Metallica has remained at the top of the pecking order in metal for over 30 years, there is no other metal band in the world that stands toe to toe with them in terms of popularity, selling over 100 million albums during their career. Releasing their first album in 1983, the band went from strength to strength, despite suffering the tragic loss of bassist Cliff Burton in 1986. Metallica still sell-out stadiums all across the world every time the band goes on tour.
Here are the top 10 best Metallica songs of all time.
10. The Memory Remains – Reload (1997)
The mid-90s is looked at by some as a dark point in the career of Metallica. Granted, the band didn’t release the next Master Of Puppets during that time, but there are a few hidden gems to be found from that era, including The Memory Remains. Becoming a key part of the setlist due to its sing-along hook, performed by Marianne Faithfull in the studio recording. For me, it was definitely a grower not a shower, with me not understanding its brilliance during my younger years. But, the song aged like fine wine and a song I love listening to these days.
9. Creeping Death – Ride The Lightning (1984)
Creeping Death is thrash metal 101, fast. heavy, lots of chugging, a fast solo, it is everything you love about thrash. Regularly opening Metallica’s live shows, and what a better way to get fans excited for the night ahead.
8. Enter Sandman – Metallica (1991)
The song that took Metallica to new heights. While some “purists” hate on the song, Enter Sandman helped take metal to the mainstream, helping to make the self-titled album, or Black album as its nicknamed, to become a 16x Platinum album, being the first to debut at number 1 on the Billboard 200 while also debuting at number 1 in 7 other countries. “Metallica” has spent 488 weeks in the Billboard Top 200, which’s over 9 years of its 30-year release.
7. For Whom The Bell Tolls – Ride The Lightning (1984)
The bell that opens the song just hits different, you know what awaits you as the first notes of the song play. It is also an incredible song to see live, with the arena blacking out after the line “Take a look to the sky just before you die, it is the last time you will”….goosebump moment for sure.
6. Orion – Master Of Puppets (1986)
An 8-minute instrumental from the band, not something that many bands could pull off, especially as a thrash band. Orion is perhaps best known for the bass-filled middle section, featuring some of Cliff Burton’s best work. Unfortunately, Cliff Burton would be killed in a road accident shortly after the album’s release while the band was touring to promote the album.
5. Spit Out The Bone – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct (2016)
“Hardwired…To Self-Destruct” saw the band return to top form, writing music that would sound right at home on any of their 80’s albums, and the final song Spit Out The Bone is the highlight of the album. A 7-minute masterclass on how to write a thrash metal song, Spit Out The Bone stands alongside any other song in their back catalogue and shows that Metallica can still bring their A-game, even 40 years later.
4. The Unforgiven I/II/III – Metallica (1991)/Reload (1997)/Death Magnetic (2008)
Ok, I’m cheating a little bit here, but I didn’t want these songs to take up 3 entries in this list, because they all deserve to be here. The songs act as a trilogy, each with its own meaning. It has been said that the first song is about James Hetfield not forgiving people who wronged him, the second is about not forgiving himself, while the most recent song is about seeking forgiveness for his past mistakes. The Unforgiven trilogy should be listened to back to back just once, it is great to hear them side by side.
3. Nothing Else Matters – Metallica (1991)
Nothing Else Matters, along with Enter Sandman, helped take Metallica to new heights. As a ballad it became a mainstream hit, and has continued to last the test of time with over 600 million plays on Spotify, making it their second most popular song of all time on the platform. James Hetfield has stated in the past that it is about missing his ex-girlfriend back home while away on tour. While they didn’t stand the test of time, Nothing Else Matters sure did.
2. One – …And Justice For All (1989)
One became Metallica’s breakout hit, becoming their first song to feature a music video, and what a video it is. Using clips of the movie Johnny Got His Gun. It is extremely dark and slightly horrifying and one that the viewer will never forget. Metallica took a chance by making their first music video a 7-minute song, but it paid off and helped set the stage for their self-titled album.
1. Master Of Puppets – Master Of Puppets (1986)
Finally, we have Master Of Puppets, arguably the greatest Metallica song ever written. A 9-minute thrash masterpiece, the song takes the listener on a ride they will never forget. The song is about drug addiction and how it takes hold of the user and was also Cliff Burton’s favourite Metallica song. The song has gone on to be an essential part of any Metallica set and has remained a fan favourite ever since 1986.