Metal has always been a self aware, reflective genre, ever since its roots in rock’n’roll – which saw Led Zeppelin telling us “it’s been a long time since I rock’n’rolled”, and Rainbow singing “long live rock’n’roll”. Ever since Steppenwolf sung of “heavy metal thunder” in Born To Be Wild and gave bands like Judas Priest a name for their powerful music, heavy metal has had a fascination with screaming its own name with the intensity of a battle cry and the pride of a football fan – so we’ve rounded up some of the best heavy metal tunes about the genre itself.
Judas Priest – Metal Meltdown
The first band to bear the label of heavy metal with pride, Judas Priest have many songs that reflect the genre and its culture including Hell Bent For Leather. It’s Metal Meltdown, though, that describes an apocalyptic force “wired for sound”, which sounds like metal to us.
Metallica – Metal Militia
Before they were millionaires, Metallica were four kids who just loved heavy metal, and their classic debut wears that love on their leather sleeves – this is proven when Kill ‘Em All ends with Metal Militia. As opposed to a Metal Meltdown destroying the world, Metal Militia is about a united army of metalheads taking it over.
Tenacious D – The Metal
You can debate how legitimate Jack Black and Kyle Gass’ comedy metal outfit is, but the facts are you know all the words to Tribute and they can write killer riffs, as proven with this bolt of metal lightning. In this cut from the otherwise limp soundtrack to their movie The Pick Of Destiny, we hear of the vanquished foes of The Metal – punk rock, new wave, and grunge. They all fell to the metal!
Anvil – Metal On Metal
If you’ve watched the aptly-titled documentary Anvil! The Story Of Anvil then you’ll know that singer Lips lives to play heavy metal, and they have an armoury full of songs about it, both culturally and elementally. The most definitive is Metal On Metal, with Lips screeching “Metal on metal, it’s what I crave, the louder the better, I’ll turn in my grave”.
Venom – Black Metal
The band and song that kicked off the most extreme subgenre of metal – black metal. When Venom hit the scene they were more metal than Satan sitting on the Iron Throne, and while it has some questionable lyrics like “Freaking so wild, nobody’s mild” (which sounds like an elitist curry party), it also has some of the most evil and most metal lyrics like ”black leather hounds, faster than sound, metal our purpose in life”.
3 Inches Of Blood – Metal Woman
3 Inches Of Blood were brilliant. They flew the flag for traditional metal whilst bringing in old hardcore influences, allowing them to fit in well with the noughties scene. Before they left us in 2005, they brought us this world beater of a trad. tune about one leather-clad mistress, the metal woman.
Exodus – Metal Command
Another legendary thrash band singing of a metal army taking over the world. This one comes from one of the most iconic thrash albums ever, Bonded By Blood from Exodus, which features Paul Baloff barking “Fists are in the air thrashing everywhere, banging to the sound, faces melting down.” It’s interesting to note how many of these war zones sound like an average gig.
Darkthrone – Canadian Metal
From black metal heroes Darkthrone’s more tongue-in-cheek and punk album F.O.A.D (a cheerful acronym for Fuck Off And Die), the Norwegians praise the metal of the country that brought us maple syrup and Bryan Adams. Drummer Fenriz has said the song’s about unsung Canadian thrash bands like Piledriver, Slaughter, Sacrifice, and Celine Dion.
Steel Panther – Death To All But Metal
Comedy glam metallers Steel Panther provide the most contemporary song on this list, and while the lyrics are a parody, when you see thousands of people from around the world screaming along at the top of their lungs you know the sentiment comes from a very real place. DEATH TO ALL BUT METAL.
Manowar – Die For Metal
It would have been an impossible sin to have this list without Manowar showing up. They’re cheesy, they’re silly, but they’re very metal. Very metal. They probably have more songs about metal than any other band and would probably genuinely go to war for the genre. As this song will attest.