“Soft” would generally be the last word you’d use to describe a heavy metal band. Yet without fail, these titans of anger and aggression occasionally dip into their bag of yacht rock and present us with some very “un-metal” metal songs. Is that a piano note I hear? An acoustic guitar? A glockenspiel? Nah, couldn’t be. Oh but it is. In all fairness, these songs are sometimes written to parody and mock other genres of music. And though our initial response might be one of shock, disappointment or even disgust – we tend to come around and eventually can’t imagine our lives without these soft rocking gems. From Black Sabbath to Accept to Metallica, they’ve all gone there. But we love them just the same. Here’s a list of the most un-metal songs in heavy metal and hard rock history and in honor of today being National Metal Day, November 11th, we’re giving you 11 instead of the usual 10 (Please note: hair metal glam bands have been excluded as otherwise this would be a very loooong list).
1. Kelly & Ozzy Osbourne “Changes”
Black Sabbath first experimented with a downbeat, soft rock vibe, replacing heavy guitars with piano and Mellotron and lyrics about a failed relationship on this song from their album Vol. 4 but “The Prince Of F***ing Darkness” sank to a new low when he teamed up with his daughter on this cover in the wake of The Osbournes TV show.
2. Metallica “Nothing Else Matters”
Whether you consider this tender ballad from their breakout black album a sell out or not, there’s no arguing that this is still a killer song. There’s also no arguing that this is not metal. Well, OK, except for the final guitar solo maybe.
3. Kiss “Beth”
The ultimate chick song by a hard rock band. This piano and string-infused power ballad is sung by drummer Peter Criss and exposes another side to the fire-breathing, blood-spewing showmen. The total wussy side.
4. Dream Theater “Take Away My Pain”
With lyrics referencing Gene Kelly and Singin’ In The Rain, and percussion and chorused guitar that has more in common with Dave Matthews than Dave Lombardo, we are light years from metal here.
5. Accept “Winter Dreams”
Yes, this is the same rampaging German metal band that wrote “Balls to the Wall.”
6. Anal C**t “I Respect Your Feelings as a Woman and a Human”
Though poking fun at sensitive, heartfelt love songs could be considered a metal thing to do, the mere pairing of the band name with the song title earns this tune a place on the list all by itself.
7. Opeth “Benighted”
The progressive death metal band get folky (as they are known to do), introducing an acoustic guitar and a soft, layered vocals. The band would veer further from their original death metal sound on subsequent releases.
8. Tool “Maynard’s Dick”
This song isn’t quite as soft as some of the others on the list, but the only remaining trace of Tool’s biting aesthetic is in the title.
9. Judas Priest “Before The Dawn”
With acoustic guitar, keyboards, chimes and lyrics about a distant lover, Priest are breaking all the laws of metal on this tender ballad from the un-tenderly titled Killing Machine album.
10. Pain of Salvation “Second Love”
These Swedish prog-metal heads were obviously listening to too much Fleetwood Mac when they wrote this. Someone light some incense already.
11. Motörhead “1916”
Even Lemmy? Yes, even Lemmy. Sounding more The Wall-era Pink Floyd meets The Pogues than Motörhead, Lemmy composes a beautiful piece of music about the life of a soldier.