Music

The Best '80s Metal Songs 

Ranker Music
Updated June 8, 2020 25.2k votes 1.3k voters 19.8k views 111 items

What are the best metal songs from the decade that brought the genre from the fringe it enjoyed in the 1970s to the mainstream in the '80s? To answer that question, let's rank the best '80s metal songs that truly defined the decade and inspired all of the metal acts that followed in the '90s and beyond.

The 1980s is one of the best decades to feature metal music thanks to the growing popularity of the genre. These were the years that Ozzy Osbourne killed it with solo hits like "Crazy Train" and Iron Maiden hit the airwaves with "Wrathchild." Slayer's "Angel of Death" kicked off the band's opening track of their 1986 album Reign in Blood with an analysis of Dr. Joseph Mengele and his actions during WWII. That level of depth was especially common in '80s metal, which is one of the reasons the genre solidified itself during the decade. Some other incredible tracks from the age of hair bands include Dio's "Holy Diver," Exodus' "Strike of the Beast," and Motorhead's "Ace of Spades."

Vote up your favorite '80s metal songs on this ranked list, and add any tracks that aren't here already.

list ordered by
1
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Metallica

Albums: Master of Puppets

Composer: James Hetfield, Cliff Burton, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett

Length (seconds): 8:38

2
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Dio

Albums: Holy Diver

Composer: Dio, Ronnie James Dio

Length (seconds): 5:48

More Holy Diver 

#3,249 of 3,866 The Best Songs Of All Time, Ranked #1 of 12 Metal Songs About Fantasy Realms #113 of 284 The Best Rock Songs Of The '80s, Ranked

3
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Ozzy Osbourne

Albums: Blizzard of Ozz

Composer: Ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoads, Bob Daisley

Length (seconds): 4:51

4
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Metallica

Albums: …and Justice for All

Composer: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich

Producer: Metallica, Flemming Rasmussen

Length (seconds): 7:26

5
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mscol2016 added Run to the Hills  Iron Maiden

Date Recorded: 1982

Albums: The Number of the Beast

6
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7
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Breaking The Law Judas Priest
8
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Metallica

Albums: Ride the Lightning

Composer: James Hetfield, Cliff Burton, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett

Length (seconds): 6:54

9
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Dio

Albums: Holy Diver, Sacred Heart, Dream Evil

Composer: Ronnie James Dio, Vivian Campbell, Vinny Appice, Jimmy Bain

Length (seconds): 4:15

More Rainbow In The Dark 

#3,159 of 3,866 The Best Songs Of All Time, Ranked #24 of 90 The Greatest Songs That Are Ruined By Laptop Speakers #8 of 70 The Best Metal Songs About Depression

10
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Guns N' Roses

Albums: Appetite for Destruction

Composer: Axl Rose, Guns N' Roses, Slash

Length (seconds): 4:33

11
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Metallica

Albums: Kill 'Em All

Composer: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich

Length (seconds): 6:55

12
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Ozzy Osbourne

Albums: Bark at the Moon

Composer: Ozzy Osbourne, Jake E. Lee, Bob Daisley

Length (seconds): 4:16

13
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Iron Maiden

Albums: The Number of the Beast

Composer: Steve Harris

Length (seconds): 7:9

More Hallowed Be Thy Name 

#3,297 of 3,866 The Best Songs Of All Time, Ranked #1 of 170 The Best Iron Maiden Songs of All Time #12 of 15 The Most Harrowing Songs About The Executioner

14
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Nick McGurk added Mötley Crüe

Albums: Shout at the Devil

Composer: Nikki Sixx

Length (seconds): 3:15

More Shout at the Devil 

#8 of 44 The Best Metal Songs About the Devil #114 of 284 The Best Rock Songs Of The '80s, Ranked #4 of 146 The Best Songs About The Devil

15
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Clark Benson added Black Sabbath

Albums: Heaven and Hell

Composer: Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward

Length (seconds): 6:10

More Heaven and Hell 

#30 of 90 The Greatest Songs That Are Ruined By Laptop Speakers #54 of 124 The Best Songs About Heaven #4 of 130 The Best Songs About Hell

16
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Slayer

Albums: Reign in Blood

Composer: Jeff Hanneman, Kerry King

Length (seconds): 4:57

17
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Iron Maiden

Albums: Powerslave

Composer: Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson, Adrian Smith

Producer: Martin Birch

Length (seconds): 5:50

18
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Metallica

Albums: Ride the Lightning

Composer: James Hetfield, Cliff Burton, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett

Length (seconds): 6:36

19
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Nick McGurk added Megadeth

Albums: Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?, Risk, Countdown to Extinction

Composer: Dave Mustaine

Producer: Dave Mustaine, Randy Burns

Length (seconds): 4:2

More Peace Sells 

#17 of 38 The Best Songs About Peace #2 of 32 The Best Songs With Sell in the Title

20
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Metallica

Albums: Kill 'Em All

Composer: James Hetfield, Dave Mustaine, Lars Ulrich

Length (seconds): 7:13

21
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Mötley Crüe

Albums: Dr. Feelgood

Composer: Mötley Crüe, Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars

Length (seconds): 4:49

22
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Nick McGurk added Ratt

Albums: Out of the Cellar

Composer: Ratt, Robbin Crosby, Warren DeMartini, Stephen Pearcy

Length (seconds): 4:24

More Round & Round 

#3,501 of 3,866 The Best Songs Of All Time, Ranked #67 of 142 The Greatest Songs by One-Hit Wonders #10 of 13 Metal Songs With Legitimately Romantic Lyrics

23
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The Last in Line Dio

Albums: The Last in Line

Composer: Ronnie James Dio, Vivian Campbell, Jimmy Bain

Length (seconds): 5:47

24
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Clark Benson added Def Leppard

Albums: High 'n' Dry

Composer: Joe Elliott, Steve Clark, Pete Willis

Producer: Robert Lange

Length (seconds): 4:33

25
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Metallica

Albums: Master of Puppets

Composer: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett

Length (seconds): 8:16