Best Free Metal VST Plugins 2024: A Breakdown

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by IDS Team

Without a doubt, the best free metal vst plugins vary based on your instrument, genre, price range, and more. However, in tandem with our other article on setting up bedroom production, we’ve decided to give you a broad overview of the best plugins within each of the main instrument categories for metal so that, whether a soloist or part of a larger group of musicians, you have the best plugins for metal to get started with a bird eye view. 

Best Guitar Plugin: Post Apocalyptic Guitar 

Whilst not strictly a metal plugin, this is one of the best metal guitar plugins if you want to explore genre and sound. It’s mostly ideal for prog or fusion genres, or any time you want to create atmosphere Explicitly metal guitar plugins don’t always incorporate every single type of guitar or sound that you may want in a track. This plugin doesn’t include some of the heavier features that some of the other best plugins for metal do. Therefore, it’s best as a complement, but it’s really good at what it does. 

Post-Apocalyptic Guitar is a sample library and offers amazing scope with sounds that could come straight out of groups like Periphery or Skyharbor. The ‘strummies’ ‘sparkles’ and ‘shimmers’ dials may have some of the least metal names imaginable – more appropriate for an indie rock or synthpop band – but the additional tone they add could easily transform your track from basic metal to TesseracT style prog masterpieces. Furthermore, ASDR dials allow you to really create atmosphere. If you’re into building up layered wells of sound, this is the plugin for you. 

Find Post Apocalyptic Guitar here

Best Niche Genre Free Metal VST Plugins: Amped Stevie T for Djent 

The gritty, intense, warped sound we call djent has been around for a while now and is always a way to inject more dynamics into your music. So, we couldn’t ignore it when choosing the best free metal vst plugins or best metal guitar plugins overall. However, there aren’t huge amounts of plugins that focus specifically on djent, let alone free plugins that put this sound first and foremost. Whilst many plugins try to appeal generally to all metalheads, the Amped Stevie T is specifically for Djent by ML Sound Labs with the help of Djent God Stevie T.

A bonus is if you like this plugin, there are others in the series, such as the Shredeemer, to check out. The tone first off is extremely impressive, with plenty of warped, dirty sounds, depth, and character making this one of the best plugins for metal enthusiasts by a long stretch. Knobs include input, FX, bass, middle, treble, presence, and master.

Find Amped Stevie T here

Best Amp Plugin VST: Amped Roots Free from ML Studio. 

Ok, so we have another ML Studio VST on this list, but we have to include this because it is so good. ML Studio designed the amp with a good friend and it includes four great metal amps making this one of the best plugins for metal for different styles of playing. Seriously, if you are into niche genres or even just hitting really specific sounds, we cannot recommend this amp as one of the best metal guitar plugins enough. It goes to places that some other free metal vst plugins just don’t – even those aimed at metal guitarists – by prioritizing the different kinds of distortion and amplification needed to create the all-important qualities of mood, intensity, and atmosphere in metal with a sense of real insider knowledge. 

The amps include Freeman, Mega, 5151, and 5034, although all of these except 5034 are only available with the full version. Yet the free version makes this list because in addition to the amp it has the option to load your own IRs for even more atmospheric tweaking, as well as a great pedalboard that contains comp, chorus, analog delay, reverb, and more, and 3 cabs with 4 microphone options. 

Sonically this is a very gritty and realistic amp sim that preserves a lot of analog feel and offers plenty of options for sculpting sound. Bonus, the paid version is not too expensive and stands at 60 euros meaning it’s easy to upgrade if you really fall in love with it and want the other amps, which range from covering nu metal and more. 

Find Amped Roots Free here

SHB-1 Ignite Amps – Best Free Bass VST

The SHB-1 falls into a similar category to the Amped Stevie T in that it’s an amp that fills a niche where there isn’t much on offer, let alone plugins that are both free and consistently high-quality with a great sound. The SHB-1 is modeled after a real amp from Frederico Fulceri of Italian thrash group Subhuman. So, it is one of the best plugins for metal if authenticity is what you’re after. 

What makes this stand out is it’s really varied and versatile. The original amp it is based on has 6 triode stages analog modeling and a 1300W power amp. It contains gain, bass treble, mid, balance, and volume. Clean, it’s got a nice fat tone with plenty of high end too for melodic basslines that cut through the rest of your mix. At the higher gain end of its rage, it sounds gritty and realistic without the tone getting drowned. It’s pretty great and there aren’t huge amounts of other similar quality amps or free metal vst plugins like it. 

Find SHB-1 Ignite Amps here

Best drum plugin: Steven slate drums 5.5 free 

Hands down, this wins for one of the most versatile, adjustable, and generally one of the best plugins for metal drums. There are many other options, some of which might arguably be better for a beginner producer, or more easily work in more kinds of mix, but we’ve listed this one for the granularity. 

Tone-wise, we honestly cannot recommend it enough. Options range from rock kits, vintage kits, to metal kits specifically, but they’re all united by some seriously high-quality sound. Individual rums have tons of realism, they are pre-processed, but one of the biggest draws of this kit is you get a mix window where you can mix each individual drum track and control parameters like reverb and ASDR. Apart from this it contains groove, map, edit, and create sections, so you can get deep into crafting your sound as if you were actually in the studio. 

Find Steven slate drums here

Best Distortion Plugin VST: Liberty By We Love Walter 

What do we love about this one? Well, it’s one of those plugins that you can use versatilely across multiple different subgenres and adjacent genres to metal. The umbrella label is so broad that any list of best plugins for metal would inevitably have to include post-metal, industrial, and other heavy genres. This is an all-purpose plugin that has thirteen different forms of distortion, some of which are crushingly heavy. Because it’s not just for any one instrument it’s great for adding more layers to synths, drums, or yes, even guitars, beyond the conventional methods of using an amp or pedal VST. 

You control the plugin with three very basic dials, input, distort, and output, but the presets themselves showcase the exciting possibilities with intuitive names that give you unprecedented control over the process such as sign to saw zero threshold and binary. It may look understated, but these things make it one of the best free metal vst plugins among some competition. 

Download Liberty here


These are a selection of the best plugins for metal for every instrument category and some of them, like Liberty, can be used across multiple instruments. From the best free metal guitar plugins to great drums with flexible mixing capabilities, this list prioritizes flexibility and offers budget-friendly options. These are especially ones you may not know about that are just as good as their paid counterparts. 

If we had to choose we think that for what it is the SHB-1 and Steven Slate drums are the two most outstanding – not due to superior quality but because they offer options in a category where sometimes it’s hard to find high-quality freeware – and they really are in tune with the need of metal producers, offering plenty of variation. However, all the plugins here make the cut because they are reliable, flexible, and high quality, so happy mixing! 

If you like more software reviews, we have a whole category here. And if you like metal, check out our look at other great metal plugins in our article here. Lastly, if you want more free articles, you can check out our budget sound design guide.