Heavy Metal Month II, Day 31) Freebie: any metal song! With no requirements, let’s go with something from my favorite album from one of my favorite bands, the sadly-disbanded Bolt Thrower. I’m probably in the minority, but …For Victory is my favorite album in their catalog. To me, they found the perfect tempo for their sound, and every song sounds like a three-way cross between an anti-aircraft gun, charging tank, and buzzsaw. Seeing as Bolt Thrower are often overlooked on lists of greatest death metal bands in history, Lest We Forget seems like the perfect reminder to jog people’s memories. When you’re done, give the entire album a listen, and then look into the rest of their catalog. You won’t regret it. This brings an end to Heavy Metal Month II. Thanks for reading!
Heavy Metal Month II, Day 30) A metal anthem I think of “anthem” as a song that is almost universally known, a fan favorite, and is a staple audience participation track at live shows. Since we haven’t discussed the mighty Judas Priest on this list yet, this is as good an opportunity as any. Painkiller fits all three of those criteria, and is one of Judas Priest’s more iconic songs. With spectacular melodies from Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing, solid rhythm work from Ian Hill and Scott Travis, and the legendary voice of Rob Halford, Painkiller is always a solid choice. As a bonus, check out Halford performing Painkiller and Breaking the Law with Babymetal. It’s a bit of a “WTF” moment, but Halford looks like he’s having fun.
Heavy Metal Month II, Day 29) Deutschland: song by a German band Seeing as I’ve already covered Blind Guardian, Kreator, and Finsterforst on this list as well as looking back at Helloween’s Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part I on The Sons of Metal Podcast, I had an inkling to feature the reunion of Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen with their new project, Unisonic. Maybe it’s a bit of Inception doing the title track from the eponymous album, but hey… it’s fun, high-energy, and nostalgic all at the same time. This is another act that flies under the radar a bit, so it never hurts to make sure everyone is aware of it. Give the rest of the album a listen, too, while you’re at it.
Heavy Metal Month II, Day 28) Getting weird: song with an instrument uncommon to metal While this might be pushing the envelope on being “metal”, I’ve become a pretty big fan of the Swedish band Fejd in the last few years, starting with their 2013 album, Nagelfar. Eschewing traditional metal instruments for classic folk instruments such as the bouzouki, moraharpa, and hurdy-gurdy, Fejd may lean closer to straight folk versus folk metal. Their most recent album, Trolldom has a more metal feel to it, but I still enjoy their older work. Den Skimrande (from the aforementioned Nagelfar album) was the first track of theirs I heard, and hopefully you enjoy it as well.
Heavy Metal Month II, Day 27) Song from an album with great cover art I’ll fist-fight anyone who tries to claim Dio wasn’t one of the greatest vocalists in the history of heavy metal. It only seems fitting that his iconic song, Rainbow In The Dark, appears on his equally iconic debut album, Holy Diver. While I could go on for hours about the quality of the music, today’s entry is actually pertaining to album art. Randy Berrett did a heck of a job on his painting of band mascot Murray whipping a chain in the air around a bound and drowning priest. It’s easily one of the most memorable album covers of all time, and it’s one of the greatest albums of all time to boot.
Heavy Metal Month II, Day 26) A band you’ve seen live If you’ve been following my work in any capacity, you probably know Sabaton is easily one of my favorite bands of all time. Additionally, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them live twice, and both times they killed it. They sound great, frontman Joakim Brodén has the biggest grin on his face the entire show, and the whole experience is a genuine sense of fun. Hell, even my very non-metal wife was won over by their on-stage presence and became a fan. Here is crowd favorite Swedish Pagans (which I think was a bonus track on one of the “Re-Armed” versions of an older album) from the Heroes On Tour CD/DVD. Needless to say, if you haven’t seen Sabaton live yet, watch for the next time they come to your town.
Heavy Metal Month II, Day 25) Slow ‘n’ low: a slow song I’ve always liked Draconian. To me, they always sounded like My Dying Bride with an additional female singer. It was good stuff, to be sure, but they weren’t a band I thought about very often. Then came 2015’s Sovran, featuring new female singer Heike Langhans. Holy crud — what a difference one person makes! Heike came from a decidedly non-metal background, but her soulful expression gave Draconian’s music that extra layer that really pushed them upward for me. Case in point: Pale Tortured Blue, a track that so topically exemplifies sadness while maintaining an air of beauty and emotion. If you like this song, be sure to check out the rest of Sovran. You won’t be disappointed.
Heavy Metal Month II, Day 24) Digging in the crates: an underrated gem I don’t know if this is so much an “underrated” song so much as I never hear anyone talking about Finsterforst’s 2015 album, Mach Dich Frei. Yes, the album is a bit of a challenge to get through with its extended track lengths and complicated arrangements. As you can hear above, however, the title track has one of the heaviest opening riffs in recent memory. Additionally, Finsterforst are good enough song writers they can add significant variance to a song to hold your interest but not allow it to sound disjointed. If you’re a fan of bands like Primordial, Finsterforst is going to check off a lot of boxes for you, just with a Scando-Germanic flavor.
Heavy Metal Month II, Day 23) Song by a band with more than five members “Lemme get this straight — Norwegian black metal crossed with Finnish polka and sung in Swedish? I’m in!” That was pretty much the reaction I had when I first heard about Finntroll, way back around the time of Jaktens tid. Since then, the band has undergone some lineup changes and gotten a bit more serious, but they still have one of the more unique sounds across the spectrum of metal. The entry here, Trollhammaren, comes from their 2004 album, Nattfödd. It showcases the band in their less-serious days, but still remains an entertaining song. And really… who wouldn’t want to own a Troll Hammer?
Heavy Metal Month II, Day 22) O Canada! Band from Canada I’m sure many of you lie awake at night wondering what would happen if DragonForce and Amon Amarth were somehow to produce offspring. Well, look no further than our neighbors to the north at Crimson Shadows, one of the best combinations of bombastic power metal and melodic death metal that I’ve come across in recent years. Kings Among Men was a fresh-sounding highlight of 2014, and one of the best-sounding sophomore albums I’d heard in a long time. The first song, Rise To Power, sets the stage for the rest of the album. If you haven’t given these Canadians a listen before, consider this a strong recommendation to check them out.