Monday, September 19, 2005

Top 100 Metal Songs 60-51

UPDATE 1/5/2010: Check out my new list, The Top 50 Metal Albums of The Last Decade

In case you missed them . . .
Introduction, 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61

#60: “Halo” by Soil
Scars (2001)

This is a prime example of everything that’s good about nu-metal. It has a great hook, it’s heavy overall, and the vocalist growls in a voice somewhere between Lemmy Kilmister and Rob Zombie. To many people the song will sound suspiciously like Drowning Pool, but rest assured these guys were around first. Jason D. Taylor of All Music Guide has nothing but praise: "Scars is a straight-up rock & roll album, albeit with a modern twist that will make older listeners reminisce of rock from their youth, yet still has enough raw energy to keep younger fans entertained. . . . Songs such as "Breaking Me Down" and "Halo" have evident commercial appeal, yet have a coarse grittiness that is refreshing compared to many well-oiled industry singles. Vocalist Ryan McCombs has rock star quality oozing from his every pore, and listening to his boisterous bellows, one can easily envision him alongside such icons as Axl Rose and James Hetfield."

#59: “The Only” by Static-X
Shadow Zone (2003)

This one’s from the third effort by the so-called “evil disco” band Static-X. On this one vocalist Wayne Static explores his singing voice instead of simply grinding out his voice, and the two voices work well in conjunction. The hook, as in many nu-metal songs, is very compelling.

#58: “Waste” by Skrape
New Killer America (2001)

This band, like Static-X, is produced by Ulrich Wild. The sound is only somewhat similar, and they seem to have a heavy Deftones influence. Again, a great nu-metal hook makes the song.

#57: “Wait and Bleed” by Slipknot
Slipknot (1999)

When this one came out, it made waves in the world of heavy metal and beyond. All nine members of the band can be heard here, from the dual guitars and single bass to the DJ, drummer, and two custom percussionists. This factor makes it madness, yet it’s an amazingly coherent madness. The song also showcases all of Corey Taylor’s vocal moves (rapping like some kind of evil gangsta, singing like an angel, and screaming like a demon). Rick Anderson had this to say: "You thought Limp Bizkit was hard? They're the Osmonds. These guys are something else entirely. And it's pretty impressive. . . . An auspicious debut."

#56: “Prison Sex” by Tool
Undertow (1993)

Tool solidified their position as the metal version of Pink Floyd with the release of Undertow, and this track stands out. It opens with eerie scraping along guitar strings, and throughout the song their characteristic interplay of bass and guitar keeps the listener hooked. Maynard James Keenan never disappoints with his vocals, and the lyrics tell some kind of sick story that sounds like the narration of a serial killer, hitting a crescendo on the line “I have found some kind of sanity in this.” Rob Theakston of All Music Guide said: "Undertow not only paved the way for several bands to break through to the mainstream adolescent mall-rage demographic, it also proved that metal could be simultaneously intelligent, emotional, and brutal."

#55: “Blind” by Korn
Korn (1994)

“Are you ready?” The first line of the first song on Korn’s first album ushered in the era of nu-metal, combining the rhythm section of early hip hop with then-unusual detuned 7-string guitars (and the bass has an extra string too). Even if you don’t like where Korn has gone since, every self-respecting metalhead should own this album. Nearly every artist that has come since has been influenced by them (likewise for Tool, Alice in Chains, and White Zombie), and to this day they continue to release great new music. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music Guide said: "With little publicity, radio play, or MTV exposure, Korn took their eponymous 1994 debut to platinum status. Like all unexpected successes, it's easier to understand its popularity in retrospect. Although they disdain the "metal" label, there's no question that Korn are among the vanguard of post-grunge alt-metal outfits. Borrowing from Jane's Addiction, Rage Against the Machine, Pantera, Helmet, Faith No More, Anthrax, Public Enemy, and N.W.A, Korn developed a testosterone-fueled, ultra-aggressive metal-rap hybrid."

#54: “Breadfan” by Metallica
Garage Inc (1998)

Actually this song was on one of the original Garage Days Revisited albums in the late 80’s before they released . . . And Justice for All. This song covers little-known European progressive rock band Budgie, and it translates well into Metallica’s signature style.

#53: “Black Funeral” by Mercyful Fate
Melissa (1983)

This song signifies everything that the highly-influential black metal band is all about. Their characteristic loping rhythm is present, as are King Diamond’s over-the-top Satanic lyrics and bizarre vocal range. Falsetto: “Bring the black box to the altar” . . . Growl: “All hail Satan” Falsetto: “Yes hail Satan” . . . Growl: “She was a victim of my coven.” It’s probably the definitive Mercyful Fate song, and it’s on what is definitely the definitive Mercyful Fate album. Like Korn, every self-respecting metalhead should own Melissa. Steve Huey of All Music Guide had this to say: "Mercyful Fate's debut album, Melissa, took Black Sabbath's dark occult obsessions to an extreme, fusing them with the speed and tightened, twin-guitar riffing attack of British metal bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. But the band had a distinctive sound of its own, thanks to the neo-classical flourishes of guitarists Hank Shermann and Michael Denner and the unpredictable vocal leaps of King Diamond, who could jump from a deathly growl to an unearthly falsetto wail in the next line."

#52: “I Stand Alone” by Godsmack
Faceless (2003)

The flagship song of the movie-I-never-saw The Scorpion King, this one is a great one from the half-breed Alice in Chains meets White Zombie band-who-also-had-one-of-their-songs-on-commercials-for-the-Navy.

#51: “Anger Rising” by Jerry Cantrell
Degradation Trip Volumes 1&2 (2002)

Former Alice in Chains guitarist/singer Jerry Cantrell hit everything right with this one. (Side note: new Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo played for him on this album.) The song tells of an abused child in an Alabama trailer park, and it showcases Cantrell’s melodic side equally with his heavy side. The chorus kicks you in the head, also.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music Guide had some things to say: "[S]erious listeners and longtime fans will . . . appreciate the album as Cantrell's best record since Dirt. . . . [I]t is defiantly out of fashion and builds on Alice in Chains' early-'90s sound, but it certainly serves as an effective reminder in a time that's over-run with Alice in Chains clones of how powerful, dramatic, and resonant these hypnotic guitar dirges can be, especially when they're written by somebody at the top of their game."

Jump to . . .
50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, and the Top Ten

UPDATE 1/5/2010: Check out my new list, The Top 50 Metal Albums of The Last Decade

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