We get this request a lot.
People just like songs with heavy bass.
And not everyone likes hip-hop or EDM.
So they want to know some great metal songs they can blast with a heavy bass line.
And believe me, there are a lot of them.
It was extremely difficult to narrow them down to just a handful, in order to keep the length of this article in check.
Keep reading for some o the best bass-heavy metal songs ever written. It is no coincidence that they are all hugely famous bands with hugely famous bassists.
Metal Songs With Heavy Bass
Killers by Iron Maiden
Let’s start off with an easy choice. The legendary bassist, Steve Harris, founded the legendary band Iron Maiden on Catholic Christmas Day, December 25, 1975.
Harris attributed the band’s name to a film adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Man in the Iron Mask, whose title reminded him of a torture device called the Iron Maiden.
After a very successful first album, Iron Maiden released their second studio album, Killers in 1981. The whole album was written by Steve Harris, with a bit of help from then-singer Paul Di’Anno.
Naturally, the whole album has prominent bass parts and the title song is no exception. How the bass is recorded puts it clearly upfront throughout the whole album and people don’t have to focus to hear his bass, as is the case in most songs.
On the Killers album, the tone of his bass was quite heavily compressed with slight distortion. This combination is the favorite of Martin Birch, a then Iron Maiden producer, who has asked for the same bass tone while producing Black Sabbath. Killers is among fans’ favorite albums, especially among bass players, and the song Killers is a prime example of Harris’ fantastic bass lines.
Wrathchild by Iron Maiden
Well, diversity aside, this list would be incomplete without another hit from the Killers album by Iron Maiden. While Killers is the album-titled song, Wrathchild is a complete masterpiece bass-wise. The bass is so good that even Di’Anno’s legendary performance and vocals are not the standout part of this song.
Until 1981, Paul Di’Anno demonstrated his self-destructive behavior to the maximum, especially due to drug use. Di’Anno himself commented that he had no limit, that he used drugs 24/7 and that he did not see the end of its destruction.
With his performances, he actually kicked himself out of the group. He was fired immediately after the world tour, and the group quickly chose his replacement: Bruce Dickinson.
Steve Harris has played only one bass guitar for over 30 years – the Fender Precision Bass. Needless to say, he knows what he likes and kicking Paul out of the band was the right choice, even after his amazing vocals on the Killers album.
The decision to include Wrathchild on the album (it was the only song that was performed before the release of the album) was definitely one of many right choices he made. And getting Martin Birch to produce the album and put his bass lines front and center was definitely another.
Ace of Spades by Motorhead
Let’s move from one legendary bass player to another: Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead. Motorhead was the spearhead of the British heavy metals new wave, and Lemmy was the band’s lead singer and bass player.
Of course, off the stage, Lemmy was the band’s founder and main songwriter, as well as a true rock and roll style icon. But his macho lifestyle is the subject of a whole other novel.
On the artistic side, Ace of Spades is Motorhead’s arguably most famous song. The very beginning of the song starts with Lemmy’s filthy bass riffs from his Rickenbacker bass through overdriven Marshall stacks. The bass is so powerful that it is impossible not to hear it throughout the whole song as it is – loud and fast.
Although the song is quite fast (140 bpm), the left hand won’t do much work when playing bass parts as most of the chords are simply power chords. But the right hand… Well, that’s too much work for almost three minutes non-stop. This is one of those songs that is on every bass player’s to-do list.
Orion by Metallica
Of one the most legendary albums in metal history, Master of Puppets has gifted us some serious masterpieces. And the then bass player of Metallica, Cliff Burton, really stepped up where it mattered the most: in the instrumental song Orion.
This song is the perfect example of Cliff’s unique style – melodic and rhythmic bass lines picked so hard that the picking is heard over the excessive distortion. And while there is nothing strange about hearing overly-distorted and loud bass parts in metal, hearing them blend with two guitars perfectly and holding the whole song together is simply amazing, especially with the lack of vocals.
Burton’s bass does everything in Orion – it serves as rhythm, melody, glue – for eight minutes straight. Hearing the song at any point pulls the same old question: what would have happened if Cliff were still alive?
No disrespect to Newsted and Trujillo, but with his three albums with Metallica, Cliff is already considered a monster bass player, one of the best ever in metal. And those three albums are widely considered Metallica’s finest. Cliff played a vital role in those albums with his amazing bass guitar.
Anesthesia by Metallica
Since we mentioned two songs by Iron Maiden, we can mention one more song by Metallica. Or, to be more precise, Cliff Burton. Anesthesia is widely considered one of the best bass songs in the history of rock and metal music.
Actually, half of the song is simply Cliff playing bass in his recognizable style – melodic, heavy, and way distorted. At some point halfway through the song, Lars jumps in on drums to provide a more upbeat rhythm (around 200 bpm) and change the style of the song.
The whole song was created from Cliff’s improv bass riffs over the years and recorded on the Kill ‘Em All album. The bass sounds like a lead guitar the whole time and is simply a masterpiece.
Even Robert Trujillo refused to play the song while doing S&M2, because he didn’t want to disrespect Cliff. That’s how difficult the song can be to play live as it is.
The intro is full of arpeggio licks that show how well-taught Cliff was. There are also slower, more bluesy parts as well as fat and heavy parts characteristic of Black Sabbath, all of which constantly change the flow of the song.
These transitions may not be so smooth, but considering how young Cliff was at the time, the song is quite unique. Naturally, over the next two albums, the progress of Cliff’s playing was quite evident. He left us way too soon.
Walk by Pantera
Before Pantera became a well-known groove metal roller, the band was a glam metal pop band fronted by Terry Glaze. Glaze recorded three albums with the band before getting the boot due to musical disagreements.
He was replaced by Phil Anselmo. There are many opinions about the band’s early production, but Pantera’s bassist Rex Brown has made his very clear: he doesn’t like it at all.
After the first three albums, the band really went full-out, and Vulgar Display of Power is a prime example of Pantera’s new sound. And coming right after Cowboys from Hell, the album had some huge shoes to fill.
And it did! The album has been ranked the 10th best metal album of all time by The Rolling Stone magazine.
Speaking of charts, the song Walk took the number 16 spot on the list of the 40 greatest metal songs by VH1. The whole record is quite heavy and the song Walk is no different.
The song is played in 12/8 time signature and the combination of Dimebag’s guitar and Rex’s bass is a thing of beauty. Rex played his bass in drop D, cutting through with upper mids. The bass tempo is not as fast as for Ace of Spades but is quite melodic, powerful, and heavy.
Dawn Patrol by Megadeth
Another Big 4 band on the list (after Metallica), Megadeth has also created some masterpieces over the years. The two most famous band members are, of course, Dave Mustaine on guitar and vocals, and David Ellefson on bass. Both were founding members of the band.
Sadly, the great David Ellefson is no longer in the band. He left in 2021. He is an incredibly precise bass player who has complete control over his dynamics, attack, and everything. He has also played both with and without a pick, making him a quite versatile player, too.
Moving on he the song, it is worth mentioning that Ellefson wrote the complete music for this one. Due to its short length, many consider this song simply a prelude, but whatever its classification, the song has some masterful bass lines.
The bass is in standard E tuning and the riffs are quite melodic, but heavy. Naturally, as this song is mainly bass accompanied by drums and the occasional vocals, the bass parts really stand out.
Bass-Heavy Metal Song: Honorable Mentions
Naturally, mentioning all the heavy bass songs in metal would be impossible. The above-mentioned songs truly are perfect examples of how powerful an instrument the bass guitar can be. Not only that, but they are also songs by famous bass players from famous metal bands.
Some other great examples include Souls of Black by Testament, Violent and Funky by Infectious Grooves, Caught In a Mosh by Anthrax, Ravenous Medicine by Voivod, Call of Ktulu by Metallica. There are many, many more.
Feel free to add some other great metal songs with heavy bass in the comments below. Feel free to criticize our choices, too. If possible, let us know why you disagree.