Best Metal Breakdowns


Hardcore band Hatebreed posing. Here are some of the best metal breakdowns ever, including a range of metal genres and subgenres, from metalcore to thrash and more.

Hatebreed has one of the best metal breakdowns – Author Anne Erickson, Courtesy photo

Both metal and metalcore have some serious breakdowns. The best metal breakdowns combine incredible instrumentation with that guttural feeling like you’re being hit in the stomach, but it somehow feels good. While music fans often celebrate metalcore for its incredible breakdowns, the entire metal genre has some fantastic ones. In that spirit, I’m naming some of the best metal breakdowns ever and including a range of metal genres and subgenres, including metalcore, hardcore, death metal and more.

Best Metal Breakdowns

10. Spiritbox, “Eternal Blue”

Spiritbox have a great mix of melodic and heavy, and they really do the latter on the title track off their 2021 debut, “Eternal Blue.” About third fourths of the way through the song, a wild breakdown takes over, cutting off singer Courtney LaPlante’s pleading vocals, and it offers sharp, cutting guitars and intense rhythms.

9. Sleep Token, “Take Me Back to Eden”

I realize that many people don’t think Sleep Token is metal, and in a sense, they’re not. A lot of their music is very light and pop-oriented. But, once in a while, they pull out a breakdown, and when they do, they make up for all the pop stuff with a ridiculously heavy breakdown. They do just that at the end of the title track off their 2023 album, “Take Me Back to Eden.” If you don’t think Sleep Token is heavy enough for you, listen to this song and you might change your mind.

8. Mastodon, “Circle of Cysquatch”

If you’ve never heard Mastodon really go crazy on a breakdown, then you have to tune into the end of “Circle of Cysquatch.” This track, off 2006’s “Blood Mountain,” is absolutely insane. It’s a super heavy, catch concoction that really is the epitome of a great metal breakdown.

7. Hatebreed, “Not One Truth” or “Smash Your Enemies”

When it comes to breakdowns in hardcore music, Hatebreed is an obvious pick. The band’s music is one of the most innovative when it comes to awesome breakdowns. I had to go with both “Not One Truth” and “Smash Your Enemies,” because they both have Jamey Jasta and company absolutely destroying it with breakdowns.

6. Opeth, “Master’s Apprentices”

“Master’s Apprentices” off 2002’s “Deliverance” has an intense breakdown about eight minutes into the tune, offering tons of wild guitar soloing and crazy rhythms. It’s an epic treat.

5. Pantera, “Strength Beyond Strength”

If there’s one metal band celebrated for their breakdowns, it’s Pantera. “Strength Beyond Strength” is a shining example of the band in its glory days, and the breakdown in the song has an incredible tension that makes it stand out.

4. Gojira, “Flying Whales”

Gojira have a ton of great breakdowns, but if you’re looking for the heaviest and most brutal among them, try “Flying Whales.” The song, off 2005’s “From Mars to Sirius,” evolves for a slow, groovy number to an all-out guitar assault. It’s hair-raising in the best way. It’s also one of the best metal breakdowns ever created.

3. Crowbar, “To Carry the Load”

While Crowbar may not be as famous as some of the bands on this list, they’re certainly famed for their terrifying and thrilling metal breakdowns. The breakdown on “To Carry the Load” is an absolute rager, with a cutting riff and wild breakdown. Their song “All I Had I Gave” is a great runner up.

2. Metallica, “Master of Puppets”

I couldn’t get through a list of the best metal breakdowns without including the kings of metal, Metallica. It shouldn’t be a surprise that “Master of Puppets” is on this list. The breakdown in “Master of Puppets” is among the best in thrash metal and inspired many breakdowns to follow.

1. Slayer, “Raining Blood”

Slayer and “Raining Blood” had to be No. 1 on this list of the best metal breakdowns, because the breakdown in this song is widely considered to be the first time a metal band presented what today we call a breakdown. This song was also a huge influence on the heavy metal and thrash genres. For that reason, it’s No. 1 on my list of the best metal breakdowns. If you’re craving metal, we also recent ran a story featuring some of the happiest metal songs of all time.

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