Sunday, November 13, 2011

My 10 Favorite Bands

I was sitting through a three hour lecture the other day, and a point in time came where I had eaten all the snacks I had brought, doodled all over an entire page of notes, and gotten up to "pee" a.k.a. escape the drudgery, three times. Desperate to do something, anything, other than actually paying attention, I decided to make a list of my favorite bands.  Then, inspiration struck: turn the list into a blog post! Everybody likes lists right?  Well, I do, and I know at least one other blogger who is a fan of the lists, so here it comes.  The OFFICIAL Battle Hymns top 10 bands, complete with my favorite song from each band the the three albums that are most essential to my collection....

#10. IRON MAIDEN: What? Iron Maiden in the ten spot? I know blasphemy right?  Well, make no mistake, I love this band, but I uh, ahem, only own three of their albums.  Yeah, I realize I may have just lost some cool points, but I own the three most awesome Iron Maiden albums, The Number of the Beast, Powerslave, and Piece of Mind.  The strength of those three albums raises them above so many other bands in my music collection.  Each and every song on those three albums are essential Iron Maiden songs, and I habitually name my fantasy baseball and fantasy football teams after Iron Maiden song titles.

Favorite Song: Flight of Icarus

Essential Albums: Take a guess...

#9. THE DOORS: Hey-oh! Another shocker right out the gate, a classic rock band!  The Doors are one of those bands that people either seem to love or hate.  I happen to fall into the love category.  Do I know the lyrics to over 90% of their catalog? Yes I do. Do I tend to sing along  with said 90% of songs whenever I hear them?  Also a yes.  By the way, I can't sing for shit.  The fact that this is one of the only bands both myself and my lady both like means they get a lot of air time on road trips.  The only two albums I haven't gotten totally into are Soft Parade and Strange Days.  The rest of their stuff from '67 to '71 is gold.

Favorite Song: Maggie M'Gill

Essential Albums: Waiting for the Sun, Morrison Hotel, The Doors

#8. TOOL: These dudes have been covered pretty extensively around here, but Tool still deserves to make it on this list.  They are an amazing band both technically amazing, and lyrically astounding. Tool is one of those bands that seem to have a wide appeal.  However, my tastes with Tool haven't exactly evolved along with the band.  My favorite Tool album is their EP release, Opiate.  However, from there my tastes and their style seem to slowly and continually diverge.  I caught these guys live for their Lateralus tour and it still stands as one of my most favorite live shows of all time.  To fully appreciate their talent, I firmly believe they need to be experienced live.

Favorite Song: Forty-six & 2

Essential Albums: Opiate, Undertow, Aenima

#7. MASTODON: Mastodon is a band that has evolved from their southern thrash metal roots into a slightly progressive, melodic yet still very thrashy metal band.  When I first started listening to Mastodon, I didn't know if they were a band for my tastes. However, it didn't take too long for me to assimilate to their sound and with each subsequent release, they get better and better.  Not only do they crank out some great studio albums, but they are a great band to see live.  I've seen them play twice, and each time was pretty damn special.

Favorite Song: Blood and Thunder

Essential Albums: Crack the Skye, Leviathan, Blood Mountain

#6. FAITH NO MORE: If ever there was an acquired taste in the world of rock n' roll, it has to be Faith No More.  I bought their third studio album, The Real Thing when I was eight or nine years old; Basing the purchase off their two highly accessible hit videos for Epic and Falling to Pieces which got steady air time on MTV.  Boy was I in a surprise when I listened to the rest of that tape and heard songs like Surprise! You're Dead!, Woodpecker from Mars, and the lounge-y Edge of the World.  It took me probably a full ten years to fully appreciate that album, and get to a point where I could listen to more of their catalog, of which each offering is as different from the last in a multitude of ways.

To love Faith No More, you have to appreciate that fact that this band should probably never have come together in the first place.  They are one strange conglomeration of talent. They've got Mike Patton, possibly the most talented singer in all of the music industry...his range, and voice capabilities are one in a trillion, yet his musical tastes and areas where he wants to focus that talent is totally scatter-shot.  Then you've got Mike Bordin, a guy who went on to drum for the likes of Ozzy, and Jim Martin who wishes he could get the chance to play for Ozzy, but never really got much of a chance to show off his Tony Iommi-like skills in FNM.  Add in Roddy Bottum and Billy Gould who can tear it up on their respective instruments and you've got one talented line-up. It is a small miracle that this odd grouping managed to put together some of my favorite music.

Favorite Song: Caffeine

Essential Albums: The Real Thing, Angel Dust, Album of the Year

#5. PINK FLOYD: Simply put, Pink Floyd makes beautiful, sublime music.  I never really got into their early stuff from the Syd Barrett era, or any of their other pre-70's stuff for that matter, and as for their output after The Wall, well, that's sorta like leaving Gimli out of the Fellowship.

That said, the 70's were a great decade for Pink Floyd and they made some wonderful music.  Not only is their stuff entertaining, but it makes me think, which can be a rare thing in music.  Believe it or not, I've been through some dark times in my day, and Pink Floyd was essential to the healing process.  The Dark Side of the Moon is probably my most listened to album after Megadeth's Countdown to Extinction.

What makes this band great is that their music still sounds unique and fresh some 40 years after the fact.

Favorite Song: Comfortably Numb

Essential Albums: The Dark Side of the Moon, Meddle, The Wall

#4. PORCUPINE TREE: Out of all the bands in my top 10, Porcupine Tree is the band I'm the most new to.  When I heard that the guy who produced some of Opeth's albums had a band of his own, I had to see what they were all about.  The first song I heard from the first album I listened to (Blackest Eyes), made me an instant fan.

Sometimes melodic, sometimes proggy, sometimes heavy, sometimes quiet, Porcupine Tree is a band that will astound the listener with their versatility.  Like Pink Floyd, their music can make you think, and often times has a message.  Another band that seems to evolve and get better with each new album.

Favorite Song: Lazarus

Essential Albums:  In Absentia, Deadwing, Fear of a Blank Planet

#3. BLACK SABBATH:  All hail the elder God's of metal.  Where would I be without Black Sabbath?  Hard to say.  They say Kieth Richards wrote every guitar riff known to man, but I think Tony Iommi deserves some credit for writing some incredibly awesome ones too.  He also originated the heavy metal gallop, which became a signature part of Sabbath's sound.

I don't just love Black Sabbath for the fact that they were the first ever metal band, I love them because their music is, as Oprah would say: amaaaaaaaaazing.  It's been 41 years since the release of their first album, and that album is still far superior to most of what passes as metal music these days.  I know songs like Iron Man, and Paranoid get a lot of radio play, but the best Sabbath tunes are the ones that don't often see the light of day.  I could get by without ever hearing Iron Man again, but so much of their remaining output is essential listening and gets steady play in my stereo.

Favorite Song: Black Sabbath

Essential Albums: Black Sabbath, Master of Reality, Black Sabbath Vol. 4

#2. MEGADETH: For years and years (age 10-24) I considered Megadeth my favorite band, but their drop-off in quality and the fact that they haven't released an album I want to listen to since 1997 has caused them to slip down a notch on the list.  Truth be told, my love for Megadeth is mostly refined to a specific lineup...What I like to refer to as the Glory Years lineup of Dave Mustaine, Dave Ellefson, Marty Friedman and Nick Menza.  During those years they released three of my all time favorite albums, and one pretty solid album (Cryptic Writings).

Not only does Megadeth score points for making some of my most loved music, but they also score some great nostalgia points.  When I listen to Symphony of Destruction I can't help but think of being 11 years old, head banging and air guitaring with my brother in his room while we blasted said song through his boombox.  Not to mention the thousands of other great times I can associate with this band.  Simply put, ever since I've loved music, I've loved Megadeth.  They've almost always been a part of my life, and I can't see that changing anytime soon.

Favorite Song: Symphony of Destruction

Essential Albums: Rust in Peace, Countdown to Extinction, Youthanasia

#1. OPETH: Yeah, not such a huge surprise here, but they really do deserve the top spot.

A few years back, myself, my brother, and a few other friends would get together for what we liked to call "Metal Night". A gathering that consisted of drinking beer, listening to metal, burning albums for each other, and watching some sort of metal film; Either a documentary, or a collection of videos, or recorded live performances.  It was on one such Metal Night where I first heard Opeth, (The Song, Black Rose Immortal to be precise), and my mind was blown.  I had never heard such exhilarating, heavy music that still managed to have form and melody.  The next day I went out and bought two of their albums.

Though their sound, and my tastes seem to be on slightly divergent paths at the moment, Opeth nails down the top spot for the fact that they still make music I want to hear, and for that fact that they make the most amazing music I've ever heard in my life.

Favorite Song: Black Rose Immortal

Essential Albums:  Morningrise, Blackwater Park, Deliverance


Justin said...

Nice list. Mine would be:
#10. Kyuss
#9. Amon Amarth
#8. Clutch
#7. Type O Negative
#6. Rush
#5. Opeth
#4. Mastodon
#3. Faith No More
#2. Pink floyd
#1. Tool

Ryan said...

Nice list Justin. Kyuss just misses the cut for me.

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Anonymous said...

You a fan of bands like Oceansize and Amplifier? Looking at that list they might be ones for you if you've not heard of them.

Ryan said...

Tom- I've never actually heard of either band. I'll definitely have to check them out. Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

Ah, excellent. Think I found them about the same time as I was finding various Steve Wilson bands so they got connected in my head, since he seems to produce and be part of so many!

Definitely go check them out, the first three Oceansize albums are especially brilliant, would suggest you start with Frames and Amplifier's eponymous one.

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