth (Extreme Metal)

Best Heavy Metal Songs of the ‘90s #61—80

61. “Date with Poverty”—Metal Church (Speed Metal/Heavy Metal)

62. “Sweating Bullets”—Megadeth (Heavy Metal)

63. “The End Complete”—Obituary (Death Metal/Heavy Metal)

64. “Wizard in Black”—Electric Wizard (Doom Metal)

65. “Sugar”—System of a Down (Alternative Metal)

66. “Thus Spake the Nightspirit”—Emperor (Black Metal)

67. “Everything Dies”—Type O Negative (Gothic Metal Doom Metal)

68. “Guerrilla Radio”—Rage Against the Machine (Rap Metal)

69. “Left Hand Path”—Entombed (Death Metal)

70. “Fall From Grace”—Morbid Angel (Death Metal)

71. “Been Caught Stealing”—Jane’s Addiction (Alternative Metal/Heavy Metal)

72. “Wolverine Blues”—Entombed (Death Metal)

73. “Twist the Knife (Slowly)”—Napalm Death (Grindcore/Death Metal)

74. “Crystal Mountain”—Death (Death Metal/Heavy Metal)

75. “Gardenia”—Kyuss (Heavy Metal/Hard Rock)

76. “Jack Luminous”—Voivod (Heavy Metal)

77. “Replica”—Fear Factory (Heavy Metal)

78. “Floods”—Pantera (Groove Metal)

79. “Infecting The Crypts”—Suffocation (Death Metal)

80. “Rooster”—Alice in Chains (Alternative Metal)

Best Heavy Metal Songs of the ‘90s #81—100

81. “Sober”—Tool (Progressive Metal)

82. “Jotun”—In Flames (Heavy Metal)

83. “Black Hole Sun”—Soundgarden (Alternative Metal/Heavy Metal)

84. “Freezing Moon”—Mayhem (Black Metal/Heavy Metal)

85. “Pull Me Under”—Dream Theater (Progressive Metal/Heavy Metal)

86. “Lack of Comprehension”—Death (Death Metal/Heavy Metal)

87. “Hopkins”—Cathedral (Doom Metal)

88. “Until It Sleeps”—Metallica (Heavy Metal)

89. “The Accolade”—Symphony X (Progressive Metal/Heavy Metal)

90. “Riding the Snake”—Testament (Thrash Metal)

91. “Hallowed Land”—Paradise Lost (Gothic Metal)

92. “Trapped in a Corner”—Death (Death Metal)

93. “Power of Thy Sword”—Manowar (Heavy Metal)

94. “The Forest Whispers My Name”— Cradle Of Filth (Extreme Metal)

95. “Black Winter Day”—Amorphis (Heavy Metal)

96. “Lunchbox”—Marilyn Manson (Industrial Metal)

97. “The Day the World Went Away”—Nine Inch Nails (Industrial Metal)

98. “I Have the Body of John Wilkes Booth”—Clutch (Alternative Metal)

99. “Symbolic”—Death (Heavy Metal)

100. “Transilvanian Hunger”—Dark Throne (Black Metal/Death Metal/Heavy Metal)

Which is the Best Heavy Metal Song of the '90s?

See results

© 2016 Ansel Pereira

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