Acoustic metal? Seems like an oxymoron, but some of metal’s greatest bands have crafted legitimate masterpieces with little more than an acoustic guitar.

We’re not talking about MTV Unplugged sessions here. These are songs that were written on and recorded for mainly acoustic instruments, leaving most of the electricity out of the equation. Winning over metalheads, who want to hear distortion at volumes that would collapse the average house, with an acoustic ballad or tearjerker, is one of the most difficult tasks possible. Despite potential backlash for “going soft,” all 10 of these bands won fans over in magnificent fashion.

Let’s talk about the angriest and most punch-drunk band of the ‘90s… Pantera! The pivotal metal band prided themselves in getting heavier and heavier with each album, but even the Cowboys From Hell got somber with their tunes. On The Great Southern Trendkill, Pantera challenged fans with their “Suicide Note” two-parter. In “Suicide Note Pt. II,” Pantera were as calm as they’d ever be, succeeding with a truly heart wrenching cut.

After Queensryche released arguably the greatest concept album of all time, Operation: Mindcrime, they followed it up with the acclaimed Empire, which became the band’s most commercially successful album largely on the back of “Silent Lucidity.” The heavily acoustic ballad was Queensryche’s biggest commercial hit, becoming their only single to crack the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. “Silent Lucidity” also gave Queensryche a pair of Grammy Award nominations, getting nods for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.

Enjoy the lighter side of metal and check out our picks for the 10 Greatest Acoustic Metal Songs in the Loud List above!

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