Picking the 10 best Metallica songs might just be the hardest thing we've ever tried to do. As one of the most successful and internationally recognized bands around, Metallica's discography includes nine studio albums and over 40 singles, all created and released over the course of more than three decades. This huge catalog is the foundation for Metallica's success that has now reached beyond the world of music, whether it be a critically acclaimed documentary or their own music festival or an in-the-works 3D movie that showcases their one-of-a-kind live concerts. As fans eagerly await the band's next studio album, we've racked our brains to a mushy pulp to come up with our picks for the 10 Best Metallica Songs, as featured in the video above and detailed in the list below.
'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)'From: 'Master of Puppets' (1986)
'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)' is a classic Metallica track based on the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The track's lyrics are told from the perspective of a mental patience, while instrumentally it explores multiple territories, combining heavy riffs with melodic interludes. The song remains a staple at Metallica live shows after all these years.
'Fade to Black'From: 'Ride the Lightning' (1984)
Call it a ballad if you must, but 'Fade to Black' is one of Metallica's best songs if for no other reason than it shows just how talented the band really is. Being Metallica's first true slow song, it covers the theme of suicide and is the first track that guitarist Kirk Hammett received co-writing credit on. Despite being slow-paced, the tune still conveys brutality and intensity, whether it's through Hetfield's lyrics or Hammett's guitar solos.
'...And Justice for All'From: '...And Justice for All' (1988)
One of the most complex songs in Metallica's catalog, '...And Justice for All' stretches to nearly 10 minutes long. Due to its complexity and length, it has been a rarity for fans to enjoy the song live at Metallica concerts. However, the common absence of the song from setlists does not make it any less powerful. The band's fans had high expectations following 'Master of Puppets' and with the '...And Justice for All' title track, Metallica proved that they were still on top of the metal world.
'Battery'From: 'Master of Puppets' (1986)
Selecting the order of tracks for 'Master of Puppets' was no doubt a hard task, but picking 'Battery' to open the album was a stroke of genius. The song opens with an acoustic guitar riff - just like the opening track of 'Ride the Lightning' -- that leads into the band joining in with full-on power and intensity. The song is one of current bassist Robert Trujillo's favorites as he requested to begin his audition with Metallica by jamming on the tune, further cementing late bassist Cliff Burton's legendary status.
'For Whom the Bell Tolls'From: 'Ride the Lightning' (1984)
'For Whom the Bell Tolls' is inspired from the Ernest Hemingway novel of the same name, and is one of the most-played songs at Metallica concerts. It has become a fan-favorite no doubt due to that unique opening that sounds like a guitar, but is actually the sound of Cliff Burton playing a bass fed through distortion. 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' was first released as a promotional single, which meant it never hit the charts.
'Seek & Destroy'From: 'Kill 'Em All' (1983)
'Seek and Destroy' first made its debut on Metallica's demo tape, 'No Life 'til Leather.' Thirty years later, it still stands out as one of the band's premiere songs. Since around 2004, it has been the staple tune the band jams on to end their live shows. With obvious influences from bands like Diamond Head and Saxon, 'Seek and Destroy' has turned into an anthem for Metallica fans throughout the world. With the piercing opening guitar riff to the brutal lyrics of "Running / On our way hiding / You will pay dying / One thousand deaths," everything builds up to the climactic and powerful chorus: "Searching / Seek and destroy!"
'One'From: '...And Justice for All' (1988)
The last single to be released from '...And Justice for All,' 'One' sets itself apart as one of the best songs recorded by Metallica because of its build-up from a slow, clean, haunting opening to a heavy, fast and absolutely shattering ending. That ending features an unforgettable solo from axeman Hammett as well as an earth-shattering display of Lars Ulrich's double-bass drum kit. To make the song even better, Metallica recorded their first music video around it, a dark video that splices together footage from the 1971 anti-war film, 'Johnny Got His Gun,' with shots of the band playing the song.
'Enter Sandman'From: 'Metallica' (1991)
'Enter Sandman' might have one of the most recognizable guitar riffs around, and as the first track, sets the stage for Metallica's self-titled 1991 disc (aka The Black Album). With a dark theme that follows a child and his nightmares, one of the most memorable moments in Metallica's career comes when producer Bob Rock's son recites the line 'Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep' alongside Hetfield. Nowadays, fans can hear the song in a number of places outside of the album, including football games, baseball games and a slew of other athletic events.
'Creeping Death'From: 'Ride the Lightning' (1984)
Taking their cue from the Bible, specifically the book of Exodus, Metallica deliver an instant thrash classic from their second studio album. Packed with Metallica's signature sound, the highlight of the song has also turned into a staple at Metallica's live show. After a blistering guitar solo and about four minutes into the song, the chanting of 'Die! Die! Die!' makes 'Creeping Death' a song Metallica fans will always bang their heads to.
'Master of Puppets'From: 'Master of Puppets' (1986)
One of heavy metal's best songs ever, 'Master of Puppets' opens with a crushing guitar riff that carries the tune for over eight and a half minutes. The dynamic opus that covers the theme of drugs and addiction has become a mainstay in Metallica's live set. It's been covered an innumerable amount of times by bands of several different genres, and was reportedly Cliff Burton's favorite Metallica track. While fans will argue over this for years to come, 'Master of Puppets' tops our list of the 10 best Metallica songs of all time.