When playing through an album, one of the most important and influential things which deciding whether it is ‘good’ or not is the closing track. Like it or not, people tend to only remember what they’ve just heard after the record stops spinning and so if your final track isn’t that awe inspiring, chances are your album isn’t going to leave its place on the shelf all that often. With that in mind, it is worth considering what actually makes an epic album closer. For some it’s all about a track that packs a punch and emits such power that it makes it difficult to play another song afterwards that can match it, for others it’s a case of creating a piece which rounds things off with a beautiful acoustic piece that finishes in such an emotional way that you can’t help but want to press repeat and play-through again. Here, I have counted down my 20 (was going to do 10 but it was too hard to narrow it down that much) favourite album closers and examine just why they are so perfect.
Disclaimer: I have given a one-song-per-band limit and have chosen songs which finish the standard version of their albums – so no bonus tracks. Also, I have discredited any hidden sections after any period of silence within the final track of an album.
20 // Artist: Placebo // Album: Loud Like Love // Song: Bosco
Featuring on Placebo’s latest studio track, this beautiful ballad perfectly captures the more subtle side to the band, and the lyrical content provides the listener to a further insight into the turbulent life of singer Brian Molko. This track is enough to bring a tear to anybody’s eye and at moments is quite uncomfortable when picturing the story being told.
19 // Artist: 3 Doors Down // Album: The Greatest Hits // Song: Goodbyes
Including as the final of three new songs on the band’s Greatest Hits album (completely re-recording all of the songs featured) this track written about saying goodbye to someone for the first and final time captures 3 Doors Down’s ability to write brilliant ballads and convey raw emotion that only time and experience can create. The hook in the chorus also leaves a lasting impression and is by far the strongest of the ‘new’ songs to appear.
18 // Artist: Steven Wilson // Album: The Raven That Refused To Sing (& Other Stories) // Song: The Raven That Refused To Sing
Progressive-rock genius Steven Wilson wowed fans with his latest album; an eclectic mix of ghost stories portrayed with the haunting beauty that only he can create with music. This track in particular showed of his virtuosic style and truly unique vocal style and the track progresses from only light piano and sparse vocals to a full-on crescendo of intricate drums, wailing strings and shimmering guitars. It is very difficult to find something else to listen to after being swept over by such a masterfully arranged piece.
17 // Artist: Devour The Day // Album: Time & Pressure // Song: The Drifter
Appearing on the band’s debut album, The Drifter is a delicately arranged track consisting purely of guitar and vocals. The vocals tell the tale of a man moving across country, never staying in one place, and moving on from the woman he loves – this alone is enough to get the heartstrings pulled upon. The haunting echoes of a second guitar pulsing in and out of the track also intensify the mood and by the end of the song you can do nothing but give an emotional sigh.
16 // Artist: Nine Inch Nails // Album: With Teeth // Song: Right Where It Belongs
Arguably the most well-known album, With Teeth brought along some absolute classics that Nine Inch Nails’ fans cherish. The heavily distorted piano and deep, pulsating synth that layers underneath make way for Trent Reznor’s soft vocals to glide through this song. By the end, the gentle whispers accompanying the piano are enough to send shivers down your spine every single time.
15 // Artist: Biffy Clyro // Album: Puzzle // Song: Machines
Okay, yes this is selected from one of the ‘popular’ Biffy Clyro albums. But it seems that only the pretentious fans would claim something like Now The Action Is On Fire! to be a better closer. Let’s face it, Machines is a track that can reduce grown men to tears live and there’s no shame in admitting that it’s a favourite; because it’s just a perfect song. Simon Neil’s vocals are astonishingly gentle when considering what they sound like on earlier albums (and even tracks from the same release, and the simple acoustic nature heightens the fragility of the song. It seems a safe bet that this track won’t be disappearing from setlists any time soon either.
14 // Artist: Jimmy Eat World // Album: Futures // Song: 23
Anybody who’s heard this song will know why this is on the list. Powerful drums, powerful vocals, powerful guitars, this track pretty much radiates power. Futures as an album is one of the band’s highlights and this song captures the overall brilliance while also showcasing how Jimmy Eat World are a band you have to sit and listen to without distraction so you can soak up all of the emotion they are delivering. The vocal hooks in the chorus and the backing vocal harmonies in the chorus are probably what make this track so stunning and really leave the listener with goosebumps by the end.
13 // Artist: Depeche Mode // Album: Exciter // Song: Goodnight Lovers
One of the band’s most difficult albums, Exciter was the overdue follow up to Ultra and on the whole probably isn’t their strongest release (luckily the three following albums packed the punch needed to revitalise the band) however the closing track Goodnight Lovers is, in my opinion, the best to feature on any of the albums. The combination of Dave Gahan and Martin Gore’s vocals is always a treat for the ears and the almost whispered approach makes for a luscious sound. Moreover, for a band known for their very heavy arrangements, which basically attack the listener with a huge range of harsh electronic sounds, this song is much more sparse and hollow. The closing ‘shush’ is also one of the most interesting and inspired ways to finish an album.
12 // Artist: The Amity Affliction // Album: Chasing Ghosts // Song: Bondi St. Blues
Taken from my favourite album of all time, this track is just perfection. Starting off with an incredible array of drum fills, the song catapults into the standard mix of clean and screamed vocals that is to be expected from The Amity Affliction. In an interview with Joel Birch, lead song-writer for the band, he admitted this track to be one of his favourites to play live and the lyrics express a very personal and deep meaning to him (as do all of the tracks). The chorus is a crowd-sing-a-long hit and offers fans a final opportunity to appreciate the overall divinity of the album.
11 // Artist: Marillion // Album: Marbles // Song: Neverland
It’s very difficult to put into words what makes this track so amazing. The first phase of the track consisting of a range of synthesisers and piano with Steve Hogarth’s vocals is striking, and then the introduction of the drums and bass moves things along to lead into the powerful chorus. The virtuosic playing ability of each band member provides the listener with an awe-inspiring final twelve minutes to this intense album and by the end you’re just left drained.
10 // Artist: The Killers // Album: Battle Born // Song: Battle Born
It was a tough choice between this track and Everything Will Be Alright which featured on their debut album Hot Fuss, however Battle Born just edged it due to the undeniable power it bestows upon the listener, and to the audience when it is performed live. The upbeat and triumphant lyrics can’t help but make you feel positive, and the epic drumming at the end provided by Ronnie Vannucci steals focus from the vocals. What really allows this track to leave the desired lasting impression, is the synthesisers and vocal harmonies at the track’s closing minute which really do provide a sense of completion.
9 // Artist: Incubus // Album: Morning View // Song: Aqueous Transmission
Yeah alright, this song may well finish with a full minute of croaking frogs, but it is still great regardless. The truly unique sounds created by the diverse range of Chinese instruments (bet you’ve never heard many songs using a Pipa before…) create a sense of relaxation which is further aided by Brandon Boyd’s soothing vocals. From beginning to end this piece of music creates a calming tone and is a perfect way to finish an album, so that you are completely content when they awful moment comes when you’re left in silence as the disc stops spinning.
8 // Artist: M83 // Album: Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming // Song: Outro
Chances are you’ve heard this song on at least a dozen different adverts, which is a shame because the closing snippet of the song which is always used really does no justice to the power and triumph of this composition. There was a time where M83 would compose purely instrumental music, all of which was a stunning collection of electronic sounds which formed tracks of pure ecstasy. However, on the last few albums vocals have been introduced and this track highlights how well Anthony Gonzalez’s voice suits the remarkable music he makes. By the crescendo of this piece it is difficult not to smile and the piano ending finishes off this striking double-album which skyrocketed M83 to a new level of recognition (mainly due to the success of lead single Midnight City which is also featured on about every advert going).
7 // Artist: Egypt Central // Album: Egypt Central // Song: Home
Now, technically some of this band has already appeared on this list, but this is where the guys from Devour The Day began – with a few other guys in the incredible band that was Egypt Central. Unfortunately the band has now split up (hence the new project), which is a terrible shame because the two albums released were completely underrated and should have seen huge success. The hard-hitting self-titled debut was arguably the best of the releases and the closing track Home was nothing short of a masterpiece. An acoustic piece with heavily effected drums in the background was the last thing expected from such a heavy album and the emotional lyrical content made it all the more powerful. After listening to this all I can find to play next is the second album; White Rabbit.
6 // Artist: Taking Back Sunday // Album: New Again // Song: Everything Must Go
Now here is a band who really knows how to end an album. Pretty much every one of their releases has a closing song that would put other bands’ to shame and it was very tricky to pick the best one. In my personal opinion 2009’s Everything Must Go shone out, and this is purely for the mixture of soft verses with very interesting lyrical subject matter, and the harsh, heavy chorus where Adam Lazzara utilises his unique voice to express the sadness and anger that the lyrics for this section convey. By the time the song ends, the listener can’t really do much else other than put on another album from the Taking Back Sunday discography.
5 // Artist: Panic! At The Disco // Album: Vices & Virtues // Song: Nearly Witches (Ever Since We Met…)
This is purely for the chorus. Don’t get me wrong, the entire song is epic, but for me the vocal melodies and backing choir of children’s voices towards the end of this track just makes this track what it is. The whole album has a very interesting sound, incorporating themes of old burlesque and steampunk imagery and this is very easy to picture when hearing this song. Brendon Urie’s vocals are on top form and his own backing vocals almost provide a feel of triumph which juxtaposes the lyrical content in a very clever way. As said a lot with previous tracks on this list, after hearing this track it really is difficult to know what to play next.
4 // Artist: Coheed & Cambria // Album: Good Apollo IV (Volume I: Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness) // Song: The Willing Well IV (The Final Cut)
Coheed & Cambria are one of the most interesting scene in the progressive-metal scene and this album is the best example of why. Each of their releases follows one storyline which progresses through each album, and so not only is this track brilliant musically, but it also provided fans with a shocking ending to this section of the story. The fourth instalment of the Willing Well saga on this album is mainly instrumental with an array of great guitar solos, and the final section played on a synthesiser finishes with one of the best chords to close an album – sounding like the musical equivalent of a question, making the listener really wonder how things will pick up in Volume II of the Good Apollo IV section of the storyline.
3 // Artist: Pendulum // Album: In Silico // Song: The Tempest
If you haven’t heard this, listen to it. The band known primarily for their epic live drum ‘n’ bass stunned fans with this awe-inspiring ending to their second studio album, with a full seven minute track which embodied the characteristics of a tempest perfectly. The heavy rumblings at the beginning, the crashing, thunderous verses and choruses, and the instrumental ending with a synth line so awesome it washes away everything it comes into contact with. It is impossible not to head-bang to majority of this track, and if you’re not singing along to the synth melody at the end then you need to seriously re-evaluate your life.
2 // Artist: Rush // Album: Clockwork Angels // Song: The Garden
Progressive-rock holy trinity Rush never fail to amaze, and so it was no surprise at all that their latest studio album Clockwork Angels was a masterpiece in all aspects imaginable. What makes the final track better than any of their other closing tracks (and there are a lot of them) is Neil Peart’s lyrics which not only close the album’s concept storyline perfectly, but also sum up the concept of death in general in a very inspired and positive way – discussing how we must all and go tend to our spiritual gardens. As the years go by it is difficult to tell whether we will be treated to another studio album from Rush, but if for some terrible reason we don’t, I feel this song does the band, and the fans a great justice in being the final ever song to appear.
1 // Artist: Deadmau5 // Album: For Lack Of A Better Name // Song: Strobe
To truly understand why this song has been placed at the top of my list there is one simple thing you must do – listen to it. And when I say listen, I mean really listen. Sit and close your eyes and just soak up what this ten minute piece has to offer. When I listen to this track, that’s it. I don’t put on anything afterwards, I play it and then I turn off my sound system and I sit and I think and I go away for a while and then maybe a few hours later I am ready to hear something else. For some people this may seem like an odd concept, but the sheer beauty and power that this track possesses is just impossible to replicate, both for other artists and for Joel Zimmerman himself. If ever you have a need to escape and relax for a short while, listen to this track.
Words > Stephen Morris