Welcome back to another installment of “LT’s Top 5’s”! To catch you up if this is your first time reading, I decided to take my passion for music and discussing it beyond the Twitterverse and onto a larger scale where I can fully describe why it is I love the stuff I love. I thought a great way to do that was to create a weekly Top 5 list, wherein each week I’ll be discussing, obviously, my Top 5’s for a particular area of music. Last week was Top 5 Metal Bands, and this week I’d thought I’d stay in the genre but this time cover my Top 5 Metal Albums.
Now, in addition to listing my Top 5 Metal Bands last week I also gave my favorite album from each band, so you might be wondering why I’m even writing this next post because I could simply just list them again and call it a night. Not so fast. While that may be the case with a few of the albums, the others will come from bands that I did not include in my top 5 because those are albums that were hugely influential in shaping my musical taste (at least the Metal part) into what it is today.
Let’s get started….
5. “Define The Great Line” – Underøath
Being released back in 2006, “Define the Great Line” is the most current album on my list and stands as one of my favorite Metal albums because it introduced me to “Metalcore” (Hardcore + Metal). After listening to this, I went on to discover such bands as “As I Lay Dying“, “The Devil Wears Prada“, and “August Burns Red“, all of whom I still enjoy to this day despite feeling a tad old for the genre.
As far as the album itself goes, the band combines catchy harmonies and screamo vocals with a relentless Metal attack that, upon hearing, I found myself asking: “what is this new devilry?” Aaron Gillespie handles clean vocals while simultaneously laying down some feverish drum parts, and Spencer Chamberlain provides some of the best screaming around (largely due to you can understand most of it). The rest of the band chips in with some subtle yet impressive guitar work, and just the right amount of keys. All told, from start to finish, it’s a breathtaking album that played a pivotal role in influencing my musical tendencies going forward. Truly a benchmark album for the genre.
Favorite Song: “In Regards to Myself”
4. “Paranoid” – Black Sabbath
Growing up in a fairly sheltered home, as is the case with many of my favorite bands, I didn’t stumble across Black Sabbath until later on in my high school days. Paranoid was my first taste of the “Godfathers of Metal”, and it certainly left and indelible mark. The album is obviously highlighted by the immortal “War Pigs”, “Paranoid”, and “Iron Man”, but songs like “Planet Caravan”, “Electric Funeral”, and “Fairies Wear Boots” fly under the radar and shouldn’t be ignored.
Tony Iomi’s sludgey, gloomy guitar tone drives the band and gives them that classic Sabbath sound, while Bill Ward whales away on the drums with his hard-hitting and frantic fills. Gezzer Butler then comes in with his booming bass lines, and then who could forget the iconic tones of Ozzy Osbourne who to this day remains one of the greatest frontmen in Metal. It’s quite simple, without this album and the overall presence of Sabbath, Metal as we know it would not exist.
Favorite Song: “War Pigs”
3. “Lateralus” – Tool
Admittedly I prefer “10,000 Days” musically to Lateralus, but it’s Lateralus that hold’s more significance to me and to the Metal landscape in general. As Tool’s third full-length studio effort, it really cemented the band as a Metal powerhouse, and launched their career’s into super stardom.
For me, what really stands out is the way the album is constructed. Almost every song starts out slowly, usually highlighted by Danny Carey’s tribal beatings of the drums, then Dustin Chancellor’s and Adam Jones’ (no, not the baseball player) respective bass lines and guitar parts begin to take shape, culminating in furious, perfectly-timed musical bliss where Maynard James Keenan and his unmistakeable voice are free to soar above the sound below. This album introduced me to “Progressive Metal”, where, oddly enough, I would a few years later stumble across a little band called “Dream Theater” who, along with Tool, made my list of Top 5 Metal Bands.
Favorite Song: ” Schism”
2. “The Number of the Beast” – Iron Maiden
Maiden’s third album and first with singer Bruce Dickinson comes in as my #2 album. It’s shocking to me that the band could gel so instantly with a new singer/front man, and deliver on their first try one of the most iconic albums of all time. And how could an album that includes “Run to the Hills”, “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, and of course “The Number of the Beast” not be included on any list of top Metal albums?
The album essentially sums up Maiden in a nutshell: amazing lyrics that paint a picture for the listener, galloping bass and drums, blistering dual guitar attack (before their triple guitar days), and soaring vocals that few can match in the genre. As I stated last week, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing these boys live, and let me tell you there’s nothing so bone-chillingly awesome as a completely blacked out amphitheater that is shaking due to the thousands stomping and chanting “Maiden! Maiden! Maiden!”. All before those immortal words ring out: “Woe to you, oh earth….”
Favorite Song: “Hallowed Be Thy Name”
1. “Master Puppets” – Metallica
And lastly, we arrive at the greatest Metal album of all time. A genre-defining album, Master of Puppets truly captures the spirit of Heavy Metal. With their third effort (noticing a theme?), the “Boys in Black” combine their relentless pace with unparalleled song writing to deliver their finest work. It was also the band’s last album with bassist Cliff Burton before he was tragically killed when the band’s tour bus skid off the road.
Though I’d heard of them before, again, I didn’t fully dive into the Metallica catalog until reached high school. When I did, they quickly became one of my favorite bands, and I distinctly remember using this album – and specifically the title track – as an intro for a speech I gave on the band. The album simply does not let up. From the beautiful, acoustic intro in “Battery”, to what is perhaps one of the best instrumentals ever in “Orion”, until the last notes of “Damage Inc.” ring out, you’re left with no choice but to hold on and enjoy the ride.
Favorite Song: “Master of Puppets”
Enjoy my list? Want to share your’s? Well I want to hear it! There’s few things I like more than chatting about music, so feel free to leave a comment below or follow me on Twitter at @LTtheGreat and we can continue the conversation over there. Thanks for reading!