I've been an online writer for over seven years. My articles often focus on heavy metal albums and heavy metal artists.
Often frowned upon for being harsh and unemotional, metal music actually has more than its fair share of beautiful songs. I’ve compiled a list of my top ten here. In deciding what songs to put on my list, my rule was that only one song from any given band could be listed so that no bands are repeated.
Please also note that not every song listed is a ballad. I’ve also tried to stick with some more well-known bands, though I’ve covered a few different genres. The list is not ordered and shouldn’t be considered a definitive top ten of anything. I don’t even consider it a list of my personal favorite “beautiful” songs. It’s just ten songs that are beautiful that I think people should hear, particularly my fellow metalheads.
1. Enisferum, "Eternal Wait"
Ensiferum are a Finnish folk metal band; one of the leaders of the genre. Complete with growls, clean male vocals, and clean female vocals, “Eternal Wait” is the ultimate folk metal ballad. The song moves between brilliantly placed clean guitars, and moody distorted riffs. The highlight of the song is the vocals. They are all incredibly well-done, with the female vocals adding more to the chorus. Most of the vocals are extremely layered, as well. The song is from the band’s first album, which is one of the few albums that I would consider perfect. “Eternal Wait” is a truly beautiful song. Go check out the album!
2. Nightwish, "The Pharaoh Sails to Orion"
Nightwish are another Finnish band, and they are generally better known than Ensiferum. I had a difficult time picking out this song, because the band has a discography chock full of beautiful music. I chose “The Pharaoh Sails to Orion” for its subtle beauty and the fact that it’s still full of metal intensity. The biggest draw to the song is the trade-off from opera vocals to a nearly harsh male vocal. The structure of the song is also quite impressive, being nearly undefined (aside from that piano riff and the verses) until the chorus repeats itself at the end of the song. It seems like a lot was fit into the meager six minutes, but it sure does work well. I would recommend the whole “Oceanborn” album, as it’s a perfect release.
3. Death, "Voice of the Soul"
One of the greatest instrumental bands of all time, the death metal band Death could clearly compose beautiful music too. “Voice of the Soul” was on the band’s final album, The Sound of Perseverance. Both clean and distorted guitar lines grace the song, and there are many memorable parts to be found. It’s very guitar-driven, with the other instruments playing hardly any role at all. The mood and atmosphere are brilliant as well. The song builds into a flurry of guitars, only to calm back down into a relaxing end. Anyone who hasn’t heard this song should check it out immediately.
4. Metallica, "Fade to Black"
Probably the most recognized song on this list, “Fade to Black” is one of the best ballad songs ever. The melodies are simply pretty, and it helps that the song was carefully placed on the best Metallica album of them all. Too bad they couldn’t keep this great momentum up. I’m sure everyone reading this is already familiar with the song, but I’ll describe it anyway. “Fade to Black” begins with nice and pretty acoustic guitars, but its chorus is completely heavy (and without vocals). It builds into a bridge with some of the best riffing Metallica has ever done, and the song bows out with a long guitar solo. I was going to say “The Call of Ktulu” instead of this one, but I changed my mind.
5. Amorphis, "Black Winter Day"
One of the most beautiful songs from one of the most beautiful albums ever made, “Black Winter Day” is a masterpiece. Released in 1994 on the legendary Tales from the Thousand Lakes album, “Black Winter Day” is the signature song from their older work. The way the band mixes brooding piano lines into melodic, yet crushing, death metal riffs is completely incredible. This was the first Amorphis song I ever fell in love with, and it’s one of the best for sure. The melodies are gorgeous on both the guitar and piano. I’ve always been a fan of the vocals on this song in particular. Seriously I would just buy the whole Tales from the Thousand Lakes album if you’re even contemplating listening to this.
6. Theatre of Tragedy, "A Hamlet for a Slothful Vassal"
That title is a mouthful! The best song from the signature gothic metal band is a beauty in and of itself. From the melancholy guitar lines to the happy piano parts, everything just works in the most beautiful of ways. Released in 1995 as the opening track on the band’s self-titled debut album, "A Hamlet for a Slothful Vassal” is four minutes of dynamic art. The most noticeable thing about the song is the unique vocal contrast; the band features a soft female voice and a death growler. This is another one where I would recommend buying the whole album, because it’s really good. Their second and third albums are quite beautiful, as well. I’ve written a review for their third album, Aegis, on this website.
7. Iron Maiden, "Mother Russia"
This Iron Maiden song is not only beautiful, but also one of the band’s most underrated tracks. It’s the last track from their 1990 album No Prayer for the Dying, an underrated effort as a whole. The backing choir vocals are extremely well-placed during the song, as well as the use of undistorted guitars. The riffs are regal and theatrical, and the vocals are top-notch. I also find the marching rhythm to be quite pleasing. I would highly recommend this song to any Maiden fans who haven’t heard it. It’s their lost gem.
8. Judas Priest, "Beyond the Realms of Death"
I actually don’t generally have much of an emotional connection to Judas Priest’s songs, but this is a sad song for sure. It’s one of the best from the album Stained Class, which was released in 1978.
Since Stained Class is most likely my second favorite Priest album, I’m obviously a fan of this song. The happiness of the chorus coupled with the lyrical content is haunting. I love the contrast between soft and heavy, which adds a good dynamic to the song. I’m sure most people reading this already know the song, but if anyone doesn’t I would suggest listening to it.
9. Candlemass, "Solitude"
The opening track from their 1986 album Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, “Solitude” is a classic in its own right. This is a prime example of a sad, beautiful song. The moody vocals compliment the apocalyptic guitar parts. I love how the main riff is extremely simple, yet effective. I also love the clean guitar intro. The vocalist sounds a little silly at times, but his range is incredible. The atmosphere is bleak and foreboding, just like it should be with the doom metal genre.
10. Dream Theater, "Metropolis Part 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper"
Here’s the necessary inclusion of the flagship progressive metal band, Dream Theater. “Metropolis Part 1” is one of my favorite songs from the band. It was initially released in 1992 on the band’s sophomore album, Images and Words, which is widely regarded as a classic in the prog-metal genre. It features my favorite performance from vocalist James LaBrie; he really shines on this song. Something that I really like about this song is that it doesn’t get old during its nine-minute duration. The diversity and complexity of the sounds within the song is stunning. The lyrical concept is also intriguing and even sparked a whole album (Metropolis Pt. II: Scenes from a Memory) as a sequel. I would recommend listening to the whole Images and Words album if you enjoy this song. It’s somewhat similar to the rest of the songs on that album.
So that’s it. Ten beautiful metal songs. This was a bit difficult for me to create, since I can think of many more songs. So I've added his handy honorable mentions section.
- Tristania- “Evenfall”
- Agalloch- “She Painted Fire across the Skyline”
- Eluveitie- “The Endless Knot”
- Black Sabbath- “Wheels of Confusion”
- Immortal- “At the Heart of Winter”
- Blind Guardian- “Nightfall”
- Sonata Arctica- “Full Moon”
- Leaves’ Eyes- “Ocean’s Way”
- Opeth- “Forest of October”
- November’s Doom- “A Dirge of Sorrow”
- Insomnium- “Daughter of the Moon”
© 2012 TheHeavyReview
Smr on March 15, 2020:
You cant just forget TORNADO OF SOULS
Roach on November 23, 2019:
Theatre of tragedy always
Anthony on June 23, 2019:
What about Scream of the Butterfly or Graveflower by Acid Bath?
Joe McGuigan on April 15, 2018:
you have forgotten Nargaroth
they are very poetic
daniel weisglass on May 29, 2017:
Glad to know im not the only one who loves Mother russia. iron Maiden has a lot of underrated tracks, like revelations or the legacy!
Jake Clawson from Kazakhstan on April 24, 2017:
Huge melodeath fan here and I like your selection. Well done. For me it was a hard battle between Iron Maiden and Ensiferum.
WhoCaresYou'reNotReadingThisAnyway on February 28, 2017:
I know this list I see pretty old, but there is one really underrated song called, "The last song." By Edge of Sanity. It honestly still makes me choke up.
Kyle Obergfell on November 09, 2016:
IDK how you got "mother russia" from 36 amazing years of Maiden..
I don't get that one..
FWIW.. "To tame a land"
Akarat on August 07, 2015:
Some of my favourites:
Nothing More - God Went North
Agalloch - She Painted Fire Across the Skyline
Symphony X - Paradise Lost
Kamelot - Memento Mori
Spawn of Posession - Apparition (in a strange way)
And who could forget the epic solo at the end of The Best of Times by Dream Theater?
Felix on March 21, 2015:
I'm not so happy with some choices (Mother Russia? trade for Afraid to Shoot Strangers or Fear of the Dark... although I really liked to see Immortal in the Honorable Mentions.) but I feel a band that has been most unjustly left out are The 3rd and the Mortal. Not only were they the first to play "serious" metal combined with clear female vocals, they do actually have some of the most beautiful metal songs of all time, like "Ring of Fire" and "Death Hymn".
Oh and btw let me suggest Aaralyn - "Zombie Skin" :D
Akshat on May 06, 2014:
You know, this list is extremely impressive, but lacks, so, oh SO many artists that aren't well recognized! I wish i could suggest some additions!
metal ballads on November 18, 2013:
facts, quotes and pictures on
melodethrasher on September 14, 2013:
Good list. And because I love metal songs that are beautiful, so here are some of my favorites (in no particular order):
-Megadeth - A Tout Le Monde
-Megadeth - Promises
-Insomnium - Lay The Ghost To Rest
-Insomnium - Weighed Down With Sorrow
-Isnomnium - Where The Last Wave Broke
-Dark Tranquillity - Misery's Crown
-Dark Tranquillity - Lethe
-Dark Tranquillity - Uniformity
-Testament - The Legacy
-Hypocrisy - Living To Die
-Hypocrisy - Slippin' Away
-Watain - They Rode On
-Pain of Salvation - Undertow
-Toxik - There Stood The Fence
-Tool - 10 000 Days (Wings, Part 2)
-Omnium Gatherum - Who Could Say
These are some of those powerful, emotional songs that I can listen to on repeat for hours.
Stan Murphy from Kansas on June 26, 2013:
I love metal/rock lists like this. They have often introduced me to bands I might not have found on my own. I have no argument with your list as I think many of the songs on it are quite emotional. While I am not a huge fan of doom metal, To Grieve Forever by While Heaven Wept is one of my all time emotional favorites.
TheHeavyReview (author) on June 05, 2013:
Thanks for commenting, Jobo! Like I said before, I dig "A Tout Le Monde" but I don't feel that it's as multi-layered as some of the other songs I chose. It is a classic, though.
Jobo on February 13, 2013:
A Tout Le Monde by Megadeth deserves a top position there...
TheHeavyReview (author) on October 30, 2012:
Thanks again for commenting! \m/
Mikhail on October 29, 2012:
TheHeavyReview (author) on October 27, 2012:
Thanks for reading and commenting, Mikhail! "Mother Russia" is, indeed, extremely underrated. "A Tout Le Monde" is a good song, and definitely beautiful. However, I just don't find it as interesting or as multi-layered as the other songs I chose which is why it's not included.
Mikhail on October 26, 2012:
"Mother Russia" is extremely underrated. Although I'm a little surprised at this list's lack of "A Tout Le Monde" by Megadeth.
TheHeavyReview (author) on October 02, 2012:
You're completely right, Sidewinder6661! Believe it or not, I didn't find much beauty in music until I listened to metal. It's certainly a meaningful and thought-provoking genre. Thanks very much for reading and commenting!
Leese Wright from Manchester, UK on October 02, 2012:
There's definitely a misconception about metal music in general from those who don't know anything (or enough) about it. Metal can be just as emotional, touching and meaningful as any other genre... and often even more so! There are plenty of metal songs that have really made me stop and think, and even some that have touched something inside and inspired. Some have even made me cry! Great hub!
TheHeavyReview (author) on September 11, 2012:
Thanks for commenting, MedusaHemlock! Thanks for the recommendations, I knew "A Tout Le Monde" already and it could have definitely been on this list. I'll enjoy checking out the other song too!
Kitty from Brisbane, Australia on September 10, 2012:
Awesome list! i must check them all out. Some others you aught to listen to are- "Thankyou" by Hell Yeah and "A Tout Le Monde" by Megadeth. xx \m/
TheHeavyReview (author) on August 07, 2012:
Thanks for commenting, Omnivium! Metal is definitely beautiful, and yes sometimes in a completely different way than other genres. That's what makes it awesome.
Omnivium on August 06, 2012:
I totally agree that metal can be beautiful...sometimes in a different way than other songs.
TheHeavyReview (author) on July 07, 2012:
Thanks for the comment, MeGustaMetal! I actually considered "Orion" for this list- the soft part where the bass is the primary instrument is particularly beautiful. "Voice of the Soul" is honestly one of the most beautiful songs I've heard, and one of the best metal instrumentals.
MeGustaMetal on July 06, 2012:
Great list, I was really happy to see Voice of the Soul on there. The only change if any that I'd make would be to switch Fade to Black with Orion as the Metallica song, although both are beautiful. Good job.
TheHeavyReview (author) on June 03, 2012:
Thanks for the comment, Didge! I'm really glad you liked it!
Didge from Southern England on June 02, 2012:
:)P Terrific hub and a good addition to Hubpages! Thanks for sharing!
TheHeavyReview (author) on March 30, 2012:
Thanks for the comment Epigramman! I'm glad you enjoyed the hub! Led Zeppelin are legends, you're very lucky to have seen them live. I almost added them to this hub, but I wasn't sure if they were "metal enough". I have seen one documentary by Sam Dunn, but I don't know if it's the one you're talking about. It was called "Metal: A Headbangers Journey". Thanks for the invite to your group, but unfortunately I don't have a facebook account. I'll see if I can find it though because I have seen pages on facebook without an account. It sounds like a lot of fun, I love to talk music! \m/
epigramman on March 29, 2012:
....well this is a pretty heavy metal hub indeed and a brilliant and passionate one at that - your Led Zeppelin question caught my eye - I was fortunate enough to see Zep perform live back in the day in 1974 in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens with John Bonham - I was 16 years old at the time and you have a grand assortment of music hubs here my friend - I have started a new group at FB called LET'S JUST TALK MUSIC OR CINEMA and I would love to have you join and post some videos or just discuss your favorites in music - my name is Colin Stewart with the same profile picture - so just click the group logo and name for a direct link and I really hope you can make it ......check out Blue Cheer on You Tube for the roots of heavy metal and did you catch that wonderful history of metal doc as directed by Sam Dunn
lake erie time ontario canada 11:44pm
p.s. I have posted your homepage here at the Hub to introduce you to our group with a direct link back here - I am looking for people to join with all kind of musical preferences - if you know of anyone else or of your friends too - please invite them along
TheHeavyReview (author) on March 10, 2012:
Thank you for the comment! I'm glad you liked the hub. I'm always happy to spread the beautiful music around. I must admit that I've never thoroughly listened to Kansas, so I'll be on the lookout for your hub. Thanks for voting up!
Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on March 10, 2012:
Wow, I am so duly impressed... I voted in my Metallica but have bookmarked to get to know many others... what a beautifully awesome mix that I will thoroughly enjoy getting to know. I must say that I can hear strains of my all time favorite(will be the "K" of my little series... and surely dates me, ala Kansas) in some of the tunes you have selected.
Thrilled to meet you--voted UP & AB! Hugs, mar.
TheHeavyReview (author) on March 01, 2012:
I think you're right, it is from "Mob Rules". I'll have to check out Mastodon now. The closest I've come to sludge metal would either be Sleep or the Melvins, although Sleep might be better called "stoner" metal (haha). I should listen to "Leviathan" sometime soon.
Steve Orion from Tampa, Florida on March 01, 2012:
Yeah the Sign of the Southern Cross was a Dio song that Sabbath did on... I wanna say Mob Rules? Great tune, in any case!
As for mastodon, that is funny you should ask. The Hunter was a song from their last album, also called The Hunter, which was only ok compared to their previous albums. I've a review of what I would call their best album, Leviathan. Primarily, they would be labeled as "sludge metal" due to their mostly distorted guitars and rough-er vocals. On of my top ten bands, by far!
TheHeavyReview (author) on February 29, 2012:
Hey Steve Orion! I definitely agree with "Solitude" and "Planet Caravan". I feel like I've heard "Sign of the Southern Cross" but not in a while... I'll have to check it out. I'm aware of the other bands you mentioned, but I've never listened to them in depth. How do you like Mastodon? I've known about them forever but never listened before. There are tons of beautiful metal songs and metal albums in general, which is why it's so ironic that people classify metal as violent.
Steve Orion from Tampa, Florida on February 29, 2012:
After looking through my playlist, I found some good metal songs with softer sides:
KoRn- Hollow Life
KoRn- Throw Me Away
Mastodon- The Hunter
Tool- 10,000 Days (more progressive but still beautiful)
Black Sabbath- Solitude
Black Sabbath- Planet Caravan
Black Sabbath- Sign of the Southern Cross
It seems that there is quite a number of beautiful metal songs.
TheHeavyReview (author) on February 29, 2012:
Thanks for the comment! I hope you enjoy the songs. I definitely love the Metallica and Judas Priest songs.
Shinkicker from Scotland on February 29, 2012:
I have to admit that I only know the Metallica and Judas Priest songs. So I'll enjoy listening to the rest.
TheHeavyReview (author) on February 26, 2012:
Thanks for the comment! I love Amorphis, their old work was incredible. "Black Winter Day" might be my favorite song from the list... but it's hard to decide. I'm glad you liked the hub!
MrEction on February 26, 2012:
Awesome hub. All the songs are great, but I haven't heard Amorphis in years. Thanks!
TheHeavyReview (author) on February 26, 2012:
Thanks for telling me about the video, and thanks for the comment! Those two songs are definitely the standard for "beautiful" metal songs. I love "Mother Russia", it's one of my favorite Maiden tunes. Glad you liked it!
Steve Orion from Tampa, Florida on February 26, 2012:
So you know, the first video does not allow embedding. As for the others, the two that came to mind immediately were Beyond the Realms of Death and Fade to Black before I even clicked the Hub! The others I'm unaware of other than Maiden's powerful tune. Another quality Hub, thanks!