This year in metal has started out with a bang. With new releases from Alcest, Every Time I Die, Meshuggah, and many more on the way. It looks like it is going to be a hell of a good year. Or so it would seem. Though, I’ll be honest, I’ve been less than happy with the majority of releases from the first quarter of 2012. Maybe I was just so spoiled by 2011 and 2010, but it just feels like this years releases have been either really tame and bland, or just plain bad. This sort of revelation has caused me to stray away from the majority of metal with a dismissive wave of my hand. I’ve been finding myself seeking musical pleasure in other avenues, or for some periods of time eschewing the art-form entirely. I don’t like this trend in myself, and in actuality it disgusts me. I want to love the music that’s coming out, and I want to be able to enjoy the albums that I was initially excited to hear when they were being announced. However, that does not seem to be the case so far.
Now, this isn’t the first time this has happened, there were periods from the past two or three years that I experienced a similar sensation. In order to fix these moments of lull I turn to older albums and songs; music that created that original spark for the metal aesthetic so long ago. It seems I visit these songs less and less when I’m actually enjoying new releases, but when new music just doesn’t do the trick I dust these songs off and let the memories and emotions flood back into myself, and rediscover my “roots”. Here are the five songs that I always turn to when my metal tastes are in need of some defibrillator. Beware, these may shock you (is that a pun?). Or not. Whatever.
5. Amorphis – ‘Skyforger’
Skyforger is a fairly modern album, being less than three years old and all, but the songs on it hold a very significant sway for me. This was the first album by Amorphis that I was introduced to, and it took me about 50 seconds to realized that I loved the band. The entire album is top-notch progressive-power metal, but the title track is the keystone to it all. It just stands above the crowd with the best melodies and power from any song on that album, and indeed the band’s entire career. You may disagree with me, but this is Amorphis’ opus as a band.
4. Dark Tranquility – ‘Therein’
Dark Tranquility’s Projector is an album that seems to have always received mixed responses from their fanbases. Some people lament the fact that this was the album that abandoned most of the pure death metal sound of their first two albums and resulted in the trends of the later albums leading up to their current sound. Others see it as a hallmark of change and invigoration for melodic metal; an album that shaped the band into the golden symbol of Gothenberg metal that they are today. Whether you believe one or the other is no concern to me; I love the album, and I think it’s their best release to date. I remember hearing this song on a random Last.fm radio many years ago, and I was practically floored by the power and versatility in Mikael Stanne’s vocal delivery and presence. Not only that, but the lyrics seemed to have hit a particularly soft spot in my heart at the time, and they have stuck with me ever since.
3. Megadeth – ‘Peace Sells’
While I may not be too happy with Megadeth front-man Dave Mustaine’s current antics, I can’t deny that he has certainly shaped the way I perceive metal and music as a whole. Like the majority of albums on this list Peace Sells… But Who’s Buyin‘ is one of those albums that some people love and some people hate. Some say it’s poorly produced and rehashed, and entirely inferior to Rust in Peace, but I say fuck those people. ‘Peace Sells’ slays and it’s easily the defining the moment in thrash metal for me. This song just exudes awesomeness.
2. System of a Down – ‘Toxicity’
This might be the most surprising pick on this list. So many people hate System of a Down for their pseudo-nu-metal sound, and that’s pretty stupid. System are one of the reasons metal became so important in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Sure, without them we wouldn’t have a lot of shitty teeney-bopper metal bands, but we also wouldn’t have five amazing albums, and a slurry of awesome musicians inspired by the work of these guys. The title track from their second album, Toxicity, has always been the defining song for this band for me and many others. It has everything you could expect to find in a SOAD song, and much much more.
1. Strapping Young Lad – ‘All Hail The New Flesh’
This is, without a doubt, my all time favorite metal song. Strapping Young Lad are dead and gone, but their spirit lives on, and with Devin Townsend’s current streak of reinventing himself and delving into the infinite faucets of music the ideals and temperament of ‘All Hail The New Flesh‘ are still being lived and still very much relevant in this day and age. All you need is this City and this song to get you through the tough parts of your life, and to reinvigorate your love for metal. It’s sheer bliss.