22 Best Drop D Metal Songs (With Tabs!) - Tone Start (2022)

Drop D tuning is far from new. In fact, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin were doing it in the ’60s. Both of those bands were hugely influential and it’s no surprise that drop D (tuning the sixth E string down a whole step to D) is still widely used today.

While it has its roots in blues music, it’s in heavy metal where the drop D really shines. That’s because it gives the sound a deeper and heavier feel.

I love it and I’ve found the 22 best songs that showcase this unique way of tuning your guitar.

Here is my list of the best drop D metal songs for you to learn on your guitar.

List of the best drop D metal songs

1. Papa Roach – Last Resort

Not many heavy metal songs cross over to the mainstream but this did, and then some. It was the lead single to Papa Roach’s second album and by far their biggest hit. Its catchy chorus belies the horrifically sad lyrics.

A part of what made the song so big was the music video, which was incredibly clever. The song shows that you can use unique tuning but still write a hugely popular song. It may be over 20 years old but play this in a heavy metal club today and the crowd still goes insane.

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2. Rob Zombie – The Great American Nightmare

“The Great American Nightmare” is a breathless track that is as relentless as it is brilliant. It’s very well produced with different elements involved from the woman panting at the start of the song to the wild screaming towards the end.

(Video) 10 Iconic Drop D Guitar Riffs (with Tabs)

The song was originally released back in 1997 for the film Private Parts, a biopic on the life of Howard Stern. Some of the lines are spoken by Stern and it became the theme tune to his radio show in 1999.

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3. Avenged Sevenfold – Bat Country

Bat Country is a thunderous song that made it as a single from the band’s third album. It remains one of their most popular tracks and it’s easy to see why. The song is notable for its incredible guitar duel with the two epic solos.

The song has had many references in popular culture and has featured on several video games. That’s no surprise with drop D tuning giving it that deeper and huge feel. Add to that the amazing vocals and you get a fantastic song.

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4. An Endless Sporadic – Impulse

There’s something magical about “An Endless Sporadic” and never is that more apparent than on their song “Impulse”. It starts with a flowing solo riff then takes you on a musical journey that you don’t want to end.

Drop D tuning helps to give it a unique feel and the lack of lyrics allows you to deeply focus on the music. The song was used on Guitar Hero 3 but it’s also a perfect track to learn on your real guitar, as it’s a technical masterpiece.

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5. Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare

“Nightmare” has one of the best intros to any heavy metal song. It starts with the creepy xylophone sound, made using vocal effects on a keyboard, and then a violin slowly seeps into the song.

Then, 34 seconds in, we get hit with a wall of sound with drop D tuning. It was the lead single from their fifth album of the same name and was a huge hit. There are many great aspects to the song but the long guitar solo mixed with the intense drumming is simply phenomenal.

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6. Pantera – Walk

Drop D tuning isn’t the only unique musical aspect about “Walk” as it’s notable for the riff being played in a 12/8 time signature. Both elements combined to make Pantera’s most played song, which is quite an achievement given their back catalog.

It was on an album with probably my favorite ever title of “Vulgar Display of Power” which perfectly encapsulates what the band was all about. It’s one of the best metal songs of all time and many bands would come to copy that heavy, driving sound.

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7. Tool – Schism

There is an ignorance from those who don’t like metal music to think it’s just a wall of incoherent sound. That’s obviously nonsense but never is it highlighted more than on “Schism” by Tool, which is quite simply incredible musicianship.


It starts with that insane bassline and the complex rhythms continue throughout the songs. “Schism” changes time signatures a ridiculous 47 times which must be so hard to play live. Add all these elements to drop D tuning and you get one of the most unique, and best, songs ever.

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8. Rage Against the Machine – Killing In The Name

In the UK, the Christmas #1 used to be seen as a big deal, then it was hijacked by reality shows. Music lovers knew something needed to be done. A brilliant campaign in 2009 saw “Killing In The Name” soar to the number one spot and end the reality pop dominance.

The song was originally released in 1992 and it was the first single ever from the band, what a way to introduce yourself to the world. It’s a monumental song for many reasons and the anti-racist lyrics resonate more than ever.

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9. Metallica – All Nightmare Long

After the mixed reviews of their previous album St. Anger, 2008’s Death Magnetic showed that the band still had it. There are many brilliant songs on the album with “All Nightmare Long” being one of them. Drop D tuning helps to give it a deep, growling sound.

It was nominated for Kerrang!’s best single award but missed out to “Omen” by The Prodigy. It’s a relentless song and nearly 8 minutes of brilliant. The song has appeared on many versions of Guitar Hero but it’s quite hard to master.

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10. Avenged Sevenfold – Buried Alive

Another great drop D song from Avenged Sevenfold is “Buried Alive”. It’s also from the Nightmare album, so the band must have been inspired by the tuning at the time.

The song isn’t as heavy as many others from the band but the tuning gives it a heavily textured and complex sound. The lyrics are deep and thought-provoking with the song notable for a blistering solo.

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11. Asking Alexandria – Not The American Average

It’s a shame that Asking Alexandria retired this song from their live shows. The decision was made on account of its sexual and misogynistic lyrics. The bands wanted to get ahead of it before it became an issue.

Fans weren’t happy considering it’s one of their most popular songs. It was from their debut album and the multiple parts and brilliant instrumentation helped to make it a stand-out track.

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12. Black Veil Brides – Knives And Pens

Here we see another song that has a brilliant driving riff. It’s the first single they ever released and it remains one of their most listened to songs. It made it onto their excellent debut album We Stitch These Wounds.

(Video) Muddy Drop D Riff - Guitar Lesson

The song is about the choices we can make in our lives and has a deep meaning. Drop D tuning helps to give it that epic sound and it has a brilliant music video to go with it.

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13. Evanescence – Bring Me To Life

“Bring Me To Life” was the way Evanescence introduced themselves to the world and what a way to do it. It has an excellent melody and the combination of Amy Lee’s vocals along with Paul McCoy was brilliant.

It crossed over to the mainstream and remains hugely popular, despite being nearly 20 years old. It’s a flawless song in many ways with it being beautifully sung, perfectly produced, and as catchy as heavy songs come.

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14. Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People

“The Beautiful People” was Manson at his absolute best. The intro is magnificent with the marching drum beat accompanied by the strained, muted, and backward guitars, before his whispered vocals come in.

The song lyrically plays with the idea of beauty and does so in a very cutting manner. It’s a masterclass in making a heavy song with many inspired elements with the tuning and diminished notes along with the aforementioned palm muting and driving drums.

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15. Avenged Sevenfold – Critical Acclaim

Here they are again, the masters of drop D tuning. “Critical Acclaim” is the opening track from their self-titled fourth album. It’s notable for its spoken rants throughout the song from M. Shadows.

Those rants are directed by those who criticize the armed forces from the comfort of their own homes. The song is a relentless tirade of brilliant music and punctuated with cutting lyrics.

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16. Tool – Vicarious

This is another masterfully brilliant song from Tool. It was the lead single from their fourth album, released back in 2006. The tuning and the 5/4 riff help to give it that unique sound and one that Tool perfected.

Vicarious means experiencing the feelings of another person through your imagination and the song lyrically plays on how often people do that, especially celebrities.

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17. Avenged Sevenfold – M.I.A

This is our last song on this list from the brilliant A7X and one of their most lyrically political. It’s about the Iraq war and is quite complex. It looks at the notion of whether or not it was the right thing to do, most notably shown by the line “fight for honor, fight for your life, pray to God that our side is right”.

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The song is nearly 9 minutes long and is epic. It showcases everything great about the band with the lyrics, vocals, and musicianship.

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18. Lamb of God – Walk With Me In Hell

“Walk With Me In Hell” is the opening track to the band’s fourth studio album and is one of several great songs that helped to make it the top-selling heavy metal album of 2006.

The song is as close to a love song as Lamb of God will ever get with the title referring to having company through the hellish things life has to offer. The song was sadly prophetic as Mark Morton and his wife had to walk through the hell of their newborn daughter passing away.

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19. Lamb of God – Laid To Rest

Lamb of God’s most listened to song, and it perfectly sums up what the band is all about. It’s the opening song from their third studio album and when they really announced themselves to the world.

The machine-gun drums and the marching riff with drop D tuning give it a massive sound. Add that to the perfectly screamed vocals of Randy Blythe and you get an epic song.

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20. Rage Against the Machine – Wake Up

RATM was never afraid to get political and “Wake Up” is a great example. It’s from their incredible debut album and showed they’d never be afraid to make a statement.

The intro, seemingly heavily inspired by “Kashmir” from Led Zeppelin, is brilliant and the bassline throughout it is just ridiculously good.

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21. Rammstein – Sonne

It’s not easy for non-English speakers to cross the language divide. It’s a testament to Rammstein’s incredible sound that they were able to do just that. I’ve always loved singing along to this song, even though I have no idea what I’m saying.

Sonne is German for “Sun” and this song was originally written to be the entrance music for boxer Vitali Klitschko. Its driving drop D riff and haunting female vocals really help to make the song special.

An all-time heavy metal classic.

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22. Bring Me the Horizon – Sleepwalking

Bring Me the Horizon’s fourth album “Sempiternal” was incredible and one of the best tracks from it was “Sleepwalking”. It somehow managed to be melodic without losing any of its aggressiveness.

Drop D tuning, a singalong chorus, and irregular thumping drum riff helped to make the song special. It sounds brilliant live and is perfectly sung by Oliver Sykes.

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What is the #1 metal song of all time? ›

1Black SabbathIron Man
2Guns N' RosesWelcome to the Jungle
3MetallicaMaster of Puppets
4AC/DCBack in Black
36 more rows

What is the darkest metal song ever? ›

The Top 10 Darkest Music Videos in Rock + Metal
  • Rammstein, "Mein Teil" ...
  • Queens of the Stone Age, "Sick, Sick, Sick" ...
  • The Cure, "Lullaby" ...
  • Tool, "Schism" ...
  • Nirvana, "Heart-Shaped Box" ...
  • Metallica, "One" ...
  • Linkin Park, "Breaking the Habit" ...
  • Slipknot, "The Devil in I"
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What tuning is Cgcfad? ›

Drop C tuning is an alternative guitar tuning where at least one string has been lowered to a C, but most commonly refers to CGCFAD, which can be described as D tuning with a 6th string dropped to C, or drop D tuning transposed down a whole step.

Does Megadeth play in D standard? ›

But Dave Mustaine has made a very wise decision recently with respect to live performances. To compensate for his aging voice, the band has now tuned their instruments from standard (E-A-D-G-B-E) to a full step down (D-G-C-F-A-D).

Is Slipknot heavy metal? ›

Slipknot is an American heavy metal band formed in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1995 by percussionist Shawn Crahan, drummer Joey Jordison and bassist Paul Gray.

What is the perfect metal song? ›

Follow our heavy metal playlist on Spotify for even more of the best heavy metal songs of all time.
  • Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song. ...
  • Black Sabbath – War Pigs. ...
  • Deep Purple – Highway Star. ...
  • Megadeth – Peace Sells. ...
  • Diamond Head – Am I Evil? ...
  • Quiet Riot – Cum On Feel the Noize. ...
  • Iron Maiden – The Trooper. ...
  • Metallica – Master of Puppets.
Feb 10, 2022

Is Led Zeppelin a metal? ›

Led Zeppelin, British rock band that was extremely popular in the 1970s. Although their musical style was diverse, they came to be well known for their influence on the development of heavy metal. The members were Jimmy Page (b.

Is metal hard to play on guitar? ›

The Heavy Metal genre can reach very high levels of complexity, difficult technique, and speed. However, if you're a beginner you shouldn't wait until you master the advanced stuff before you start playing Metal on guitar. If you do so it will kill your motivation since you wouldn't be playing the genre you love.

Is punk hard to play? ›

Many punk songs are easy enough for beginner guitarists to play — early punk rockers were often beginner players on their instruments themselves, learning to play by ear — but the genre also has more complex pieces and techniques for proficient guitarists to work on.

How do you play punk on guitar? ›

How To Play Punk Guitar - YouTube

What is the heaviest death metal song ever? ›

In a spurious and unscientific yet entirely satisfying endeavour, SunnO)))'s 'Hunting And Gathering' was named the heaviest song ever by "absolute maniacal mad man" Jason Ellis.

What is the hardest metal song to sing? ›

10 Metal Songs That Are Impossible to Sing
  • Slayer, "Angel of Death" ...
  • Mercyful Fate, "Gypsy" ...
  • Type O Negative, "Christian Woman" ...
  • Alice in Chains, "Man in the Box" ...
  • Iron Maiden, "The Number of the Beast" ...
  • Tool, "The Grudge" ...
  • Linkin Park, "Given Up" ...
  • A Perfect Circle, "Judith"
Sep 17, 2021

What is the loudest heavy metal song? ›

Loudest Metal Ever
  • Symphony Of DestructionMegadeth.
  • Super Charger HeavenWhite Zombie.
  • This CallingAll That Remains.
  • SadioWitchElectric Wizard.
  • IdentityAugust Burns Red.
  • Like Broken GlassCrowbar.
  • I Am The Black WizardsEmperor.
  • UnsungHelmet.

What tunings did Nick Drake use? ›

Nick Drake's guitar tunings are key : r/nickdrake.

What tuning does Rammstein use? ›

5/4 - E Standard, but can be played in Drop D too because they don't use the E string during the song.

What tuning is DADGBe? ›

Drop D tuning is an alternative form of guitar tuning in which the lowest (sixth) string is tuned down from the usual E of standard tuning by one whole step to D. So where standard tuning is E2A2D3G3B3E4 (EADGBe), drop D is D2A2D3G3B3E4 (DADGBe).

What bands use D standard tuning? ›

10 Bands That Play In D Standard
  • Bands That Use D Standard Tuning.
  • Mastodon.
  • Gojira.
  • Chelsea Wolfe.
  • Pantera.
  • Nirvana.
  • Dream Theater.
  • Converge.
Feb 28, 2022

What songs do Megadeth not play live? ›

Back in 2011, Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine spoke about his decision not to play the song live, telling Total Guitar that his involvement with the occult - the main theme of "The Conjuring" - was to blame for all the bad things that happened to him in life.

What bands play in drop D tuning? ›

In the mid 1980s, three alternative rock bands, King's X, Soundgarden and Melvins, influenced by Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, made extensive use of drop D tuning.

What tuning do Alice in Chains use? ›

The tuning that Alice In Chains' employs in "Them Bones" is dropped "C#" tuning. Starting from the 6th string that will be C# G# C# F# A# D#. Or if you have a chromatic tuner that displays accidentals as flats instead of sharps you will tune to these notes Db Ab Db Gb Bb Eb.

Who plays in drop C? ›

15 Bands that Play in Drop C Tuning (2022 Edition)
  • System of a Down.
  • Deftones.
  • Killswitch Engage.
  • Stoned Jesus.
  • As I Lay Dying.
  • Ministry.
  • Periphery.
  • Rammstein.


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