The Wife and I have been playing Brutal Legend recently. Both of us are really enjoying the game. Both Ro and Jessica are unfamiliar with the musical genre of heavy metal, but they’re learning.
I explained, "Rock is a generally positive music. It’s written in major chords. Rock ‘n’ roll has three subject matters: getting wasted, getting laid and rock ‘n’ roll. That’s why Joan Jett’s cover of ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’ is the greatest rock ‘n’ roll song of all time."
I further explained, "But heavy metal is not happy or positive. It’s dark. It’s written in minor chords. It’s about sadness and death and despair… but in the same way the Norse wrote about those things: with a kind of acceptance and reverence and even celebratory joy."
Jessica nodded. But I don’t think she really understood. And so, with that in mind, here are my six favorite heavy metal songs. In no particular order other than they are my six favorites. I’m not saying these are the best metal songs; they’re just my favorites.
I picked six different artists and tried to keep the list to "classic" metal. Bringing up things like thrash metal and black metal and all the other stuff is like throwing someone into the deep end. We’ll start with metal’s roots and then, if the waters are kind, maybe we’ll go a little deeper.
Led Zeppelin – When the Levee Breaks
Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
Judas Priest – Hell Bent for Leather
Motorhead – Ace of Spades
Lemmy is a significant character in Brutal Legend. And I just love him anyway. And this is the first Motorhead song I ever heard. I was in love immediately.
Rainbow – Kill the King
I said I saved the best for last. What I meant by that was this: Rainbow is my favorite metal band. The Ronnie James Dio incarnation of Rainbow, that is. To me, Ronnie was the greatest voice in metal. (It breaks my heart that he’s not in the game.) He always needed a guitarist who was just as talented as he was to make it all work. He needed Blackmore and he needed Iommi. With those two, he wrote some of my favorite metal songs.
Here’s one of them.
Those are my six. Of course, there are others. I’m sure we’ll see more in replies.
Throw up the horns, boys.