The 10 greatest guest spots in heavy metal history

Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford posing together in 2006
(Image credit: Jo Hale/Getty Images)

As time and technology advance, it has become increasingly easy for musicians to collaborate: record a song, email it off to another musician, they add their special sauce and Robert is your father’s brother. While these conveniences have led to a surge in high-profile guest appearances, some very special one-time collaborations – particularly in metal – have shined through over the years. Here are metal’s 10 most legendary guest appearances:

Metal Hammer line break

Motörhead feat. Ozzy Osbourne – I Ain’t No Nice Guy (March Ör Die, 1992)

On this soulful and unapologetically sentimental ballad, Ozzy Osbourne lends his inimitable vocals to a heartfelt, confessional duet with Motörhead. Bestowing the track with a sense of wistful regret and a touch world weariness, The Prince Of Darkness’s vocals dovetail seamlessly into Lemmy’s nicotine grit, creating a poignant moment of reflection for two of heavy metal’s most notorious and rebellious icons. With a bridge heavily influenced by the Beatles, this is a dewy-eyed look into their shared past.

Tenacious D feat. Ronnie James Dio and Meat Loaf – Kickapoo (The Pick Of Destiny, 2006)

Jack Black has never concealed his adoration for Ronnie James Dio. For Tenacious D’s debut album, he and bandmate Kyle Gass wrote a track named after the ex-Black Sabbath icon, urging him to pass the torch. So, hearing the heavy metal god team up with a post-School Of Rock Jack in 2006 felt like a true star tandem. Dio guested as a deity inspiring the young Jables during Kickapoo, with the song’s star power doubled by Meat Loaf playing JB’s strict dad.

Bring Me The Horizon feat. Dani Filth – Wonderful Life (Amo, 2019)

On this collaboration with Cradle Of Filth’s enigmatic frontman, Bring Me produced a pit-swarming banger that bridged genres and generations. Dani’s haunting vocals lend a sense of authority to the track’s nu metal and hard rock fusion, reinforcing its dark, existential themes. This union is symbolic: as Oli Sykes grapples with ageing and disconnect, Dani’s presence underlines the continuity and evolution of British metal, making it a momentous collaboration for the annals of heaviness.

Dream Theater feat. Mikael Åkerfeldt, Corey Taylor, Steven Wilson, etc. – Repentance (Systematic Chaos, 2007)

Dream Theater’s magnum opus – Repentance, from the album Systematic Chaos – is one of the most touching and ambitious collaborations in the history of heavy metal. Not only do the lyrics dig deeply into Mike Portnoy’s personal recovery from alcoholism, but the theme is amplified by a constellation of prog and metal luminaries. Neal Morse, David Ellefson, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Steven Wilson, Chris Jericho, Steve Vai, Corey Taylor and more all appear to share a profound personal regret.

Halford feat. Bruce Dickinson – The One You Love To Hate (Resurrection, 2000)

When the Metal God, Rob Halford, partnered with Bruce Dickinson, freshly reunited with Iron Maiden, it signified a revelatory alliance of two of metal’s seminal forces. Having reshaped the genre with his pioneering contributions with Judas Priest and later his solo project, Rob’s seismic delivery meshed flawlessly with Bruce’s impassioned roar. This collaboration on 2000’s Resurrection was not just a meeting of voices but a convergence of two eras, loudly echoing British metal’s indomitable spirit.

Beastie Boys feat. Kerry King – No Sleep Till Brooklyn (Licensed To Ill, 1986)

Kerry King’s contribution to the Beastie BoysNo Sleep Till Brooklyn is nothing short of monumental. Marrying thrash metal’s raw intensity with hip-hop's defiant swagger, the Slayer guitarist’s scorching riffs and blistering solo utterly demolished genre boundaries, epitomising the rebellious spirit of the ’80s. His incendiary guest turn not only cemented the track’s iconic status, but also laid the groundwork for more cross-genre collaborations in the years to come.

Mastodon feat. Neil Fallon – Blood And Thunder (Leviathan, 2004)

Neil Fallon’s contribution to this walloping prog metal anthem is a masterclass in metamorphic vocals. The resounding chorus, “White whale! Holy grail!”, conjures the unified cries of seafarers battling tempestuous waves and Moby Dick’s titular animal, by whom Mastodon’s Leviathan album was inspired. Trading his trademark bluesy cadence for a ferociously metallic growl, Neil’s electrifying performance accentuates the track’s primal intensity and adds a layer of combustive gravitas, underscoring metal’s endless capacity for evolution and surprise.

Soulfly feat. Corey Taylor – Jumpdafuckup (Primitive, 2000)

Soulfly’s adrenalised anthem showcased a high-energy fusion of Corey Taylor’s bare-knuckled vocal style with Max Cavalera’s trailblazing metal soundscape. The collaboration epitomised the zeitgeist of nu metal’s peak, melding Slipknot’s chaotic energy with Soulfly’s groove-laden roots. This synergy not only bridged two of the noughties’ titanic sonic forces, but also solidified the era’s fearless sense of experimentation. This banger is surely a defining moment of both the style and the era.

The entire Probot album (2004)

Dave Grohl uncorked an audacious divergence from the more mainstream Foo Fighters with the star-studded Probot album. A heartfelt homage to metal, the album amalgamated vanguards like King Diamond, Lemmy Kilmister and Max Cavalera for a riotous joyride through metal’s blazing past. Spanning genres from thrash and hardcore to stoner rock, the drummer’s innate zeal for heaviness is palpable in every beat. This transformative venture illuminated the versatility of Dave’s musicality, rendering it a vital, multifaceted gem in the metal pantheon.

Gojira feat. Randy Blythe – Adoration For None (The Way Of All Flesh, 2008)

On this track from The Way Of The Flesh, Gojira and Randy Blythe forge a sonic tempest that deftly capitalises on the strengths that both parties bring to the table. In 2008, Gojira were exploring an ultra-heavy synthesis of death and groove metal, which provided an ideal backdrop for Randy’s gritty vocal ferocity. A long-standing supporter, Lamb Of God’s singer flew over to France to collaborate in person, cheerily telling a crowd in 2021, “We had a wonderful time together.”

Joe Daly

Hailing from San Diego, California, Joe Daly is an award-winning music journalist with over thirty years experience. Since 2010, Joe has been a regular contributor for Metal Hammer, penning cover features, news stories, album reviews and other content. Joe also writes for Classic Rock, Bass Player, Men’s Health and Outburn magazines. He has served as Music Editor for several online outlets and he has been a contributor for SPIN, the BBC and a frequent guest on several podcasts. When he’s not serenading his neighbours with black metal, Joe enjoys playing hockey, beating on his bass and fawning over his dogs.

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