Metal music has been through a lot of phases and changes over the years. With guitars for metal becoming more and more popular amongst musicians, the metal genre isn’t exactly the easiest for anyone new to the guitar.
To be a true master of the guitar you need different accessories such as pickups for metal music that are specifically made for this genre. There are also things like metal pedals that can help your overall playing and make you sound like a master even when you’re just dipping your toe into the heavy metal pond.
If you want to be a true master of heavy metal songs on the guitar then there are various techniques that you will need to know and which we will introduce to you in this list. Things like staccato, palm-muting, power chords and strong rhythms all come as part of every metal song. The harmonics will also be very different on a metal guitar as you try and get your mind around insane chromatic progressions and modal scales.
Don’t let us scare you though. There are some really great metal songs that will serve as a diving point for you to plunge further into more advanced metal guitar songs. As you begin working through this list you will find your guitar playing challenged like never before but what we aim for is for you to enhance your overall skills.
There is a range of songs included here that go from hard rock to true heavy metal but all of these pieces are considered metal because of the time they were released. Let’s rock and roll!
Table of Contents
- 1 1. Black Sabbath – Iron Man
- 2 2. Judas Priest – You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
- 3 3. Iron Maiden – The Trooper
- 4 4. Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train
- 5 5. Avenged Sevenfold – This Means War
- 6 6. Metallica – Seek and Destroy
- 7 7. AC/DC – Back in Black
- 8 8. Slayer – Raining Blood
- 9 9. System of a Down – Lonely Day
- 10 10. Alice in Chains – Rooster
- 11 11. Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love
- 12 12. Van Halen – Hot for Teacher
- 13 13. Metallica – For Whom the Bell Tolls
- 14 14. Skid Row – Monkey Business
- 15 15. AC/DC – Jailbreak
1. Black Sabbath – Iron Man
I am Iron Man! The infamous sound of Ozzy Osbourne should ring through your head as soon as you hear the title to this song from Black Sabbath. We’re focusing on the power chords on the electric guitar used throughout this metal song that has inspired many a metal artist today. Butler, Osborne and Iommi made a great team when things were good with the band and this song from Black Sabbath easily makes its way into the metal guitar hall of fame.
One aspect and skill of this song you will want to nail is the bends. If you manage to gain enough confidence with this Black Sabbath song then you can easily take on any other metal song to play on your electric guitar. It’s a hard trick to learn but you can absolutely mimic the greats if you pay close attention to your fingerstyling and other techniques that come from the heavy metal arsenal.
2. Judas Priest – You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
This heavy metal song from 1982 is another easy one to master but Judas Priest makes it sound so much more complicated than it really is. There is a really catchy intro to the song that makes you want to start headbanging even before you get to the main part of the song. The guitar playing feels completely carefree so that you’ll keep wanting to play this Judas Priest hit over and over again. The electric guitar piece is something that every wannabe metal guitarist should learn.
Learning the overall riff for the guitar in this song won’t be too difficult for a beginner. The only tricky part is adding in those high notes which have to played over the strong bassline. The bassline itself is easy because it only involves fingerpicking your sixth chord. The tempo of the song is another area you will want to focus on so make sure to listen to the original piece if you really want to play this one well.
3. Iron Maiden – The Trooper
You’ll find a much more galloping rhythm in this heavy metal number from Iron Maiden which was originally released in 1983. It’s a completely different song from other metal bands that were around at the same time. Because Iron Maiden were so different to the other bands out there they quickly gained the fandom of heavy metal fans around the world. The song itself has a great sound to it with lead guitar lead riffs being harmonized together.
So what makes this an easy metal song? Well, the fingerpicking style is fine for beginners because it’s pretty laid back compared to the rhythm. It’s the techniques you need to gain this tempo that will push you further and make you a better overall guitar player. Learn the tricks set out in this song and you may even be able to improvise some elements as you gain more confidence as you play.
4. Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train
Even though Ozzy was booted from the band he still went on to make songs that are fun to play for beginner guitar players. When Osbourne released this song in 1980 it was from his first solo album. Without the backing of his brotherhood band many people didn’t think he could deliver, but he shamed them all. This song not only was an instant hit for the now solo performer but it also made it into the list of 40 greatest heavy metal songs of all time. Not too shabby for someone who was booted from their own band.
The guitar riff used right from the beginning of Crazy Train is probably one of the best things about this song. It’s truly iconic and has plenty of licks that are also easy to play so that you can add these to your metal bag of tricks. Your fingers are going to get a workout so be warned, but the payoff is more than worth it.
5. Avenged Sevenfold – This Means War
Another song to really get those fingers moving is this song from Avenged Sevenfold. As a truly 21st century band this piece was released in 2013 and instantly made an electrifying impression to all of those who heard it. There are a lot of different elements that will keep those fingers working and your mind will have to be completely focused on the task at hand – the music.
Fingerpicking is a skill that every guitarist, no matter what genre, has to have and then continue to develop if they want to move on to a more advanced level. There’s a lot of opportunities for a beginner guitarist to master these techniques by trying out this song. Palm-muting is a method included here as well as pull-ups and slides which will all go towards making your heavy metal career a more prosperous one.
6. Metallica – Seek and Destroy
Metallica are masters of making a great guitar riff sound a lot more complicated than it actually is. This fact may be lost on someone who is completely new to this genre and style of music though. Because this it classed as thrash metal from 1983 the actual fingerstyling is much less complicated than you would see from heavy metal pieces in other eras. If you can devote just a few hours of your time to learning this piece then within a few days you should sound like a pro.
What makes this one of the easier songs to play is that the riff actually makes up the melody of the song. This is strange for metal songs because one characteristic that defines the genre is that you can’t recognize the melody. Seek and Destroy goes against the norm and adds in a punchy bassline which makes it even better.
7. AC/DC – Back in Black
Another perfect beginner’s song on the guitar is this hit from AC/DC thanks to the fact the entire song only includes seven chords. There’s a lot of hard rock elements featured despite the song being a metal hit so it will appeal to a lot of fans across the spectrum. A lot of metal songs use special effects to give their songs more character but with this song, they did away with the fancy trickery and focused on the fingerstyling.
Don’t be scared, but the fingering you have to do on the fretboard will be difficult if you are an absolute beginner. There’s plenty of sliding and bending the strings which will completely loosen up your joints. If you focus mainly on the basics of the piece and its musicality you will be able to learn the song.
8. Slayer – Raining Blood
Raining Blood has a guitar intro that truly scorches the earth whenever it is played. This piece is definitely not for anyone who is faint of heart. The song is a great example of how having a strong core riff played on the guitar can bring a song to life. If you’ve ever looked at the ten most used notes in heavy metal songs then you will see these used here which will give you some familiarity when playing.
The riffs on this are actually chromatic which means it’s a great song for beginners to learn. The lyrics also follow the chord structure closely which is helpful for anyone who wants to be able to play all parts of the song. You will have to be patient though because this is one of the harder entries on our list.
9. System of a Down – Lonely Day
Let’s go back to a relatively easy, fun to play, pretty simple metal song which is ideal for anyone just starting off in this genre. There are five chords you’ll have to use here which include G, Am, F, C and E7. All of these should be easy to play if you’ve learned the very basics of guitar playing. There is an opportunity to transpose the song so that you can use fancier fingerstyles if you want to.
You will have to understand what is involved with arpeggio styling to be able to play both the intro and verses in this System of a Down song. It’s not complicated overall but you do need to be familiar with the technique. There’s an opportunity here to brush up on your finger coordination and also get that finger memory down pat too. The chorus is probably the easiest part of the song because it’s literally basic strumming that’ll sound exactly like the original.
10. Alice in Chains – Rooster
Alice in Chains is classed as a more alternative metal group that produces songs on the grunge rock side of the metal genre. The tempo is pretty fast though so you’ll have to keep up with a BPM of 144. The guitar riff doesn’t match the actual pace of the song but it has been downtuned quite heavily. For any beginner guitarist, this is probably one of, if not the, easiest metal song you could ever want to play.
There are only four chords involved in this one so you won’t have to remember much. The main riff includes chords of E, C, G and A which are pretty much what you learn to play in your first few weeks of guitar lessons. This is a great example of where strumming techniques matter because if you can get this one down, you’ll sound like a metal god.
11. Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love
If you don’t think you’re completely in love with the fingerstyle technique used in metal songs then this piece from Led Zeppelin may be of interest to you. Released in 1969, there are only three chords used throughout this song so it makes it one of the easier entries on our list. We would recommend that you start out by simply strumming these chords although if you want the song to sound like the original, you will eventually need to move on to fingerpicking.
Many metal conneiseurs will argue that Led Zeppelin are rock and definitely no metal. We wouldn’t argue with you – they are absolutely hard rock. But the reason why we’ve included them here is that you can add in distortions which is a classic technique used in metal songs. You can add these in and make the song truly metal once you’ve got the fingerstyling nailed down.
12. Van Halen – Hot for Teacher
The brilliant part of the Hot for Teacher song by Van Halen is that the first minute of the track is full on instrumentation. We’ll ignore the first part because it’s a kick ass drum solo that won’t transpose onto the guitar for obvious reasons. However, it’s after this part that you will want to pay attention to. The musicality is purely electrifying and will absolutely test your coordination and finger flexibility. As a beginner you will want to start out with playing the piece between 120 and 140 BPM. Once you have practiced it a lot you can speed the song up to its original 240 BPM.
You will need ten chords to play the song and nail the main riff. As a beginner you should have a basic grasp of these chords, although the tab can be a bit frightening to look at. You can learn this one at your own pace because there’s no way you will be able to hit all of the notes at the speed of the original song right from the get go. The harmonies are easy to learn and once you get a grasp of the chords you’ll find these are pretty easy too. Start steady and pick up the pace as you become more confident in the music.
13. Metallica – For Whom the Bell Tolls
You can learn pretty much everything you need to know about metal from listening to this band. The clue is in their name, after all. Each part of this song uses a different technique that will improve your overall skills as a guitarist. Start out with both the intro and verses which are pretty easy for beginners to pick up. It’s the solo riff parts that happen throughout the song as well as the chorus that will have you working a bit harder. You’ll need your fingerpicking skills to manage the riffs if you want to play like Randy Rhoads.
By mastering each of the techniques in these riffs you will be well on the road to becoming a true rock and roll player. Get your wah pedal out to practice with on your electric guitar because this is a pretty simple way of giving you that guitar distortion Metallica are known for. Having this accessory also makes the song a lot more fun.
14. Skid Row – Monkey Business
Another classic band from this genre are Skid Row. They have songs which include various techniques so you will have to watch out for the palm muted riff used in this piece. The rhtyhm is what we want you to focus on here because the intro won’t be compelling enough to keep you engaged in the song. It’s the riffs and hooks that you can hear throughout the piece where you can hear that the band took some inspiration from both rock and pop songs.
Because this song has a midtempo rhythm it makes it perfect for beginners to try out their first solo. The fingerstyling won’t take a true master either because it’s much more relaxed to learn than other easy songs we’ve mentioned here. As soon as you have confidence in the main riffs you can go on to learn the chord structures and master the fingerstyling so that you sound just like the original track.
15. AC/DC – Jailbreak
Who doesn’t love a song about breaking the law? This band uses riff with influences from both blues and hard rock to add something new to the genre. They also feature some really impressive riffs that guitar legend Randy Rhoads took inspiration from.
Playing this entry in our easy songs list won’t be too hard for beginners. The challenging parts if you want to do a solo is the slides featured throughout the music. The technique itself isn’t too difficult but mastering that pressure on the string and then moving your fingers at the same time will take some practice. Palm-muting is another classic technique used in parts of this song so make sure to learn the chord structure first and have fun playing these new skills.
Hopefully, you’ll have noticed that the metal guitar riffs really form the heart of the songs. Being able to play even the most basic main riff from any of the songs we’ve listed here will help your guitar playing skills a lot. Working your way through this list, you’ll have to use plenty of patience because this is very much a harder genre of music and tabs to work with. As long as you are committed and determined to what you are playing, you’ll get the hang of metal songs in no time.