10 Best Rock + Metal Songs Without Chorus

Years ago, it was practically inconceivable that mainstream music lacked a chorus since most listeners expected to sing along with catchy central patterns between verses, bridges, pre-choruses, and other sections.

Of course, times change and so do songwriting conventions, especially when it comes to subgenres such as art rock, progressive metal, etc. Over the past few decades, countless artists have subverted expectations by structuring their songs differently, resulting in experimental interpretations of how these components intersect.

Or, as the 10 awesome tracks below demonstrate, sometimes artists forgo the chorus entirely. That’s not to say they don’t have catchy choruses or other recurring bits, but technicallythese tracks circumvent the norm in simple or sophisticated ways.

  • Iron Maiden, “Grimoire of the Ancient Seaman”

    Excerpt from 1984 Powerslavethis long multi-part adaptation by Samuel Taylor Coleridge epic poem is one of Iron Maiden’s most ambitious and literary pieces. Focused on “a sailor who causes a divine curse by slaying an albatross” – like Bruce Dickinson once Explain — it’s ripe with compelling saga references amid its adventurous upheavals. Because it combines multiple segments, however, there is no main theme that acts as the focal point. Yes, portions such as “Sail again and again and north through the sea” might seem like a good fit, but given all the inventive detours halfway through, it doesn’t quite qualify.

  • Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

    Whether you’re sick of it or adore it, there’s virtually no disputing that this is Queen’s ultimate statement. Apparently written about someone confessing to murder, it was later to analyse like Freddie Mercury’s “going out song”. In any case, his chameleon trajectory crosses a few styles, including the singer-songwriter’s piano ballad, the magnificent a cappella and lyrical hard rock. Each chapter is very individualized and brief, so there isn’t enough room in a movement to implement a chorus, even if Queen wanted it. There are certainly repeated phrases, however, and “whatever the wind blows” is indeed the key phrase.

  • The Beatles, “A Day in the Life”

    Although they regularly collaborated on material (and were credited as Lennon-McCartney), John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s output rarely felt like a hodgepodge of ideas. sergeant. Pepper closer “A Day in the Life” is an exception, as its groundbreaking atypicality is rooted in the fact that Lennon wrote the typically dark verses while McCartney wrote the typically gregarious bridge. So it’s basically two half-songs ingeniously fused together by avant-garde orchestration, sound effects and Lennon’s crooning. Neither person’s contribution has time to fully develop, but his exploration of youthful exuberance, dark news and burgeoning drug culture is utterly masterful anyway.

  • Jimi Hendrix, “All Along the Watchtower”

    Let’s move on to something less complicated, Jimi Hendrix’s flamboyant psychedelic version of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” – released less than a year after Dylan’s John Wesley Smith — is unquestionably one of the greatest covers of all time. It is also generally considered the definitive version, so much so that Dylan began emulating Hendrix’s performance in concert around 1974. Like many of Dylan’s works, its meaning is open to interpretation and avoids the verse / popular refrain. fourth model for freer poetic approaches (in this case, couplets). Really, it’s just three long verses separated by a guitar solo, and that’s perfect.

  • Led Zeppelin, “Achilles Last Stand”

    This is where Led Zeppelin immersed himself fully in the prog rock explosiveness of contemporaries such as Yes, Rush and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Exuding their growing interest in oriental aesthetics, he mixes multiple inspirations and topics in its narrative, ranging from the titular Greek hero to Robert Plant’s 1975 car crash (and subsequent broken ankle). Although its many time and key signature changes offer great variety when surrounding Jimmy Page’s thrilling guitar playing, they never surround a chorus. Instead, Plant simply sings a series of extended verses made up of compelling rhymes. Obviously, his non-lexical vocables at the end don’t matter either.

  • Radiohead, “Paranoid Android”

    Radiohead’s debut single, 1992’s ‘Creep’, may have been relatively traditional, but the English quintet quickly stepped outside the usual songwriting boundaries. Case in point: “Paranoid Android,” a breathtaking four-part art rock odyssey about consumerism and political corruption whose unpredictability was motivated by “Happiness is a Warm Gun” by The Beatles. From its introductory acoustic reverie and subsequent dissonant panic, to its soothing catharsis and closing retaliation, it oozes hypnotic melodies and arrangements. However, the closer it gets to a guideline – “What is this? / (I may be paranoid, but no android)” – is more of a chorus since it is only two simultaneous phrases.

  • Metallica, “Fade to Black”

    While not as complex as most future Metallica material, “Fade to Black” remains a classic testament to the potential of modestly moving songwriting. Sure, his beautiful acoustic guitar, pounding beats and crushing riffs are captivating, but the key to his power drawing of suicidal thoughts are the sincerely sung sentiments of James Hetfield. They are divided into two verses (“Life, it seems, will fade” and “Things aren’t what they used to be”) and a bridge (“No one but me can save me, but it’s too late”). Therefore, he never intervenes with an appealing chorus that counteracts his dominating desperation.

  • Black Sabbath, “paranoid”

    The title track from Black Sabbath’s 1970 second album is both an extremely important and extremely basic heavy metal track. As Geezer Butler revealed at guitar world in 2004, it “was written as an afterthought” because they “needed three-minute filler for the album”. (Plus, they argued over whether he ripped off Led Zeppelin.) Of course, the only time Ozzy strays from his panicked stanzas is when he yells, “Can you help me occupy my mind? Oh yeah!” during the bridge. Given his influence and popularity over the past 52 years, it’s hard to imagine “Paranoid” any other way.

  • Between the buried and me, “Telos”

    Granted, BTBAM has better standalone tracks, but when it comes to the ones without a chorus, this excerpt from Parallax II: Future Sequence sequel is hard to beat. Described by guitarist Paul Wagoner as “the meat” of the saga, “Telos” is a formidable whirlwind of intricate cosmic fury tied to the internal and external dialogues of its two main characters (aka “Perspectives”). As frontman Tommy Rogers Jr. swings between different sections over a span of nearly 10 minutes, the whole thing is too sporadically structured to fit into any kind of “regular” lineup. That said, it’s still filled with typically catchy moments.

  • Opeth, “Ghost of Perdition”

    “Ghost of Perdition” is Opeth’s most representative track as it exquisitely unites the demonic tendencies of their earlier periods with the progressive rock/jazz inclinations of their newer collections. Luckily for us, it’s also devoid of a mid-hook, instead depicting its history of Satanism, murder, and similarly dark subject matter through a series of verses, choruses, bridges, and instrumental sequences. Featuring some of Mikael Åkerfeldt’s greatest dead and clear vocals, not to mention the endlessly imaginative arrangements, its excellence is only possible because it’s so appealing and unconventional. Again, Opeth has always bucked trends to chart a unique course.


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Grace D. Erickson