The Most Underrated Metallica Song On Every Album

Metallica is kind of the North Star of heavy metal music — it's right there in the band's name, after all. Since forming in Los Angeles in 1981, Metallica has redefined the genre, proving that speed, ferocity, and musical complexity aren't mutually exclusive. Four decades later, it's easy to forget just how revolutionary their sound was when they released Kill 'Em All in 1983, because so many bands working today owe their own sound to this legendary band. As they enter their fifth decade of recording and performing, Metallica's iconic status is unquestioned, and their fans are among some of the most dedicated in music.

That doesn't mean every song gets its due. Over the course of their career, Metallica has officially released 12 studio albums and 173 songs —and some of those songs are so incredibly well-known it's easy for even big fans to overlook some hidden gems. When you think "Metallica" you probably think of classics like "Master of Puppets" or "Enter Sandman," but every album has its deep cuts, songs that don't necessarily grab your ear immediately but require some time to appreciate, songs that simply aren't played every day. Here's a list of the most underrated Metallica song on every album.

"No Remorse" — Kill 'Em All

The eighth song on Metallica's 1983 debut album gets overlooked because it's not "Seek and Destroy" or "Hit the Lights" (or "Am I Evil?," a cover usually associated with their first album even though it's not actually on there). But if you were looking for a song that almost perfectly captures everything that made Metallica's sound so special, you'd find it in "No Remorse."

Loudwire calls the song a "lurching, speed metal powerhouse," and that seeming contradiction — how can something be both speedy and lurching — captures the reason why Kill 'Em All made such an impact. "No Remorse" opens as a mid-tempo number with a catchy guitar riff — and then, as Louder explains, things get really interesting. The song takes its sweet time ramping up, with Kirk Hammett soaring in with a searing guitar solo before the song introduces the main riff. It's more than a minute before James Hetfield begins to sing. And then, a few minutes into the track, everything shifts on a dime, speeding up and soaring into an extended outro.

This song is the perfect delivery of the revolutionary sound Metallica forged — part speed metal, part punk rock, part horror movie soundtrack. The song's lyrics, dealing with the way soldiers are expected to not think about the people they kill in battle, were outshined by flashier songs on their debut, but musically this is near perfect from start to finish.

"Trapped Under Ice" — Ride the Lightning

By the time Metallica's second album, Ride the Lightning, was released in 1984, the band was already considered one of the founding bands of thrash metal. For fans, just about every song on this album is considered a classic, but one song still deserves more attention than it usually gets — "Trapped Under Ice."

First things first. As pointed out by The Pit, James Hetfield's singing performance on this song is insane. This song is super fast and complex, but he keeps up and manages to deliver a melody through the madness. It's amazing, frankly, and should be exhibit number one any time someone claims that heavy metal singers just scream.

Musically, the song is as intricate and energetic as any of Metallica's best — but the long, howling bridge is what really sets this song apart. With its galloping rhythm and Hetfield's pitch-perfect performance of rage, fear, and frustration, this is a song that was scientifically designed for a mosh pit.

Finally, as noted by I Love Classic Rock, lyrically the song is intense. Imagine being cryogenically frozen and waking up — but being trapped inside your own body. It's a terrifying concept and matches perfectly with the intense performance.

"Leper Messiah" — Master of Puppets

It's this simple — if this song had been on any other album, it would have been the standout track. If some other, lesser-known band had released this song, it would have made their careers. But because it's the sixth song on Master of Puppets — perhaps the greatest thrash metal album ever — it gets overlooked.

Written about the hypocrisy of televangelism, "Leper Messiah" combines dextrous syncopation and a heavy, descending riff to create a mood that can be best described as "doom." In fact, that riff is so good Ultimate Guitar reminds us that Dave Mustaine (who acrimoniously left Metallica before their first album, going on to form Megadeth) has tried to claim it as his own.

As noted by Louder, the song establishes a pulsing "marching" rhythm for its first four minutes or so before taking a sudden leap in tempo when the absolutely insane guitar solo kicks in. It's a song by a band so confident in its art it can just casually introduce different movements every few minutes, shifting tempo and adding in layered riffs without losing the core thread tying the whole thing together.

In the end, being the sixth-best song on Master of Puppets is pretty great, and this song should get more play.

"The Frayed Ends of Sanity" — ... And Justice for All

Metallica's fourth album remains a little controversial because of its extremely odd mix that left the bass almost inaudible and the drums sounding thin (a remastering helped matters, but it's still a heavy metal album with a distinct lack of "heavy"). While those technical issues are unfortunate, 1988's ... And Justice for All remains perhaps Metallica's greatest achievement in terms of composition. The songs on this album are killer — and remain some of the most complex arrangements in the band's history. And perhaps the most complex of all is "The Frayed Ends of Sanity."

As noted by Noise Creep, the song's arrangement is legendarily tight, moving through several distinct sections smoothly, and James Hetfield's vocal performance is fantastic. According to Consequence of Sound, the song's complexity is so distinct drummer Lars Ulrich has said that's why the band has never played the song live in its entirety — until 2014, when the band launched the Metallica by Request Tour, which allowed fans to vote on the songs they wanted to hear at each stop. 

BraveWords reports that when fans voted for "The Frayed Ends of Sanity," Ulrich said, "We had like two weeks or something to learn this song. You kind of sit there, 20 years later, with the combination of bemusement and horror on your face and go like, 'What the f**k were we thinking?”"

"The God That Failed" — Metallica

1991's Metallica — aka The Black Album — was the band's mainstream breakthrough. While some fans were dismayed that the band softened aspects of its sound and introduced poppier elements into some of the songs, the strategy worked. The album went to number one just about everywhere, and Billboard tells us it has sold more than 16 million copies.

For folks who bought the album because of songs like "Enter Sandman" and "Sad but True," the tenth song on the album might have been too deep a cut to appreciate. But for long-time fans, "The God That Failed" is one of the better tracks on the album. It's a little slower than their iconic earlier work, but the riffs are just as catchy, and the song is heavy. From the opening, looping bass line to the sharp, emotional chorus, there's a reason Loudwire calls it "Metallica's most brutal and painful song."

And as The Pit points out, there's a brutal rage underlying the song (it's about James Hetfield's anger that his Christian Scientist mother refused medical treatment for her cancer, believing God would cure her) that you can totally feel. But the song's secret is how that anger is constrained by an intricate arrangement and plenty of incredible little touches, focusing it and directing it into a great piece of music.

"The Outlaw Torn" — Load

This one's official– in 2019, Kerrang! held a public vote on the most underrated Metallica song, and the fans overwhelmingly chose "The Outlaw Torn" from their 1996 album Load.

After the immense success of 1991's Metallica, the band took five years to release Load, bowing to the pressure of trying to match that success. Load was a huge hit, and songs like "Ain't My Bitch" and "Hero of the Day" could be heard everywhere during the summer of 1996. But the song that has displayed true staying power is the slow-burn, nearly ten-minute long closing track. As noted by Audio Ink Radio, "The Outlaw Torn" was overshadowed by the bigger splash made by those other songs, but the song's loose, emotional feel has aged better, and it's only gotten more and more popular with time.

The song is a master class in shifting between soft and loud, taking time to explore the dynamics of its riffs, and contains some of the most expansive and experimental guitar licks the band has ever laid down. James Hetfield holds it all together with his simmering vocal, crafting a desolate, angry persona and packing in decades' worth of experience into one huge performance. It's a song you might have skipped in June of 1996, rushing to get to the flashier stuff — but it's a song you're still coming back to nearly 30 years later.

"Fixxxer" — Reload

If you divide Metallica's career into eras, Reload marks the end of its middle period — a period of massive sales and success but also experimentation with their sound that alienated some fans. Reload has a looser, classic rock feel to it and is often regarded as the lesser album to 1996's Load (the two albums were originally conceived as a double album).

But if you push through the album's back end, which is filled with songs most fans consider to be mediocre by the band's high standards, you get to the epic closing track, "Fixxxer," which elevates the entire album. As noted by Heavy Music Headquarters, what sets "Fixxxer" apart is something you don't usually associate with Metallica — the groove. The song has a slinky, steady core to it that shows a mastery of rhythm and pacing. What people forget is that a band that can handle six time changes and tempo shifts in the space of an eight-minute song can also slow things down and get into a pocket so tight you can't resist. That's "Fixxxer."

And as Ultimate Guitar points out, the song also has one of the best choruses the band has ever written. Combined with that pulsing, steady attack it's a recipe for a fantastic — if often overlooked — song.

"Astronomy" — Garage Inc.

Fans who have been with Metallica since the beginning have fond memories of 1987's The $5.98 E.P.— Garage Days Re-Revisited, a collection of cover songs that marked the first time the band recorded with Jason Newsted after the death of their founding bassist Cliff Burton. As noted by Billboard, that classic blast of punk and metal went out of print in 1989, so in 1998 the band included it in their only official album of covers — Garage Inc.

The album contains the classic covers Metallica fans love, like "Breadfan," "Am I Evil?," and "Last Caress/Green Hell." But it's most-overlooked cover is also its most unexpected — a fantastic interpretation of Blue Öyster Cult's 1974 song, "Astronomy."

The original song is a progressive rock jam, airy and ethereal with complex guitar licks weaving around each other. As noted by Heavy Music Headquarters, Metallica preserves the epic, overblown vibe of the original while hardening the riffs and giving the rhythm section more weight. It remains a prog-rock masterpiece but with a sense of menace that the original lacked. According to Ultimate Guitar, even the song's co-writer (and Blue Öyster Cult bassist), Joe Bouchard, thought the cover was an improvement, saying, "Some of the fans still love the original version better, but to me, they did a brilliant job."

"My World" — St. Anger

Metallica's 2003 album, St. Anger, is probably its most divisive. Once again the sound is weird, with Lars Ulrich's drums sounding distractingly hollow. And the album is a mood, and that mood is really, really angry. The overall sound of the album is a departure — it's raw and messy, with some songs sounding almost like extended rehearsals compared to the perfect arrangements of prior records.

In fact, the whole album is probably underrated — it's messy, sure, but it's a glorious mess, and you can tell Metallica is trying to push their own boundaries here. And the song where it all comes together is "My World," easily one of the most underrated Metallica songs of all time. As Louder notes, the song is powerful and affecting in the way it conveys pain and confusion, and the slow build of speed and volume is deceptively complex — the song sounds like it was written on the spot, but the interplay of guitar, bass, and drums is probably one of the most intricate in the band's history.

Encroaching insanity is a classic song topic for the band, and that's one reason Audio Ink Radio describes the song as "brisk" and "high energy" (not to mention "one of the band's strongest songs of the 21st century"). The emotional build of the song is absolutely incredible.

"Suicide and Redemption" — Death Magnetic

St. Anger left a lot of Metallica fans confused. It's weird production sound and the raw, sometimes rambling nature of the songs made the whole thing feel a bit unfinished. It received some of the most lukewarm reviews of the band's career. Five years later, they roared back with Death Magnetic, an album that was a return to both their classic sound — albeit spiced with their hard rock and bluesy experiments of the 1990s and early 2000s — and to their form. 

It's such a return to their roots, in fact, that the album includes their first instrumental in 20 years — the epic, roiling "Suicide and Redemption," one of the songs on the album Audioeclectica says "really capture that old school vibe." This song is a brilliant example of arranging a song — it's all build. It's unrelenting as it weaves what Stereogum calls "winding riff-mazes." On first listen the guitar interplay might seem crowded, but over time intricate patterns emerge.

That said, the song isn't just underrated — it's also insanely divisive. If you like it, you love it. If you hate it you can't stop talking about how much you hate it. It's intense, moody, and a real flex for a band trying to remind the world that when it comes to heavy metal, they still mattered. This is a song that wears its complexity as a badge of honor.

"Junior Dad" — Lulu

Lulu, the 2011 album Metallica recorded with Lou Reed, is ... weird. The final studio recording by the legendary Reed, the album is based on two plays by playwright Frank Wedekind. Reed wrote the lyrics and sang, while Metallica largely wrote and arranged the music. It's a fascinating collaboration and totally unlike anything Metallica had ever done before.

While most of the album is a bit too experimental for most Metallica fans, the closing track, "Junior Dad," is, simply put, a beautiful song. Pivoting off a gently catchy guitar riff, it builds to what Metal Injection calls "symphonic grandeur," with Reed's moody, tragic vocals the perfect match to the elegiac tone of the music.

As Blabbermouth reports, guitarist Kirk Hammett isn't shy about giving this song the credit it's due. He singled out the song, saying that it was "one of the best things we've ever been associated with, in terms of real art and literature and music coming together. That, to me, is a real accomplishment, just as much as 'Ride The Lightning' is." This song might not be every Metallica fan's cup of tea, but you owe it to yourself to give it a listen, if only to know what the band is capable of.

"Here Comes Revenge" — Hardwired... to Self-Destruct

2016's Hardwired ... to Self-Destruct saw Metallica putting any self-doubt aside and concentrating on just making some seriously rocking music. While the days when they were the biggest band in the world are long gone, the album proved that they're still the best at what they do.

"Here Comes Revenge" isn't overlooked or underrated in terms of this single album — it's underrated in terms of Metallica's entire catalog. As Spectrum Culture notes, this is a song that in terms of style and composition could have been an outtake from ... And Justice for All. The riffs, tempo shifts, and snarling vocals are all vintage Metallica, but the band includes polish and grace notes you wouldn't have found on a song recorded by a younger version of the band. Las Vegas Weekly said the song has "the epic thrash of the band's '80s work with the groove and swagger of their underrated '90s output," and they are not wrong.

Best of all, Kirk Hammett lays down an absolutely searing guitar solo in the middle that reminds everyone why he's actually the most underrated guitarist in rock music.