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Monday, September 12, 2011

The Metal Minute's 100 Metal Albums You Can't Live Without: Numbers 10 to 1

10. Rainbow - Rising

This album deserves iconic status yet only receives one depending on certain circles. Arguably better songwriting than Ritchie Blackmore's time in Deep Purple and here is where Ronnie James Dio first made his name, not to mention Cozy Powell, Jimmy Bain and Tony Carey. Every song on Rising is letter perfection. "Stargazer" is heavy metal's answer to Zeppelin's "Kashmir," while the hyperactive band soloing on "A Light in the Black" stands as a heavy metal highlight worthy of constant re-investigation.

9. Opeth - Blackwater Park

The high priests of Goth metal. While I wanted to include My Dying Bride on this list, this sector of metal belongs almost exclusively to Opeth. Nobody of their breed possesses Opeth's collective song theory and precise sculptures of four bars in each segment to their music. You can sit there and count off the fourths, it's that exact. Rembrandts of their dark art, Blackwater Park has been said to have brought tears to some listeners and it is that emotional.

8. Mastodon - Leviathan

One of the most mind-blowing albums in the past ten years, much less metal's history. It's nearly too much to consume on the first couple go-rounds, that's how intricate Mastodon is. Detailed to excellence and heavier than your senior aunt's bra, there's not enough accolades one can heap upon Leviathan.

7. Metallica - Master of Puppets

This is an album I literally ran from my bedroom and up the train tracks to the music store to buy after borrowing it from a friend. I was that devasted by Master the first time I heard it. It rightly deserves a high mark on anyone's list, but nowadays, it carries an air of melancholy. I remember when Cliff Burton was killed just as Master was gaining steam in the metal community. And unfortunately, I just cannot stomach hearing any of these songs on "Mandatory Metallica" segments on FM radio because it's just too damned hypocritical.

6. Judas Priest - British Steel

Even non-metal fans love "Breaking the Law" and that's scary, but it's also testament to what a great freaking band Judas Priest is and how revered British Steel as an album is. We'll miss you, guys, the past decade-plus has been controversial, but thanks for British Steel and all the amazing works that stand proud in the name of metal.

5. Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction

It's fashionable for everyone ranking as a critic to a beer-drinking, living for the weekender to cite Appetite for Destruction as a world class album. Well, yeah, it is. I've reached the point where I could go without ever hearing "Welcome to the Jungle," "Paradise City" and "Sweet Child 'O Mine" on the goddamn radio again, but I could never live without having access to "My Michelle," "Think About You" and "Nightrain."

4. Black Sabbath - s/t

When everyone claims Black Sabbath to be the original heavy metal band, this is the album, not necessarily Paranoid (as great as the latter is) which backs all of it up. Black Sabbath still stands as one of the most confrontational albums the world's ever known. Diabolical in sound, yet carrying an urgency to call out social injustice, Black Sabbath were bigger hippies than most ever acknowledged them to be. Think about that, you hippie bashers.

3. Iron Maiden - Number of the Beast

This album is so much more about "Run to the Hills," the song which everyone will remember Iron Maiden for. So much more. Number of the Beast is one of the first genuine metal masterpieces boasting an improbable switch-up in vocals that surpassed anyone's expectations. Even the lesser-cited songs like "Gangland" and "Invaders" are sheer brilliance. In much shorter time than Iron Maiden's later albums, they carry their listeners on a metal odyssey very few can match.

2. Iron Maiden - Powerslave

This is my personal favorite heavy metal album of all-time. Everything preceding Powerslave are supreme classics, yet I have never felt anything for a metal album in quite the same manner as I do Powerslave. "2 Minutes to Midnight" and "Aces High" are a pair of Maiden's most-respected individual songs, yet I feel literally carried aloft by "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)," "The Duellists," "Flash of the Blade," "Back in the Village" and of course, the titanic "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Creatively-speaking, this is Iron Maiden's most adventurous and escapist record, and not a single lick is out of whack. Powerslave and the final selection on this list are, in my opinion, the most perfect albums of the genre.

1. Slayer - Reign in Blood

This is the album we should all ask one another the question "What were you doing the first time you heard Reign in Blood?" It's this album that made the entire music world bend an ear and say "Whoa..." It's been empirically proven in studies that Slayer has reached more diverse professions than any other band in metal's history. A half hour is all they needed to lift everyone by their collective chins and knock 'em on their duffs. This is the penultimate metal listening experience for all generations and those to come. For the record, I was sitting on my bedroom floor in 1987 once I finally caught up to Reign in Blood (released the year prior) and saying "Whoa..."


Dan said...

"Even the lesser-cited songs like "Badlands" and "Invaders" are sheer brilliance."

Hehehe... Badlands :-)

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

:) Sheer excellence from top to bottom.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said... like that Scribner's error? Always fun trying to write with a sick wife and a three year old up your crawl.

Metal Mark said...

"We'll miss you, guys, the past decade-plus has been controversial,"
By controversial you mean lame?

"I literally ran from my bedroom and up the train tracks to the music store to buy after borrowing it from a friend"

Hey, look I got mentioned.

I'd go with Maiden over Slayer.

I would think that the most essential album featuring Ritchie Blackmore would have to be a Deep Purple album. Even though Rising is a killer.

uk essay writer said...

what about Helloween's Keeper of the Seven Keys??? it should be in first trio, IMAO!!

bob_vinyl said...

I would insert Piece of Mind at #1, slip Reign in Blood to #4 and push the others back behind it. That would give you a solid top 8 (maybe top 9, but I'm on the fence about Mastodon).

I agree with Mark on Rising. There are easily three DP albums that are better and more influential. I considered the importance of RJD angle, but Ian Gillan is no slouch either, so I really think it makes sense to swap out Rising for one of those DP albums.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

UK, Keeper made the list, period, dude (or dudette, if applicable). Bob, glad to see you around, man! As I've stated before, this list is not designed to rank, except maybe Reign and Powerslave. Everything else was brought into play just to name them, not state whether one is more important than another or who deserves a higher rank. Appreciate everyone reading, though!

cjk_44 said...

i have to (sort of) agree with Bob that "Piece of Mind" is strong contender for #1 on any list like this. without a doubt "Piece of Mind" is the album that pretty much cemented my status as a metalhead and serves as the pivotal point in which i leapt from liking hard rock to liking heavy metal as well.

the track "Hallowed Be Thy Name" was the song that forever altered my perception of what music could be if played with passion and unwavering dedication. pure chills every time i hear it.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Well, Piece of Mind likewise cemented my pact with metal as it was one of the first heavy, heavy albums I bought on my own as young teenager with my allowance. It's just that I hold Powerslave in higher regard due to its perfection and craftsmanship. I'm somewhat alone in that opinion and I'm cool with it.

cjk_44 said...

a couple of things ...

first, in my previous post i was thinking "Hallowed Be Thy Name" was the last track on "Piece of Mind" but clearly that is not the case. it's just that i've often combined "Piece of Mind" and "The Number of the Beast" b/c the former is the first heavy i album i bought with my own money while my friend at the same time purchased the latter as the first heavy album he bought with his own money.

second, i don't think there is much if anything that is wrong with "Powerslave" - i, too, hold that album in high regard. perhaps "Piece of Mind" and "The Number of the Beast" had set the stage to expect perfection that "Powerslave" might have had less of an impact on me!

Metal Mark said...

"I'm somewhat alone in that opinion and I'm cool with it."

I think there are plenty of people who have Powerslave as their favorite Maiden album.