Playlist Review: Xbox Music Heavy Metal Showdown – Classic vs. New

Okay, Xbox Music, I’ll play along with the title of your playlist. Which is better, “classic” metal or “new” metal? A 30-song playlist with 15 each from either side. Let’s count how many places in each rating category:

Classic: Mix – 3, Full – 4, Open – 8, Broken – 0
New: Mix – 0, Full – 5, Open – 5, Broken – 3

So pretty clearly classic rules the day with seven that are full hearts or higher with no brokens, compared to five and three, respectively.

One thing that surprised me was how much new metal relies on certain sounds to signify that it’s, you know, metal, and metal from after 1992, at that. In particular, the sound of the vocals and guitars is very distinctive, even if the sound and the song aren’t that heavy. As if to say that, you know, even if we’re not really rocking it here, we’re announcing our tribal allegiance with the reverb on the voice and guitar.

I also don’t agree with a lot of their picks for each artist. Guns N’ Roses, Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, and Testament all have better songs they could have chosen. And I may have elevated rankings based on knowing I like the band’s larger catalog. So maybe they made the same mistakes picking for new where I am not familiar with the artists as much. Who knows? Though there I did elevate some from open to full if it seemed like a band I’d probably want to hear more of.

  1. War Pigs/Luke’s Wall – Black Sabbath – love this so much but can’t see mixing it now.
  2. You’re Not Alone – Of Mice & Men – borderline broken due to derivativeness in tone and composition and bad sound but will give bennie of doubt because if I don’t pay attention I can handle it. [loudness wars].
  3. Living After Midnight – Judas Priest – Judas Priest was so passe back when I was in high school. They still seem mostly thuddy to me. Yet they’ve enjoyed quite a resurgence in reverence awarded them as like the iconic metal band. Part of which is so weird now that Rob Halford is out and his fans back in the day would not have stood for that. Anyway, I can’t quite tease out how I feel about them. This song’s crazy catchy.
  4. Paradise (What About Us?) (feat. Tarja) – Hydra – Holy compression. This isn’t distorted, but it does lack dynamics. Cheesy, overdone. I feel like metal bands with female singers always fit into the narrow valkyrie thing going on here, but maybe that’s just my way of saying I don’t like it.
  5. Ace Of Spades – Motorhead – classic
  6. Hail To The King – Avenged Sevenfold – not bad but kind of a played out guitar riff. I think these guys basically exist to write songs that are fun to play on Rock Band.
  7. Holy Diver – Dio – Here’s another artist that is now totally revered where they were a joke 20 years ago. I’m even more squeamish about letting this be a real thing than I am about Judas Priest. I can hear why this is a classic of the genre, but I’ve heard this imitated too many ways to Sunday…I can’t like it…but maybe I can tolerate it.
  8. Here To Die – Five Finger Death Punch – the first of the new metal songs I really like. But I guess there have only been two really good classic ones up until this point.
  9. Eruption – Van Halen – Called it “like” in this review. Best thing about it is the echo…the sound of the guitar.
  10. Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel – Behemoth – The first deathy one. Those always take a bit for me but I’m warming up to it quite a bit.
  11. Metal Health (Bang Your Head) – Quiet Riot – Now I can hear how this is a worse song than “Holy Diver,” but I have such fond memories of being so young and loving this. So, guilty pleasure or whatever, but I love it, or at least the way I feel when I listen to it. Or is it “Come On Feel The Noise” I love so much? I think it is. Well this still gives me warm fuzzies. What a great album cover.
  12. Violence (Enough Is Enough) – A Day To Remember – screamy. but pretty good. especially before it gets to that chest pound with about one minute remaining.
  13. Round And Round – Ratt – again, warm fuzzies with this one, but I think this is just a really good song.
  14. No Way To Heal – Trivium – More of that Dream Theater accented-rapid-fire riff like we had with Avenged Sevenfold above. This is significantly better.
  15. Symphony Of Destruction (2004 Remaster) – Megadeth – The beginning of the end for Megadeth. Just such a lame song for what was a once very powerful band. Slow, boring.
  16. Blood – In This Moment – oh the melodrama. So much “I hate you” and for being overloved. God what a cliche. It’s awesome how they move from the verse to the chorus, but that’s the only good thing about this.
  17. Raining Blood – Slayer – I don’t think this is Slayer’s best song, but it’s pretty sweet.
  18. Going To Hell – The Pretty Reckless – This is the “don’t bless me father for I have sinned” whisper. God this is melodramatic and dumb. Great line: “For the ways that I hurt when I’m hiking up my skirt.”
  19. Cowboys From Hell – Pantera – Before Phil Anselmo turned into a total f**k. Worst fans ever (EVER) at concerts were Pantera fans. I’m pretty sure they all had miserable lives. Pantera was the only thing that understood them. But gawd this album had so much awesomeness on it.
  20. Sleepwalking – Bring Me The Horizon – sounds emo. not too bad.
  21. Madhouse – Anthrax – From Spreading The Disease, which I reviewed here and had this as keep.
  22. Spike In My Veins – Korn – Gee, with a title like that, I wonder if this is about drugs? why not just call it “Shooting Heroin.” Not a very good song, pretty boring, but harmless.
  23. Practice What You Preach – Testament – Along with a few others (e.g., “Madhouse”), just an odd choice for a band. Definitely not my favorite song of theirs. Pretty meh.
  24. Do Me A Favor – Stone Sour – pretty boring. And that opening riff is so derivative of…who? Green Day? I think I’m giving this open because I’m in a good mood.
  25. Black Metal – Venom – These guys are revered. But I’m not that into this song. It sounds terrible, too.
  26. In Due Time – Killswitch Engage – There’s that new metal sound, with the clean reverb on the voice in the chorus. And I find the switch between those vox, which feel fake, and the screaminess, which feels fake in a different way, very disconcerting. But clearly that’s the code that young metalheads are listening for. Still, this has some pretty sweet riffs. I might bump it up to full.
  27. Refuse/Resist – Sepultura – Again, this band has better songs. Where he sings. This is a little too much just beat you over the head with shouting.
  28. The Hangman’s Body Count – Volbeat – I was super pumped about this at one point, but now it just fits in with the other new metal stuff. The guitar at the beginning is a drag, but I like his voice. Guit could be brought to fore more in verses/chorus. I think since it’s just the one song I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and call this full.
  29. Nighttrain – Guns N’ Roses – you could have picked anything from this album. I don’t even think of it as metal, just think of it as “right”.
  30. Freak Like Me – Halestorm – save the worst for last. Like The Pretty Reckless and In This Moment but without their somewhat redeeming characteristics. I hate this song but love Skid Row’s “Youth Gone Wild” even though they’re cut from the same cloth. Biggest difference is I was young for the earlier anthem, and I’m old for this one. Another difference is that there’s an “other,” an enemy in “Youth Gone Wild” we’re rebelling against. This is just freaks gathering to wave their flag together. Which, I don’t know, you’d think I’d be into that, too. But I guess an anthem for freaks seems dumb whereas an anthem for rebellion seems appropriate.

Mix: “Ace Of Spaces” (Motorhead), “Cowboys From Hell” (Pantera), “Nighttrain” (Guns N’ Roses)
– “War Pigs/Luke’s Wall” (Black Sabbath), “Here To Die” (Five Finger Death Punch), “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” (Behemoth), “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)”, (Quiet Riot), “Violence (Enough Is Enough)” (A Day To Remember), “Round And Round” (Ratt), “No Way To Heal” (Trivium), “Raining Blood” (Slayer), “The Hangman’s Body Count” (Volbeat)
– “You’re Not Alone” (Of Mice & Men), “Living After Midnight” (Judas Priest), “Hail To The King” (Avenged Sevenfold), “Holy Diver” (Dio), “Eruption” (Van Halen), “Symphony Of Destruction (2004 Remaster)” (Megadeth), “Blood” (In This Moment), “Sleepwalking” (Bring Me The Horizon), “Madhouse” (Anthrax), “Spike In My Veins” (Korn), “Practice What You Preach” (Testament), “Black Metal” (Venom), “Do Me A Favor” (Stone Sour), “In Due Time” (Killswitch Engage), “Refuse/Resist” (Sepultura)
– “Paradise (What About Us?) (feat. Tarja)” (Hydra), “Going To Hell” (The Pretty Reckless), “Freak Like Me” (Halestorm)


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