Theme Thursday- Metal Songs of Epic Proportions

A nice quick 2-5 minute metal song is a great thing.  The band gets right to the point, does their thing, closes up shop, and then gets right to kicking your ass with another great metal song to keep your blood pumping.  That’s all fine and dandy, but sometimes I want a song that I can really sink my teeth into, to take me on a musical journey, and that’s where the longer songs come into play.  They take their time to build up and when they get going they take you on a ride that can’t be fully realized or appreciated in just a few minutes.  To successfully pull of a long song is no easy feat on the bands part, they need to have the skill to compose a track that will keep the listeners attention for the whole expedition and also make that listener want to come back to experience it again to gain a deeper appreciation for the song.

Here are some metal songs that successfully pull off the long song format and make you want to come back for more(well me at least, but I think many of you out there will enjoy them as much as I do).  I’ll limit myself to not going over 2 songs per band, as some artists are masters at crafting some epic journeys and will start the qualifying time for entry at 10 minutes.  A couple artists have crafted albums that are essentially one long song, so I will only be posting a part of that song(if you get into it you can most likely listen to it in it’s entirety on Youtube, or better yet, purchase the album).  And as always, What are some of your favorite long playing metal songs?

Dream Theater- Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence – 41:59

One band synonymous with the craft of making long songs is Dream Theater with their average song averaging at 8-9 minutes.  For their fifth album they released a double disk album with the first disk containing close to an hour of 5 new songs and the second disk comprised of a single song broken up into eight movements, that album and song was called Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence.

Dream Theater- A Change of Seasons- 23:09

In my opinion “A Change of Seasons” is the best song that Dream Theater has released to this date.  According to Mike Portnoy on the meaning behind this journey-“Basically, I took a lot of personal incidents, like losing my mother and a couple of things that happened in my life, and I wrote them into the lyrics. Like, on a smaller scale, I wouldn’t try to compare it with this, but when I listen to Pink Floyd’s The Wall, there are a lot of emotions there – just a lot of frustrations and anger. He goes full circle, the character. He has a child and just as he’s about to pass on and die, now his son is going to have to live the life he did and go through those same experiences.”

Equlibrium- Mana- 16:23

German folk metal band Equilibrium released one hell of a beast of an album called Sagas in 2008.  Front to back it is one completely amazing album(perfect 10 I would say), but the part that stuck with me long after I listened to it the most was the closing instrumental “Mana”.  They take you on a quest coursing through various musical landscapes, moods, and colors and does it all without uttering a single word and by the time the song reaches its end you’ll be quick to dive right back into the journey for another trip.  Check the song out on the youtube page to listen in 1080p quality, it’s worth it.

Helloween- Keeper of the Seven Keys- 13:38

Being one of the founders of power metal, a genre not lacking in excess, Helloween hit the nail on the head when they crafted the title track to their 2 album epics Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt.I and Pt.II.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy this delightful power metal journey.

Iron Maiden- Rime of the Ancient Mariner- 13:34

Leave it to Iron Maiden to make Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic poem fun and interesting.  Thank you Iron Maiden for scoring me some extra credit in Literature class in high school.

Iron Maiden- When the Wild Wind Blows- 11:02

The final song off Maiden‘s last album The Final Frontier is a hell of a doozy.  Maiden takes all the great parts about them they’ve collected over their long and legendary career and combines them to make one hell of a completely awesome song.

Moonsorrow- Jäästä syntynyt / Varjojen Virta- 30:10

Moonsorrow aren’t strangers when it come to crafting long and engaging musical epics. “Jäästä syntynyt / Varjojen Virta”(“Born of Ice/Shadow Power) come off the album Viides luku – Hävitetty(Chaper V: Ravaged).  This song will chill you to the bone as it takes you across gargantuan glaciers and frozen tundra.  A staggering peice of work by the awesome Moonsorrow.  I found this amazing fan video that is split up into 4 parts, be sure to watch all 4 on youtube, this guy really put a lot of work into it and it shows.

Opeth- Black Rose Immortal- 20:15

Off of Opeth‘s second full length album Morningrise, “Black Rose Immortal” combines brutality and beauty and unleashes a dangerous expedition across various shadowed musical landscapes.

Opeth- Harlequin Forest- 11:39

On the album Ghost Reveries this song is listed as “Reverie/Harlequin Forest” but the “Reverie” part is actually played out on the pre-track(when the time counter on the cd player go backwards), so simply put “Reverie” can be heard on the final minute of “Atonement”(if you’re using an Ipod/Itunes or like program/device) and it is not the beginning of “Harlequin Forest”, just thought I’d let you know.  But anyways, this is one of the most perfect Opeth songs ever crafted, enjoy!!

Machine Head- Clenching the Fists of Dissent-10:37

Here’s Machine Head giving you a full serving off kick ass metal, enjoy!!!

Rush- 2112- 20:34

Ah, Rush, how do I love thee, let me count the “2112” ways….

In the year 2062, a galaxy-wide war results in the union of all planets under the rule of the Red Star of the Solar Federation. The world is controlled by the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx, who determine all reading matter, songs, pictures… everything connected with life during the year 2112 (“The Temples of Syrinx”).

In the midst of this assembly line living, a man discovers what was once known years before as a guitar (“Discovery”). The man begins to pluck the strings and turn the knobs, discovering that he can make his own music – a music very different from that of the Temples. He rushes to tell the priests of his discovery (“Presentation”), but to the man’s dismay, the priests destroy the instrument, saying it doesn’t fit the plan of the Solar Federation.

The man returns to the cave in which he found the guitar and, during a dream, is led by an oracle to a ‘strange and wond’rous land’ (“Oracle: The Dream”) where the ‘Elder Race’, who ‘left our planets long ago’, has been forced to make their home after being defeated by the priests. He “Sees the work of gifted hands”. The protagonist notes that the Elder Race is still waiting to return, and take power over the Priests again. Upon awakening, he can not believe it was a dream—the perceived beauty was so real to him.

He remains in the cave for several days, becoming more and more depressed with each passing hour (“Soliloquy”). The man decides he can not go on as part of the Federation and takes his life to move on to a better one. As he dies, another planetary battle begins (“Grand Finale”) resulting in the ambiguous ending ‘Attention all planets of the Solar Federation: We have assumed control.’

How is that not completely awesome metal.

Stratovarius- Elysium- 18:07

Off the album of the same name “Elysium” is Stratovarius‘ longest track to date.  From beginning to end it is a great and engaging listen showing off their technical prowess as well as their excellent songwriting ability and just keeps getting better each time I hear it.

Between the Buried and Me- White Walls- 14:13

Listening to BTBAM at first is a very confusing ordeal, but as soon as you click into the groove you see how this band is able to create fluent and coherent songs from cactophony, not an easy task, but very fun to listen to.  While essentially “White Walls” is the final piece to one long song that is the album Colors, it tends to stand out from the other songs on an already groundbreaking album by including one of the most epic guitar solos ever recorded.

Blind Guardian- And Then There was Silence- 14:08

Off of Blind Guardian‘s love it or hate it album A Night at the Opera, “And Then There was Silence” is the Bards longest song and also one of their most epic, telling the tale of Cassandra’s vision of the forthcoming Trojan War.  The record label had all of the studio versions taken down from Youtube, so here’s the excellent live version off the Imaginations Through the Looking Glass DVD.

Ensiferum- Heathen Throne + The Longest Journey(Heathen Throne Pt. II)- 11:o9 + 12:49 (23:58)

Finnish epic metallers Ensiferum crafted one hell of an epic album with From Afar.  Included are two songs that are awesome on their own rights, but when the forces are combined the forces of all that is metal shake the Earth.  Enjoy!!

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About RiffRaff

Just takin' it easy for all you sinners.

Posted on July 21, 2011, in Theme Thursday and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Ahh the epic masterpiece. I remember a day when I thought the long song was such a drag, but I probably had the attention span of a gnat. I am much appreciative of the epic song as long as it is good. If the song is done well then you really never notice it’s length. All the bands mentioned in this post do it well although a couple I am not familiar with.

    I think it was Rime of the Ancient Mariner when I finally noticed that a long song could be cool. And then came Dream Theater and Opeth who have obviously mastered this craft…thanks to bands like Rush who paved the way for prog bands.

    I think you really have to be a fan of music in general to appreciate musical mastery when it goes well beyond the 10-minute mark. Great post. I think I am going to kill an our by listening to three Dream Theater songs…A Change of Seasons, Octavarium, and The Count of Tuscany.

  2. So many bands I have never really looked into. Fun 😀
    Never heard of Equilibrium before, never listened to Moonsorrow, Machine head, Between the buried and me or Ensiferum.

    I have listened to Stratovarius, Rush and Queensryche, but something stops me from liking their music… Do I have to give them more chances? 😉

    • For Queensryche I would go with Operation: Mindcrime. That one was probably their best and it was also a concept album so there is a story there. It’s my personal favorite from them. Machine Head is one of the best thrash bands out there…they weathered the 90s when metal was bieng pushed back underground.

      Sounds like you might not be a fan of Prog metal or power metal. It can be a bit over-the-top sometimes…more of an acquired taste. Try Dream Theater. They blend prog and rock/metal nicely.

      • That’s what’s kind of bothering me though, because I am a great fan of prog metal! 🙂
        And power metal is what got me into the metal genre, with bands like Edguy.

        My all time favourites are Dream theater, Opeth, Symphony X, Tool, Pain of salvation. But these bands I listed above, I just can’t seem to get into hehe… My brain doesn’t like metal made before the 90’s. But I want to like it… 😀
        Thanks for your tip on Queensryche!

    • Queensryche’s Operation: MIndcrime is well worth giving another listen, one of the best concept album/rock operas recorded. Stratovarius is a love em hate em kinda band, I love em but can see why a lot of people don’t, really cheesy stuff. And Rush, well they’re one of my all time favorites, so of course I’ll say give them another shot. Albums 2112 and Fly By Night are good starting points (should be nice and easy to find all their music on youtube).

      And Moonsorrow I can not recommend enough. I heard them for the first time a few years ago and they quickly became one of my all time favorite bands. Check out their latest album Varjoina Kullimmojijnjin( I forgot how to spell it) or Kivenkantaja, both masterpieces (well every single album is, but those 2 stand out as the cream of the crop for me).

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