The 100 greatest metal songs of the 21st century (2023)

By Metal Hammer


This is the ultimate soundtrack to the 21st century

The 100 greatest metal songs of the 21st century (1)

The 100 greatest metal songs of the 21s century

  • The 100 greatest metal songs of the 21s century
  • 100 greatest metal songs of the 21st century: 90-81
  • 100 greatest metal songs of the 21st century: 80-71
  • 100 greatest metal songs of the 21st century: 70-61
  • 100 greatest metal songs of the 21st century: 60-51
  • 100 greatest metal songs of the 21st century: 50-41
  • 100 greatest metal songs of the 21st century: 40-31
  • 100 greatest metal songs of the 21st century: 30-21
  • 100 greatest metal songs of the 21st century: 20-11
  • 100 greatest metal songs of the 21st century: 10-7
  • 100 greatest metal songs of the 21st century: 6-4
  • 100 greatest metal songs of the 21st century: 3-2
  • 100 greatest metal songs of the 21st century: No.1
(Video) Top 100 Metal Songs(YouTube + Spotify). Best Metal Songs.

Metal post-2000 has been on a fascinating journey, from conquering the planet in the early 2000s to expanding and evolving more than ever in recent years. Who could have predicted Limp Bizkit becoming the biggest band in the world for a moment, or three young girls from Japan named Babymetal becoming the biggest thing in metal for a generation?

More than anything else, though, 21st century metal has provided us with a shit-ton of amazing, genre-defining anthems. Two decades into the century, we thought we’d try to give ourselves a headache by counting down the 100 greatest songs of the last 21 years. The only rules? One song per band, songs from 2000 onwards only. That’s it. So, without further ado, here’s the best playlist you’ll see this year - as picked by us, you guys and some of metal’s biggest and best names…

The 100 greatest metal songs of the 21st century (2)

100. Atreyu - Bleeding Mascara (2004)

‘Goooooooooooooooooo!’ raged Alex Varkatzas over a screaming guitar, opening the love/hate song that captured a moment. US metalcore was invading Britain and edging out nu metal, and Orange County’s Atreyu were serving up just the right amount of gothic lyricism on top of a scene-friendly melodic chorus.

99. Solstafir - Ótta (2014)

‘Metalheads destroyed by banjo’ wasn’t the most predictable headline of 2014. Emerging from a tapestry of lush, searchlight guitars, that forlorn orbital riff waxed and waned like it had been abandoned by time immemorial. But it wove together the year’s most magical and transformative experience, imprinting itself into the deepest crevices of the heart.

98. Electric Wizard – Funeralopolis (2000)

“The song slowly gathers force and escalates like a storm. From desperation towards rage and destruction. It has given a lot of meaning to me in its nihilism, and reflects my darker feelings towards our society very accurately. The climax is definitely the end part where you can literally hear an electromagnetic pulse caused by nuclear warheads passing through the band.” Jun-His, Oranssi Pazuzu

97. Nine Inch Nails – The Hand That Feeds (2000)

Trent Reznor was out of rehab and going… disco? His first new music after Nine Inch Nails’ delicate and distorted The Fragile might have been a surprise, but this upbeat industrial dancefloor filler – complete with a synth solo – became his biggest hit single, leading into the fertile second act of his career.

(Video) Top 20 Heavy Metal Songs of All Time

96. Twin Temple – Sex Magick (2018)

Sex Magick was the irresistibly seductive centrepiece of one of the most unlikely breakout albums of the decade. A subtly subversive, dreamy bop built around the hypnotic vocals of Alexandra James, Twin Temple proved that A) The Devil really does have the best tunes and B) Doo-wop could be metal as fuck.

95. Sikth – Bland Street Bloom (2006)

Just how big would Sikth be if they’d released Death Of A Dead Day in 2016 instead of 2006? We’ll never know, but one of 21st century UK metal’s most influential bands assured their moment in the sun all the same, not least courtesy of this scattershot, frenetic, genre-mashing banger. It still sounds huge.

94. Body Count - No Lives Matter (2017)

Preceded by an impassioned monologue by Ice T, No Lives Matter offered incisive takes on the issues of racism, police brutality and civil unrest. Of course, the lyrics were helped along by some seriously monstrous riffs, proving that Body Count were still sitting on top of the rap metal pile.

93. Kvelertak – Blodtørst (2010)

Blodtørst highlights Kvelertak’s explosive ferocity, combining 100-proof Scandinavian metal, huge classic rock choruses and the energy of an out-of-control party. It’s inspiring for Norway to see Kvelertak succeed internationally while singing most songs in Norwegian. They kicked a game-winning goal on album one and they’ve kept scoring.” Jo Fleischer, Metal Hammer reader

92. Dimmu Borgir – Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse (2013)

“Sven and Galder’s thunderous, riffing madness mixed with the orchestral score and Shagrath’s distinctive vocals made you pay attention right away; they crafted the future of today’s symphonic death metal bands and more. The video was a first of its kind with a high budget and intricate cinematography, which influenced a flurry of bands to follow suit. Not to mention the crazy ending of the song: ‘ONCE AND FOR AAAALL!’ Progenies… is a true classic!” Maurizio Iacono, Kataklysm

91. Arch Enemy – We Will Rise (2003)

While Arch Enemy had already established themselves as one of the most solid names in melodic death metal, the arrival of Angela Gossow in 2000, replacing departing vocalist Johan Liiva, undoubtedly pushed them further up metal’s proverbial ladder. Her first album with the band, 2001’s Wages Of Sin, was an ambitious step forward, mixing catchy, shreddy death metal with arena-sized hooks, all led by Angela’s guttural roar. It brought the band legions of new fans - and created instant pressure for a follow-up.

“When Angela joined the band for Wages Of Sin, it made a big impact and a huge difference to what we were doing,” recalls guitarist and band founder Michael Amott. “We had a heavy touring schedule for the first time in our career, so it was a shock when management told us that we needed to start thinking about making a new album. We were like, ‘OK… we don’t have any songs!’ We wrote in breaks between tours – that’s where We Will Rise came in.”

Come 2003, Arch Enemy were on the verge of an unlikely breakthrough into metal’s upper tiers. As they set about writing the follow-up to Wages Of Sin, they needed a song that would firmly and loudly plant their flag for the next era. Plus, given that the crowds were growing, they needed an anthem that’d be guaranteed to go off live.

“When you go out on tour and play a lot of shows, you start noticing what goes down well and what doesn’t, and so we wanted an anthem that would be a good track for the set,” Michael notes. “Chris [Amott, Michael’s brother and former Arch Enemy guitarist] brought in the basic riff, the main theme for the song, and a couple of the other riffs as well. I added a few bits and pieces and we all arranged it together. It felt pretty sparse and very straightforward, but we were very interested in doing something like that because we had a lot of very busy tracks. The busier songs were not going down as well as the more mid-tempo anthemic songs, so We Will Rise was perfect.”

(Video) Top 5 Greatest Rock/Metal Songs Of 21st Century

Unusually for Michael - whose mixture of flamboyant melodies and fretboard-sizzling shredding has made him one of extreme metal’s foremost guitar heroes - We Will Rise represented a learning curve in how to show restraint to make the most out of a great song.

“We had much more confidence after touring so much, and particularly with Angela in the band. We were excited to do something new and We Will Rise was just that. There was a bit more air in the song. It had a lot more dynamics than we’d had previously. We’d always been totally full-on before! We’d always hidden behind the full-on attack, playing a lot, all the time. You’re more vulnerable when you just stop and let the song breathe. For half of the verse in We Will Rise, I’m not actually playing anything!”

Despite the bold new song structure, the band’s label were confident in We Will Rise’s potential for big things, launching it as the lead single from Anthems Of Rebellion. Its video, featuring hordes of metalheads sprinting across a beach, flags in hand, made a huge impact, receiving regular airplay on hallmark rock channels like Scuzz, MTV and Kerrang! TV, and getting featured on the revived Headbangers Ball show on MTV2 (it was also included in an official Headbangers Ball compilation album later that year). While the song’s catchy, (relatively) simplistic nature made it perfect single fodder to begin with, its lyrics, portraying ideals of unity, rebellion and rising up against oppression, evidently hit the mark with metal lovers the world over.

“They are pretty anthemic, aren’t they?” admits Michael. “To be honest, my lyrics are always the same. I’ve been writing the same song for 25 years! Ha ha ha! It’s just variations on how I feel about things. I just nailed it on that one, a bit better than on some others. It’s one of those songs, it brings everyone in the room together. The song is about being an outsider so it resonates and I think it applies to metalheads or any kind of subculture. I guess we’re stuck with it now!”

The track paved the way for Anthems Of Rebellion to earn Arch Enemy a newfound level of success. It gave the band’s label, Century Media, its then-highest first-week US SoundScan sales ever, eventually becoming one of the label’s top 10 best-selling albums. While the band have gone on to have even more success since, We Will Rise still endures as one of their - and, indeed, one of metal’s - all-time classic anthems.

“I don’t think we’ve played a show without playing it since we made Anthems, and I don’t think we ever will,” says Michael. “We’ve played it all over the world. Sometimes we’ll play it somewhere like China and it feels really powerful, because some countries don’t have the same kind of freedoms that we have. From the stage, I can see people mouthing the lyrics and it obviously means a great deal to people.”

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(Video) Spotify's Top 2000's Metal Songs


What is the #1 metal song of all time? ›

1Black SabbathIron Man
2Guns N' RosesWelcome to the Jungle
3MetallicaMaster of Puppets
4AC/DCBack in Black
36 more rows

What was the best metal song of 1970? ›

1970: Black Sabbath, 'Paranoid'

Who is the number 1 heavy metal band? ›

1 Metallica Metallica is an American Heavy/Thrash Metal band formed in 1981 . The original lineup was James Hetfield (Vocalist and Rhythm guitarist), Dave Mustaine (Lead Guitar), Lars Ulrich (Drums), Ron McGovney (Bassist).

What does listening to heavy metal say about you? ›

Enjoying heavy metal was also correlated with openness, possibly because people with more open personalities would be drawn to music that is “intense, engaging, and challenging,” as metal can be, the researchers write. Interestingly, the metal fans in the study tended to have relatively low self-esteem.

Who is the king of metal music? ›

The King of Metal is the sixth studio album by English heavy metal vocalist Blaze Bayley, released in 2012.
The King of Metal
LabelBlaze Bayley
ProducerBlaze Bayley
Blaze Bayley chronology
Promise and Terror (2010) The King of Metal (2012) Infinite Entanglement (2016)
5 more rows

What is the darkest metal music? ›

Blackened death metal (also known as black death metal) is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal that fuses elements of black metal and death metal.

What was the most popular song 70 years ago? ›

1 song 70 years ago: "Lullaby of Broadway."

What is the most liked metal band? ›

popularity is the % of people who have a positive opinion of a hard rock & metal music artist. Find out more
  • 1 Van Halen64%
  • 2 Led Zeppelin62%
  • 3 Guns N' Roses61%
  • 4 AC/DC59%
  • 5 KISS55%
  • 6 Def Leppard53%
  • 7 Ozzy Osbourne52%
  • 8 Metallica52%

Who are the big 3 in metal? ›

Known as The Big Four, Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer continue to cast an unavoidable shadow over contemporary metal.

What is the loudest heavy metal band? ›

Manowar Concert – 139 dB

But this heavy metal group currently holds the title of world's loudest band. There is a catch, however. While they did achieve the highest dB level ever recorded by a musician or band, generating a SPL of 139 dB, they did it during a sound check; not during an actual performance.

What personality types listen to metal? ›

Metal fans are a nearly perfect opposite of pop lovers: Introverted rather than Extraverted, Intuitive rather than Observant, Thinking rather than Feeling, and Prospecting rather than Judging.

What type of person listens to heavy metal? ›

Heavy metal fans go by a number of different names, including metalhead, headbanger, hesher, mosher, and thrasher, being used only for fans of thrash metal, which began to differentiate itself from other varieties of metal in the late 80s.

Why are metal fans so nice? ›

Metal fans are peaceful, on the inside and out.

After deliberately provoking their participants by having them describe angry memories from their life, researchers had participants cool off by either listening to their favorite metal or silence.

Who is the best heavy metal singer of all time? ›

1. Ronnie James Dio. Few people ever get to go by just one name, but the late, great Dio is one of them. The exuberant singer fronted numerous groups throughout his career — Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell and, of course, his eponymous band — leading them all with rafter-shaking, sky-scrapping vocal prowess.

What is the heaviest song ever? ›

In a spurious and unscientific yet entirely satisfying endeavour, SunnO)))'s 'Hunting And Gathering' was named the heaviest song ever by "absolute maniacal mad man" Jason Ellis. "I guess there's no accounting for taste!" said Greg Anderson about the dubious award.

Who is the god of heavy metal music? ›

Rob Halford

What band is the father of metal? ›

Led Zeppelin (1968)

Led Zeppelin are often regarded as the band that invented heavy metal for several different reasons. They weren't the first band to use wailing vocals, distorted guitars, deep baselines and roaring drum fills, but they were the first band to blend all of it together.

Who is the queen of heavy metal? ›

Dubbed the Queen of Heavy Metal, Doro Pesch became known for her time fronting Warlock, and her following solo career. She was one of the first women in heavy metal to be identified and celebrated for her voice and stage presence rather than her image.

Who really invented heavy metal? ›

The first heavy metal acts are considered to be Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, often referred to as the “unholy trinity”. Led Zeppelin released their self-titled debut in 1969, while Black Sabbath and Deep Purple put out influential records in 1970.

What is the screaming in metal music called? ›

A death growl, or simply growl, is an extended vocal technique and style used in extreme styles of music. Its most commonly found in death metal and black metal, as well as other extreme subgenres of heavy metal music.

What is soft metal music called? ›

Soft Metal Music is a genre of music involving metal music that is not quite heavy enough to be considered heavy metal music. One notable song with this genre is "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. This genre includes sub genres such as Nu metal, grunge music, and heavy rock.

Which band is the heaviest? ›

Top 10 Heaviest bands of all time
  • Motörhead. A classic hitter, super intense for the time and they definitely set the standard for other bands and influenced many after them. ...
  • Slayer. ...
  • Pantera. ...
  • Death. ...
  • Cannibal Corpse. ...
  • Lil Thrash. ...
  • Gorguts. ...
  • Skinless.

What is considered the best song in history? ›

The Top 50 most iconic songs of all time
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana.
  • Imagine - John Lennon.
  • One - U2.
  • Billie Jean - Michael Jackson.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen.
  • Hey Jude - The Beatles.
  • Like A Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan.
  • I Can't Get No Satisfaction - Rolling Stones.

What song was #1 the longest? ›

"Old Town Road" holds the record for the longest stretch at No. 1 with 19 weeks. It also became the fastest song in history to be certified diamond.

What is the oldest song known to man? ›

The Hurrian Hymn was discovered in the 1950s on a clay tablet inscribed with Cuneiform text. It's the oldest surviving melody and is over 3,400 years old.

Why heavy metal music is toxic? ›

Lyrics and lifestyle associated with heavy metal often glorify risk taking, reckless behaviour, and intoxication. It is possible therefore that high environmental or community level exposure to heavy metal may increase health problems from accidental, violent, and alcohol attributable causes.

Is heavy metal music healthy? ›

Abstract. Concerns have been raised that prolonged exposure to heavy metal music with aggressive themes can increase the risk of aggression, anger, antisocial behaviour, substance use, suicidal ideation, anxiety and depression in community and psychiatric populations.

Who are the big 5 of metal? ›

The genre was commercially successful during the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s, with the "Big Four" of thrash metal – Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax – being joined by Exodus, Overkill, Testament, and Sepultura, as well as the "Big Four" of German thrash metal: Kreator, Destruction, Sodom, and Tankard.

Which rock band partied the hardest? ›

This is the life of Mötley Crüe, the heaviest drinking, hardest fighting, most oversexed and arrogant band in the world. Their unbelievable exploits are the stuff of rock 'n' roll legend." Thus begins Motely Crue: The Dirt, a 448-page "confession" of their epic tales.

Which band is dominating the world? ›

One thing is for sure, BTS is continuing to dominate the world and become one of the most prominent artists in the music industry. In case you haven't heard of them yet, BTS is a seven-man band from South Korea.

Where is metal most popular? ›

Which Countries Have the Most Heavy Metal Bands?
1United States17,557
11 more rows
May 3, 2021

What band invented thrash metal? ›

Pioneered by Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth, thrash was the fastest and nastiest music of the '80s.

Who are the big 4 of death metal? ›

Desperate times call for desperate measures. And desperate measures most certainly include arguing about crap with absolutely no material consequences on the real world! And so: it's widely agreed upon that the “Big 4” of thrash are Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax, even by the band's themselves.

Who is the loudest band in history? ›

Deep Purple was recognised by The Guinness Book of World Records as the "globe's loudest band" for a concert at the London Rainbow Theatre, during which the sound reached 117 dB and three members of the audience fell unconscious.

What metal band has the best breakdowns? ›

11 Greatest Breakdowns of All Time
  • Slayer - Topic. 47.6K subscribers. Raining Blood. ...
  • Metallica. 9.4M subscribers. ...
  • Pantera. 1.11M subscribers. ...
  • Sepultura - Topic. 9.62K subscribers. ...
  • Roadrunner Records. 2.67M subscribers. ...
  • Meshuggah - Topic. 4.86K subscribers. ...
  • Hatebreed - Topic. 3.21K subscribers. ...
  • Crowbar - Topic. 5.26K subscribers.
Sep 6, 2022

Do metal listeners have higher IQ? ›

Liking heavy metal music is a sign of high intelligence, research suggests. Some people may use heavy metal music as a way of coping with being talented. Being a 'metalhead' is sometimes associated with poor performance and delinquency, but this survey found otherwise.

What does listening to metal do to your brain? ›

Studies have suggested a link between listening to heavy metal and increased suicide risk or desensitisation to violence, but these have often failed to take account of outside factors, such as poor family relationships, drug abuse and feelings of alienation.

Why are metalheads so happy? ›

People feel that their anger is matched to the music when listening to metal, and therefore find it easier to process it. Metal formulates a safe, and healthy space for this to happen. In some cases, metal also combats loneliness and makes us feel less alone in these emotions, allowing the listener to accept them."

Is metal music good for the brain? ›

Listening to this genre of music can improve symptoms of stress and depression. Metal also might help some people feel accepted, belonging to a community of other like-minded fans. People who prefer metal may also have higher cognitive function based on logic and scientific thinking.

Are metalheads friendly? ›

Metalheads are among the happiest fans in any music genre, according to new study. Heavy metal has long been believed to be the realm of the pissed-off and dispossessed, but according to a new study, its fans are some of the happiest around.

Are metalheads depressed? ›

Researchers controlled for both age and gender, and found that those who listened to a lot or a little metal were still significantly more angry and depressed than their peers.

Do introverts listen to metal? ›

A recent study in Psych Central also shows that rock- and heavy metal fans are creative and not particularly outgoing. A large portion of these listeners can be classified as introverts.

Is Justin Bieber a metalhead? ›

Los Angeles: The All Around the World singer may make pop records but he has an "edgy" side to his taste, and loves to listen to the heavy metal band for inspiration. He said: "I like rock music, I like Guns N' Roses and Metallica.

What are baby metal fans called? ›

What are Babymetal Fans Called? Just like every popular group, fans of Babymetal have their special name. The official term used is “The One." This is derived from the title of the closing song of their second album.

What is the 1 rock song of all time? ›

The Greatest EVER Rock Song
Nov 11, 2019

Is Helter Skelter the first metal song? ›

Swiss industrial black metal band Samael covered the song on their 2017 album Hegemony, with a music video released in 2021 where they credit "Helter Skelter" as being the "first metal song ever recorded".

What song stayed number 1 the longest? ›

"Old Town Road" holds the record for the longest stretch at No. 1 with 19 weeks.

What is the most perfect rock song? ›

  1. 'Purple Haze' by Jimi Hendrix. ...
  2. 'Whole Lotta Love' by Led Zeppelin. ...
  3. 'Sympathy for the Devil' by The Rolling Stones. ...
  4. 'Under Pressure' by Queen & David Bowie. ...
  5. 'Baba O'Riley' by The Who. ...
  6. 'Comfortably Numb' by Pink Floyd. ...
  7. 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll' by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. ...
  8. 'Funk #49' by the James Gang.
Nov 4, 2022

Who is the father of metal music? ›

The first heavy metal acts are considered to be Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, often referred to as the “unholy trinity”. Led Zeppelin released their self-titled debut in 1969, while Black Sabbath and Deep Purple put out influential records in 1970.

Who is the best heavy metal guitarists of all time? ›

20 Of The Very Best Metal Guitarists
  • Dimebag Darrell (Pantera, Damageplan) ...
  • Jeff Hanneman (Slayer) ...
  • Herman Li (DragonForce) ...
  • Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell) ...
  • Tosin Abasi (Animals As Leaders) ...
  • Muhammed Suimez (Necrophagist) ...
  • Misha "Bulb" Mansoor (Periphery) ...
  • Chuck Schuldiner (Death)
Sep 7, 2020

Who was the very first black metal band? ›

Black metal dates back to the early 1980s, in what's called the genre's first wave, when the English band Venom released its second album titled “Black Metal.” Stylistically, the music was similar to earlier heavy metal subgenres, but Venom's lyrics had anti-Christian and satanic themes.

Who popularized screaming in metal? ›

The first instance of screaming in Heavy metal used as a constant delivery of lyrics was Chuck Schuldiner of the band Death.

Who was the first female metal singer? ›


What is the number 1 hardest song to sing? ›

1. BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY by Queen. Sing karaoke version of Bohemian Rhapsody here. This is a legendary karaoke song.

What is the hardest song to sing on earth? ›

  • #1 I Believe In A Thing Called Love by The Darkness.
  • #2 Listen by Beyoncé
  • #3 Run by Leona Lewis.
  • #4 Cry Me a River by Michael Bublé
  • #5 Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
  • #6 My All by Mariah Carey.
  • #7 You raise me up by Josh Groban.
  • #8 Supermassive Black Hole by Muse.

What is the loudest song in history? ›

The loudest popular song is Welcome to the Jungle by Guns 'N Roses with a loudness of -1.931 dB. You may be wondering how a loudness value can be greater than 0dB. Loudness is a complex measurement that is both a function of time and frequency.


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