Heavy music is full of legendary bands boasting deep catalogs stacked with iconic songs — sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, or what to consider their best. With that in mind, we present the “Mandatory Metal” lists, which collect what we consider to be the definitive tracks from various members of the metallurgic pantheon. Up today, Rush. The trailblazing prog-rock heroes may not be a metal band exactly, but their mind-bending virtuosity, headbanging riffage and arcane lyrics have inspired countless metal musicians, from Tool to Dream Theater to Anthrax. The group have a deep, decades-spanning catalog packed with must-hear compositions, but in our opinion, these classic cuts are their most essential. If you disagree, sound off on The Pit Facebook page. Neil Peart, R.I.P.
ALBUM: CARESS OF STEEL
Is it prog rock or heavy metal? The Canadian power trio push the boundaries of both genres on this manic rocker from the group’s aptly titled 1975 album.
Sample lyrics: “Lessons taught but never learned/All around us anger burns/Guide the future by the past/Long ago the mold was cast.”
“A PASSAGE TO BANGKOK”
The high-flying chronicles of a globe-trotting quest for cannabis. (Dig what sounds like someone taking a toke right before the guitar solo.) It’s also classic enough that it’s sometimes covered by Tool in concert.
Sample lyrics: “We’re on the train to Bangkok/Aboard the Thailand Express/We’ll hit the stops along the way/We only stop for the best.”
“A FAREWELL TO KINGS”
ALBUM: A FAREWELL TO KINGS
Quintessential Rush: The majesty of an orchestra delivered with the headbanging abandon of a metal band.
Sample lyrics: “Can’t we find the minds that made us strong?/Can’t we learn to feel what’s right/And what’s wrong?”
ALBUM: PERMANENT WAVES
With more time changes than an around-the-world flight, this intricate number inspired a generation of prog-metal virtuosos, including Dream Theater.
Sample lyrics: “The mess and the magic/Triumphant and tragic/A mechanized world out of hand.”
ALBUM: MOVING PICTURES
Have you ever played air drums? Well, if you’ve ever heard this power-prog standard played at maximum volume before, we bet you have.
Sample lyrics: “A modern-day warrior/Mean, mean stride/Today’s Tom Sawyer/Mean, mean pride.”