The 100 greatest metal songs of the 21st century


(Image credit: Press)

80. Myrkur – Funeral (2017)

Myrkur’s Mareridt album cemented her as the new queen of extreme, merging Norwegian black metal with ethereal dream pop and traditional folk music. This collab with Chelsea Wolfe proved to be the album’s standout moment, both artists bringing their A-game to a haunting, icy-cold, doomy hymn.

79. Megadeth – Head Crusher (2009)

Endgame wasn’t just Megadeth’s best album in almost two decades – it proved itself one of the greatest thrash albums of the last 20 years. Its lead single, Head Crusher, showcased Dave Mustaine in all his fretboard-shredding, snarling, spitting glory, crowning a second golden era for him and his band.

78. Beastmilk – Death Reflects Us (2013)

With a reverberating opening riff that was both warning klaxon and exhilarating wake-up call, Death Reflects Us set the stage for one of the most rampantly contagious debuts of this millennium. An anthemic, doomsday stomp that treated the apocalypse as an aphrodisiac, it set off a post-punk blast wave that’s still raging through the underground today.

77. Hatebreed – I Will Be Heard (2002)

Most Hatebreed songs run along on a rumbling, thrashy riff that makes you want to flip several tables over. Most Hatebreed songs feature defiant, chest-beating, call-to-arms lyrics from Jamey Jasta. And yet, almost 20 years on, this pit-slayer remains Hatebreed’s definitive anthem. Just try and not bellow along with that opening line. Go on. Try.

76. Sabaton – Ghost Division (2008)

A power metal anthem driven along on a keyboard riff that sounds like it was written in a lairy techno club in the late 90s, Ghost Division broke Sabaton into metal’s big leagues. It’s the perfect mixture of everything that makes them great: big hooks, earnest energy and a bucketload of cheese.

75. Beartooth – In Between (2014)

Splitting off from Attack Attack! due to mental health struggles, Beartooth mainman Caleb Shomo holed up and wrote a bunch of music about it. In Between might have focused on depression, but it also contained a message of hope and a massive bounce that fell somewhere between hard rock, nu metal and pop punk.

74. Jinjer - Pisces (2016)

A swaying, djenty, heavy-as-fuck ass-kicker of a song, Pisces sent Ukrainian crew Jinjer flying up metal’s ladder and turned them from promising underground band into one of metal’s great hopes for the future. To this day, it’s still earned them over three times as many Spotify streams as any other song they’ve written.

73. Asking Alexandria – The Final Episode (Let’s Change The Channel) (2009)

One of the last rock club dancefloor anthems of the 00s and the track that introduced Asking Alexandra to the world, The Final Episode… also made sure metal had a new set of young, cocky upstarts for trolls to throw their toys at. Confirming the quintet as one of the hottest (and most controversial) young bands in rock, The Final Episode… had ‘big hit’ emblazoned all over it from the very opening seconds of those now iconic ‘OH. MY. GOD!’s. 

“It was written all over the place,” guitarist Ben Bruce recalled to us later. “It’s one of the first songs I ever wrote for Asking Alexandria. I wrote the chorus’s chord progression in my previous band, then I hooked up with James [Cassells, drums] and Danny [Worsnop, vocals] and mixed and matched bits and bobs that I’d been writing over the years, and it just turned into this monster of a song that launched our career.”

Merging swaying, metallic riffs with catchy metalcore dynamics and scatterings of electronic elements to give it a distinctly turn-of-the-decade polish, The Final Episode… also established Danny Worsnop as one of the most promising young vocalists in the game. While he’s since gone on to confirm himself as a hell of a singer, amazingly, when it came to recording this song, he wasn’t originally intended to be the frontman at all.

“Danny was the guitarist with me and Cameron,” Ben recalls. “There we were with three guitarists, no bassist and a drummer and when we went into the studio to record The Final Episode… we realised we didn’t have anyone to lay down any vocals. We were like, ‘Who wants to give it a try?’ So Danny went into the vocal booth just to see what would happen and when he came out we were like, ‘Right, you’re the singer of the band.’”

The rest, as they say, is history. Asking Alexandria would blow up soon after the release of this single, becoming the breakout band of their scene. With their success came a heap of issues, and Danny would leave the band in early 2015, only to return the following year. While they’ve since matured into a polished, arena-worthy rock band, for many Asking fans, the Stand Up And Scream era remains the benchmark, and The Final Episode… continues to be a cornerstone of their live shows. 

“It will forever be the song that launched our career,” says Ben. “I don’t foresee us taking it out of the set. It took us to all these different places around the world. Even now, we’ll go onstage and no matter where we go there’s a venue filled with people that know and love that song. The volume in the room increases, everyone knows what song it is and for that split second, you travel back in time to when you first heard it and there’s this overwhelming sense of nostalgia throughout the venue. It holds a very special place in our hearts.” 

72. The Hu – Wolf Totem (2019)

“The music made me imagine the vast Mongolian wilderness. The throat singing added this layer of harshness and power, and together with the addition of traditional instruments to mimic the noises of horses and birds, it all came together like Mongolia itself was singing to me.” Midori, Lovebites

71. The Devil’s Blood – River Of Gold (2008)

Storming out of The Devil’s Blood’s flawless debut EP, River Of Gold was charged with revelatory wanderlust and an ecstatic embrace of the Luciferian path. From the sensuously throbbing bassline to the luminous riffs, it gorged on the veins of late- 60s rock, inciting a new occult wave in the process.

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