It’s been a while since I did a light-hearted post.
These are pretty representative of my taste, because I mostly listen to metal, and as a guitar player I focus heavily on the guitar sounds, and this is the best use of guitar music from my favorite metal bands.
5. “Nine Summers” by After the Burial
It’s hard to pick a favorite song by these guys, but I think this one does the best job of emphasizing the stuff they do well (catchy melodic riffs, tricky rhythm sections, and atmospheric overtones) and has the least of the stuff that’s not very interesting (may God save djent from the chugging sins of their metalcore fathers). It’s also the best for illustrating that they are basically writing folksy dance music for metalheads.
4. “Blue and the Grey” by Parkway Drive
Another example of a band doing what they do best, better than in any of their other songs. Parkway Drive has always been heavily focused on lamentation, and their vocalist is easily the most expressive in the screaming business. Rather than being technically impressive, the guitarists are actually pretty relaxed in this song, which allows them to blend into the heavy emotional background.
3. “An Erisian Summer” by Angel Vivaldi
This guy is my favorite guitarist, bar none. He understands that virtuoso music has to also sound good (not just impressive), does a good job of masking the progressive stuff under mass appeal stuff, and he does the soft-hard thing I like so much better than anybody else. Plus, he’s a very expressive performer (probably because he’s gay), so he’s a lot of fun to watch.
2. “Marianas Trench” by August Burns Red
This is a fairly unusual song. You don’t see a lot of 5/4 time signatures in the world of metalcore. There are mode changes hidden under deceptive cadences that blend so effortlessly into the melody that I wouldn’t even know they were there if I hadn’t learned to play it myself.
I like this cover by Abolish the Echelon.
1. “Viridian + White Walls” by Between the Buried And Me
Technically, this is two songs. But the entire album was written as a single piece of music, and this seemed like a reasonable compromise :-). Especially because the buildup from Viridian it helps you to grasp the power of an outro that’s resolving an entire CD’s worth of tension. “Viridian” is essentially a long bass solo with gentle guitar overtones, whereas “White Walls” is a mind-blowing ten-minute technical masterpiece of composition and performance. I sometimes watch the fingerings play out on TuxGuitar and just shake my head.
Here’s a great cover by vayne92:
Metal tends to be very plebian, but unlike the other songs in this list (or even those by this band) I believe this song can be described without irony as one of the best pieces of music ever written, in any genre.