The Greatest Metal Song Cup - Part II, Round 3, Matches 37-42

What is your favourite song in each match? Vote in all six matchups!

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Welcome to the 2023 & 2024 (and possibly 2025)...


In this tournament, we will be be attempting to democratically answer the age old question: what is the greatest (non-Iron Maiden related) heavy metal song of all time?

Multiple song lists from members and publications - some more dubious than others - have been assembled into a massive game consisting of 1027 songs from across all varieties of metal. We will now proceed through the songs in a very specific fashion:

Part 1: Songs with only one nominator (list or Maidenfan) will go through a single elimination game to reduce the numbers in order to fill out Part 2. Note, a handful of matches were arbitrarily placed into Trios matches to make sure the amount of songs fit. Songs have been roughly grouped by genre to ensure we have a fair distribution of genres in Part 2. There are 372 matches in Part 1.

Part 2: Songs with multiple nominations were seeded into 128 groups, to which the survivors of Part 1 will be added. We will then have a round robin in each group, which has 5 songs. The top 2 songs will proceed to Part 3. There are 1280 matches in Part 2. I am reserving the right to remove some matches if the top 2 are decided before all matches are played.

Part 3: The top 2 songs from each group will be seeded into a 256 song double elimination tournament. After 510, or possibly, 511, matches, we will finally know: what is the greatest metal song?

Match rules:

1) Misclicks and changed minds will not result in changes being allowed. Only technical issues will be allowed to change votes. Own goals count, in other words.

2) Songs will be provided as is; you can vote for any song, for any reason. Simply vote. Even if you hate both songs, just go with gut after listening for 5 seconds. The most important thing is to vote in every round of matches.

3) Leave a note explaining your vote where you can!

4) Each round of matches will be open for 48 hours. I may lock the matches early if there's a blowout in the interest of time. On certain weekends I may extend the voting to 72 hours (major holidays, etc).

5) In the case of a tie, I will call for kicks - the first person to respond will pick the winner. I traditionally don't vote until near the end to break ties if needed, but if I vote to create a tie or if someone squeaks in after me, it might be called for.

If you want to see the current status, you can check out the tournament setup and results here:

Note that I won't yet have the Part 3 tournament in there - I'll make that in the future at some point.

With no further ado, let's get on to our first matchups!

Play In Round
Match 1
The Number of the Beast Division
Dio - All the Fools Sailed Away
Queensrÿche - Take Hold of the Flame​
Popoff 500​
Youtube | Spotify | Amazon

Play In Round
Match 2
The Number of the Beast Division
Saxon - Dallas 1 PM
Legend - The Wizard's Vengeance​
@The Sentient
Youtube | Spotify | Amazon
Youtube | Spotify | Amazon

Play In Round
Match 3
The Number of the Beast Division
Arch Enemy - We Will Rise
In Flames - The Quiet Place​
Rolling Stone 100
Youtube | Spotify | Amazon

Play In Round
Match 4
Blood Brothers Division
Jimi Hendrix Experience - Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
AC/DC - Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be​
Popoff 500 | Radio EHS 100
Youtube | Spotify | Amazon

Play In Round
Match 5
Blood Brothers Division
Gamma Ray - Land of the Free
Blind Guardian - Imaginations from the Other Side​
@Black Bart
Popoff 500​
Youtube | Spotify | Amazon

Play In Round
Match 6
Blood Brothers Division
Gamma Ray - Rebellion in Dreamland
Primal Fear - Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove​
Youtube | Spotify | Amazon
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All The Fools Sailed Away vs Take Hold of the Flame and Land of the Free vs Imaginations From the Other Side are both extremely brutal matchups for the first round. This will be very interesting...
"All The Fools Sailed Away" checks all the boxes for an epic power ballad, and the performances are strong, but it didn't really sink its teeth into me on a single listen. "Take Hold Of The Flame" is less ambitious, and has underpowered guitars and some awkward group shouts; but the, take hold of the listener more convincingly, and Tate sounds great, making this one more memorable. Sorry, @DJMayes, but I need to go with the list nominee here. Winner: Queensrÿche - "Take Hold Of The Flame"

"Dallas 1PM" has a pleasant AC/DC vibe to it, but it just treads water for most of its runtime, aside from a nice instrumental break in the third quarter. "The Wizard's Vengeance" has crummy production and cringey lyrics with bad phrasing, but it's got a lot more fire and musical meat on it than its competitor. Sorry, @The Sentient, but I have to go with @Mosh's nominee here. Winner: Legend - "The Wizard's Vengeance"

"We Will Rise" has some nice riffage mixed in between the unremarkable eighth note rhythms, and the dual guitar outro is pretty cool. The vocals are awful, of course. "The Quiet Place" has a surprisingly Linkin Park-ish feel (this is not your father's In Flames, for sure), and the extreme vocals are a lot more limited. Not really a fan of either track here, but I found @KidInTheDark666's track to be less annoying than the list nominee. Winner: In Flames - "The Quiet Place"

"Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" has interesting guitar work and some nice melodies in places, but it feels like more of a jam than a song, and it's not the kind of thing I'd want to listen to over and over again. "Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be" is simple and straightforward and doesn't really go anywhere, but it's enjoyable enough and has a good solo, and in this match-up that's enough for @The Sentient's choice to eke out a win against the list nominee. Winner: AC/DC - "Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be"

Well, this match is more like it. This links to the rerecorded version of "Land Of The Free" rather than the original one, and I'm not sure if that's intentional or not; but either way the track is great, with memorable vocal and guitar melodies throughout, and a sweet roller coaster ride of a songwriting journey. (It's even better when you listen to it continue through the next two tracks on the album, "The Saviour" and "Abyss Of The Void", for a cool musical triptych.) "Imaginations From The Other Side" is a mostly great collection of musical parts with a great chorus, and its heavier sections hit harder than its competitor; but all of those cool parts feel assembled in a bit of a patchwork, without a clear songwriting through line. I enjoy both tracks, but for me this is a clear win for @Black Bart's song over the list nominee. Winner: Gamma Ray - "Land Of The Free"

"Rebellion In Dreamland" is another monster track from the Land Of The Free album, with an alternately gentle and stately core that erupts into some killer riffage and soloing later on, all while following a great songwriting arc. "Iron Fist In A Velvet Glove" has some nice light and shade, and I enjoy the driving rhythm; but I'm not a big fan of the timbre of Ralf Scheepers' voice on the heavier parts, and the chorus is a bit of a dud. Sorry, @Kalata, but I have to go with @Confeos's nominee here. Winner: Gamma Ray - "Rebellion In Dreamland"
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This links to the rerecorded version of "Land Of The Free" rather than the original one, and I'm not sure if that's intentional or not
It's not, but in situations where there wasn't a specific version specified I just grabbed the top one from the list.
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I'm pretty sure I also nominated Rebellion in Dreamland, but I'm also fairly confident it's gonna win this matchup anyway, so it doesn't matter.

EDIT: Yes, it's on my list.
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I'm pretty sure I also nominated Rebellion in Dreamland, but I'm also fairly confident it's gonna win this matchup anyway, so it doesn't matter.

EDIT: Yes, it's on my list.
Sorry, it's you who nominated this, Black Bart nominated one song above and one song below.
So, the first pairing is not even remotely fair. I mean, I'm not the world's (or this forum's) greatest Dio fan, but Fools is just magnificent, from the subtle intro, through the great guitarwork, the irresistible chorus and the honestly enticing instrumental section.
My two complaints would be that the breakdown comes way too soon - after the softer intro, I'd let the power remain a bit longer before the songs goes back into the quiet mode. The second complaint is that the melody is a tad too "classic hard-rockish" to my tastes, but that's often so with solo Dio.
It is confronted with Ryche, who are a perfectly fine band, but apart from Mindcrime, I just can't seem to grasp their appeal. I don't find Tate's voice particularly appealing, instrumentally, I know they can do better than they do here, I don't really dislike the track, but I also don't find it memorable. The melodies, the production, it more or less feels like your generic 80s ballad. I promise I'll give the whole Warning another spin soon, but in this particular pairing especially, I can't but go with the obvious choice and vote for Dio.

Saxon are another band that I don't generally get what the fuss is about, but I admit that this song is quite fine - it reminded me a bit of the juicy grooves of 70s Priest (and the vocals have the similar "powerful singer, but half-barking with subdued, sarcastic attitude", just like vintage JP).
(Though the guitar part at about 1:20 strays a bit into the Kiss/Accept territory, but I don't mind that).
Melody-wise, it's nothing particularly great and I don't like the sample mid-part, but I admit that I feel weirdly attracted to the admittedly simplistic solo and although the song is definitely overlong, by setting the solid groove, the song held my attention throughout. I suppose it won't get very high - and it probably shouldn't - but it's much better than I expected.
On the other hand, Legend's Wizard Vengeance has the wonderful, idealistic, garage cheese I so appreciate in the power metal bands, the bass guitarist knows what he's doing (see the instrumental section for some cool bubbly shenanigans) and despite the terrible production, it all sounds extremely catchy.
Well, except for the vocals. These are absolutely horrendous when on their own and even worse when they're harmonising. Really, combined with the somewhat inane vocal melody, you kinda have trouble taking it seriously. But... it still results in a lively, memorable track. Especially since the whole approach seems more high-brow than its competition.
Honestly, I don't know. If I wanted to be edgy and pseudo-profound, I'd say that Legend fail to be as good as they'd like to be and Saxon fail to be as bad as they'd want to be.
That said, I still value the concept and overall attitude more, so Legend it is.

Man, sometimes I feel I'm so over melodeath. These days I usually don't even finish an Amon Amarth album, let alone going back to Arch Enemy (whose phase I had some time ago... primarily back when they were actually good) and I probably never had my In Flames phase.
That said, I'm not really sure what possessed someone to nominate something off Anthems of Rebellion of all albums - probably their most contested pre-White-Gluz album, with the possible exception of Khaos Legions - and We Will Rise of that album to boot (how about Saints and Sinners instead, for example)?
Well, I guess it's because it was the Rolling Stone list. Okay, my bad.
However, it is pitted against In Flames The Quiet Place. You know, I heard the whole Soundtrack album probably once at most... and I'm not even sure if I've ever finished it. I gave it a fair listen, for Kid's sake - we very often agree on stuff we like - but I'm not up to this, sorry. This is precisely the type of '03 music I've been trying to run away from ever since. I'm not even sure if the song is bad per se, it's just that it mostly sounds like Linkin Park with growls and I don't need that. Like, ever. I've hard enough time trying to convince myself to listen to Sepultura's nu-metal output and Deftones' momentary lapses of taste, this is just emo-bro to the extreme. Sorry, really sorry, you know I love you, mate, but this really doesn't do it for me, although I gave it two listens just to be certain.
Arch Enemy here, though it's definitely the lesser of the two evils here.

Talking about outgrowing some bands, eh? Let There Be Rock as an album was always at the very top of my AC/DC rankings - and it still probably is, it's just that the band as such didn't stand the test of time for me, even the Scott era. And Hell in particular isn't even my favourite off that album.
Voodoo Child probably wouldn't get nominated if it weren't for the magazine list - classifying it as "metal" shows the typical boomer approach of fan webzines towards any type of non-mainstream music, methinks - but I admit that I love the riff, I love the murky 60's production, I find Hendrix's voice to be absolutely seducing and it closes a pretty colourful and exciting double album. I really don't like to vote for it, since I don't think it really belongs into a metal song cup, but Jimi all the way here, since it's ultimately the more enjoyable experience for me nowadays.

Now power metal, yeah, that's more like it. Although Gamma Ray isn't among my favouritest-est bands - I still think Kai and the company shouldn't have split - and this very album has about 3-4 songs I like more, I wholeheartedly support the nomination of LOTF to the cup. (I'm talking about the original version, BTW)
But then again, unfortunately, it is put against the best of the very best. BG constantly fight Rhapsody as my favourite power metal band of all time, Imaginations is among their best oeuvres and the title track - although I didn't like it much at first, preferring stuff like I'm Alive, Script or even Bright Eyes - shows off their many strengths. The plodding, the aggressive, the catchy, the relatively complex... As time went by, I became quite obsessed with this very track - listening to it several times over in a row, some time last autumn - and though I've sated my appetite in the meantime, I still can't not vote for Blind Guardian. Call it a blind tribalism. So be it. Hansi and Andre deserve every praise they get... and some more to boot.

So, you know how last paragraph I was talking about the songs from the LOTF album which I prefer to the title track?
Well, fucking Rebellion in Dreamland is definitely one of them. I don't know if it is the best Gamma Ray track overall, but I wouldn't disagree if someone came with this particular proposition. The main melody is unforgettable, the build-up is real, the guitar work is razor sharp and although you probably could say that for 9 minutes there's not enough complexity as such, I'd say it's not needed. Honestly, it just works, the song feels like it's half of its playtime, there are some nice shifts in mood and tempo and it feels sufficiently epic. I never quite understood why it was the opening track to the album, but here on its own I don't even have to care about that.
Primal Fear is one of those classic bands I admit I have mostly a passing knowledge of. At least their reputation is much bigger than the level of my acquaintance is, thoguh I'm not exactly sure why. I guess the biggest problem is that they sound more like a power-heavy crossover to me, including this track. I admit that the chorus is intriguing and despite Scheepers being the type of vocalist I don't usually like, he sounds realy good here. In fact, even the guitars are thrilling, at least in the instrumental section.
But in the end, it's like 7/10, whereas Rebellion is about 9,2/10 for me, so Gamma Ray all the way.

Fuck, I need to tone it down a bit. The graphomania, I mean.
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"All the Fools Sailed Away" is one of Dio's very best songs. On the other hand, I can't really seem to get into Queensrÿche. "Take Hold of the Flame" is a decent tune, I suppose, but utterly forgettable. Dio.

Saxon is always enjoyable, "Dallas 1 PM" is absolutely no exception. Aside from the cool bass-runs in "The Wizard's Vengeance", I did not like much about this track - the main riff felt very repetitive, and the production was sub-par. Saxon.

I have heard much better from both Arch Enemy and In Flames; both these songs are mediocre at best. I guess I enjoyed In Flames a bit more here.

"Voodoo Child" is a classic. "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be" is typical AC/DC, in that it sounds exactly like every other song in their discography. It's all good fun, but the fun wears off quickly. Hendrix.

The next matchup is definitely the toughest here. I could really go either way, but I'll vote for Gamma Ray for nostalgic reasons - 10-15 years ago "Land of the Free" was a big influence on my own musical adventures.

...and I'll obviously go with Gamma Ray in the last round as well; "Rebellion in Dreamland" is the quintessential power metal epic in my book. The Primal Fear track was solid, though.
Queensryche cause Dio's solo stuff does nothing for me apart from his vocals. Legend cause I hate Saxon with passion. Arch Enemy cause In Flames sold out. AC/DC cause I don't like Hendrix. And at the end, Gamma Ray x2 (Imaginations loses on an un-imaginative chorus and Primal Fear loses cause Rebellion is a classic).
The Dio song smells like a grower, but today I'm going with Queensryche.

Second pair was the hardest, both songs were great. Went with The Wizard's Vengeance, it was more lively and the unusual singing style gets points from me. And the riff is basically Hit the Lights!

Arch Enemy was good, The Quiet Place's guitar melody gets stuck in my head since the day I heard it. It's such a great song, if you manage to ignore Anders's terrible whiny vocals. So irritating. It brings it down so much...

Good AC/DC song, though not very interesting (surprise...) Voodoo Child.

Two top songs from the two power metal bands I've explored so far, but Imaginations takes it pretty handily.

And I'm going to ignore being burnt out on Rebellion and vote for it. Fantastic song (though the ending isn't a 10 like the rest of it). That Primal Fear song was awesome, unfortunate draw for it.
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Super excited for this!

Already starting with a juggernaut first match with two 80s classic Metal epics. All the Fools Sailed Away has a cool epic chorus but kinda suffers from the sort of plodding midtempo thing that makes up a lot of Dio's solo material. It's all about the vocals and the lyrics which is great, but I need a little bit more than that. Instrumental section is decent but Goldy is know Campbell (I know Dio hated him but he had some great guitar work on those first two albums). The late 80s synths also haven't aged well. Similarly, Geoff Tate's acrobatic vocals are the main event of Take Hold of the Flame, but this song has a little bit more going on for my tastes. More dynamic and tempo shifts and the interplay between Tate and the rest of the band feels a bit more interactive.

I can get into some Saxon once in a while. Lyrically Dallas 1PM is a mess in the Iron Maiden school of reciting events without any real lyricism. Fortunately the song lets the instruments do a lot of the work and there are some cool instrumental parts but it gets pretty repetitive. Never really understood why this was such a popular Saxon pick. Legend is a bit of a deepcut but it's also an interesting historical oddity. This band comes from Connecticut and the album was released in 1979. It's pretty NWOBHM'y and the album gets a bit progressive in places. So not only is it a bit ahead of its time, it's also way outside of its region, being made by a bunch of Americans when Heavy Metal wasn't even really a thing in America yet. I've always wondered where the band came from, how they managed to get an album made, and who they were influenced by. I imagine they were probably paying a lot of money for Neat records imports! The Wizard's Vengeance isn't a song I expect to go super far but hope to introduce more folks to this hidden NWOBAHM gem. The lyrics and vocal delivery are really goofy but in a fun way, not a boring "here is my 3rd grade book report on the JFK shooting" way. The band is super tight and manage to validate the cheesiness with great musicianship.
Beyond the fun novelty of hearing a lady doing extreme Metal vocals, We Will Rise is a super catchy track with a lot going for it. Some really nice instrumental work especially in the middle and extremely infectious riffing. The vocals are awesome and it's easy to sing along despite the lack of clean vocals. About as accessible as this kind of music can get without being lame. On that note,man In Flames used to be such a cool band. The Quiet Place has too much teenage angst for my taste. Trying way too hard with the vocals and the industrial sounding instrumental is just kind of generic. Did the AI music takeover happen already?

Voodoo Child is a great song and only a dad rocker like Popoff or a mainstream radio station list would seriously put it in a list of top Metal songs. Hell Ain't A Bad Place to Be is about hell which is therefore more Metal and therefore better.
Dio, without pause. I cannot stomach Tate’s vocals, though the song is okay.

Dallas 1pm just simply has nothing going for it. Two basic guitar lines (one literally just an open string) for nearly 7 minutes. The worst part is the dramatic stop in the middle with news clips of Kennedy’s assassination that’s followed up with…a good time jammy blues solo, of course! Legend is supremely cheesy and wacky, but much more fun and has some insane bass playing.

Arch Enemy are honestly quite boring here and the song does very little for me, but at least they do not sound like a bad Korn tribute band. Fuck me, that In Flames track is awful.

I’m no big Jimi fan, but this track has an iconic guitar hook. AC/DC are doing their thing here, and it’s…fine, but this is far from one of their best songs. Voodoo Child

Land of the Free is absolutely infectious. I don’t love the major key chorus shift and it’s cheesy beyond all heck, but it grabs you and never lets go. Absolutely like Maiden on steroids. The vocal bridge is incredibly wicked and reminds me of Iced Earth. Instrumentally I prefer Blind Guardian’s darkness and progginess, but Hansi is all over the place tonally here (which is probably the point) and a lot of the musical transitions feel pretty rough. It’s a good chorus, though. Gotta give it Gamma Ray

Rebellion in Dreamland
is absolutely incredible. Apparently, I have to listen to this album. Primal Fear simply cannot compete.
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Not a big Dio geek, apart from his stuff with Sabbath, the Holy Diver album and a greatest hits, I never heard this song before and I quite like it! Might dig in deeper into Dio´s solo work later.
Facing the Magnificent Take Hold Of The Flame I just have to vote for this early masterpiece of Queensryche.

Saxon gave me ringing ears at an edition of Graspop and their music never grabbed me.
Legend was...hmm...not my cup of tea so Saxon wins by default.

Although I used to be a big In Flames fan (the era from Jester Race until Clayman) I don´t like their newer stuff. Arch Enemy has some nice melodies but the vocals are a huge turnoff. Choosing between Pestilence and Plague here: In Flames it is.

Jimi could play guitar but his songs never did anything to me. AC/DC by far.

Blind Guardian! Title track from their best (IMO) album (I nominated another song from this jewel) slays Gamma Ray easily for me.

Yet another Gamma Ray song but I liked the Primal Fear ballad more.
Dio - All the Fools Sailed Away vs. Queensrÿche - Take Hold of the Flame
I'm not familiar with the Dio track, but it's pretty good, elements remind me of Dehumanizer era and Rainbow. But it doesn't have a chance with one of Queensryche's best. Take Hold of the Flame

Saxon - Dallas 1 PM vs. Legend - The Wizard's Vengeance

The first time I saw the title Dallas 1 PM I didn't make the connection that it was going to be about Kennedy, so I was thinking it was going to be a "rock n roll all nite" style song but they got mixed up with AM and PM:lol:
Never heard of Legend, riff has a bit of an Immigrant Song vibe, bass solo is interesting. Dallas 1 PM

Jimi Hendrix Experience - Voodoo Child (Slight Return) vs. AC/DC - Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be

Now you're talking about a match up! Both tracks are great, obviously. Going to have to go with Jimi, as it's probably his best, whereas Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be is more of a classic deep cut. There's also a bend in the Voodoo Chile solo that's the best there's ever been in rock guitar playing. Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

Gamma Ray - Land of the Free vs. Blind Guardian - Imaginations from the Other Side

Not a huge fan of this style of metal. Gamma Ray starts off pretty great, but falls apart by the time the verse comes in. The verse after the solo is decent. Sections of it are good. Blind Guardian is okay enough musically, the vocal isn't doing it for me. A lot of the time it doesn't feel like the various instruments are complimenting each other. Land of the Free

Gamma Ray - Rebellion in Dreamland vs. Primal Fear - Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove

As above, not a fan of this genre, but Gamma Ray seem to have a bit more going for them than the average band of this style, their terrible name does them no favours. This track is better than their other one, it's pretty good, and they've got my head nodding a couple of times in both tracks. Primal Fear have an unnecessary accent over the i in Primal, and in metal the only acceptable unnecessary accents are umlauts, do you pronounce it Preemal Fear?. This track is good. The chorus has a bit of an Angry Again vibe off the melody, which is not a bad thing. For me this has been an unexpectedly enjoyable match up and it's a shame to have to vote against one of the tracks but I think in a one listen zoolander style "walk-off" the shorter catchier track has an advantage.
Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove
Just as I was about to vote I spotted that I've missed a match.

Arch Enemy - We Will Rise vs. In Flames - The Quiet Place
Arch Enemy is good enough musically, terrible vocal. Imagine this with Bruce singing, it would be pretty great, instead there's nothing unique about it, that growl vocal is like auto-tune in pop music, completely removes all idiosyncrasy from the vocal, they literally have a woman singing and make no use of that distinctiveness that could have gave them. In Flames vocal sounds like korn whinging at times, which gets my back up, but he sounds alright in the chorus. Both these tracks are a good bit better musically than what I was expecting with my preconceived prejudices. We Will Rise
And off we go...!

I really need to sit down with these songs more because I only gave each song a cursory listen, although I'll still vote now since the round will be over by the time I get the chance to have multiple listens of them. Out of all the songs here, I had only heard one of them before and that was Rebellion in Dreamland. Definitely the best song here.

But I'm getting ahead of myself slightly, so...I'm just going to briefly go through each matchup in order.

All the Fools Sailed Away is fine as is, but it's a little too overlong I feel. As Mosh said, it's pretty plodding. Take Hold of the Flame suffers no such problems although Dio is far and away a better vocalist than Geoff Tate. That's not the contest though, so on a song basis, Queensrÿche take this one fairly easily.

Second matchup feels pretty clear cut to me, but The Wizard's Vengeance is just better than the Saxon song which was quite boring in comparison.

As for the third matchup, it's between two Swedish bands! That's pretty funny to me. Now, I've never been a fan of Arch Enemy beyond the song featured in Guitar Hero. In Flames made better music back in the day I'd say, although The Quiet Place still takes this match.

Voodoo Child (Slight Return). No contest.

The last two matches are just easy wins for Gamma Ray, although Imaginations from the Other Side is definitely a good song too. I don't think I need a second listen for the Primal Fear song, given what it's up against.