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Dissecting the Greatest Heavy Metal Songs

Updated on May 28, 2015
liladybugz26 profile image

Rachael is both an avid writer and music enthusiast, with a passion for metal. She enjoys researching and dissecting lyrics.


Heavy metal first pierced the ears of listeners in the 1960s and 1970s with bands like Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper. The sound has since progressed becoming louder and faster while gathering a following of dedicated "headbangers". It's hard to find somebody who agrees on what the greatest heavy metal song of all time is; however, these songs are at the top of every metal list.


1. Master of Puppets

Metallica was creeping in on the metal watchlist when in 1986 they released their absolute voice of intent with Master of Puppets. This song encompasses the enslaving power of drug addiction. Singing the repeating verse of this song has become somehow a rite of passage to becoming a true metal head. This elemental song is most often found in the number one position on many greatest of all-time heavy metal charts.

Watch the Full Length Master of Puppets Video


Black Sabbath - "War Pigs" Live Paris 1970

2. War Pigs

Black Sabbath unleashed War Pigs in 1970 as their opening track on the Paranoid album. This is understood to be a Vietnam war protest song; however, the band played live in the mid 70s and projected World War II scenes during its performance. The band later noted that it was originally entitled "Walpurgis", and is really about a witches Sabbath. Digital Dream Door ranks War Pigs number two of the "100 Greatest Metal Songs".


Watch "Hallowed Be Thy Name"

3. Hallowed Be Thy Name

In 1982, Steve Harris wrote Hallowed Be Thy Name for Iron Maiden. This progressive eighth track closes out The Number of the Beast album with its prime musical quality and lyrics. Told from the perspective of a marked man on the brinks of execution, this song breaths his fear and exhales a lengthy instrumental at his death leaving only his final words, hallowed be thy name. Every metal historian rates this dark composition at or near the top of their greatest all-time list.


The Disturbing Metallica One Video

4. One

The third single off of the 1988 And Justice for All album, "One" displays Metallica at the top of their colossal metal reign. Encompassed by dark melodic lyrics, this power baled is based on a 1939 war novel where a soldier is maimed and his arms, legs, ears, nose, mouth and eyes are taken leaving only his torturous thoughts. With this song, Metallica made their first music video which disturbed many viewers, and thrilled rockers around the globe.


5. Walk

Walk is Pantera's fourth and last single from the 1993 Vulgar Display of Power album. This song was written following the Cowboys from Hell tour after the band returned home and friends treated them incongruously. The forceful lyrics demand "stay away from me". Pantera has remade and remixed this song numerous times under names such as Walk Biomechanical and Walk Cervical. Many bands have covered this song including Disturbed, Seether, Avenged Sevenfold and Sevendust.

Watch Pantera With Phil Anselmo Nail The "Walk" Power Groove

How This List was Calculated

All of these songs were compiled from the top five of several greatest metal lists, and a number of factors were used including impact, influence, popularity, lyrical quality and musical quality and composition to determine their ranking on this list.

What Heavy Metal Song Do You Think Is The Best?

What Song Should Hold The "Greatest" Title?

See results

© 2013 Rachael Ryhn


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    • liladybugz26 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachael Ryhn 

      6 years ago from Cambridge, MN

      Thanks! I put a lot of effort into it. I looked at a lot of factors and many lists to come up with them.

    • smcgavin1 profile image

      Sean McGavin 

      6 years ago from Bowling Green, Ohio

      Wow that is a tough call. Good list.


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