"I've escaped it, a life wasted/And I'm never going back again." - Pearl Jam, "Life Wasted"

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Top 25 Metal songs

Where do you go after the mindless fun of hard rock? For me, I went deeper into the seriously gloomy side of heavy metal. Here's where the guitars get more malevolent, the singers get more menacing, and the lyrics get more heavy-handed. Not suitable for would-be serial killers.

Yet, it is the best ground to learn your guitar chops. If you can play the Metallica songs, master the Dream Theater epics, and keep up with Slayer's high-speed riffs, you can play anything else.

I've outgrown the era of buzzsaw guitars and double-pump drums, but here's 25 metal songs that I still like.

25 Kittie - What I Always Wanted
An all-girl thrash metal band? Sounds good! I would love an MTV segment where the members of Kittie would throttle every girl band in the world. Or force them to listen to this brutal dirge. Morgan Lander's guttural howl is something new, but certainly not pretty to the ears. Spine-tingling moment: When Lander alternates between a sweet voice and THAT growl in the verses.

24 Iron Maiden - Run To The Hills
I like their zombie mascot, Eddie, better than the band, but this track is tremendous fun. The twin guitars' furious gallop is a thrill, and Bruce Dickinson's vocals capture the quintessential era of NWOBM (New Wave of British Metal). Spine-tingling moment: The classic chorus: "Run to the hills! Run for your lives!"

23 Motorhead - Ace Of Spades
Lemmy sounds like the bike rider from hell, and he sums up the devil-may-care attitude of heavy metal in this anthem. Filthy good. Spine-tingling moment: Check the first verse: "The pleasure is to play, it makes no difference what you say, I don't share your greed, the only card I need is the Ace Of Spades!" Amen.

22 Tool - Sober
The weirdest metal band and, by far, the most haunting. Tool evoke a sense of imminent dread on this song with the barest of tools (pardon the pun). Two chords are enough to evoke a suicidal mood. Spine-tingling moment: The song's chilling by itself, but if you see the music video, featuring a tortured meat puppet, it will depress you like nothing else.

21 Slipknot - Left Behind
A brutal band, a brutal sound. Slipknot's relentless barrage is intimidating for many, so it's a welcomed respite when this "softer" song kicks in. Note that "soft" is relative: it's still an intense, crushing song. But at least Joey Taylor sings on this - not exactly a good thing, given the suicidal lyrics. Spine-tingling moment: The tense opening riff. Unpleasant, but in a good way.

20 Korn - Blind
Metal innovators, with their rumbling, seven-string guitar heroics. Korn ushered metal into the modern age with their intense, always interesting records. This is the first song on their debut, and what an evocative, striking sound they create. Spine-tingling moment: Jonathan Davis asks: "Are you ready?" Cue the heaviest guitar sound ever heard.

19 Metallica - Enter Sandman
The best metal band, hands down. Even in their later days, when they simplified their thunderous attack, their songs still hit with bone-crushing effect. This is their biggest hit, and features a detonating riff summoning all the bad things in your nightmares. Crunchy. Spine-tingling moment: The hushed prayer after the solo is a chilling touch.

18 Dream Theater - Erotomania
Dream Theater's gift is to make progressive metal accessible for all, without sacrificing the bold, intricate touches. My only gripe about this top-notch band is the soulless singer, so this lengthy instrumental is adequate. The way the band flies through the toughest riffs and rhythms is simply jaw-dropping. Spine-tingling moment: John Petrucci's solos are things of wonder, and you'll be lifting your jaws from the floor when he finishes his final solo.

17 Ozzy Osbourne - Crazy Train
All aboard! Demented rant from metal's biggest daddy, made spectacular by Randy Rhoads' elegant six-string heroics. Rhoads was often compared to Eddie Van Halen in terms of innovation and dexterity but, in terms of heaviness, he was tops. Just when you think the opening riff cannot be bettered, in comes another, and another, and another. Spine-tingling moment: The verse riff feels like sitting in a race car. Adrenaline rush alert.

16 Danzig - Mother
This one stands out because of its sheer minimalistic pleasure. Metal songs are prone to over-elaboration, but this song is tight, lean and sinewy. Not to mention insanely catchy, although I wouldn't like to sing this song on Mother's Day. Spine-tingling moment: Glenn Danzig puts all the hatred into his voice when he screams "Mother!" in the verses.

15 Tool - Ticks And Leeches
Eight minutes of unbridled fury, as Tool pour out their bile at their record company execs and lawyers for a protracted battle of their songs rights. This thunderous epic slashes through extreme mood changes - the quiet middle section seethes with rage before exploding in an orgy of tribal drumming and buzzsaw guitars. Spine-tingling moment: Maynard James Keenan screams "SUUUUUUUUUUUCK MEEEEEEE DRYYYY!" as if he is up to his neck with the creepy-crawlies in the song title.

14 Pantera - Regular People (Conceit)
Thumping headbanger that's buried deep inside the excellent "Vulgar Display Of Power" album. Pantera ratchet up the thrill factor in thrash metal by several notches during their heydays. Dimebag Darrell's gift was conjuring crushing riffs effortlessly, and this one features a few. Add Phil Anselmo's drill sergeant rants, and you'll want to bash anything near your path when listening to this song. Spine-tingling moment: Anselmo gets under your skin when he growls: "Most regular people will say it's hard, but any streetwise son of a bitch knows, don't fuck with this!" Grrrrrrrrrr.......

13 Slayer - Angel Of Death
The most extreme metal band that walked the earth. For a long time, I was scared to listen to their songs, for fear I would turn evil and murderous. That's how nasty their lyrics were. The music was also terrifying with its sheer velocity and brutality. This one, off their masterpiece "Reign In Blood", takes the cake for the horror the band are capable of. As Tom Araya describes in graphic detail how Nazi doctor Josef Mengeles conducted deadly experiments on Jews, the guitars screech in mimicking the victims' cries. Sickening. Spine-tingling moment: The guitar solo, tag-teamed by Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman. Terrifying.

12 Metallica - Master Of Puppets
Awesome diatribe on powerlessness by metal's most influential band. Before Metallica were mainstream monsters, they were breaking boundaries for metal. Elaborate song structures and bone-rattling riffs are the norm, and this one pulls out all the tricks in the bag. Spine-tingling moment: There are two. The harmonised guitars at the middle section is Metallica at their majestic heights, and the maniacal laughter that ends the song is a nice touch.

11 Faith No More - Land Of Sunshine
Chris Patton is metal's clown prince, and his band complements his hair-pin mood swings ably in this sardonic anthem. And Jim Martin is an underrated guitarist because he's so economical. Yet, FNM are never the same when he left. Spine-tingling moment: For a moment, you think the lyrics are optimistic. Then Patton lets loose a barrage of manical laughs. Oh.

10 Dream Theater - Under A Glass Moon
Progressive metal are notorious for their over-elaboration. Thankfully, Dream Theater know how much excessive musicianship is good for us. This is a whirlwind of rattling double-pump drums, wicked time signature changes and excellent riffs. It makes the castrato singing almost bearable. Spine-tingling moment: The stop-start rhythm that announces the instrumental bridge will mess with your mind. Where's one?

9 Sepultura - Roots Bloody Roots
This Brazilian band toil gamely under the music radar and produced some outstanding thrash metal albums, full of fiery guitars and monstrous solos. This one does away with soloing, and adds tribal drums into the potent mix of raging growls and rumbling guitars. Magnifico. Spine-tingling moment: When Andreas Kisser howls "Roots! Bloody roots!", as if his tribe is meeting its bloody end.

8 Metallica - Wherever I May Roam
In terms of song arrangement, Metallica are second to none. They know when to hold back, and when to pummel you senseless. The shifts in dynamics propel this song to awesome heights. A eastern-tinged sitar roars into a mighty riff, then speeds up to drive the song into the verse, and this is just the intro. James Hetfield knows what's good for us. Spine-tingling moment: Lars Ulrich comes in with the mightiest snare drum ever heard.

7 Korn - Freak On A Leash
Metal's mad scientists throw in dissonant noises, strange noodlings and odd rhythms into a potent brew, and concoct a seriously-addictive sound. On songs like these, they offer a path for metal's future, although not many have the inventiveness to continue on their trailblazing path. Spine-tingling moment: Singer Jonathan Davis suddenly breaks into an utterly insane bridge, where he whines, growls and grunts his way through the cacophony.

6 Pantera - Mouth For War
The redneck guardians of good-time thrash metal, Pantera refuse to budge from their calling - brutal, unpredictable songs that advocate non-violence and straight-edge living. Paradoxic it may be, but the intricate riffs and devil-may-care attitude influenced practically every 1990s metal band to go heavier and with less morbidness. RIP Dimebag Darrell, metal guitar god. Spine-tingling moment: Nothing beats the opening torrent of riffs.

5 Tool - Schism
Unique among all metalheads, Tool bring their exceptional musicianship into the murks of gloom, and craft intriguing masterpieces that bear countless revisits. This song twist and turns through a myriad of moods and Maynard James Keenan's obtuse lyrics. The result is a haunting epic that eats at your conscience slowly. Spine-tingling moment: The weird bassline propels the song into otherwordly depths.

4 Megadeth - Holy Wars...The Punishment Due
It's hard to make metal songs swing, given their unrelenting pace. But somehow Megadeth succeeds to creating masterful epics full of swagger and sway. Even on bleak songs like this, there is a sense of groove that most gloom merchants ignore. Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman perfect the art of guitar duelling, and they spit first-class riffs and solos like few others here. Spine-tingling moment: Mustaine conjures a brain-rattling opening riff as Friedman adds exquisite lines. Beauty amid the beast.

3 Slayer - Hell Awaits
Like the scariest horror movies you've seen, Slayer at their extreme best (worst?) fill the mind with fearful thoughts and unshakeable dread. "Reign In Blood" may be their best album, but this is their trademark song. The topic of choice? Why, of devils and demons taking over the earth, of course. Be prepared to be dragged, still screaming, into the pits of hell. Spine-tingling moment: The eeriest opening I've heard - ungodly growls with backward chanting. Then the band marches in with demonic force - literally sounding like an army of darkness closing in on you.

2 Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath
The birth of heavy metal. Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward create the biggest, sludgiest, most ominous sound in 1970, and thousands of youths were drawn in, like rats to the pied piper. The genius is to make their songs sound like a thrill instead of a dirge, and Osbourne's gleeful take on the bleak lyrics is a total gas. Makes you want to laugh evilly, like Dr Evil. Spine-tingling moment: Ozzy's tragi-comic wail at the end of each verse: "Oh no, please God help me!"

1 Metallica - Fade To Black
There is nothing this band cannot excel in. James Hetfield creates brilliant riffs with his eyes closed, but on this one, he reaches for geniune, gut-wrenching emotions. A bleak lament in imminent suicide, I was struck by the real pain Hetfield draws from two simple verses. The music is flawless, starting with morose acoustic guitars and a sorrowful Kirk Hammett solo. The acoustic guitars continue with some flourishes before the crunching distortion summons the wordless chorus. The sudden charge into gloom midway speaks of no way out, and Hammett's elegant final solo sounds like the last thoughts before a life is taken. Shattering. Spine-tingling moment: The glum synth that opens the song. No love ballad here.


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2:55 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Metallica sucks. None of there songs should be on this list. Megadeth blows Metallica away as much as Dave Mustaine blows Kirk Hammet away. "Wake up Dead" and "Last Rites/Loved to Deth" should be on the list.

1:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Metallica Rule
You should try some kind of monster

3:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

pantera is the best band eva and dime is GOD!!! how come there arent any lamb of god songs in there?
no. 1 shud be cemetary gates or revolution is my name...

5:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

metallica fukn rulz, megadeth suks, u had sum pretty good choice of ing but u needed abit more of metallica. metallica 4 lyf

4:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmmm i like some of these songs...but i like some of Maximum The Hormone's songs better...and maybe some of Polysics's (some of their lyrics are deep man!!!!! xD)

1:38 PM

Blogger geoff said...

oh man, metal? where's the metal in your list? iron maiden should feature more. what about man o' war, hammerfall, children of bodom, norther?

4:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

man u got no taste in music cuz inflames should be introduced @ the top 5 @least and u got no cradle of filth they may be death metal a lil but still u still need 2 add them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
my name is shane just so u know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

6:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

for one matelica dont suck dey just need to get a new lead singer cuz he trys too hard to look like godsmack and he ante all dat great eather

6:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think some of these are good but you should check out a band called "Lamb of god" the song is "redneck"
Heavy ass metal!!!

3:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

metallica rocks man who ever says metallica suck can go suck

6:48 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, Megadeth Blows the corn hole off metallica, heres my list
10.Peace sells-Megadeth
9.Mr crowley-Ozzy ozbourne
8.skull beneath the skin-Megadeth
7.Seek and destroy-Metallica
6.Killing is my business
5.Last rites/Loved to deth-Megadeth
3.Four horsemen-Metallica
2.Chosen ones-Megadeth

I know Metallica suck now but up until dave mustaine got kicked out they were good, esspecially four horsemen which is basiclly mechanix slowed down.

2:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

in all honesty metal is such a big genre
there all good bands
there are tonnes of bands he hasnt included but hell he probably didnt think bou em
and plus its his opinion
but we all need more lamb of god dont we?
and maiden too gota love em
i like the bands he put up but 25 is not a big enough list.

im not a baked being! im a human being

1:34 AM

Blogger Ron said...

REDNECK from LAMB OF GOD is the best song eva thought its explicit

1:32 PM

Anonymous JIZZ IN MY PANTS said...

I hear metalica, megadeath, pantera and lamb of god....and dont get me wrong there all good but I think u guys forgot disturbed and slipknot!!! best bands in the world!!!

2:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, who the fuck is Chris Patten?! Did you seriously write that? Christ!

5:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Megadeath Sympony of Destruction should have been on the list

5:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I shall settle this fuss about who is a better band/song.
There is no better band, if there is, it is what you think is the best band/song

7:58 AM


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