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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Soundtrack for Zuccotti Park

Today was going to feature the review of Handel's opera Rodelinda, with Renée Fleming in the title role. But when we came home late last night, it was to a Twitter stream of violence and flagrant violations of Americans' First Amendment rights to peaceably assemble. In fact, it was war in the streets of Manhattan, with Kevlar-vested weapon-wielding thugs (the NYPD) enforcing the will of New York Mayor Michael "I can pay to stay in office as long as I want" Bloomberg.
I'll write the review tonight and it will probably be up tomorrow. In the meantime, I decided to write about heavy metal protest music. Hey, it's my blog, and WNYC already did classical protest music. So...

Top Ten Heavy Metal Protest Songs
People in this business are often surprised when they learn I'm a metal fan in addition to having an ear for classical music and opera. I got into Metallica because I thought "One" sounded like chamber music albeit played really loud. Still do. Anyway here are some songs for Zuccotti, Occupy Wall Street and for the righteous anger of the 99%.
10) "Clenching the Fists of Dissent" by Machine Head.
This ten-minute track kicks off the San Francisco group's The Blackening. Title pretty much says it all along with Robb Flynn's roared vocals and razor-sharp guitar.
"Didn't say I want to lead, I just might let you down."
9) "Broken, Beat and Scarred" by Metallica.
From 2008's comeback bid Death Magnetic, a song about persevering in the face of adversity. Metallica have written a lot of protest songs but this is the most recent.
"What don't kill ya, make ya more strong."
8) "Two Minutes to Midnight" by Iron Maiden.
One of the best anti-war protest songs from the '80s. The lyrics are really about nuclear war, but Maiden were playing this a lot onstage when the war in Iraq broke out.
"We oil the jaws of the war machine and feed it with our babies."
7) "Resistance" by Queensrÿche.
"Protests in New York, listen to the call of the wild! Brothers, sisters carrying signs."
That's the first line of this classic track featuring Geoff Tate's giant tenor voice. The song is 20 years old, folks. It hasn't aged. Nor has our country grown up.
6) "Open Letter (To a Landlord)" by Living Coloür.
Especially poignant for New Yorkers, a tale of inner-city survival against greedy land developers and landlords who don't care about the human beings living in their buildings.
"This is my neighborhood. This is where I come from."
5) "Fucking Hostile" by Pantera.
From the group's aptly named Vulgar Display of Power. Philip Anselmo breaks down relations of the ordinary man to parents, police, the clergy and other authority figures. Late, great guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott plays the kamikaze solo over a gallop.
"If you crossed me, I'd shake your hand like a man, not a god."
4) "Peace Sells" by Megadeth.
There have been a lot of rage-fuelled Megadeth protest songs from the pen of Dave Mustaine. This was one of the first, and one of the best. Its opening bassline used to announce MTV News and it's still relevant today. From Peace Sells (But Who's Buying?)
"Can you put a price on peace?"
3) "United" by Judas Priest.
From what is arguably Priest's most successful album, the legendary British Steel. Rob Halford was really singing about gay rights here, but this cut (with its memorable chorus) is an underrated anthem.
"Look around, they're moving in.
Hold your ground, when they begin."
2) "War Pigs" by Black Sabbath
From Paranoid. It doesn't get more old-school than Ozzy's howl over Tony Iommi's heavy chords, Terence "Geezer" Butler's agile bass and Bill Ward's powerhouse drumming. And they're back together as of last Friday! "Oz-zy! Oz-zy!" (though Geezer wrote the lyrics.)
"Politicians hide themselves away. They only started the war.
 Why should they go out to fight? They leave that role to the poor ."
1) "Killing in the Name" by Rage Against the Machine.
Tom Morello and Zack de la Rocha pretty much said it all in this cut from their first pipe-bomb of an album.
"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me."

Got a suggestion for this list? Leave it in the comments below.
Better yet, donate to Occupy Wall Street and support your local occupation today!
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.