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.
(EP) Demon Pact (2006)
|A ton of NWOBHM released singles back in the day, and I'm sure many bought they could (and may well be reaping the rewards, some of those are true collector's items). Me, I bought a handful (Blitzkrieg's, as mentioned at #24, was one), but this obscurity was my favorite. Demon Pact never went on to greatness, it was years later before the single (of which "Raiders" was the B-side) and some other tracks were put out as a way posthumous compilation, but yet this one song was a defining moment for me -- I played this song to death. It's a simple song, really, with a basic but mean riff and somewhat snarled vocals. As with several others songs on this list, I'm not going to claim that this was a technically brilliant song, but there's no way I was going to omit this from my list.|
Point Of Entry (1981)
|Of all the Priest songs on this list, "Desert Plains" is likely to be the most unconventional. Frankly, I don't think 80's Priest holds a candle to their 70's brilliance, and even those who might disagree with that sentiment probably don't rate Point Of Entry highly -- while it did spawn "Heading Out To The Highway", the album isn't considered one of their best. And in fact this song passed me by when I first heard it, but over time I've come back to it over and over again. It's not complex, it's not their heaviest song, but there's just something satisfying and soothing about it.|
"Each Dawn I Die"
Hail To England (1984)
|Yes, Manowar's over-the-top image makes them an easy target for ridicule. And yes, they've become a caricature of themselves in recent years. But I'll still put up their first four albums against almost any band's corresponding efforts, and arguably the best of the four is Hail To England, from which this great song is culled. The centerpieces here, as with most Manowar tunes, are Joey DeMaio's peerless basswork and Eric Adams' powerful vocals. Yet the main riff is one of the meanest the band has ever penned, and while the phrase "pounding drums" is an oft-overused cliche, it really fits here.|
A Time Of Changes (1985)
|One of Blitzkrieg's finest moments is their very first single in 1981, featuring the song "Blitzkrieg" (one of several songs famously covered by Metallica back in the day), and this song as the B-side. Both songs appeared re-recorded on their debut album four years later, but these early versions were much better in my opinion. And while I love "Blitzkrieg", I've always slightly favored "Buried Alive", a more controlled song but still very representative of the NWOBHM movement.|
Blue Oyster Cult
|Having already listed two somewhat lesser-known Cult songs, now we come to one a bit more familiar to all. One of the great riffs of all time, and a trip to listen to in headphones as well.|
"Sabbath Bloody Sabbath"
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)
|So many brilliant Sabbath songs to choose from, it's pretty much impossible to choose just five, and I've done two from Paranoid already. The whole song is great, of course, but the latter section, where Ozzy wails the title, is just plain awesome.|
"The Chase Is Better Than The Catch"
Ace Of Spades (1980)
|On an album chock full of classics, this has always been a favorite of mine. I'm pretty sure that Ace Of Spades was the first Motorhead album I ever bought, and didn't this song begin side A (back in the days of vinyl of course)? So there you go. I still think it's a great song.|
"Sex With Satan"
Metal Inquisition (1985)
|None of us knew the real story when this album came out, though I guess the signs were there, what with the goofy album cover, songs like "Sex With Satan" (with lyrics just as ridiculous as the title would suggest) and so on. So, in some respects, putting this song on the list is kind of a guilty pleasure. But, truthfully, this song kills, the riff slices and dices and Gord's vocals are just perfect. Who said every metal song has to be intellectual or serious?|
"Sounds Of War"
|Far from an iconic Accept track, this came off the band's little-regarded debut, released several years before they started putting it together with their two best-received albums, Restless And Wild (1982) and their world-wide breakout album Balls To The Wall (1983). To be honest, I can't remember a single thing about the rest of this album, but "Sounds Of War" is a classic. To me, it's got a dark, quirky style that reminds me quite a bit of mid-70's era Scorpions. Others may well put "Fast As A Shark", off the aforementioned Restless And Wild, on a list like this, and I'd have no problem with that, it's more of a classic metal tune and a great one at that.|
"Tyrants In Distress"
Energetic Disassembly (1986)
|The original technical thrash maestros, Watchtower were in their own world back in the 80's. Their second album (Control And Resistance) is their more mature effort, but on Energetic Dissassembly they were at their chaotic best. Jason McMaster may have gone on to more profitable ventures after this album, but I love his voice here. And the rhythm section is simply unparalleled. Compared to today's super-technical bands, this isn't that complex, but for its day they couldn't be beat. Energetic Disassembly is one of my favorite albums of the 80's, and this song leads the way.|
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