We’re all finding ways to cope. I'm a longtime music writer, and my playlists of late have reflected my challenge to feel peaceful and settled. I wanted to create a well-balanced collection to help soothe that struggle within me and others. A rock-in-the-time-of-corona(virus), if you will.
Some of these songs are chosen for their positive energy and introspection. Others were selected because heavy metal has a history for channeling angst about things such as plagues and the downfall of human civilization. Listen and rock on.
John 5's talent for taking the listener on a musical journey is a welcome distraction when stuck at home. It often leads to a deep dive into his musical influences that can last for hours. Here is the guitarist's typical playful take on how to embrace (or drive off) a plague with the fastest possible guitar shredding.
'The Sleep' — Pantera
This is one of Pantera’s slower introspective jams, complete with the grave “We will survive” lyric right before the crunchy drop-in. Just give up all control and plunge headfirst into a warm metal embrace.
'Monsters Ball' — Butcher Babies
These ladies are known for some killer mosh anthems, but this one will get the party started in your own living room.
'Angry Again' — Megadeth
When you’re feeling the downs of social distancing, channel your disgruntled inner Dave Mustaine with this angry yet catchy jam.
'The In Between' — In This Moment
Maria Brink brings a beautiful combo of pain, power, and introspection to this song, and the lyric “I can feel a holy war” endlessly resonates in this jam with a lovely side of head-banging sexuality.
'Paranoid' — Black Sabbath
Admit it — we’re all neurotic right now. The important thing is to find the fine line between being smart and paranoid.
'Our Most Desperate Hour' — Nita Strauss
Look at these hours of desperation as a way to sharpen your skills, like the number of aspiring guitarists that sit at home trying to emulate Strauss' endless shredding.
'Fucking Hostile' — New Years Day
Is there anything hotter than talented women covering Pantera? This is a new way to feel okay about all that hostility within.
'You Can’t Bring Me Down' — Suicidal Tendencies
You gotta love a positive Suicidal Tendencies song. Don’t let what’s going on drag you to a dark place. Stay positive and channel your energy into something good for your life, spirit, or society.
'Alcohaulin’ Ass' — HELLYEAH
There are a lot of people turning their lockdown into an opportunity to get deep in their home bar. This fun, slow jam is a great way to toast a glorious (and hopefully healthy) you.
'I Want to Fuck You to Death' — Huntress
COVID-19 is going to make a lot of babies or end a lot of relationships (or both). Channel your inner Jill Janus (RIP) and Lemmy Kilmister, who wrote this song together, and make good use of time on a sex bender with your significant other.
'Delusion Pandemic' — Lamb of God
This one goes out to all those who think the world is delusional about COVID-19 or think that the “pandemic” status is completely political.
'My Plague' — Slipknot
There’s nothing like head-banging to Slipknot to lift a mood. This longtime favorite is a clear winner to deal with a pandemic emotionally.
'Anti-Everything' — Ded
This Arizona-based band are on the rise and have toured with everyone from Korn to Animals As Leaders. This jam is a shot of power for running around the house or yard, with lyrics like “No, I will not give in” and “You’ll never get the best of me.”
'Disorder' — Slayer and Ice-T
Slayer and Ice-T, need we say more? This partnership can only bring smiles during a time of disorder.
'Ancient Kingdom' — Mastodon
Mastodon are one of those bands that help carry the listener away on a magic musical carpet ride. With people regularly asking the question, “Is the world coming to an end?” one can’t help but wonder if we’ll have to revert back to a simplified time.
'Wasted Years' — Iron Maiden
When things go back to normal, this song will help remind you to live life to the fullest. There’s nothing like Bruce Dickinson urging you to not "waste your time always searching for those wasted years” to help create your next plan.
'Royals' — Otep
Otep show that any pop song can be brought to the next level when heavy metal is involved. The sheer volume of screams will get any metalhead going.
'Seize the Day' — Avenged Sevenfold
Avenged have proved their talent time and time again, and this song hits home in the introspection department. It's all about recognizing your blessings and the limited amount of time we have on this earth, which is something we all will be faced with during this isolation.
'The Toxic Waltz' — Exodus
Exodus have had their fair share of turmoil throughout their career, and this thrash jam has been a staple on their setlist since ’89. It was written after then-guitarist Gary Holt asked frontman Steve Souza to write a song about “what fans do at [their] gigs.”
'What Would a Wookie Do?' — Clutch
Clutch have that awesome combination of funk, blues, sludge, and humor. With songs like this, they also bring a bit of levity to a situation where we can’t help but ponder: What would a Wookiee do in a pandemic?
'Ka$cade” — Animals As Leaders
Progressive metal belongs on any type of apocalyptic music-list discussion (maybe we should’ve included Dream Theater, Apocalyptica, and — stop!), but just don’t let yourself fall too deep into introspection with this song.
'Ace of Spades' — Body Count
I wonder what Lemmy would be doing if still alive. Maybe he would be renting out the Rainbow Room to self-isolate? Regardless, this is a fitting tribute with an uplifting vibe.
'Wake Up' — Rage Against the Machine
This list wouldn’t be complete without a “wake up and smell the reality” jam from none other than Rage Against the Machine.
'Looking Down the Barrel of Today' — Hatebreed
If we all haven’t thought this to ourselves during one night of isolated whiskey-drinking, it will happen soon enough.
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