The 10 least-played Metallica songs

We reveal Metallica's least performed songs
(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder Getty)

When Metallica announced their first run of dates in support of their new album, Hardwired… To Self-Destruct yesterday, it got us thinking – how will their setlist take shape once the album is in the shops? Will they play Seek And Destroy? How many songs from the Black Album will they include, considering the release is 25 this year?

We checked out the Metallica page on and started our fact-finding mission. At the time of posting this feature, the band have played Master Of Puppets 1,504 times. They could play it in their sleep, easily. Then we looked further and further down the list to discover some songs have been played just the once, if at all. Ronnie, for example, is nowhere to be seen.

So we decided to draw up a list of the band’s least-played songs. As with anything in life, there are rules. The songs must appear on their studio albums. EP tracks and cover versions don’t count. So, in all their glory, here are the 10 songs which have made a fleeting appearance on their setlist over the years. Say hello to the red-headed stepchildren of the Metallica canon. Or the Metallicanon, if you will…

2 X 4 (1996)

Kicking off with this track from Load, 2 X 4 has made its way onto Metallica’s setlist a grand total of 10 times. It was premiered at a small Met Club members-only show at the band’s San Rafael studios on August 17, 1995. It was put to bed five years later after their performance at the Bradley Center, Milwaukee on January 3, 2000.

The Unforgiven III (2008)

This highly emotive second sequel to The Unforgiven has been described by James Hetfield as his favourite of the three parts. With its piano-led intro and groove-laden verses, the track was first introduced into the band’s set at Norway’s Telenor Arena in Fornebu on April 14, 2010, some 18 months after the release of Death Magnetic. It was dropped from the set after the band’s date at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on November 21 that year. Maybe the subtle nuances of this reflective song were lost on the arena stage. It was performed just seven times.

The Unforgiven II (1997)

This meat in the Unforgiven sandwich has made just six appearances in Metallica’s setlist since the release of Reload in 1997. The band debuted the song at the Billboard Awards on December 8, 1997, where they won in the Rock And Roll Artist Of The Year category. It was last performed on September 16, 2015 at the Centre Vidéotron in Quebec City, Canada.

Poor Twisted Me (1996)

This bluesy grind has made its presence felt in ‘Tallica’s set just four times in the last two decades. The band included the Load track as part of their Bridge School Benefit set on October 18, 1997. Its most recent outing was at the Yoyogi Olympic Pool in Tokyo, where it was taken to the changing rooms, dried off and never heard of again.

Carpe Diem Baby (1998)

This song began life as a demo called Skimpy and evolved into this epic slow burner from Reload. Despite the title appearing on one of Hetfield’s first tattoos (the one with the playing cards and flames on his left bicep), the song has only been performed live four times. Amazingly, it was first played at the band’s 30th anniversary shows at The Fillmore in San Francisco on December 5, 2011, and most recently at Chiba Marine Stadium in Chiba, Japan on August 10, 2013 at the Summer Sonic festival.

Some Kind Of Monster (2003)

Here’s a song which must bear a lot of emotional weight for the band. The fourth single from their 2003 album St. Anger and the song from which Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s excruciatingly candid documentary took its name, the band played this a total of three times in the summer of 2004, before quietly retiring it from the setlist. Aside from the chorus’ main riff, it’s something of a creative misfire.

All Within My Hands (2003)

This snare-heavy nine-minute experimental outing from St. Anger has had just two outings, albeit in a rearranged form for the band’s sets at the Bridge School Benefit charity shows on October 27-28, 2007.

Escape (1984)

This underrated moment from the Ride The Lightning album was premiered on June 23, 2012. The band played the album in full (albeit in reversed order) at their Orion Music + More festival. And that was it. If the band were to play that song on their next tour, we wouldn’t complain one bit.

To Live Is To Die (1988)

This epic, mostly-instrumental track is the longest song from …And Justice For All, clocking in at nine minutes 48 seconds. It’s also features a songwriting credit for the late Cliff Burton, who died two years earlier in a bus crash while the band were passing through Dörarp in Sweden. The song was used to open the band’s 30th anniversary shows at The Fillmore, San Francisco on December 7, 2011 and has not been played since.

Sweet Amber (2003)

This St. Anger song was premiered the United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas on September 4, 2004 and was subsequently never heard from again. Rumours that its ghost roams the 15,000 capacity venue calling out for its creators has been dismissed as rubbish.

Simon Young

Born in 1976 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Simon Young has been a music journalist for over twenty years. His fanzine, Hit A Guy With Glasses, enjoyed a one-issue run before he secured a job at Kerrang! in 1999. His writing has also appeared in Classic RockMetal HammerProg, and Planet Rock. His first book, So Much For The 30 Year Plan: Therapy? — The Authorised Biography is available via Jawbone Press.