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.
"Hell Bent For Leather"
Hell Bent For Leather (1978)
|1978 was a banner year for the Priest, releasing not one but two truly classic metal albums. Here we have the title track from the second of the two, one of the band's better-known song from the era and deservedly so.|
"Why Don't You Kill Me?"
Death In The Nursery (1982)
|This song just beats out "Choices" (#97) as my favorite song from one of my all-time favorite albums. The Legend trademarks are here in spades -- a quite original sound, unique vocals, thought-provoking lyrics, and a killer riff.|
"Kill The King"
Masters Of Reality
Masters Of Reality (1988)
|The Masters Of Reality are hardly a typical BNR band. And even this song, probably their most metallic, really isn't normally my cup of tea, as this is really more of a swaggering hard rock song. Something, though, stuck with me, and it remains a favorite. The album got a lot of great reviews but never took off commercially, and though the band survived for years later (and may still be going), this album was their only real moment to shine.|
"Jerry Was A Race Car Driver"
Sailing The Seas Of Cheese (1991)
|I still remember being baffled when I first heard the opening bass riff to this song -- even though I'd heard Primus before and knew what Les was capable of, my first reaction was "what is THAT?". The song absolutely grew on me almost immediately and remains one of my favorite Primus songs.|
Dimension Hatross (1988)
|I wrote about Voivod earlier when picking a song from their third album, and here they are one album later, still honing and improving their original style. Piggy's signature guitar work is at the forefront as usual, but there's also some nice rumbling bass work courtesy of Blacky, some interesting time signatures for Away to work with, and Snake's understated, cool vocals. It's truly a testament to this band's greatness in that no two of their albums were quite the same, yet all sound uniquely like no other band.|
Tygers Of Pan Tang
Wild Cat (1980)
|Another slice of simplistic NWOBHM goodness. The Tygers progressed quite rapidly after this album, first to a more mature metal style and then towards classic hard rock by the mid-80's. Here, though, they were just another young British band joining the NWOBHM rush, and this song in particular is classic for the day, featuring a heavy but quite basic riff. In terms of originality or technicality this won't score much, but I've always found it a cool and memorable tune.|
"Angel Of Death"
Reign In Blood (1986)
|"Angel Of Death" is not only one of Slayer's most popular songs (maybe the most popular), it's become one of those transcendent songs that represents the entire music genre ("You want to know what metal sounds like? This is what metal sounds like.") Even the mighty South Park knew this, as the song was featured in a classic episode. And it's a deserving honor, the song's an undisputed classic, and embodies everythat is great about the band.|
Treponem Pal (1989)
|I've always thought that the bass guitar is sorely underutilized in metal, and songs in which the bass line is the lead will always win points with me. "Silico", the opening track off the debut album from the odd French industrial-ish band Treponem Pal, is just such a song, the main bass riff is just plain cool.|
"Weavers Of The Web"
Open The Gates (1985)
|What fascinates me about this band is that, even though their style is traditional 80's metal and nothing else, they have one of the most distinct sounds of any metal. This song came of their fourth album (and, in my opinion, their first really good album) and is a fine representation of their style.|
Caress Of Steel (1975)
|As one of the first bands I listened to during my very early metal days, Rush had to be on this list somewhere. "2112" was considered, though while I've always appreciated it, it's not a song I come back to very often. But "Bastille Day" is just that kind of song, culled from one of their least-well-received albums but still a great representative of 70's metal.|
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