Any casual fan of metal has come to expect something a lot weightier than your average rock and roll. I mean, when you have acts like Black Sabbath and Metallica paving the way for every other act to follow, you're not going to jump into anything that is all about sunshine and roses, right? You'd think so, but even the heaviest of metal acts have been known to tone things down at least a little bit.
From every stripe of metal music, there have been those rare songs where the fans have traded in their usual headbanging to holding up their lighters, with songs that are dominated by acoustic instruments. As much as this kind of thing might sound counterintuitive to the metal aesthetic, these actually do a lot more good than harm in the metal community than people realize.
Beyond just giving the audience some sense of relief, these are the songs that show the more sensitive side of the band, either by writing an old fashioned love song or sending you on a journey through the power of music. In a world that still thinks that metalheads aren't the most highly evolved creatures, these are the kind of raw emotional pieces that show there's a lot more going on underneath the screaming.
10. Mama Said - Metallica
Ever since the early days of thrash, Metallica have always managed to toe the line between traditional metal and straight up hard rock. Hell, even their second album got a bit of blowback from hardcore metalheads for having the gall to use a bit of acoustic guitar at the beginning of Fade to Black. Though Metallica may have been known as the lighter side of thrash as the years went on, they only went fully acoustic once on record.
During their much maligned Load era, James Hetfield served up a different stripe of metal with Mama Said, with a strumming guitar that feels like it's ripped straight out of an old Willie Nelson song. Beyond just the regular cowboy style approach to the arrangement, this is still one of the more open-hearted things that Hetfield has ever put to tape (yes, including Nothing Else Matters).
While other ballads in the Metallica canon were draped behind a character for the most part, this is pure Hetfield from skin to core, as he talks about the complicated relationship he had with his mother and even catching faint wisps of regret about not being able to be there when she was at her weakest. Looking past the Bob Seger-isms in some of his delivery, this is a good proof of concept if James wants to pull a folk-tinged solo career.