Today I’m going to be taking you on a heavy metal tour of motivation, showcasing my picks for the 25 Best Motivational Metal songs of all time. Unless someone can prove otherwise, I still stand by the statement that metal is (overall) the most motivational of all genres, and this list should prove that. Note: I won’t be doing repeat songs from any one artist, but other good motivational songs from said artist will be included under their entry in the list.
Throw up the horns and let’s get it. 🤘
We’re going to start with the only instrumental track on this list- from the soundtrack to the latest Doom game, I give you BFG Division. This one speaks for itself.
This song comes in at 24 because the first 4/5ths of the song is good, but largely pretty underwhelming. However, after the blast-beat breakdown towards the end, the last minute is among the peaks of all symphonic black metal, with the peaks of the choir coming together with the overall buildup to give us one of the finest bits of lyricism on this list:
“Be the broken or the breaker-
be the giver or the undertaker.
Unlatch and open the doors, be the healer or the faker.
The keys are in your hands,
Realize you are your own sole creator
of your own master plan.”
This song opens with the absolutely killer line- “Darkness is ignorance, knowledge is light,” and breaks into a pretty punk-esque beat for a melodeath song. The chorus is great, and the bridge towards the end is where this song really shines:
“Never walk away, turn your back on yourself.
One life, one chance, that’s all we have.
Dying doesn’t make this world dead to us,
Breathing doesn’t keep the flame alive in us,
Dreaming doesn’t make time less real for us,
One life, one chance, all ephemeral.”
Arguably the best example of a band that has both avoided selling out and still maintained consistent quality for the entirety of their 27 year career, we have Amon Amarth in the 22 spot with Live Without Regrets from their 2011 album Surtur Rising. In true Amon Amarth fashion, this is a song exemplifying the Viking ethos of bravery in battle:
“So fearlessly we charge ahead-
There is no time to hesitate.
Don’t despair, show no fear-
Live your life without regrets.
Don’t despair and show no fear-
In the face of a certain death.
A coward thinks he’ll always live,
if it keeps himself from strife.
Old age leaves no rest and peace,
though spears may spare his life.”
Honorable Mentions from Amon Amarth:
Live for the Kill, No Fear for the Setting Sun, Cry of the Blackbirds, One Against All
Here’s arguably my favorite song from ABR, off their 2011 album Leveler- Internal Cannon. This is a masterful example of melodic metalcore, and the lyrics are phenomenal the entire time:
“My heart is beating, I’ll never stop fighting,
I’ll keep breathing to stay alive.
And here I go, off to make a change
I’m screaming, screaming revival
All of my strength, all of my might
Will go into this to take back my life.”
One of the stranger songs on this list, I Will Rule the Universe comes from a band called Civil War (who I learned while writing this is made up of some of the former members of Sabaton, which makes sense). This song is about Napoleon Bonaparte, the legendary French emperor, and is primarily included here simply because the chorus is so damn badass:
“I will rule the universe.
I’m the glory, I’m the brave,
Going down in history forever.
I will rule the universe.”
Speaking of Sabaton, here’s the title track from their concept album of the same name, Carolus Rex. This song (like the album) is about the famous Swedish king, Charles XII, and it deftly captures the extreme sense of authority that kingship should evoke:
“Proved in battle, led my men to victory.
No man alive or dead commands me-
I answer to the lord.
Hear my orders: question me and die.
What I say was said in heaven,
and so it shall be done.
I know I was destined to rule alone,
All for myself I have claimed the throne-
born to rule, my time is now.
I was chosen by heaven,
say my name when you pray to the skies-
see Carolus rise.”
Honorable Mentions from Sabaton:
40:1, Swedish Pagans, White Death, Night Witches, Sparta, Masters of the World
This is the best fruit that came from the side project of original (and now current) KSE singer Jesse Leach and KSE guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz. Allegedly they’re working on a second ToG album, but that remains to be seen as of yet.
“Arise and be triumphant
No rest until all is fulfilled.
Our roots must balance our branches,
Be vigilant in truth and love.
There is a strength in numbers, we must unite mankind.
There is a strength in numbers, our faith lies deep inside.”
This is certainly the weirdest band on the list. Austrian Death Machine is an Arnold Schwarzenegger-themed side project of As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis, which sounds really strange but- hot damn, is it a good band. This song features some vocals from Hatebreed and Jasta frontman, Jamey Jasta, who we’ll see some more of before too long.
“Here comes the moment of doubt,
You start to feel fatigue,
But this is where the growth comes from,
Push through with all you [unintelligible]
One more rep!”
I won’t lie, I don’t know anything else from Kreator, but I got this from some other list of motivational metal songs and it’s a serious kicker. Good old-school style thrash with upbeat lyrics? I’m in.
“Resurrect the dream you’ve lost,
before you regret.
Our souls may be darkened,
but we see the light.
The source of our inner strength
is power that cannot die.
Destroy what destroys you-
time has come to awake.”
Despite being called Number 1, this song from the preposterous yet awesome band Manowar comes in at number 15. If you took every 80’s action star, steroids, a stack of fantasy novels, and an abundance of leather, and mixed them all together with a hefty dose of power metal, you would get Manowar. They’re somewhere on the line between super self-aware and dead serious, and frankly, I don’t care. This band approximates the human forms of pure testosterone, and this song is literally every training montage combined into musical form.
[Fun fact: Manowar (at least for a long time) had the world record for loudest band in the world, but they stopped trying to raise the bar because they were actually so loud that people were going deaf. If that’s not metal, I don’t know what is.]
“We are sending you a challenge, it’s very clear:
we came to win, that is why we are here.
Demanding to be tested, tested by the best,
not to be forgotten like all the rest.
The time has come, all the training’s done
The muscle and the blood will come to pay.
Let the game begin, hear the starting gun
Play from the heart today, we will overcome.
When the game is over, all the counting is done-
We were born to win number 1.”
Honorable Mentions from Manowar:
Warriors of the World, Sons of Odin, Fighting the World, Die for Metal
From one of the OGs of the genre of metalcore, Hatebreed, we have the song that best exemplifies this website, Supremacy of Self. Hatebreed is one of the most motivational slash self-improvement centric band that I know of- tons of song they’ve put out are positive and uplifting. This one is no exception to that:
“I must attain:
Supremacy, of mind.
Supremacy, of body.
Supremacy, of spirit.
Supremacy, of self.”
Honorable Mentions from Hatebreed:
The Divinity of Purpose, Honor Never Dies, In Ashes They Shall Reap, Give Wings to My Triumph, Mind Over All, Live for This, This is Now, Perseverance, I Will Be Heard, The Apex Within
Taking its title from the famed Gadsden flag, this is a great track from Metallica- Don’t Tread on Me. From what I understand, this is one of Metallica’s least favorite songs that they ever wrote. This song is badass, and more or less is the musical equivalent of a mulleted man in denim shorts and an eagle shirt shotgunning a PBR and screaming “‘Murica!” on the Fourth of July.
“Liberty or death, what we so proudly hail.
Once you provoke her, rattling of her tail.
Never begins it, never but once engaged,
Never surrenders, showing the fangs of rage.
So don’t tread on me.
So be it- threaten no more.
To secure peace is to prepare for war.
So be it- settle the score
Touch me again for the words that you will hear forevermore.”
Killswitch is another band that stands out for having an abundance of positive, uplifting songs, so this was a pretty hard pick for me. Let the Bridges Burn stands out as a great indictment of indifference and regret, and it’s a great call to take responsibility and make a change.
“We have come too far to let our fulfillment fall away.
I must refuse to renounce my integrity.
We stand in defiance to their excess-
Let the grief that they have inflicted serve as a call to arms.
Are you ready? Are you willing to be the catalyst?
We can no longer be indifferent- restore this tired world.
From misery we have turned away.
Ignite the past-
let the bridges burn.”
Honorable Mentions from KSE:
Reject Yourself, A Light in a Darkened World, Alone I Stand, Triumph Through Tragedy, Loyalty, Reignite, Daylight Dies, Hope Is, No End In Sight, Strength of the Mind, This Is Absolution, Turning Point, Unbroken, We Carry On
I only started getting into Iced Earth last year, and I don’t know how I had never heard of them before. They’re like if Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest had a three way metal baby that was somehow better than all of them. Controversial opinion? Yup. Am I biased because I just got into them? Also yup. But unlike those three bands, Iced Earth continues to make great music- their newest album, Incorruptible, is phenomenal. Tragedy and Triumph comes from Dystopia, and it’s a phenomenally upbeat, positive song that is exactly what we need in our current cultural climate:
“Here we stand, I know it’s always been our home,
we can build a brand new future.
A new day, it’s finally here, we live our lives without fear,
our humanity has risen.
The task at hand: to educate so we don’t make the same mistake-
never take the road to serfdom.
We are aware, we are awake, dystopia we did escape-
never to repeat the nightmare.
We lived through their lies, now we’ll always keep a conscious mind.
And we hold our heads up high- we will never let our spirit die.
Time is on our side, we have prevailed,
humanity’s ultimate struggle.
Hearts and minds are joined in victory-
We are triumphant and eternal.”
Honorable Mentions from Iced Earth:
Anthem, Brothers, Defiance, I Walk Alone, Great Heathen Army, Raven Wing, Resistance, Stand Alone
I love this song so much that I built an entire article about it. This song perfects what Civil War and Sabaton tried to capture in their songs on this list- the absolute sense of authority that the King represents. This one isn’t technically motivational in the traditional sense, but the themes of responsibility and virtue combined with the epic instrumentation come together to make it very powerful.
“Bow your head before your king, as I’m the bringer of light.
The chosen one amongst all men, the lord and master of light.
“But who decided it all?”
Shut up you servant, respect divine right,
for I belong to the elite of mankind.
Enlightened guardian of justice and right.
My word is law or it’s eye for an eye.”
The band that got me into metalcore so many ages ago. This is one of the angrier songs on this list, but, as the song says, “hate can be a positive emotion when it forces you to better yourself.”
“So I say thank you for the scars, and the guilt, and the pain.
Every tear I’ve never cried has sealed your fucking fate.
What did you take me for, a fool? Or were you just too blind to see-
That every effort made has failed and there is no destroying me?
Hate can be a positive emotion when it forces you to better yourself.
You built me, constructed my desire, perfected my hatred.
Now I’m driven to be ten times better than you think you are-
Ten times better than you think you are.
Piece by piece I’ve built my walls and burned the bridges down-
That lead back to people like you: so full of malice, so full of scorn.
You tried your best to crush my spirit, you tried to steal my soul,
you pushed my back against the wall, and I broke it down.
I will not be broken, though I am the one who bleeds.
I will not be broken, I am the one.”
Honorable Mentions from Atreyu:
Blow, Honor, Lip Gloss and Black, My Sanity on the Funeral Pyre, Safety Pin, Shameful, Start to Break, The Time is Now, We Stand Up, When Two are One, You Were the King, Now You’re Unconscious
Here’s another band I only recently learned about- Arch Enemy. The title track from their most recent album is an absolute banger and requires no further explanation:
“If you want the world, use your mind- take control.
Feel the strength rise from within.
If you really want it, the world is yours.”
Honorable Mentions from Arch Enemy:
A Fight I Must Win, Nemesis, No More Regrets, Reason to Believe, The Eagle Flies Alone, The Race, Vengeance is Mine, War Eternal, You Will Know My Name
Easily the best Shadows Fall song, Redemption has a phenomenal, anthemic feel to it and the chorus soars.
“Intimidation, I stand before you now.
Hold my crown; you won’t strike me down.
A validation of all the blood I spill- survival of my will.
There’s nothing left to say, your Self you have betrayed.
We must try to seize the day.
All the world will hear you,
our voices can’t be bound.
All the world will hear you-
redemption in the power of the sound.”
Honorable Mentions from Shadows Fall:
Still I Rise, The Power of I and I
The opening riff of this song is phenomenally heavy. I’m not going to pretend I know what the first paragraph is about, but between the riff and the chorus, this song deserves its spot at number 6.
“Call it liberation or frustration, as it hits like a bomb.
Tearing you apart as you’re first in line, entering the zone.
Watch how it runs, a nerve wrecking resistance.
Watch how it burns, a venomous script’s getting formed.
You’ve travelled a long way to get here, and now it’s waking you up.
Walk straight for a final solution.
Walk straight, don’t you be so cold.
Walk straight with a clear resolution.
I’ll state my case and never turn.”
This song from AILD is a powerful call to check yourself before you do anything else, and it’s a great fit for a lot of what I talk about here at MasterSelf. This is probably one of the more deeply philosophical songs on this list:
“But what wisdom is there within us
to live based on the feeling of our hearts?
How many times has instinct let us down,
never to be thought through, never to be questioned?
Say what you really mean when your ambition calls you, calls you.
For what use is there in praying if you will only
hear what you want to hear?
We speak of fighting to resist this world,
but what about the battle within us?
If we have chosen to live against the grain,
then why are we all facing the same way?
There is no difference between us and them
if we all blindly seek truth from sentiments.
We have all heard what we wanted to hear-
truth that sounds right to our ears.”
Honorable Mentions from AILD-
Anodyne Sea, Forsaken, Through Struggle, Parallels
This is one of the most pure expressions of resolution ever expressed in musical form, from Australia’s own metalcore heroes, Parkway Drive:
“Twelve years I’ve fought for this- twelve years, my heart still beats.
For the ones who’ve stood beside me, through the values that define me:
No compromise, no surrender. These beliefs, they make me whole.
Never the breaker, promise keeper, remains the ethic instilled in me.
Never one to bite my tongue, never turn, never run.
I’ve seen with my own eyes, the price of life and the cost of lies.
You can’t shut this down- I still spit fire.
This truth rings loud- you better listen up.
You can’t break me.
Life pushes hard, you push back.
Time makes its mark, you gotta stand the test.
Every dog has its day.
We make it count, we find our own way.
Through blood, sweat, tears, we’re still here:
Honorable Mentions from Parkway Drive:
Absolute Power, Chronos, Crushed, Fractures, In Blood, Into The Dark, Leviathan, I (not for motivational reason, just so damn powerful), The Sound of Violence, The Void, Vice Grip, Writings on the Wall
In his final appearance, we have the lead single from the first album of Jamey Jasta’s eponymous side project. This song is one of the best pick-me-ups I know of, simply because of the themes of persistence and endurance:
“It never ends: I hear their whispers, I feel the stares, I’ve seen the reaction.
I let it go, I know the consequence.
Their reasons are just full of fucking ignorance
They say we’re reckless, we act in haste,
we have bitter minds, but they think, they hate.
They say were senseless, and self-obsessed-
in their own reflection is the thing they detest.
If weak minds are filled with judgment, it’s out of our control.
We know that they will not accept us, the fearless must endure.
And when we try to reach for something, beyond all that is known-
They hate that we continue forward, they surrendered long ago.
If fear is for people who try to change for the dreamer,
then the fearless spirit will always find a way.”
Honorable Mentions from Jasta:
Anthem of the Freedom Fighter, Bury Me With My Beliefs, Chasing Demons, The Same Flame, Walk That Path Alone, This Is Your Life, Back to What Matters, Heart of a Warrior
ATR stands out as another of the bands that have produced a massive amount of empowering, self-improvement focused music, and The Weak Willed is the best example of that. On that note, The Fall of Ideals may be the single most motivational album that anyone has made, to my knowledge.
“I will not give in to fascist beliefs, and I am not a fool.
I will not let pride in my core be rooted out,
I will stand firm on my beliefs.
Live life the master of my destiny-
see no other way to live.
I am not the weak willed, nor am I a fool who can not see.
I am not the weak willed- I will not let pride destroy me.
Wise men can see the difference in compromise
and laying down one’s beliefs.
There shall be wisdom in my beliefs
They shall be rooted in strength not failure.”
Honorable Mentions from ATR:
A Song for the Hopeless, Aggressive Opposition, Become the Catalyst, Broken, Chiron, Criticism and Self Realization, Divide, Do Not Obey, Empty Inside, Focus Shall Not Fail, It Dwells in Me, Not Alone, Regret Not, Some of the People, All of the Time, The Air that I Breathe, This Calling, This Darkened Heart, Undone, We Stand, Won’t Go Quietly
Ascendancy is both the name of my favorite word in the English language and my favorite song. This one is definitely biased, but this song embodies the entirety of the spirit that drives this site- to rise, to improve, solely for the sake of doing it. The means are the end.
“All this life shrouded in a veil, of deception in association.
But now, I will witness thee with unblinded, open eyes.
Judas, I bury you in your own blood-
You only held me down from what I was suppose to be.
Ascend above the ashes of the world I once knew,
Ascendancy is the only thing this will prove
I spread the fuel with ire, desire.
To incinerate all – behold I rise – phoenix.
Ascend above the ashes, ascend above it all.”
Honorable Mentions from Trivium:
Anthem (We Are The Fire), Becoming the Dragon, Beyond Oblivion, Broken One, Declaration, Ember to Inferno, Forsake Not The Dream, Ignition, Into The Mouth of Hell We March, Kirisute Gomen, Of Prometheus and the Crucifix, The Rising, Throes of Perdition, Upon The Shores, Poison, The Knife, or the Noose, Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis
If you’ve enjoyed this list, there’s more where that came from- check out the official MasterSelf playlist on Apple Music here: