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Greatest Album Openers

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I should thank Count Requiem for this since his best closers thread gave me the idea. So what do we think are the best opening tracks in music? Not just metal but in anything you like listening to.

 

Here are some of my favourites:

Death - Scavenger of Human Sorrow - The Sound of Perseverance

Megadeth - Holy Wars...the Punishment Due - Rust In Peace

Judas Priest - Exciter - Stained Class

Iron Maiden - Moonchild - Seventh Son of a Seventh Son

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These threads are cool:

Blind Guardian - Sacred Worlds - At The Edge of Time

This is one of the most perfect examples of orchestral integration with metal music ever for me.  It builds so well, is just so well arranged all round and feels a complete track as it fades out the guitars to allow the orchestral elements to close the track.  The chorus is complete chest-beating, anthemic majesty and yet never once feels wanky!

Judas Priest - Painkiller - Painkiller

I mean, come on?  This sets the tone for the entire album perfectly.  Driven intensity from the word go as Scott bashes the living bejesus out of his drum kit before KK and Glenn get let loose with those fucking duelling guitars!

Pantera - Cowboys from Hell - Cowboys from Hell

I still lose my shit to this, years after first hearing it.  Whilst the rest of the album hasn't quite stood the test of time so well, the opening track makes for a nostalgia driven piece of brilliance for me.

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Got a few -

Aces High- Powerslave, Iron Maiden

As Daylight Dies - ADD, Killswitch Engage

Battery - Master of Puppets, Metallica

Angel of Death - Reign in Blood, Slayer

Dead & Bloated - Core, Stone Temple Pilots

And one of my all time favorites-

Shine On You Crazy Diamond - Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd


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I don't know if Painkiller counts as much as an opener of an album as a closer of a genre. I'm sorry to say that I just don't see how it's even possible to carry "traditional heavy metal" beyond that declaration of ultimate mastery. It's the reference song. That which you might suggest that people who have never heard about metal before should perhaps start with. Seriously. If Painkiller appeals to you, you belong in metal. If not, not. Nothing personal. That's just how the genre rolls.

That being said, I like the opening of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Whatever lies beyond that may be "something" but it's not for me. This is when I say enough is enough. This is as good as it will ever get,

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Finally getting around to posting some tracks that didn't just open their albums, it opened my world. I'm also not listing intros and non-lyrics songs. Proper opening tracks only. And all that...

Megadeth - 'Holy Wars... the Punishment Due' from 'Rust in Peace'

Obvious perhaps, but it just has to be listed. A lot of great memories with this one and it perks me up when I feeling flaccid. 

Blind Guardian - 'Sacred Worlds' from 'At the Edge of Time'

I agree with everything that @MacabreEternal said. This is my favourite opener in power/adventure metal, with the huge orchestra, choruses and amazing everything. Like stepping into another world. 

Burzum - 'Dunkelheit' from 'Filosofem'

And @Balor also has the right idea. 

Amorphis - 'Better Unborn' from 'Elegy'

This is one of the all time great songs and a beautiful epic start to the best Amorphis album. 

Paradise Lost - 'Enchantment' from 'Draconian Times'

From those initial piano notes the grand ending, this is a gothic metal classic. 

My Dying Bride - 'The Cry of Mankind' from 'The Angel and the Dark River'

Speaking of gothic metal classics, this gothic/doom capital e Epic was a life-changer.

Rapture - 'Misery 24/7' from 'Silent Stage

Anyone into 'Brave Murder Day' with a bit more pep needs to hear this anthem immediately. 

Saturnus - 'Starres' from 'For the Loveless Lonely Nights'

A fabulous doom classic to start their best release. 

Satyricon - 'Hvite Krists Dod' from 'The Shadowthrone'

Possibly the greatest song in black metal, this is next level. 

Funeral - 'This Barren Skin' from 'From these Wounds'

I'm listing lots of doomy stuff here, but it's so good. This song is an amazing opener for the album. 

 

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Even though Deicide's Once Upon The Cross hasn't gotten much play around the Alabaster household for years, the opener and title track is still one of their most iconic and satisfying listens. Pummeling headbanging fury with Glen Benton's classic roar in top form. This song helped to show 16-year-old me what death metal was all about.

 

Speaking of what death metal is all about, Suffocation's "Pierced From Within" (again the title track as well as the opener) completely crushes. This song is one of my favorite DM songs ever. Dynamic, technical, bludgeoning: it has all of the things. Rip faces, crush skulls.

 

Since we're going with first proper tracks, excluding intros, My Dying Bride's "Sear Me" (from As The Flower Withers) sums up a lot of what I love about them - sullen doom, brooding atmosphere, guitar lines intertwining in lilting melancholy, how about them violins though, and Aaron's unmistakable vocal attack. He sounds so good, I don't care how badly he butchers that Latin.

 

"Schatten Aus Der Alexander Welt", from Bethlehem's Dictius Te Necare, is a stark and vicious statement that lets you know exactly what you're in for if you choose to listen to the rest of the album. The combination of moody gloom and simmering anger that characterized their first album is taken over the top by Rainer Landfermann's extreme vocal assault.

 

Well before I came around to Opeth's Ghost Reveries taken as a whole, "Ghost Of Perdition" spoke my name. The lightest acoustic passages and ethereal vocals blend gracefully into complicated, angular aggression through intuitive leaps that most bands couldn't hope to pull off. Let's hear it for Opeth... gosh I miss them.

 

"I Troldskog Faren Vild", the opener of Ulver's Bergtatt, is a beautiful song in its own right - a seven minute and fifty second folk-metal canter through some wooded, hilly region somewhere in - almost definitely - the far North, with one of Garm's most memorable melodies delivered in a youthful version of the chanting vocal style he'd develop to such great effect on later albums. It's also an act of misdirection, before the second track slaps you in the face with blastbeats and caustic screams. Breathe in that mountain air.

 

That'll do for now, I guess.

13 hours ago, Requiem said:

Finally getting around to posting some tracks that didn't just open their albums, it opened my world. I'm also not listing intros and non-lyrics songs. Proper opening tracks only. And all that...

Megadeth - 'Holy Wars... the Punishment Due' from 'Rust in Peace'

Obvious perhaps, but it just has to be listed. A lot of great memories with this one and it perks me up when I feeling flaccid. 

Blind Guardian - 'Sacred Worlds' from 'At the Edge of Time'

I agree with everything that @MacabreEternal said. This is my favourite opener in power/adventure metal, with the huge orchestra, choruses and amazing everything. Like stepping into another world. 

Burzum - 'Dunkelheit' from 'Filosofem'

And @Balor also has the right idea. 

Amorphis - 'Better Unborn' from 'Elegy'

This is one of the all time great songs and a beautiful epic start to the best Amorphis album. 

Paradise Lost - 'Enchantment' from 'Draconian Times'

From those initial piano notes the grand ending, this is a gothic metal classic. 

My Dying Bride - 'The Cry of Mankind' from 'The Angel and the Dark River'

Speaking of gothic metal classics, this gothic/doom capital e Epic was a life-changer.

Rapture - 'Misery 24/7' from 'Silent Stage

Anyone into 'Brave Murder Day' with a bit more pep needs to hear this anthem immediately. 

Saturnus - 'Starres' from 'For the Loveless Lonely Nights'

A fabulous doom classic to start their best release. 

Satyricon - 'Hvite Krists Dod' from 'The Shadowthrone'

Possibly the greatest song in black metal, this is next level. 

Funeral - 'This Barren Skin' from 'From these Wounds'

I'm listing lots of doomy stuff here, but it's so good. This song is an amazing opener for the album. 

 

Big ups for Better Unborn, Cry Of Mankind, and Hvite Krists Dod, favorites all.

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Yeah Opeth ... hehe ... that was an impressive opening, the first time ever I heard that band ... which was "My Arms Your Hearse" with the pling plong piano ambient thing at first, and then KABOOM. I remember thinking "god damn, they mean business". Which of course they always did. Still do, I suppose, but I don't like their new stuff.

 

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Mines got to be Where The Wolves Come to Die by Sylosis.

So dark, menacing and epic.

I also find it interesting as it's almost too long to be considered an intro track, but too short to be considered a "standard" track.

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I go for "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" by Mayhem. The 1st song being "Funeral Fog" insane song!!!! then followed by "Freezing Moon" which I don't need to say anything bout that...

Hell of a Start.

 

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What you think is great in metal is probably a function of how you got to the table in the first place. For me, personally, being now 56 years old, I don't have to "look back" because I can remember when there was no metal. Not in the same way. There was hard rock, heavy rock, whatever. The word "metal" was only used to describe a certain guitar sound. The screechy fuzz thing. Honest to God, that's what it was like in the mid 70s, when I came of age. In 1975, we thought Kiss was pretty "metal". They kind of collapsed a couple of years later though ... imagine if Slipknot had started playing "electronic beat music" a couple of years in, and you will kind of get the "oh no" feeling that we had at the time. 

I say all this to defend why I think that the song I'm about to link was a major great album opener upon its release. That boy still had something special going on with his guitar work ... even though they had seemed less than interesting on their previous two or three releases (I'm not a VH historian). Because at the time, this was pretty impressive ... and if a good opener is intended to be the best selling point of an album, right next to the cover art (and its attention trapping value), then this one is genius:

People some times look at me in disbelief when I cite Fair Warning as one of the great albums from the good old days, and I do mean specifically the times when also Iron Maiden released Killers ... which seemed about as awesome as it could get right there and then (needless to say, it has also a killer opening). For resons unrelated to any of the albums themselves, they kind of sit right next to eachother in terms of how I define my musical tastes.

Produced by Ted Templeman who also produced the legendary album Montrose in 1973, this album has a "funky" feel to it, like it's meant to be "danceable" ... which isn't a quality that's held in high regard within metal proper. From a production perspective, it wouldn't take much tweaking and trickery to turn Fair Warning into an outright disco album. (It was also the year before Eddie Van Halen for some obscure reason decided to get associated with Michael Jackson. Not a great idea.) We have to keep in mind that "heavy metal" in 1981 was not the same thing as "heavy metal" is today. Not by a 40 year long shot. 

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