35 Best Heavy Metal Songs of All Time

Photo of author
Written By Will Fenton

Founder of MidderMusic. From numerous bands to stints working in music shops, read more about me on the 'Here's My Story' page!

There are many great heavy metal songs out there, so making a list of the best heavy metal songs of all time was a challenging task.

But looking at the song’s popularity as well as its longevity and overall impact on the music industry, we managed to pick the 35 best metal songs of all time.

You’ll come across iconic metal hits, as well as some heavy metal tracks you might have forgotten about. 

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the top heavy metal songs!

1. “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne

It’s hard to pick the best heavy metal song ever, but “Crazy Train” is definitely among the top 10.

Ozzy Osbourne rose to fame as the member of Black Sabbath, but he also had a successful solo career.

‘The Prince of Darkness’ released 13 studio albums, and he was eventually also proclaimed ‘Godfather of Metal.’

His impact on the heavy metal genre, both as a Black Sabbath member and a solo artist, is undeniable.

2. “Breaking The Law” by Judas Priest 

Another song that belongs on the top 10 heavy metal songs list is “Breaking The Law” by Judas Priest.

Released in 1980, the song is one of Judas Priest’s signature songs.

You can recognize it by its opening riff right away, and it definitely passed the test of time – even now, it’s regarded as one of the most popular heavy metal songs.

Plus, Judar Priest are ranked as one of the greatest metal bands of all time. 

3. “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due” by Megadeth

Megadeth is also among the best metal bands of all time.

They are known for their technically complex guitar work and musicianship, and they released many successful heavy metal hits.

And “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due” is hands down one of their best tracks.

It’s taken from their 1990 album, Rust in Peace. 

The song has a rather unusual structure, and that makes it stand out from other similar songs.

4. “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin

“Immigrant Song” is by far one of the best songs from the 70s.

The song’s repeating riff is powerful and iconic, and when you add the lyrics featuring references to Norse mythology, you get a true heavy metal gem.

That being said, some sources also categorize the song as viking metal and folk metal.

Nevertheless, “Immigrant Song” remains Led Zeppelin’s most recognizable song, and one of the best hard rock songs of all time.

5. “Master Of Puppets” by Metallica

When it comes to trash metal and its pioneers, Metallica is essential.

The band’s sound changed the meaning of genre, and their songs had a huge impact on the music industry.

And their song “Master Of Puppets” deserves special attention.

It was released on their album of the same name in 1986.

The song saw resurgence in popularity after being featured in the Season 2 of Netflix’s Stranger Things

6. “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath

As we’ve already mentioned, Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath had a lot of influence on the heavy metal genre.

In fact, they pioneered heavy metal in the 1970s.

And their song “Iron Man” is a heavy metal classic.

They released it on their second studio album Paranoid in 1970.

Rolling Stone magazine ranked the album number one on its list of the “100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time”

7. “Walk” by Pantera

Released in 1992, Pantera’s “Walk” is arguably one of the most popular heavy metal songs.

It’s also categorized as a groove metal song.

After all, the subgenre appeared in the early 1990s, and Pantera helped popularize it.

They are also associated with the second wave of the thrash metal scene.

8. “Back In Black” by AC/DC

AC/DC released “Back In Black” on their seventh studio album of the same name.

And it became their best-known hit as well as one of the most famous heavy metal songs in general.

Moreover, the album became one of the best-selling albums in history, marking a new era for heavy metal.

9. “The Trooper” by Iron Maiden

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without Iron Maiden.

They were formed in 1975, and they are still actively performing and touring.

And when thinking about Iron Maiden greatest hits, “The Trooper” is one of the first songs that come to mind.

They released it on their 1983 studio album Piece of Mind, and it became an instant hit.

The song is based on the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava, and it was inspired by the poem of the same name.

10. “Ace Of Spades” by Motörhead

Motörhead released “Ace Of Spades” in 1980 on their album of the same name.

The song begins with Lemmy’s overdriven bass intro, and transforms into heavy metal bliss.

Lyrically, the song is based on gambling metaphors, so in a way, it talks about taking risks in life.

Regarding charts,  “Ace Of Spades” made it to number 15 in 1980.

If you like to gamble

I tell you, I’m your man

You win some, lose some

It’s all the same to me.

11. “Holy Diver” by Dio 

Dio is a heavy metal band formed after Ronnie James Dio left Black Sabbath.

The band was active for three decades, until Dio’s death in 2010.

And “Holy Diver” was released as a single on Dio’s debut studio album of the same name.

Although it wasn’t a huge hit when it came out in 1983, the song remains Dio’s biggest hit, and it’s generally considered to be a classic metal song.

12. “Shout At The Devil” by Mötley Crüe

Shout at the Devil is the second studio album by Mötley Crüe, but it’s also the name of their heavy metal hit song.

They sold over 200,000 copies of the song within its first two weeks, which earned them the title of one of the most successful metal bands of their era.

All in all, Mötley Crüe’s impact on the genre is huge, and their song “Shout At The Devil” is only one of the reasons.

13. “Welcome To My Nightmare” by Alice Cooper

In short, Alice Cooper is a heavy metal legend.

And his track “Welcome To My Nightmare” is one of his best heavy metal rock songs. 

He released it on his debut album of the same – in fact, Welcome To My Nightmare is a concept album, and songs are played in sequence.

After all, Alice Cooper is known for his innovative approach to music and theatrical live performances.

He was named ‘The Godfather of Shock Rock’ for a reason.

14. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses 

Although “Sweet Child O’ Mine” is regarded as one of the greatest rock songs of all time, it also belongs on this heavy metal list.

The song first appeared on the Guns N’ Roses’ debut album Appetite for Destruction in 1988.

And it remains their best-known song.

There’s no doubt about it – “Sweet Child O’ Mine” is a timeless classic that will be known to many generations to come.

15. “Angel Of Death” by Slayer

Slayer is another band that made its mark on the metal music genre.

Formed in 1981, Slayer is considered to be one of thrash metal’s “Big Four” forefathers, along with Anthrax, Metallica, and Megadeth. 

And their release of the song “Angel Of Death” was life-changing for the band.

The lyrics of the song received a lot of attention, and although they caused some accusations too, the song remains one of their biggest hits.

“Angel Of Death” was also influential for the development of speed metal.

16. “Belly Of The Beast” by Anthrax

Speaking of the “Big Four”, we can’t skip Anthrax.

According to many metal lovers, their track “Belly Of The Beast” is a top 10 metal song.

And the band’s impact on the whole genre is undeniable.

They sold more than 10 million albums worldwide, which makes them one of the world’s most successful metal bands. 

17. “Evil” by Mercyful Fate 

You should also add “Evil” by Mercyful Fate to your essential heavy metal playlist.

Mercyful Fate is a Danish heavy metal band influenced by hard rock and progressive rock.

They were a part of the first wave of black metal in the early to mid-1980.

They released “Evil” in 1983, and the track became one of the most popular 80s metal songs.

18. “Eyes Of A Stranger” by Queensrÿche

A heavy metal band Queensrÿche also emerged in the 1980s.

They were one of the leaders of the progressive metal scene of the 80s.

And their 1988 track “Eyes Of A Stranger” reflects the spirit of their music perfectly – it’s a progressive metal song.

Lyrically, the song summarizes the story in the album.

“Eyes Of A Stranger” is also their fans’ favorite, and it was the band’s first single to chart on the US Mainstream Rock chart.

19. “Rock You Like A Hurricane” by Scorpions

“Rock You Like A Hurricane” is one of the popular metal songs released in 1984.

It’s taken from the Scorpions’ ninth studio album, Love at First Sting.

Scorpions are known to combine various genres, including hard rock, glam metal, heavy metal, and soft rock.

For example, their big hit “Wind Of Change” is a ballad.

But the German band is mostly associated with more energetic, metal songs such as “Rock You Like A Hurricane.”

20. “Hallowed Be Thy Name” by Iron Maiden 

“Hallowed Be Thy Name” is another Iron Maiden song that deserves a place on this list.

It’s the final track on Iron Maiden’s 1982 album The Number of the Beast.

The track eventually became their signature song, and it’s generally regarded as one of the greatest heavy metal songs of all time.

Plus, several band-members have since stated that it is one of their favorite tracks.

21. “Enter Sandman” by Metallica

And when it comes to Metallica’s greatest hits, “Enter Sandman” is definitely high on the list.

It’s the opening track and lead single from their self-titled fifth album from 1991.

The lyrics were written by James Hetfield, and they revolve around child’s nightmares and specifically the mythical figure the Sandman.

The music for this all-time hit was written by Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield, and Lars Ulrich.

22. “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” is one of the most recognizable metal songs from the 70s.

It’s taken from the band’s iconic metal album Paranoid.

Lyrically, the song talks about how politicians start wars, without taking a blame.

The song also compares war commanders to sorcerers and “witches at black masses.”

Evil minds that plot destruction

Sorcerer of death’s construction…

23. “The Moor” by Opeth

A song that can often be spotted on the best of heavy metal playlists is “The Moor” by Opeth.

The song is released on the band’s album Still Life in 1999, and it’s one of their signature songs.

“The Moor” tells a story of a man who is banished from his village because of his religious beliefs.

24. “Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)” by Type-O Negative 

American gothic metal band Type O Negative was known for their expressive metal songs.

“Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)” is one of their most memorable songs.

The song was allegedly written by lead singer Peter Steele while driving a garbage truck.

The lyrics are rather sarcastic, and they depict a relationship with a woman involved with the Goth subculture.

25. “One” by Metallica

Metallica is responsible for many metal hits, but “One” definitely stands out.

It was released as the final single from the band’s fourth studio album, …And Justice for All.

And it earned them a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance the next year. 

Of course, the song has remained a staple at Metallica’s concerts, and it’s arguably one of the most iconic metal songs ever.

I can’t remember anything

Can’t tell if this is true or a dream…

26. “Black Label” by Lamb Of God 

Lamb Of God established itself as one of the most prominent heavy metal bands of the century.

They are primarily associated with the new wave of American heavy metal movement.

And their song “Black Label” is a part of many greatest metal songs lists.

So if you’re making a best of metal playlist, you shouldn’t skip Lamb Of God and their beloved 2000 track “Black Label.” 

27. “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)” by Quiet Riot 

Quiet Riot is an American heavy metal band founded in Los Angeles in 1973.

One of their most notable songs is “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)”, released on the album of the same name in 1983.

Metal Health was the first heavy metal album to reach number one on the Billboard 200 chart.

That being said, Quiet Riot made a huge impact on the metal music scene and helped the genre to become more popular in the following years.

28. “Stargazer” by Rainbow 

Rainbow are a British rock supergroup, formed in 1975 by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore.

They are known for their song “Stargazer”, praised for its musical complexity.

In essence, it’s an epic rock track that tells a story of a powerful wizard.

The song begins with a drum solo by Cozy Powell, one of the best drummers of all time.

29. “Chapel Of Ghouls” by Morbid Angel 

“Chapel Of Ghouls” was released on Morbid Angel’s 1988 debut studio album Altars of Madness.

Altars of Madness is one of the most celebrated albums in death metal history.

Moreover, the album pioneered the sound of death metal, which ultimately makes Morbid Angel one of the most influential metal bands on our list. 

30. “Am I Evil?” by Diamond Head

“Am I Evil?” was released on the Diamond Head’s 1980 debut album Lightning to the Nations.

The track remains the band’s signature song, and it’s generally regarded as one of the best metal songs.

It was a big hit in the UK when it came out, but it achieved international popularity after Metallica covered it as a B-side on their single “Creeping Death” in 1984. 

31. “Run To The Hills” by Iron Maiden 

Another Iron Maiden classic that deserves to be mentioned is “Run To The Hills.”

After all, it’s one of Iron Maiden’s signature songs, and their most popular song in general.

It’s the first single from their third studio album, The Number of the Beast.

It’s also their first single with Bruce Dickinson as vocalist. 

32. “Beyond The Realms Of Death” by Judas Priest

In essence, “Beyond the Realms of Death” by Judas Priest is a metal power ballad.

It’s characterized by memorable guitar solos and Rob Halford’s incredible vocals.

But it also has powerful lyrics – it tells a story of a man who suffers from depression.

All things considered, “Beyond the Realms of Death” is a great metal song that deserves all the attention.

33. “Tornado Of Souls” by Megadeth

And the same goes for “Tornado Of Souls” by Megadeth.

It was released on Megadeth’s 1990 studio album Rust in Peace.

Lyrically, the song is about the end of a bad relationship. 

But “Tornado Of Souls” is mostly associated and remembered by Martin Friedman’s masterful guitar solo.

34. “Raining Blood” by Slayer 

As we’ve mentioned earlier, Slayer is part of the metal’s Big Four, along with Megadeth, Anthrax, and Metalica.

So it’s only fair we include their song “Raining Blood” too.

It was released on the band’s album Reign in Blood in 1986, and it revolves around the concept of overthrowing Heaven. 

It’s regarded as one of Slayer’s most popular songs, and Allmusic called it ‘a classic’.

35. “For Whom The Bells Tolls” by Metallica 

Last but not least, “For Whom The Bells Tolls” is another metal classic and one of Metallica’s greatest hits.

The lyrics are based on the Ernest Hemingway novel of the same name – it’s about an American who gets the job of taking out a bridge held by the Fascist army in the Spanish Civil War.

He then falls in love and finds out disturbing things about life and death.

Crack of dawn, all is gone except the will to be

Now they see what will be, blinded eyes to see.

Best Heavy Metal Songs – Final Thoughts

And that’s it for our list of the greatest heavy metal songs of all time.

We hope we reminded you of some beloved metal classics.

These songs are also a must-listen to anyone who is new to the metal genre.

Either way, we hope you enjoyed it! 

Similar Playlists:

Best Metal Bands

Best Emo Songs

Best Punk Songs