Monday, December 24, 2012

13 Songs to Ring in 2013

Other than 666, no number is more metal than 13. Its bad luck powers are revealed in musical tributes from several respected metal bands, many of whom have stumbled in mediocre musical salutes to Jason Voorhees' signature number. Better to honor the new year with a drink at the Lucky 13 Saloon than a slog through Cruelty and the Beast.

Few songwriters have survived the 13 curse, and even fewer have done so with a reasonable amount of decibels. Here's a brief audio history of 13.

1. Anvil, "This is Thirteen"

Interestingly, this is where Anvil's luck started to change--thirteen albums into their career, when a coinciding documentary gave them by far the biggest success of their lives. All their talk of wizardry and superstition couldn't hold a candle to watching them get lost and broke in Europe.

2. Anthrax, "13"

What the hell is this? Basically a short exercise for Anthrax's rhythm section, and a reminder that Anthrax were the first good thrash metal band to be intentionally silly on record.

3. Black Flag, "Room 13"

"Keep me alive!" screams 20-year-old Henry Rollins, making that effort sound like a struggle for the last time in his career. "I need to hang on!" is the part that everyone remembers.

4. Cradle of Filth, "Thirteen Autumns and a Widow"

Cruelty and the Beast is often regarded as COF's peak, but even Cradle's best songs are better remembered than reheard. Throw it in the mix for the 13-year-old in all of us.

5. Danizg, "Thirteen"

Written by Danzig originally for Johnny Cash's best studio album, American Recordings. He didn't release his own version until years later on 6:66 Satan's Child. Cash's folky reading and Danzig's goth-blues version both hold up, although it's abundantly clear whom was doing the other one a favor.

6. Megadeth, "Thirteen"

By album number 13, there was no defense of Dave Mustaine's political or social positions, but also no doubt of his chops or longevity.

7. Mercyful Fate, "Thirteen Invitations"

Mercyful Fate's influence on metal was flourishing when they reunited for 1993's In the Shadows. The result suggested that they'd ignored the last ten years of black metal.

8. Motörhead, "Cat Scratch Fever"

"First time that I got it I was thirteen years old," Lemmy amends the lyric in Motörhead's take on Nugent's staple. "Ours knocked his out of the fucking loop--of course, nobody remembers ours," wrote Lemmy in his autobiography. He's half-right.

9. Pantera, "13 Steps to Nowhere"

Anselmo was a good sport to sacrifice his lyrics to a song where all anyone can pay attention to is the drumming. A lesser guitarist than Dimebag would be trampled, but even he knows better than to stand in the way of one of Vinnie Paul's greatest intros.

10. The Pixies, "No. 13 Baby"

Frank Black honors a girl with a special tattoo, who at least had the sense to get it somewhere she can cover up for job interviews.

11. Social Distortion, "Bad Luck"

"Thirteen's my lucky number," laments cowpunk hero Mike Ness in this gem from Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell, years before another country crossover would make the same claim. Hey Taylor, is it too late for your to pick a tourmate for next year?

12. Suicidal Tendencies, "Emotion No. 13"

Lights...Camera...Revolution! completed ST's first transition from hardcore to metal, with hits like "You Can't Bring Me Down" and "Send Me Your Money," plus thrashing deep cuts like this one. If "Emotion No. 13" had been released today, it would have taken the e-word back from Chris Carrabba.

13. Venom, "13"

Not bad, actually, out of context with the 300 other Venom songs that sound exactly like it.

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