Heavy metal was always about rebellion. From the beginning, it was a haven for the maladjusted and misanthropic. If flowers had no power over you, there was Black Sabbath. If four on the floor made you snore, there was Kiss. (At least until they did that disco song.) Even when Poison and Whitesnake were acceptable to the MTV mainstream, there were the louder, faster avenues of thrash and death metal.

Today, it’s hard to find anyone under a hundred years old who doesn’t at least tolerate metal. Satan’s favorite sounds are heard on the radio and at sporting events, and are even used to sell cars and energy drinks. Faster than you can say, “Jack Black in a kids’ movie,” metal went from underground to mainstream.

It’s fitting, therefore, that mainstream acceptance of metal has coincided with that of another subculture: the nerd. Of course, nerds and metalheads have been cross-pollinating for as long as there were fantasy novels and ripped jeans. If you have a surplus of twenty-sided dice lying around, chances are you have at least one Kreator album, too. (If you don’t, shame on you. The Best of Simple Minds? Really?)

In honor of two cultures so underground they cancel each other out, here’s a list of hard rock and metal anthems that bring out the geek in us all.

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This article was first posted on January 7, 2014