Paranoid, by Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath, with Ozzy and without, has been around like, forever. But it was still easy to pick an album from their litter for this listing. I had to go with their second album from 1970, “Paranoid.” The reasoning behind this was simple. The album hums. The album rocks. The album rolls. It’s just a hot-ass album from beginning to end. Who can forget great, heavy tunes such as “Iron Man,” “War Pigs” and “Paranoid?”
Destroyer, by KISS
Yeah, KISS. What more really needs to be said? If you were a metal head and lived through the ’70s without listening to KISS, then you missed out on a lot. This 1976 recording, “Destroyer,” always felt like one of the steelier KISS efforts to me. “God of Thunder” rocks. “Shout It Out Loud” kicks tail all over the place. And there’s even “Beth” for those who like the softer tunes.
Bomber, by Motorhead
Motorhead was one of those bands that has so much great material, it was somewhat difficult to decide which album to include on this list. Everyone’s familiar with the ever-popular “Ace of Spades,” but I chose “Bomber” from 1979 instead because I’ve always felt it had a harsher, more guttural feel to it than other Motorhead works. The lyrics have always struck me as a bit more loaded, and Lemmy’s voice really shines on “Lawman,” “Stone Dead Forever” and “Dead Men Tell No Tales.”
Highway to Hell, by AC/DC
Despite this band’s longevity, and all they’ve accomplished, I tend to think of them more as a hard, bluesy rock band than a true metal band. Still, they’ve got plenty of metal in them, and 1979’s “Highway to Hell” is, in my opinion, their most metal album to date. With a song titled “Highway to Hell,” it’s just got to be metal, right? And tunes like “Love Hungry Man” and “Walk All Over You” only add to the heat.
British Steel, by Judas Priest
There was a lot of material to pick from Judas Priest, but this 1980 album makes the grade because it’s got to be the toughest, raunchiest recording the band has put out. Besides the radio charter, “Breaking the Law,” you’ll also find other hotter than hot tunes here like “Metal Gods” and “The Rage.”
The Number of the Beast, by Iron Maiden
Song titles alone could have earned a place on this list for this 1982’s recording, but besides that, “The Number of the Beast” has got to be one of the most influential metal albums of all time. With songs like “The Number of the Beast,” “Hallowed be thy Name” and “Children of the Damned,” Iron Maiden has more than earned its place among the legends of heavy metal.
Holy Diver, by Dio
This 1983 album featured Ronnie James Dio and band at their finest. Songs that made the charts, “Holy Diver” and “Rainbow in the Dark,” are still heavy all these years later, and “Straight Through the Heart” is still an awesome tune.
Stay Hungry, by Twisted Sister
What is Twisted Sister doing here? Weren’t they a glam band? No, not really, or at least Dee Snider and boys have never really thought of themselves that way. Yeah, maybe they had the makeup and the frizzy hair and spandex, but if you really listen to this album from 1984, you’ll realize it’s metal. The song “Captain Howdy” is downright creepy. And there’s always the favorites, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock.”
… And Justice for All, by Metallica
I know a lot of Metallica fans prefer earlier albums, and I have to admit there’s some darn good material there, but I’ve always preferred 1988’s “… And Justice for All” because it felt more complete to me for some reason. It’s almost like a concept album in its constant thrashing. Even the slower songs, “One” and “To Live is to Die,” are gut wrenching. But my favorite on the album? Man, that’s a hard one. I’ll go with “Blackened.”
Badmotorfinger, by Soundgarden
Yes, it’s a grunge band. Or what came to be known as a grunge, or alternative, band. But Soundgarden was really more than that. The band was older than grunge itself, and it rocked hard with a heavy, low, bluesy sound. “Badmotorfinger,” from 1991, has Chris Cornell and the boys kicking ass on songs such as “Jesus Christ Pose,” “Holy Water” and “Outshined.”
Countdown to Extinction, by Megadeth
Some might scowl that of all the Megadeth recordings that could’ve made this list, I picked the band’s most radio-friendly album from 1992. The reasoning behind this is two-fold. First, the entire albums burns leather from beginning to end; it’s not just a great song here and there, but full of great tunes. Second, it’s a rocking album, even if it did get lots of radio time. Some of my favorites from this album are “Countdown to Extinction,” “Ashes in Your Mouth” and “Sweating Bullets.”