Hard Core

A metal mix tape for your workout

There are a lot of reasons why going to the gym is tough, but for me, right at the top of that list has to be the music they play.

When I’m pumping iron, I don’t want a pop star singing about having fun or breaking up. I need something a little harder, a little darker. Basically, I want someone screaming at me while guitars shred through the sky and drums pound like thunder. I want some heavy metal. Here are the most hardcore songs to set your workout to.

Black Sabbath, ‘Paranoid’ Let’s start right at the beginning. Black Sabbath defined the genre of heavy metal with their fast, downtuned rock and roll, and “Paranoid” perfectly encapsulates the concept of metal with its fiery riffs and searing solos from guitarist Tony Iommi and piercing vocals from the Oz man himself, Ozzy Osbourne.

Judas Priest, ‘Painkiller’ If Sabbath defined the genre, Priest put it on the road of insane guitar work and glass-breaking vocals. This song, about a metal messiah with wings of steel who saves mankind from the eternal suffering of death, is all-out power and speed. Next time you feel a muscle cramp coming on, just call out for the “Painkiller.”

Metallica, ‘Motorbreath’ Really anything from Metallica’s first three albums is going to give you an insane workout, but I personally have always like this shorter gem from the band’s earliest days. It’s got the faster-than-light guitars of James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett (and even faster solos), the double-time drums and the anthemic vocals all adding to the intensity. Play this song on your next trip to the treadmill, and set that thing to “extreme.”

Pantera, ‘Strength Beyond Strength’ This song is perfect for doing reps or lifting weights. Pantera is known for their extreme metal, and their 1994 album, Far Beyond Driven, finds them at their most severe. This song starts fast right out of the gate before entering a surprisingly groovy fast-slow dynamic.

Amon Amarth, ‘Guardians of Asgaard’ No metal list of any kind should omit something from the icy lands of Sweden. Thus come Amon Amarth, and their so-called Viking rock. This song is not only the second Asgard reference in the Bohemian in as many weeks, it’s also a growling yet melodic tribute to the thunder gods that features ferocious duel vocals and double bass drum.

Dethklok, ‘Thunderhorse’ Don’t dismiss Dethklok just because it’s a cartoon on Adult Swim. This band is the real deal when it comes to shredding, courtesy metal aficionado-turned-animator Brendon Small and company, and this early song of theirs never fails to get the blood pumping.