Thursday, October 13, 2005

Top 100 Metal Songs 30-21

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

People just now beginning to come to my blog (and there are a lot more since the last installment, according to Site Meter) probably won’t be all that interested in my list. But it is something that I began (back in June, I think), and I intend to finish it.
In case you missed them . . .
Introduction, 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61, 60-51, 50-41, 40-31

#30: “The Ripper” by Mercyful Fate
A Tribute to Judas Priest – Legends of Metal (1997)

I’m not exactly big on Judas Priest, but this song, as performed by Mercyful Fate, really rocks. Instead of the normal loping rhythm that characterizes Mercyful Fate’s songs, this one goes in a more ominous fashion with basically a narrative coming from King Diamond. The solo isn’t much to talk about, but it’s the vocal style that makes this song so great, as it’s the only such example from the scariest Dane.

#29: “Big Truck” by Coal Chamber
Coal Chamber (1997)

Dez’s scary voice is done perfect justice by the crunchy guitars on this one. The verses are full of pent-up energy, the bridge builds on that energy, and the chorus lets it all out in excellent rhythmic fashion. In essence, this is a perfectly written and executed example of the late 90’s metal style.

#28: “Push It” by Static-X
Wisconsin Death Trip (1999)

This song is the flagship of the crazy “evil disco” band. It’s characterized by a danceable beat played too fast for normal dancing, and Wayne Static’s early voice style (nearly death metal in parts, but certainly all his own, alternating between low and high screams).

#27: “Stillborn” by Black Label Society featuring Ozzy Osbourne
The Blessed Hellride (2003)

This song is definitely the best of Zakk Wylde’s later work (I consider this the first album of his “later” work, although in time it may be considered part of his early work). The most interesting thing about it is that normally Zakk plays for Ozzy without providing any backup vocals. Their voices blend well on this song, however, and it seems the godfather of heavy metal (and of Zakk’s son, Hendrix) is paying respect to his axeman of over 10 years. The main riff is rather unusual fare, by any standard, and definitely deserves a listen, and the solo is in the upper echelon of Zakk’s solo compositions.

#26: “Prince of Darkness” by Megadeth
Risk (2000)

This song is similar to #30 (“The Ripper”) in that it’s a narrative about a scary protagonist, and the verses are ominous. Dave Mustaine’s unusual voice is strangely appropriate for the role of the devil. The song builds up for about a minute and a half before going into the first verse. The bottom-heavy riff in the bridge alone would make this song good, and about 4 minutes in he lets you think the song is over before going into one of the best and most dramatic conclusions ever written for a metal song.

#25: “My Own Summer (Shove It)” by the Deftones
Around the Fur (1997)

The main riff is what makes this song. Which is good, because that’s pretty much all there is. There is a bridge, but it leads back into the main riff. The verses and choruses use the same basic riff (except one verse is sans guitar), but in the choruses it’s made heavier. Chino Moreno’s unusual voice sounds eerie in the verses, and downright scary in the chorus. Definitely a keeper among the late 90’s style.

#24: “South of Heaven” by Slayer
South of Heaven (1988)

This is the first album where Slayer attempts writing songs that go at less than full-throttle. So instead of relying on speed, they had to write something scarier. It pays off. The intro is ominous (I’ve used that word too many times today) and the verses blend guitars and drums well at all parts. The solo is standard Kerry King fare (in other words, very solid) and Tom Araya’s angry voice has never worked better. Alex Henderson of All Music Guide:
When it comes to death metal, no band is more convincing than Slayer. For other bands, focusing on death, Satanism, the supernatural, and the occult became a cliché; but Slayer's controversial reflections on evil always came across as honest and heartfelt.

#23: “Thoughtless” by Korn
Untouchables (2002)

This song is the best example of Korn’s continuing ability to be original and relevant in the music world after 9 years in the business (now they’ve been around for 12 years and are slated to release a new album in the first part of December). They are still Korn, but in this album they recover from what would seem to be a slight rut in a transition period in which, ironically, they saw their highest level of popularity. The song is characteristically emotional, but instead of pent-up rage and frustration this song has an air of defiance, as if they know they’ve beaten all opposition. The song has an amazing primary riff, and Jonathan Davis’s vocal moves are all here (his unique metal interpretations of singing, screaming, and almost-jazz scatting), but with more refinement. Bradley Torreano of All Music Guide:
They delivered Untouchables, an album that shows them building on their previous sound and emphasizing its strengths. The use of melody is more important than ever, allowing Jonathan Davis to utilize his wide palette of vocal tricks. . . . Korn understand that the overall sound of hip-hop works because of the sonic stew that producers create through samples. The band does the same with instruments, cutting the chugging riffs of the past and replacing them with edgy soundscapes that are equally as menacing. There isn't even a rapped verse here, save for Davis' rhythmic scatting at moments, further distancing the band from the scene it helped create. But by cutting away some of the fat and finding new ways to deliver their trademark roar, Korn manage to offer a strong and lean album that maintains their place as innovators in a genre with few leaders.

#22: “Sober” by Tool
Undertow (1993)

This song has everything that’s good about Tool. Maynard James Keenan’s vocal abilities are surpassed in the metal community only by Corey Taylor’s (of Slipknot), and he sings and screams on this track as well as he ever has. The unusual interplay of bass and guitar on this song is stronger on this one than on any other Tool song save one. And the writing, while not as complex as on their later albums, is still complex and unique to this band. This one will continue to be a staple of rock radio stations and conversations between metalheads for decades to come.

#21: “Fade to Black” by Metallica
Ride the Lightning (1984)

I suppose you could count this as Metallica’s first attempt at a ballad. Of course, it’s not your traditional 80’s power ballad at all. Instead, it’s much more dark and depressing, something that perhaps Metallica originated in metal music (Black Sabbath’s darker efforts were more theatrical, drawing on strange images involving the devil and impersonal war). The chorus riff is echoed by later bands, like Alice in Chains. The bridge gives you just a taste of the climax to the song, which is one of the best ever: “No one but me can save myself but it’s too late. Now I can’t think, think why I should even try. Yesterday seems as though it never existed. Death greets me warm, now I can just say goodbye. Goodbye.” Then we get about two minutes of pure Metallica guitar goodness, eschewing vocals in favor of guitars. Steve Huey of All Music Guide:
[Fade to Black] is an all-time metal classic; it begins as an acoustic-driven, minor-key ballad, then gets slashed open by electric guitars playing a wordless chorus, and ends in a wrenching guitar solo over a thrashy yet lyrical rhythm figure.

Jump to . . .
20-11, and the Top Ten

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


  1. no objections here! ;) i LOVE KORN!!!!!!!! they are my fav band of all time i think... i have every single one of their cds.... :)
    untouchables and issues are among my least favorite but i think they still JAM!! i always wondered if when they "hit it big" if they would get all rich and "happy" and start making CRAP music but it's still pretty angry..hee hee
    anyway, good list!

  2. btw, i checked out your bio on your pics... and i just have to say.. i love your tats, is that a poem? what does the symbol mean?
    Also i have the samelittle "asian" set up in my living room!

  3. Thanks. No, it's not a poem. I hate poetry, honestly. It's a Bible verse (Revelation 6:12-14). And the katakana is "kami," meaning "god."

  4. I haven't checked the whole list yet but where the hell is Machine head Davidian!