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.
Angel Witch (1980)
|Angel Witch was undeniably one of the best albums from the NWOBHM scene, and it's really too bad that Kevin Heybourne and his crew were never able to match this debut's brilliance. "Angel Witch" (the song) is possibly the band's best-known song with its catchy chorus and anthemic tone, but I found "Atlantis" to be a better song, uptempo but with a slightly darker feel.|
"In The Grip Of A Tyrefitter's Hand"
Never Turn Your Back On A Friend (1973)
|On this, their third album, Budgie started to really hit their stride. On any given album of theirs you'll find straight-up rockers, bluesy numbers, folky ballads, but always a few quirky metallic numbers like this one. Because of this, it's difficult to say that any one Budgie song is a typical Budgie song, but I'd say that this song is a great representative of their heavier side. Few bands were playing stuff like this back then, and really no one before, during or since really sounds like Budgie.|
Reign In Blood (1986)
|I'd wager that "Angel Of Death" is the popular choice for best song of Reign In Blood (if not the entire Slayer catalog), and yes, it's great (after all, it is on the list at #67), but I've always been slightly partial to this song.|
"Come To The Sabbath"
Don't Break The Oath (1984)
|Mercyful Fate was one of the pioneering bands of the early 80's, with a crushing yet unique style that proved influential to many bands though few really captured their style. This song comes off their second, and arguably best, album.|
"Symphony Of Destruction"
Countdown To Extinction (1992)
|In several cases, I'm sure, people will say I've picked rather less well-known tracks by the more famous bands rather than the obvious choices. Here, one might say the opposite is true, as "Symphony" is one of Megadeth's most famous tunes but (my guess) perhaps not the choice of their hardcore fan base. And I can see that, it lacks the complexity of their earlier songs (which I do enjoy), but for some reason the simplicity here works for me, as that riff stuck in my head the first time I heard it and has never left.|
|Legend's two outstanding early 80's albums are a constrast in styles, with the debut being the heavier, slightly Sabbathy effort, and the followup a bit more jazzy. "Buried Alive" comes from the debut, and might be their heaviest song. I love everything about this song, from the pure might of the main riff, to the lyrics, to the spacy-ish speedy solo midway.|
Mute Poet Vocalizer (1990)
|I've raved about this band ever since I first heard them, knowing that an experimental instrumental band isn't going to be everyone's metallic cup of tea. Their first album is chock full of great songs, but I'm fascinated by this one simply because of its odd time structure -- the guitars and bass are playing in 4/4 time, and the drummer plays in 3/4 time. It's the oddest thing (it took me awhile to figure it out), but it works just fine.|
"Of The Sun + Moon"
Of The Sun And Moon (1986)
|I've enjoyed this band ever since my first listen of an early demo, followed by an appearance on a Metal Massacre compilation, and then this album, one of my favorites from one of the most prolific years in metal. Several songs off this album are favorite-listworthy (in particular, "Fieldz The Sunshrine" and "Legacy" just missed the cut), but the title track here, a more relaxed song but still featuring that distinctive Sacred Blade heaviness and style, is my choice for their best song.|
"Lambs To The Slaughter"
Rock Until You Drop (1981)
|I remember this being a buy-on-sight purchase back in 1981 at Tower Records in Sacramento (a signed import copy no less). I must have read something about them beforehand, though, as I really don't see anything about that amateurish album cover that would make me think they were any good. Though, to be honest, anything that showed up in the import metal section was fair game back then. In any case, it was money well spent, it quickly became a NWOBHM favorite, and "Lambs To The Slaughter" is by far my favorite song, an uptempo number that epitomized their youthful, frenzied style.|
"Another Piece Of Meat"
|In general I prefer the Roth-era 70's version of Scorpions better than the later period where they hit the big time. Lovedrive was the first post-Roth album, but I think it's their best overall. Aside from the hilarious album cover, it contained some gems, none better than this up-tempo number, featuring a heavier style than the material found on Blackout and later.|
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