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01.02.10 My Decade In Metal12.08.09 Most Influential Metal Albums
11.30.09 Rating Slayer

Most Influential Metal Albums

Not a best-of, favorites type of list. I tried to list the albums that were truly influential in the making of Heavy Metal history. The albums had to fulfill these criterias: - They pushed the envelope, explored new grounds, or mastered their respective style compared to the scene in which they evolved at that time. - They substantially influenced followers, spawning new subgenres, or helping (re)define their own. They are listed in chronological order, NOT in importance, which is pretty much an impossible task (or a highly subjective one to say the least). You can't really argue with the bands on this list (although you will). You may disagree with the choice of album (I voluntarily limited the list to one album per artist), some selections were particularly painful and could've gone another way. What you can (and should) argue about is the bands NOT on this list. That's part of the point of this list, to discuss the importance of this or that band / album. I may even go as far as edit the list - not in a strict sense, since you can't add entries once its done, but I'll post a comment saying this or that album should be added.
1Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath


1970 - The official birth of Heavy Metal. This album, and "Paranoid", also released in 1970, defined the aesthetics of the genre. The lyrical content, the visual styles, and more importantly, the sound, that scary, scary sound...
2Judas Priest
British Steel


1980 - The album that brought metal to the masses. One could pick "Sad Wings of Destiny" (1976) or "Screaming For Vengeance" (1982) as better Priest' albums, but this one really spawned legions of minions for the Metal Gods.
3Motorhead
Ace Of Spades


1980 - Adding punk attitude and energy to the mix, these legends were the forefathers of thrash and speed metal. In the late seventies to the early eighties, they released great record after great record. This one has their flagship song on it, and a bunch of other essentials. Check out "Overkill" (1979) and "Bomber" (1979) too.
4Venom
Black Metal


1982 - These guys pushed the limits of satanic imagery and lyrics farther than anyone else at that time, and paved the way for Slayer, for Thrash in general, and eventually, for Black Metal. "Welcome to Hell" (1981) is also a big contender, but "Black Metal" gets the nod for giving its name - years later, and many evolutive cycles later - to the genre.
5Iron Maiden
The Number of the Beast


1982 - A masterpiece of metal by one of its most influential band, Iron Maiden's galloping riffs, powerful vocals (with new singer Bruce Dickinson), melodic, harmonized solos, and killer rhythm section have been influential to just about every other metal band. This album brought them the recognition they deserved, and with their incredible album covers and music videos, they raised a new generation of headbangers.
6 Mercyful Fate
Don't Break The Oath


1984 - Once again upping the ante on the satanic themes, adding theatrical visuals and the high-pitched, falsetto voice of King Diamond, this album is a more direct ancestor than Venom's "Black Metal" to the infamous genre that would soon emerge from the dark forests of Norway.
7Celtic Frost
To Mega Therion


1985 - Celtic Frost is one of the bands that had the most influence on Black Metal, and this album is their masterpiece, although "Morbid Tales" (1984) and "Into the Pandemonium" (1987) were also critically acclaimed.
8Possessed
Seven Churches


1985 - Probably the most extreme metal album at that time, Possessed are often regarded as the pioneers of the death growl that has become the trademark singing of Death Metal. This album in particular is sometimes cited as the first Death Metal album, although it is more an evolution of thrash towards death.
9Metallica
Master of Puppets


1986 - In 1986, there was no shame in loving Metallica. This is the album that made the legend. Each and every metal fan heard this album, for this is more often than not where you start in metal. This is to metal what "Sergent Peppers" is to pop music.
10Slayer
Reign In Blood


1986 - This album made the whole death metal subgenre possible. It brought crazy speed, incredibly tight double bass drumming, riffs that shred through your ears, and breakdowns that made you run into stone walls. It was a speed metal masterpiece, but it opened the doors to much more than that.
11Helloween
Keeper of the Seven Keys pt. 1


1987 - Itself a Maidenesque beast, this band mixed speed with traditional metal, and put Power Metal on the map.
12Napalm Death
Scum


1987 - The energy and sheer violence of hardcore and the heaviness of metal welded together into a 1.316 second burst of noise. Grindcore was born. This classic, raw recording defined this genre and Napalm evolved into a 20-year and counting, still relevant metal monster (although much more refined nowadays).
13Voivod
Dimension Hatross


1988 - Growing as musicians, writing more complex music than on their punk- inspired debuts, this album leans towards progressive metal. All weird metal bands (you know who you are) owe something to Voivod and their dissonant harmonies. Heavier than "Nothingface" (1989), more intricate than their previous records, this is Voivod at their best.
14Bathory
Blood Fire Death


1988 - Pioneers of both Black Metal and Viking Metal, Bathory (the one-man band, Quorthon) released, with this album, a blend of both genres, a transitional album, that is often cited as their best, although "Under the Sign of the Black Mark" (1987) is also an important influence to the 2nd wave of Black Metal, as "Hammerheart" (1990) is to Viking Metal.
15Morbid Angel
Altars of Madness


1989 - One of the very first true Death Metal albums, with the whole package - the Dan Seagrave cover, the guttural growls, the blast beats, the heavy, crazy riffs of axe-master Trey Azagthoth, etc. Where Death's "Scream Bloody Gore" (1987) was mostly thrash with a death growl, like other notable Death Metal bands' first release, this album oozes Death Metal. It helped define the sound of the genre.
16Entombed
Left Hand Path


1990 - Fresh out of Nihilist, swedish band Entombed released what may be the first official scandinavian Death Metal album, and one that kickstarted a whole Swedish Death Metal scene (along with Unleashed and Dismember), before the birth of Gothenburg melodeath. That trademark "buzzsaw" guitar sound is still going strong today, and can be heard on Dismember's eponymous release (2008).
17Death
Human


1991 - One of the greatest technical / progressive death metal albums of all time, by one of the genre's best guitarist. A landmark album that showed the world (well, the small part that was aware, anyway) that musicianship and extreme metal can go hand in hand.
18Darkthrone
A Blaze in the Northern Sky


1991 - Probably the first official Black Metal release of the second wave, the Norwegian Black Metal of the early nineties. A grim black and white cover, raw production, misanthropic themes, the now tongue-in-cheek label of "troo kult" was born. Both successors are also considered classics in the genre, "Under a Funeral Moon" (1993) and "Transilvanian Hunger" (1994).
19Carcass
Heartwork


1993 - Anything from "Symphonies of Sickness" (1989) to "Necroticism" (1991) to this one are landmark albums of their respective genres. While the first is more grindcore and the second is more traditional death metal, "Heartwork" makes the list for its notable influence in the melodic death metal subgenre that would soon explode from Gothenburg, Sweden. Blame this album, which still stands among the best.
20Sepultura
Chaos A.D.


1993 - Although Sepultura was already a big name in the thrash metal scene, thanks to "Beneath The Remains" (1989) and "Arise" (1991), with Chaos A.D. they departed from their traditional thrash sound and moved towards a groovy, experimental, almost tribal kind of metal, along with hardcore influence. This album, along with "Roots" (1996), influenced the whole groove- and nu- metal scenes.
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