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.
|This is an absolute no-brainer -- how can this riff be omitted from a favorite metal song list? People might debate on which Sabbath album is their best, and I think I'd nominate Paranoid, it certainly features several of their most well-known songs.|
Psalm 9 (1984)
|Trouble already had a pretty healthy underground buzz going by the time they recorded their debut album (thanks to the tape-trading crowd), and they did not disappoint. Psalm 9, the album, is a classic, and so is "Psalm 9" the song, from one of my all-time favorite doom bands.|
"Am I Evil?"
Lightning To The Nations (1979)
|Ah, Diamond Head, the Career That Would Not Be. These guys had everything going for them and everyone predicted superstardom based on this independent album, predictions that grew louder when the band signed to a major label. But even though their career didn't pan out as expected, there's still a slew of great songs on Lightning, none better than this, unquestionably the band's iconic moment. Further immortalized by Metallica years later (and one of a handful of songs that clearly shows from whom Metallica derived their early sound), it's just tremendous, with that biting pre-thrash riff and Sean Harris' soaring vocals leading the way. They re-recorded the song for their second album (Borrowed Time), but the original version is far better.|
Souls At Zero (1992)
|My first exposure to Neurosis is one of those events that every music fan experiences sometime -- walking into a record store (in this case, in San Diego), hearing an unknown band, and saying to oneself "What is this? This is cool -- I've got to buy it!". Neurosis has always lived on the outside of the metal mainstream, though I'd argue that Souls At Zero is, by comparison, probably a bit closer to traditional metal than their later works.|
Frizzle Fry (1990)
|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. Curiously, this is one of the very few songs on this for which I can't find a Youtube clip to link to.|
|Grotus was an odd band, hard to pigeon-hole, combining industrial influences with plenty of bass-heavy groove and a variety of interesting lyrical subjects. Several songs off their outstanding Slow Motion Apocalypse were list-worthy, but I chose this song off their debut album. Like a few other songs on this list, this is less traditional metal and more haunting mood. The spoken narration that opens the song (J. Robert Oppenheimer talking about how his research contributed to the construction of the atomic bomb (a similar quote also used effectively by Legend) sets the harrowing tone for the rest of the song (a quote I found on the Internet says it better than I could: "The image of mushroom clouds as flowering blooms is a rare poetic touch for Grotus ..."). I really wish this band had been able to stick around longer.|
|Though not their first album, Overkill was where it really all started for Motorhead. And while they made their mark with the speedier tunes over the years, this slower, moodier song remains a favorite of mine. Several other songs from this album could have made this list, notably the title track and "Metropolis".|
"Die By The Sword"
Show No Mercy (1983)
|The first Slayer track on this list is also the earliest. Show No Mercy isn't Slayer's best album, but like Metallica on their debut album (also released in 1983), these guys came out of the gate forging new ground on what would become the most prevalent metal genre of the decade and beyond. "The Antichrist", also from this album, barely missed making the list as well.|
(EP) Torch (1982)
|This band came out of nowhere in the early 80's, with a mean edge and a pretty heavy sound for the time. Not a very complex song, and perhaps a bit dated now, but I loved it at the time and I still think it stands up well.|
Python Zero (2001)
|This song is just plain strange from a metal standpoint, especially the western-y acoustic guitar intro that sounds straight out of a Quentin Tarantino flick. Not at all a typical Dismal Euphony song, but that was one of the selling points the point of this odd band -- though their base sound was sort of a melodic black/gothic metal hybrid, they never repeated themselves over the course of four albums and frequently went off the tracks with songs like this one. The aforemention Western flavor pervades throughout the song, almost like a metal version of a Clint Eastwood movie soundtrack. I can't imagine that many would put this on a top songs list, but I personally think it's great.|
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