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Debating the best Metallica anything — album, song, live show — is a genre of metal discourse in an of itself. It's practically sacrilege to even call yourself a metalhead if you don't have your favorite 'Tallica song locked, loaded and ready to passionately defend at any given moment. And what's kept this spirited discussion entertaining even in the band's 40th year is how much variety there is among the fandom.
For every OG who swears by the Eighties thrash material, there are just as many zealots who'll defend certain cuts from contentious LPs like Reload and St. Anger to the death. As we expected, when we asked our readers to choose the best Metallica song, we received answers from all across the spectrum. However, these are top five vote-getters, ranked accordingly. Let the arguing (re)commence.
"One" wasn't Metallica's first power ballad (that'd be "Fade to Black" from Ride the Lightning), but the slow and emotional standout from ...And Justice for All was a precursor to the more melodic and less thrashy direction they'd take on later material. For many fans, this is the one (no pun intended) they reach for when they want to hear Metallica exude soft power. That said, when the song does take off, it fucking crushes.
One of Metallica's strongest suits is writing a kickass album-opener. Even on their polarizing late-career records, some of their best songs are the first in line, and "Battery" is a fan favorite for that very reason. Peeling into Master of Puppets with the gale force of a hundred typhoons, it's a refinement of their raw, thrashy roots that doesn't sacrifice any of their initial energy.
On the other hand, some Metallica fans ride or die for "Fight Fire With Fire." The Ride the Lightning starting pistol begins with Kirk Hammett's ornate classical picking, but when the distortion creeps in, that teeth-bearing lead riff revs up and the drums start smacking, we're off on one of the fastest and most relentless Metallica songs.
"So let it be written/So let it be done," this song fucking slaps. The penultimate banger on Ride the Lightning is the alternately slicing and walloping "Creeping Death," a heavy, catchy, epic, gnarly, genre-defining thrash ripper with a guitar solo that could melt a whole museum's worth of wax figures.
Sure, there are probably two dozen other Metallica songs that could reasonably hold down this slot, but "Master of Puppets" feels right. The eight-minute title track from their 1986 masterpiece is a flawless, glorious and timelessly exciting distillation of not just who Metallica are as a band, but also what thrash metal is as a genre. Even if you're more partial to the the early stuff or the Nineties-era arena anthems, this song is just plain perfect.