The 50 best metal songs of 2023 (as voted by Metal Hammer readers)

 Best metal songs 2023.
Best metal songs 2023.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

It's been a stunning year for heavy music, from legends of the game like Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold returning with new studio albums to rising stars like Sleep Token, Spiritbox, Svalbard and Blackbraid taking the genre forward into an exciting new future. But which song released this year has won the hearts and minds of the metal community more than any other?

To find out, we asked you to vote for your favourite metal song of 2023 - based on the results of our weekly songs of the week vote - and you responded in your thousands. So, without further ado, here are the 50 best songs released this year from within our world, as officially declared by the most important critics of all: you lot.

Metal Hammer line break
Metal Hammer line break

50. Megan Thee Stallion - Cobra (ft. Spiritbox)

The collaboration that absolutely no one saw coming and yet that, once we'd heard it, made all the sense in the world. US mega-rapper Megan Thee Stallion picked Spiritbox personally to give her hit song Cobra a metal makeover, and the Canadian metalcore crew did an amazing job, those big, chugging riffs and Courtney LaPlante's stunning, ethereal vocals adding new layers and creating an instant rap-metal classic.

49. Corey Taylor - Talk Sick

Corey's solo career thus far has shown that he can turn his unmistakable voice at just about anything. In this case, it's a groovy, glam metal stomper that gives us a teeny glimpse in to the alternate reality that would have unfolded if he'd actually ended up getting that Velvet Revolver job.

48. Dogma - My First Peak

If 2023 was the year that metal got sexy again, Dogma were the band that best captured this new zeitgeist. Dressed like satanic nuns and preaching the gospel for the pleasures of the flesh, My First Peak offers slinky, classic heavy metal grooves with dry humour that wouldn't go amiss on a Type O Negative record. We'll never look at an ear of corn the same way again.

47. Crypta - Stronghold

Brazilian death metal up-and-comers Crypta announced their continuing ascent as loudly as possible on Stronghold. The immense yet hyper-melodic guitars clashed against Fernanda Lira’s glass-gargling howls so powerfully that anyone in earshot was convinced this band will go far.

46. Sophie Lloyd - Imposter Syndrome

What could be better than one of rock's best modern shredders putting out her own material? Roping in none other than one of rock's best modern singers to front it! Sophie Lloyd teamed up with Halestorm's own Lzzy Hale's for this stirring hard rock anthem with a lyrical core anyone who's ever doubted themselves can identify with.

45. Kim Dracula - 70 Thorns

Smooth jazz, freewheeling power metal, dubstep, nu metal and unhinged, brassy big band swing, all in one song? Oh, and Jonathan Davis from Korn is here too! In an era where genres are being ripped apart and mashed together more than ever, it's impressive than nu gen trailblazer Kim Dracula managed to put out one of the most brilliantly deranged tracks of 2023.

44. Ignea - Incurable Disease

With their third album, Ukraine's Ignea wove a complex narrative based on the exploits of 20th Century travel writer Sofia Yablonska, weaving a sense of grandeur into a globe-trotting adventure. Incurable Disease nails the album's sense of wonder with sounds decidedly influenced by the folk music of the Middle East mixing with swirling, shimmering prog metral for a bewitching and ambitious mix.

43. Papa Roach - Cut The Line

How do you make an already great Papa Roach song even better? Rope in the ultra-talented frontman of metalcore stars Beartooth, Caleb Shomo, to help put together a beefed up new version, that's how! That a song whose original version was released last year has made a vote like this tells you everything about how worthwhile Papa Roach's attempt at a second take really was.

42. Orbit Culture - Descent

One of Europe's most promising young metal bands stepped up spectacularly this year as Orbit Culture unleashed their awesome latest album Descent. Blending thunderously heavy groove metal with scraping blasts of industrial noise, the band's pitch-perfect blend was never more evident than on the album's title track. Quite simply: crushing.

41. Beartooth - Riptide

No one in the modern scene makes metalcore as raw and emotionally candid as Beartooth, and this year's ace The Surface was more evidence of that. Band leader Caleb Shomo's lust for life makes for a beautiful contrast to the painful aura of the band's early work, and you can hear it practically bursting out of Riptide. No less impactful: just a little less grey.

40. Cattle Decapitation - Scourge Of The Offspring

While Cattle Decapitation haven't dialled back on the stomach-turning imagery over the past 21 years, Scourge Of The Offspring nonetheless perfectly represents the band's immsense sonic evolution. Crushing slabs of brutality are interspersed with cosmic, almost prog metal melodies and a sense of inventiveness that leaves no mystery as to why the band are more popular now than they've ever been.

39. Nita Strauss - The Wolf You Feed

Two queens collide as axe-slinging virtuoso Nita Strauss teams up with flame-throated Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz. The result? This glorious, galloping heavy metal beast, featuring both artists on top form and a chance to see White-Gluz in particular show off the different shades her voice has begun to embrace more in recent years.

38. Trivium - Implore The Darken Sky

After putting out three top-tier albums in just four years, we'd have forgiven Trivium for taking some serious time off when it came to releasing new music. Luckily, we got treated to this riotous cover of a Heaven Shall Burn classic to celebrate the two bands going out on tour together. If you caught those gigs, you knew you got to see something very special indeed.

37. The Amity Affliction - I See Dead People

Amity's songs have always been powered by raw emotion, but I See Dead People, featuring New Zealand rapper and close friend of the band Louie Knuxx, who passed away in 2021, is by far the most savagely heavy, furious song of their entire career. A welcome surprise.

36. Cannibal Corpse - Summoned For Sacrifice

How does band this far into their career still sound so visceral, vital and straight-up gruesome? Cannibal Corpse reminded everyone why they're still death metal's alpha males with this year's excellent Chaos Horrific, with this juicy slab of razor-sharp riffs, battering blastbeats and guttural roars doing the job nicely.

35. Bruce Dickinson - Afterglow Of Ragnarok

Fans of Bruce Dickinson's solo work have been waiting almost two decades for him to sneak off from Maiden for some more extracurricular activity, and Afterglow Of Ragnarok proved to be worth the wait. Underpinning Dickinson's rich, ageless voice with big, fat, doomy riffs and pounding drums proved that the Air Raid Siren and his partner Roy Z were onto a winner.

34. Lamb Of God - Evidence

Released on the one-year anniversary of Lamb Of God's hella-good eleventh studio album Omens, Evidence gave us all unyielding, er, evidence of what we already knew: that even a Lamb Of God b-side is better than 90% of all music ever made, ever. Sometimes we think this band are just being unfair to everyone else.

33. Amaranthe - Damnation Flame

Few modern metal bands can write a hook like Swedish pop-metallers Amaranthe, and Damnation Flame was yet more proof that the band continue to refine their glistening blend of power metal riffs, symphonic grandeur and electronic sheen more and more as they go on.

32. In This Moment - Damaged

Maria Brink recently remarked that it's taken a while for In This Moment to reach heavyweight status in the metal scene. Luckily, as evidenced by this cracking arena-metal rager featuring Spencer from Ice Nine Kills, their music has remained top notch.

31. The Hu - Black Thunder (ft. Serj Tankian & DL)

This revamped version of an already blistering Hu track was given some extra oomph courtesy of the addition of Bad Wolves frontman DL and System Of A Down legend Serj Tankian. The result? A thunderous (get it?!) call to arms that'll have you want to battling wrongdoers atop a stormy mountain top. HU!

30. Halestorm - Terrible Things

This emotional ballad was already a highlight from last year's thoroughly decent Back From The Dead album, so fair play to Halestorm for making a great song even greater courtesy of a well-worked bonus appearance from country star, Ashley McBryde.

29. Esprit D'Air - Shizuku (ft. Misstiq)

Previously featured on Rock Band 3, in 2023 Japanese-British group Esprit D'air released a re-recording of Shizuku featuring synth wizard Misstiq, lending the already powerful, gothic-tinged track an extra sense of grandeur that spoke to the grand ambitions of band mastermind Kai.

28. Hanabie - Pardon Me, I Have To Go Now

The kind of explosion of energy, genres and colours that could only come from Japan, Hanabie's mix of metalcore stomp, nu metal swagger, glitchy EDM and sugar-sweet pop was a refreshing slap around the face. Absolutely no chance you can listen to Pardon Me, I Have To Go Now and stand still for more than ten seconds.

27. Skindred - Gimme That Boom

Given that they've been in the game for over two decades, it's no small deal to point out that 2023 was a banner year for Skindred, with latest album Smile almost grabbing a historic number one spot on the UK album charts and the band announcing their biggest ever headline show at Wembley Arena. A lot of it was thanks to absolute worldies like this.

26. P.O.D. - Afraid To Die

P.O.D. haven't just survived the nu metal boom: they've continued to put out great songs as time has wore on, including this powerful, defiant number featuring the fantastic Tatiana Shmayluk from Jinjer on guest vocals.

25. Deathstars - This Is

Almost a decade since their last record, Sweden's glam-industrial unit Deathstars marched back onto the metal scene with the imperious This Is. From the song's militaristic beat to its thrumming electronica and keys, the song was pure vintage Deathstars, a dancefloor-filler with old school metal club energy.

24. Voice Of Baceprot - The Enemy Of Earth Is You

Indonesia’s righteous rockers cast their eyes away from sexism on The Enemy Of Earth Is You, lambasting those who mistreat Mother Earth. Thanks to those funky riffs and singer/guitarist Firda Marsya Kurnia’s venomous lyrics, the message should definitely stick.

23. Slaughter To Prevail - Viking

Slaughter To Prevail shocked us all this year with their unexpected veer into glossy pop punk songs about girls and being broken-hearted at school. Only kidding! They smashed us round the face once more with another slab of brutally heavy riffs, bowel-churning breakdowns and more groove than a hippo in a nightclub.

22. Powerwolf - No Prayer At Midnight

Germany’s power metal priests preached a particularly bombastic gospel with this single, bombarding everyone’s ears with swollen strings, heroic-sounding solos and Attila Dorn’s addictive cries of “No… prayer at midnight!” Where do we sign up to convert religions?

21. Sabaton - The First Soldier

Taken from the band's latest EP Heroes Of The Great War, The First Soldier marked a year that saw Sabaton's extended stay in the landscape of World War I reach new heights courtesy of an instantly iconic partnership with museums the world over to educate people with the help of world history and power metal. The song's pretty damn epic, too!

20. In Flames - Meet Your Maker

In Flames' triumphant return to the melodeath sound of their early days was welcomed by both old school fans and those who are relatively new to the party. Meet Your Maker is a prime slice of early 2000s In Flames, boasting scything death metal riffs with a chorus that'll bury its way into your head for days.

19. Avenged Sevenfold - We Love You

Few metal albums released this year inspired as much heated debate as Avenged Sevenfold's Life Is But A Dream. Was it a bold, experimental classic? A sign of a band gone mad? A bit of both?! We Love You was a perfect encapsulation of the album itself: surprising, genre-mashing and madder than a box of (psychedelic) frogs.

18. Judas Priest - Panic Attack

Five years on from their best album in decades, Judas Priest showed everyone that they are in absolutely no mood to let their run of form drop with this iron-clad, Grade A heavy metal stormer. If the early indications are anything to go by, new album Invincible Shield will be another absolute classic.

17. Slipknot - Bone Church

If nothing else, The End, So Far certainly showed that Slipknot were ready to push their sonic limits further than ever, and that was solidified by the release of this unexpected, progressive metal gem a year later. Who knows what they'll try next.

16. Tarja - Numb

Who had the operatic symphonic metal legend who once sang in Nightwish smashing a cover of a nu metal classic on their 2023 bingo card? Well, it happened: Tarja's beautifully reconstructed version of Linkin Park's Numb is world class, and those who got to see it live are a lucky bunch.

15. Lovebites - Stand And Deliver (Shoot 'Em Down)

Lovebites' blistering power metal has captured the ears of metalheads the world over, and Stand And Deliver was another breathless reminder of why few bands do pure, unadulterated, gung ho heavy metal with as much conviction as they do.

14. Bring Me The Horizon - AmEN!

You never know what to expect from Bring Me The Horizon - from who else would you get a stadium-sized burst of electronica-charged metalcore featuring rap superstar Lil Uzi Vert and Daryl Palumbo from Glassjaw?! Metal's modern trailblazers have done it again.

13. Ice Nine Kills - Meat & Greet

Ice Nine Kills are one of the most imaginative and theatrically histrionic bands in metalcore today, so we really shouldn't have been too surprised that their catchy-as-crabs single Meat And Greet and its brilliant, Silence Of The Lambs-themed video was another winner.

12. Electric Callboy - Everytime We Touch

Look, if you're not on board with Germany's favourite party metallers covering a Cascada dancefloor classic, why are you even reading this blurb? Grab a glow stick, head for the pit and throw some shapes already.

11. Linkin Park - Fighting Myself

Getting to hear Chester Bennington's voice ring out once more on previously unheard Linkin Park material has been a joy this year. That Fighting Myself didn't make the cut for Meteora shows just how great that album truly is.

10. VV - Neon Noir

Those expecting the Godfather of HIM to produce something totally out of left-field for his new project were probably kidding themselves, but Neon Noir undoubtedly adds some welcome new shades (of black) to Ville's unmatched prowess for a sumptuous, gothic metal hook.

9. Spiritbox - Jaded

While we wait with baited breath to the follow-up to one of the greatest metal debuts of recent years, Spiritbox temporarily quenched our thirst with an excellent EP release, which included this shimmering metalcore beauty.

8. Blind Channel - Deadzone

Building on the post-Eurovision breakthrough success of 2021's Lifestyles Of The Sick & Dangerous, Finland's Blind Channel set their sights on carving their own niche into the nu metal revival. Bouncy with the kind of massive hooks that have been filling metal club dancefloors for 30 years, Deadzone captured the irrepressible energy of the band's live shows, clearly communicating their arena-sized ambitions.

7. Avatar - The Dirt I'm Buried In

On Dance Devil Dance, Avatar sought to challenge a metal scene they perceived as overly technical, using a litany of no-nonsense anthems. Few were more effective than The Dirt I’m Buried In: that infectious chorus has already made it one of the Swedish circus’s most listened-to songs.

6. Metallica - Screaming Suicide

Metallica may have gone a little conceptual for latest album 72 Seasons, but that didn't stop them throwing together some rollocking heavy metal ragers. Chief amongst those was Screaming Suicide, an absolutely thumping thrasher with some difficult lyrical matter courtesy of Papa Het.

5. Within Temptation - Wireless

With Bleed Out, Within Temptation produced what may well be their heaviest album to date, both musically and lyrically. And with Wireless in particular, the Dutch heavywights  showed that they remain one of European metal's most chameleonic acts.

4. Lord Of The Lost - Blood And Glitter

Lord Of The Lost may have come last at Eurovision, but Blood And Glitter was one of our readers’ favourite metal songs of the entire year. Rightfully so. The industrial-glam single was a confetti-coated banger, to the point that it even challenged Iron Maiden in the bombast stakes during the bands’ summer tour.

3. Sleep Token - The Summoning

The song that apparently confirmed Sleep Token as metal's sexiest band, The Summoning also took them stratospheric thanks to it exploding on TikTok. And with good reason, too: shimmering, sultry and propulsive as hell, it's a perfect representation of everything that makes Sleep Token brilliant.

2. Babymetal - METALI!!

After finally becoming a three-piece again, Babymetal continued their world domination, boosted by this irresistibly bouncy, South Asian-inspired hit featuring Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello on guitar. Their first release since officially bringing Momometal into the fold, the track showed Babymetal's genre-spanning scope shows no signs of slowing even after the epic bombast of new album The Other One.

1. Ghost - Jesus He Knows Me

Maybe it's because it's such a fabulous reimagining; maybe it's because its video is absolutely outrageous, but whatever the reason, the results can't be messed with. You voted Ghost's fantastic cover of Genesis' Jesus He Knows Me as the best metal song of 2023! We can only imagine Ghost's haters will react to this with a level-headed sense of calm and acceptance. Ahem.

Metal Hammer line break
Metal Hammer line break