Top Ten Things that a Metal Song May Have to Make It Unique

Metal songs are a unique genre... they have a distinct sound and that sound is very important.

The Top Ten

1 Guitar riffs

Thrash Metal songs have a lot of good guitar riffs, mostly the fast shredding, but others like the ones you find in Blackened by Metallica may be slower but are harder to play.

Metal riffs are so amazing that very often I listen to some metal songs for their riffs, even when I don't like some other things in these songs. - Metal_Treasure

2 Speed

Usually this is a good thing, as it makes the song exciting. However, a few genres like Doom Metal are better off being slow, but uses dark rhythms and horror themes in lyrics to make the songs heavy.

Fast metal songs are basically about anger, hatred etc. Slow metal songs is basically about sadness, emotion etc. - zxm

I prefer very fast metal songs. This is a huge part of the excitement. Metal is the fastest music genre in existence. - Metal_Treasure

Sometimes speed can be a bad thing... - TwilightKitsune

3 Strong vocals

Yes, one of the reasons I love metal. Great vocals make metal songs stand out - singing voices with power, range, emotion, real vocal skills and endurance. Especially power metal singers. - Metal_Treasure

This is something you'll find a lot of in Power Metal bands like Blind Guardian. In Thrash Metal and Death Metal, it's mostly screaming, but enjoyable.

4 Drumming

Yes, some metal songs are known for their drumming. Metal drumming is awesome, I love especially the double bass. - Metal_Treasure

The intro drumming of Where the Rain Grows by Helloween and Run To The Hills - Iron Maiden for example. - zxm

Example: Dyers Eve - Metallica. The only song where Lars Ulrich did an extremely good job drumming.
Painkiller - Judas Priest. Known for the drum solo at the beginning of the song.

5 Strong lyrics

Lyrics can be about anything, but they have to be strong - TwilightKitsune

Most Metal songs have good meaningful lyrics, mainly about politics, religion, or struggles. There are so many of these songs, but here are some examples:
Metallica - The Frayed Ends of Sanity
Cannibal Corpse - Hammer Smashed Face
Dio - Rainbow In The Dark

6 Heaviness

See my post on the heaviest metal bands for further info about this.

7 Guitar Solos

True. I like metal songs for it. Especially progressive metal. - zxm

8 A change from the beginning to end of song

Yes, metal songs tend to have progressive structures: bridges, pre-choruses, time signature changes, tempo changes, drum beat changes, switching from clean to screaming/growling vocals, etc. This makes metal songs less repetitive and less monotonous. - Metal_Treasure

Metal songs are usually more complex than other genres, especially Progressive metal songs.
And Justice for All - Metallica
Enemy of God - Kreator
Crystal Mountain - Death
Captive Honour - Megadeth
Metropolis Pt. 1 - Dream Theater

9 Screaming

High-pitched screaming is great. Rob Halford for example. - zxm

This is better in Thrash and Death metal.

10 Growling

The Contenders

11 Bass solos

Bass solo are awesome. - Userguy44

Bass solos make a song more unique. Not only in metal but for all genres. A bassists can do almost everything that a guitarist does. In some cases, a bassists can do more unique things. Cliff Burton for example. - zxm

12 Lots of Solos

Example 1: Hangar 18 (Megadeth) - This song has 11 guitar solos, but nothing important for the bass or drums.

Example 2: Metropolis Pt. 1 (Dream Theater) - This song has some solos, but at least one for each instrument played.

13 Unique Elements

Example: Hells Bells (AC/DC) I know this isn't a metal song, but still. The bells you hear at the beginning and are played throughout the intro riff make this song unique. Metallica did the same thing with For Whom The Bell Tolls, but that song was released afterwards which does NOT make the song special in any way.

14 Tapping Guitar Solos
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