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Metallica, arguably the most famous and one of the most influential bands in the history of metal music, has just released its 11th studio album (not counting their live or cover albums), 72 Seasons. 72 Seasons is the band’s first album of new music since 2016’s Hardwired to Self-Destruct and only their fourth album since 2000.
Due to this release, it was time to reflect on this music icon’s storied history and give you 10 of the band’s most iconic, guitar-driven songs. Since there have been ten prior albums, we thought bringing you one song from each album on this list was a good idea.
This task was no easy feat, and please note that there were many difficult choices on which song to include from each album. Just because a song is left off this list doesn’t mean it isn’t also an iconic, guitar-driven Metallica song.
Let’s get going!
1. Seek & Destroy- Kill ‘Em All (Standard Tuning)
Metallica, formed in 1981, burst onto the metal scene in the early 1980s with the 1983 release of their first studio album, Kill ‘Em All. The album is often regarded as one of the most influential on the entire thrash metal scene.
The vast majority of Seek & Destroy is relatively simple. It is a good starting point for guitarists who want to start playing Metallica but are weary of some of the faster and more complex songs in the band’s discography.
The 6:54 song repeats a common theme throughout most of the song but does switch concepts and tempos starting at the 3:10 mark, followed by a signature blazingly fast Kirk Hammett guitar solo. The solo is by far the most challenging aspect of this song.
Follow this link here to check out the tabs.
2. Fade To Black- Ride The Lightning (Standard Tuning)
Right on the heels of their first album release came Ride The Lightning in 1984. Many critics praised this album as a giant leap forward in the band’s songwriting ability.
This album has many fantastic songs, but we went with Fade To Black as it is one of the band’s most iconic songs.
Fade To Black incorporates many qualities not often present in many of their other songs, such as the intro acoustic section, which is accompanied by one of Kirk Hammett’s best solos.
As the song progresses, it picks up steam but does an excellent job contrasting heavy over-driven riffs and lighter melodic pieces.
Check out the tabs to one of Metallica’s most famous songs here.
3. Battery- Master of Puppets (Standard Tuning)
Often referred to as the band’s greatest album, released in 1986, it has stood the test of time as an immensely influential record in metal music.
The obvious choice for this list is Master of Puppets, but it has been included in another list here, so we chose Battery instead. Battery is the first track on the record, with a runtime of 5:13.
Battery, like Fade To Black, begins with acoustic guitar, including a cool harmony between two acoustics before the electric guitars burst in at the:37 mark. The song then quickly picks up pace at around the 1:07 mark and turns into a more thrash metal-type song that was the signature sound of early Metallica albums.
To check out the tabs for Battery, follow this link.
4. One- …And Justice For All (Standard Tuning)
The fourth studio album, released in 1988, was well received by critics, though it has been criticized for lacking the bass throughout much of the album. Of note, it is the first album without the original bass player, Cliff Burton, who had passed away in a tour bus accident in 1986.
The album’s songs are all long, with the shortest being 5:14 in length (apart from a bonus track cover song). One comes in at 7:26 in length and is the album’s most well-known song and a staple at many of their concerts.
It begins similarly to Fade To Black and continues to build throughout the song. It also features some of the most prominent double-bass drumming out of any of Metallica’s songs until their new release of Lux Æterna.
You can check out the tabs for One here.
5. Enter Sandman- Metallica (Standard Tuning)
The 1991 release of their self-titled Album (also known as The Black Album) was the album that helped launch Metallica into the mainstream consumer market and is their best-selling album of all time.
This was mainly from the help of the track Enter Sandman, which has become one of the most widely known songs of all time. In fact, several of the tracks on this album are among the most known and played of Metallica’s songs.
The style of this album was a significant departure from the previous four albums, and whenever a band changes music styles, it was met with mixed reviews from the fans.
Despite some fans wishing they would have kept their original sound (which their new album tends to emulate), the 1991 album is still regarded as a pinnacle moment in metal and rock history.
Enter Sandman does not need much explanation, as I am sure most of you reading this have listened to it many times. The song’s iconic riff drives the song for its duration, and Kirk’s solo is one of the most well-known solos in his arsenal.
Check out the tabs to Enter Sandman here.
6. King Nothing- Load (E-Flat Tuning)
If Metallica’s 1991 album was a departure from their original style, 1996’s Load was a massive departure from their style resulting in many upset fans and mixed reviews from critics, despite its solid commercial success.
King Nothing (which is actually played with every string tuned a half step down but can be played in standard tuning) is the fifth song on the album, coming in at 5:30, and is one of the most popular songs from the album.
The song begins with some high-pitched guitar work followed by one of the coolest basslines in Metallica’s discography, coming 22 seconds into the song. This is followed by one of the heavier riffs Metallica has created, coming in at the 40-second mark. Overall, King Nothing is one of the hardest-hitting Metallica songs to date.
Check out the tabs to King Nothing here.
7. Fuel- Reload (E-Flat Tuning)
Just one year after the release of Load, Metallica released Reload in late 1997. Just like Load, many of the songs on Reload were also recorded in E-flat tuning, which is simply tuning all of the strings a ½ step down.
Like Load, Reload was met with mixed reviews. Still, the album has a few more songs that have stayed popular over the years, including The Memory Remains and The Unforgiven II, a sequel to The Unforgiven from their 1991 album.
However, the most popular song from Reload is the opening track, Fuel. Nominated for a Grammy award in 1999, the 4:29 song comes right out of the gates with Hetfield yelling, directly followed by one of the fastest guitar riffs in Metallica’s long list of speedy songs.
Fuel, like King Nothing, is performed in E-flat tuning. It features some solid double-bass work by Lars on the choruses and, overall, is one of the best Metallica songs to come out of the 1990s.
The tabs to Fuel can be found here.
8. Some Kind Of Monster- St. Anger (Drop C Tuning)
The eighth studio album, released in 2003, has become infamous among rock and metal fans. The first reason is the snare sound, which has been mocked many times. The second reason is the lack of guitar solos on the album, which is a vast stylistic difference from previous Metallica records.
St. Anger is the only recorded album for which the band did not have a bass player as they were between Jason Newstead, who had left in 2001, and the hiring of current bassist Robert Trujillo.
St. Anger is undoubtedly the most unique of Metallica’s albums, with almost every song recorded in drop C (CGCFAD) and the previously mentioned lack of solos. Some Kind of Monster is no different.
Some Kind of Monster is the third track on the album and is an excellent song for guitarists who are just starting to explore alternate tunings as it is a straightforward song performed at a moderate pace, but it is a lot of fun to play.
Despite what has been said about St. Anger, and the fact that the band doesn’t really play songs from this album at live shows anymore, it is still worth checking out, as there are some good riffs throughout the album.
Check out the tabs to Some Kind Of Monster here.
9. The Day That Never Comes- Death Magnetic (Standard Tuning)
2008 brought the ninth studio album, titled Death Magnetic, by the metal icons. Although bassist Robert Trujillo had been touring with the band since 2003, this is the first album for which he is featured in the recordings.
Death Magnetic saw the band move as far away as possible from their work on St. Anger in 2003 and return to more of a thrash metal style of play (although not really as thrash sounding as their new album, 72 Seasons).
The Day That Never Comes, which is considered a ballad, is the fourth track from the album, with a run time of 7:56. It has been widely compared to songs like One and Fade To Black in that it starts slow and builds as the song progresses and ends with the signature instrumental only ending that Metallica often uses in their songs.
Like much of their earlier work, The Day That Never Comes is written in standard tuning.
Check out the tabs here.
10. Hardwired- Hardwired…To Self-Destruct (Standard Tuning)
To round off our ten Metallica songs is Hardwired, the first song from the tenth studio album released in 2016, Hardwired. . . To Self-Destruct.
If 2008’s Death Magnetic was a step towards their thrash metal roots, their 2016 album was equivalent to returning home.
Hardwired features everything you would expect from early Metallica- lots of snare, hard-hitting riffs, and epically fast guitar solos. Hardwired is one of the more difficult songs on this list due to its speed, but it is a fun song to learn.
Check out the tabs here.
There you have it! Ten songs from Metallica’s ten albums leading up to their brand new release of 72 Seasons.
I hope you have enjoyed this list and have fun learning some of these great Metallica songs!