10 Life Changing Metal Songs

We all have those special songs, those riffs or a solo from a certain song that changed us, that effected us personally and emotionally, ingrained into our very being and dare I say? Changed our life.

by Erik T

First, I’ll admit from borrowing this blog idea from this thread in the message board, but I was desperate for ideas to finally update the blog page.

So we have covered numerous albums, good and bad from a variety of genres in this blog. Timeless albums, underrated albums and even top 5 albums of all time. So what about something more specific? Something more personal? What about actual songs? We all have those special songs, those riffs or a solo from a certain song that changed us, that effected us personally and emotionally, ingrained into our very being and dare I say? Changed our life.

Here, in chronological order are 10 (or so) songs that I feel changed my life and deeply affected me as person growing up and still growing. As usual, feel free to comment, ridicule, mock, criticize or post your own lists…

1) “She’s On it/Fight For Your Right/No Sleep till Brooklyn” – Beastie Boys
I know these aren’t technically metal, but bear with me here. Back in 1986 I was a snot nose, mullet having, 13 year old kid and much to my parents chagrin, I drawn into these crazy new ‘rap’ phase from across the shores in America. However, in 1986, when I heard the guitar riffs from these three songs from License to Ill, my life was changed forever. I did some research found out the riffs were played by a one Kerry King from a thrash band on Def Jam records called Slayer and a little album called Reign in Blood released the same year- maybe you’ve heard of it? Upon discovering that I was opened up to other metal bands like Metallica, Agnostic Front, Onslaught, Anthrax, Iron Maiden and Manowar. Pandora’s box had been opened.

2) “One” – Metallica
My guess is everyone (over the age of 26 at least) has a Metallica song somewhere on a list like this. I initially was going to put “Fade to Black” here as it was the song that my first true love broke up to. However, the memory of “One” is more overpowering. I can still remember the day my mother came home from work with a vinyl copy of 1988s ..And Justice For All, an album I had begged her to buy with my hard earned money while she was in town working. And while each song on the album rocked my world, the epic, “One” with its war themes, MTV video, and scope from slow somber ballad to flat out thrasher simply numbed me at that impressionable age.

3) “Best of Enemies” – Sabbat.
My youthful incursion into metal was highlighted by seeing Manowar live at the Hammersmith Odeon during their Kings of Metal tour. The support act was supposed to be Lizzy Borden, but they canceled, and some UK band called Sabbat played instead. I’ll never forget Martin Walkyier prowling around the stage in his medieval garb and the fury that the band emanated. I promptly purchased the bands second album, Dreamweaver, and was enthralled by the pagan lyrics based on the novel The Way of the Wyrd by Brian Bates. The whole album struck a chord with me as I felt like young Wat Brand in his tale of Christian conversion in rural England, but none more so than “The Best Of Enemies”. Walkyier weaved such a beautiful cautionary tale from the viewpoint of the old Druid, decrying the new faiths and the old ways being wiped out. I can still remember reading the album’s lyric sheet over and over again to memorize Walkyier’s virtually impossible cadence and mesmerizing lyrics. To this day, the song sends a shiver up my spine and puts a tear in my eye. And though I still forget my wedding anniversary and wife’s birthday, I still know the song word for word twenty years later.

4) “Internal Bleeding” – Obituary.
Not such because it’s a great or classic song, but more because it was the first real death metal song I ever heard. The opening track from Obituary’s legendary 1989 debut, Slowly We Rot, actually scared the piss out of me the first time I heard it. The creepy opening FX, then John Tardy’s water shed, terrifying, unearthly growl, actually made me swear of this ‘death metal’ stuff for a few months, and I never listened to the rest of the labum, as I returned to the safety of Manowar, Iron Maiden and Metallica. However, curiosity got the better of me and I gradually warmed up to this more extreme style of music and all its subgenres. My parents actually longed for the days of Beastie Boys and Run DMC as I stared to unearth the likes of Possessed, Death, Bathory, Napalm Death, Sodom, Autopsy, Kreator and such.

5) “Left Hand Path” – Entombed.
The title track from my favorite album of all time remains one of my favorite songs of all time. While death metal was still in it infancy, Entombed came out of Sweden with a sound and guitar tone that was truly genre defying. Where as the US scene that was developing (Death, Obituary, Autopsy, Cannibal Corpse, etc), was out to gut listeners with B movie horror styled sonic assaults. Entombed’s sound, epitomized by “Left Hand Path” was darkly melodic yet brooding and delivered with punky Discharge based riffs, pained vocals and a then the mid section, taken from the Phantasm movies, remains one of the most moving, goose bump pieces of music I’ve ever heard-almost twenty years later. Dismember’s “Override of the Overture” is another track from this era/style that had a similar effect on me.

6) “The Glorious Dead” – Gorefest.
In 1991 I moved to the US and got easier access to metal CDs. One such CD was a Nuclear Blast Records Compilation, Death Is Just the Beginning: volume 2. On a compilation full of awesome artists and tracks (Master, Benediction, Brutality, Afflicted, Resurrection, Hypocrisy, Amorphis) that further my death metal exploration, one track stood out and blew me way- Gorefest’s “The Glorious Dead”. Not that is was a ground breaking song, or a truly legendary song, but that mid song march utterly devastated me and showed me to true meaning of heft and groove. “The Glorious Dead” is one of those rare tracks that epitomizes death metal, and to this day is on every compilation CD i ever make for me or for others.

7) “Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium”” – My Dying Bride.
A lot of these songs were my first exposure to certain genres, and My Dying Bride’s debut 1991 EP introduced me to ‘Doom Metal’ (I consider Paradise Lost’s 1990s debut a death metal record) replete with violins, orchestration and an hitherto unheard of 11 minute duration filled with slow, churning riffs. My Dying Bride sounded like a death metal LP played at half speed with huge bellows and a regal despondence that was a contrast to the blistering death metal I was engulfed in at the time. What was amazing, was the later stages of the song, where My Dying Bride showed they could crank out blast beats with the best of them.

8 ) “I am the Black Wizards” – Emperor.
Other than Bathory, in 1993 I had not really delved into black metal, but on a whim I grabbed a split CD called Hordanes Land by Enslaved/Emperor, purely ‘cos I dug the cover and I knew Enslaved were a Viking band, and I was all about anything Viking-y back then. However when the opening strands of Emperor’s half of the split “I am the Black Wizards” – it was something magical. The classical music inspired synths, the sheer regal majesty and the vortex of technical yet abrasive, evil riffs was like nothing I had ever heard, despite the thin production. Of course, the landmark In the Nightside Eclipse followed in 1994 and further compounded the majestic malevolence with the likes of “The Burning Shadows of Silence” and “Inno A Satana”, but by then “I am the Black Wizards” had shown me and the rest of the metal world that symphonics and extreme music were wicked bed mates when plied with this sort of perfection and balance.

9) “God of Emptiness” – Morbid Angel.
My early death metal mantra was ‘faster, faster, faster” as I sought out the most brutal and speedy bands I could. The legendary Morbid could do fast and on their previous album had shown hints of crawling malevolence of 1991s Blessed are the Sick, but with the seminal anthem from Covenant, “God of Emptiness” (and its accompanying video) Morbid Angel showed the death metal world that slow could be truly creepy and menacing. My main memory of this song is being stoned out of my mind in college and playing this video over and over again, chanting the songs creepy ending loudly and freaking out my entire Fraternity house, to the point eventually barricaded me in my room for fear I was going to ritually murder everyone in the house. “BOW TO ME FAITHFULLY……BOW TO ME SPLENDIDLY”. My fraternity brothers still talk about that night.

10) “The Architecture of Loss” – Funeral.
The only really ‘recent’ song on this list, “The Architecture of Loss” came from Funeral’s 2007 album, From These Wounds and came at a time where my marriage almost ended, personal mental health issues and a change in career all snowballed through my life. The lyrics, are typically doomy and depressive but when rendered with Frode Forsmo’, deep, sad croons the song reaching into my chest and donkey punches my heart. I actually avoid listening to this song today for fear of bawling like a baby in public as it takes me back to a time and emotional state I really don’t want to visit again.



  1. Commented by: Overcow

    Left Hand Path is truly the best song ever made from the best album ever made.

  2. Commented by: vugelnox

    narrowing it to 10 is pretty tough and everyone always has those few songs/albums that introduced them to music, or more specifically metal. I’ll say a big one for me was the first song Faction off Candiria’s second album Beyond Reasonable Doubt. I blame my entire subsequent immersion in any more esoteric forms of music on that band and that album in particular!

  3. Commented by: Staylow

    Nice read there Erik. Metallica’s “One” would also be on my list, as well as “Enter Sandman”.

  4. Commented by: Jodi

    That Funeral album is depressing as fuck. Good list.

  5. Commented by: Goat Fucker
  6. Commented by: SHANE

    I know the new Brokncyde CD had a life changer on it for ya.

  7. Commented by: Vance

    Wow, your write up on that Sabbat song is remarkable, Dreamweaver is certainly one of the best metal albums of all time, especially if you factor in all the art and lyrics, Wat Brand… haha, man that is too damn cool.

    “Christian soldiers armed with virtue-
    hearts afire with blind obsession
    cannot see the difference `twixt
    compassion and oppression”

    -The Clerical Conspiracy

  8. Commented by: Lance

    Public Enemy/Anthrax collaboration changed my life for the better.

  9. Commented by: gordeth

    Funny you should mention Death Is Just The Beginning II. That was the first death metal CD I ever bought and it changed my curiosity into a passion. The track that stood out the most for me was Brutality’s “Cryptorium”. I bought their debut soon after and it’s still one of my favorite death metal albums.

  10. Commented by: demobil

    Mention of death is just the beginning 2 brings back a flood of memories. That and at deaths door were the best compilations of death metal ever. Brutality and Gorefest stuck out to me in a major way.

  11. Commented by: jk666

    I’ve often tried to map out my musical history with all the various Gateway songs that introduced me to new bands or entire new genres. Starting with the first Music I can remember hearing and going through groundbreaking songs that I heard this week. I’m trying to think of the most recent example of this…probably something old from Anacrusis who I missed the first time around.

  12. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    Override the Overture > Left Hand Path

    Someone had to say it!

  13. Commented by: you suck

    the fucking beastie boys?? are you kidding me?? on the same list as these other bands…what. the. fuck. they’re not even part of the metal genre!!

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