An interlude is not ever going to be a long piece of work. Many don’t even last much longer than a minute. However, the best ones always catch the listener’s attention immediately.
Many of the best interludes contribute to legendary albums and stand out just as much as a lead single or soaring album track does. So what are the greatest metal interludes of all time?
The 10 best metal interludes of all time
1. Tool – “Intermission”
Only Tool would create an interlude quite like “Intermission”. Sounding something that would be perfectly at home in the NHL, Intermission comes in at just under a minute long and can be found on their 1996 album, AEnima. Played entirely on an organ, this song is just a reworking of the main riff for the following song, “Jimmy.” It may sound much less imposing than the sludge-inspired song that follows, but it shows how Tool has never been afraid to rework their songs into new forms.
2. Linkin Park – “Session”
Linkin Park’s ability to merge metal with other genres has made them the icons they are today. Nothing proves this better than “Session” from their second album, Meteora. Driven mainly by one of Rob Bourdon’s best percussion sections, the manipulation of the sounds by Joseph Hahn always gives something new as the song progresses. Throw is some foreboding keyboard parts of Mike Shinoda and a rising riff from Brad Delson, and it all comes together in a rousing finale. It’s no surprise that the song was nominated for a Grammy in 2004 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
3. Killswitch Engage – “Inhale”
One of the pioneers of metalcore, Killswitch Engage, stood out to many thanks to giving their music intricate melodies. A great example is “Inhale” from their 2004 album End of Heartache. This song stands out because it dials down the aggression for a minute to focus on soothing clean guitar melodies. You hear the signature clean strokes of Adam Dutkiewicz interwoven with additional support from Joel Stroetzel. This combines to give a soothing break before the band resume into another crushing riff. It’s metalcore at its finest.
4. Judas Priest – “Battle Hymn”
Some interludes are designed purely as a precursor to the song ahead. And it is for this reason that “Battle Hymn” works so well. The penultimate track from Judas Priest’s 1990 album Painkiller, the song slowly builds with rising drums and guitars to add a sense of build to what comes next. It rises spectacularly into the start of the album’s closer, “One Shot At Glory,” a driving juggernaut of a song. It showcases the NWOBHM icons at their best and was a fitting end combination to Rob Halford’s original run with the band.
5. Black Sabbath – “Orchid”
We all know Tony Iommi’s status as a guitar god, but the heavy metal icon was more than just massive chords. Case in point – the interlude “Orchid” from the 1971 album “Master of Reality.” Played entirely on an acoustic guitar, Iommi lays down some intricate and soothing melodies which showcase his true skills as an accomplished guitarist. It’s one of his more understated performances that showcase his expertise finely on anything six-stringed. A real gem of a song that showcases a different side of what Sabbath could produce.
6. Gojira – “Unicorn”
You never know what to expect regarding French metal master Gojira. They can put together records that feature ear-splitting metal and soul-soothing tunes. Take the inclusion of “Unicorn” from their third album, From Mars to Sirius. With the album designed to highlight environmental concerns, “Unicorn” serves as a nod to the serene nature of life underwater. Alongside a laid-back rhythm section and soothing main riff, adding guitar effects to recreate whale sounds is a beautiful nod to some of our planet’s most majestic creatures. As the song ends, it leads back into a punishing sound with the start of “Where Dragons Dwell.” It’s this transition that shows why Gojira is so revered as one of metal’s most versatile acts.
7. In Flames – “The Jester’s Dance”
Considered by many to be the godfathers of melodic death metal, In Flames are never ones to shy away from putting together heavy and soulful songs. It’s what made the Swedish band hit the big time with their 1996 album The Jester Race. It’s here where “The Jester’s Dance” merges both of these aspects in perfect harmony. An instrumental piece, this piece switches between clean guitar melodies and crunching riffs from Jesper Stromblad and Glenn Ljungstrom. It also starts with a driving bass line from Johan Larsson that gallops through the entire piece. At over 2:30 seconds long, it is a long interlude but more than serves its purpose of getting the album to drive forward with an unrelenting pace.
8. Megadeth – “Dawn Patrol”
There is always something foreboding whenever you listen to “Dawn Patrol” by Megadeth. It’s got a real sense of menace coming in on the band’s 1990 magnum opus, Rust In Peace. It’s bassist David Ellefson that takes center stage with a huge bass line that becomes the main part of the song driving it forward as it progresses. Even rarer is this is an interlude with a vocal part included. It features Dave Mustaine delivering rather subdued but menacing lyrics across two verses. It’s a creepy addition that would fit right at home as the lead into any major horror movie. This all comes together to produce one of the greatest metal interludes ever.
9. Opeth – “Patterns in the Ivy”
Opeth is one of metal’s most complicated musical acts. They can put together soul-destroying tunes and ones that can calm the body. The latter felt makes “Patterns in the Ivy” a truly standout moment in 2001’s Blackwater Park. It’s a stripped-out piece of music featuring just acoustic guitar and piano. The first half of the interlude is a relaxing acoustic riff, but adding a hauntingly beautiful piano piece gives the climax a sense of serenity and foreboding. It gives off a fine balance, eventually leading to the album’s epic closer, “Blackwater Park,” which drops melodies and heavy grit in spades. However, the short interlude before it shows just how accomplished Mikael Akkerfeldt is as a musical composer across all forms of music.
10. Ozzy Ozbourne – “Dee”
As much as this song is listed as an Ozzy track, it doesn’t feature Mr. Osbourne. It’s a song performed entirely by his original guitar virtuoso – Randy Rhoads. The fourth track from the iconic 1980 album Blizzard of Ozz, Dee is virtually a minute of Rhoads playing beautiful melodies on an acoustic guitar. It showcases Rhoads’ origins as a classical guitarist in full display as he beautifully strings together ornate combinations in a hauntingly beautiful manner. It was a perfect showcase for what Rhoads could do away from the bigger stages of the heavy metal world. The intricacies of “Dee” underline just how good Rhoads was as a songwriter and stands up as one of the greatest metal interludes of all time.
When looking at metal’s greatest interludes, various song styles exist to enjoy. Some songs showcase what a band can do, as proven by In Flames or Megadeth. Other acts like Killswitch Engage or Black Sabbath use interludes to show off their musical abilities.
Others, such as Tool or Gojira, will use an interlude to get a message across to show what they are like as performers. Yet some pieces, such as “Dee”, put just one person in the spotlight and reflect on how they are inspired as an artist to perform to the best of their ability. These messages and skills prove why these songs have stood out despite their shorter nature and emerged as some of the greatest metal interludes of all time.