Top 20, man! The ultimate headbanging music right here. The 20 best metal albums ever made according to the weird world that I live in. You’re certainly going to recognize the majority of these records, if not all of them but I know there’s a handful at least that you might not find in any other list. Let’s do ten more here. Listen, enjoy, buy!
20. Angel Witch, Screamin’ and Bleedin’ (1985)
Well, it certainly was the demonic looking naked ladies on the front cover that caught my eye originally but the bitchin’ NWOBHM riffs from start to finish are what makes this album great. It took five years for them to follow up their debut record and during those years they did the smart thing – they got a vocalist. Guitarist, Kevin Heybourne sang lead on the first album and while that disc was good, he wasn’t a lead vocalist. For Screamin’ and Bleedin’ they brought in David Tattum to sing and that put them over the top for me. They’ve broken up and reformed many times over the years and are together right now with Carcass’ Bill Steer on board. They have five live records and three studio discs, a little backwards but it doesn’t seem like they’re in any hurry to go back in the studio again.
19. Coroner, Mental Vortex (1991)
The pinnacle of one of the greatest technical thrash metal bands of all time is right here. Coroner was always a bit different than other thrash bands. They added a really complex technical element to most of their music, had cover art that didn’t look like any other thrash record and well, didn’t look all that metal themselves. Mental Vortex is just brilliantly odd and weirdly accessible at the same time.
18. Karma To Burn, Wild, Wonderful Purgatory (1999)
After signing their first record deal with Roadrunner in ’96, the label forced them to get a vocalist which wasn’t what Karma To Burn really wanted. They were an instrumental stoner group first and foremost and for their sophomore release here, it sounds like they took their anger about the first disc out on their instruments. Wild, Wonderful Purgatory is ridiculous with the amount of catchy melodic riffs inside while still being down and dirty. No vocals needed, this shit stands on its own without a doubt.
17. Griftegard, Solemn. Sacred. Severe. (2009)
So far, this is the only album from this Swedish five piece doom outfit but man, what a debut. It’s a totally fucking haunting experience. Listen to it in the dark and let the anguish wash over you. The key to the record for me is really the final track, “Drunk with Wormwood” — a piano driven piece that is as moving as listening to Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt.” It may be a badass record but it will make you an emotional wreck as well.
16. Immortal, Sons of Northern Darkness (2002)
The immortal, Immortal. Yeah, I told myself I wouldn’t say that, but I’m as cheesy as their album covers were sometimes. Of course, Immortal get more recognition these days for the monstrosities they called artwork on their albums. Usually, the cover of Battles In the North gets labeled as the world metal album cover of all time, but I’ve seen the artwork for this album take a top spot now and again. And that seemed to be something they played into a bit as well as it got people talking and probably quite a few people to listen. Bad covers doesn’t mean bad music for a change though as Immortal have been putting out quality black metal for close to 20 years now. They started out raw like the rest of the scene but stayed out of trouble and evolved over time into the type of group you hear on this record. Raw, evil and yet comfortable enough to create a decent riff now and again and push the genre a little. For a while, this seemed like their last record but they came back in 2009 with a killer disc in All Shall Fall, so there’s hope for even more music from these guys in the future.
15. Opeth, Damnation (2003)
Originally to be released with Deliverance as a double disc, their label (Music For Nations) decided to release it separately instead. Damnation is not really the place to start if you’d never heard Opeth before but it’s their best disc. This is a complete progressive record for them, often labeled as the “acoustic” disc simply there’s little to no death metal present. Instead, they took the slower passages they were known for and expanded them into full songs. All eight songs on the disc are completely beautiful and show off just how well Mikael Akerfeldt can sing when it’s not all about he growls. Damnation may be slow, but it’s definitely metal all the way.
14. Girlschool, Screaming Blue Murder (1982)
This is probably the least likely album you would have expected to see show up on a list that I put together but it can’t be a complete sausage fest here. Girlschool were a seriously badass all female four piece that played just as well if not better than the majority of the dudes out there. Of course that makes them stand out a little more because there just weren’t very many female metalheads back in the day. Screaming Blue Murder is raw punk mixed with NWOBHM and super melody throughout the disc. You had the Runaways and Lita Ford, but Girlschool was flat out the best female rockers of the this era.
13. Nine Inch Nails, The Fragile (1999)
I’ll tell you what, I’ve probably listened to The Fragile more than any other record on this countdown. This is the album I would put on during the winter of 2000 to shovel the driveway to. I would pick up the pace and rock along to the killer industrial tunes and then chill out during the more ambient passages. I listened to this yesterday again for the first time in a while and I swear you could probably label some of this as very early shoegaze. Up until a couple years ago I thought this was the peak of Trent Reznor’s catalog. We’ll get to that new peak next week.
12. Deicide, In Torment In Hell (2001)
I think it’s fantastic that the majority of Deicide fans think this is the worst record from Glen Benton and company and yet to me it’s the best. It combines all the aspects that make Deicide great into one quick package. Brutal death riffs, slowing chugging passages, gritty yet comprehensible vocals and of course the satanic theme of the lyrics. The prevailing thought is that this was the first Deicide record to not move the band forward. I contend it’s the first record to encapsulate everything great about them.
11. Probot, Probot (2004)
In order to get this record you have to get past the notion that this is just Dave Grohl fucking around. When you think about what this album is, it’s kind of remarkable. It’s 11 songs, each featuring one of Dave Grohl’s favorite metal singers on vocals with tracks written by Dave to sound like the singer’s old band. Think about this a moment. Dave wrote 11 metal songs, in 11 different styles for 11 of his heroes. Nickleback has written one song and repeated it 60 times over the course of their career. You’ve got a who’s who of metal singers on this — Cronos from Venom, Lemmy, Lee Dorian from Cathedral, Tom G. Warrior from Celtic Frost and more – and each song fits the respective singer perfectly.