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.
Ethel The Frog
Ethel The Frog (1980)
|"Eleanor Rigby" is far and away my favorite Beatles song, and at least four bands on my site have recorded covers of it. Given my love of the NWOBHM, it shouldn't come as a surprise that this version is my favorite. I could go on and on about cover songs in general, but that's for another time -- suffice to say that I think this version does what a good cover song should, and that's retain both the original song's integrity as well as infuse with the covering band's style, without either side going overboard (in other words, don't bastardize the original version, but don't clone it either). Ethel The Frog was one of many buy-on-sight albums for me back in the day, and while they were never going to change the world, I've always liked the album as well as this song.|
|I once described Madder Mortem as a more metallic version of The 3rd And The Mortal, and this song demonstrates that well, though their later efforts went in a somewhat different direction. This is a slow, doomy song, but not really doom metal in the traditional sense, with driving guitars and several ups and downs that eventually lead to a fantastic ending.|
Virgin Killer (1976)
|A far cry from the band that produced hits like "Rock You Like A Hurricane", early Scorpions were quite a different animal indeed, but this was the Scorpions I really liked back when I first discovered them in the early 80's. The title track from the album with the highly controversial cover, this is one of my favorite Scorpions songs.|
Fabulous Disaster (1989)
|I'm guessing that Bonded By Blood would get the nod by most as best Exodus album, and there's no denying it's a classic (the title track is a killer, just missed this list). But personally, I liked Fabulous Disaster just a bit better, the guys were absolute nailing the classic thrash style, and this is my favorite song off that album.|
|There are certainly more popular Aerosmith songs than this, but one would be hard pressed to find a song from their catalog that's more truly metallic, as they've always been more of a hard rock band. And several of those old classics were BNR mainstays back in the day, but this one comes out on top, really a monster song. Effectively covered by Testament many years later.|
|By 1971 Black Sabbath was already on their third album and singlehandedly defining heavy metal. Most of the other bands on this site who released albums in 1971 were more hard rock or sort of furthering the acid rock of the late 60's. Budgie, that oddball Welsh trio, was kind of straddling those two styles but also was clearly in its own world, just starting down the path of quirky songwriting. "Guts" was one of their heavier early songs, and a good representation of the style (or, one of them) that they would develop as their career progressed. Make no mistake -- this is anything but modern, but I think it's a great early metal tune.|
"Whatever That Hurts"
|Tiamat spent much of its career drifting from one style to another. Wildhoney was a pivotal and transitional album for the band, moving away from the more doom-deathy sounds of their early career but not yet arriving at the goth style they're known for now. "Whatever That Hurts" is rooted in doomdeath but also has some atmospheric moments and alternates between harsh and clean vocals effectively. I really like the mood portrayed here.|
"This Is Not An Exercise"
Killing Technology (1987)
|In my opinion, Killing Technology, Voivod's third album, is where the band really starting firing on all cylinders, harnessing and refining the rawness of their earlier works but retaining that distinctive sound and style that made them truly a one-of-a-kind band. Several songs from that album might have made my list, but this one is my favorite.|
"Return To The Praesidium Of Ys"
Battle Magic (1998)
|Bal-Sagoth, it seems, gets a lot of flak for their over-the-top-ness and sometimes cheesy approach to symphonic metal. And yeah, I can see that -- I mean, go take a look at their song titles. But while they aren't a band I often listen to, when they do it right, they do it right. This song comes off their third album, arguably their most typical or representative of their style, and in reality it's not a lot different from many of their other songs. But somehow this song stuck to me -- I love the narrative vocal style, the music is full of pomp but never loses track of the metal side, it ebbs and flows from calm to chaotic, it's really just plain great.|
Shock Tactics (1981)
|Die-hard Iron Maiden should know about Samson -- for those who don't, this was the band that Bruce Dickinson sang with before replacing Paul Di'Anno in 1982. Head On, the album before this one, was the better album overall, but "Earth Mother" was my favorite Samson song.|
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