Summer is almost here and our beach bodies look like bloated whales with a drinking problem. It’s time to get in shape! But what music should any metalhead worth their mettle listen to while pretending to know what a lat pulldown means? Well, we’ve got you covered.
Todd Neif, guitarist for Chicago death metallers Like Rats, owns a gym called South Loop Strength & Conditioning and knows a thing or two about heavy music. This is what he recommends you blast into your ears while crying into your hastily purchased protein shake.
“In terms of metal, I think the best bet is to stick with songs with a specific type of mid-paced riff common in thrash metal and early death metal. This kind of riff usually makes me want to jump around in my living room, so hopefully it makes you want to jump around in the gym (or lift, run, burpee, etc.)”
Stormtroopers Of Death – Freddy Krueger
“This is the quintessential crossover ‘stomp’ part that laid the template for all of the riffs that have followed in the last thirty years, in which depressed males have rubbed their bodies on each other in mosh pits.”
Sodom – Enchanted Land
“I completely ripped off a riff from this song for the Like Rats song Immortal Coil without even realising that Sodom probably lifted this mid-paced riff from the previous S.O.D. song – on purpose or not. The cymbal catches into that mid-paced riff at just after one minute are so hard.”
Unleashed – The Final Silence
“One of the best things in metal is a great “ugh.” The hardest “ugh” in all of music potentially occurs at 1:17 in this song.”
Celtic Frost – Eternal Summer
“Celtic Frost are my favourite band, and this may be my favourite Celtic Frost song. The progression of power chord riffs over the D-beat for the first chunk of the song feels very “productive” somehow – like I just want to be busy and building new things. Kind of like playing Sim City. I can’t imagine Tom G meant this song to feel like playing Sim City, but…”
Nuclear Assault – F# (Wake Up)
“Nuclear Assault are one of the masters of the mid-paced thrash riff, so it’s tough to pick just one song from them. The chorus of this song just always gets stuck in my head though – John Connelly’s shrill voice over a quick little half-time lick gets the job done.”
Sepultura – Stronger Than Hate
“Man, what a riff bonanza all of Beneath The Remains is. Again, I’m biased more towards mid-paced parts for training than towards speed, so picking a song from this record was basically between this and Inner Self. Kind of a coin flip there, but the talking part in Inner Self annoys me. Both songs utilise the tactic of having like five different riffs and variations in the intro before the song actually starts, which is something that I’ve borrowed more than a few times for Like Rats.”
Pestilence – The Process Of Suffocation
“Martin Van Drunen is probably my favourite death metal vocalist, but Pestilence are probably not the first band people think of when thinking of the “simple pleasures” of workout music. Most of their songs tend to be on the more technical end in terms of riffing and time signatures. However, the gallop riff in this song always gives me goosebumps when it drops into half-time.”
Asphyx – Vermin
“Two of my favourite death metal records (The Rack and Consuming Impulse) both feature Van Drunen on vocals. Asphyx are certainly more primitive than Pestilence, but both are masters of song structure and tension and release. The gallop/single note riff at 1:15 is the greatest caveman riff of all time.”
Dismember – Override Of The Overture
“If the transition at 3:17 doesn’t make you want to destroy your own body violently, then I don’t want to know you.”
Bathory – Rite Of Darkness/The Reap Of Evil
“Rite Of Darkness is one of the ultimate mid-paced frown songs. There is nothing to do to that riff other than frown and nod your head from side to side.
”Reap Of Evil features simultaneously one of the heaviest and most influential black metal riffs ever recorded right around the three minute mark – as well as some of the most hilarious drumming to feature on a metal record.”