Top 25 Heavy Metal Songs of All Time

The definitive Top 25 Heavy Metal Songs of all time, with the videos to match.

Top 25 Heavy Metal Songs of All Time | ArticlesSmartasses Magazine

Judas Priest - Top 25 Metal Songs of All Time - Smartasses MagazineWelcome to the Smartasses Magazine definitive Top 25 Metal Songs of all time list. Oh sure, there’s going to be controversy regarding our list, but this is our version of the twenty five greatest metal songs of all time, and this is how we reached our decisions.

First and foremost, we compiled a laundry list of songs we all liked. It was then, where we had to draw a line in the sand and decide if the song truly qualified as “Metal” or if it was just simply “Hard Rock”, and this was a very fuzzy line to draw indeed. In the late eighties there were a great deal of “Hair Bands”, or as many people called the style of music back then, “Glam-Metal Bands”. In the early to mid nineties, the line became convoluted even more when “Grunge” appeared on the scene, and again we found ourselves with the same conundrum. What is Metal, and what is Hard Rock?

Let’s face it, there were a lot of great bands who would fall under the Grunge flag, but were just not “Metal” enough for us; Pearl Jam, and Nirvana are two that come to mind. Alice In Chains also comes to mind and although we feel Alice In Chains: Unplugged is arguably one of the top five albums of all time, we just could not put a “Metal” tag on it with confidence. Candlebox‘s self titled debut is another album we would rank high on an all time list, but again- not Metal. Lastly, Stone Temple Pilots is another group from that era that we gave some serious consideration to and frankly, some of their songs would have probably qualified as Metal… however, cutting them out was easy, as we didn’t feel any of their songs deserved a Top 25 (or honorable mention spot) anyways. Though STP did have some songs that are now considered classics (and are a band that is still grossly overplayed) we didn’t feel they truly brought anything original to the table at the time, and twenty years later, we still feel the same.

On the Hair-Band side of things, during the latter half of the eighties, those of us here at Smartasses who were around at the time were fairly hard core and looked upon bands like Bon Jovi, Posion, and Warrant as a bit of a joke. Now, two decades later, we actually look back on many of those groups with a twinkle of nostalgia in our eyes. With respect to that, we still had to draw the line between true Metal and Rock. As much as we may have truly desired to include Wanted: Dead Or Alive and Livin’ On A Prayer onto the list, we had to put them in the Hard Rock category and disqualify them.


Some may argue that a few of the songs included on our list were indeed by Hair Bands and, that may very well be true. But remember, the line is fuzzy. Where would you put KISS, who was a “Hair Band” before there were hair bands? Some of their songs were pretty hard, others were ballads. Or what about Motley Crue, who started out hard core, realized they could probably make more cash by prettying themselves up a bit, and went to the Hair side? It’s a tough call in many instances, but we used our best power of discernibility and separated things as best we could.

Some would also argue that we were remiss in not including bands like Rush, Jimi Hendrix or Led Zeppelin. Though they did pave the way, in our opinion it’d be a bit like saying the Model T deserves to be in a list of all time greatest race cars. One would not include cars that were not actually used for racing, and we did not include songs that cannot definitively qualify as Metal. For us, we drew the line at Twisted Sister and Quiet Riot (and then included KISS for posterity’s sake, since they were ahead of their time). In our opinion, it was those two bands who were the ones who basically started the ball rolling at the dawn of the MTV era, and it was Ratt who took that ball and raised it to an even higher level.

Tool - Top 25 Metal Songs of All Time - Smartasses MagazineNow that some of the rules were established, then we started getting down to brass tacks. Truth be told, we tried to walk a thin line between mainstream, and hard core. Though we are definitely advocates of independent thought and people and/or groups that buck the radio-ready trend, facts being facts, things become mainstream for a reason: people like it. Therefore, some groups and/or songs were eliminated simply on the basis that they were too hard… the kind of songs that fifty percent of the public would argue are just ‘noise’. Bands like Pantera, Slipknot, and King Diamond are fine examples. In our opinions, a Top 25 list by definition should be a list of the best of the best, that the majority of the populous can agree on. Therefore we chose only one song from this genre, that we felt was the best of the best and the most influential.

From there, we also considered the influence of the song. Personally, there’s probably fifteen Tool songs that get our hearts pumping more than anything Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath ever put out, but influence has to count for something. Frankly, we feel that almost everything by Maynard James Keenan, Evanescence or (old) Metallica is borderline genius based on the complexity of the arrangement alone (See: Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus) and in some instances, not unlike Def Leppard’s Pyromania Album there were a number of songs we could have chosen, but we wanted influence to count, and also wanted to try and spread the love around a little bit. To that end, even we could argue that perhaps Photograph by Def Leppard was a better song than Panama by Van Halen, but how wrong would it be to leave Van Halen off the list? It already felt like cutting off a pinky finger to not include Runnin’ With The Devil as it is. So… in a few cases where you see one of your favorite songs conspicuously absent, keep in mind that in some cases we narrowed the song choices by a certain band from three or four, down to one or two, in the name of making sure we respected “variety” for our Top 25 List as.

We also want to be clear on one point. Many will wonder why we chose not to include “One” by Metallica, because it was their very first rock video. While that is certainly a valid point, we choose to look at that one particular song… as the moment Metallica “Jumped The Shark”. We included only one song by Metallica from the post “Black Album” era, it only made Honorable Mention, and it was a garage-cover at that.

With that said, here is the list. Each song will take you to it’s video on YouTube, so make sure you’ve got either great speakers or a nice set of headphones. A song is only as good as the speaker it’s played on. On that note (no pun intended) do as Quiet Riot beckoned us all to do, check out the list, and ‘Bang Your Head!’


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Click on the song names, to take you to it’s video on YouTube.

25 – Lithium – Evanescence

24 – Awake – Godsmack

23 – Symphony of Destruction – Megadeth

22 – Feuer Frei – Rammstein

21 – Too Young To Fall In Love – Motley Crue

20 – Forty Six & 2 – Tool

19 – In The Still Of The Night – Whitesnake

18 – Angel Of Death – Slayer

17 – Rainbow In The Dark – Dio

16 – Roseta Stoned – Tool

15 – 2 Minutes To Midnight – Iron Maiden

14 – (Tie) Pet – A Perfect Circle

14 – (Tie) Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums – A Perfect Circle

13 – Back in Black – AC/DC

12 – Ace Of Spades – Motorhead

11 – Rusty Cage – Soundgarden

10 – Detroit Rock City – KISS

09 – Greed – Godsmack

08 – War Pigs – Black Sabbath

07 – Du Hast – Rammstein

06 – Paranoid – Black Sabbath

05 – You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ – Judas Priest

04 – Peace Sells – Megadeth

03 – Master of Puppets – Metallica

02 – Seek And Destroy – Metallica

01 – Aenema (Learn To Swim) – Tool

Twenty-Five Honorable Mentions: Bang Your Head (Metal Health) – Quiet Riot; We’re Not Gonna Take It – Twisted Sister; For Whom The Bell Tolls – Metallica; The Number of the Beast – Iron Maiden; Highway To Hell – AC/DC; Painkiller – Judas Priest; Breadfan – Metallica; Birth Ritual – Soundgarden; The Four Horsemen – Metallica; Hangar 18 – Megadeth, Stargazer – Rainbow; Hell’s Bells – AC/DC; Foolin’ – Def Leppard; Panama – Van Halen; Welcome To The Jungle – Guns N’ Roses; Holy Diver – Dio; Creeping Death – Metallica; Blackout – Scorpions; Run to the Hills – Iron Maiden; And Justice For All – Metallica; Lay It Down – Ratt; The Last In Line – Dio; The Beautiful People – Marilyn Manson; Fade To Black – Metallica; Going Under – Evanescence


© Smartasses Magazine