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Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ vs. Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ – Make Some Noise Debate

James Hetfield Axl Rose
Kevin Winter / Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images

Metallica and Guns N’ Roses are two of the most celebrated bands in the history of hard rock and metal and part of what put both acts on the map was their creation of full-fledged rock anthems that have been embraced by music fans around the world. For Metallica, it was ‘Enter Sandman’ and Guns N’ Roses gave us ‘Welcome to the Jungle.’ And while each band have had their fair share of hits, there’s no denying that each song is the band’s most familiar anthem.

In this week’s Make Some Noise debate, two of our Noisecreep writers argue over which song is the bigger rock anthem. And while both songs have achieved enormous success, each writer attempts to break down why one song outdoes the other. So check out the arguments and at the bottom of this post you can make some noise of your own by voting for which anthem you feel is better. If you feel the need to add to the argument for one song over the other, feel free to use the comments section to make your case.

Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ is a bigger anthem than Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Welcome to the Jungle.’

(by Chad Childers)

James Hetfield
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

The Case: Let’s start with the obvious. Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ is one of the most played songs in the history of rock and metal since its debut in 1991 on the band’s self-titled “black” album. The single itself has been certified platinum selling as over one million copies have been shipped. It’s been covered many a time and co-opted by many a sports team and media figure as theme music on top of the band’s many uses of the song.

And let’s talk about that song. Kirk Hammett‘s guitar riff open combined with Lars Ulrich‘s building drumbeat is one of the most infectiously heavy moments in rock. You can just feel the urge to clap along as the song builds at the beginning and by the time James Hetfield‘s rhythm guitar and dark vocals kick in, most listeners feel a jolt of momentum coursing through their veins. It’s a classic that you can’t help but learn the words to, which explains its popularity.

And the band has definitely embraced ‘Enter Sandman,’ including it on all of their live albums and DVDs since the song debuted. That includes the ‘Live S—: Binge & Purge,’ ‘Cunning Stunts’ and ‘S&M’ releases, the latter featuring a full on orchestra giving a fresh spin to the song.

Let’s talk covers for a minute. It’s such a big song that artists from hard rock (Alter Bridge, Apocalyptica), pop/punk (Sum 41), metal (Lemmy Kilmister with Zebrahead), ska (Reel Big Fish, Mighty Mighty Bosstones), country (Luke Bryan), comedy (Weird Al Yankovic, Richard Cheese) and even Pat Boone have offered renditions of the track. In addition, the Lemmy with Zebrahead version earned its own Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance.

And in modern sports and media, the track has been heard as the theme to the Tom Leykis radio show, soundtracked the X2 rollercoaster and appeared in video games. It’s also served as the themes for baseball closers Mariano Rivera and Billy Wagner, wrestlers Brock Lesnar and The Sandman, and for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Virginia Tech Hokies football, Rutgers Scarlet Knights football, Iowa Hawkeyes football, Louisville Cardinals basketball, Bradford Bulls rugby and Wisconsin Badgers hockey teams.

Simply put, Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ is THE best rock anthem, standing a step above any other competitors.

The Evidence: Recognizable riffs, huge record sales, covered by acts in multiple genres, co-opted by many sports teams and media figures.

Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ is a bigger anthem than Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman.’

(by Chris Ford)

Axl Rose
Ian Hitchcock, Getty Images

The Case: I’d like to start at the beginning here. Namely, the beginning of both of these songs. The first three seconds of an arena rock anthem count more than anything. Both of these songs have long, dramatic intros that almost anyone would recognize, but Guns N Roses’ ‘Welcome to the Jungle,’ from the very first note, has more energy and more style than any part of Metallica’s song about children’s nightmares. If you’re talking about anthems for professional wrestlers, then Metallica may be the way to go. But if you’re talking real sports, it’s got to be GNR all the way.

‘Enter Sandman’ starts off with a wimpy little guitar lick that, if anything, evokes a sense of foreboding and fear. And while the home team may want to instill fear into their opponents (and their opponents’ fans), a good arena rock anthem isn’t about fear. It’s about getting the crowd whipped up into a frenzy. The anthem is for the fans, to help them get worked up, and maybe get a little crazy. To understand how effective the intro riff to ‘Enter Sandman’ is, just Google “most hated songs to play in a guitar shop” and see how often this song breaks the top five.

The opening riff of ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ is high-gain from the get-go. That classic GNR sound gets into people’s souls, working directly on their animal instincts. Then the cry of “Oh, my God!” and the up-swinging wail of a siren lets everyone know something big is coming. By the time the drums kick in, the guitars start firing off and Axl Rose welcomes everyone, people are chugging their beers and banging their heads. This song is an instant party wherever it’s played. And the fact that Pat Boone covered ‘Enter Sandman’ but not ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ only reinforces this point.

And while there’s a chance you’ll hear ‘Enter Sandman’ at the next baseball or football game you go to, it’s almost a certainty you’ll hear ‘Welcome to the Jungle.’ It’s already a deeply entrenched part of almost every sports team’s music library. And when you do hear ‘Enter Sandman,’ it’ll probably be during a timeout or between periods. But ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ is usually reserved for kickoffs or tipoffs and other important moments.

In summary, nothing gets a party started like ‘Welcome to the Jungle.’

The Evidence: The high-gain opening riff, high energy, played at important moments in games.

We’ve voiced our opinions. Now it’s time to have your say. Vote for whether Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ or Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ is better anthem in the poll below and if you feel the need to back up your opinion, hit the comments section.

Previous Debate: Better Metal Guitar Duo - Judas Priest or Iron Maiden?

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