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.
|I don't remember UFO being a major player back in the late 70's when I first got into metal -- my guess is that they were more popular in their native England than here in the US. But they certainly were a great hard rock/metal band in those days (and even now, they're still going strong). Phenomenon was the band's fourth album, but the first featuring former Scorpions guitarist Michael Schenker, which surely gave the band a boost. "Rock Bottom" is one of the standout cuts from that album, with a main riff that I've always found unique and captivating.|
"Welcome To Hell"
Welcome To Hell (1981)
|Black Metal is probably most people's choice for best Venom album, but I like Welcome To Hell better, and the title track is the major reason why. It's raw, it's simplistic, it's evil ... it's Venom.|
Push Comes To Shove (1995)
|On this, their third album, Kong was really hitting their stride with their unique brand of ecletic prog instrumental metal. "Arabloop" isn't their heaviest song ever, but it's got a cool groove that I've found fascinating from the first time I heard it.|
"Monolith Of Infinity"
Poetry Of Subculture (demo) (1984)
|As I write this, there is not yet a BNR page for this band. If (or rather, when) it comes online, it will break a cardinal rule for my site, that being the one that says I don't feature bands that don't have official releases. As it turned out, this obscure Danish band only recorded one demo, and only a three-song demo at that. But the last of those three songs is this monstrous, 12-minute epic, easily my favorite song acquired during my demo tape-trading days in the eighties. I thought they had quite an original style, but two bands that come to mind when describing them happen to also be Danish, those being Mercyful Fate and Artillery (the Artillery track at #41 bears some similarity to this song). The vocals here are understated, not terribly well sung, but also quite sparse, as this song is largely instrumental, consisting of riff after riff after crushing riff. Despite its length, the song never gets tiring since it's always changing, yet there's cohesion overall. I so wish this band had gone to at least put out an album, but it was not meant to be.|
The 3rd And The Mortal
Tears Laid In Earth (1994)
|The 3rd And The Mortal may be one of the least metallic bands on this list, as their style (at least on this album) is more of a gentle atmospheric band with doom touches and wonderful soprano vocals. But there's a moodiness and darkness that many metal fans, myself definitely included, have been drawn to. "Oceana" is an absolute epic, at 18 minutes long befitting its name (think of waves washing onto a beach) and showcasing all that was great about this band. For the uninitiated, the rest of this album is of a similar vein, but their later material is noticeably different.|
(EP) The Day Of Retribution (1982)
|Doom fans might remember that this band was an early incarnation of Candlemass. And in fact this song later appeared in a different form, re-recorded some six years later on the Ancient Dreams album with the title "Incarnation Of Evil". I like this version better, though -- it's classic early doom at its finest.|
|I've already chosen "Iron Man" from the classic Paranoid for this list, and the title track deserves to be here too, but I made my two-song-per-album limit, and so "War Pigs" gets the nod.|
"The Four Horsemen"
Kill 'Em All (1983)
|Kill 'Em All is full of classic early thrashers, though this song (originally known as "The Mechanix" on their demo, and named as such by Dave Mustaine when he did his version with Megadeth), has a more mid-tempo main riff that I like better.|
"Don't Burn The Witch"
Black Metal (1982)
|Ah, Venom. Say what you will about those early albums featuring bad musicianship and production, they were blazing a path that both death and black metal would follow years later. Again I've picked a less obvious song to represent this album rather than, say, the title track, but I've always loved the main riff on this song.|
"Cities On Flame"
Blue Oyster Cult
Blue Oyster Cult (1972)
|Not the Cult's most popular song ("(Don't Fear) The Reaper" would take that honor), but on the strength of an unforgettable main riff, this might be one of their more metallic moments, though BOC was never about crushing heaviness. No one really sounded like this in 1972, then again few bands have ever really sounded like Blue Oyster Cult.|
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