From VH1.com: “Sold out.” “Gone soft.” These are phrases we hear when metal bands step a toe in the land of the light. Perhaps inspired by my recent article about heavy bands that took huge left turns with respect to their creative direction, it got me thinking about how much I enjoy when metal bands include something different on an already heavy album: a token curveball among a collection of 100 mph fastballs.
Because it’s coming from a heavy band, I almost appreciate it more when we get a glimpse into the more vulnerable side of genre known for projecting unyielding strength and stoic resolve. Often it affects me more than listening to a folk artist like Jack Johnson where the entire soundscape is sensitive, quiet, and beautiful. I yearn for the peaks and valleys, the yins and yangs.
As I was formulating this list, I had to set up some parameters:
First, what classifies as a heavy band? I could have included Alice In Chains’ “Nutshell”, which is a monumentally popular track, loved by metalheads and normal folks alike. Is Alice In Chains a rock band? A metal band? It’s difficult to say, but I felt that they released a substantial quantity of acoustic, lighter music that it’s basically just part of their sound.
Coming in at #6; Pantera – “Suicide Note Pt. I”
There was a big temptation on my behalf to include “Planet Caravan”, Pantera’s haunting Black Sabbath cover that closed Far Beyond Driven. The more I thought about it, I realized Pantera deserved to be recognized for an original song. Their versatility is really what made them the biggest metal band of their era. Like Metallica before them and Slipknot after, being the top dog requires serious range. Even though “Suicide Note Pt. I” is an acoustic song, it never loses any of the intensity Pantera was known for. Much of it had to do with Phil Anselmo’s vocal delivery, which was as emotive as it was masculine, but never felt forced. From “Cemetery Gates” to “Hollow” to “Floods”, these guys always knew how to paint with different colors. This type of breather in the midst of crushing jams is what was missing from Pantera’s swan song, Reinventing the Steel.
To check out the ariginal article and see the rest of the top 10, check it out on VH1’s page here.