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05.17.13 Prog Metal Madness03.25.13 Metal: An Essential Library
11.27.12 I Hate Fat People11.26.12 Favorite Composers
09.27.12 Best Djent Albums09.17.12 Rec Me Stuff
09.10.12 The Only Music That Matters08.29.12 Albums That Are Worlds Of Their Own
08.19.12 Books Anyone?

Metal: An Essential Library

Originally conceived as an introductory compilation for a friend into the world of metuhl, this is a list of favorite bands, an alternate history, a desert island list, whatever you wanna call it, I can't live without these bands and I can't conceive of my favorite genre without them. There's a billion omissions I'm sure, and the emphasis might not be pleasing to everyone, but such is life.
1Black Sabbath

The first, and the greatest, Black Sabbath know no peers. Pretty much every subgenre can be traced back to them, if not in sound then at least in spirit. Astounding musicians with a vision so unique and primal that it still resounds to this day.
Recommended Albums: Their first six, every note on them, and then the Heaven and Hell album as well.

The birth of all that is epic, fantastic and overblown about heavy metal along with the first hints of classical influence in the genre. Finally free from Purple's heavy blues influence Ritchie Blackmore lead his new band into territory that would define heavy metal as we know it today.
Recommended Albums:
Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, Rising, Long Live Rock'n'Roll
3Judas Priest
Sad Wings of Destiny

The first dual guitar attack in metal, the greatest voice of all, brilliant songs in just about every style, for their first two decades this band reinvented itself constantly and did nothing but succeed.
Recommended Albums:
Sad Wings of Destiny, Stained Class, Unleashed In The East, Screaming For Vengeance, Painkiller
4Van Halen
Van Halen

If you begrudge my inclusion of Van Halen on a metal list go listen to "I'm On Fire" and shut the fuck up. Instrumental fireworks, miles of amps, killer songs and heaps of attitude, this is the kind of stuff that constantly reminds me of why I love music. At their prime Van Halen were the best rock band on the planet.
Recommended Albums:
Van Halen, Fair Warning, 1984
If You Want Blood You've Got It

I can agree with the dirty looks thrown towards the current washed-up parody of this band around today, but the Bon Scott era AC/DC was one of the baddest bands ever to step on a stage.
Recommended Albums:
TNT, Dirty Deeds Done Cheap, If You Want Blood You've Got It, Highway To Hell, For Those About To Rock
6Ozzy Osbourne
Blizzard Of Ozz

Backed by the incomparable Randy Rhoads, and by the underrated Jake E. Lee, Ozzy fronted some of the finest heavy metal around. Thanks to his stellar musicians occasionally the stuff got nearly sophisticated, but never overbearing.
Recommended Albums:
Billzard of Ozz, Diary Of A Madman, Bark At The Moon, The Ultimate Sin
7Manilla Road
Crystal Logic

Manilla Road are a band absolutely unlike any other. For three decades their musical consistency has only been matched by their bad luck, and somehow one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time remains obscure even to many knowledgeable metalheads. Their riffs will melt your face, their epics will blow your mind and their vocalist might just confuse you. A true treasure.
Recommended Albums:
Crystal Logic, The Deluge, Mark Of The Beast, Open The Gates, Mystification, Spiral Castle, Voyager
Hail To England

Though now barely a parody of themselves, Manowar were once a force to be reckoned. Writing epic, long-winded songs about battle and glory they helped define the genre while rocking seriously hard.
Recommended Albums:
Battle Hymns, Into Glory Ride, Hail To England, Sign Of The Hammer
9 Mercyful Fate
Don't Break The Oath

This entry is a bit of a cheat, as it doubles for King Diamond as well. Mercyful Fate understood the structural and thematic possibilities of heavy metal unlike any other band, and composed some of the most engaging works in all of rock music in the format of mini-suites that told a story with top-notch musicianship and songwriting. The King then continued these ideas in his solo work, but though he made some great albums he could never match the emotion and intensity of the original Mercyful Fate.
Recommended Albums:
Mercyful Fate: Nuns Have No Fun EP, Melissa, Don't Break The Oath
King Diamond: Abigail, Them, Conspiracy, The Eye
Hell Awaits

The ultimate in intensity and aggravating attack, every album in Slayer's original run with Dave Lombardo at the drums was inventive, original, intelligent and dripping with a genuinely frightening and evil vibe. The masters of thrash, breakers of barriers and quite possibly the greatest live band ever, though with Dave gone again now, who knows.
Recommended Albums:
Show No Mercy, Hell Awaits, Reign In Blood, South Of Heaven, Seasons In The Abyss
Seven Churches

They only put out one album worth your time, but holy shit, what an album. Possessed took thrash to its logical conclusion, adopting Slayer's penchant for evil riffs and linear structure and taking it to the very extreme. This has often been called the first death metal album and if I agree it is so because of the unsettling atmosphere on here, seldom matched in contemporary death metal, and the bizarre song structures.
Recommended Albums:
Seven Churches
Beneath The Remains

Starting out as a primitive tribute to Venom and Celtic Frost, Sepultura eventually evolved, through rigorous rehearsing and convenient isolation, into one of the most original and musically accomplished bands in all of extreme metal. The arrangements on their mid period thrash albums are as difficult and tight as they are catchy and entertaining. Something about them just makes them stand out from any other thrash bands, be it their musicianship, their lyrics, the thoroughness of their compositions or just their attitude.
Recommended Albums:
Morbid Visions, Beneath The Remains, Arise, Chaos A.D.
Blood Fire Death

My personal favorite band of all time, Bathory evolved from a primitive yet highly innovative black metal unit into a true musical powerhouse. Quorthon's vision and creativity practically fathered two distinct subgenres. A great musician driven by real, intelligent questions about himself and the world, the early Bathory catalogue is something to be experienced.
Recommended Albums:
Bathory, The Return, Under The Sign Of The Black Mark, Blood Fire Death, Hammerheart, Twilight of the Gods
Symphonies Of Sickness

Another one of those bands that did nothing but innovate in their prime, Carcass were a group of great musicians who evolved together caring little, if at all, for trends and fans. Like most great metal they strike the perfect balance between degenerate and sophisticated, disgusting and thought-provoking. Can't wait to hear what they come up with next.
Recommended Albums:
Reek of Putrefaction, Symphonies of Sickness, Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious, Heartwork
Cause Of Death

Bludgeoning and putrefying, Obituary wrote badass, catchy tunes with incredible riffs that never leave your head. James Murphy may also be the single most underrated metal guitarist of all time.
Recommended Albums:
Slowly We Rot, Cause of Death, The End Complete

Chuck helped create death metal with his early works and then used it as a platform to explore some pretty astounding musical ideas. Progressive as his music got it always maintained an aura of danger, a feeling of being on the edge. Not to mention his lyrics were actually pretty smart, even from the early days.
Recommended Albums:
Everything. Seriously, you can't go wrong.
Where No Life Dwells

I was never big on Entombed or Dismember; Unleashed is my favorite of the classic stockholm bands. They mixed the catchy, punk-infused sound of their peers with a sense of direction, melody and atmosphere that the others lack. Their catalogue is also far more consistent.
Recommended Albums:
Where No Life Dwelss, Shadows In The Deep, Hammer Battalion, Midvinterblot
18Bolt Thrower
War Master

Unlike other death metal bands, Bolt Thrower punished not without with speed, but with a deadly, warlike groove that seeps into your skin. Though they've stuck pretty firmly to a successful formula since their second album, their musicianship and songwriting (along with some slight tweaks) has been strong enough to continue producing compelling material through that formula to this day.
Recommended Albums:
War Master, Realm Of Chaos, ...For Victory, The IVth Crusade, Those Once Loyal
19At The Gates
The Red In The Sky Is Ours

Sure, they're to blame for modern metalcore, but they're so damn good it's hard to be angry. Going from the disorienting, atonal assault of their early works all the way to the focused face, air-tight punch of their legendary swansong, this was a band for the ages.
Recommended Albums:
Everything, you can't go wrong

Believe it or not Deicide were once of the most vicious bands around. They had a sound all of their own, their songs were great and holy shit could they play. They later devolved into a parody, though they seem to be getting back on their feet.
Recommended Albums:
Deicide, Legion, Once Upon The Cross
Under A Funeral Moon

The most consistent, most uncompromising, most metal band in metal. Everything they've done they've done on their own terms, which has allowed their music to remain original and vital throughout the years. Seriously one of the most important musical acts of the late twentieth century.
Recommended Albums:
Soulside Journey, A Blaze in the Northern Sky, Under A Funeral Moon, Transylvanian Hunger, Panzerfaust, Total Death, The Cult is Alive, THE UNDERGROUND RESISTANCE!!!
Vikingligr Veldi

These guys took the black metal template and left for a journey into other dimensions beyond time on their viking longboat. Constantly evolving, constantly exploring, a brilliant band.
Recommended Albums: Hordanes Land, Vikingligr Veldi, Frost, Isa, Vertebrae, Axioma Ethica Odini, RIITIIR
23Electric Wizard

The heaviest band of all time. Drugs, murder, Satan, and some mighty mighty riffs.
Recommended Albums:
Come My Fanatics, Dopethrone, Witchcult Today
24Destroyer 666
Phoenix Rising

One of my main problems with contemporary metal is its tendency to be overtly revisionist. Destroyer 666 make no such mistake; firmly rooted in the great metal tradition and spirit they carve a sound all of their own, without losing their grip on the "X" factor that makes metal so great.
Recommended Albums:
Unchain The Wolves, Phoenix Rising, Cold Steel...For An Iron Age
Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame

Taking metal's tendency for the epic and mysterious to the next level, Summoning are less like a band and more like an entity. The basic template is black metal but the palette of moods is greatly expanded not only by their use of synths but also by their "programmatic" style of composition. Can't wait for their new one.
Recommended Albums:
Dol Guldur, Stronghold, Nightshade Forests, Minas Morgul, Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame, Oath Bound
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