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.
"Symptom Of The Universe"
|Since I first heard this song (circa 1979), I've probably played it more than any other song, ever, and isn't that the criteria for one's all-time favorite song? The riff is a classic, Ozzy voice are lyrics are perfect, and the mellow latter half of the song (scorned during my younger days, now appreciated) just adds to the brilliance of this track.|
"Saints In Hell"
Stained Class (1978)
|Given that Stained Class is my favorite album of all time, of course a song from that album belongs on this list. And here it is, the monstrous "Saints In Hell". Everything is note-perfect here, with Halford on top of his game, the riffs are outstanding, the recording clarity is spot-on. I just can't say enough about this track -- Priest at their brilliant best.|
"Angel Of Death"
Angel Witch (1980)
|While compiling this list, I realized that I've got two unrelated songs with the same title, with Slayer's signature moment mentioned at position #67. Anyway, I've talked about the excellence of Angel Witch previously on this list when discussing the song "Atlantis" (#51), and had there not been the two-song-per-album restriction, "Confused" might have made the list as well. But "Angel Of Death" is the crown jewel of the album, with a mean main riff, haunting lyrics, and a memorable chorus.|
"Death Or Glory"
The Nightcomers (1981)
|Oh, that opening riff. It's well known that Metallica were big fans of these guys, and this song brings it into focus, as this is basically pre-thrash at its best. Holocaust has had a pretty remarkable career all things considered, but The Nightcomers is their best-known album, and an absolute NWOBHM classic.|
Never Say Die (1978)
|Basically I created this list to highlight songs like this one -- a song from the world's most famous band, but a song no one ever talks about. Recorded during one of their darkest days (Ozzy was pretty much on the way out in 1978), Never Say Die is a strange album by Sabbath standards, inconsistent, but containing a few good songs and this track, which I appreciate more and more every time I hear it.|
"Black Stone Wielder"
Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (1986)
|Others will point to early Messiah albums such as Nightfall and Ancient Dreams to find the best Candlemass works, but for me their first album, and in particular this track, is doom metal at its finest. Simply tremendous.|
"Blood Of My Enemies"
Hail To England (1984)
|Manowar already got a mention at #23, and in fact both that song and this one came from the same album, their finest in my opinion in Hail To England. This song embodies Manowar at their majestic best, and remains to this day as my favorite song by the band.|
"Ace Of Spades"
Ace Of Spades (1980)
|Taking a break from obscure songs by obscure bands to feature this classic of classics. How could this song not be on everyones' favorite list?!|
|Witchfynde was one strange band, to be sure, with a rather inconsistent recording career featuring a few greats ongs and also this, the plodding, spooky title track from their second album. Each of the four members contributes something odd to make this a really cool and interesting listen. For some reason I always think of this song playing in a haunted house during Halloween.|
Power Supply (1980)
|Like several other 70's British bands, Budgie seemed to spring back to life in 1980, perhaps spurred on by their young countrymen as the NWOBHM movement was taking off. Armed with a new guitarist, Power Supply delivered some classic Budgie greatness, none better than "Hellbender", which is by far my favorite track by the band -- I just can't get enough of that riff.|
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