Fan Poll: Top 5 Metallica Guitar Solos | Revolver

Fan Poll: Top 5 Metallica Guitar Solos

See what topped "One" and "Fade to Black"
Kirk Hammett metallica Jimmy Hubbard, Jimmy Hubbard
photograph by Jimmy Hubbard

According to Megadeth's Dave Mustaine, Metallica's most impressive attribute is their guitarwork, and while that's certainly a convenient compliment to throw a band he once played guitar in, the man has a point. Between James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett — not to mention their impressive history of bass guitarists, from Cliff Burton through Robert Trujillo — Metallica are basically unmatched in their field, and they have the solos to prove it.

The thrash pioneers' discography is stuffed with mind-blowing passages of guitar prowess that continue to inspire legions of young shredders to pick up their first ax. We asked our readers — who happen to have an opinion or two on Metallica — to pick what they think is the single best guitar solo in their catalog. The top five vote-getters are ranked accordingly below.

5. "Orion"

"Orion" has at least two solos that rank among the band's greatest. The most notable is Cliff Burton's iconic bass solo, which comes snaking in during the proggy middle section and twirls around Hammett's guitarwork. Then, Hammett sends the whole track into the night sky with some fierce shredding, taking the track out of its spacey detour and building it back up to heavy form. Glorious.

4. "Fade to Black"

"Fade to Black" was Metallica's first-ever power ballad — and one of the greatest in the thrash ballad canon — and they didn't squander the opportunity to grace it with a mournful solo. Written after the band had been robbed, leaving James Hetfield to grieve his beloved Marshall amp, Metallica decided to buckle down and get solemn with a tune about suicide, but the heroic guitarwork at the end has an uplifting effect. Life-affirming, even.

3. "Ride the Lightning"

Metallica's earliest material is their shreddiest, and while there're plenty of other standout solos on Kill 'Em All and Master of Puppets, the title track to 1984's Ride the Lightning feels like the top of that particular crop. Right from the opening lick, you can tell that they're going to rip the song to pieces as soon as they get the chance, and that's exactly what Hammett does during the loquacious solo section. Dazzling stuff. 

2. "One"

Of course, "One" had to make an appearance on this list. The clear standout on Metallica's breakthrough prog pivot, ...And Justice for All, is one of their most impressive songs in a structural sense, and it also features a truly insane, finger-tapping solo from Hammett. This is the type of solo you play for your friend who thinks metal is "just noise" and doesn't take any actual talent. Their jaw will drop every time.

1. "Unforgiven"

"Fade to Black" is their first, "One" is their most technically advanced, but "Unforgiven" is Metallica's most popular solo-rific power ballad, so it's no surprise to see it claim the number one slot here. Hammett's solo on this "Black Album" cut is by no means his most sophisticated, but it is one of his most soulful and heart-fluttering — the end result of him being told to play it over and over by producer Bob Rock. The final take we hear today is magic.