Metal has been around for a long time, but it’s become an even more exclusive genre since the end of the 1980s when newer, more mainstream genres began to emerge and metal was forced to forge and maintain its identity with even more conviction. DIRECT TV and cable programming has given us plenty of the genre’s performances to enjoy over the last couple of decades. Here are the top hard rock and metal performances since 1990.
1. Judas Priest: “Dissident Aggressor”
The live version of this song won Best Metal Performance at the 2010 Grammy Awards. The song’s chorus recounts World War II through the eyes of a German soldier. “My mind is subjected to all” is the soldier’s reflection of the brainwashing and violence that went on at that time.
2. Black Sabbath: “Iron Man”
The new version of Black Sabbath’s original song took home a Grammy award in 2000. It tells the story of a man who travels through time to see the end of the world and becomes enraged when he tries to warn the masses. Ultimately, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because his rage results in him bringing about the end of the world himself.
3. Tool: “Schism”
This song identifies the divisions within the church and suggests that an institution that was once good and pure has been corrupted by the people. This song was the first single off Tool’s long-awaited album and was one of the best metal songs of the early 2000s.
4. Soundgarden: “Spoonman”
This song is about Artis the Spoonman, a man famous for playing spoons on the streets of Seattle. He became famous for this song, and Soundgarden won the 1995 Grammy for Best Metal Performance for the song’s popular appeal and unusual 7/4 time signature.
5. Metallica: “One”
This is another metal song that recounts the story of a soldier – this time, one who has lost all his senses of sight, smell, and hearing, as well as his arms and legs. The soldier has spasms that turn out to be Morse code for “K-I-L-L-M-E.” Based on the novel and movie Johnny Got His Gun, this gripping song is one of the genre’s best in the last two decades.
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