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Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Metal Minute's 100 Metal Albums You Can't Live Without: Numbers 100 to 90

Lists and music journalists seem to go together like weight benches and football players. Lists too, in the latter's case. Hang out at NFL Network during the offseason and their all-time lists are how you pass the time until kickoff weekend in September.

Here at The Metal Minute, we're going to knock out 100 Metal Albums You Can't Live Without. Considering the mass body of material that has been recorded in the heavy metal genre over the span of 30-plus years, this will hardly seem comprehensive enough, even by my standards. You may even bellyache by the time we reach the end of this exercise that your mandatory metal slab didn't make the cut. Try not to take the numbering portion too seriously, since the main objective is to pinpoint 100 crucial albums of the genre, moreso than arranging them by opinionated "better than" sequencing. I'll withstand your darts come the time.

For now, kick back and hopefully you'll enjoy this list. Perhaps you'll find a few missing albums from your collections and feel yourself moved to get acquainted with them properly. This countdown will come in-between our regularly scheduled reviews and events at The Metal Minute, so allow me to whet your appetites with the first ten selections:

100: Saxon - Wheels of Steel

Your study of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal should begin here. One of Saxon's most relentless and fiercest albums in their catalog. If you're not hooked out the get-go by "Motorcycle Man," get bent, you poser.

99: Emperor - Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk

What Celtic Frost and Bathory unearthed in the eighties was brought to new heights by Ihsahn and company. Symphonic fusions amidst the most elaborate and emotional death tolls imaginable. Still the sovereign black metallers of their time and perhaps of all time...

98: Voivod - Dimension Hatross

Cyberpunk was birthed by Voivod's Killing Technology and refined by Nothingface. In-between was this gem, filled with mind-melding proficiency and cold steel abrasion. This might be Piggy's personal masterpiece, while the thrumming intro to "Tribal Convictions" is one of the most beastly metal vibes ever.

97: The Runaways - Queens of Noise

Initially more of a punk and garage band at-heart, I may prefer The Runaways' self-titled debut album, but this one is a historic moment where punk evolved into metal and the performers were all women, the first of their kind. Joan Jett and Lita Ford became household names after the band broke up, but this album is all about stamping swagger that each lady took to future commercial heights. Bow down to The Runaways before Lacuna Coil. They and Girlschool paid everyone else's dues.

96: Helloween - Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt. 1

Speed metal meets finesse and artistry. Helloween almost single-handedly sanitized thrash without selling out--at least before Bubbles Go Ape and Chameleon. This album is about power and extravagance. "Halloween" is perhaps the second greatest metal epic behind Iron Maiden's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

95: Isis - In the Absence of Truth

Not everyone appreciates Isis, while some lament they went on a more adventurous path following the trailblazing crunk of Oceanic. This album found Isis at the height of their expressionistic creativity and each long track is more of a journey than a drag-out. Emotive, detailed, patient and climactic. Controlled ugliness evolves into pure beauty.

94: Cannibal Corpse - The Wretched Spawn

One of the most extreme acts in the history of metal and also one the most riotous. If there was ever a band worthy of a George A. Romero Award in metal, this is your shoo-in victor. Yeah, Vile, Gore Obsessed and Eaten Back to Life are more hardcore than The Wretched Spawn, but it's the extra attention to layers and precision shredding plus a few random slivers of musicality that makes this one a Can't Live Without.

93: Black Sabbath - Vol. 4

Of those recorded in the Ozzy regime of Black Sabbath, the first few albums are faithfully mentioned on everyone's list (and they may appear on this one too, so stay tuned), yet Vol. 4 is an underrated classic cherished by deep metal aficianados. You're not going to hear many people cite "Snowblind," "Changes" and "St. Vitus' Dance" when asked to call up their favorite Sabbath tune, but you should hear them more often. "Supernaut" rules this sucker and was niftily covered by Al Jourgensen's 1000 Homo DJs.

92: Lizzy Borden - Menace to Society

Tough to pick between this one and Love You to Pieces as Lizzy's greatest album, but why fight it? This one is full of turbo and a slick energy that borderlined a pop metal flair later tapped in full on Visual Lies. Lizzy is a master performer and Menace to Society is one of his legacy albums.

91: Anthrax - Fistful of Metal

While the world has over-debated who best leads Anthrax between Joey Belladonna and John Bush, let's not forget the short run of Neil Turbin who shrieked his guts out as the band was just coming up. This album is faster than Kyle Busch taken at a speed trap. Worthy of your time for that alone.

90: King Diamond - Abigail

The Stephen King of metal at his finest. Them, Conspiracy, House of God, Voodoo and The Spider's Lullabye are no slouches themselves, yet there's no getting around the King isn't--vocally speaking--for all tastes. Nevertheless, King Diamond's pole vaulting pipes do tell his tales of terror with effectiveness and Abigail is his crowning glory. You're cheating yourself out of a frightfully great time if you skip this masterwork of metal.


((( Headbang Here ))) said...

definitely curious to see the rest of this list. all mandatory selections here. rock on, ray. - alex

Metal Mark said...

I am pretty sure that I could live without Cannibal Corpse. The others are fine though although Isis makes me sleepy some times.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Alex, thank ya much, hope you enjoy.

Mark, I know you have an aversion to Isis. They require patience, definitely, but for me the quietude building up to climax is just a breathtaking experience. I know not everyone needs Cannibal Corpse, but from a metal standpoint, you have to include them for their relentless fury and the zany, over-the-top splatter nyuks.

Metal Mark said...

Ray-Isis are already, but the music tends to sit there a bit long. I don't think it's patience as much as it expecting the music to do more than wallow around.
I don't find Cannibal Corpse to be "zany". There is far better death metal out there and far better heavy noise as well.