Here’s the official list of Audio Ink Radio’s top 10 greatest metal songs of all time
Metal is a genre known more for its albums than songs. That’s a rare thing these days, as we live in a world that’s singles-centric, focusing on a quick hit that will go viral on streaming platforms over a lengthy, detailed collection of songs that comprises a complete record.
That said, we would be remiss to neglect that a handful of heavy metal songs stand above the rest. These are the songs that helped define the metal genre and make it what it is today. Metal got its early start in the late-1960s and early-1970s with pioneers Blue Cheer and Led Zeppelin, but bands such as Metallica perfected the movement and, hence, have some of the greatest metal songs of all time.
Read on for Audio Ink Radio’s full list of the top 10 best metal songs of all time. Let us know what you think and reach out to us with your choices on Facebook here.
10. Motorhead, “Ace of Spades” (1980)
Motorhead were one of the earlier forces in metal music, and they certain had their own charm and heavy approach. “Ace of Spades” is their shining moment. Here, Lemmy Kilmister and company created a loud, hard-rocking gem with “Ace of Spaces,” and it deserves a spot on this tally.
9. Dio, “Holy Diver” (1983)
Ronnie James Dio was one of the big biggest voices in heavy metal. Nowhere did he shine more than on “Holy Diver,” the title track of Dio’s 1983 studio album. The song shows off Dio’s grand vocals and penchant for really owning any heavy song.
8. Pantera, “Walk” (1992)
Pantera are all the talk right now, due to founding members Rex Brown and Phil Anselmo putting together a “reunion” tour, sans the late, great Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul. In their earlier days, before Dimebag and Vinnie Paul’s tragic deaths, the band released some of metal’s most celebrated music. “Walk” is Pantera’s definitive song, coming off their sixth album “Vulgar Display of Power,” which would become one of the best-selling heavy metal albums ever.
7. Slayer, “Angel of Death” (1986)
Thrash metal titans Slayer don’t write about light-and-fluffy stuff. On the band’s song “Angel of Death,” the opening track off the 1986’s “Reign in Blood,” guitarist Jeff Hanneman writers about the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele’s human experiments at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. It’s a serious topic and gets some serious riffing and vocals to go with it. Slayer’s catalog is rich, but “Angel of Death” is a standout.
6. Megadeth, “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due”
Megadeth have fought to remain one of the most active metal bands of the past several decades. Dave Mustaine and company are known for their complex guitar work and musicianship, and that’s apparent on past and current releases. Critics consider “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due” one of the band’s finest moments. The track appear on Megadeth’s pioneering 1990 trash album, “Rust in Peace,” and feature a unique song structure.
5. Iron Maiden, “The Trooper” (1983)
Iron Maiden are one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time, so of course they deserve to be on this list. The band, which got together in the mid-1970s, is still active today. It’s difficult to pick just one Iron Maiden song to highlight on this list, but “The Trooper” comes to mind. The song, off 1983’s “Piece of Mind,” is a classic, with heavy guitars and Bruce Dickinson’s commanding vocals.
4. Metallica, “Master of Puppets” (1986)
There is not list of the greatest metal songs of all time without Metallica. The band took metal to the masses with their thrash-y yet melodic catalog of tracks. While Metallica became a household name in metal with their 1983 debut, “Kill ‘Em All,” it wasn’t until a bit later that they really got mass appeal. Many say the turning point was 1991’s “The Black Album,” which really took the guys mainstream, but before that, there was 1986’s “Master of Puppets.” The anthemic title track off that album is still one of the most requested Metallica tracks of the day.
3. Black Sabbath, “Iron Man” (1970)
Black Sabbath are really considered the godfathers of heavy metal music. Formed in the late-’60s, the band help create the heavy metal sound, combining guitar-heavy riffing and a dark blues rock to great accord. “Iron Man” is their more popular anthem, hailing from the band’s second studio album, 1970’s “Paranoid.”
2. Ozzy Osbourne, “Crazy Train” (1980)
As we get towards the top of the list, the decision get more difficult. Ozzy Osbourne’s solo music might not be considered as significant to the metal movement than his work in Black Sabbath, but “Crazy Train” is the exception. The song marks his best work as a solo artist and helped solidify him as the Prince of Darkness. It was also his debut solo single off his 1980 debut album as a solo artist, “Blizzard of Ozz.”
1. Judas Priest, “Living After Midnight” (1980)
Judas Priest are one of the defining bands of the English heavy metal movement, but their reach goes well beyond their native land. While the band’s catalog offers a bevy of influential metal songs, “Living After Midnight” stands out. The track, off their 1980 album “British Steel,” is one of the band’s most popular and still a regular on rock and metal radio. It’s a hard-rocking song with big guitars and Rob Halford’s crunchy vocals, but it also has a fun, upbeat rhythm that makes it appealing to the masses. For that, “Living After Midnight” is our greatest metal song of all time.