This micro-collection of iconic metal songs has been brewing for quite some time in that same part of the brain that used to make “mix tapes”: how to introduce a complete uninitiate into the world of metal? This is not intended to be a “best of” or definitive (as if that were possible) collection, but rather an enthusiastical musicological blitzkrieg into the essence of metal, as I have experienced it as a fan and a composer.

Black Sabbath “Black Sabbath” 1970 from Black Sabbath


Iron Maiden “Powerslave” 1984 from Powerslave

Sepultura “Roots Bloody Roots” 1996 from Roots 


Lamb of God “Blacken the Cursed Sun” 2006 from Sacrament


I really did deliberate about this last selection: I knew it had to be Lamb of God, and I had it narrowed down to about 6 of their most epic and brutal (well, they are all brutal, especially to newbies who struggle with the so-called “screaming” of modern metal vocals)  but this track does exemplify the key facets I was looking for: excellent riffs and epic structure and/or triumphant mood.  It does break the streak of “title track” features (which was unintentional) but it also happens to be (by some degree of coincidence) the most difficult arrangement I have created in my Renegade Nature Music series of arrangements and compositions for shakuhachi.

In fact, I now realize that I have arranged songs from each of these groups, including the Sepultura track “Roots Bloody Roots” featured above.  At live shows, these often incite a brand new enthusiasm in unsuspecting listeners to explore metal, so I guess even though the original goal of this post was to present only the original songs, this “wind arranger” perspective has wedged its way in.

Sepultura’s “Roots Bloody Roots” arranged for four bass clarinets
(Edmund Welles)

Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name” arranged for four bass clarinets and vocals
(Edmund Welles with guest Gene Jun)

Black Sabbath’s “Into the Void” arranged for four bass clarinets
(Edmund Welles)

The above Edmund Welles arrangements are featured on the albums Agrippa’s 3 Books and Imagination Lost.