Heavy metal music can be broadly defined as any genre of rock that features guitars with distortion, an aggressive rhythm section and harsh vocals. Heavy metal is often divided into subgenres such as speed metal, death metal, thrash metal and black metal for easy categorization.
Songs written within this genre tend to be dark and sinister, often featuring themes of darkness, evil, power and apocalypse. Additionally, songs in this genre often utilize minor keys for an added dissonant element.
Paranoid by Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath are heavy metal’s original titans and Paranoid remains one of their most memorable and influential albums ever released in 1970.
It was also the album that laid the groundwork for what later became known as heavy metal music, serving as a blueprint for many other bands to follow suit. Produced by Rodger Bain and recorded at Regent Sound and Island Studios in London.
This album is filled with dark and disturbing lyrics written by bassist Geezer Butler and guitarist Tony Iommi that explore such subjects as nuclear apocalypse, Vietnam war, depression and death.
Paranoid contains several songs that stand out, but the three that truly make this album shine are “Iron Man,” “War Pigs,” and “Paranoid.” These classic heavy metal tunes have left an impactful imprint on generations of metal musicians.
Blind by Korn
Blind is one of the iconic songs by Korn’s nu-metal band and became an international hit. This track can easily be learned and enjoyed playing using various techniques, such as power chords or hammer-ons.
This song serves as an excellent demonstration of how heavy metal bands can make a mark in the industry with their distinctive riffs and sounds, creating an unforgettable music experience for their listeners. A classic rock tune that will help familiarize listeners with various forms of guitar playing as well as master the art of metal music.
“Rage” is an excellent opener to any metal album, featuring a huge central riff, an atmospheric intro and drums that sound as if from an ancient ritual. Additionally, this track contains an extended freak out section towards its conclusion that shows off different styles of heavy metal music.
Die For Metal by Manowar
Manowar are pioneers of epic metal music and remain relevant today. Drawing inspiration from Viking history, their sound is memorable and intensely heavy.
Manowar have always had an identifiable American sound which comes through both in their lyrics and image. While known for wearing leather outfits and motorbike rides, they’re also known for being more serious than many other bands within metal music scene.
Manowar’s sixth studio album, Kings of Metal, is their best-known release and should be an essential addition to any heavy metal enthusiast’s collection. This release showcases some of their greatest songs ever written and recorded; making this an excellent introduction if you have never encountered Manowar before.
Harvest by Opeth
Opeth’s Harvest song exemplifies how heavy metal music can transcend simple noise. This tune evokes images of red and brown leaves rustling in the wind or of bubbling streams in an autumn forest, conjuring images that go far beyond mere sound waves.
At the time of its release, this album represented the sound of a band already well-established across both Europe and North America by this point, with metal fans eagerly anticipating what they had in store next. Steven Wilson became one of their key producers, which would prove instrumental to their future success as a group.
The end result of this collaboration was an intricate and breathtaking album, featuring elements of death metal growls, clean vocals and distorted guitar leads – not to mention Martin Mendez’s powerful bass performance that added yet another layer of emotion.
Enter Sandman by Metallica
Enter Sandman is one of Metallica’s best-known songs, released back in 1991. With its catchy melody and iconic status as an essential piece of heavy metal music, its lyrics have become part of metal culture for years after release.
This song has become an audience-favorite among all age groups, which explains its popularity among artists of different genres and generations. It showcases how music can combine classical with pop influences to produce something powerful that’s sure to please fans of both forms of art.
It speaks volumes about the band’s incredible musicianship that they managed to craft this song so effortlessly. By taking time and care in recreating an iconic riff and incorporating it into their style of playing music, this timeless tune remains immensely popular with listeners for decades.
Dexter has also featured this song prominently in a number of movies and television shows, such as Dexter.
Psychosocial by Slipknot
Psychosocial, one of the most iconic heavy metal songs ever, was released by Slipknot in 2008 and remains one of their biggest hits to this day. It boasts the perfect combination of drums, beats and one of Corey Taylor’s best vocal performances to date.
Playing this song is straightforward for even beginner musicians; even novice players should find the riff simple enough for their first try!
Song features single note partitions and experimental rhythm changes that make it both entertaining and challenging to play, making this piece ideal for learning how to play metal guitar as practice material.
This medley is an incredible demonstration of how easy it can be to transform one of your favourite songs into an inspiring cover version. YouTuber Ten Second Song guy has combined Slipknot’s Psychosocial with 20 different artists including Hanson, The Cure and Gojira!
Holy Diver by Ronnie James Dio
Ronnie James Dio was one of the greatest metal singers ever. He pioneered the “devil’s horns” hand gesture and sang for some of metal’s most legendary bands, like Black Sabbath and Rainbow. Following their departures he established Dio and recruited former Black Sabbath drummer Vinny Appice and former Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain as well as guitarist Vivian Campbell from Sweet Savage as members.
Holy Diver, their debut album, is heavy yet honest rock music that teaches moral lessons while weaving stories together with electric guitars and harmonious solo playing.
This album also includes the unnerving opening passage from ‘Holy Diver’ and the upbeat melody from ‘Rainbow in the Dark’, both with excellently integrated keyboard sounds that create an organic and complementary sound for this music piece.
Holy Diver’ is one of the seminal pieces in heavy metal music history, shaping a whole new generation of headbangers while further cementing Dio’s place within this genre.
Another Day by Dream Theater
Dream Theater’s power ballad, “Another Day”, written by guitarist John Petrucci is featured as a single from their 1992 album Images and Words. Initially written as an ode to John Petrucci’s late father who died of cancer, this powerful ballad also serves as a message against its spread.
This song’s video includes MRI scans in the background and shows a father and son discussing their experiences with cancer; its lyrics reflect this theme as well.
Dream Theater stands as a pioneer of progressive metal and enjoys a dedicated fanbase, drawing followers who travel great distances just to watch them perform live. Although not among the world’s most beloved groups, this exceptional quartet offers some truly talented music.
Crazy Train by Ozzy
Ozzy Osbourne had recently been fired from Black Sabbath and was struggling to relaunch his career when Don Arden offered him an opportunity for comeback: his quintuple platinum solo debut Blizzard of Ozz.
Ozzy released two LPs featuring guitarist Randy Rhoads before his tragic plane crash during tour with Ozzy and the band in 1992. Rhoads was an extraordinary talent who enhanced Ozzy’s debut with his incredible neoclassical guitar playing technique.
“Crazy Train” has long been one of the pillars of heavy metal music, becoming an unforgettable classic over time. With its infectious guitar riffs that have become iconic to this genre, “Crazy Train” has won Ozzy Osbourne numerous accolades over time.