Hey everyone, to make up for my absence for the past week or so, I've compiled a bit of a Top 10 list for your enjoyment. So here are my Top 10 songs (and 2 honorable mentions) that embody the spirit of metal. As a note, I have a fairly picky description of what counts as metal and that had a bit of an effect on the list. But with so many great metal acts out there, it wasn't hard to fill a top 10. I chose songs that I thought embodied the idea of heavy metal. I'm sure we won't necessarily agree, this is just my opinion. So enjoy the list for what it is, a celebration of great music. :D
Honorable Mention 1: Progenies of the Great Apocalypse- Dimmu Borgir
I first heard this song playing the game Brutal Legend. And I was blown away, it was so huge and operatic, I wasn't expecting it. What kills it for me is the vocals. I'm not a fan of the death-metal guttural snarl vocal-style. I have nothing against any of those elements, but I guess I'm just picky I like to be able to understand what the hell a vocalist is saying. But then at about the 2 minute mark, something amazing happens. Beautiful, soaring vocals from guest singer Abbath from the band Immortal. Why couldn't the whole song be sung like that?
Honorable Mention 2: For Whom the Bell Tolls- Metallica
For some reason, I tend to rag on Metallica. I really don't know why, it's not like I don't like them. But I suppose that's neither here nor there. Maybe I'm a bad metalhead for putting them in the honorable mentions, but that's just how things turned out. I really liked the album Ride the Lightning, and this song is probably my favorite Metallica song. I mean, it was inspired by an Ernest Hemingway novel, which I think is really cool. I love it when songs are about something, especially when it's a little more profound than booze, sex, and partying (I'm looking at you pop music), not that I don't like those kind of songs as well, but something a little deeper is always nice.
10: Back At the Funny Farm- Motorhead
This is another song featured in Brutal Legend (this game's soundtrack is phenomenal!). This is a very fun song, a tongue-in-cheek kind of song about an insane asylum. I included this song, not just because of how awesome it is, but to show how not all metal is all doom, scary things, and evil. A lot of new bands (especially in the doom/death/black genre) have gone this way in regards to look, style, and lyrics, but metal can be a lot of fun too. Ace of Spades may be more well-known, but by all means, look into this song too!
9. Beautiful Mourning- Machine Head
I'll admit, the first time I heard people talking about listening to Machine Head, I thought they meant the Deep Purple album. Then I heard some of their stuff. This is a great song because it mixes the shouting-screaming type of metal with the more soaring lyrics I mentioned earlier. And you can understand what he's talking about throughout. I don't listen to a lot of newer bands, especially in metal, but this is one group I will gladly make exception for. This song is on the album The Blackening, which also contains the song Aesthetics of Hate, which I am going to make a post about later, so it doesn't crowd out this article.
8. When Darkness Falls- Killswitch Engage
Killswitch Engage is a band that the Cynic and I got each other into. When we first started dating, I don't recall who started it, but someone sent the other a song, and a few others followed. Then I went out and bought an album. The rest is history. This is the newest band on this list, and incorporates the screaming-and-singing style much like Machine Head. They also do a pretty nifty cover of Dio's Holy Diver. And Killswitch is great driving music, too!
7. The Trooper- Iron Maiden
Ah, The Trooper. The song is about the Battle of Balaclava in 1854, and inspired by Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson. And it's by Iron Maiden. So naturally it found it's way onto this list. I'm not sure what else needs to be said. This one is stood out to me for this list over personal favorites like Fear of the Dark, I can't really explain it. So just enjoy the song :D
6. Dawn of Battle- Manowar
I'll admit it, I'm a big fantasy, swords-and-sorcery geek. Enter Manowar, a band whose discography is rife with mythology, battle, fantasy, and Norse themes. And you can call me sold. If this song doesn't get your blood pumping, you should probably go check and make sure you still have a pulse. Epic and with a touch of thrash, you can't go wrong with Manowar.
5. A New Level- Pantera
Now Pantera is more the Cynic's thing, but this is probably my favorite of their songs. It's so heavy it assails you and beats you into the ground. And you'll love it. With it's raw power and aggression, A New Level is a no-brainer for this list. Really, it speaks for itself better than I can. If you like, also check out this cover done by Five Finger Death Punch for the album Getcha Pull: A Tribute to Dimebag Darrell.
4. Holy Wars... The Punishment Due- Megadeth
As with most of the bands on this list, how do you pick just one song? This was an issue I had with Megadeth. Sometimes it just comes down to listening to a few songs and going "this is the one". That's what happened here. The frenetic pace and solo of this particular song won it out over others. If you need a reason why Megadeth is part of the Big Four of Thrash, look no further than Holy Wars... The Punishment Due. Speaking of which, the Cynic and I both very highly recommend the Big 4 DVD as an excellent investment for any metal fan (my favorite performances: Megadeth and Anthrax).
3. Reise, Reise- Rammstein
This was the second Rammstein song I ever heard, and the one that made me utterly fall in love with the band. Between the epic feel, the heavy as hell guitars, and Till Lindemann's incredible vocals, I knew I must have more. The fact that they sing almost exclusively in German just makes them more awesome. This song found me at just at the right moment, when I had begun to look to metal to build upon my classic rock roots (I didn't really get into metal until I moved out on my own, minus a few bands I would consider more like hard rock now). This song, indeed this whole album, is one I have no qualms about recommending you look into, if not acquire outright. For lyric translations, I found a great site here for that.
2. Iron Man- Black Sabbath
You can't have a list of metal songs and NOT include one from the progenitors of the genre. This song grinds like a train inexorably towards it's finale: a rocking, minute and a half, instrumental outro. Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne have long been synonymous with heavy metal, so this choice is a no-brainer.
1. Painkiller- Judas Priest
If you want a song that's metal personified, it's Painkiller. From the pounding bass and drums (see the Cynic attempt to play the drum chart here) to the alternatively screaming and rhythmic guitars, accentuated by Rob Halford's glass-shattering shriek, this song is pure fucking metal. One could argue that other Judas Priest or Halford songs might be heavier, like Judas Rising or The Mower, but there's something in the way Painkiller just grabs you right from the opening drums to the last second without ever letting up that just gives it the edge. You cannot listen to a single second of this song and not know that it is pure, undiluted metal. Only another progenitor of the genre (in look as well as sound) could get past the others and be my number 1.
I hope you've all enjoyed this list. I love music and I love sharing great songs with all of you. Now, if you'll indulge me, I will leave you with one last song. Due to an unforgivable oversight on my part, this list is devoid of the late, great, Ronnie James Dio. Allow me to fix that. So, as a special bonus, Heaven and Hell by Dio-fronted Black Sabbath. I hope you enjoy all the music and we'll see you next time, as I will try to post more regularly again.
And the dates are showing up screwy again. This was actually posted April 16th at 12:41am. Bah.