Top Ten Heavy Metal Anthems of All Time
One day, when I was sitting in my room listening to old school metal, I realized that there are quite a few songs from that era that are about how awesome metal is. Granted, metal WAS extreeeeemely awesome back then, so I can see why a bunch of people would be inspired by the environment around them, even if it’s kind of masturbatory to write odes to your own greatness. At any rate, I decided to compile a top ten list of all my favorite heavy metal anthems, partly because I love writing op-eds but mostly so that I had an excuse to sit around and listen to a bunch of old school metal all day.
Now you can ride it high
And you can light the way
Lift up your hands in praise
You can’t stop rock and roll
Everyone knows “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” but this lesser-known Twisted Sister jam is way more appropriate to the list and more fun, if I do say myself. Technically this is not a heavy metal anthem, since rock ‘n’ roll and heavy metal aren’t quite the same thing, but the spirit is there and I like the song a whole lot.
I’m gonna set you down
I’m gonna make it right
I’m gonna bring it home
I’ll bring you lightning to the nations
Though Diamond Head took a few questionable musical turns after their debut album, some of the greatest metal bands of all time cite them as an influence. The first song of their first album set a precedent and the rest of the album lived up to the expectation, and to this day, Lightning To The Nations stands as Diamond Head’s magnum opus. Whether or not they have continued to bring lightning to the nations is…up for debate.
Shout it out and play it loud
‘Cause this is what it’s all about
Heavy metal — heavy metal never dies
Despite the old-fashioned power metal feel, Iron Savior only released this song in November 2011 on their The Landing album. Not only does this song extol the virtues of heavy metal, it also seems to suggest that metal has otherworldly healing properties. While I can’t directly vouch for metal’s ability to restore one’s body, I can say that this song is an excellent addition to a cardio playlist.
In life, I have no religion
Besides the heavy metal gods
Wear nothing but black skin tight leather
My skin’s clad with metal studs
“The Book Of Heavy Metal (March Of The Metallians)” is a beautiful, cheesy, power metal masterpiece from Dream Evil’s 2004 release, The Book Of Heavy Metal. The lyrics leave a little to be desired (the band is Swedish, so cut them some slack, will ya?), but the moral of the story is clear: Selling your soul to the devil for eternal heavy metal fame is absolutely worth it! Watch the official video for added effect — it’s as insane as it is epic.
From SF out to Old Bridge
New York back to LA
The world of metal changed forever
Back in the day
A goodie from one of Megadeth’s not-so-critically acclaimed, post-Christianity releases The System Has Failed, “Back In The Day” describes the ’80s Bay Area thrash scene. This is definitely one of my favorite Megadeth songs of the 21st century, even though it’s kind of depressing (the gist of the song is that if you weren’t around back in the ’80s, you missed the boat on something really cool, which…yeah, is probably true, but still).
On murskaavin, ääni metallin (It is crushing, the sound of metal)
Polvistu eessä musiikin (Kneel in front of the music)
On voimakkain, tahto teräksen (It is the most powerful, will of steel)
Vahvaa kuin seinä betoninen (Strong as the concrete wall)
While Finland is known more for its folk metal dominance, Teräsbetoni, a power metal band that competed in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008, has risen in the ranks over the decade that they’ve been around. They’re known as a joke band in Finnish heavy metal circles, but they are undeniably skilled musicians. Lots of their songs are anthemic along the lines of their titular one, but this one is definitely the most aggressive.
Living and dying, laughing and crying
Once you have seen it, you’ll never be the same
Life in the fast lane is just what it seems
Hard and it’s heavy, it’s dirty and mean
Nowadays, it’s hard to remember that Metallica were once the kings of Bay Area thrash. In case you need a reminder, listen to “Motorbreath,” let the wailing guitars and screeching vocals wash over you, and remember the good times. You’ll almost forget that Lulu ever existed…almost.
Murder in the front row
Crowd begins to bang
And there’s blood up on the stage
Bang your head against the stage
And metal takes its price
Bonded by blood
This might be one of my favorite metal hooks of all time. The music is glorious, of course, but the percussiveness of the lyrics (“Murder in the front row, crowd begins to bang…”) adds so much fervor to the tone of the song it’s impossible not to pump your fist a little when you hear it.
Denim and leather
Brought us all together
It was you that set the spirit free
I have a soft spot for NWOBHM anyway, but “Denim And Leather” is one of my favorite metal anthems. Its slow deliberate delivery drives the point home that heavy metal is here to stay (and thank goodness they were right about that — in 1980, it might have been hard to tell) and though it’s not really moshable, it’s definitely groovy. Best of all, the song makes you feel like a part of things and is really more an ode (and, to a certain extent, a call to arms) to the fans than to each other.
We’re the kings of metal comin’ to town
When we light up, have the roof nailed down
Don’t try to tell us that we’re too loud
‘Cause there ain’t no way that we’ll ever turn down
Manowar have reigned over heavy metal for more than three decades now, so it’s no surprise that they’ve made it to the top of the list. “Kings Of Metal” is one of the songs that put Manowar on the map and in our hearts. The lyrics to “Kings Of Metal” are particularly appropriate since they broke the Guinness World Record for loudest performance in 1984, achieved a sound pressure level of 139 dB during a soundcheck at a show in 2008, AND broke the record for longest concert that same year. These guys really know how to keep metal alive!
What do you all think? Is there a better list than this? (No, but I’m willing to humor you for the sake of conversation.) As always, your input is valued, so go ahead and opine all over the place!
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