The Mosh Pit 12.25.2009: The Mosh Pit’s Top Metal Songs Of The Decade
This is NOT a critical assessment of the decade on my part nor am I making any pretense of being somehow unbiased. A decade is so long that to my mind one person can’t do it justice simply because of the biases he brings to the table.
So take this for what it is – The top 25 metal songs that I have played more (and expect to keep on playing more) than any other from this decade. As someone whose been listening to metal for going on 30 years, I have certain prejudices on what makes metal good (and what doesn’t). That view from a hill for the last three decades paints a unique picture and while I certainly don’t expect others to agree I do hope the unique view at least inspires a few people to check out something new.
And that is the point.
So with that in my, this is the Mosh Pit’s Top 25 Songs from metal bands that rocked my world this decade.
25. Mastodon – “The Czar”
Talk about a 180 degree turn for me. I seriously despised this band before this album. Put in some Seattle coffeehouse inspired 70’s prog, some psychedelic rock, and most importantly get the drummer his medication and out pops a great album. Do I really even need to say anything else? It’s a great song that reminds of everything I loved about the blown out golden era of progressive rock.
24. Down – “Three Suns and One Star”
Sure, it might be mainstream sludge, but damn if the super group of Phil and Crowbar didn’t do it right. You can feel the NOLA love as the band pours southern bourbon riffs over shot gun snares that fire across the bog. Bong hits and extra thick bacon smoke roll off the speakers for this one and you can feel the arteries clogging while the moonshine collects behind the shed.
23. Melechesh – “Rebirth of Nemesis”
Black metal that dances with the folk legends of ancient Sumeria, this is a stunning song because the riffs are built out of traditional music. Most bands just go straight death or black metal and toss in a few intros to ambient parts, but Melechesh actually embeds those ancient traditional sounds into the guitar riffs and man does it work. One of the best extreme metal albums of the decade that most people never heard of but should.
22. Dimmu Borgir – “The Serpentine Offering”
Bordering on cheesy, especially the video, but hey if you’re going to go here you might as well walk up to the line and flaunt it. Still, between the great intro, the soaring and to-catchy-for-black metal rhythm, and the story of how a priest falls during the crusades (hint – they didn’t practice what they preach) this is a great song that works when all the pieces are put together.
21. Orphaned Land – “Wrath Of God”
One of my favorite concept albums from the last decade, and this song captures the best of death metal, folk metal, eastern legends, and a pissed off God? Yea, it’s a biblical story, which if you know me seems odd for me to praise, but I have no problem with a band putting the legends and traditions of the middle east together and retelling it with such stunning artistic ability. It’s not preachy at all, just a great tale of how a man kind fucked up and got his ass handed to him for it.
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20. Dismember – “Under A Blood Red Sky”
Its death metal, its Swedish death metal, and it rips faces so what is not to love? Oh, toss in some inspired Judas Priest approved leads under the bloodshed and the pure Iron Maiden tribute of the end and yea, this is one of the ages. Pound for pound, this band rips people heads off.
19. Grand Magus – “Iron Will”
The song for those of us who still prattle how metal sounds best rolling off the vinyl and secretly long for amps with tubes; this is so old school that it brings a tear to the eye. Part 70’s doom riffs, part 80’s NWOBHM gallops, modern production, and a bottom end that sends everyone back to the El Camino to grab some more Jack. Love this song and everything it stands for.
18. Wintersun – “Starchild”
So many great songs on this album depending on the mood; this is the a beautiful metal song that is black yet not it’s ridiculously tragic. Our one man band (plus drummer) has perfectly captured the bleak and black ideal ballad (in the proper sense of the word) in the sounds of a pagan night in the grim cold lands of legend. I still can’t figure out how he pulled those ideas together.
17. Wolf – “The Bite”
One of the best traditional metal bands running around the scene today, these dudes from Sweden need to hit big here if there is any justice. No tricks, no darkness, no brutal crushing, just straight forward heavy metal that is one part catchy but mostly a no nonsense ride through dual axes. The early 80’s would be proud.
16. Nile – “Cast down the Heretic”
Do I even need to explain this one? Only reason this isn’t hire on the list (or the whole fucking album) is that I’m basing this on over all plays and this is a mood one for sure. Brilliant, technical, brutal, and certainly strewn with the corpses of those who couldn’t handle it, but still a song that just doesn’t fit all occasions. Still awesome though.
15. Opeth – “Windowpane”
Yep – I have an acoustic song on a metal list. Tough shit, it’s my list. If a metal band wants to go there then I’ll give them their props, even if the label split the album into two just to get a few more dollars. Besides, metal is awesome enough (and big enough) to absorb this as a contender as well. It’s not about being bRuTaL, it’s about delivering the good and being real. When metal gets that shoved through the haters heads (i.e. read Rolling Stone mag) then maybe Cleveland will start recognizing the right bands.
14. Overkill – “Damned”
A pick that likely has more to do with me being a huge fan of Blitz and D.D. (and co.) but this thing pretty much sticks in the player. Actually, this whole album smoked and for my money is one of the best thrash/groove albums of the decade. To damn catchy for its own good and more fun that should be allowed for thrash, but it’s a smoker that just begs for you to keep pouring shots of the good stuff for another round.
13. Trouble – “Going Home”
Most people won’t know this one likely, since Trouble seems to be one of those bands doomed to underground greatness and mostly the band for musicians. I wear the guy’s shirts and I usually get comments from the bands I meet at the shows, if that tells you something. Anyway, these pillars of classic doom FINALLY got around to releasing an album again this decade, and while it hasn’t wore well in the long run songs like this one still kick nine kinds of ass. I love that intro (even better live) and that riff kills.
12. Megadeth – “Dialect Chaos/This Day We Fight!”
Nope, can’t stop playing this. Even if Big Dave drifts into weird territory after this, although I think he’s finally found his stride, but if he does go apart again then I’m happy enough that we got one more pull at the greatness that is the man and his lead axe man of the moment dueling over leads and solos. Let’s pray he keeps this one around, because he’s letting him run rampant (smart) so there is potential for a lot of greatness in the future.
11. Immortal – “Tyrant”
I think it must be a law of Metal that a song with the word “Tyrant” in it must be awesome. At least I can’t think of any that do not since the mighty Priest slapped down the song of the same name on their magna opus. Anyway, just the right black, traditional, and leering muse to bring this one home and make it stick to the gut – Immortal might have fallen out of favor with the cult underground but they’re doing fine in my book, and this song (with the whole album Sons of Northern Darkness) is exhibit A.
10. Opeth – “Ghost of Perdition”
So many great Opeth songs, and I almost feel guilty for not using something from Blackwater Park or Orchid, but this song just sticks to my ears. I think it combines enough catchiness, meandering labyrinths, and juxtaposing soft to loud parts to be a real trip. Plus how our favorite extreme prog singer turns from clean vocals to growls on a dime is tremendous.
9. Primordial – “As Rome Burns”
Another contender for one of the best albums of the decade, but man does this song capture so much. It’s the perfect blend of history and metal, an epic tale (I abuse that term at times…), and just a stellar performance. Be it the singer’s screams lamenting the tragedy of repeating history to the great percussion clinic (this drummer is fucking phenomenal) this thing smokes. In two years I haven’t gotten sick of the intermission with that rolling gate and the band chanting “Sing to the slaves as Rome Burns!”
8. Centurions Ghost – “The Eighth Deadly Sin”
A great combination of thrash and sludge, more of the former at the beginning and a giant fist to the face of the later near the end. The band walks the line of being on form for that driving guitar attack while whipping it out in a way that is out of control, like the whole thing might fly apart at the seems. The result is a crushing assault that rips you along before the end suffocates you with HEAVY blows that squeeze the life out of you.
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7. Agalloch – “A Celebration For The Death Of Man…”
Darlings of the deep underground and they pack a sound that is surprising for an American band, there is a lot of songs I like from these guys but this is the song that seemingly captures my imagination. Not metal in the proper sense and actually this is an intro, but if you know Agalloch then you know it’s all good anyway. There album is just one dark and natural journey through atmospheric black drones and leave tossed woodlands. Plus I love the percussion and I wish more bands would beef up the bottom end again.
6. Candlemass – “Black Dwarf”
Got chills the first time this rolled out of the speakers. It was great enough that the band had reconciled with the mad monk, but the pure thrash bash of those riffs puts the torque back into head banging. Proof positive thrash and doom has a lot to offer the metal world, and the half a decade since this came out would prove that theory right.
5. Therion – “Typhon”
In a time when female goth chicks front symphonic bands (so played out), it’s wonderful to see Therion spin it the right way. Orchestra, choirs, opera singers (!), and legendary tales abound. Seriously, this girl isn’t your typical hot topic twig, but a big lady with a voice that levels communities. Toss is those surreal choirs, growls, a proper look at runic lore, and a guitar tone to die for and this band is the gold standard for symphonic metal.
4. I – “Mountains”
Basically Immortal of a different color, but this super group side project came out of nowhere to combine black metal and traditional metal in stellar fashion. If I get around to a column on the top albums of the decade, their album will make the top 10 list. Anyway, this song comes out of the gate with a great intro with riffs that built properly and flow seamlessly together like a story, then our favorite face painted warrior Abbath from the North comes in to bite and grin tales of the snow blown peaks of yesterday. Proof that you can combine metal genres and make the pieces greater.
3. Death Angel – “Resurrection Machine”
I’ve always liked these dudes, even the albums most other usually trounce, but Killing Season just blew me away. The riffs and tone of this song is some of the best riffs Metallica never wrote, and the song is a microcosm of many great thrash and properly done post thrash ideas from the last 20 years rolled into one barn burner. Sign me up and for the love of god these guys need to tour the Midwest.
2. Falkenbach – “Heralder”
I can’t think of a song that better captures the idea if folk metal or Viking metal than this masterpiece. It’s amazing how well axe riffs can rub up against a violin or growls that still convey an epic story. And make no mistake, this has epic written all over it. You can feel the adventure and wind swept scenery in the final bard’s tale of the pagans defending against the Christian conquerors here. Gives me shivers every time.
1. Heaven And Hell – “Bible Black”
Yea, big surprise there. My one man fan club for all things Sabbath is well documented, so you can take this choice with a grain of salt as such. And really I feel guilty claiming that I’ve played this song more than any other when it came out this year, but I also know in my heart that I’ll still be playing the crap out of this in 10 years.
But, when you think heavy metal this song has SO much going for it that strikes to the heart of the genre. Dio’s soaring vocals raining damnation while reaching the gates of salvation; Geezer’s excellent (and very well mixed) bass that deftly goes from rhythms section, to melodic counterpoint, to joining the leads to crush lesser life forms beneath it’s heals; Appice owns left, right, and center, even if he keeps it straight forward it’s hitting heavy and in the groove, the man delivers; and finally the Clapton of heavy metal himself in Iommi continues to write great riffs and more importantly knows how to weave them together to write a great song. This song goes from building acoustic intro into one of the greatest riffs in years, and then the song rolls through plays on that riff, interchanging to create dynamics as well as denote a verse-chorus structure. Plus, in an age of metal being about ripping peoples faces off, it just awesome to hear a great song that puts the “heavy” back into heavy metal.
Merry Christmas people and whatever Santa brings you don’t forget to play it on 10!