A good collaborative song is hard to pull off. Two different artists could have a similar artistic vision and even a complementary sound but still not click together in the recording studio. Surely, we can all think of at least one instance in which a guest artist on a track felt forced and underwhelming, but this time we wanted to focus on the good — specifically, the greatest songs in the heavy-music canon that feature an outside contributor.
When we polled our readers, the results were truly sprawling, with metalheads singing the praises of everything from classic-rock duets to nu-metal freakouts and blissful alt-metal gems. Below, are the tag teams that raked in the most votes, ranked accordingly.
It's not metal, not even close, but Queen's universally heralded team-up with the great David Bowie is the first tune that comes to mind when most rock fans think of collab songs. It's been flipped into an sweaty onslaught by My Chemical Romance and the Used, and been given a bizarre twist by noisy experimentalists Xiu Xiu with Swans frontman Michael Gira, but nothing beats the original — Bowie and Freddie Mercury, two of the most gifted singers in rock history, twirling around each other's voices with the utmost grace and poise.
Max Cavalera and Corey Taylor have taken different musical trajectories throughout the last two decades, but in 2000, the two vocalists were each fronting two of the most confrontational nu-metal bands on the planet. They made for a natural pair, and "Jumpdafuckup" from Soulfly's second album, Primitive, platforms insane synergy between two fuming screamers who don't just wanna jump in place, they aim to leap and flail and swing until shit gets wrecked. Caution: Check the height of your ceiling before playing this one loud.
Anthrax's iconic, gate-crashing collab with hip-hop trailblazers Public Enemy came about a bit differently than the other songs on this list, given "Bring the Noise" was Chuck D and Co.'s song that the thrash wizards began covering live and eventually decided to record as an all-hands-on-deck joint affair. Public Enemy's original version rocks, but the energy and camaraderie they bring to Anthrax's version should have every member of your family pogoing around the house like the rascally musicians in the video.
"Know Your Enemy" is one of the best songs on Rage Against the Machine's landmark debut album and boasts one of the greatest riffs Tom Morello's ever written. It also features TOOL singer Maynard James Keenan's muttery croon during its funky bridge, as he offers a breathy salvo about having no patience before letting out a riotous scream at the top of his lungs. "Time. Has. Come to ... PAAAAAYYYYYY!"
Our people love Maynard James Keenan, and so do we. Whereas his feature on "Know Your Enemy" was essentially a vocal solo, on Deftones' "Passenger," the TOOL singer duets with Chino Moreno for the entirety of the song — and their chemistry is glorious. The obvious highlight from the 'Tones' magnificent White Pony has a spacey, eerie build that perfectly suits Keenan's alternating mewing and roaring delivery, and the song itself is just a knockout, from its lapping shoegaze guitars to its driving, drum freakout climax. This is how a guest should be treated.