The Best of Heavy Metal: Classic Tracks You Need to Hear

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


In this blog post, we’ll be counting down the best classic heavy metal tracks that you need to hear. From Judas Priest to Metallica, these are the songs that defined the genre and continue to influence metalheads today.


Heavy metal music has been around for over 50 years, and in that time, it has produced some truly classic tracks. In this guide, we will countdown the best of heavy metal, from its early days in the 1960s and 1970s all the way through to the present day. So if you’re a fan of metal, or just curious about what the genre has to offer, read on to find out more about the best heavy metal tracks of all time.

Judas Priest – “Breaking the Law”

There are few metal songs as instantly recognizable as “Breaking the Law” by Judas Priest. The opening riff is one of the most iconic in all of metal, and the song is guaranteed to get any crowd pumping their fists in the air.

“Breaking the Law” was released as the lead single from Judas Priest’s 1980 album British Steel, and it quickly became one of the band’s most popular songs. The lyrics are about a working-class man who has had enough of his dead-end job and decides to break out and live a life of crime. It’s an ode to the rebellious spirit that runs through so much of heavy metal, and it’s impossible not to headbang along to.

If you’re looking for a classic heavy metal track that will get you pumped up, “Breaking the Law” is the perfect choice.

Metallica – “Enter Sandman”

“Enter Sandman” was the first single from Metallica’s self-titled 1991 album, and it remains one of the band’s most popular songs. The tune, which is about a child’s nightmares, features a signature riff from guitarist Kirk Hammett and some of singer James Hetfield’s best-known lyrics. The song was a crossover hit, appearing on both rock and pop radio stations, and its music video was in heavy rotation on MTV.

Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”

Sabbath’s second album Paranoid is often cited as the metal album that changed everything. It wasn’t the first heavy metal record – in fact, it wasn’t even the first Black Sabbath album – but it was the one that cemented the band’s reputation as pioneers of a new and exciting genre. “Paranoid” was the lead single from the album, and it quickly became one of Sabbath’s most iconic tracks.

With its heavy riffs and dark lyrics, “Paranoid” epitomizes everything that makes Sabbath great. The song tells the story of a man who is “caught in a moment of time / He doesn’t know where he is / Or how he got there”. The paranoia and confusion that the protagonist feels are perfectly conveyed by Ozzy Osbourne’s vocals, which sound like they’re on the verge of crumbling under the weight of the music. And then there are Tony Iommi’s riffs, which are some of the most unforgettable in all of heavy metal. When you hear them, it’s no wonder that Paranoid is considered one of the greatest metal albums of all time.

Iron Maiden – “The Trooper”

Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” is one of the most classic heavy metal tracks of all time. Written by bassist and vocalist Steve Harris, the song is based on the Charge of the Light Brigade, a disastrous failed cavalry charge during the Crimean War. The song was released as a single in 1983, and is still one of Maiden’s most popular tracks. It has been covered by many different artists, and was even used as the theme song for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Motorhead – “Ace of Spades”

There are few things in life more exhilarating than a full-throttle assult of noise, and nobody does it better than the masters of metal. With their unique mix of hard rock, blues, and even a little punk, metal bands have been delivering some of the most mind-bending sounds ever heard since the genre’s inception in the late 1960s.

From the early days of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple to the more recent sounds of Metallica and Mastodon, there have been countless classic tracks that have defined heavy metal. But if we had to pick just one, it would have to be Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.” Featuring one of the most iconic riffs in all of rock music, this 1980 track is as heavy as it gets, and it remains an essential part of any true metalhead’s playlist.

Slayer – “Raining Blood”

From 1986’s Reign in Blood, “Raining Blood” is one of the most iconic tracks in heavy metal history. It perfectly encapsulates what the genre is all about – dark, brooding atmosphere, aggressive guitars and thunderous drumming. The track is also notable for its use of reverse cymbals, which create a truly eerie soundscape. If you’re looking for a classic metal track to add to your collection, “Raining Blood” is essential listening.

Megadeth – “Symphony of Destruction”

Megadeth’s “Symphony of Destruction” is one of the most popular and iconic heavy metal tracks of all time. The song was released in 1992 as the lead single from the band’s fifth studio album, Countdown to Extinction. “Symphony of Destruction” was an instant success, reaching #2 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and #16 on the UK Singles Chart. The song has since been included on numerous “best of” lists and is considered a classic metal track.

Pantera – “Walk”

Releasing their fifth studio album, Vulgar Display of Power, in 1992, Pantera instantly became one of the most important heavy metal bands of the decade. Vulgar Display of Power is often considered the band’s magnum opus, and “Walk” is undoubtedly its centerpiece.

With its lurching rhythms and wailing guitars, “Walk” is a true metal anthem. Vocalist Phil Anselmo delivers one of his most iconic performances on the track, growling the now-famous opening line: “All things seem possible today.” The song goes on to tackle some dark subject matter, with Anselmo singing about addiction and self-destruction. But despite its heavy themes, “Walk” remains an uplifting and empowering anthem for metalheads all over the world.

Anthrax – “Caught in a Mosh”

Formed in New York in 1981 by guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Frank Bello, Anthrax became one of the most popular bands of the “Big Four” thrash metal scene, along with Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer. The band’s 1986 album Among the Living contained some of their most popular tracks, including “Caught in a Mosh”.

“Caught in a Mosh” is a fast-paced, high-energy song that perfectly capturesthe mosh pit spirit of Anthrax’s live shows. The song’s opening riff is iconic, and its chorus (“I wanna jump around/ I wanna tear it up/ I wanna get caught in a mosh!”) is an instant sing-along for any fan of heavy metal.


As you can see, there are a wide variety of heavy metal genres and sub-genres, each with its own unique sound and style. While it would be impossible to list every great heavy metal song ever recorded, the tracks featured in this article represent some of the best the genre has to offer. So crank up the volume, headbang like there’s no tomorrow, and enjoy!

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