Metallica: Their 10 Greatest Songs of All Time


Metallica image.

Let’s get into 10 of the greatest Metallica songs of all time – Author Anne Erickson, Photo via Tim Saccenti

Commentary: Audio Ink Radio continues its “Greatest Songs” series with the 10 greatest Metallica songs

A band like Metallica only comes along once in a generation. Actually, make that once in a lifetime. With a discography packed with raging metal songs that are truly unique and helped lay the groundwork for heavy metal, it goes without saying that Metallica have a plenty of fantastic tracks. So, what are the greatest Metallica songs of all time?

Metallica is truly the ultimate heavy metal band. The group went from being an underground thrash metal favorite to the band that took metal music to the mainstream with their 1991 self-titled “Black Album.” The group went through quite a musical evolution, starting with the pure thrash metal of their underground 1980s releases to the more mainstream, major-label metal sound found on “Master of Puppets” and their “Black Album.” But, it’s all still very Metallica, and over the years, they’ve stuck to their core.

In honor of one of the biggest metal bands in the world, let’s get into the 10 greatest Metallica songs of all time. This feature is part of Audio Ink Radio’s “Greatest Songs” series, highlighting some of the best songs and albums of all time from classic artists. Send your picks via social media or via the email address at the end of the feature.

10. “Lux Æterna” off “72 Seasons”

With so many timeless classics in Metallica’s catalog, it was difficult to pick a new song for this list. I actually didn’t plan on including a new song but had to squeeze in “Lux Æterna.” The track, which is off Metallica’s 2023 album “72 Seasons,” offers a major dose of classic thrash. Isn’t it great to see Metallica going back to their thrash roots? Yes, please.

9. “Creeping Death” off “Ride the Lightning”

The Bible features many poetic passages, and Metallica capitalize on that with “Creeping Death” off 1984’s “Ride the Lightning.” The thrash gem takes from the Bible’s book of Exodus. Those dramatic lyrics fit perfectly with Metallica’s very heavy and grandiose instrumental backings. This song is one of a kind.

8. “Fuel” off “Reload”

Metallica released “Load” in 1996 and quickly followed it up with “Reload” in 1997. While that method didn’t go over the best with some fans, no harm done, because Metallica still delivered on the sets. They might not be the Metallica albums that you see top best-of tallies, but they’re solid, and the song “Fuel” is a shining example. With a fiery delivery and vicious delivery, “Fuel” is a super fun song to listen to and see the guys perform live. I absolutely loved seeing the guys perform this song live during Metallica’s 2023 tour stop in Detroit at Ford Field.

7. “Master of Puppets” off “Master of Puppets”

The title track off 1986’s “Master of Puppets” is one of heavy metal’s most celebrated and recognizable tracks. The song, which has a theme of trying to overcome struggles with drugs and addiction, is a raging metal anthem. From its dramatic riffing to heavy, gutsy rhythms, “Master of Puppets” is a major highlight of Metallica’s work.

6, “One” off “…And Justice for All”

“One” takes the listener on a musical journey. The song begins with a slow, sparce, eerie opening and crescendos into a hard, heavy and fast metal anthem that cuts off at the end in a dramatic way. Let’s not forget that the end of “One” features one of the greatest guitar solos in metal music, with Kirk Hammett’s mile-high shredding. Aside from Hammett, the whole band sounds great on this song. It’s a classic.

5. “The Unforgiven” off “Metallica” (The Black Album)

“The Unforgiven” is often left off these Metallica best-of lists, and that’s pretty unforgivable in my book. Pun intended. The song is one of the greatest power ballads of all time from a metal artist. “The Unforgiven” was the second single from 1991’s “The Black Album.” It features heavy sonics and yearning vocals about the individual struggling against those who try to conquer him or her. Metallica’s band members get deep on here.

4. “Nothing Else Matters” off “Metallica” (The Black Album)

“Nothing Else Matters,” in a sense, was Metallica’s first really vulnerable song. Metallica, of course, were huge at this point, and they would become even bigger with the album on which this song was released, “The Black Album.” But, “Nothing Else Matters” is a turning point for Metallica, in that they really started to open up more with this track. It’s a trait they have carried with them the rest of their careers.

3. “Seek and Destroy” off “Kill ‘Em All”

Not all of Metallica’s greatest songs came after they signed with a major. Metal fans will find plenty of gems on Metallica’s 1983 release, “Kill ‘Em all.” Some people even call “Kill ‘Em All” their favorite Metallica album, and for good reason. It’s fantastic. As for “Seek and Destroy,” the guitars on here are legendary. Pretty much every metal listener knows the opening guitar riff and could name it in seconds. Moreover, Kirk Hammett’s mid-song solo is magical and shows what he can really do when given the musical space.

2. “Enter Sandman” off “Metallica” (The Black Album)

Sure, people like to hate on “The Black Album” and the mainstream appeal of the album. I get it. But, “Enter Sandman” took Metallica from being the underground thrash metal sensations to one of the biggest bands in the world, in any genre. As they say, many blessings come with curses, and for Metallica, the blessing of “Enter Sandman” becoming so popular was the backlash they got among some fans. Of course, many fans stuck with them, and new fans also found them, so all was not lost.

1. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” off “Ride the Lightning”

“Ride the Lightning” is Metallica’s most underrated album, in my opinion. Sure, it got a lot of fanfare. But, it doesn’t get the attention of albums such as “Master of Puppets” or “The Black Album.” That said, “Ride the Lightning” tops this list of the greatest Metallica songs of all time. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is nothing short of a masterpiece. Also, any heavy metal band that can write a song based on Ernest Hemingway and make it work is beyond special. The song’s lyrics come from some of the most incredible scenes in Hemingway’s novel of the same title. Those lyrics coupled with Metallica’s grand instrumentals makes for a unique song that has become more legendary as time goes on.

Find Audio Ink Radio’s list of Metallica’s albums ranked from best to worst here. Also, find our feature on the most underrated Metallica songs here.

Have a comment or an idea for a feature? Contact Anne Erickson at

Anne Erickson
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Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Metal, Music

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