Back in 2021, Rolling Stone magazine short-shrifted metal as a genre by only including six metal tracks in their supposedly comprehensive list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Motörhead's "Ace of Spades," Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and "Master of Puppets," Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" and "Paranoid," and Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name" — earning the highest-ranking slot of all metal songs, at No. 207 — were, by the measure of those who voted for that list, deemed the six best metal songs ever.
However, Rolling Stone have now corrected their own record by publishing a list dedicated to the 100 greatest metal songs ever, and the list's top 10 differs significantly from the top six that landed in the publication's all-genre list.
In this metal-focused ranking, Rolling Stone have placed Black Sabbath's eponymous dirge at the No. 1 spot, which makes a helluva lot of sense since it essentially birthed the very genre of metal. However, weirdly, the track wasn't included at all in the publication's list of the 500 greatest songs, and one of the Sabbath tracks that was included in that 500 list ("Paranoid"), didn't even crack the top 10 of their new ranking of metal tracks. Moreover, Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name" — which some fans consider to be more heavy rock than straight-up metal, though we disagree — only made it to No. 38 on the metal songs list.
Strange contradictions aside, the other nine songs that comprise Rolling Stone's top 10 metal songs ever are all undeniable gems. "Master of Puppets" came in at No. 2, "Ace of Spades" at No. 3, Judas Priest' "Breaking the Law" at No. 4, Sabbath's "War Pigs" at No. 5, Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" at No. 6, "Iron Man" at No. 7, Slayer's "Raining Blood" at No. 8, Dio's "Holy Diver" at No. 9 and Iron Maiden's "Run to the Hills" at No. 10.
Hard to argue with any of those picks, though if you're under the age of 50 and you feel like those selections are skewing old-school, your suspicions aren't unfounded. While the entire list does make a point of nodding to most metal sub-genres (death metal, black-metal, grindcore, metalcore, prog-metal, etc. are each represented.), nu-metal giants like Korn, Slipknot and Deftones were only granted one song each ("Blind," "People = Shit" and "My Own Summer (Shove It)," respectively), and the same went for alt-metal titans like System of a Down ("Chop Suey!") and TOOL ("Forty Six & 2").
Of course, lists like these are ultimately just fodder for people to argue with one another, so in that sense, Rolling Stone surely succeeded. See the whole list here.