There’s 90 albums to go in our look at the 300 metal records that grace my iPod. You should of course own all 300 of the records, but especially every one you are seeing right now. We’re still in the 4 1/2 stars out of 5 section with all the records you see below having no more than one clunker or piece of filler on it. There’s always exceptions to the rule (and you will see one of them below) but for the most part, that was my criteria for getting this high on my list.
For a list of the first 210 albums featured, (download) the list or search under my name for the first 31 parts.
90. Helloween, Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part I (1987)
Parts I and II of Keeper of the Seven Keys have to be the best power metal duo of albums in history. Both set the blueprint of what power metal should be. The thing that impresses me the most about the album is that it’s only 37 minutes long. When you think of power metal these days you think of long tracks. If you don’t see a track a minimum of eight minutes long, you’re surprised. Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part I has one of these, “Halloween,” clocking in at 13 minutes. There’s nothing else on the album longer than 4:44 minutes. Helloween bring tremendous power, grand choruses and everything that used to be great about the genre in short bursts, to me proving that tremendous songwriting is a much bigger key than tremendously long solos.
89. Exodus, The Atrocity Exhibition…Exhibit A (2007)
I said this in the past two weeks when talking about Death Angel and Testament’s recent records but this is another one that will move down when I adjust for most of 2010 and 2011. I finalized this list in early 2010 and since then this revamped new wave of thrash has gotten played out in my opinion. As much as I love this sound, I’m getting tired of it now. But at the time of putting this list together, I loved it. And The Atrocity Exhibition…Exhibit A was the first album of the revival that I heard and fell in love with. Most people think Exhibit B is better. I think it’s unlistenable.
88. Exciter, Violence & Force (1984)
Exciter are a speed metal band from Canada that has put out ten albums since they began in the early ’80s with their heyday certainly being from ’83-’86. Violence & Force was their second album but still as raw and as blisteringly fast as their debut (Heavy Metal Maniac in 1983) but with slightly better songwriting. Exciter were an underrated band that helped set the blueprint for speed metal.
87. Entombed, Wolverine Blues (1993)
The first thing you think about when you hear “Wolverine” is probably the X-Men character and no one would blame you. Earache records took the album worked out a deal with Marvel comics and tied in the record to it. Unfortunately, no one from Entombed wanted that. I still think of this as I listen to the record and hear nothing on it that has anything to do with the Wolverine character at all. Entombed of course pioneered that Swedish death metal sound but Wolverine Blues was the first album to change their sound a bit. It wasn’t just death metal any longer, it had some rock and melody in it and was one of the first albums to be labeled “Death ‘N’ Roll.” Whatever you want to call it, it’s 35 minutes of ass-kicking.
86. Candlemass, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (1986)
I’m actually surprised I like the Candlemass debut so much since I think Messiah Marcolin was the best fit on vocals for them and he’s not on this. Johan Langqvist has the vocal duties on the debut which obviously stands for “Epic Doom Metal” and at six songs and 43 minutes, this is the doomiest (is that a word?) of a career of fantastic records.
85. Cathedral, The Carnival Bizarre (1995)
Cathedral mastermind Lee Dorian is a weird dude. He has taken the group though some really strange twists and turns over the years but early on they were a pretty great doom metal band. The Carnival Bizarre was the group’s third album and where everything came together for the band. Their slow, trippy doom was mixed with some more upbeat stoner material that made for a fabulous listen from start to finish. They used to be extreme and depressing but over time their sound changed. They’ve been trippy, prog-ish, jazzy, poppy and many time extremely bizarre. But stick with this album if you want to hear their vintage sound that made them popular.
84. Bloodbath, Resurrection Through Carnage (2002)
I find it kind of odd that I love this one album from Bloodbath so much and yet can’t stand the rest of their catalog. Bloodbath is the pure death metal side project from the prolific Opeth singer Mikael Akerfeldt and was formed to bring old school death metal back to the forefront. And although I don’t get that at all from Bloodbath records, what Resurrection Through Carnage brings is a little twist to the Swedish chainsaw death metal sound. That sound you hear on the album from Entombed above is taken up a notch on this. The guitars sound like chainsaws being played by other chainsaws being played by more chainsaws. The vocals are pure death and the melodies just rip it up. “So You Die” is one of my favorite metal songs of all time.
83. Mastodon, Blood Mountain (2006)
“Crystal Skull,” “Sleeping Giant,” “Capillarian Crest.” Fucking epic. That’s really all that needs to be said.
82. Clutch, Clutch (1995)
Okay, so maybe I’m pushing it a little on the metalness of Clutch which most people consider a rock group, but listen to “Spacegrass” from their self-titled second record and tell me that isn’t stoner metal at its best? I’ve always been a huge fan of Clutch and this record is their best. From upbeat stoner tracks like “Escape from the Prison Planet” and “Rock n’ Roll Outlaw” to more downbeat tracks from “I Have the Body of John Wilkes Booth” and the aforementioned excellent “Spacegrass” this is not only a heavy as hell record but was really the first introduction I had to the unique vocals of Neil Fallon.
81. 3 Inches of Blood, Here Waits Thy Doom (2009)
I’m a huge fan of 3 Inches of Blood so they are my little personal inclusion in this list that a lot of others won’t have. They are old school heavy metal mixing with thrash and speed with the crazy falsetto of appropriately named singer Cam Pipes. Cam Pipes is the key here, this big burly dude with a monstrous beard that wears spiked arm bands surprises you with how high he can go and how epic he delivers every vocals. Fucking brilliant group. Here Waits Thy Doom is their most recent album.