The 10 greatest metal power ballads ever

Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford, Corey Taylor and Amy Lee on stage at various gigs
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Outsiders might think heavy metal is all big scary riffs and songs about Satan and darkness and whatnot, but those in the know understand that some of music's biggest, soppiest, most spectacularly epic power ballads have actually come from the metal world. From a certain Prince Of Darkness dedicating a particularly sentimental classic to their other half to some of metal's most aggressive bands showing their softer side, we've amassed the ten very finest metal power ballads ever committed to tape.

Although, admittedly, if we're being totally honest, at least one of them is actually about Satan and darkness and whatnot. Metal is nothing if not a genre of mixed messages.

Metal Hammer line break

Metallica – Fade To Black (Ride The Lightning, 1984)

The biggest metal band of all time have made a habit of producing some huge ballads during their career, but none can hold a candle to Metallica's very first. A seven-minute lament on suicide that set the template for subsequent epics Welcome Home (Sanitarium) and One, it melded brooding melodies with righteous metallic might. And what a solo. It may have surprised elitists at the time, but metal has rarely sounded as emotionally devastating as this.

Ozzy Osbourne – Mama, I’m Coming Home (No More Tears, 1991)

One of a handful of impressive collaborations between The Prince Of Darkness and his Motörhead pal Lemmy for 1991's No More Tears album resulted in one of Ozzy's biggest hits, and one of the greatest heavy metal ballads of the 90s. The song became a setlist staple, later reaching special significance when Ozzy dedicated it to his wife Sharon while she was battling cancer. A delightful country melody gives way to an immediate chorus and a huge singalong along finale. Resistance to joining in is 100% futile.

Megadeth - A Tout Le Monde (Youthanasia, 1994)

Let's be honest: despite Metallica knocking out a few exceptions to the rule, thrash metal ballads rarely work (although Testament’s much-maligned The Legacy is an under-appreciated gem as afar as we're concerned). Dave Mustaine’s best effort from 1994’s Youthanasia was so good he even rerecorded it again in 2007, with Lacuna Coil’s Christina Scabbia adding some sultry vibes and making a duet that rivals Meat Loaf and Lorraine Crosby. Fair play, Dave. 

Slipknot - Snuff (All Hope Is Gone, 2008)

Despite being predominantly known for raising all hell in the most abrasive, sonically violent way possible, the eighteen-legged Iowan destruction machine certainly aren’t averse to showing their sensitive side – see Vermillion and Dead Memories for a start – albeit with a black heart ripped from someone’s chest. This lament from Slipknot's All Hope Is Gone album, however, is without a doubt their most melodically emotionally affecting moment yet, all powered by Corey Taylor forcefully delivering a message of venomous anguish.

Avenged Sevenfold – I Won’t See You Tonight (Part 1) (Waking The Fallen, 2003)

Though the video for Seize The Day had Synyster Gates doing his best ‘Slash in November Rain atop a coffin’ impression, the big ballad on the band’s Waking The Fallen breakthrough is wrought with dark emotion and M Shadows’ huge, lighter-in-the-air choruses, before building to a piano and string-laden finale. Arms being waved aloft is mandatory. Even this early in their career, Avenged's potential for creating huge, stadium-worthy moments was clear.

Nightwish - Sleeping Sun (Oceanborn, 1998)

The most majestic moment from Nightwish's Oceanborn album comes in the form of this dazzling, magical power ballad that builds from a brooding, twinkly, fantastical slow-mover into a booming, guitar-powered epic. It also shows off Tarja Turunen's quite astonishing voice, that final key change likely to draw tears and rattle windows in equal measure. The song also remains a firm fan favourite, having popped up regularly in setlists well beyond Tarja's time in the band.

Judas Priest – Beyond The Realms Of Death (Stained Class, 1978)

Beyond The Realms Of Death has all the prerequisite elements of a great heavy metal power ballad: soulful, light verses, a larger-than-life chorus and ostentatious guitar leads for extra doses of cheese. Plus, not only does it contain some of the finest individual displays from the different members of Judas Priest, but frontman Rob Halford’s triumphant “this is my life” chant is life-affirming stuff. Metal Gods can show their sensitive side, too!

Bullet For My Valentine - Tears Don't Fall (The Poison, 2005)

The one moment where millennial metalheads and mid-00s emo kids were, for just five minutes and 48 seconds, united in admiration. Bullet's stadium-worthy, hallmark anthem remains their most streamed song by a huge distance, and it's not difficult to see why: meshing heavy metal riffs, bursts of galloping drums and that undeniable chorus, it wasn't quite like anything else around at the time, and still sounds as skyscraper-huge now as it did almost twenty years ago.

Ghost - He Is (Meliora, 2015)

What's often overlooked in Ghost mainman Tobias Forge's formidable bag of tricks is his ability to write genuinely stirring, emotional compositions, and none have outstripped this wonderful highlight from Meliora. Held back for years due to Tobias and his cohorts being unable to quite make it fit Ghost's sound, they eventually went hell for leather with the full power ballad treatment, and it proved an inspired choice. Odes to The Great Horned One have never sounded so...sweet?

Evanescence - My Immortal (Fallen, 2003)

Picking the best song from Fallen is like picking your favourite black-haired, spoopy goth fairy child, but we can't argue with anyone who'd plump for My Immortal. Amy Lee and Ben Moody's beautiful, heartbroken, piano-driven ballad was already a winner in its original form, but a 'Band Version' redub featuring the addition of guitars, bass and drums for a rock-powered finale elevated it to all-time greatness. Absolutely no chance that final drop and chorus doesn't have you making fist-pulls in front of your speakers. 

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site. 

With contributions from