Its such a hard task picking favorites and its nearly impossible depending on the mood time of day occasion etc etc depends on what you like at the time but like most people there are many recurring favorites timeless classics i couldn't live with out. I don't think it is ever possible to pick a definitive favorite or list them in terms of most "favoruiteness" but here is a list of my favorites and for a beginner getting into metal some good ideas of albums to listen to.
Metallica - Black Album
Got to start with the big boys and go Metallica. One of my very first music loves was the Black Album, i was 11 when it came out. My Dad worked in the states and would bring me back music to listen to as from a kid i was always in his music collection lapping up the Queen, Black Sabbath, Clapton. So i think i owned my first Metallica album in 1992, i was pretty into Gun's and Rose's (they had swearing!) and my Dad to this day hated them and so introduced me to Metallica via the Black Album, and wow! Even from that young age the penny just dropped for me. Its quite clichéd to love that album being the one that shifted 20 off million copies but it really was like Metal Genesis for me and without it i would not be the big fan of the genre as a whole as i am now. There isnt a single bad track on the album and any so called Metallica fan who says its crap (they exist) are not worth listening to. I love the early Metallica and i would happily recommend those early albums to anyone i particularly love Ride the Lightning but if i am honest with my self the Black Album has most significance for me even if i do listen to others more these days. For anyone getting into heavy metal this must be chapter 1 surely. Just remember that a relatively small thrash metal band became one of the biggest bands in the world without them and without that album who knows where we would be, Metal is in dire need of a new album of that size.
Alice in Chains - Facelift
What they aren't Metal i hear you cry! Well they are, they may be lumped in with the grunge scene but they are as metal as they come, heavy riffs, dark subject matter, wailing vocals they were the real deal. Every word sung by Layne Staley is believable you feel his pain. I pick this album over Dirt or the self titled one as it has Man in Box which for no special reason i love its just a quality song. The Intro "We Die Young" is brutal and has poignient significance due to Staley's death from drugs. Not a bad song on the album in fact on any of their albums but this one if i drive anywhere is played loud! Love Hate Love probably Laynes best vocal performace. Jerry Cantrells guitar playing and songwriting is much under rated he is an absolute hero of mine!
Burzum - Filosofem
Bit of a leap here, i have recently got into Burzum the raspings of soloist Count Grisnasch otherwise known as Varg Vikernes. I could write a whole article about this guy many people have i think they get him very wrong. Shrouded in controversy for being a Satanist after the burnings of churches in Norway he is perhaps quite rightly known as the most dangerous man in music ever. I am not going to write all about him here but he is worth reading about. I can sympathize with some of what he says but more often or not his views on things are not to my liking. Regardless he is an absolute genius and this album is a complete head fuck, causes some contraversy with Black Metal purists, its got keyboards ooooh. Reading about him first i decided to check out an album i picked this one up in HMV oxford street when visiting London. Its not at all what you would expect, its a work of art the track Dunklehiet is one of my favorite songs ever its incredibly beautiful and i think he really draws from the darkness inside of him mixes it up with the Norwegian environment and hey presto produces this! Its not typical Black Metal per say but its bloody good whatever you want to call it, for me its evil, dark, brooding, atmospheric and absolutely brilliant
Black Sabbath - Vol.4
Been a fan of Sabbath for quite sometime and am lucky enough at my age to have seen the original four live, which was amazing, all on top form and regardless of what you may hear i can only say that Ozzy's voice was perfect and he was great! Its hard to pick the best album from the band that started it all. I remember listening the tapes when i was young from my dads collection. I could have picked any of them but this is the band at the height of their powers not a bad song on it even "Changes" which if you can put the horrible Ozzy and Kelly Osbourne duet out of your head is a brilliant song. Tony Iommi is on top form as the riff machine he is and it has the band trying out some new things well for the 70s anyway. I think this is the Sabbath album i listen to most i would love to say they are all good but that wouldn't be true as some are crap! Early Ozzy and the early Dio Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules all absolutely incredible works.
Opeth - Still Life / Blackwater Park / My Arms Your Hearse
3!!! Yes three and i could have named more. I love Opeth, they are my favourite band without question. Buy any of their albums they are all amazing. They are the kind of band keepign Metal creative new and fresh. If you have to give them a subgenre it would be too hard there are hundred of influences. Aside from the Death Metal roots you will hear Eastern influences, 70's Prog, Jazz, Black Metal, Folk, Acousitc and on and on they are incredibly talented. These are probably my favourite three albums. i think they represent three eras of the band. My Arms your Hearse is heavier than lead but at the same time melodic and beautiful. Akerfelds voice is stunnign from the Death Metal growls to the Silky tones of his clean voice, the album is a journey dont let the long song times put you off time is irrelevant when you listen to Opeth. Still Life is the transition album and probably their best work as it combines the early elements with the new influences. and Blackwater Park is the one i would recommend to anyone who has never heard the band before as i think it best shows off all that is great about Opeth. Constant line up changes have never hurt this band as it revolves around Mikael Akerfeld they truly are one of the most important bands in Music not jsut Metal the world needs more Opeth's
Bleak from Blackwater Park from the Royal Albert Hall gig, i was there!!!!
Enslaved - Ruun
I bought this on a whim, not knowing anything about them. What a stroke of luck as this is a stunning album. This is my kind of Metal, Its an album that gets better every time you listen to it. Absolutely brilliant black metal one to play to people who think its just noise as these sound scapes are beautifully arranged there is a lot of thought on this album and i regard it very highly. A lot of Black Metal is hard to like that is the point of it, it was never made to be widely liked it was made by angry young men who wanted to voice their frustrations for their own benefit and as such a lot of it is hard to listen to, this isn't the case here dont judge on the genre but on a case by case basis as there are some of the most talented bands going in Black Metal Enslaved are one. As extreme metal goes this is a stunning piece of work.
Slayer - Season in the Abyss
Must admit to not being a Slayer fan from the get go but they have grown on me. Seeing them live is an experience that will live with you till you see the great white light. Why Seasons well i personally think its the best, most people choose Reign In Blood which is a savage album which i also love but this one does it for me. From start to finish is chugs along and you cant help but chug alogn with it. Not a single bad song They have never changed they have never given a fuck what anyone else was doing and they have never really released bad material so it says something that this is their best. For me they are at their best when they arent break neck speed the slow intros building into a blaze of savagry is when they are at thier best. They have great riffs Dave Lombardo is one of the best drummers in metal and big Tom's vocals are up their with Ozzys banshee wails. My favourite Slayer track "Seasons in the Abyss" is on this one (funnily enough) I have grown to love Slayer and i think that the time invested in them has made me love them even more.
Slipknot - Vol.3 Subliminal Verses
Year 2000 eating dinner with my mum watching Chris Evans TFI Friday, (i loved that show) and along came a bunch of masked guys from Iowa going absolutly mental on UK television at 6pm. It was a mouth wide open moment and i love them then. I must admit after that initial love i thought they would be a gimic and be gone ina flash like the rest of the bands from that genre (there were some terrible bands from that Nu-Metal scene) Anyway i bought that debut and it has some great tracks on it. I didnt buy the Iowa the second album i had lost interest by then someone in my family bought it for me and well it was just ok soem good tracks. 3rd album vol.3 and the planets aligned for them. Firstly i remember seeing the video for Duality and it was amazing, so i went and bought the album the next day. Its a huge turning point for them they ceased to be the Nu-Metal mask wearers and became a solid Metal band in their own right. Vol.3 was incredibly well written and showed off talents int he band not seen before most notably the guitar solos. packed full of hits this album propelled the Knot to worthy headliners and i look forward to seeing them this summer.
Tool - 10000 Days
Pink Floyd of our generation? perhaps! I pick 10000 days above the others which are incredibly good purely because each album surpasses the last in terms of brilliance. A full on trip from start to finish this is a work of art. I first got into them watching an old MTV2 program on Sky Analog the one with only about 15 channels and then the German ones! It was a Korn take over hour they had just released Follow the Leader and were the big thing at the time they had picked the Tool videos Skinkfist and Parabola which are great videos in its own right and so i checked them out. The albums they come off are fantastic but 10000 days which i bought in Skipol Airport is amazing. Its got the best packaging of any album i own as well with the weird glasses that let you see the band in 3D once again Tool are ahead of the times. The fact you have to wait eons between releases is throughly worth the wait.
Note: No official video for this but this song is stunning so had to include it.
Alterbridge - Blackbird
Ok Ok now this isn't Metal but its hard rock which is very close and i love this album. Its incredibly well written rock music with great performers. Tremonti is an awesome guitsrist and song writer and i much prefer Miles Kennesdy to Scott Stapp. This is good fun uplifting rock music and i find my self listening to them all the time its been on my itunes top played for years, they never seen to leave me. Another band with out a bad album.
Amon Amarth - With Odin on Our Side
Back to proper metal and i thought i better put in a bit of Viking. Pass me my drinking horn! This is Metal to swig Ale to and bang your head furiously to the chunky riffs of the best Viking Metal there is. Behind the Norse Mythology and Viking imagery are songs as well crafted as a Viking Long boat. Great fodder!
Iron Maiden - Powerslave
How hard is it to pick one album from one of the all time greats with 15 studio albums! Very! I love this album, as a child i remember seeing the art work for Seventh Son of Seventh Son and wanting it, i saved up my pocket money and bought it on tape. Do kids do that any more? I mean i remember savign up what seemed like an eternity to buy a tape which makes it seem that much more important to you. Maybe because kids have such easy access to music with downloads and youtube that its all so expendable now. I remember my dad letting me stay up late to watch the last concert with Bruce Dickinson it was shown by the BBC and had that magician doing tricks between songs it was literally the coolest thing i had ever seen! Anyway Powerslave is my favorite Maiden album for the one fact it has more of my favorite songs than some of the other albums. Aces High., 2 Minutes to Midnight, Powerslave and Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Seeing them again in August and i can't wait they are an institution that keeps going i hope they continue to make and release new music for a long time to come.
I must note that int he running were Brave New World, Killers, Piece of Mind etc etc i love this video from Rock in Rio!
Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine
Fuck You I Wont Do What You Tell Me! What more reason do you need when you are 13 14 years old to love this.The cover art is what its all about! I remember a tape of this circulating round school we all copied it and it was mind blowing then. I wish as a band they had recorded more i think 3 albums and a crap covers album doesnt really warrant them headlining festivals 12 years later but i guess that is the power of that debut album in particular. But on its own that album is perfection music with a a message delivered with a bomb!
Children of Bodom - Are You Dead Yet?
Probably the one of the best Melodic Death Metal bands there is. Probably not their best but its the album that got me into them. Hatebreeder is probably better but i love this one equally. The keyboards and the guitar solos are spectacular. This album is a riot and throughly enjoyable from start to finish i even like the Billy Idol which is pretty much exactly the same as the original save the introduction of a kick ass solo improving the original. Alexi Lahio is one of the best shredders there are and this is a great example of him at his best.
Chimaira - The Infection
I love this album. Like Love it a lot! Any occasion is worthy of this baby. Its heavy as fuck! I love the sound effect and metal purists can fuck off whatever makes a good heavy song is fine by me. I would go as far to say this is perfect heavy! Sabbath esq slow in places with the notes lingering making you urge them on the feeling of anticipation it gives you is on another level of music listening. I am gutted Andols has left he is probably my favourite drummer next to Frost of Satyricon but the boys have never ever disapointed me, each release better than the previous. New album this year and i am buzzing for it. Rummors of a UK performance and i am not going to stop loving them due to personel changes. They do heavy as good as anyone period.
Lamb Of God - Ashes of the Wake
Saw them in the tent at Download festival errr 2005 something like that anyway and its was incendiary! Bought the album the next week and this one for me sticks out as it was the first one i owned. I only knew one song that first time i saw them it was "Now you've got something to die for!" it was in an advert for the Internet Provider Wanadoo, they are no longer with us but LOG are now one of the biggest Metal bands one the scene. Listening to them makes you want to circle pit in your bedroom all by yourself. Brutally Heavy a great album! Laid to Rest is insane!!!
Korn - Korn
Shame to pick the debut as it implies that everything after was not as good thats not exactly the case its jsut my favorite. It seems crazy to think that it was released in 1994! Waaaaaay ahead of their peers at the time. I first got into them around Follow the Leader i was a bit slow on the uptake. But they were heavy as at the time and without a doubt a huge influence on bands at the time. They had some may attempted copy acts but no one was as good as this. Its a shame they are a bit of a shadow of their former glory i mean they played my home town Plymouth Pavilions the worst venue i have been to. In their day they sold out Wembeley Arena. Would it be too much to ask for a full reunion. I feel lucky to have seen the original 5 member perform they were incredible and this debut is what they are all about. Brilliant album from start to finish!
Judas Priest - Screaming for Vengeance
I am sure i have said before, if an alien comes to Earth and asks you what is Heavy Metal hand them a Judas Priest CD. A toss up between this and British Steel but this one nicks it. Guitar Tones out of this world and vocals have not been performed like this since, pitches so high he can communicate with aquatic mammals. Rob Halford is a unique talent. This is the blueprint for modern Metal and the foundations of it becoming the standalone genre it is. Heavy, Melodic, Inspiring a career defining album from one of the greats.
In Flames - Come Clarity
Immortal - Sons of Northern Darkness
In my opinion the best album by the guys. They are the Black Metal band there from year dot but always distanced from all the craziness. Abbath doesn't seem to take himself too seriously and lets the music do the talking. The guitars buzz like a power saw and if you have a really imagination you can hear a Led Zeppelin influence, Tyrants is a Black Metal Kashmir. One of those albums that stays strong all the way through with the finale Beyond the North Waves being the best song of the album for me, its riff is as huge as the Norwegian landscape. A simply stunning album.
Ihshan - After
I choose this above "angL" purely for the song "The Barren Lands" woah! Ihsahns life after Emperor is thriving and he seems to be enjoying the creative freedom of being a solo artist. The clean vocals sound like David Bowie and his soundscpaes are stunning complex and compelling. A really interesting artist int he true sense of the word i am really hoping to get to Bloodstock to see him.
Emperor - In The Nightside Eclipse
In no way a coincidence i promise. Ihshan with Emperor. This is the classic really isn't it. I really like Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk as well. But this one tips it. Its got my favorite Emperor track " Cosmic Keys To My Creation & Times" alogn with "Black Wizards" and "Inno Satana" this must have been terrifying back in 1994.
Dimmu Borgir - Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia
Ok part of my says that these guys are cashing in on the Norwegian Black Metal thing, there is no doubt they are not the real deal in terms of burning down churches and all that stuff but what they are is a phenomenal metal band. This is a sonic assault, the guitar tones are heavy as and the drumming relentless. My first Dimmu album and still my favorite. What i got when i saw them was satisfaction, they dress up they look amazing, they are great musicians all of them and you really get your moneys worth. Shagrath is a great vocalist and front man. After hauling ass and turfing out two members (important ones as well Bass Player. Clean Vocals and the Keyboard player) i wondered what it would be like but the latest album Abrhadabra is just as epic as previous releases. I think that is a good adjective for this band EPIC
Dillinger Escape Plan - Ire Works
Took a while to get into this one but has got some great tracks on and now i love it, listen to it all the time. One for the modern metal fan, bit like Tool on steroids in places very interesting ideas on this album that come together extremely well. Some call it Math Metal due to the weird Time Signatures its defiantly out there in terms of being original but it remains aggressive and angry and therefore rooted in Metal. Great live and and i hope they get bigger and bigger!
Devil Wears Prada - With Roots and Branches Below
While we are talkign modern i am really into this band. They are brutally heavy. There is the whole argue as to whether this sort of band is metal as they heavily use Synths and Keyboards. As far as i am concerned it sounds heavy to me and i like it. Vocals are good and i even like the whinny guy's clean interludes, very american but it offers a relief from the punishing lead vocal. The Guitaring in places is amazing with some neat sweep picks here and there and some great melody, i even really like the Synth elements all the elements make it interesting to listen to. I really hope they do a tour of their own soon as i really want to see them. I would expect them to get pretty big as they are the kind of band to appeal to the younger generation of metal fan and me for that matter, i must like it as this album is top of my itunes i have listened to it 40 times in 6 months not including car plays. Its a great little album although i do have one issue. It is Chrisitan Rock / Metal this i don't have a problem with per say but when itunes puts the genre as Religious my top however many itunes songs read genre "Religious" it makes me look bad!
Ramsmtien - Mutter
For a band to have never released a bad album this must be good, of course it is! Germany's finest and their best album. if you ever have chance to see them live do it, it is simply astonishing all the stuff that goes on and then they play some pretty awesome songs as well. I would argue the best live act in the world currently. I cant remember where i first heard them, that is a good thing as they have kind of been ingrained. I am sure it was probably from MTV back in the day as they have had some pretty brilliant videos accompanying their songs. I defiantly remember watching XXX in the cinema and thinking the best bit of the film was the performance of "Fire Frei!". The songs on this album are so strong they must have had trouble picking singles. Industrial Heavy doesn't get any better than this.
Feat Factory - Demanufacture
First Fear Factory experience was seeing the video to their cover of Gary Numan's Cars, fast forward a few years i decided to give them another go. I must admit to not spending my money on them initially and doing a bit of dodgy downloading to check out some tracks. (i don't do this anymore and neither should you, check out bands on YouTube and then buy the MP3 if you are young or a CD like the old fashioned way if you are really old maybe an LP! Artists need people to buy the records if you like them support them so they will release more) Anyway i like the few tracks i downloaded so i went and bought pretty much all their albums, this is the stand out one its great the best example of their ultra heavy industrial sound. Replica has got to be one of my favorite metal tracks. I am a bit gutted as i have seen them only i don't remember much of it as i was hurting from a particularly large drinking session and was facedown in the field at the time, i hope they come back to the UK would really like to give them my full attention.
Godsmack - Faceless
Ok this is sad but i first heard of Godsmack from the song from the Mummy Film, "I stand alone". Great song! I really like them i love this album and Godsmack IV, both great albums. But why oh why dont they ever tour the UK. We really want to see you!!! They are great musicians and write good honest metal nothing to dislike really
Sepultura - Chaos AD
This is simply sublime! I first got into Sepultura through Roots as many did i guess but this heavier and has that organic feel to it. Its Metal in its purest form, you cant imagine them writing this with making money in mind its just what flowed naturally. "Territory" is one of my favorite tracks. Incredibly poignant today as it was in 1993. The percussion is some of the best you will hear, the guitar playing virtuoso without sounding all up its own ass and Max's throat of gravel spits out audible lyrics with aggressions! Its sweaty metal with class. I dare you to not headbang to this its simply impossible, it was made for it! Their finest work
Satyricon - Now Diabolical
This was a tough choice, probably my favorite Black Metal band. Live they were superb and one of the best gigs i have been to. Frost is my favorite drummer in metal, credited on album linear notes simply as Battery he really is the power source of Satyricon a relentless blast beat machine. Int he earlier days it was all about speed on this Satyricon calm it down a bit and show their songwriting class. Satyr is a very talented guy. This is dark menacing and brooding. Its exactly what you want from a Norwegian Black Metal band. You cannot deny them the commercial move as they need to be heard by more people. Look at it as a new chapter we still have the early black metal chapter and its great their place in that history is cemented but they have moved on probably as much as people as artists and i for one and glad they still release material and of such high quality. The traditional Black Metal sound has been done to death seeing it evolve into new territory is exciting and you are more likely to hear it at your local rock night. And lets face it its not an album your mum is going to like.
Pantera - Cowboys From Hell
Everyone picks Vulgar Display of Power and i can see why its a great album but this one for me is better. For one it has Cemetery Gates which is a beautiful song. Anselmo's full vocal range is on this album his sincere emotional voice is beautiful and his angry rasps truly pissed off! Dimebag says it was this album he found his "sound" and what a sound, he is quite rigthly revered as one of the great players. Riffs and Solos seem effortless but trying playing them! They are up there with the very greats of Metal and you couldn't argue with that. I am sure Jagermiester would like to thank Pantera for the millions of bottles sold.
Megadeth - Coutndown to Extinction
Yes i know i am a Metal heathen for not picking Peace Sells the blue print for perfect Threash Metal or for Rust in Peace for the ball breaking complexity. I love both those albums they are great but i also like Megadeth when they are a bit more accessible. These are very well written songs, this was a bit album for Megadeth it opened them up to a much wider audience and it was the one around when i was a kid. I had it on tape recorded from somewhere, years later i saw it in Tesco for £3.99 and immediately bought it thinking ha! thank you idiotic fools for buying your pop shit i have scored big time here! Not a bad track on here, the title track is about us destroying the environment, what the fuck i hear you say, yes but its very very good and has great lyrics. This is an easy to love album its well produced unlike Metallica i think that they move with the times a lot better. 90's Metallica has its moments but its not great and then St Anger. Megadeth's last album was up there with their best Dave Mustaine is a great song writer. Countdown is Metal for large venues sing along and have fun! Oh and if you see Skin O My Teeth Live look out for Daves Pick Scrape what a player!
Disturbed - Sickness
This is here simply because they are the best band i have seen in my crappy home town venue. They sounded great and were pretty sharp. I have read they are prone to mediocre live performances well when i saw them i had a great time and loved every track. This when iw as 20 years old or so was the album, the whole i hate my parents crap never did it for me but the heavy riffs and David Draimans voice sound too cool! Sing Oooooh Ahhhh Ahhhh and not have fun i dare you! Before Harry Potter even heard of the Stupify spell these guys were Stupifying all over the place!
Ozzy Osbourne - No More Tears
Soooooo many to choose from the double O but i pick this for my love of the title track. I am not a huge Zakk Wylde fan all his solos sound exactly the same so here is that solo in the early days when it was fresh. I remember this video being played on MTV alot during the 90's well the rock shows anyway! Whatever happened to Super Rock, and Headbangers ball on UK MTV, i dont want to watch super sweet 16th! Anyway this has song written by the great Lemmy its a great album but then so are so many of his solo albums. IF the metal world was upset when Dio died i am dreading the day when Ozzy goes as he is our God one of my heroes!
Rob Zombie - Hellbilly Deluxe
Bubblegum horror metal and ohhhhh so much fun! I love White Zombie as well as it goes and this is pretty much Rob carrying on where he left off with them. This album has great energy and when ever i hear Dragula its always welcome!
Soulfly - Back To The Primitive
This takes me back to my days living in Bristol being a major alchy! If i went to university it involved a long ass bus journey. I hate public transport in the UK its just shit and and expensive! So to numb the pain i would listen to this album very loud on my Mini-disk player (they were supposed to the be the next big thing!) and hope no one would sit next to me. 10 years later i am trying to loose the weight i put on through the years of boozing and it turns out Soulfly have their uses as they are great to row. In fact metal in general can give you that extra bit of adrenalin when you need it, harness the aggression and go for it! I still like a drink by the way. There are some great collaborations on this, Corey Taylor on Jump Da Fuck Up, Chino Moreno (His rap turned vocal assault is something quite special) on Pain and Sean Lennon on Son Song.
Monster Magnet - God Says No
Nile - Ithyphalic
Perfect Circle - Thirteenth Step
Marilyn Manson - Antichrist Superstar
Morbid Angel - Blessed Are The Sick
Nine Inch Nails - Downward Spiral
Meshuggah - Destory Erase Improve