Wow, it’s been a long time and you’ve all been waiting patiently. So here’s my 20-11 of the best heavy metal songs of all time. If you’re in desperate need of an update as to what else we’ve posted, here are some links: Mine: 50-41, 40-31, 31-20 and Steel Druhm’s: 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11.
20. Nile – In their Darkened Shrines – “Unas: Slayer of Gods” – Motherfucking Nile. How beautiful your Egytian themed death metal is. While In Their Darkened Shrines isn’t the band’s best record ever or anything, but this is also one of the band’s best and most memorable songs in my opinion. Not only that, it’s really just a fucking colossal track. It clocks in at 11:43 (and apparently no one can get that full track on YouTube) and the riffing is immense, the solos are rad and… and I just never got over it. I think this is probably the most listened to Nile track in my collection and one of the most frequently listened to epic death metal tracks I own. Oh, the drums are fucking rad, too.
19. God Forbid – IV – Constitution of Treason – “Into the Wasteland” – This is gonna ruffle some fucking feathers. I love this track. And, you know what else? I think that God Forbid is actually one of the best things to come out of the ‘metalcore’ thing, largely ’cause I don’t think that they’re metalcore at all, but a modern thrash outfit and a fucking good one at that. It’s always been baffling to me that they never have gotten bigger than they are given their writing and playing. But actually, again, while this record isn’t their best, this track just fucking rules. The riffing is fantastic, the vocals are tremendous and most importantly the last minute of the song is goddamned incredible. Credit where credit is due, that was Jason Suecof who produced the record playing at least one of the solos there and if that doesn’t land in the ‘pure metal’ category in spite of some chug then you and I have very different definitions of what makes metal awesome.
18. Type O Negative – Slow, Deep and Hard – “Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity (I Know You’re Fucking Someone Else)” – It’s hard to remember, but 1991 was a bad time for metal. There was good metal coming out, actually, the underground was pretty awesome in the early 90s, but popular metal? Oh man. And while these guys never hit the big time with this record, they did make awesome metal that was pretty accessible for a kid whose only metal experiences up until that point had really been Metallica and Iron Maiden (and the like). And really, Type O Negative was a gateway band back to metal for me. Of all their material, though, it’s the first three records (particularly the first two [sans live record]) which I think are the best. And of all of that, the crowning jewel is this track. I just don’t think it gets a lot better than this. It has everything that defined the band (the dirge and the humor), and was just so damned good. Listen and if for some reason you haven’t heard it, enjoy.
17. Arcturus – La Masquerade Infernale – “The Chaos Path” – The unholy vocal union of Garm and Simen on this track just hooked me immediately. The crazy circus sound, too, was something new for me and I fell in love with it. And really, this whole album is fucking amazing. Arcturus is a band that people still can’t get over, either. Despite what I see as being a spiraling output later on, they have diehard fans and they are still iconic for a reason. And that reason is best embodied by “The Chaos Path” which was something that metal had never heard before and hasn’t really heard since done in the same way.
16. Ulver – Nattens Madrigal – “Hymne I – Of Wolf and Fear” – Here’s another one of those tremendous songs that are undeniably among the best metal songs ever written and performed. I’m particularly fond of this one because it combines the sound from Kveldssanger in with the ultimately spiky, icy cold riffing that no band has ever really been able to mimic and make work. This track has some amazing riffing, some audible bass, and a feel that will never be matched again. Also, Garm is the best black metal vocalist of all time in my opinion. I just don’t think it gets better than him. And it hardly gets better than this.
15. Vintersorg – Ödemarkens Son – “När alver sina runor sjungit” – OK, so I have to admit it. I’m a big Vintersorg fanboy, and for me it was Ödemarkens Son that got me into the band. “På landet” and “Svältvinter” still stand out for me from the record, but “När alver sina runor sjungit” is definitely the take the cake moment on the record for me. The chorus is tremendous, the writing is awesome and the whole song is representative of what Vintersorg was (is). I mean, if you think about it, in this day of post-black metal, Vintersorg is the first post-black metal band. Focused entirely on non-Satan related things, while taking Ulver‘s Bergtatt formula and perfecting it. Ödemarkens Son, and particularly this song, stand(s) as a testament to that period in metal music. And is so fucking win.
14. Shining – V: Halmstad – “Besvikelsens dystra monotoni” – This song is fucking amazing. I love, love, love the introduction and when I complained about Shining “losing” the same kind of feel that they had on previous records, it’s really this track that I think of. Kvarforth sounds genuinely tortured here. While the production is perfect, the writing is crushing, the bass work is excellent and I love the song as a whole—this is the first (and last) “depressive black metal” that has ever moved me emotionally for real, because Kvarforth’s vocals are so fucking sick. This song is just fantastic and it ranks among my favorite tracks ever.
13. Theatre of Tragedy – Velvet Darkness They Fear – “And When He Falleth” – This is another track from a record that is almost entirely perfect. For me, Theatre of Tragedy is the one band that truly nailed the “beauty and the beast” vocals and fuck did they nail it. This record is just such a good feel, with beautiful, delicate vocals from a young Liv Kristine and before the growler decided that it’d be way cooler if he just talked all stupid. While there are a number of songs that could go in this position, this track takes the place because it’s the best example of the style as it was and the samples are perfect: “There is also love and life and hope!” “Very little hope I assure you. No. If a God of love and life ever did exist, he is long since dead. Someone… Something! Rules in his place…”
12. Ásmegin – Hin vordende sød & so – “Til rodenfolkets herskab” — Holy motherfucking excellent folk metal. This is, basically, as good as it gets. Yeah, that’s right, folks, I rated this song above Vintersorg and Otyg. In fact, I rated this song #12 OF ALL because the vocals are so incredible. Yeah, that’s Lasare from Solefald and Borknagar and a bunch of people from out of nowhere, but this song is simply one of the best I’ve ever heard. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times I’ve listened to it. Probably thousands. And, much like one poster at YouTube, it once caused me to rip off all my clothes, run out into the woods and kill a bear with my bare hands. It’s some powerful stuff.
11. Emperor – Anthems to the Welkin Dusk – “Ye Entrancemperium” – Yeah, so Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk is Emperor‘s crowning glory if you ask me (and since you’re reading this, you asked me). I know that most people don’t agree with me about that, but they probably also don’t agree with me that “Ye Entrancemperium” is the best track on this CD, or the 11th best heavy metal song of all time. Well, they’re motherfucking wrong. This track is awesome, and I remember how it just gripped me by the throat and wouldn’t let go the first time I listened to this album. A highly addictive opening track is a very necessary part of one of the most successful albums of all time. And this track has it all, amazing riffs, amazing riffs, some more amazing riffs, oh right, some amazing riffs and Ihsahn’s least embarrassing clean vocals during the entire Emperor tenure. Oh, right, also amazing riffs. Though, honestly, you can’t go wrong with any track on this album.
Yup. That’s that.