25 Greatest Heavy Metal Songs
Now, there's nothing like trying to do the impossible. With a genre that's been kicking around in some form since the early 1970s, distilling its essence into 25 essential tracks is essentially ridiculous. Because there are so few slots I established the rule that there could only be one track per band, except for Black Sabbath and Metallica because I make the rules and I like to be arbitrary. Classic antecedents to heavy metal such as the Beatles' "Helter Skelter," Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" and Blue Cheer's "Summertime Blues" were passed over, while Led Zeppelin were allowed entry, since it made sense to me.
For the most part, there's an emphasis on the heavier aspect, except when there isn't. A few songs were hits. But heavy metal, at its heart, is not a commercially friendly music, despite whatever success it has had. Though don't count me out just yet at compiling another list of pop metal and power ballads. I've also considered writing up a list of the best albums with the word "The" in the title, so there's really nothing I won't try at least twice.
Shout-outs to Bill Billoney, Joey Leshko and John Chernack, all who added key tracks, though don't hold them accountable for the stuff you don't like. That's my doing.
Not get ready to bang your head! Or if your doctor has advised you otherwise, tap your foot.
Bonus: I need to fit John Chernack's choice of Exciter's "Violence and Force" in here. So, consider it #26, but figure, any of these tunes deserve to be on your heavy metal playlist.
25) "Master of Puppets" -- Metallica: OK, maybe it's not such a great sign when non-metal-heads like the tune and sing it with enthusiasm at the office party. But I didn't tell you what kind of office and at least it's a party.
24) "Communication Breakdown" -- Led Zeppelin: Surely, even without Jimmy Page guitarists would learn these tones and that aggression, but damn if this doesn't kick out the windows of an old car. For better or worse, Robert Plant was also among the first guys to reach for notes that even most women didn't bother with. Shall we put the Stairway to Heaven on your Amex card, Sir Bob?