Tuesday, January 29, 2008

We Are the Vanquished Foes of the Metal

Mitch Berg - the conscience of metal?

Well, this time maybe:

A "Best Metal Song" poll that doesn't include "Runnin' With The Devil" by Van Halen is like Mark Gisleson competing in the National Figureskating Championships. It just doesn't make sense.

Van Halen is a tough call. For sure, they have put out a lot of songs that were definitively metal: "Atomic Punk," "House of Pain," "Sinner's Swing" etc. However, much of their catalogue - including just about all of their better-known songs are best described as hard rock, such as "I'll Wait," "You Really Got Me" "Where Have All the Good Times Gone?" er, "Jump" and so on.

I split the difference by placing the classic "Running With the Devil" in the second category, but including the harder-edged but lesser-known "Fair Warning" album in the poll; inadvertently breaking two rules I had set up when selecting the songs to be included.

The first rule I broke was that "Fair Warning" isn't a song. Even if that poll choice garnered the most votes, it wouldn't have answered the question asked, i.e. which is the best metal song.

The second problem with this is that while FW is probably one of Van Halens best, it is also its most obscure. The single most important criteria I followed was that each of the songs included must be iconic of the genre. That is, I asked myself for each of them, "When I think metal I think [name of song]." If the phrase made sense for a given song, I leaned toward including it. For I believe the truly great metal songs transcended the radio embargoes of their day and became well-known and popular (at least amongst metalheads) without it. Sure, you hear "Crazy Train" on the radio all the time now. But did you when that song was first released? I think all that airplay "Crazy Train" has gotten since it stopped being impolitic to play Ozzy on the radio dulled that song's edge just a bit. I believe that "Running With the Devil" suffered the same fate, at least in my own mind.

So I have changed the poll by replacing "Anything off of "Fair Warning" with "Running With the Devil." (Note: "Fair Warning" will still show up on the results screen after you vote - I couldn't change it there without resetting the votes.) Since there have been no votes for that option as yet, as I see it, no harm -no foul. But I'll leave the poll open a bit longer to be fair to Van Halen.

While you wait for the results to roll in (though the way it looks now, there may have to be a runoff), please enjoy this live metal performance featuring an 8 foot tall demonic dancing robot:

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