For no other reason than to promote some metal discussion, I decided to put together a list of my favorite metal songs of all time. Note that this has nothing to do with Internet voting, nor is this an objective list of the "best" metal songs ever recorded. No, these are simply my personal favorites, the songs I've come back to time and time again over the years. Because this is an all-time list, many will come from my favorite periods in metal, with several 70's songs, a lot of NWOBHM and 80's stuff, and not a lot from more recent years. That doesn't mean there isn't great new metal out there, but I personally feel that songs for a list like this have to have stood the test of time. Some are well-known and familiar to all, while others are no doubt quite obscure. Some are legitimately great metal songs in a technical sense, while others are simplistic guilty pleasures that somehow struck a chord. And, no doubt, many songs are from familiar bands but not the expected pick, as in "of all the great songs from band X, that's the one that made this list?". Finally, I don't expect anyone to agree with all (or even many) of my picks. What can I say? These are my all-time favorites.
The order is approximate -- yes, #1 is my all-time favorite song, but after the top 10 or 20 it gets more random, as I'd be hard-pressed to insist that, say, #45 is clearly a better song than #46. Just to keep the list from turning into a Judas Sabbath lovefest, I came up with the arbitrary limitations of no more than 2 songs from any one album and no more than 5 songs from any one band.
The Last Laugh (1981)
|Possibly the most obscure band on this list, the EF Band got a bit of play by appearing on a cult compilation (Metal For Muthas) with a rather ordinary song, but this track of their debut album has long been a personal NWOBHM favorte. It's really unlike anything else from the era, and not like this band's other work either, featuring a rather cool, progressive, kind of Middle-Eastern sounding main riff. Not sure if I expect many to jump on the EF bandwagon after hearing this but for me this is a classic of the era.|
|There's no question that once Bruce got to Iron Maiden, they took their already sizeable popularity to new heights. There's also no question that Di'Anno-era Maiden represented all that was great about the NWOBHM movement -- raw, mean, youthful, energetic, a true breath of fresh air for metal. And songs like "Killers" epitomized that spirit like few others could.|
Death Penalty (1982)
|Yes, it's blatant early Sabbath worship from this tongue-in-cheek NWOBHM band (one of the few bands from that movement to adopt this style), but that main riff is just a killer. And hey -- gotta love the cowbell!|
"Seek And Destroy"
Kill 'Em All (1983)
|I really don't want to sound like one of those snobs who says "So-and-so sucked after their first album", even though this list is full of debut-album songs. And of course I don't think that's the case with Metallica. But here's the thing -- ask me what I think the best Metallica album is, and I'll say Master Of Puppets (as would many, I'm sure). Ask me what my favorite Metallica album is, however, and it's Kill 'Em All, hands down. And given that I prefer the more mid-tempo thrash songs to the ultra-fast ones, it shouldn't be a shock that "Seek And Destroy" ranks this high. It's a song I played to death when I first heard it, and the first song that comes to my mind when Metallica is mentioned. I know it's not their best song, but that main riff, basic though it is, has stuck with me all these years.|
"Y Draig Goch"
With Vilest Of Worms To Dwell (2001)
|With Vilest Of Worms To Dwell is my favorite album of the new millennium, and while it's chock full of great songs, this is the best of the bunch. It's truly hard to believe that the main man here is also in charge of the bizarro death metal outfit Pungent Stench. No band has melded harsh black/death metal with lush symphonic orchestration as well as these guys -- most bands going the symphonic metal route lose the metal aspect, but not Hollenthon.|
"The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)"
Unleashed In The East (1979)
|It still amazes me that this is actually a Fleetwood Mac song, and thus one of the few cover songs to make my list. I'm pretty sure this was the first Priest song I ever heard (and I know for sure that Unleashed In The East was the first Priest album I ever owned), and I simply played this song to death back in the day.|
Into Glory Ride (1983)
|This song first appeared as a single in 1983, though it's the re-recorded Fighting The World version that I came to know and love. Recruiting the incomparable Orson Welles to contribute was the icing on the cake -- it would have been a great song anyway, but Welles' deep, resonant, yet not overdone narration just makes the song that much better. "Manowar" and "majestic" go hand in hand, of course, but majestic is really the best term to describe this great song.|
Iron Maiden (1980)
|I know that Maiden has a ton of great songs from the earlier Bruce years (and many that I like), but when I think of my favorite Maiden songs, the Di'Anno songs always come up first, like this classic from Killers.|
"Circle Of The Tyrants"
To Mega Therion (1985)
|I'm going to guess that "Circle" is among the most popular songs on arguably their best album, and among many brilliant Frost songs, it's my number pick. It embodies everything that is great about this unique and highly original band.|
"Beyond The Black"
Metal Church (1984)
|The one-two punch of "Beyond The Black" and "Metal Church" (which itself barely missed making the list) propelled this band's debut album to greatness. Powerfully heavy for its time (in fact, I'm pretty sure the phrase "power metal" was used back then as a description of their style, though years later the term would mean something quite different), Metal Church (the album) remains a metal landmark.|
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