Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Top 100 Metal Songs 40-31

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, 60-51, 50-41

#40: “Five Finger Crawl” by Danzig
Satan’s Child (1999)

Like “Wicked Pussycat,” this is a great song on a mediocre Danzig album. However, lyrically a song about strangulation fits perfectly in Glenn’s catalog. Contrary to many other songs on the list, the verses make the song and the chorus serves mainly to break it up, although I wouldn’t demean the powerful chorus in any way.

#39: “Children of the Grave” by White Zombie
NIB (1994)

Black Sabbath was far ahead of its time when they wrote this song because in White Zombie’s hands it doesn’t sound like a cover song—it sounds like it would fit perfectly in between “El Phantasmo and the Chicken Run Blast-O-Rama” and “Blur the Technicolor.” The main riff chugs along and Rob Zombie makes it his own vocally, in the White Zombie style rather than the Rob Zombie style. They use what sounds like news excerpts about the Sharon Tate slayings, also characteristic of White Zombie. J also nails the solo, although it sounds better in the capable hands of Tony Iommi.

#38: “Hurt” by Johnny Cash
American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)

Nine Inch Nails, although an industrial band, has had a huge impact on the darker and more self-destructive side of heavy metal. The song, however, is in much better hands with the Man in Black. It would fit perfectly between any of the songs on Alice in Chains’s Jar of Flies or Sap, or even in Staind’s Dysfunction (i.e. before they sold out).

#37: “No More Tears” by Black Label Society
Sonic Brew (1999)

Zakk Wylde reinterprets his 1991 Ozzy song by detuning it beyond all measure of sanity and turning it into crazy biker-metal. While his vocals don’t shine as much on this song as they do in some of his other efforts, the guitar virtuoso in Wylde is embodied in this lick. The solo is for all intents and purposes the same as in the original, but a bit embellished.

#36: “Buried Alive” by Mercyful Fate
9 (1999)

Birds chirping and digging sounds . . . very peaceful. But not for long. “The poison is still in your veins. The poison I slipped in your drink.” This “Cask of Amontillado”-inspired song is definitely the best in the Danes’ later catalog, with the normal chugging tempo and King Diamond’s growl/falsetto present and mini-solos abounding. “He’s starting to struggle now, oh the fool! Moonlight shining in his drool. I slammed the shovel straight between his eyes. ‘Stay down!’ I screamed, ‘You’re here to die!’”

#35: “Down in a Hole” by Alice in Chains
Dirt (1995)

While nothing could match the darkness of Johnny Cash’s interpretation of hurt, this is a close second. Layne Staley’s always-pained voice is emphasized by Jerry Cantrell’s mournful, melodic tune. The lyrics are also nearly as dark as those of “Hurt”: “Down in a hole and I don’t know if I can be saved. See my heart decorated like a grave. . . . I have been guilty of kicking myself in the teeth.” There is also a hint of hopefulness that detracts from the darkness, but overall the sound is better than Cash’s “Hurt.” Steve Huey of All Music Guide had a lot of good to say about Dirt:
Dirt is Alice in Chains' major artistic statement and the closest they ever came to recording a flat-out masterpiece. . . . Cantrell's technically limited but inventive guitar work is by turns explosive, textured, and queasily disorienting, keeping the listener off balance with atonal riffs and off-kilter time signatures. Staley's stark confessional lyrics are similarly effective, and consistently miserable. Sometimes he's just numb and apathetic, totally desensitized to the outside world; sometimes his self-justifications betray a shockingly casual amorality; his moments of self-recognition are permeated by despair and suicidal self-loathing. Even given its subject matter, Dirt is monstrously bleak, closely resembling the cracked, haunted landscape of its cover art.

#34: “Die, Die, My Darling” by Metallica
Garage Inc. (1998)

Nobody covers Danzig tunes like Metallica. “I’ll be seeing you again. Yeah, I’ll be seeing you in hell. So don’t cry to me oh baby. Your future’s in an oblong box.” They match the Misfits’ tempo, even raising the ante in that department, but make the song much angrier with heavier guitars and more gravel in the voice. It’s simple (as a punk cover must be) but effective.

#33: “This Love” by Pantera
Vulgar Display of Power (1992)

This is arguably the best song on what is definitively Pantera’s best album. Eerie verses give way to powerful, angry verses. “You keep this love! Thing! Love! Child! Love! Toy! You keep this love! Fist! Love! Scar! Love! Break! You keep this love! Love Love! You keep this love! Love! Love! You keep this love!” Who would have ever thought the word “love” could sound so violent? “I’d kill myself for you. I’d kill you for myself.” Once again, Steve Huey of All Music Guide:
One of the most influential heavy metal albums of the 1990s, Vulgar Display of Power is just what is says: a raw, pulverizing, insanely intense depiction of naked rage and hostility that drains its listeners and pounds them into submission. Even the "ballads," "This Love" and "Hollow," have thunderingly loud, aggressive chorus sections. . . . Pantera's thick-sounding, post-hardcore power metal and outraged, testosterone-drenched intensity would help pave the way for alternative metal acts like Korn and Tool; Vulgar Display of Power is the best distillation of those virtues.

#32: “Son of the Morning Star” by Danzig
Danzig 4 (1994)

This tune is a very introspective one from the perspective of Satan’s offspring. “Am I more damned than thou? Should I wear torture’s crown?” The chorus is a perfect example of John Christ’s guitar prowess, and the drums are not to be overlooked. “Shall I bask in God’s light? Shall I fall one more time?” Every time I hear the words “I fall,” I get a sensation up the back of my neck that nothing else can give me.

#31: “One” by Metallica
. . . And Justice for All (1988)

This song is the legendary musical narrative of a soldier rendered dead to the world by a land mine. The sounds of war at the intro are drowned out by the music, which is all the soldier can hear. “I can’t remember anything. Can’t tell if this is true or a dream.” After all this brilliant song-writing, the gods of heavy metal get it right about halfway through, turning it into a pure classic moment of thrash metal. “Darkness imprisoning me, all that I see, absolute horror, I cannot live, I cannot die, trapped in myself, body my holding cell. Land mine has taken my sight, taken my speech, taken my hearing, taken my arms, taken my legs, taken my soul, left me with life in hell.” When they perform it live, the word “land mine” is always emphasized by fitting pyrotechnics. It then goes out on a nearly two-minute guitar solo worthy of the greatest guitar players who have ever lived. Wow, does Steve Huey do all of the classic metal reviews?
This time around, the fourth song -- once again a ballad with a thrashy chorus and outro -- gave the band one of the unlikeliest Top 40 singles in history; "One" was an instant metal classic, based on Dalton Trumbo's antiwar novel -Johnny Got His Gun and climaxing with a pulverizing machine-gun imitation.

Jump to . . .
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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