My Top 10 Heavy Metal Lyricists

Top 10 Heavy Metal Lyricists

The metal genre features all kinds of lyricists. Some speak in literal terms, while some use symbolism, allegory or other methods to convey their messages. Metal’s themes and lyrical contents are far reaching and encompass all kinds of different vibes, thoughts, textures and meaning. Unlike other genres such as pop music, which often has very typical and shallow lyrics (not all, but a lot of it does) metal has a true span of very interesting and unique themes. From determination and hardship, to dungeons and dragons crossed with a history lesson, there are endless topics spoken of that make up our beloved genre.

I have always believed that you either feel heavy metal or you don’t. People who cannot listen or dismiss the aggressive, abrasive style of music sometimes do so because they lack the insight and the “ear” to properly take in what they are listening to. I equate it to this: if you walked into a classroom where astrophysics was being taught in Chinese, and given the fact that you did not speak a word of Chinese, how would this resonate with you? Okay, it’s an odd comparison to bring about, but to the untrained ear it is extremely hard to comprehend the metal genre’s sounds, and especially the vocals – maybe as difficult as if I tried to learn astrophysics right now. Given a bit of time and some attention though, anything is possible.

Regardless, metal fans love the music and love the lyrical content and before I wander too much away from the subject, I want to make sure that I don’t lose the reader too much. We live for the content provided by all metal bands, from Cannibal Corpse through to Pantera, as well as newer bands. Singers in metal have a lot to say – some do it with falsetto and some do it with growling and screaming. Despite the delivery, the intentions and purpose remain steadfast and the lyrical content is sometimes literal or less straightforward, allowing the listener to infer what he or she wants.

Without further ado, here are my top ten heavy metal lyricists. Click the blue button to get started!

About Jeff Kendrick 125 Articles
Jeff is one of the founders of All Axess, and was formerly a guitarist for the heavy metal band DevilDriver.


  1. Confusing list order is confusing. Surely it’s not just me? It should be counting down from 10 to 1.

    Either way, good list.

  2. I normally scoff at these ‘lists’ but I really can’t fault this one. Maybe the numbering is weird but in general an agreeable top ten. I was pleasantly surprised to find Dax Riggs in the mix, where he belongs. If you don’t know who Dax is, you better find out.

    • He should have been all ten just based on this masterpiece:

      I did it all for the nookie (c’mon)
      The nookie (c’mon)
      So you can take that cookie
      And stick it up your (yeah!)
      Stick it up your (yeah!)
      Stick it up your (yeah!)

  3. MetallicA and Pantera are 2/3 of my favourites bands ever, so finding them at the top is awesome. Maybe i’m gonna say something stupid, excuse me if I make a mistake (I’m from Argentina), but what about Tony Kakko? A friend says the music in Sonata Arctica sounds always the same, but the lyrics… Damn.

  4. CUTE list, but someone needs to get a reality check. Too many legends omitted here. And Daxx made top 10? Acid Bath rocked but not top 10

  5. A great top 10, but out of order, IMO. On the other hand, it’s a showcase of the diversity of music and the way different music affects different listeners. So in the end, this is your list, not mine. You put it out there and that’s something. I also like the fact that you seem to be thumbing your nose at your high school English teacher with every paragraph. lol “Comma, period, WGAF?”

  6. Mustaine should be number one. His lyrics on Rust In Peace, SFSGSW, Countdown to Extinction and Youthanasia are second to none. I love Phil Anselmo, he’s a very talented frontman and his lyrics can be great on some albums (looking at you, TGST, NOLA and Over the Under), but this number one spot is undeserved. Chuck Schuldiner should remplace Hetfield as number two, he wrote very thoughtful lyrics, especially on the last 3 albums. I would have also included Jon Nödtveidt. And as much as I respect Dio, his lyrics are pretty much the worse thing about his music. They’re as cheesy and derivative as you can get. I get you can be geeky in your subject matters, but Steve Harris and Geezer Butler are better at it.

    • Thoughtful doesnt equal good lyrics. Chuck Schuldiner had excellent lyrics since leprosy(check the song pull the plug).

  7. I have to admit, when I saw Anselmo ahead of Hetfield and Mustaine I thought, wtf? But truth be told I dont know his lyrics well enough to judge. Itd have to be over the top amazing to beat out those too though.

    • Man, I agree with you. Huge Pantera fan here, but Phil Anselmo’s lyrics range from mediocre to downright idiotic. What was the author thinking??

  8. this list was obviously made by a 15 year-old…… most important metal lyric-gods are almost all missing: John Arch, Geezer Butler, Chuck Schuldiner, Geoff Tate….. and most likely the greatest heavy metal lyricist of all time Martin Walkyier…..

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