Lists of Domination
GD's Top 30 Album Openers
23/12/10 || Global Domination
Introduction by Khlysty: The beginning is half of everything, ancient Greeks used to say. Were they right? Ummmmmm, not exactly. I mean, how many times any of us had began doing something, only to find out that he/she was unable to complete it in a satisfactory way? Or at all? Please, don’t answer, the question was rhetorical…
Anyway, as far as music is concerned, this dictum seems to apply – most of the time. You buy a record. You put it on. The first sounds that emanate from the speakers is the make-or-break wager. You like what you hear? You’re hooked. You don’t? The record’s lost you. So, it’s very important to open a record with the best song you got.
Of course, the second song must also be cool to keep you interested. And the third. And the fourth. And, let’s not even start talking about how you arrange the songs in the record. But, I’m digressing. To make a long story short, here in GD we decided to give you a list that you won’t forget. The Top 30 (yeah, that’s right, mofos, Top 30!) Best Metal Album Openers of all time. All places. All universes.
And, you know what the best part is? The best part is that WE’RE ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY RIGHT! We nailed the bastard on the head. This is it, ladies and germs: there’s no other best metal album opener than the ones included in the list. All others are not Top 30 material. Period. So read and rejoice. Or something…
30. Deep Purple: Highway star (Machine head)
I don’t like Deep Purple. There, I said it. I never really liked them and I actively HATE “Smoke On The Water”. Anyway, “Highway Star”, the opener for “Machine Head”, is one of their songs that I can still mildly enjoy, even though I find it pretty passé, what with its propelling rhythm, macho-rock atmosphere and great guitar-organ interplay. I still think that it would’ve been better if it had been a bit trimmed, but the fact of the matter is that “Highway Star” and “Machine Head” in general is one of the heaviest things that Deep Purple have ever recorded, thus, let me give it a cookie and stop here.
29. Carcass: Buried dreams (Heartwork)
Ze riffing. Ze Gods of ze Riff. Zey have returned. These English lads, completed by half-Swede Michael Amott, were one of the prime grindcore exports. But then they went melodic death metal, and became an inspiration to those who like modern In Flames, Dark Tranquillity and such. In fact, you could make a case that Arch Enemy sort of continued where “Heartwork” left off, only with some worse songs here and there. The main strength in this opener is the riffing though, as already mentioned. If you can open with a riff like that, you deserve to be worshipped. Pity this band will probably not release any new material, because Carcass’ status is legendary – and deserved. A fantastic way to open a landmark album.
28. Kyuss: Gardenia (Sky valley)
Kyuss came outta the desert, armed with huge bongs, downtuned guitars, a penchant for long jams and a clear love for all things psychedeloheavy. Having already made themselves known with the wonderfully left-brained “Blues For The Red Sun”, this time around they decided to do the proper thing and sprawl things almost to breaking point. “Sky Valley”’s ten songs are grouped into three suites, each one pushing things further and further into sun-baked grooves and hazy heavosity. “Gardenia”, with its titanic riff, rumbling bass and drums and infectious head-nodding groove is the perfect opener for such a record, as it’s heavier than walking in Mojave for hours without water, but with enough hooks to make the cognoscenti of da heavy to bite into it and never let go.
27. Pantera: Mouth for war (Vulgar display of power)
The riff that Dimebag cuts loose to start of Pantera’s masterpiece “Vulgar Display of Power” should have its own display in the Smithsonian in the Hall ov Aeternal Awesomeness. Right from the get-go, you know that Pantera is bringing the face-busting pain on “Vulgar Display of Power”. On this record, Pantera shifted from a more classic thrash-oriented band to the groove monster that would eventually top the Billboard charts, a feat never accomplished by any other metal band nearly as awesome as the Cowboys from Hell. I spent many nights in college destroying my dorm room in a drunken rage after getting fired up by “Mouth for war”. “Vulgar Display of Penis” is the record that brought Pantera to the masses and Satan only knows how many devoted fans were instantly hooked to the album and band after hearing this aggressive piece of groove/thrash perfection? At least 40,000,000 in Asia alone.
26. Faith No More: From out of nowhere (The real thing)
To say that Faith No More is one of the most unique bands the world ever saw is an understatement. Still to this day this very album is one of my favourites. Opener “From out of nowhere” displays a broad variety of talent and catchiness with Mike Patton’s absolutely amazing vocals on top of it all. Just like the rest of the material present here. It’s not the best tune on the album, but it’s a perfect 3 minute show-off in how to create fantastic music that was way ahead of its time. Faith No More should go down in history as one of the finest bands ever.
-Lord K Philipson
25. Yngwie J. Malmsteen: Black star (Rising force)
Here you have it. “Black star” is absolutely everything an instrumental opener should be. Yngwie’s finest moment is presented in this very song. Aspiring guitarists of today should have “Black star” as blueprint for how to play guitar and shouldn’t be allowed near a recording device until they know this song by its every fragment. If the human heart was something that could be transferred onto a CD it would sound just like “Black star”. One of my fave songs of all time.
-Lord K Philipson
24. Godflesh: Like rats (Streetcleaner)
Godflesh came seemingly out of nowhere and turned extreme music onto its head. A barely tuned, heavily distorted guitar, a rumbling subsonic bass, a drum machine that sounded possessed, a vocalist who howled and growled inside a maelstrom of barely controlled noise-as-music. “Streetcleaner” was a bio-mechanoid hybrid nightmare, straight out of H. R. Giger’s worst fever dream and opener “Like Rats” broke down the gates with a squall of feedback, a mechanistic tattoo and such user-friendly lyrics as “You breed like rats!” and “Breeding. Fade out. Lies. Deformity. Stylized deformity. Don’t look back. You were dead from the beginning”. Long Live The New Flesh!
23. Ulver: I troldskog faren vild (Bergtatt)
A majority of the tracks on this list are here partly because they contain some of the single best riffs ever written. The mighty morphing music rangers Ulver’s “I troldskog faren vild” is no way an exception to that rule, but rather a testament to how fucken powerful some good guitars really can be. The track starts with an instantly recognizable folk inspired lead guitar that melts your cock off with it’s melodic grimness. Add to this some of Gram’s best clean vocals to date and a staggering guitar solo at the end, and you’ve got a track worthy of the number 23. Spellbinding has never been such a good adjective.
22. Grave: Turning black (Soulless)
If Daemo banged “Soulless” any harder, it would have a gape into which aircraft carriers could disappear. My gateway drug to death metal, and the gateway to that duck/frog infested gateway is “Turning fuck-hen black”. No, this is not a song about an alternate universe in which Michael Jackson lived long enough to reverse all the bizarre medical experiments he conducted upon himself. “Turning black” is about taking that magic trip to Sinland with Jörgen, Ola, and Jensa. What will you see when you visit? A ballbusting, swaggering main riff that screams groove. Midpaced drumming bonus round bonanza. An oddly distorted, high-pitched rasp calling you to throw yourseeeeelffffff… into the fire! God-diggity-damn, is the breakdown herein dopeness defined. And when it’s over you will never see AGAIN! After about a trillion listens this track still makes my nutskin taut. Thankfully this bitch made it on the list with all of the other mainstream thrash and kvlt droneprojects attempting to crowd it out – there would have a paradise of the damned to pay if it didn’t.
21. Morbid Angel: Dominate (Domination)
1, 2, 3, 4, blast your brains out! If you’ve ever skipped foreplay and got a 14-inch rock-hard cock slammed down your throat without either mercy or forewarning, well – you’ll know exactly how this sounds. A most pleasant experience.
“Weak aside!”, bellows David Vincent. “We must dominate!”, bellows David Vincent. “Be a victor or be a victim!”, bellows David Vincent. This song portrays domination and strength, and brings vitality and potency to everyone who decides to spin MA’s best record. Sandoval, Azagthoth, Rutan and Vincent kill all that is holy and bash our skulls with death metal of the most furious kind. We bow down and hail Satan.
20. Testament: Over the wall (The Legacy)
When Testament arrived on the thrash scene there were already countless other thrash bands in existence, so they surely knew they had to do something special to stand up and be heard. That something special was “The Legacy”, perfectly opened by “Over the wall”. Here was Testament’s statement: we are here, we thrash hard, we deliver great breakdowns with melodic solos and we are immensely fucken talented. Chuck Billy’s vocals were at his peak (fuck the growls), and his high pitched scream of “Over the wall” encapsulated the raw energy and youthful exuberance that led them to be one of the most recognizable names from the second wave of thrash. A truly classic album with a fantastic opener.
19. Death: Symbolic (Symbolic)
In case you missed it, I think that Symbolic is a pretty decent album. Like best death metal album ever decent. As soon as the slow, heavy introduction to the title, opening track begins you know you are about to experience something special. “Symbolic” has everything you could ever want in a metal song; blistering speed and technicality, head banging grooves, and lyrics that are not as stupid as hell. Every single Death record starts off with a classic song. To label “Symbolic” as their best opener is really saying something. If you do not bang your head to the cock-pounding ending to “Symbolic” there is something seriously wrong with you. Death still shits on 99.9% of all metal today, and the fact that “Symbolic” is on the list is just another reason that proves it.
18. Opeth: Ghost of perdition (Ghost reveries)
A haunting keyboard melody tinkles. Psychedelic music. BOOM. “GHOST OF MOOOOTHEEER!!!! LINGERING DEAAAAATH!!!!” and we’re off. Opeth’s always been known for their sublime use of dynamics, but the first notes to the album called “Ghost reveries” are an exercise in awesome. In fact, the moment distorted guitars enter it is like Mike and co. just dropped a ten ton nuclear bomb on your head. The rest of the song then twists and turns, like Opeth songs are bound to, but since all of it is excellent, it doesn’t matter. It’s a beast of a song, and it really is the intro “change into monsters at the drop of a hat” that really does it. Looks like Jekyll just appeared from Mr Hyde and ran around tossing everything upside down. Jekyll and Hyde metal. Now there’s a good name for Opeth’s new genre…
17. Exodus: Bonded by blood (Bonded by blood)
This felt like a natural pick to me, yet still I’m having a hard time of explaining why exactly “Bonded by blood” deserves to be on this list. I couldn’t tell you what exactly makes it great, the overall thing just works. Let’s just say “everything’s good” and call it day, maybe? In a more elaborated fashion, though. Every detail in this song is where it’s supposed to be, the flow of the song is great, the groove sits in the right place, the fast stuff stays catchy, the vocals are coarse and individual, but still never annoying. You might think all these points are givens, but actually, songs like this are not so easy to find anymore, with the good old days gone and whatnot. You know, these oh-so-simple (yet so awesome) thrash riffs might be easy to play along for your YouTube channel, but the interesting part is writing them and working them into a complete song. And back in 1985, Exodus proved that this was something they had the potential for. Too bad they fired their best shot first and took two albums to come up with a song as awesome again.
Well, look at this list in its entirety and you’ll understand why Exodus never made it onto the same level as the big four at the time. This song is great but not fantastic, and that’s pretty much all they could come up with, but not consistently. The big four might have had other shortcomings then or later, but they just had more great and fantastic songs. Except for Anthrax, apparently, but I never enjoyed them too much anyway. Meta-analysis, Shmeta-analysis, this song deserves its spot.
16. Edge Of Sanity: Twilight (Purgatory afterglow)
“Crimson” might be the best song/album Edge of Sanity (and mankind) ever made, but before that the crown jewel of Dan Swanö‘s prog/death metal lovechild went by the name of Twilight. In a way it’s even kind of a foreshadowing song, seeing as it has all the elements that made “Crimson” so good: Great dynamics, killer riffage (listen to that first one and let your face melt), dreamy clean parts and Dan’s amazing singing. Even the lyrics are fantastic, something that can not be said about some of the albums other tracks (I’m looking at you “Blood-coloured”). Now if only those “vampires” in the book/movie Twilight hadn’t destroyed this masterpiece’s name…
15. Pantera: Cowboys from hell (Cowboys from hell)
You know what Pantera sounded before this? They sounded EXACTLY like that. Yep, that awful. I really don’t know what happened to them during writing and recording “Cowboys From Hell”, but they suddenly started sounding a bit like this, which was an obvious improvement, right? Anyway, being heavy was a step to the right direction. Being groovy as fuck
almost phunky helped launching Pantera to greater exposure, better drugs and heavier music. “Cowboys From Hell”, apart being a really shake-ya-booty groove-fest song, was instrumental in making Pantera a big name and really letting them explode in future records. So, besides being cool, it’s historically significant. And phunky. Whaddafuck else do ya want?
14. Sepultura: Refuse/Resist (Chaos A.D.)
If something starts with the heartbeat of your unborn fucken son, you know it’s going to be awesome. When it’s then followed by some kickass tribal drumming and a groovy-as-fuck riff that would make Kerry King envious, the greatness of the song is no longer debatable. Not only doing a perfect job of preparing the listener of the groovemageddon that is “Chaos A.D.”, “Refuse/Resist” stands as one of – if not the – strongest track on the album with it’s protest song feeling and already mentioned characteristics. You can try to resist headbanging to this fucker, but in the end you know there is no way you can resist it.
13. At The Gates: Blinded by fear (Slaughter of the soul)
By having “Blinded by fear” opening up this critically acclaimed album, ATG really set expectations high for the rest of the album. And this is one of the few recordings that actually carries through on most accounts when the standards are set with the first tune. There are some weaker songs on “Slaughter of the soul”, “Blinded by fear” is not one of them. These guys really raised the bar for Swedish metal with “Slaughter”, and this first tune is a textbook example as for why. The sound present here is copied/stolen by millions, all of them fail at being as excellent. Swedes do it better.
-Lord K Philipson
12. Judas Priest: Painkiller (Painkiller)
Many of the songs on this list just have the riffs going for them. That’s fine. Judas Priest have always had the riffs going for them. Still, I feel “Painkiller” was included not for its riffing in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, it’s some great shredding, the solos are awesome, but what really shines is of course the drumming and the vocals/lyrics. Can you think of a more classic drum intro? I’ll make it easy for you: No, you can’t. And from there on it just goes pounding onwards throughout the album – what a change in pace that was for the Priest from Dave Holland’s comparably lackluster style, all introduced by the explosive barrage let loose on this here track. This is how you say goodbye to the rocking eighties. And with a backing like that, Rob Halford truly was on his home turf, note compulsory gay joke. Personally, he didn’t quite feel like leaving the eighties just yet, it seems. The lines he launched on this track in his most frantic vocal delivery to date are beyond compare in their ridiculous glory. A Swiss cheese formed out of boiling metal slag, then chromium plated and delivered to your place faster than a laser bullet. Boss!
11. Amon Amarth: Death in fire (Versus the world)
“Death in fire” is the sole reason I started listening to Amon Amarth. For a while I had them earmarked as a band I needed to check out. From the opening riffs of “Death in Fire” I was hooked. The stellar drumming, ferocious growling and epic breakdown sealed the deal. I needed to hear Amon Amarth more than you need a bigger dick.
As an album opener, very few songs (well, ten as a matter of fact) set the tone better than this track. It is fucking epic, it’s viking warriors pouring forth from their boat, hefting axes coming to destroy the fuck out of you. Unforgettable and driven, this track is just fucking killer.
10. Iron Maiden: Aces high (Powerslave)
A great album opener should make you want to immediately strap into a Spitfire and go shoot down Nazi bombers. The opening guitar lines sound like a fucken roll call to action. “Aces high” kicks off Iron Maiden’s masterpiece “Powerslave” on a sky-rockeeting note and never lets up. Bruce’s screaming chorus is top notch, the song’s pace is frenetic, and the World War 2 lyrics are awesome. Instead of playing the national anthem before sporting events, “Aces high” should be blasted over the PA systems…at least in England. I am seriously considering making my high-school students recite this instead of the Pledge of Allegiance during morning homeroom. “Aces high” is the perfect song to kick off “Powerslave”, it is the perfect song to kick of an Iron Maiden concert, it is the perfect song to convert a hipster pussy to liking metal, it is the perfect song to bang a fat chick to… get the point?
9. Metallica: Battery (Master of puppets)
‘Tis never a poor plan to open up your album with a faster number, and Metallicva’s plans were not poverty stricken in the least circa “Master of sock puppets”. Deceptively woo ‘em in by a bit of flamenco-y acoustics, then bash ‘em over the head with a rock and toss ‘em into a whirlpool. Excellent strategy for making new friends I daresay. Some great thrash riffery accompanies James’ military bark, then we’re dropped right into an nardkicking slowdown with Kirk’s winding leadwork adding to the radness. I dig everything about this song – the pacing, the lyrics, and shockingly, even the drum$$. To double your pleasure they went ahead and tacked another version of “Battery” at the end of the disc, this time entitled “Damage Inc”. Good thinking – give the audience more of what they want. This was just about the last time ‘tallica stepped up and let us know they meant business right from the get-go. We may never hear an album opener like “Battery” from these Apatosaurae ever again.
8. Slayer: War ensemble (Seasons in the abyss)
You know it’s Slayer from Riff 1. Just the first ten notes, and you know this is gonna be awesome. Tom Araya does his best yelling too – none of that pussy bullshit he does nowadays. Araya knows how to fucken rock it. Lombardo beats around on his kit, driving the song up and through and through. And then the iconic line comes in “The final swing is not a drill. It’s how many people I can kill!”. Game over, out, and done. Slayer just dusted your ass, chopped it off, and fed it to you on a silver plate. This is one of those songs that every metalhead knows. This is one of those songs that Slayer must play at every gig, or they will get hordes of angry metalheads on their backs. This is the only song you could potentially think of that pushes the throttle above eleven that could satisfyingly open a Slayer album.
WAAAAR SUPPPORT. SUPPORT THE WAR. You don’t need any more.
7. Motörhead: Ace of spades (Ace of spades)
There are openers, and then there is “Ace of spades”. Aside from Deep Purple, this song beats any other on this list by years, and I guarantee it gets my blood pumping faster and hotter than even “Angel of death”… which, coincidentally, doesn’t even get my blood pumping. Okay, a better example? “Battery” is probably the only one on this list I’d say. Anyways, this tune is no-holds-barred, keeping up the pace all the way through.
From those opening moments with this almost distorted bass… when I first heard this I was like, “what in the world is that instrument?”. Yeah, you see, I heard it when I was much younger, so fuck you, I know what bass sounds like now thank you much. It’s grandeur without all the pompousness, it’s flamboyance with none of the gay shit, and it is most of all insanely kick-ass, with all of the ferocity possible. No nonsense rock and roll right here with more balls and heaviness than is packed in about 100% of this list. Why is it not #1 if that’s the case?
Because our staff are like Alzheimer’s patients, they never know what the fuck they are thinking.
I am not the type (on Tuesdays, at least) to get down on my knees and pray to Lemmy and his possibly wart-infested cock, begging for a little taste of its salty elixir… but this song — the way it fucken unleashes this masterpiece of an album on you — is almost enough to make me think about doing just that.
6. Candlemass: Solitude (Epicus doomicus metallicus)
Lemme repeat myself: I remember it like it was yesterday. As I say in my Class6(66) coverage of this album I first heard “Solitude” on the legendary, Swedish, radio show “Rockbox” back in the day. Superhero/radio host/educator in metal, Pär Fontander, thought it’d be a great move to play a tune by a completely unknown band called Candlemass – and nothing would ever be the same again. I had never heard something so slow, so depressing and so beautiful when “Solitude” started off. That acoustic guitar intro still send shivers down my spine and it was at this exact moment that Candlemass became one of my absolute fave bands. “Solitude” is not only an amazing tune, its one of the most classic compositions ever created on Swedish soil, and Leif really made a wise choice by opening up “Epicus” with it. When Johan starts to sing over those fantastic initial guitars, you know that this is the way doom metal is supposed to sound. The absolute heaviness this particular tune possesses is beyond all things… eh… heavy. It’s the equivalent to musical concrete, it’s so groovy (to make doom metal actually groove is not something anyone can do) and it’s so fucken awesome Leif should be handed some sort of prize. An amazing song on an amazing record. And one of the best fucken album openers ever. Welcome to our doom.
-Lord K Philipson
5. Black Sabbath: Black sabbath (Black sabbath)
Don’t know ‘bout you, but I still get all a-tingle when I listen to this song. Maybe it’s because of knowing the fact that nothing before it sounded like this. Maybe it’s because of knowing that this is the song that really started it all for metal. Maybe it’s because, even now, forty years later and a gazillion followers/copyists, Black Sabbath’s opener for their first record remains a blueprint for almost anyone who picks up a guitar and decides to play “the heavy”.
Or, maybe it’s because this is still one fucking great song. The bells. The rain. The thunder, fading into the roar of Iommi’s monstrous riff. The hollow drums. Ozzer’s not-exactly-wail, “What is this that stands before me? Figure in black that points at me?”. His scream. The sudden speeding up of the song. Never before had rock’n’roll been so theatrical, so dark and threatening. Heavy metal was being born with a downtuned tritone and it was here to stay. Bow down, suckers.
4. Entombed: Left hand path (Left hand path)
Will Teh Domination ever, EVER get done cockpuking on Entombed’s first album? Unlikely. I’m happy to get a chance to join the chorus of irrumation and sing the praises of its absolutely killer title track. A piece of fucken musical history. A booming, crushing beginning to an era that produced some of my favorite bands. Forget all that, though – “Left hand path” is a reeking beast of a song that you should have stuck in your head every time you hear it, regardless of historical importance. What more could one possibly desire in an album opener? Fast, thrashing speed to get the blood flowing. Churning Swedistortion death grooves infused with a hint of punk. Bloodcurdling semi-growls delivered with a maniac’s lack of precision. Last but not least, the absolute doomy Champion Riff Ov Hell comes stomping in after a “Phantasm” keyboard interlude and requires, nay, COMMANDS headbanging. Drop in a few depraved solos and we have ourselves a winner. Or at least a number 4 out of 30.
3. Megadeth: Holy wars… The punishment due (Rust in peace)
I think each of my contributions to this list starts off with a riff that would cause an elephant to shit itself. I guess that means good right? Fuck yeah it does. “Holy wars…” is not only the best opening track Mustainadeth has ever made, it’s the best fucking song Megadump has made period. The opening guitar line is great: you can’t beat the simple riff with nothing behind to get things going. The song’s lyrics about religious wars and other doucebaggery are ace and the breakdown in the middle proves that Megadeth is much more than just another trash band who sticks to the same chords, style, and song structure. The end shows you that they still can thrash it up with the best of ‘em though. Megadeth is a better band than Metallica, and “Holy wars…” is the song that proves it. While this was blowing the fucking lid off of “Rust in Peace” Metallica was was giving the world “Nothing else matters”. Begin getting your panties in a knot over that one haters, I have already begun laughing at you.
2. Meshuggah: Future breed machine (Destroy, erase, improve)
One of the most monumental albums in metal history starts off with chaotic noise. From the din comes forth a dissonant, rhythmic guitar signaling the beginning of the end, as if a bomb alarm was set off – and then the world explodes. The Swedes go all Meshuggah on our asses with a relentless and pounding polymetric riff ™, which makes your teeth burst into pieces and your eyes implode in their sockets. There’s no stopping these fuckers.
“Future Breed Machine” represents everything that is “Destroy Erase Improve”. It is aggressive. Heavy. Groovy. Innovative. And catchy as hell. Haake’s inhumane drumming, the rumbling but distinct riffing and Kidman’s furious screams send all unbelievers into the grave and piss on their memories. The breakdown riff at 3:42 is one of, if not the most headbangable riff of all time.
All in all, any album that starts off with a song like this can’t fail. When the first track has ground you down to a sorry heap of pulp and dust, nothing can stop you. Meshuggah destroy. They erase. They improve.
1. Slayer: Angel of death (Reign in blood)
Boo, how predictabslayeeeer!!! Yeah, what a surprising pick for number one. And you thought this was a special metal site… We might be special, but there is simply no denying the unstoppable force that is “Reign in blood”. And that’s something you find out the second the album starts. There has never been a better opener than the one and only, the thrash metal anthem, the speedfest extraordinaire “Angel of fucken death”. This is how you start an album. No-holds barred thrashing initiated by the most ridiculous, earpiercing, and never again equaled squeal. Awesome riffing and full speed until we reach the half-time breakdown of breakdowns, which then leads into the even better (and lengthy) “Pumped with fluid…” part – that, boys and girls, is what you call flawless fucken flow. Not only that, but the song also hits the mark in the “aggressive perfection” category: we are only 3 minutes into the album and shit’s already being torn up royally. Always a bonus.
There is absolutely no excuse for not having heard this song. None. If you’re deaf, then have someone go absolutely nuts in sign language. Also, this song should be included in every metal school book. On page one. Like those birthday cards with sound, flip the book open and HYYIIAAAAAAAAAAArrrrggrghhh!!!!!