10 Best Metallica Single Releases

Okay, these might not be the ‘Best Metallica Single Releases’ of all-time, since there’s no accounting for taste, but these are definitely my 10 favourite Metallica single releases. Simultaneously, these might also be my favourite Metallica songs. It wasn’t an easy task to pin down only 10 songs, especially since the first five albums are all phenomenal and packed with loads of great tracks, and there are even a bunch of great songs on the post-black album era. Furthermore, some of these single releases include some great B-Side tracks, which add a special heavy metal spice to the release. Here is my selection. What’s yours?

10. Beyond Magnetic (2011)
Metallica Beyond Magnetic (2011)

Although Beyond Magnetic is not an actual single, but a 4-track E.P., I still consider it a valid listing in this ranking. I have to admit that I was not able to like any new music that Metallica released with and after St. Anger. Even Death Magnetic did not pursued this metalhead to praise the band’s new music. However, Beyond Magnetic, which allegedly includes rejected material from Death Magnetic, comes with the raw energy and unconstrained creativity that Metallica is known for. My favourite song on the E.P., Rebel Of Babylon (track 4), reminds me of the band’s golden ear, because of the mood it portrays, aggressive and melodramatic, and the other 3 songs complement the 30-minute release perfectly.

9. Harvester Of Sorrow (1988)
Metallica Harvester Of Sorrow (1988) single

The dragging, mid-tempo Harvester of Sorrow used to be a highlight at Metallica gigs. It is a powerful song that invites energetic head-banging and fist-waving. The B-Side includes cover songs of ‘Breadfan’, originally by Budgie, and ‘The Prince’, originally by Diamond Head. – Track 6 on …And Justice For All.

8. I Disappear (2000)
Metallica I Disappear (2000) single

Not sure why Metallica got so much hate for contributing this song towards Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible soundtrack. I always like the song and the video. The song is dynamic, comes in a great production, and radiates a 90s heavy metal feel. The band’s last great release for many years to come. The CD-single does not include any additional songs.

7. Whiplash (1983)
Metallica Whiplash (1983) single

The song’s speed, anger, dynamics, and that incredible guitar solo still give me shivers. The song might seem raw from a songwriting point of view, but the fact that it works without having to be over-elaborated, is prove enough that Whiplash is another jewel in the band’s catalogue. And the fact that it was the first ever single release of Metallica makes it an even more beautiful jewel. The B-Sides include live versions of Metallica’s ’Seek And Destroy’ and ‘Phantom Lord’. – Track 6 on Kill ‘em All.

6. Hero Of The Day (1996) feat. MotörheadAche Mess
Metallica Hero Of The Day (1996) limited edition MotörheadAche

Hero Of The Day is a so-called power-ballad and atypical for Metallica. The Load album is characterised by more rock melodies and arrangements than the good ol’ thrashin’ that made Metallica a heavy metal powerhouse. Nevertheless, the song still includes certain sound facets and characteristics that this Metallica fan from the black album era loves. The B-Sides on my limited edition MotörheadAche Mess package include four Motörhead covers that were recorded live direct to two-track at the Plant Studios in Sausalito on December 13, 1995 during rehearsal for Lemmy’s 50th Birthday Party at the Whiskey A Go-Go, Los Angeles. Mixed by Randy Staub. The songs are ‘Overkill’, ‘Damage Case’, ‘Stone Deaf Forever’, and ‘Too Late Too Late’. – Track 6 on Load.

5. Jump In The Fire (1983)
Metallica Jump In The Fire (1983) single

Not only the cover of the single is ‘pure metal’ with a red devil standing in the fire. The mood and feel of the song combines a clever riff with thumping drums and dynamic singing. A milestone in heavy metal history. The B-Side includes live versions of Metallica’s ’Seek And Destroy’ and ‘Phantom Lord’, which are not actual live versions, but studio tracks with a live crowd mixed underneath the song. – Track 4 on Kill ‘Em All.

4. One (Japan edition, 1989)
Metallica One (Japan edition, 1989)

Yes, One is the heavy metal song that probably laid the foundation for heavy metal to become mainstream and breaking into popular music. Although the song is considered a ballad, its unbelievable dynamics and energy make it the heavy metal classic, and a masterpiece in music history in general. Especially the remarkable production and sound add to the recognisability of this unique piece of art. Additionally, the clever video lifts the song to new heights. Simply ‘Wow’! The B-Side on this Japanese edition includes a cover version of ‘Breadfan’, originally by Budgie and also to be found on the Harvester Of Sorrow single, live versions of Metallica’s ’For Whom The Bell Tolls’ and ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’, and a demo version of the title-song. – Track 4 on …And Justice For All.

3. Creeping Death (1984)
Metallica Creeping Death (1984) single

Creeping Death is one of Metallica’s more melodic songs from their pre-Jason Newsted era and can be regarded as one of the purest thrash metal songs that characterised the genre. Kirk Hammett’s guitar solo is a revelation and the break-down in the interlude animates any listener to shout out loud. The B-Side includes two fantastic cover songs, ‘Am I Evil?’, originally by Diamond Head, and ‘Blitzkrieg’, originally by Blitzkrieg. – Track 7 on Ride The Lightning.

2. Enter Sandman (1991)
Metallica Enter Sandman (1991) single

Enter Sandman is the song that introduced me to Metallica’s music. I remember being very young, hanging out at my friend’s house, when suddenly MTV played this out-of-this-world guitar riff underlined with a phenomenal video. And then, I was sold. The next thing I knew was that I begged my parents for an early allowance to get the black album. The B-Side includes Metallica’s ‘Holier Than Thou (Work In Progress…)’, an excellent cover of Queen’s ‘Stone Cold Crazy’, and a demo version of ‘Enter Sandman’. – Track 1 on the black album.

1. Master Of Puppets (1986)
Metallica Master Of Puppets (1986) single

Master Of Puppets is the last album release to include the legendary Cliff Burton on bass. Not only is the album a milestone for the band in terms of musicality and songwriting, it also encompasses amongst the most legendary songs in their catalogue, such as the epic title-track Master Of Puppets. The song lives through dynamic arrangements, Metallica’s unique sound and production (kudos to producer Flemming Rasmussen), and a clever instrumental breakdown. The B-Side includes the ballad ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’, which is another highlight of the album. – Track 2 on Master Of Puppets.

Sebastiano Mereu

YouTuber + host of the #FHTZ online music show with co-producer @simonkurt + marketing & digital content producer + university lecturer