These Are What Rolling Stone Calls the Greatest Metal Songs Ever | Revolver

These Are What Rolling Stone Calls the Greatest Metal Songs Ever

Only six metal tracks cracked magazine's 500 Greatest Songs list
James Hetfield funny face Hubbard, Jimmy Hubbard
Metallica's James Hetfield
photograph by Jimmy Hubbard

Back in 2004, Rolling Stone magazine took on the ambitious task of ranking the "500 greatest songs of all time." Although any list of that proportion could never possibly satisfy every music fan, many younger readers viewed the ranking — which only featured 22 songs from the Nineties and three from the 2000s, but 203 songs from the Sixties and 142 from the Seventies — as unfairly skewed toward what we now refer to as classic rock. 

Hip-hop (and non-white music in general), punk and most other underground genres were poorly represented, and as it usually goes with legacy institutions — whether it's the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Grammys, or lists like these — metal barely got any recognition. The original list only featured three metal songs: Metallica's "Enter Sandman" at No. 399, Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" at No. 310 and another Sabbath song, "Paranoid," at 250. 

Today (September 15th), Rolling Stone published a brand new version of the "500 Greatest Songs" list that was compiled by the publication's current staff and other contemporary music writers, and it doesn't feel nearly as stuffy and out-of-touch with the times as their first one did in 2004 — except when it comes to metal. 

With 40-plus years of metal history to choose from, there were only six bona fide metal songs that cracked the top 500, and half of them are repeats from the last time around. Motörhead's "Ace of Spades" dropped in at No. 442,  "Enter Sandman" came in at No. 390, "Iron Man" landed at 344 and "Paranoid" got bumped back nearly 100 slots to No. 338.

However, there were two songs that did rank higher than all of those. Metallica's "Master of Puppets" placed at No. 256, and 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 — earned the No. 207 slot, making it, by Rolling Stone's current measure, the greatest metal song of all time. 

No Iron Maiden. No Judas Priest. No Slayer. No Pantera — and certainly no nu-metal. Interesting. Other metal-adjacent acts like Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, AC/DC and Guns N' Roses did make the cut, at least, and you can check out the full list here