The 10 longest songs by 10 iconic heavy metal bands

Photos of Metallica, Slipknot, Iron Maiden and Avenged Sevenfold performing live
(Image credit: Metallica: Scott Legato/Getty Images | Slipknot: Edd Westmacott/Avalon/Getty Images | Iron Maiden: Visual China Group via Getty Images | Avenged Sevenfold: David Wolff-Patrick/Redferns)

Shakespeare once famously said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” The likes of Metallica, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath have all apparently replied, “Get fucked mate.” As much as shorter songs are more likely to become hit singles, many metal bands have loved to test just how much they can get away with. Sometimes, their most beloved anthems extend well into the double digits when it comes to minute-lengths. To celebrate the art of the hard-rocking epic, here are the 10 longest songs by 10 massive, heavy bands:

Metal Hammer line break

Metallica – Inamorata (72 Seasons, 2023)

72 Seasons was broadly a safe musical venture for metal’s biggest band, favouring tried-and-true riffing over any of the adventurous flourishes that had made them so massive. It did push one boundary, however. Finale Inamorata beat the closer of Load, The Outlaw Torn, to become Metallica’s longest-ever song at 11 minutes, 10 seconds.

Slipknot – Iowa (Iowa, 2001)

In 2001, Slipknot ended their most depraved and aggressive album with a title track that pushed that vibe as far as possible. Iowa is a disturbing horror story of necrophilia that torments you for 15 minutes and five seconds: far and away the longest time The Nine have ever held you in their grasp.

Iron Maiden – Empire Of The Clouds (The Book Of Souls, 2015)

For 31 years, fan favourite Rime Of The Ancient Mariner held the record for Iron Maiden’s longest song at 13-plus minutes. Then, on The Book Of Souls, Empire Of The Clouds smashed that achievement. Singer Bruce Dickinson penned this 18-minute-one-second odyssey about the crashing of the R101 airship in 1930.

Black Sabbath – Warning (Black Sabbath, 1970)

The most notable superlative surrounding Black Sabbath’s debut album is that it was the first true metal album. However, it also boasts a lesser-known achievement: its finale, Warning, is the Brummies’ longest-ever song. Its 10 minutes and 32 seconds are mostly filled by Tony Iommi’s guitar theatrics but, hey, a record’s a record.

Megadeth – When (The World Needs A Hero, 2001)

Dave Mustaine’s consistently pushed the thrash metal envelope with his intricate guitar playing, yet the Megadeth mastermind has broadly shied away from “epic” songs. His band’s longest track, When, expands a riff MegaDave originally wrote for Metallica’s The Call Of Ktulu into a nine-minute-13-second journey of claustrophobic progressive metal.

Slayer – Crypts Of Eternity (Hell Awaits, 1985)

Like Megadeth, Slayer are more well known for their butt-clenching metal onslaughts than long, sweeping songs. However, on Hell Awaits, the thrashers toyed with being progressive across multiple songs, to the point Crypts Of Eternity remained their only track to touch six minutes and 40 seconds across their entire, 38-year career.

Tool – 7empest (Fear Inoculum, 2019)

Technically, Tool’s longest song is Disgustipated, from debut album Undertow. We’ve disqualified it though, because – as was the style after the advent of the CD – its length was artificially extended to end it with a “hidden track”. 7empest, from Fear Inoculum, earns its spot here by being 15 minutes and 44 seconds of actual music.

Judas Priest – Lochness (Angel Of Retribution, 2005)

Lochness proved to be the only controversial part of Angel Of Retribution, which was otherwise received as a glorious return to form for Judas Priest following Rob Halford’s return. For every fan that deems this 13-minute-29-second finale too much, there’s another calling it an operatic triumph. Either way, the Metal Gods have never exceeded its length.

Avenged Sevenfold – Exist (The Stage, 2016)

An answer to the Metallica and Guns N’ Roses worship of Hail To The King, The Stage pushed Avenged Sevenfold into immense, progressive metal. Nowhere is that more apparent than on closer Exist, which fills 15 minutes and 39 seconds with ruminations on human nature and narration from Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Lamb Of God – Reclamation (Wrath, 2009)

At seven minutes and eight seconds, Reclamation is practically a grindcore song for some bands on this list. Nonetheless, this 2009 cut stands as the longest statement from Lamb Of God, whose bread and butter has always been in upfront, pulverising riffs much more than sweeping compositions. But this song still goes hard, of course.

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.