Top 25 Metal Songs of the 2010s

The definition of metal expanded this decade, allowing for an eclectic mix of stellar tracks

Top Metal Songs 2010s
Ghost, photo by Philip Cosores / Judas Priest, photo by Steven J. Messina

    Heavy metal is roughly 50 years old, yet continues to evolve each decade. The 2010s were no exception, with intriguing new sounds emerging alongside classic riffs and thunderous beats.

    Unlike other genres, there’s a greater focus on albums and discographies than individual songs, but every year sees the release of certain tracks that make their mark as metal classics.

    This past decade saw the emergence and rise of bands like Ghost and Deafheaven, who certainly don’t fit the mold of traditional heavy metal. Meanwhile, classic metal bands like Judas Priest, Metallica, Megadeth, and more delivered tracks that hold their own alongside their impressive back catalogs.


    From the brutal extreme metal of Behemoth to the ethereal alt-metal of Deftones, there was something for everyone this decade.

    Click ahead to see our Top 25 Metal Songs of the 2010s…

    –Spencer Kaufman

    25. High on Fire – “Snakes for the Divine” (2010)

    High on Fire - Snakes for the Divine - Top Metal Songs 2010

    Unlike other metal tunes that utilize extended song durations to show off a band’s snazzy technical skills or their poetic prose, High on Fire’s “Snakes for the Divine” is eight minutes plus of pure brutality. And there is nothing “progg-y” about the track — it’s front-to-back chock full of Matt Pike’s bear-like growls and meaty riffs, with added smash ‘em/bash ‘em drumming courtesy of Des Kensel. Kicking off the band’s colossal 2010 album of the same name, the song’s raw and live sonics fit perfectly (kudos should be given to producer Greg Fidelman) — like a furry loincloth on an axe-wielding barbarian. –Greg Prato

    24. Agalloch – “Birth and Death of the Pillars of Creation” (2014)

    Agalloch - The Serpent and The Sphere - Top Metal Songs 2010s

    Agalloch’s 2014 album The Serpent & the Sphere opens with this 10-minute spiritual plea, which suppresses the overtly black metal tropes of their past work. The Portland, Oregon, band instead opt for a meditative post-metal minimalism on “Birth and Death of the Pillars of Creation”. The space between notes is emphasized; the tempo moves slowly, letting each tone ring out and disappear. The track floats toward its rewarding climax, with the restraint making the payoff that much more rewarding. Sadly, Agalloch disbanded in 2016 due to tensions between band members, but their final album is a fitting swan song, anchored by its beautiful opener. —Jon Hadusek

    23. Anthrax – “The Devil You Know” (2011)

    Anthrax - Worship Music - Top Metal Songs 2010s

    By the time Worship Music dropped in 2011, it had been 21 long years since Joey Belladonna’s vocals were featured on a full-length Anthrax album. But the long layoff did not hinder the proceedings, as the band offered a surprisingly focused, inspired, and consistent recording — with one of its top standouts being its second single, “The Devil You Know.” And despite guitarist Dan Spitz no longer involved in the band (replaced by Rob Caggiano), “The Devil You Know” sounds like it could have fit snuggly on such past Anthrax classics as Persistence of Time and Among the Living — melodic vocals, tighter-than-a-Tupperware-container riffing and drumming, and thought-provoking lyrics. –Greg Prato


    22. Rammstein – “Deutschland” (2019)

    Rammstein - Untitled - Top Metal Songs 2010s

    Nearly ten years after their 6th album Liebe ist für alle da, Rammstein came back strong with their untitled 2019 album. “Deutschland,” the first single from the 2019 LP, is as hard hitting and melodic as they come, a staple of Rammstein’s sound. The beginning of the song creeps up on you with Christian “Flake” Lorenz’s keyboard intro, but then Christoph “Doom” Schneider’s intense drums come in making you want to bang your head. Then the blistering lead guitar, courtesy of Richard Z. Kruspe, builds up until the song punches you in the face with full force. It slows the pace again during the verse making room for vocalist Till Lindemann’s rich, booming baritone. Then the chorus come in with all of its catchy industrial bravado, signaling a triumphant return by the German industrial heroes. — Colette Claire

    21. Goatwhore – “Collapse in Eternal Worth” (2012)

    Goatwhore - Blood for the Master - Top Metal Songs 2010s

    Opening the 2012 Goatwhore album Blood for the Master, “Collapse in Eternal Worth” is a relentless tour de force that immediately opens with pummeling blackened metal and grows into near-flawless thrash, all in the matter of a few minutes. The raw energy of frontman Ben Falgoust — who belts out pure darkness when he sings, “Spoiled with ageless blood/ Destroy the kingdoms on the throne above/ Rising legion of the damned/ Bring forth the slaughter of the holy lamb” — is matched headbang for headbang by guitarist Sammy Duet, bassist James Harvey and drummer Zack Simmons. Of all the metal Goatwhore have created in the decade — including 2014’s Constricting Rage of the Merciless and 2017’s Vengeful Ascension — this track might very well be their crowning achievement. –Chuck Armstrong

    20. Slipknot – “Solway Firth” (2019)

    Slipknot - We Are Not Your Kind - Top Metal Songs 2010

    When Slipknot teased that they were going the heavy route on 2019’s We Are Not Your Kind, they meant it. Corey Taylor, Shawn “Clown” Crahan and the rest of the masked crew unleashed their one of their heaviest tracks to date in “Solway Firth”, which starts with a haunting and melodic intro before developing into a full-throttle assault of guitars, drums and vocals. As Taylor sings about watching “killers” enjoying some remains, a huge, cutting riff dances over colossal percussion. “Solway Firth” is a wake-up call for anyone who things Slipknot have softened over the years. –Anne Erickson


    19. Machine Head – “Darkness Within” (2011)

    Machine Head - Unto the Locust - Top Metal Songs 2010s

    In 2011, Machine Head unleashed Unto the Locust, their triumphant follow-up to 2007’s crushing The Blackening. While the first single, “Locust,” sets the stage for what to expect from the rest of the LP, “Darkness Within” perfectly captures Machine Head’s continued evolution and maturation since debuting in the early ‘90s. The track earned the band their first appearance on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. Regardless of commercial success, though, “Darkness Within” features frontman Robb Flynn at his most vulnerable and visceral as he finds darkness within beauty, sharing it for the whole world to experience. –Chuck Armstrong

    18. Marilyn Manson – “The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles” (2015)

    Marilyn Manson - The Pale Emperor - Top Metal Songs 2010s

    What could be more metal than proclaiming yourself the Mephistopheles of Los Angeles? The fourth song on Marilyn Manson’s The Pale Emperor is dismal, heavy, and bluesy, as only Manson can be. The song kicks off with what could best be described as goth surf guitar followed by an industrial swing beat that is quintessential to Manson’s sound. In the pre-chorus, Manson asks in his gravely croon, “Are we fated, faithful or fatal?” A question that could be directed to a lover or all of humanity. This leads up to the rocking, toe-tapping chorus “I feel stoned and alone like a heretic and I’m ready to meet my maker.” –Colette Claire

    17. Metallica – “Spit Out the Bone” (2016)

    Metallica - Hardwired to Self-Destruct - Top Metal Songs 2010s

    Days before Hardwired… To Self-Destruct dropped in 2016, the eventual album-closer “Spit out the Bone” leaked online. Appropriately, Metallica fans went nuts as they consumed one of the heaviest and thrashiest tracks of the band’s 21st century career, and one of the best metal songs of the decade. From its musical complexity to its futuristic, Terminator-fueled lyrics, “Spit Out the Bone” proves to be, as Kirk Hammett once put it, the “Mount Everest” of Hardwired, and shows that mighty Metallica still have a few tricks up their sleeves almost four decades into their career. — Chuck Armstrong


    16. Tool – “7empest” (2019)

    Tool - Fear Inoculum - Top Metal Songs 2010s

    By this stage of the game, it’s understandable to assume that all the grade A guitar riffs have long ago been plowed on a fretboard. But Tool’s Adam Jones uncovers a dandy on “7empest” (at the 1:18 mark, to be exact)…but in true Tool style, doesn’t showcase it for long — as there is much more terrain for the band to explore during the song’s near-16-minute duration. Despite being buried deep in the tracklisting of the band’s long-awaited 2019 effort, Fear Inoculum (it’s the second-to-last tune), “7empest” takes many a twist and turn — including another standout guitar bit at the 7:43 mark (this time one of Jones’ trademark “rubbery riffs”). –Greg Prato

    Click ahead to see more of our Top 25 Metal Songs of the 2010s…

    15. YOB – “Beauty in Falling Leaves” (2018)

    YOB - Our Raw Heart - Top Metal Songs 2010s

    The wrenching centerpiece of YOB’s Our Raw Heart, “Beauty in Falling Leaves” is a journey of soulful expression. Written after a brush with death, frontman Mike Scheidt imparts his deepest spiritualities with complete transparency. It’s an extremely personal song of catharsis and healing, inviting the listener to consider life, death, love, and nature during its 16 minutes of cascading doom. YOB have a few of these lengthy epics in their discography, but “Beauty in Falling Leaves” is among the finest and most emotionally charged, as Scheidt bares his experiences openly in song. —Jon Hadusek

    14. Megadeth – “The Threat Is Real” (2016)

    Megadeth - Dystopia - Top Metal Songs 2010s

    Megadeth are masters of creating thrash metal with a theme of impending doom, and one of the darkest — and most genius — songs off their Grammy-winning 2016 album Dystopia is “The Threat Is Real.” On in, Dave Mustaine and company serve up thrash-y, cutting guitars while Mustaine roars about conspiracies and envisions a bleak post-American world. With Mustaine, bassist David Ellefson, new guitarist Kiko Loureiro, and then-Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler in the studio, Megadeth sounded tighter and more comfortable than they had in years, and their stellar musicianship on Dystopia is most evident on “The Threat Is Real”, a standout track on an album jam-packed with solid tracks. –Anne Erickson

    13. Black Sabbath – “God Is Dead?” (2013)

    Black Sabbath - 13 - Top Metal Songs 2010s

    It is impossible to listen to “God Is Dead?” without Ozzy Osbourne’s earworm chorus being stuck in your head for days afterward. It should go down as one of Black Sabbath’s catchiest hooks — “Is God alive or is God dead?” — and the song recaptures the mystical doom of the iconic past. Osbourne, Toni Iommi, and Geezer Butler reunited in the studio for the first time since 1978 to record 13, which sticks close to the heavy melodicism of the band’s classic material. While it was unfortunate that fellow founding member Bill Ward wasn’t aboard, Rage Against the Machine’s Brad Wilk held his own behind the kit. The album was a fine return to form, with “God Is Dead?” being the highlight.–Jon Hadusek


    12. Emigrate featuring Lemmy Kilmister – “Rock City” (2014)

    Emigrate - Silent So Long - Top Metal Songs 2010s

    One of the most overlooked collaborations of the decade — and one of the best — the song “Rock City” saw Rammstein guitarist Richard Kruspe’s side project Emigrate teaming up with legendary Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister. On the excellent Emigrate album Silent So Long, Kruspe recruited such guest singers as Marilyn Manson and Korn’s Jonathan Davis, but it’s this simple yet powerful track with Lemmy that truly shines. Released a year before Lemmy’s death, there is a strain in the iconic rocker’s voice that is both beautiful and heart-wrenching as he sings over one of the most infectious choruses of the 2010s. –Spencer Kaufman

    11. Power Trip – “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)” (2017)

    Power Trip - Executioners Tax - Top Metal Songs 2010s

    If there was a thrash metal rally cry of the 2010s, it was the chorus of Power Trip’s “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)”. And with it the Texas band has incited circle pits around the world, successfully drawing both punk fans and metalheads alike to their infectious grooves and breakdowns. The most memorable moment on the band’s excellent 2017 album, Nightmare Logic, “Executioner’s Tax” has helped the band transcend metal audiences while introducing a new generation of listeners to punk-infused thrash. Everybody can get down to this song, and its universal appeal makes it a shoe-in for this list. —Jon Hadusek

    10. Zeal & Ardor – “Gravedigger’s Chant” (2018)

    Zeal & Ardor - Stranger Fruit - Top Metal Songs 2010s

    One of the most unique acts to emerge in the 2010s is Zeal & Ardor, the brainchild of frontman Manuel Gagneux. Combining slave spirituals with heavy metal instrumentation, Zeal & Ardor made a splash with their debut album, Devil Is Fine, only to top it with their next disc, 2018’s Stranger Fruit. “Gravedigger’s Chant” is as powerful as music gets, with Gagneux’s heartfelt vocals front and center as he repeatedly sings “Bring the dead body down” over a stunning bed of music, beautifully mixed by Converge’s Kurt Ballou. Zeal & Ardor are the present and future of metal, likely with bigger things to come in the 2020s. –Spencer Kaufman


    09. Iron Maiden – “Empire of the Clouds” (2015)

    Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls - Top Metal Songs 2010

    As far back as their self-titled first album (with “Phantom of the Opera”), Iron Maiden have never been ashamed to publicize their admiration of prog rock. And on the group’s 16th studio LP overall, The Book of Souls, there was another bold entry into the “prog Maiden” songbook, the over 18-minute long (!) “Empire of the Clouds”. While bassist Steve Harris is assumed to be the prog connoisseur in the band (having penned earlier the likes of “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “Alexander the Great”), it was surprisingly singer Bruce Dickinson who solely composed this epic tune, which prominently/shockingly features…piano! –Greg Prato

    08. Judas Priest – “Lightning Strike” (2018)

    Judas Priest - Firepower - Top Metal Songs 2010s

    Roughly five decades into their career, Judas Priest are creating some of the best music in their catalog. On “Lightning Strike” off 2018’s Firepower, the Metal Gods pack an insane amount of guitar soloing and riffing, thanks to Richie Faulkner and Glenn Tipton. Meanwhile, Rob Halford’s voice is as strong as ever, as he sings about a world in turmoil and chaos. Bassist Ian Hill and drummer Scott Travis also shine on “Lightning Strike,” offering a rhythm section that keeps up with the song’s guitar virtuosity. While a band like Judas Priest can easily continue to tour on their back catalog alone, Halford and company remain intent on making great metal music, and it will be fascinating to see what they do in the 2020s. –Anne Erickson

    07. Baroness – “March to the Sea” (2012)

    Baroness - Yellow & Green - Top Metal Songs 2010s

    Baroness embraced a more melodic sound on the 2012 double-album Yellow & Green, subduing the southern sludge influences of their previous two records. “March to the Sea” epitomizes this change of approach, combining twinkling guitar lines with more restrained vocals from John Baizley. While the shift away from sludge alienated some fans, it effectively allowed Baroness to dabble in other sounds, a creative freedom they would continue to pursue on future albums. “March to the Sea” is the result of an artistic urge to grow and harness the unknown — no matter what. —Jon Hadusek


    06. Bring Me the Horizon – “Shadow Moses” (2013)

    Bring Me the Horizon - Sempiternal - Top Metal Songs 2010s

    An anthem if there ever was one, Bring Me the Horizon’s “Shadow Moses” delivers crushing verses alongside one of the most infectious choruses you’ll ever hear in a metal tune. The UK act delivered an instant metalcore classic with 2013’s Sempiternal, and “Shadow Moses” is the album’s glorious centerpiece. From the haunting intro to the gang-vocal chorus to the brutal breakdowns to singer Oli Sykes’ heartfelt screams, this song is metalcore at its best. A far cry from the pop vibe of Bring Me the Horizon’s recent output, but still the highlight of any Bring Me the Horizon concert. –Spencer Kaufman

    Click ahead to see the best of our Top 25 Rock Songs of the 2010s…

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