Shredding, wailing, screaming.
There’s nothing quite like an epic metal guitar solo to get the blood pumping.
And the best metal guitarists have always pushed the limits of what’s humanly possible to play.
In this article, we take a look at some of the best metal guitar solos in history.
Get ready to have your mind blown and your neck muscles strained as we count down metal’s most monumental moments of six-string pyrotechnics.
It’s time to celebrate metal axemen at their most gloriously unhinged. Let the guitar hero worship commence!
Best Metal Guitar Solos
We tried to get a nice mix of older and newer solos in this list. But overall, we had to go with the solos we love most. So strap in and crank it up, because we’re about to explore the shreddiest, most jaw-dropping solos ever crafted.
Tornado Of Souls by Megadeth (Marty Friedman)
If there ever was a perfectly composed solo in the heavy metal genre, Marty Friedman’s lead part in Megadeth’s Tornado of Souls is it.
The best thing that Marty shows here isn’t his technical skill, though that is impressive in its own way. Instead, he shows us how to tell a story with notes, slowly building up to a technically impressive culmination. That is why Marty’s work here also made our list of the hardest guitar solos of all time.
The solo just flows naturally from one of the song’s many riffs and then ends at the perfect moment to carry the song further. Marty claims that he pretty much winged the solo and came up with it on the spot.
Beyond The Realms Of Death by Judas Priest (Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing)
Judas Priest has many great songs and guitar solos, but Beyond the Realms of Death is another level entirely. It’s one of the most emotional songs in metal and far from your usual cliché power ballad.
To paint the depressing picture fully and keep the song’s narrative going, both Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing came up with incredible lead parts.
Although they retain that usual pentatonic feel, the solos are in natural minor scales. K.K.’s solo, which comes near the end of the song, is more explosive and pentatonic-oriented. It works well for the song’s culmination at the end.
Master Of Puppets by Metallica (Kirk Hammett)
Right when everyone was pushing the limits of metal music in the 1980s, Metallica managed to set the gold standard with their legendary Master of Puppets album. It is why both of their guitarists made our list of the best metal guitarists ever.
Apart from the song’s thunderous riffs and a very appealing structure, Kirk Hammett’s lead parts turned everyone’s heads. With the exception of few of his other solos over the years, rarely anything in Metallica’s catalogue even comes close to this one.
Floods by Pantera (Dimebag Darrell)
If we disregard those first few Pantera albums, it becomes extremely difficult to choose our favorite songs and solos. But the one that kind of stands out is Floods.
It is the perfect blend of Dimebag Darrell’s harsh, aggressive playing and incredibly impressive writing. Dime was way more than just another metal player. He was a real artist. The solo in Floods perfectly fits the lyrical themes and serves the song.
Hallowed Be Thy Name by Iron Maiden (Dave Murray and Adrian Smith)
Your technical skills should always have an expressed purpose. And that’s exactly what Adrian Smith and Dave Murray prove in Iron Maiden’s legendary Hallowed Be Thy Name.
This is easily one of the greatest metal songs of all time. And their solos, which flow perfectly one into another, add intensity to this emotionally-charged piece.
Under A Glass Moon by Dream Theater (John Petrucci)
There’s no doubt that John Petrucci is one of the absolute masters of the guitar. We could put pretty much any of his solos here, and there’d be enough reasons to call it one of the best in the metal genre.
That said, Under a Glass Moon from Images and Words is just an absolute soaring shredfest and an incredible mixture of different emotions.
Mr. Crowley by Ozzy Osbourne (Randy Rhoads)
Randy Rhoads’ tragic passing was one of the biggest losses in modern music, even beyond just the metal genre. Working with Ozzy Osbourne, he managed to achieve the perfect blend of metal and his classical influences. And he was only in his early 20s when he came up with the solo for Mr. Crowley.
Jaguar God by Mastodon (Brent Hinds)
Mastodon are their own specific subgenre of metal music. It’s so difficult to categorize them, because they’re incredibly unique.
One of the main reasons for this is the band’s lead guitar player, Brent Hinds. Jaguar God is his piece. It closes the 2017 album Emperor of Sand and it showcases what metal music can really be.
His lead parts not only fit perfectly into the song, but also make it better, with Hunds showcasing his stylistic versatility. This is an underrated gem.
Hot For Teacher by Van Halen (Eddie Van Halen)
I’m sure everyone was expecting to see Eruption here. That song does have an incredible solo.
But if you want a solo that not just showcases Eddie Van Halen’s incredible guitar skills, but also fits the context of the song perfectly, then it just has to be Hot for Teacher. It just flows so naturally and blends perfectly with the rhythm section backing him.
Set The World On Fire by Symphony X (Michael Romeo)
It’s a shame that Michael Romeo isn’t talked very often about in guitar circles. The man is a monster of a player and an incredible metal composer. There are so many of his works to choose from with Symphony X.
The one that usually stands out to metal fans is the solo in Set the World on Fire from the 2007 record Paradise Lost. You rarely hear a guitar player implement pinch harmonics so well in a solo, all while shredding all over the neck.
M.I.A. by Avenged Sevenfold (Synyster Gates)
Just when everyone was beginning to think that metal music had exhausted all available talent, Avenged Sevenfold cam along to prove them wrong. This was back in the 2000s.
Almost overnight, Brian Haner Jr., popularly known as Synyster Gates, became the guitar hero of younger generations. When it comes to his most impressive works, the solo in M.I.A. comes up as a great example.
In fact, even Gates himself named this as one of the most challenging solos that he’s ever recorded. It is where classic metal meets the emerging metal subgenres of the 2000s, with Gates showcasing this perfect blend.
Heaven And Hell by Black Sabbath (Tony Iommi)
Although not that impressive in terms of speed, Tony Iommi’s solo in Heaven and Hell takes its time to build up.
Originally in the key of E-flat minor, it’s mostly played over a simple bass line that keeps things a little static. But near the end, it slowly transforms and builds up, going over different chord progressions and leading into the song’s finale.
Best Metal Guitar Solos: Final Thoughts
And there you have it—our list of the most legendary guitar solos in metal. From the early pioneers that set the template to the modern masters constantly pushing the limits, these solos represent the pinnacle of fretboard fury.
While debates will surely rage about which solos deserved to make the cut (and feel free to leave suggestions or complaints in the comments, ideally without wishing a painful death upon me), we hope this list has provided you with hours of new music to obsess over.
Every solo featured here is a masterclass in otherworldly skill, emotion, and showmanship. They remind us why guitar heroes still matter in the modern era—and why shredding will never truly die.
Whether you’re an old-school headbanger or a new fan just getting into the genre, we hope this list of the best metal guitar solos has you feeling inspired to pick up your best metal axe and try pushing your own abilities to the next level.
Of course, if you’re just starting out, the solos listed here are going to be impossible. You’ll want to master some of these much easier guitar solos first.
Finally, if you want the exact opposite to this article, check out these terrible guitar solos. They are our choices for the worst solos of all time.
Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to spend the rest of the day with these solos on repeat. It’s time to headbang until our necks give out. Long live the guitar gods!