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.
"Deeds Of Darkness"
Deadly Relics (1998)
|This song appears on the band's debut album Fear Of Tomorrow, but I always liked this demo version better (perhaps because I heard it first), as the guitars are sharper and the raw production just semed to fit better (even if the vocals are a bit of an acquired taste). This song is chock full of great riffs both fast and slow, really a cool early 80's song.|
|I still vividly remember being blown away by the sheer heaviness of this album when I first heard it. Just two guys and a well-programmed drum machine, a sonic wall of feedback and industrial thunder, yet there are real riffs here, not just random noise. I know Justin isn't as proud of Streetcleaner as he is his later works, but to me this moment couldn't be matched. The ultra-rhythmic "Pulp", the song that followed this one on the album, narrowly missed making this list as well.|
The Nightcomers (1981)
|By some standards this song was a misstep by this quintessential NWOBHM band, who were more well known for bashing out anthemic hits like "Heavy Metal Mania". But I think it fuses several elements quite well, with a brooding intro and ominous verses mixed with a prototypical Holocaust riff.|
|Sirens (the album) is a classic early-80's American metal album, the band embarking on a lengthy career that would stray noticeably from these early roots, yet always remaining a truly classy band. This album and the followup (The Dungeons Are Calling) show the band at its rawest and heaviest, and "Sirens" the song remains my favorite song by these guys.|
Sad Wings Of Destiny (1976)
|Truth be told, Sad Wings Of Destiny disappointed me greatly when I first heard it. I attribute this to the fact I'd heard the live Unleashed In The East album first, and I loved all of the Sad Wings songs on that album, and when I finally heard this album later, I found the studio versions lacking. I've since reversed course on that -- it's undeniable that here, on only the band's second album, they were still finding their way, and in particular the production here doesn't hold up to modern standards. But "Tyrant" is an undisputed classic, and now I think I prefer this version to the live one. The best of Priest was yet to come, but already they were on their way.|
Physical Graffiti (1975)
War And Pain (1984)
|In general, very early Voivod is not my favorite period by the band, as I felt they were just a bit raw and messy back then -- it wasn't until albums such as Killing Technology and Dimension Hatross where they came into their own (see previous song entries for evidence). But if you ask me what my favorite Voivod song is, it's got to be "Nuclear War". Even back then Piggy's unique guitar tone was on target, and teamed with Away's rhythmic, marching percussion and Snake's hoarse yet unmistakable vocals, makes this an unforgettable song.|
"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976)
|To be honest, I'm more apt to greatly respect AC/DC for their longevity than really like their songs, especially since they have so many hits that have been played to death on the radio. This song, though, stands out as an old-time favorite for me -- like practically all their songs, it's simple yet effective hard rock done right.|
"Pack It Up (And Go)"
|Obsession was Michael Schenker's last album with UFO before departing (though he would return some seventeen years later), and I'm not sure why this song is more well-known, as it's got to be one of UFO's heaviest songs. For some reason I draw a parallel between this song and Aerosmith's "Nobody's Fault" (#85) -- the songs have vague similarities and both demonstrate a darker, meaner side than one normally hears from their respective bands.|
Best Of Warlord (1993)
|I'm not quite sure what went wrong with Warlord, these guys had such an original style, the perfect blend of class and heaviness, but it wasn't meant to be. This song appeared on an early Metal Massacre compilation, and remains one of the band's finest moments.|
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