5. “The Black Album” – Metallica:
The fifth studio album from Metallica was their most commercial up to that date, with songs neatly trimmed to ensure maximum radio airplay. Straightforward rockers like “Enter Sandman,” “Sad But True” and “Wherever I May Roam” provide the required headbanging content, while slower ballads like “Nothing Else Matters” and “The Unforgiven” balance the album. This album is great because it has something to satisfy the beginner metalhead, as well as the veteran.
Recommended Song: “Sad But True”
4. “Paranoid” – Black Sabbath:
Black Sabbath are the pioneers of metal, so it is no surprise that they are on this list. This album introduced the world to metal, with its single “Paranoid” reaching No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 61 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album opens with the thunderous “War Pigs,” a critique of politicians and top military leaders during the Vietnam War. “Paranoid” also boasts “Iron Man,” a phenomenal song including one of the most iconic riffs in metal history. If you have never listened to metal before, this album is the best place to start.
Recommended Song: “War Pigs”
3. “British Steel” – Judas Priest:
The fifth studio album from Judas Priest helped usher in a new era of metal, dominating the airwaves and becoming the de facto sound of the 1980s. Popular tracks like “Breaking the Law,” “United” and “Living After Midnight” gained massive airplay and are still fan favorites today. This album will be very palatable for those who have never listened to metal before. “British Steel” is one of my personal favorites to blare from my car speakers with the windows rolled down. The music is heavy enough to satisfy metalheads, but has enough of a pop influence to get stuck in your head.
Recommended Song: “Living After Midnight”
2. “Rage Against the Machine” – Rage Against the Machine:
If you enjoy activism and politics, this album is the one for you. Every minute of this album’s 52-minute runtime is spent lashing out at oppressive political systems. Released in 1992, many of the lyrics are still applicable today. This album should be listened to in its entirety, because the repetition of phrases and lyrics across multiple songs makes it feel less like an album, and more like the soundtrack to a movement. This album is truly exceptional, and its political messages may give you a new perspective.
Recommended Song: “Freedom”
1. “Master of Reality” – Black Sabbath:
Once again, the impact of Black Sabbath on metal cannot be understated. This album essentially created metal as we know it today, with Tony Iommi downtuning his guitar to create the heavy sound we associate with metal. This is one of my favorite albums, if not my favorite album of all time. Every aspect of the record is perfect, with Iommi’s down-tuned riffs combining with Geezer Butler’s rich bass to create a deep, thick and sludgy sound. Bill Ward is excellent on the drums and Ozzy Osbourne’s vocals are otherworldly. “Master of Reality“ cemented Black Sabbath as the greatest metal band of all time, and I cannot recommend it enough.
Recommended Song: “Into the Void”