Metal Tabs: The Ultimate Guide

Heavy metal is a genre that takes time to learn – we’ve got a comprehensive guide to metal tabs to get you started!

Over 250,000 guitar-learners get our world-class guitar tips & tutorials sent straight to their inbox: Click here to join them

In this free lesson you will learn…

  • 30 metal tunes across beginner, intermediate & advanced levels
  • Tips & advice for how to conquer this list
  • The importance of stretching before you play
  • How to practice effectively

An Introduction To Metal Tabs

Heavy metal is an aggressive genre of music, filled to the brim with tasty guitar licks to learn at every skill level.

Since its invention and through its evolution, metal has always been a genre focused on speed and adrenaline. At first listen, this genre can be intimidating to beginner-level guitarists.

  • Thankfully, the internet is chock-full of well-written metal tabs to keep you inspired on your guitar journey.
  • We’ve curated a list of some of the best metal tabs on the internet, from some of the best shredders around. 

We’ve also separated this list into three categories (Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced) so there’s something for everyone. 


Pro Tip: It’s important to have good educational resources on hand for every stage of development as a guitarist.

This is a list that you can grow with and revisit whenever you need some new inspiration. 

  • These bands will challenge you not only to push your hands, but your ears as well. Never discount the value in good listening.
  • Go ahead and bookmark this page now so you can always have a list of killer metal tunes to pick from.

Now, let’s jump into some housekeeping items before we start the shreddage.


What You Should Know In Advance

Having a solid foundation of knowledge is the key to learning anything, especially when you’re shredding through a list of heavy metal tabs like this one.

  • If you find that this list is a bit intimidating at first, that’s okay!
  • We’ve included links to some other articles that we’ve written below that will help supercharge your guitar playing before you tackle this list.

If you feel like getting an extra warm-up in first, check out these lessons below:


Pro Tip: We do our best to create effective learning tools you can use as you grow with your instrument. 

However, it’s important to create a good practice regimen to help you constantly hone your skill set as a musician. 

As you go through the process of learning the riffs in this list of metal tabs, keep a practice journal that details your everyday discoveries on the guitar. 

This will help you gain more musical perspective and visualize your progress better.


Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It's hard to understand which scales work with which keys.

So we created a cheat-sheet! A key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

Get your personalised guitar-learning plan 🎸

Get a custom guitar-learning plan here: Click here for GuitarMetrics™

World-Class Guitar Courses 🌎

Learn from the world's best guitar educators: Click here for our guitar courses

What To Focus On

Heavy Metal music is a genre that is rooted in good technique. 

Many of the riffs you see on this list will challenge the limits of your hands, and it’s important to focus on your technique in the process. 

  • Proper technique and posture can make a huge difference in our playing. 
  • Small things like keeping our fingers closer to the fretboard, and playing with a straightened back can improve not just how we play, but how we sound as well.

Below, you can find a few great practice tips to help iron out your guitar technique for approaching our list of metal tabs:


  • Get yourself a foot stool and try playing in the ‘classical style.’
    If you’re right handed, elevate your left foot and place your guitar on that knee. If you’re left handed, flip this position. 

Elevating your foot will in turn raise the angle on which your guitar sits.

This is a more ergonomically-correct position and helps with posture, blood flow in the arms as well as speed and dexterity. 

  • Practice to a metronome

Timing is everything in Metal – Whether you’re playing rhythm or lead, you’re going to be playing fast. You’ll want to be as in-time and on-beat as possible. 

Metronomes can help us learn more about time and note placement – Two crucial concepts to master in order to advance our skill set.


  • Focus On Your Hands

Your hand positioning and technique will make or break how you play some of these complex metal tabs. 

Developing good communication between your fret hand and pick hand is extremely important.

  • Look For Similarities
    No two songs are alike, but many songs on this list make use of similar musical scales, techniques and arrangements. 

As a result, what you learn in one song will help you tackle the next.


Practice Slowly!

We can never stress enough how important slow and effective practice is. 

If you’re having trouble keeping pace with any of these metal tabs, slowing down will always help to tighten the screws where needed. 

  • When we slow down, we force ourselves to pay closer attention to what we are playing and how we are playing it. 
  • Much like Jazz music, Metal is all about the details. When you play your way through this list of metal tabs, slow your pace and pay attention to what’s happening. 

This concept doesn’t just count for the guitar, either. 

Pay attention to every instrument in the band and what they contribute to the arrangement. 

This will help to give you a more detailed perspective on your role in the song as a guitarist. 


As stated above, using a metronome helps immensely.

Like many forms of complex music, Heavy Metal makes use of a variety of different note subdivisions to create technical and jaw-dropping rhythms.

Pay close attention to how things are played, as this is the most important part of reading metal tabs. It’s one thing to play the notes you see, another to play the notes that you hear.

Pro Tip: As a musician, your ears are your most valuable tool and your secret weapon

Put them to good use, and you’ll be shredding through this list from Beginner to Advanced metal tabs in no time!


The Importance Of Stretching Before Approaching Metal Tabs

No matter what genre you play, stretching is vital to keeping our hands, wrists and forearms both happy and healthy.

  • Physical strains can happen quicker than you might think. By playing guitar, you are subjecting your hands, wrists and forearms to quite a bit of physical stress. 
  • With this in mind, creating a stretching routine is extremely important. 

Click here to check out a great video by GuitarLessons365 on how to stretch for a productive and effective guitar session.


Pro Tip: It’s well and good to want to be a fast metal shredder (and you’ll get there if you aren’t already). 

What’s more important though, is taking care of our hands

  • Remember that these are your gate keys to playing, writing and performing music – and you only get one set.
  • Give your hands the care they deserve. Take care of them and they will always take care of your music. 

Now, without further adieu – on to our list of the top 30 metal tabs!!


** = Writer’s Personal Favourite

Beginner Metal Tabs

  • System Of A Down – ‘Lonely Day’This song helps us practice our arpeggios as well as our power chord strumming. The only part of these metal tabs that isn’t ideal for beginners is the solo, but it serves as a nice challenge for goal-setting and practice.






  • Metallica – ‘One’A classic tune by Metallica, these metal tabs are easy to follow along to. The rhythm guitar focuses on tight playing and firm palm muting.



  • Clutch – ‘Mercury’ ** – The intro riff to this song is super catchy, and incorporates single notes as well as power chords. Focus on sliding power chords in the rhythm section.



  • Ozzy Osbourne – ‘Crazy Train’ – We all know it, we all love it. These timeless Ozzy metal tabs are a must-learn for every guitarist with a passion for Heavy Metal.


  • DIO – ‘Holy Diver’ – A staple in the world of standard metal tabs to learn, ‘Holy Diver’ helps us focus on driving rhythms and palm muting. Bonus points if you can figure out what Dio was singing about.


  • Cancer Bats – ‘Hail Destroyer’ ** – Scott Middleton’s rhythms on ‘Hail Destroyer’ have the weight equivalent of an industrial wrecking ball. Hit your strings hard, and with plenty of purpose. 



Intermediate Metal Tabs

  • Van Halen – ‘Hot For Teacher’This song may sound advanced, but what makes it more of an intermediate tune is Eddie Van Halen’s use of patterns in his playing. Pay attention to this one and practice bar-to-bar.


  • Slayer – ‘Raining Blood’This classic piece of Heavy Metal art challenges our use of triplets as well as palm muting. Grip that pick and don’t let go.


  • Mastodon – ‘Crystal Skull’Once you get through the beautiful drum arrangement, it’s all on you as the guitarist. Alternate picking will get you through these metal tabs with little issue.



  • Lamb of God – ‘Redneck’This song is a pure adrenaline blast with some tricky rhythms. Lamb of God create complex grooves that keep us guessing, so pay attention and keep a tight pick hand. Smooth alternate picking is the goal.


  • Motorhead – ‘Ace of Spades’Once again, tight rhythms are the main goal in this song. There are a few moments of switching between rhythm and lead that will test your reflexes. Stay sharp.




Keep a close ear for the distinction between the kick drum and the rhythm guitar, as it can be difficult to tell who is playing what rhythms.



  • Tool – Forty-Six & TwoTool teaches us how to space out our playing. Rather than focus on speed, Adam Jones focuses on note placement. You can lay back a bit with this one.


  • He Is Legend – ‘Air Raid’ ** – He Is Legend is a groove-first band through and through, and Air Raid is no exception. Get ready to rock hard with this one.



Learn 12 EASY beginner chords with our popular guide

  Stop struggling. Start making music.

  Learn beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

This is our most popular guide and it will improve your chord ability quickly! 😎

Get your own personalised guitar-learning plan 🎸

Get a custom guitar-learning plan here: Click here for GuitarMetrics™

World-Class Guitar Courses 🌎

Learn from the world's best guitar educators: Click here for our guitar courses

Advanced Metal Tabs

  • Periphery – ‘Pale Aura’ ** – Get ready to watch your fingers dance. Our pick hand should be tight, with bursts of tremolo picking at the ready.


  • SiKth – ‘Scent of the Obscene’ ** – UK powerhouse SiKth write some downright confusing guitar riffs. This song is a rhythmic tongue twister that will leave us feeling accomplished when we learn it.







  • Protest The Hero – ‘Bloodmeat’ ** – Once ‘Bloodmeat’ starts, it doesn’t stop until it’s over. This songs’ metal tabs are a rollercoaster of learning opportunity.


  • Iron Maiden – ‘Aces High’ ** – The Kings of metal riffage, Iron Maiden spare no expense in shredding your face off. Take some time with this one. 



Where Do I Go From Here?

If you haven’t yet gotten enough out of this list of metal tabs, here are some suggestions to help you along your guitar journey with these epic tunes:

  • Practice everything to a metronome to keep things sounding tight
  • Practice to the song using one of the links provided above
  • Listen to the parts that you’re having trouble with using headphones in order to hear the details that you might have missed on the first few listens
  • Watch someone else perform a cover of the song on YouTube to see how they play it
  • Go check out one of these amazing bands live and see how they play it first-hand!

Recommended Resources

If you loved this guide to metal tabs at every skill level, you’ll love some of the other free resources we’ve created for you below!

What Type of Guitarist Are You?

Take our 60-second quiz & get your results: Take The Quiz

Join the world's best online guitar school 🌎

  • Get your own personalised guitar learning plan (customised just for YOU).
  • World-class online guitar courses. Learn at your own pace.
  • Community Campus & Learning Forum -  A friendly community! Connect with our team & students. 😊
  • Beginner Song library with chordsheets, tabs and tips. (Songs suitable for all levels!)
  • Regular live streams, seminars and Q&A sessions - Learn from world-class guitar educators. Get all your questions answered!

Click here to learn more about National Guitar Academy membership

Cool Guitar T-shirts 😎

Look cooler! Check out our merch: Click here to see our merch store

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 250,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.


More Cool Guitar Stuff

Learn about National Guitar Academy: About Us

Visit our YouTube channel for fun guitar videos.

Join us on Facebook for daily guitar tips.

Listen to our Learn Guitar Podcast for rapid guitar progress.

Check out our free chord lessons.

Get our best guitar tips & videos

Where should we send it?

Where should we send it?

Get our best guitar tips & videos

Enter your email address to learn our best guitar tips and tricks today!