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Rexorcist's 100 Metallic Masterworks


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#40. Acid Bath - When the Kite Strings Pop

Genres: Sludge

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This is some of THE most creative traditional sludge I've ever heard.  Most of these tracks have their own unique identities, and they're incredibly catchy and badass.  Acid Bath took so many different routes with sludge on this album that if any of these kinds of songs came from bands before Acid Bath, then Acid Bath beat them all at their own games, including Melvins.

Acid Bath Count: 1

#39. Moonsorrow - Kivenkantaja

Genres: Folk / Viking

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Kivenkantaja is one of Moonsorrow's best examples of how they can capture such authentic viking spirit without even trying.  This is probably their album most oriented for that vibe, and we still get plenty of the mythology, mystery, darkness and angst present in their other albums, even the black metal ones.  And despite having such long songs, it never once gets boring or drawn out.

Moonsorrow Count: 1

#38. Iron Maiden - Seventh Son of a Seventh Son

Genres: Heavy

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Seventh Son combines the raw attitude of Number of the Beast with the moon of Powerslave and the technicality of Somewhere in Time, and we get many of Iron Maiden's best and catchiest riffs as well as some of the best vocal performances by Dickenson.  It just takes you away on a trip through various epic musical phenomena wihtout once steering into pretentious guitar wankery.

Iron Maiden Count: 1

#36. Converge - Jane Doe

Genres: Metalcore / Mathcore

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All We Love We Leave Behind was an example of pure metal+punk mania with some of the most batshit songs ever recorded, but Jane Doe does the same and brings a serious sense of meaning to it, making it more accessible despiute having the same sense of diversity and insanity that All We Love had, making this a go-to metalcore album that's extremely hard to beat in the heaviness factor.

Converge Count: 2

#35. Slayer - Seasons in the Abyss

Genres: Thrash

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Maybe it's not as HEAVY as Reign in Blood, but it's still a really hard album to beat like Jane Doe.  And like Jane Doe, Seasons in the Abyss boasts a high level of creativity, as this is the most experimental out of the five Slayer albums of the classic age.  That same level of modern-age anger and the incredible riffs are still there in full force, however, so for any fan of Slayer this is not only more than satisfactory, but nowhere near a blatant repeat of Reign in Blood.

Slayer Count: 2

 

The next five will be mostly EARLY metal and power metal, but there's another surprise waiting from one of the bands announced today.  And there's a chance I'll post two sets tomorrow.

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There's likely gonna be two sets today.

#35. Scorpions - Taken By Force

Genres: Heavy / Hard Rock

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Scorpions were a talented band since their exception, but they still had to make improvements to their sound and style.  Taken By Force proves that these guys had the potential to be among the greatest for its diverse range, high level of catchiness, and the best lyrics of their time, whether it be a total rock jam like "We'll Burn the Sky" or an exercise in mythical mystery like "The Sails of Charon."  It might not be the most Scorps-style album out there like Love at First Sting, but it's an understated icon and a piece of early metal perfection.

Scorpions Count: 1

#34. Sonata Arctica - Silence

Genres: Melodic Power

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Finland's power metal scene may favor Nightwish and Stratovarius, but Sonata Arctica are the ones who knew how to make an incredible album as opposed to a bunch of songs.  Loaded with some of the catchiest and most anthemic power metal jams, and also featuring several beautiful ballads, Sonata Arctica bring a real sense of serenity and meaning to an overdone genre, taking directions their acclaimed debut didn't take and keeping the progressive, symphonic and neoclassical influences strong.

Sonata Arctica Count: 1

#33. Deep Purple - Deep Purple in Rock

Genres: Hard Rock / Heavy

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While it's pretty cool that Deep Purple started out as a "proto-prog" band, they were shifting more into heavy metal once the likes of Zeppelin and Sabbath came around.  And they proved that their talent is just as noteworthy with this incredible album with hard rock jams, metal jams, bluesy works, progressive structures and an amazing magical epic like "Child of Time," which carries some of the best heavy metal wailing on Earth, and this was before heavy metal wailing was a thing.  Of course, this is the only early Deep Purple album I'd consider metal, and it switches between metal and hard rock.

Deep Purple Count: 1

#32. Moonsorrow - Verisakeet

Genres: Pagan Black / Folk

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This was my first Moonsorrow album, and I've always felt that it was a masterpiece.  There's a perfect marriage between the nastiness of black metal and the medieval and sometimes serene sound of folk metal, but the rest of Moonsorrow's major influences are present whenever absolutely necessary, creating a masterful album where the spirit of mythology takes full force and works perfectly with Moonsorrow's black metal riffage.

Moonsorrow Count: 2

#31. Rhapsody - Dawn of Victory

Genres: Symphonic Power / Melodic Power / Metal Opera

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Maybe this is yet another Rhapsody album, but the beauty of it is that every major influence that makes Rhapsody the band they are is going at full blast, and as a result we have some of the catchiest Rhapsody songs and many of their best riffs.  That DND-style adventure mood is stronger than it was on the previous two albums, and not every song is trying to copy "Emerald Sword" like "Emerald Sword's" own album, Symphony of the Enchanted Lands, was.

Rhapsody Count: 1

 

The next five's gonna have a couple very unpredictable choices, ending in one which NO ONE would ever expect.

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#30. Edge of Sanity - Crimson II

Genres: Melodic Death / Prog Death

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I've heard the whole Edge of Sanity discography, and every album, even the incredible ones, had just one tiny thing wrong with it... with the exception of Crimson II.  The first Crimson displayed incredible aggression, progression and story to it, but the second one made it weirder, wilder and far more interesting.  This wacko monster of an album features the band's best riffs and an incredibly dark mood thanks to the crazy story.

Edge of Sanity Count: 1

29. Enslaved - Mardraum: Beyond the Within

Genres: Prog Black

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This is a very unconvetional, and maybe controversial choice.  But there are three different Enslaved's: the p[ure black, the viking and the prog.  This is the one album that captures all three without giving into any form of monotony.  This makes this album the most original, and because all three are working together to bring out the best of all three moods, we get one of the best black metal albums ever.

Enslaved Count: 1

#28. Mastodon - Crack the Sky

Genres: Prog

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By toning down the sludge a little, Mastodon are able to work with many other genres and amplify their status as a prog band to new worlds, and they have much more emotional depth and meaning to them than the older, but still incredible, sludge and punk inflused works of the past, like the metalcore Remission.  This change in pace makes this the most unique album of the classic era.

Mastodon Count: 3

#27. Galneryus - Under the Force of Courage

Genres: Melodic Power / Neoclassical / Prog Power

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Galneryus, a band so high-energy that they make Dragonforce look like pansies, improve on their strongest points and focus not just on the energy and anthems, but on the real force of neoclassical instrumentation.  Through this album, they rival certain Symphony X albums and deliver an intriguing, never-waning and extremely energetic mold of power metal's greatest strengths.

Galneryus Count: 1

#26. Man Is the Bastard / Bastard Noise - The Lost M.I.T.B. Sessions

Genres: Sludge / Powerviolence / Power Electronics

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I'll bet you NEVER expected such a niche punk band like Man Is the Bastard, let alone a noise album, let alone an even mix of sludge metal, hardcore punk and noise!  The mood of this album is just fucking nuts.  These guys actually took noise music to a whole new world by taking three unrelated genres and bringing out the darkest and most menacing and twisty moods and sounds man can imaginably make.

Man Is the Bastard Count: 1

 

The next five is all about albums with plenty of diversity, and the final entry of the next five is going to be a big surprise, and a weird choice for fans of that band.

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#25. Arcturus - The Sham Mirrors

Genres: Prog / Avant-Garde / Symphonic

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I appreciated the experimental nature of the preceding album: La masquerade infernale, but it was experimental to the point where the consistency suffered a little.  The Sham Mirrors is one of the most consistent albums I've ever heard, and it still takes that experimental nature in various unpredictable ways, all while keeping the balance of its various elements perfect.  The symphonies are beautiful and the unpredictable nature is completely surprising and satisfying.

Arcturus Count: 1

#24. Judas Priest - Painkiller

Genres: Heavy

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Before this, I was only familiar with a bunch of attitudinal 70's and 80's singles that I didn't really care for on the radio. Then a thrash metal / speed metal riff starts up and Halford's voice is screaming like he's a literal banshee about to kill me. Painkiller is probably the most “metal” album in existence since it does a flawless job combining heavy, speed, thrash and power metal like the four genres were the bandmates themselves.

Judas Priest Count: 1

#23. Death - Human

Genres: Death / Tech Death

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Death had evolved from their days as the pioneers of the simple but ultra-heavy genre named after them.  Once their simpler songs were failing, they needed to change things around.  Instead of gory shit and religious commentary, they took their lyrical and music skills forward into the experimental and the introspective, keeping their sense of madness strong at the same time.

Death Count: 2

#22. Napalm Death - Throes in the Jaws of Defeatism

Genres: Deathgrind

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You were probably expecting something like Scum or The Code Is Red, right?  Well, all the rest of Napalm Death's works are really good and heavy, but they're too samey and monotonous. Throes is the first album that goes over the entirety of Napalm's career by switching from deathgrind to death metal to grind to deathcore with hints of crossover thrash and industrial metal as well. And the band loses so little of their power that it's hardly noticeable.

Napalm Death Count: 1

#21. Hell - Hell III

Genres: Sludge / Doom / Drone

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Hell III is the heaviest album I've ever heard.  Even though the dronish elements are toned down a little, its sense of drama, sadness and experimentation is so high that you'd think it reached Heaven and not the namesake.  This is a half-hour of experimentation with various kinds of metal, and the imagery of the despair of going to Hell itself is all too accurate.

Hell Count: 1

 

The next five albums will feature a few very heavy albums that are at the top of their subgenres, but the final revelation of this upcoming five is another album that meets my BARE MINIMUM requirement for a heavy metal album, so be ready for a highly controversial choice.  It's still heavier than the last, Dr. Feelgood.

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#20. No More Color

Genres: Tech Thrash

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No More Color is that benchmark between the accessibility of Punishment for Decadence and the extremely experimental Mental Vortex, and as a result it has everything a real thrash album needs by combining the best aspects of both albums.  As a result, this album takes technicality to a new level of catchiness.  And it really helps that these guys make heaviness look like an easy feat, and this is coming off of having finished Anthrax's Among the Living just before turning this album on.  Ron Royce's monstrous voice feels so authentic that you'd wonder if the guy really killed anyone.  This is the rare kind of album where every song can get away with the same goal and presence in mind because the band still manages to show a level of creativity that's hard to even train yourself to get.

Coroner Count: 1

#19. Therion - Celebrators of Becoming

Genres: Symphonic

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Each Therion studio album tends to focus on one or two strengths of Therion, but never shows everything at once unless it risks being imbalanced like Lemuria. Celebrators of Becoming gives you the FULL Therion, even going as far back as the death metal days, but is also much heavier than the studio counterparts. Live Gothic was largely recorded to showcase Gothic Kabbalah, but Celebrators of Becoming is the essential best of Therion.

Therion Count: 2

#18. Death - The Sound of Perseverance

Genres: Tech Death / Prog Death

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Having gone over countless death metal albums, I find that even the best of them have a one track mind, even some albums by Death themselves, but never once does The Sound of Perserverance show a one track mind. The only thing on the band's mind was giving it their all and performing some of the most complex death metal out there without overdoing it, allowing for riffage catchiness to fill the gap that restraint leaves.

Death Count: 3

#17. Tool - Lateralus

Genres: Prog / Alternative

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I really don't feel like I have to lecture anyone on Lateralus. I mean, it's TOOL'S most famous album. But I'm not leaving this section empty, either. Lateralus amazes me every time I play it, even if I'm just turning on one song. Is there really a level of pure prog rock “progression” that's beaten Lateralus yet? Can you really listen to this and NOT be surprised by not only how the songs are written, but how consistent they are? I don't know if you can without just hating prog in general.

#16. Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction

Genres: Hard Rock / Heavy

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I am not apologizing.  I am NOT apologizing.  If Sad Wings of Destiny is somehow metal, so is this. This album met the bare minimum standard for seven of the tracks, and I'm keeping it, so be happy I didn't put AC/DC up here. Having said that, I've heard so many worse voices than Axl, including Brian Johnson, and Axl was able to at least hold his own on this album before the drugs affected his singing in between this album and the Use Your Illusion albums. The jams are peak jams that are hard to resist because not only are they catchy, but badassery is effortless for this LA band, and the band gives it their all even unto the end. Rocket Queen is a real jam and a great ending for this album. Even after 2,000 albums, it's hard to find an album with this serious level of headbanging attitude without having to give in to the polished and teen-friendly arena tropes of hair metal.

GNR Count: 1

 

OK, that GNR album should be the last controversial choice, and the last that meets my bare minimum metal standard.  The next five is gonna be more traditional, and focus on some of the most imaginative albums I've ever heard.

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#15. Metal Church - Metal Church

Genres: US Power / Speed / Heavy

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This is one of the most unpredictable albums I've ever heard.  It plays around with stereotypical metal imagery and behavior, but the riffs are so unbelievable and the style is so outgoing and forward thinking that it makes this album one of the most essential albums of the metal sound that I've heard so far.  Apparently this is a hard album to classify because it covers ground with various metal genres that were popular at the time. The first half covers more traditional metal while the second is more routed in speed. But the nine tracks are all phenomenal, even their cover of Highway Star.

Metal Church Count: 1

#14. Alcest - Souvenirs d'un autre monde

Genres: Blackgaze / Shoegaze / Post

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The single most beautiful metal album in the world. There's an aura in this album that's not only more powerful than any atmospheric album I'm familiar with, but it feels so effortless to Alcest that I almost feel like I could pull it off, but I know that's not true. I get image after image with this album, usually of nature and of shadows lurking all over the place. But instead of monsters running around in the woods, it's more like getting images of little spirits like nymphs and such lamenting over the way the rest of the world is going, both relishing in the beauty of nature and lamenting at being trapped by the outside world.

Alcest Count: 1

#13. Symphony X - Twilight in Olympus

Genres: Prog / Neoclassical

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Divine Wings of Tragedy may have cemented the Symphony X sound, demonstrating a drastic improvement in quality from their first two albums, but Twilight in Olympus perfected it.  That neoclassical behavior is made much more unpredictable, and the balance between Symphony X's major influences is stronger, making for yet another beautiful neoclassical metal album that doesn't risk monotony.

Symphony X Count: 2

#12. Hell - Hell II

Genres: Doom / Sludge / Drone

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My opinion of Hell II vs. Hell III changed since reviewing the two.  III might be the heavier album, and shorter for more creativity, but as it keeps steering into post-metal territory, it loses a little of the horrifying tension of the previous album, which touched up on post-metal and death, as well as practically every extreme genre both slow and fast.  This is the most menacing album on Earth, and a milestone for drone music.

Hell Count: 2

11. Metallica - Master of Puppets

Genres: Thrash / Heavy

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What could have been a bloated hour of repetitve thrash is instead a hypnotic journey into the theme of slavery.  The dark and Gothic sound of the production makes this clean and sparse fifty-five minutes a testament to the deepest fears of mankind, and the lyrics are so utterly beautiful and poetic that they may in fact be the greatest metal lyrics ever written.  The rhythms and melodies are out of this world, and the instrumentation is nothing short of perfection.

Metallica Count: 2

 

THE TOP TEN STARTS TOMORROW!  From this point on, there will be no more hints as to what they will be.

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I'm going to spend three days doing only three albums, and on the fourth day IU'll post my number 1!

#10. Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime

Genres: Heavy Metal / Metal Opera

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This was one of my very first metal albums, and a part of the reason I love rock operas so much. My stepfather is heavily into 80's rock, and he considers this a serious contender for the greatest album ever written. I am by no means a big Queensryche fan and I don't even think of this album as prog metal. But still, I can't deny that this is one of the coolest albums I've ever heard, and a surprise piece of art from a band who could've otherwise only had a couple hits on the radio. This is Queensryche's only five-star album as far as I'm concerned, every song or segment brings something new to the table, even when it goes on its only real prog song, the ten minute epic “Suite Sister Mary,” which blows me away every time I put the album on. The psychological prowess of the album rings of other rock operas like The Wall, but the dystopian story is what makes it just as engaging without ripping off Floyd's album. And up to the grand finale, we have some of their best lyrics, an amazing level of variety going from hard rock to speed metal, and something most metal albums can't capture: real human drama, and somehow that includes romance.

Queensryche Count: 1

#Black Sabbath - Master of Reality

Genres: Heavy / Hard Rock

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Picking up where Paranoid stopped (and with a stronger emphasis on the metal sound that they invented), this drugged-up rock album is completely otherworldly and pulls stunts unheard and unheard of at the time of release. Not only does it jam like no tomorrow, but the doom and psytchedelic influences are what make this album sound like it comes from various parts of the universe.  Its level of diversity and track-by-track identity is exactly the same as Paranoid, even if it doesn't have that special factor of every song being a five-star one. However, one can forgive a couple 4.5 stars, right?

#8. Immortal - At the Heart of Winter

Genres: Traditional Black

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This is what happened when black metal was perfected.  Even though it was released more than a decade after the formation of Mayhem, this album blew Mayhem, Darkthrone and Bathory out of the water.  Its level of guitar technicality and incredible melodies recreate the epic adventure vibe and evil presence flawlessly.  This was the first black metal album I had ever heard. I was a complete noob to the sound, and while I liked it at first, I wasn't USED TO IT. After having heard a couple hundred black metal albums, I find myself coming back to this one for its perfect balance of 10/10 heaviness, careful but catchy melodies and its dark presence.

Immortal Count: 2

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#7. Iced Earth - Burnt Offerings

Genres: US Power / Power / Thrash

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I know, I know, Iced Earth is cool to hate these days. But I'm not gonna deny that this is the only Iced Earth album that flat-out amazed me. Even though a couple songs need to be a little heavier, the album seamlessly blows through a plethora of metal genres including thrash, death, symphonic, prog and doom while still remaining a US power metal album at heart.  The singer gives it his all and never once falters, and he has one of the darkest and most effortlessly powerful voices in metal.  This was both a creepy and an inspiring example of metal creativity.

Iced Earth Count: 1

#6. My Dying Bride - The Dreadful Hours

Genres: Death Doom / Gothic

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This is THE saddest metal album I've ever heard, darkness and depression in pure musical captivity, desperate to break free from itself. My Dying Bride seems to know that feeling better than anyone, and that feeling is the driving force of what could have been a monotonous album but instead was a raw emotional experience.  Every song takes the emotion it covers as far as it can without going too long, and the variety proves just how far desperation and depression can go.

My Dying Bride Count: 1

#5. Neurosis - Through Silver in Blood

Genres: Atmo-Sludge / Sludge / Post

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There's not another album out there that can reproduce the anger of society and the slow burn into eventual outrage like Through Silver in Blood. There are several instances where the music is almost tribal and experimental, and so the music is less about the sludge factor and more about the music.  In other words, this is the most creative album out of the six-album--running hot streak of brilliance that overtook the sludge scene in a variety of ways.  Neurosis is at most of their strongest points here, with atmosphere only being topped by The Eye of Every Storm, which, despite probably being the worst of the hot streak, is still brilliant.

Neurosis Count: 3

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#4. Blind Guardian - Imaginations from the Other Side

Genres: Melodic Power

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Imaginations is probably the heaviest, most melodic, and most serious power metal album in the world. Nightfall might be the easiest to listen to, but Imaginations built on all of the strengths of Somewhere Far Beyond and acts as a perfect transition from the speed metal days to the symphonic era. Fantasy metal wouldn't exist the way it does without Blind Guardian and Symphony X, but this uses that kind of influence at a minimal pace that way the worlds it creates are explored through the metal rather than through heavy instrumentation, and with Kursch at his loudest and most powerful, this album reaches heights that have not been achieved by power metal again so far, at least not to the best of my knowledge of 250 power metal albums excluding the US variant

Blind Guardian Count: 4

#3. Black Sabbath - Paranoid

Genres: Heavy / Hard Rock

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I've always thought this album was the picture of perfection, even back when I first started listening to music albums on a regular basis almost ten years ago.  But I don't just judge this album by the metal standard, but by HARD ROCK standards, and it handles both genres well, especially for its time period.  Some of the earliest hard rock out there, Paranoid defined various forms of metal for a reason: not only was each song brilliant, but each song had its own identity. It ranged from heavy metal energy to slow, doomy psychedelia, and incorporated other forms of rock to create something truly unpredictable. It's this high up because other metal albums show the bands sticking with a couple or a few sounds and keep relying on those sounds. That gets tedious. Paranoid doesn't do that. It shifts into new territory consistently, and never lowers in quality.

Black Sabbath Count: 3

#2. Symphony X - V: The New Mythology Suite

Genres: Prog / Neoclassical

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OK, lotsa people will look at thing and go, “What the eff, above Paranoid? Is this guy high?” Hear me out: not to say that it's a superior genre: symphonic power metal may have a huge following, but it also has a lot of haters for being too cheesy. Well, that's where Symphony X come in. Symphony X needed some time to perfect their technique, and Divine Wings of Tragedy showed that they had found their calling and the balance lacking in their self-titled debut. On top of that, they had mastered the balance between prog, power, neoclassical and symphonic like it was nothing, and it was all the emulators that ended up being bigger cheesefests, thus adding to the proof that Symphony X has a perfectly restrained and balanced level of diversity that makes their music worth all the emulators. . The flawless balance between the neoclassical and the progressive bridges the gap between the two distinct eras of the band, and you never know what beautiful melody or headbanger riffs will throw you down to the ground next.

Symphony X Count: 3

 

The final album will be revealed tomorrow in its own review.

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#1...

Metallica - Ride the Lightning

Genres: Thrash / Heavy

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OK, I'm really happy with this choice because this is after maturing myself in the world of metal for ten years. In my younger days, like many other young peeps, my knowledge of Metallica was practically limited to The Black Album and a couple of singles from the earlier days like “Master of Puppets” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” I wasn't fully in tune with thrash. Well as I got more in-tune with thrash I had Master of Puppets ranked as the number 1 metal album of all time. But I didn't put in in my top 20 despite how much I love metal because I always considered it a little bit bloated. Well after a lot of personal growth and re-evaluation of my life, I also re-evaluated how I rate some music, especially metal.

At first I was NOT willing to give Ride the Lightning a spot above Master of Puppets (I even had And Justice for All ranked above it). Why? Simple. Puppets' production is much cleaner, the rhythms are more developed and progressive, and Metallica's style fully matured. After re-assessing myself, I realized that the big question was not “What's the best Metallica album,” but “what's the best METAL album?” If my metalcore phase taught me anything, it's that any type of production is acceptable depending on the situation. Let's be honest. Ride the Lightning's production but not be as clear as that of Puppet's, but it really is way more metallic. They obviously came a long way in that short one-year time when the were one of the best up-and-coming metal acts playing typical early thrash, and became the very band that defined thrash.

Believe it or not, my first encounter with Metallica's “Fight Fire with Fire” was not a pleasant one. Before I was used to the idea of thrash metal (or even heard of it for that matter), I would originally type the name in to look for a Kansas song. I wouldn't hear the actual album until four years later when I first started exploring music forums and charts. It would take a few years more for me to grow fully accustomed to the harshest side of metal, and that included death metal and black metal. I have Symbolic by Death to thank for that. It was the first death metal album I had ever heard and I gave it a 100/100 right then and there. The whole point of making this the opener is to give you an idea of how much power your exposing yourself to. By the time you're done with the album, you'll already be glowing blue. Da ba dee. I mean, after that soothing guitar solo at the beginning, you're dealing with BOOM BOOM BOOM! They don't call it “Ride the Lightning” for nothing! The way that atmosphere in the production works just makes it more metallic! Sure, the intro to the opener isn't as good as the one from Puppets, but it's overall a better song than “Battery.”

I have this crazy ability to instantly visualize any word I hear on a second nature level. I even visually freakin' “the.” It's pretty cool. So you can imagine the crazy imagery I got from “Ride the Lightning.” The varying visual interpretations of death range from hands made of lightning to the reaper with a sleek blue scythe (Sleek Blue Scythe should be my speed metal band name). And some of those solos are just mindblowing. The title track has the perfect balance between energy, melody and flat-out craziness.

I admit, I'm not so well emotionally connected to “For Whom the Bell Tolls” as many other Metallica fans are, but I'm not denying that it's one of the high points of an album loaded with high points. Taking a literally dramatic shift from the thrashing thunder of the gods, the early stages of the poetry that would be seen on Master of Puppets drives this song as much as the heavy metal melody. “Take a look to the sky just before you die, It is the last time you will. Blackened roar massive roar fills the crumbling sky, shattered goal fills his soul with a ruthless cry.” Edgar Allen Poe's getting owned here. Screw the talking raven (OK, that's my screamo band name). Much of Metallica's best "guitartistry" is boasted on “For whom the Bell Tolls,” each player doing their part to add their unique vibe to the aura and all work as well as any harmonized group while still being very creative.

Now we get to the crown jewel of Metallica's songs: “Fade to Black.” This was Metallica's first ballad, and it was recorded at a time when James Hetfield not only had some obsession with death, but had to deal with much of the band's equipment being STOLEN, including his favorite Marshall amp! Damn. As you can imagine, that helps set the mood for one of Metallica's most iconic songs. The poetry of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” continues as one of the most beautiful and emotional moods in all of power ballad history ends side B of this album. There's no need for crazy solos when you can feel the sadness touching you. How human can a song get? It does get heavier towards the end, but that's a Metallica staple right there. That doesn't stop Hetfield from delivering some of his most heartfelt vocals in his career.

Alright, the first half of side B is considered the weak point of Ride the Lightning, but what album doesn't have a weakness? I admit, I'm not in love with the intro to “Trapped Under Ice.” It slowly gets better until WEEDLY-WEEDLY-WEEDLY comes along, returning to the raw thunder of the first two songs! Even though it's more like one of the basic thrash songs like on Kill 'Em All, the Ride the Lightning energy is still there, never damaging the album's flow or consistency. I mean, come on. Is speed metal not the perfect subgenre to feature on a thrash album? Besides, for a song about literally being trapped under ice, the lyrics are really freakin' good. The song almost feels crossover-thrash-esque the way it rides on energy and quick reactions.

“Escape” is considered the worst song on the album, but I like the intro more than I like the intro of “Trapped Under Ice.” It's more rhythmic and true to the Metallica style. I think the problem here is that it's written more like a song from your average hard rock / heavy metal album instead of one of the first thrash albums. Maybe that actually works, considering that the roots of thrash come from acts like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. Hell, I wouldn't mind a good Scorps cover. Besides, the song still rules overall. The solos are still great and the lyrics are still human and relatable.

“Creeping Death” is one that I find particularly interesting because of its lyrical content. As opposed to the satanism often showing in albums at that time, Metallica decided to write a song about the Angel of Death from the book of Exodus! Well, you gotta keep the concept strong somehow. Although the song is more formulaic to the thrash stereotype, the badassery is at its peak. “Creeping Death” is balanced out between Metallica's energy, sense of rhythm, and lyrical drive. Unlike every other song on the album, it doesn't rely on solos to make its mark because of its balance.

“The Call of Ktulu” is the closer, and the only instrumental on the album. This nearly nine-minute epic pretty much covers everything that was going on throughout the album but with a deeper sense of mystery than every other song. Starting out with that slightly creepy solo was the perfect way to go. Like other prog-infused epics of its time, it slowly gets heavier and relies on a clever collection of combined solos to make its mark on the album. I don't know about you, but I think that's a perfectly epic way to end such an incredible album.

It's so utterly weird when you finally catch on to why an album is so great, because a whole new world opens afterwards. Ride the Lightning opened up a whole new level of understanding in the world of thrash (and maybe metal) for me, and I plan on making the most of it. In my opinion, it's the single greatest example of metal in the world. It's atmosphere is flawless, the energy of the album is rivaled only by a select few like Pleasure to Kill by Kreator, and the theme and concept never suffer. In fact, Ride the Lightning is much better at delivering its concept (of death and humanity) than most albums are at delivering their own concepts. It goes without saying that Ride the Lightning is an indisputable essential for any metal collection, and I'm glad I love the album as much as I do now.

Metallica Count: 3

 

Well, hope you enjoyed the Movieforums-style reveal of my top 100 metal albums.  Even though it didn't garner a lot of conversation, I'm glad I was able to get this out there.  I'm gonna be exploring a lot of other genres for the time being, but I'll still be active on this site.

Keep your souls safe and secure.

800179475_RexorcistCloudsSmall.jpg.c1460bfb19e658873549cb7274f62a65.jpg

Yes, that says "Rexorcist."

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Nice job on your list kid. I anticipated that I'd be commenting more than I did, but the majority of your list was comprised of albums I don't care for as well as a lot of albums I've never heard because they're in sub-genres I can't tolerate and have little respect for. I wouldn't have had much to contribute aside from negativity, so I stayed mute. But I can still recognize that you put a lot of time and effort into your list and I think you did a nice job with it. Be sure to revisit in a few years and be amazed at how much your tastes and rankings will have changed in that time. At least that's been my experience. 

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