You know what gets my devil horned arm pumping? Metal. More to the point, specific metal songs. Just because you’re in a popular metal band, don’t think that you can automatically get me to raise my arm to salute you with the customary “devil horns”; No, I reserve those for only the choicest of metal songs and so in honor of Steve Harris‘ (Iron Maiden‘s bass player and primary songwriter) birthday, it got me thinking about what my five all time favorite metal songs are. This is harder than it seems because we’re not talking about my five top metal albums (that in itself is a task which I don’t believe I don’t have the brain power for.) Let’s kick this off right now!
Robb is an unstoppable freight train charging forth from the bowels of hell.
# 5 Anvil • “March Of The Crabs” (1982)
Anvil, in case you’ve been living under a ton of several rocks, Anvil is the tits. Anvil have been around making sweet, thrashing metal since 1978. Resident bad ass drummer extraordinaire, Mr. Robb Reiner single-handedly created thrash metal, simply by doing what he does: ferociously fast, tight drumming. Steve “Lips” Kudlow churns out metal riffs like they’re the blood that pumps through the man’s veins. In 1982, Anvil released the ultra metal classic, Metal On Metal (a personal favorite of mine.) Track 4 of Metal On Metal is a monster of an instrumental track, simply titled “March Of The Crabs“. That track would get any true metal fan’s head-a-banging and their devil horns-a pumping. All one has to do is hone in on the song. Dissect it. Lips’ playing on this track is, in essence, the sound of metal. If metal had a song to call its own, then the tasty riffs that Lips lays down would be it. Robb. Robbo. Mr. Reiner. He’s a fucking mad drummer in general, but on “March Of The Crabs“, Robb is an unstoppable freight train charging forth from the bowels of hell. His drumming is insane. He’s one of a very few drummers that I’ve encountered in my 33 short years who cannot only play fast, that’s one thing; Robbo is the master and commander of the skins. He has total control over every drum fill, drum roll, high hat crash. Those two sticks he holds in his hands are an extension of the man himself. In a word: Brilliant.
You have thrashing guitar, drumming with reckless abandon, and Lemmy is fucking killin’ it …
# 4 Motörhead • “Ace Of Spades” (1980)
This one was a no-brainer, right? Any metal fan should have this song on their list. Motörhead‘s “Ace Of Spades” is complete and total anarchy. You have thrashing guitar, drumming with reckless abandon, and Lemmy is fucking killin’ it with his signature vocals. This song is metal on cocaine. It could qualify for a punk song, but no, no my friends, this is metal through and through. Dare I say that Motörhead are a one hit wonder, but fuck it, right? If I had the good fortune to produce a one hit wonder and I knew that a song like “Ace Of Spades” is the one song that I’ll ultimately be remembered for, that’s not a bad deal at all. 33 years after its release and “Ace Of Spades” is still being pumped up from classic radio stations to bedrooms alike. I call that one a winner, wouldn’t you?
… it never got more metal than “Burn In Hell“
# 3 Twisted Sister • “Burn In Hell” (1985)
You probably didn’t think you’d see a Twisted Sister track on this list, but it’s never good to assume, is it? This was the first Twisted Sister song I had ever heard way back in 1985, courtesy, of all people, Pee Wee Herman. It was in 1985 when Pee Wee (Paul Reubens) starred in his own feature length film (Pee Wee’s Big Adventure). The company that produced the film (Warner Brothers) also had Twisted Sister signed on their music division, and that’s how Twisted Sister had their cameo in Pee Wee’s picture. In the film the band was filming what was to be the music video for “Burn In Hell“. Twisted Sister will forever be known for their hits, “I Wanna Rock” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It“, but for me, it never got more metal than “Burn In Hell“, one listen and I’m sure you’ll agree. The song is so fucking metal compared to the rest of Twisted Sister’s Stay Hungry album. For me, it summarizes what was great about Twisted Sister. Sure, they made their mark in music history with some pretty cool rock party anthems, but within this same album, you get a gem like “Burn In Hell” and it elevates the album’s greatness in my opinion.
Of course! A song that dramatic only became more pronounced with the addition of an orchestra behind it.
# 2 Metallica • “One (Live S&M version)“
When Metallica released … And Justice For All in 1988, I was a little wary what with this being the first album following the demise of original bass player, Cliff Burton who passed away two years prior while out on the band’s “Master Of Puppets” tour in a horrific bus accident in Ljungby Municipality, Sweden. My faith was restored when I heard the first few seconds of opening track, “Blackened“. Metallica were back! It was track 4 of … And Justice For All that I was locked into the album as a whole. “One“. What a fucking song! It had everything. Agression, anger, themes of despair. In a word: Metallica. Fast forward eleven years later. Metallica is not the band that they once were. Money and ego had taken over. They ceased to be hungry as a band. They weren’t a band anymore so much as they were a money making machine. In 1999 the bigness of Metallica prompted them to produce a CD/DVD called S&M (abbreviation of “Symphony & Metallica“) where they would perform their songs with symphonic accompaniment conducted by Michael Kamen. I scoffed when I first heard about this album. So you mean to tell me that first you release the atrocities that were Load and Reload respectively and then you hit us up with this live album. A cool idea no doubt, but it just played up how big they actually got. It was overkill. Anyway, out of this symphonic monster, there was one ray of light. Disc two, track 8 was the song “One“. This was probably the only time during the whole symphonic project where it did make sense. “One” always lacked a little bit of something in the original studio recording, but I couldn’t quite figure out what it was. Of course! A song that dramatic only became more pronounced with the addition of an orchestra behind it. It demanded it! In the 21 track symphonic concert, “One” was the only majestic bright spot, and that’s why “One (Live S&M version)” is in the number 2 spot of my favorite metal songs of all time.
We’ve made it folks! The number one spot! Clearly, how can I honestly say that I honored Steve Harris properly if his band were not in the number one spot. Don’t get me wrong. I play no favorites here and the Iron Maiden song that takes the coveted number one slot really is my most favorite metal song of all time …
I want to destroy, annihilate every task that comes with my waking up to a brand new day.
# 1 Iron Maiden • “Fear Of The Dark“
I know. Another live version so soon? The truth of the matter is (and I’ve always said this) a band, ANY band is not worth their salt if they can’t do it live and Iron Maiden were made for the stage. The band is too bombastic to be contained to just the rigors of the studio and anyone who has seen Iron Maiden live can testify to that little fact. “Fear Of The Dark” was originally released on the album of the same name (Fear Of The Dark, 1992) but when I first heard the live cut of “Fear Of The Dark” off of Iron Maiden’s greatest hits compilation (The Essential Iron Maiden, 2005), it completely blew me the fuck away. Iron Maiden have always been consummate performers and their songs have always covered serious metal themes from a serious metal band. What makes the live Rock In Rio version so fantastic is not just the playing of each member (that’s obvious), but out of every other live version of “Fear Of The Dark” that I’ve come across, the crowd was just fucking on it the way that they not only chanted along with not only with Dave Murray‘s blistering riffs, but sang along with every word that came out of singer Bruce Dickinson‘s mouth. It’s a truly magical performance of my favorite metal song of all time. Every time I hear this particular live version of “Fear Of The Dark“, it always gets me in the mood to battle. Now battles aren’t always forthcoming, so let us just say that it’s my get up and go song. I want to destroy, annihilate every task that comes with my waking up to a brand new day. Lest I forget to mention, birthday boy bass player, Mr. Steve Harris single handedly wrote my all time metal song “Fear Of The Dark” so, it’s quite fortuitous, wouldn’t you say?
There you have it folks! That’s my list of my 5 favorite metal songs of all time. Sure, as metal fans do, they compile their own greatest lists, and I’m sure there are to be disagreements when it comes to this particular list, so I invite you to do better. If you do not agree with this list, then why not compile your own and list your metal greats in the comments section below?! If I feel that your list trumps mine, then I will call you the Metal Master. I await your comments/lists in the comments section below.