How to Make a Great Metal Album

Got a lot of original rock/metal songs and you want them to put them altogether in an album? This is the common structure of a metal album, based on great records from bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc.


  1. Image titled Make a Great Metal Album Step 1
    Make sure you have enough songs to make an album. 8 - 12 would do just fine.
  2. Image titled Make a Great Metal Album Step 2
    Try to use only the ones you think are the best, if your songs are long. 12 songs lasting over 7 minutes each would make the album kind of boring. A normal album lasts from 45 to 60 minutes.
  3. Image titled Make a Great Metal Album Step 3
    Try to mix different sounds. For example, 7 medium-paced songs, 2 thrash-metal songs and 1 or 2 ballads would make a good album. Think of albums like The Number of the Beast - Iron Maiden or ...And Justice for All - Metallica.
    • You might notice that most of the structure shown later is based on a common Metallica album. It is true, because Metallica albums are full with different styles that make a long album flow perfect and harmonically.
  4. Image titled Make a Great Metal Album Step 4
    Start creating. This is an example of what a "mixed sounds" albums would look like. You can obviously arrange the order of the songs or have more of one style than other:
    • Introduction: (Optional) This could be any 1-2 minute instrumental, either slow or heavy. Used to set up the mood for the album. Think of Dialectic Chaos by Megadeth or The Ides of March by Iron Maiden.
    • Fast Song: You can start with a heavy riffed, thrashy song that transmits energy to the whole album. Possible single. Think of Judas Priest's Painkiller or Slayer's Angel of Death.
    • Power Song: This song can be medium-fast paced, with heavy riffs and kind of marching drum beats, catchy lyrics. Possible single. Think of For Whom the Bell Tolls - Metallica or The Prisoner - Iron Maiden.
    • Moody Song: This song is "freestyle" in terms of speed and riffs, but it must carry the same mood from the album, a catchy element like a repetitive chorus or a great guitar solo would fit perfectly on this song. Think of F***ing Hostile by Pantera or Beauty Through Order by Slayer.
    • Ballad: This song is optional if your genre is heavier, like Slayer or Death or Black Metal. This can be a potential single because it can be more suitable for people who don't like Metal. Clean guitars and slow beats would do. Most of the times they have multiple guitar solos, commonly slow solos, but you can throw a face-melting solo like Metallica's One or Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven. You can alternate between heavy and slow parts of the song like Pantera's Cemetery Gates.
    • Power Song 2: This song is to lift up the mood of the album, after a ballad it is recommended to use a medium paced song, or something between a ballad and a power song to continue going through the same mood. Melodic Metal songs would fit better because of the constant harmony sections used in the songs. Think of Prowler (Iron Maiden) or if you're going heavier, Gears of War (Megadeth).
    • Moody Song 2/Dark Song: With Dark we mean a song that is written in a minor scale, or if you play in an alternate tuning like CGCFAD or Eb. This can be medium paced, with the same mood of the album. Possible single. Think of Metallica's Harvester of Sorrow for Dark Songs or AC/DC's Back in Black for a Moody Song.
    • Power Song 3: Heavy song, same mood from the album. Think of newer music like Evile's Metamorphosis or Trivium's Like Callisto to a Star in Heaven.
    • Instrumental: This is completely optional, but if you'd like to show your skills as a band, you can include an instrumental, that acts as a "bridge". It can be of 2 minutes, or it can be going from 5 to 7 or even 9 minutes, depending on how much you want to show your skills. Some of them are used by Opeth, that used for example a bridge song called "Requiem" in their Orchid album, or "Patterns in The Ivy" from their Blackwater Park album. This is a common Metallica fixture too, with songs like To Live is To Die, Call of Ktulu or Orion, but also newer bands like Evile's Hundred Wrathful Deities, clocking at 11:16.
    • This can be the last song for the album, you can either go for a Power Song or an ending Fast Paced song. For Power Songs think of One Shot at Glory - Judas Priest. For Fast Songs think of Metallica songs like Damage Inc. or Dyers Eve. If you choose not to end the album with these songs, you can continue with the one below.
    • Ending Song: This last song can be a slow, long song that carries an ending theme or either a song following the mood of the album, written in the shape of a Moody Song. It can variate a lot, depending on the theme your album is about. You can see a lot of examples: Megadeth's Rust In Peace... Polaris, In Flames' End of Things, Guns N' Roses' Rocket Queen, Slayer's Seasons in the Abyss, etc.
  5. Image titled Make a Great Metal Album Step 5
    Add a cover in between the record to make it more attractive to people.
  6. Image titled Make a Great Metal Album Step 6
    Remember: you can change this formula to fit your desires as a musician.
    • You can go straight with a single genre like Slayer's Reign in Blood, that goes at around 230BPM the whole album, so this is up to you.
    • Lyrically, your record can be about whatever you want. But if your album is a concept album, you can use the first song to tell the beginning of the story and the ending to finish it. Make sure you do it directly, unless you are planning a continuation of this album.


  • Depending on the genre you think your music is in, you can choose either to put guitar solos in every song, occasionally or none at all.
  • Innovation is priority! Nowadays, some of the best albums are the ones that are based on classics but they add something that makes them very different.
  • Copyright every song if possible, unless these songs are not yours, but be sure to credit the real author!
  • Writing the whole album in the same tuning for all songs would make it easier to perform live.


  • Copyright the most you can, because some people steal other's songs and copyright them as theirs. If you have a contract with a Label, they will copyright them for you.
  • Again, make sure you credit EVERYONE who participated directly or indirectly in the album. You can end up with a lawsuit if you don't credit everyone involved!

Things You'll Need

  • Instruments
  • Songs
  • Something to record.
  • If you are using a studio, just use it for recording, they are very expensive!
  • Record Label (Optional)
  • Something to distribute the album.

Article Info

Categories: Songs and Song Writing