Posted by: bluesyemre | August 1, 2017

The 100 Greatest #Metal Albums of All Time by #RollingStone

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With a crash of thunder, the ringing of ominous church bells and one of the loudest guitar sounds in history, a heavy new music genre was born in earnest on a Friday the 13th early in 1970. Its roots stretch back to the late Sixties, when artists like Blue Cheer, Iron Butterfly and Led Zeppelin cranked their amps to play bluesy, shit-kicking rockers, but it wasn’t until that fateful day, when Black Sabbath issued the first, front-to-back, wholly heavy-metal album – their gloomy self-titled debut – that a band had mastered the sound of the genre, one that still resonates nearly 50 years later: heavy metal.

Although Black Sabbath’s members have scoffed at the metal tag over the years, their lumbering, overdriven guitar, acrobatic drumming and forceful vocals, all originally intended to be rock’s equivalent to a horror movie, have been copied time and again, decade after decade. Judas Priest dressed it in denim and leather. Metallica whirled it into a breakneck blur. Korn gave it a new rhythmic oomph. And Avenged Sevenfold ornamented it with catchy, head-turning melodies. In between, it’s been rejiggered for maximum extremity in underground subgenres like death metal, black metal and grindcore, and, beginning in the early Eighties, the genre as a whole had become a cultural movement capable of overtaking the pop charts.
Metal bands weren’t the first to embrace dark imagery in their music – that tradition goes back to classical composers like Richard Wagner and blues artists like Robert Johnson – but they approached these subjects with a unique pomp, a hyper-masculine might that gave the genre a musical language of its own. It could be virtuosic or it could be primal, but it was always loud. That codification, combined with many bands’ tough-as-nails demeanors, marked by scowls and black clothing, helped metal become a lifestyle that transcended the bands onstage.
Fans of the genre, whether you call them metalheads, headbangers or something else, are passionate, charismatic and bold, eager to debate, define and defend every nuance of their favorite bands’ music to the death. Because metal has become so varied in its rich history since Black Sabbath first thrilled listeners, it’s hard to please all of the headbangers all of the time.
So when Rolling Stone began picking the 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums, we set some ground rules. Although the genre’s late-Sixties and early-Seventies forebears – not just giants like Cream, Zeppelin and Deep Purple, but also less iconic yet equally heavy bands such as Mountain, Captain Beyond and Sir Lord Baltimore – created some truly unruly metal moments, their LPs often made folky, bluesy detours away from the maximalism that later marked the genre, so we ruled them out. We did the same with bands that specialize more in hypercharged rock & roll, like AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses, but are missing the X factor that separates their music from metal. Similarly, some bands that Rolling Stone deemed metal in the Seventies (sometimes as a pejorative) and made classic albums, like Kiss, Alice Cooper and Grand Funk Railroad, in retrospect sound more like hard rock than the genuine article and are absent here. Lastly, because we sought out only the most consistently perfect metal albums, genre signposts like Skid Row, Testament’s Practice What You Preach and even the first metal album to top Billboard, Quiet Riot’s Metal Health, didn’t make the cut because their track lists fizzle past the hits – making room for more great LPs. (We learned quickly that 100 is a small number.)
We had to make a lot of tough, critical decisions, and even polled some metal royalty, including Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford, Lars Ulrich and Corey Taylor, whose top picks we will be publishing separately, but ultimately we made a list that reflects metal’s diversity, power and legacy. It places skull-rattling records by the genre’s mightiest masters alongside ones by a face-painted Norwegian duo (Darkthrone), some Brits who made the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s shortest song (Napalm Death) and Americans who fused Pink Floyd with Mayhem for their own unique sound (Deafheaven). It also contains a few records Rolling Stone either smeared in the review section in years past or outright overlooked, making this list a mea culpa.
So without further ado, don your spiked gauntlets and raise your horns so we can present you with the 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time.

20. Anthrax, ‘Among the Living’ (1987)

Thrash metal wasn’t just about speed, volume and the adrenaline rush of bouncing off the walls and other fans in a mosh pit. It was also about equality. “Metal has always had this larger than life image. We’re more into being real,” Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante told Melody Maker. “We just try to be on the same level as our audience – except we’re onstage.” But what elevated the New York band’s third LP, Among the Living, to a thrash classic wasn’t just the way songs like “Caught in a Mosh” articulated the generational rage (“Get the hell out of my house!”) that made slam-dancing a necessary form of release. It was also the way the music churned and flowed, thanks to the sudden accelerations and rhythmic shifts found on songs such as “One World.” Benante and his bandmates may have been regular guys in other respects, but as musicians there was no denying the technical agility that went into each aural onslaught. Yet the album never lords that over the listener; instead, its best moments – “Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.),” “I Am the Law,” “Indians” – democratize that brilliance by attaching it to some of the band’s catchiest, most approachable material. J.D.C.

19. Megadeth, ‘Rust in Peace’ (1990)

Megadeth, 'Rust in Peace' (1990)

No other band from thrash’s first wave combined airtight songwriting with sheer instrumental mayhem as creatively or skillfully as Megadeth did on Rust in Peace. From the rapid-fire descending lick that kicks off two-part opener “Holy Wars … the Punishment Due” to the final staccato rhythmic churn of “Rust in Peace … Polaris,” the album is a breathless 40 minutes of Dave Mustaine’s finger-twisting, labyrinthine riffage (check out “Poison Was the Cure” for just one of many bonkers examples), snarling war-and-religion obsessed lyrics – “It was a time in the world when the Cold War was still a real issue; we were pointing toward the East with our nukes out,” the singer has said – and neck-snapping, shift-on-a-dime arrangements, all of it delivered with fierce, punkish intensity and an unusually nimble rhythmic swing. Rust also marked the debut of soon-to-be-christened guitar hero Marty Friedman, whose technically adroit, exotic-scale-tinged leads served as an ideal foil for Mustaine’s ripping, New Wave of British Heavy Metal–style shred, as exemplified by the pyrotechnic six-string tradeoffs that highlight UFO-conspiracy-themed classic “Hangar 18.” Megadeth went on to greater commercial success in the next few years, but Rust still stands as the thrash summit all chops-crazed followers aspire to scale. R.B.

18. Tool, ‘Ænima’ (1996)

Tool, 'Ænima' (1996)

By definition, metal bands are heavy musically, but Tool is also heavy in the emotional sense. The title of their second album, Ænima, although invented by the band, is meant in part to evoke Jung’s concept of the “anima,” or life force, and the LP is riddled with existential ruminations on why we’re here and whether it’s worth it. “How could this mean anything to me?” mutters Maynard James Keenan’s protagonist in “Stinkfist,” and his delivery is so convincingly wolrd-weary you almost don’t notice that he’s singing about having his arm “shoulder deep” up someone’s rectum. Engaging, unrepentant creeps are a Tool specialty, and Ænima crawls with them. There’s the charismatic bully of “Eulogy,” the obsessed fan at the heart of “Hooker with a Penis,” the misanthrope in “Ænima” who, imagining California’s tumble into the sea, sneers, “Learn to swim.” Keenan illuminates the joy in malevolence, while the richly detailed thunder conjured by the prog-inflected drum and guitar parts only amplifies the twisted anima at work. The enthralling blend helped Ænima go double platinum, and turned Tool from alt-metal trailblazers to one of the staple heavy bands of the past 20-plus years. “There are a lot of metaphysical, spiritual and emotional changes going on right now, and we’re just trying to reflect that,” Keenan told Rolling Stone in ’96. “We’re not that different from Tori Amos in that sense.” J.D.C.

17. Mercyful Fate, ‘Melissa’ (1983)

Mercyful Fate, 'Melissa' (1983)

The first 20 seconds of Melissa – featuring crunchy, pulsing guitar riffs pierced by frontman King Diamond’s impossibly high helium-voiced scream – make up one of the most captivating sequences in metal history. It hooked Metallica, whohung out in the Danish heavy metallers’ rehearsal studio when recording Ride the Lightning, and bewitched Slayer, whose Kerry King had called his band’s Hell Awaits “a Mercyful Fate record.” At the time, the band sounded like a steroidal Judas Priest leading a black mass. On “Evil” alone, the theatrical singer, whose wild face paint made him look like Gene Simmons on bath salts and whose mic stand was made of a human skull, sings about necrophilia amid Hank Sherman’s forceful, caffeinated “Eye of the Tiger”–like riffs, leading to a thrilling guitar showdown between Sherman and Michael Denner. Throughout the record, King pulls off incredible acrobatic vocal feats, thanks to his four-octave range, whether he’s wailing about Halloween (“At the Sound of the Demon Bell”), inviting you into his witches’ coven with a growl (“Into the Coven,” one of the PMRC’s “Filthy 15”) or invoking ancient Egyptian voodoo (“Curse of the Pharaohs”). “I know people like to be scared just a little bit and they like that because they go watching all the horror movies,” King Diamond said of his lyrical shock appeal, circa 1987. “Just take it as horror stories, that’s all.” Elsewhere, he hails Satan literally (“Black Funeral”) and whispers creepily about a dead witch named Melissa (“Satan’s Fall”), portending the spate of Norwegian black metallers who painted their faces and burnt down churches. Satan may not be real, but King Diamond is. K.G.

16. Dio, ‘Holy Diver’ (1983)

Dio, 'Holy Diver' (1983)

After establishing himself as a top-tier hard-rock vocalist via his late-Seventies/early-Eighties stints in Rainbow and Black Sabbath, Ronnie James Dio truly ascended into the metal pantheon with his 1983 solo debut. More bracingly metallic than anything he had done before – thanks in part to 20-year-old Irish guitarist Vivian Campbell, whose crunchy chords and squealing leads meshed perfectly with the paint-peeling intensity of Dio’s piercing wail – Holy Diver‘s stirring anthems like “Stand Up and Shout,” “Rainbow in the Dark” and the immortal title track found Dio planting one boot in Dungeons & Dragons–style fantasy and the other in contemporary social commentary. “My writing has always been medieval-flavored,” he told Artist magazine shortly after the album’s release, “but I’m concerned with what we’re doing with ourselves and our environment.” Although it reached only Number 56 on the Billboard 200 upon its release, Holy Diver would achieve platinum status by the end of the Eighties, and serve as an influential touchstone for everyone from Killswitch Engage to Tenacious D. D.E.

15. Ozzy Osbourne, ‘Diary of a Madman’ (1981)

Ozzy Osbourne, 'Diary of a Madman' (1981)

A year after proving he was still a vital musical force on his first post–Black Sabbath solo LP, 1980’s Blizzard of Ozz, Ozzy Osbourne demonstrated it wasn’t a one-time fluke with an album of poppy and gothic anthems like “Flying High Again” and the almost classical closing title track. Guitarist Randy Rhoads, who died in a plane crash while touring for Diary in 1982, had already proven himself a virtuoso on Blizzard; here, he worked even harder to find the rare nexus between showboat chops and clever songwriting. Trippy opener “Over the Mountain,” which kicks off with a thunderous drum roll, chugs along at a furious pace, anticipating thrash metal. “Believer,” with its plodding bass line, allows Rhoads to play eerie, spidery riffs, which, when combined with Osbourne’s stentorian melodies, make for one of the weirdest yet catchiest songs in the singer’s catalogue. “Tonight” is a beautiful ballad with a soaring solo; the rapid-paced, almost psychedelic “S.A.T.O.” exudes mystery; and shadowy “Diary of a Madman,” with its acoustic intro and crushing electric-guitar licks, is the ultimate Ozzy track. “When we were working on that one, Randy came to me, ‘I’m not happy with the guitars,’ so I said to work on it until you’re happy,” Osbourne once recalled. “He’s in there for a couple of days and one day comes out with this big, shit-eating grin and goes, ‘I think I’ve got it.’ And when he played it, the hair on the back of my fucking neck stood up.” K.G.

14. Black Sabbath, ‘Vol. 4’ (1972)

Black Sabbath, 'Vol. 4' (1972)

On their fourth album, Black Sabbath departed from the straightforward bludgeon that defined their early career and arrived at a sound that was somehow even heavier. Coked out of their minds (they even thanked their dealers in the liners), the group recorded in L.A. for the first time and allowed themselves to experiment musically. Tony Iommi had tuned his guitar lower to make it easier to play on 1971’s Master of Reality, and on Vol. 4 the shift inspired drawn out, emotional riffs (the brilliant opener “Wheels of Confusion”) and freewheeling hippie freak-out grooves (“Supernaut,” “Cornucopia”), while making space for now iconic guitar solos (“Snowblind,” an anthem to coke the way “Sweet Leaf” praised pot). They recorded their first piano ballad (“Changes,” which Ozzy Osbourne revived for a live solo hit in 1993) and an acoustic guitar solo (“Laguna Sunrise”), and went full-on druggie with “FX” – 99 seconds of echoey bleeps and bloops that years later may have inspired artier bands like Neurosis to play outside the box. It was the sound of a band reborn, just two years after their debut, starting a new chapter that would inspire everyone from Trent Reznor, who covered “Supernaut” with Ministry’s Al Jourgensen, to soul belter Charles Bradley, who took on “Changes.” But Osbourne later said it was the “beginning of the end” of Black Sabbath. “Cocaine was the cancer of the band.” K.G.

13. Iron Maiden, ‘Iron Maiden’ (1980)

Iron Maiden, 'Iron Maiden' (1980)

At the end of the Me Decade, the so-called New Wave of British Heavy Metal revitalized the genre with flashy use of speed, melody and aggression. One of the turning points in this upstart scene was Iron Maiden’s eponymous debut. Seasoned by years of club performances, the quintet combined the gritty heavy rock of UFO with the technical dexterity of prog groups like Genesis and Wishbone Ash. Steve Harris’ fleet-fingered bass lines carried the melody instead of traditionally anchoring the rhythm, while guitarists Dave Murray and Dennis Stratton alternated between abrasive riffs and intricately arranged dual harmonies. With singer Paul Di’Anno providing a swaggering growl, Iron Maidenwas at the same time confrontational (“Prowler,” “Running Free”), moody (“Remember Tomorrow,” “Strange World”), and in the case of the Jethro Tull–esque “Phantom of the Opera,” theatrical. Iron Maiden set the stage for a glorious seven-album run in the Eighties that would see the band become one of metal’s biggest acts. “It was probably one of the worst-sounding albums and we weren’t happy with the production,” Murray once told author Martin Popoff, “but for that time, it really captured the raw energy of the band.” A.B.

12. Judas Priest, ‘Screaming for Vengeance’ (1982)

Judas Priest, 'Screaming for Vengeance' (1982)

Just like its title suggests, Screaming for Vengeance was all about vindication, as this was where Judas Priest proved themselves once and for all as a force to be reckoned with. Where once the band hunkered in the underground, Priest were now storming the mainstream with platinum sales, an actual single on the Billboard charts (the aptly-titled “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'”), and a headlining slot at the US Festival. “It was a new generation, it was a new decade,” singer Rob Halford told Rolling Stone later. “Everybody suddenly looked at this music and said, ‘Yeah, this is exactly what I want because I can relate to it. It talks about what I want out of life, and what I do.'” It also talks a lot about love. That love may be tinged with S&M (“Pain and Pleasure”) or described in terms of human sacrifice (“Devil’s Child”), but the music on Screaming for Vengeance, which begins with the one-two punch of “The Hellion” and “Electric Eye,” comes from the heart. As such, it’s almost a pity that “(Take These) Chains” didn’t follow “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” onto the charts, because the power-ballad formula has never sounded as deliciously malevolent as it does here. J.D.C.

11. Metallica, ‘Ride the Lightning’ (1984)

Metallica, 'Ride the Lightning' (1984)

Recorded before the band had even secured a major-label recording deal, Metallica’s second album remains the purest expression of the band’s vision, a document of a group who has found their sound but is neither overly self-aware, nor able to spend too much time navel gazing in the studio. “I love the sound of that album and it holds up really well,” guitarist Kirk Hammett told Rolling Stonein 2014. “We just bashed it out, which lead to a more natural performance. By the time we recorded our next record, Master of Puppets, the days of just bashing it out were much fewer.” You can hear the pure adrenaline pumping through tracks like “Fight Fire with Fire,” a grim ode to an inevitable nuclear apocalypse, and the gruesome “Creeping Death,” which recounts the divine culling of Egypt’s first-born sons from the Book of Exodus. Meanwhile, bleak power ballad “Fade to Black” showed off the dynamic mastery the band would explore further on later epics like “Master of Puppets” and “One,” while instrumental “The Call of Ktulu” ended the record on a memorably spooky note. The immediacy of Lightning‘s strike is only heightened by the youthful whine of frontman James Hetfield’s voice, which had yet to drop in register to the lower growl he would use to equal if more mature effect on subsequent Metallica releases. T.B.

10. Pantera, ‘Vulgar Display of Power’ (1992)

Pantera, 'Vulgar Display of Power' (1992)

After spending much of the Eighties as a regional Texas glam band, Pantera redefined themselves as a thrashy, proto-groove-metal outfit with 1990’s Cowboys from Hell. But it was on the aptly named follow-up that they truly hit their stride. “The mindset we took on, going into Vulgar Display of Power … [was] take the money riff and fucking go,” Phil Anselmo once explained, “[and] beat it into the ground.” And that they did. Here, the band shed any last vestiges of their flamboyant past (gone for good was Anselmo’s Rob Halford–like howl, still in evidence on CFH) and distilled their sound down to the essentials – Dimebag Darrell’s serrated rhythms and squealing solos; drummer Vinnie Paul and bassist Rex Brown’s lock-step pummel; Anselmo’s gruff bellow – cementing the approach that they would more or less follow for the remainder of their career. Furthermore, the material itself was incontestable. From the antagonistic thrust of opener “Mouth for War” to the galloping power-thrash of “Fucking Hostile,” the creepy murder balladry of “This Love” to the hulking, two-note stomp of “Walk” (later covered by everyone from Avenged Sevenfold to Disturbed), Vulgarboasts a shockingly high number of tracks that have become more or less standards of the genre. Re-spect! R.B.

9. Ozzy Osbourne, ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ (1980)

Ozzy Osbourne, 'Blizzard of Ozz' (1980)

Following his drunken, acrimonious exit from Black Sabbath, Ozzy’s music-industry stock was so abysmally low that he had trouble getting a new record deal – and not even his biggest fans would have guessed that he was on the verge of launching a major career comeback with his first solo album. Released in the U.K. in September 1980 (and six months later in the U.S.), Blizzard of Ozz was a remarkably strong and focused record whose highlights (including “I Don’t Know,” “Crazy Train” and the controversial “Suicide Solution”) were more modern-sounding than anything he’d done with Sabbath, yet still packed a serious metallic wallop. “The Blizzard stuff was a beautiful evolution from what was happening in the Seventies with metal to [metal in] the Eighties,” shred-guitar ace Steve Vai recalled in a 2011 interview. “It had a completely different attitude.” Much of the credit for that shift goes to the late guitarist Randy Rhoads, whose classically influenced fretboard acrobatics would profoundly influence an entire generation of metal guitarists. “The first album, none of us had played together,” he said in 1981. “We were putting the band together, writing the songs and being in the studio at the same time … the first album was, ‘Turn it up to 10 and if it feels good, just play it.'” D.E.

8. Megadeth, ‘Peace Sells … but Who’s Buying?’ (1986)

Megadeth, 'Peace Sells ... but Who's Buying?' (1986)

Three years removed from his dismissal from Metallica, Dave Mustaine still sounds like rage incarnate on Megadeth’s second LP, Peace Sells … but Who’s Buying? The band had tapped into an otherworldly fury on its debut, 1985’s Killing Is My Business … and Business Is Good – which balanced thrash with lead guitarist Chris Poland’s jazzy licks – but they’d blown their recording budget on drugs, leading to a shitty-sounding production. Peace Sells was their redemption: seven taut declarations of contempt for humanity and one tongue-in-cheek, extra-guitar-shreddy cover of Willie Dixon’s “I Ain’t Superstitious.” In the months between albums, they’d matured as musicians and had the quality sound to show it. The throbbing, bass-heavy title track showcased Mustaine’s mordant wit (“What do you mean I’m not kind?/I’m just not your kind”), and it was catchy enough to become MTV News‘ intro theme for well over a decade, mirroring the song’s video, which features with a teen in the middle of the clip defying his dad by putting on a Megadeth video and saying, “This is the news.” “I was living in a warehouse at the time I wrote ‘Peace Sells,'” Mustaine recently told Rolling Stone. “We were homeless, and I wrote the lyrics on a wall. I didn’t even have paper. And I’m sure once we moved out of there somebody probably carved that wall out and took it.” The rest of the record showcases Mustaine’s knack for intricate yet hard-hitting compositions and lyrical vitriol. “The Conjuring” contains a real black-magic spell in its lyrics (so says Mustaine) directed at one of the singer’s would-be girlfriends, while “Wake Up Dead,” with its lyrics about infidelity, explains why he may not be so good with the ladies. And musically, the classical-inspired “Good Mourning/Black Friday,” “Bad Omen” and “My Last Words” explode with Wagnerian triumphalism. Throughout it all, Mustaine barks his vocals like he’s going for the throat. Whatever inspired the record, this time, it was personal. K.G.

7. Motörhead, ‘No Remorse’ (1984)

Motörhead, 'No Remorse' (1984)

Heavy metal has never been much of a singles genre, as most of its practitioners mark their growth and development in album-length increments. But Motörhead is the exception that proves the rule. Across its 40-year history, the band – essentially singer-bassist Lemmy Kilmister and a string of guitarists and drummers – hewed to a simple formula: vocals barked over the hyperactive throb of a bass line, hell-for-leather drumming, and bar-band-basic rhythm guitar. As Lemmy told Sounds, “Chuck Berry never changed. Little Richard never changed. I’d rather be like that and stick to a formula we’re happy with.” It seems more fitting, then, to represent Motörhead with an anthology. No Remorsemay offer 29 versions of what is essentially the same thing, yet every track is singularly amazing: the yelping, bad luck refrain to “Ace of Spades,” the locomotive thunder beneath “Overkill,” the live-wire guitar on “Bomber,” the genius stupidity of “Killed by Death,” or the amphetamine overdrive of the live “Motorhead” from No Sleep ’til Hammersmith. Sometimes, a good formula is all you really need. J.D.C.

6. Slayer, ‘Reign in Blood’ (1986)

Slayer, 'Reign in Blood' (1986)

Reign in Blood, the first and last word on speed metal, starts at 210 beats per minute with the song “Angel of Death,” and it barely lets up for the next 29 blistering minutes. Its 10 songs are built on Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman’s rigid guitar riffs and abstract-expressionistic solos – metal’s equivalent to a Pollock paint splatter – all while drummer Dave Lombardo pounds out Olympic-ready tempos and singer-bassist Tom Araya hails Satan. But what set the band’s third album apart from Metallica, Exciter, Venom and all the other speed demons of the era was the way producer Rick Rubin, who’d made his name in hip-hop working with the Beastie Boys and LL Cool J, stripped the album of the echoey reverb in vogue at the time for a sound that seemed to punch you in the gut. “With their super-fast articulation in a big room, the whole thing just turns into a blur,” Rubin said in 2016. “So you don’t get that crystal clarity. So much of what Slayer was about was this precision machinery.” It’s what makes whirring declarations in the name of death like “Necrophobic” and “Criminally Insane” all the more impactful and the record’s final cut, “Raining Blood” – with its ominous intro – all the more terrifying. And it no doubt did them no favors with “Angel of Death,” a song about Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, which has lyrics that would have been incoherent with the typical rock production of the day; its lyrics outraged Holocaust survivors and cost the LP a distribution deal with Columbia, leading it to come out on Geffen. Writer Hanneman claimed the tune was a “history lesson.” Nevertheless, it solidified Slayer’s legacy of controversy and their need for speed. “We were young, we were hungry, and we wanted to be faster than everybody else,” Araya once saidK.G.

5. Black Sabbath, ‘Black Sabbath’ (1970)

Black Sabbath, 'Black Sabbath' (1970)

A few years after guitarists first started cranking their amps to eardrum-rupturing volumes and singers started wailing about Valhalla, heavy metal as we know it today was ratified in 1970 on Black Sabbath’s debut. The band, which had started as a blues group in ’68, drew inspiration from giallo horror movies (like 1963’s Black Sabbath, featuring Boris Karloff) and figured it could deliver the same thrilling, terrifying experience through rock & roll, leading them to write “Black Sabbath.” The tune, inspired by a frightening experience bassist Geezer Butler had (“I woke up in a dream world, and there was this black thing at the bottom of the bed, staring at me,” he once said), featured some of Ozzy Osbourne’s most ominous lyrics (“What is this that stands before me?/Figure in black which points at me,” as well as “eyes of fire” and a laughing Satan), and an eerie riff courtesy of guitarist Tony Iommi that used a chord once shunned by composers, known as diabolus in musica (“the Devil in music”) – the rain, thunder and bell sound effects were just grim icing. A few tracks later, on “N.I.B.,” Osbourne – whose stentorian voice, with its matter-of-fact inflection, has a harsh timbre strong enough to cut through Iommi’s guitar – sings about a deal with the Devil set to a stomping riff that presaged Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine.” And elsewhere, the group flexes its blues chops on “The Wizard,” the morbid “Behind the Wall of Sleep” (“Sleeping wall of remorse/Turns your body to a corpse”) and especially on “Warning,” the last of which features a flashy, extended Iommi solo. And on the jazzy “Wicked World,” on the U.S. edition, Osbourne sang about politicians sending people to war and others dying of diseases – topics that have since become rock cliché but at the time represented a chillingly frank worldview. “We used to do these auditions for record companies, and they’d just leave after the third song or something,” Butler recalled of the days before the album came out. “I’ll always remember one producer told us to go away, learn how to play and learn how to write some decent songs. We were rejected again and again by company after company.” But once the album was out, Black Sabbath started a movement. K.G.

4. Iron Maiden, ‘The Number of the Beast’ (1982)

Iron Maiden, 'The Number of the Beast' (1982)

By the time Iron Maiden hit the studio with veteran producer Martin Birch to record their third LP in 1982, the English quintet had already clawed its way to the forefront of the so-called New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Having replaced gruff lead vocalist Paul Di’Anno with Bruce Dickinson, a charismatic performer with operatic pipes, the stage was set for a creative breakthrough. There was just one problem: The band had exhausted its backlog of tunes. “They’d used up all the good stuff they’d had and they’d been on the road ever since,” Dickinson told biographer Mick Wall. “So it was quite good, in that way, because I wasn’t going to be asked to sing words that had already been written by Paul or songs Steve [Harris, bassist and chief songwriter] had written with him in mind. … We had time to think about the songs first.” Harris and his mates (including Dickinson, uncredited for contractual reasons) rose to the occasion, producing complex songs and heady lyrics that ideally suited the new singer’s dramatic range. The resulting LP, recorded and mixed in just five weeks, is one of metal’s all-time milestones: Galloping single “Run to the Hills” charted practically everywhere but in the U.S., where the video nonetheless became an early MTV staple; the title track remains a set-list fixture; and the closer, “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” was the first of Iron Maiden’s signature epics – and among the most durable. S.S.

3. Judas Priest, ‘British Steel’ (1980)

Judas Priest, 'British Steel' (1980)

In the Seventies, British metal – the down-tuned growl of “Iron Man,” the slow grind of “Smoke on the Water” – was about strength and heaviness, the sonic equivalent of I-beams. But as the cover of British Steel shows, Judas Priest was about to change that metaphor into something that cut like a razor. “When we first entered, our albums were very involved, our songs were very pre-arranged, a bit self-indulgent with the lead breaks,” guitarist Glenn Tipton told Musician. “But we shortened the length of the songs, we increased the excitement and the tempo in the songs, and we did something that everybody thought you couldn’t do, that was never acceptable as heavy metal: We introduced melody to it.” Despite the distorted roar of the guitars and the hectoring aggression of Rob Halford’s voice, the writing on British Steel was as lean and tuneful as any pop effort, from the power-chord refrain of “Living After Midnight” to the football-club sing-along that caps “United.” But the album’s most astonishing moment had to be “Metal Gods,” a swaggering evocation of rampaging robots driven by a drum and bass groove which can only be described as funky. For metal, slow and heavy would no longer win the race. J.D.C.

2. Metallica, ‘Master of Puppets’ (1986)

Metallica, 'Master of Puppets' (1986)

It begins like a Western with ominous acoustic guitars playing a triumphal, Spanish-sounding melody, but the intro to “Battery” is just a preamble to the galloping, crushing, grim and pugilistic riffs to come in the next hour. From start to finish, Master of Puppets is a masterpiece. Just two years after they introduced prettier melodies to the savage thrash they helped pioneer on Ride the Lightning, Metallica perfected the sound on Master with intricately arranged songs that ran a little longer and covered more musical ground. “Master of Puppets,” a tune frontman James Hetfield wrote after becoming disgusted from seeing junkies pass out at a party, stretches to eight-and-a-half minutes and fuses thrash with hardcore sing-alongs; jazzy, lyrical soloing; and maniacal psychodrama – it remains the band’s most requested and performed song at concerts. Meanwhile, “The Thing That Should Not Be” is a full-on sludge rocker, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” is the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest of metal ballads and the lengthy instrumental “Orion” – which features roaring lead bass by Cliff Burton, who died while touring in support of Master in 1986 – plays out like a classical composition, so full of musical drama that lyrics would kill its effect. Meanwhile, heavy, mid-paced rocker “Leper Messiah,” whose title references David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust,” foreshadowed the more groove-oriented, radio-friendly path the band would take on the Black Album in 1991. Only three years removed from Kill ‘Em All, they’d even perfected the pure sound of thrash: “Battery” hurls by at 190 punishing beats per minute, closing track “Damage Inc.” blindsides listeners with walloping stop-start rhythms at a death-defying pace, and “Disposable Heroes” is like a master class in thrash with its militaristic rhythms, catchy hooks and Hetfield snarling “Back to the front!” Master of Puppets is the sound of a band in top form, and it’s the album that made Metallica. “When I listen to Master of Puppets now, I just sit there and go, ‘What the fuck? How do you do that?'” Lars Ulrich said with a laugh in 2016. “It’s very gutsy music.” K.G.

1. Black Sabbath, ‘Paranoid’ (1970)

Black Sabbath, 'Paranoid' (1970)

It’s impossible to imagine what heavy metal would have become without the iconic gloomy riff of “Iron Man,” the musical thickness of “War Pigs” and the rapid-fire chugging of “Paranoid.”

Paranoid is important because it’s the blueprint for metal,” Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford said in the liner notes for a 2016 reissue of the album. “It led the world into a new sound and scene.” From the first track to the last, Ozzy Osbourne’s cutting voice outlines any manner of topics that would feature in metal over the next few generations: imminent doom, drug casualties, nuclear war, brutality, uncaring autocrats, cosmically fated love and general disillusionment. The music is dark and gloomy with blues-inspired guitar riffs that other groups have Xeroxed into an unrecognizable oblivion. The album even has a drum solo.

The way the band members have told it over the years, they arrived at the sound of Paranoid through endless gigging before they were famous, playing several sets a night at residencies in Hamburg and Zürich to almost nonexistent audiences. They’d stretch out a tune like “Warning,” the epic blues guitar showcase on Black Sabbath, to the point that it proffered the main riff of “War Pigs” – a tune whose original lyrics under the title “Walpurgis” narrated a black mass. “Rat Salad” was Bill Ward’s drum solo in the early days and it could last up to 45 minutes. The ominous bass part in “Hand of Doom” by Geezer Butler, who also wrote the majority of Paranoid’s bleak lyrics, came from improvising. And the funky “Fairies Wear Boots” was loosely based on a real, incredibly violent fight the band got into with a group of skinheads after a gig in the north of England (the slur “fairy” was meant to emasculate their attackers, who wore boots). Butler wrote about his own disillusionment with a sci-fi twist in the lyrics to “Iron Man” (which had nothing to do with the Marvel comic-book character).

For the bassist, who, like the rest of the band grew up in a bleak postwar environment – bombed-out Birmingham, England – it was easy for him to describe dystopias like those in “War Pigs” and “Electric Funeral.” He even gave the hippie-ish love song “Planet Caravan,” with its bongos and jazzy flamenco guitar line, cold, distant, fantastical lyrics about feeling lost in space. And he simply described his own depression on “Paranoid,” a throwaway tune written at the last minute to fill out an LP side, with witty aplomb in turns of phrase like “Make a joke and I will sigh and you will laugh and I will cry.” Yet it resounded, becoming a huge hit and one of the group’s most-performed songs.

Paranoid was the sound of Black Sabbath’s reality, a plea for understanding that would resonate with millions of people feeling the same disaffection, many of whom would form groups like Metallica, Pantera and Slipknot – groups that would change the face of metal, as well as the world. “Bands on Ozzfest would tell me Sabbath was their biggest influence,” Osbourne once said. “I’d listen to them and go, ‘What part of that did Sabbath influence?'” “It doesn’t sound anything like heavy metal to me,” Butler once said. “But it’s better to be called inventors rather than followers.” Regardless, the album was metal’s call to arms, and it’s been answered loudly and passionately ever since. K.G.

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/the-100-greatest-metal-albums-of-all-time-w486923

http://www.sozcu.com.tr/hayatim/kultur-sanat-haberleri/tarihin-en-iyi-metal-albumleri-listelendi/


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