The idea here is I pimp 10 things I like.
- 5 are recommended for people new to whatever (in this case, Heavy Metal albums!)
- 5 are for those willing to take a chance on something a bit harder or a bit more crazy.
The Easy to Get Into 5
1. Metallica – Master of Puppets
So what’s the best Metallica album? Black album, right? Enter Sandman, Nothing Else Matters, The Unforgiven…. classic songs. It sold a bazillion copies… right?
Well if you ask a (puts on elitist hat) ‘true fan’ it’s Master of Puppets. A fantastic Thrash Metal album from beginning to end. It’s often regarded as the best Heavy Metal album ever made. But you know… screw lists.
If you wondered what Metallica did before they hit the big time, this is where to start.
2. Mastodon – Crack the Skye
Mastodon are cooler than you.
Did you make a concept album about astral travel and Rasputin? No, I didn’t think so.
This album is easy to recommend despite having two songs over 10 minutes. Losing a lot of their previous Sludge Metal traits, this album is more Prog Metal/Rock. For starters, you can understand the lyrics.
It took me a while to get the hang of it, since it’s a bit ponderous. Somewhere in this album, maybe the third or fourth time you hear it, you’ll find yourself absolutely swept up and lost in the music.
Front runner for my favourite album for 2009.
3. Opeth – Ghost Reveries
So there is a link below to a live recording of ‘Ghost of Perdition’. For exactly one minute you will be wondering why this is one the ‘Easy’ list. Faced with a bunch of ‘wookies’ on stage death growling away , it’s a WTF moment.
Then it hits the clear (non-growling) singing and it’s quite funky. A bit more growling before 2:30 and then suddenly it’s very soft and songful. Seriously WTF?!?! This my friends, is Opeth.
This band regularly produces 10+ minute songs that stretch over several genres including Doom Metal, Prog Rock and Folk music. Even more noteable is the fact that everyone loves them! There’s not too much growling, the musical talent on display is fantastic and they are cool and interesting enough to attract a wide audience.
Dare I say it, this is the best metal band in the world right now.
4. Dethklok – The Dethalbum
The highest charting Death Metal album on Billboard, ever. What? How?
Well for starters, the band isn’t actually real. It’s a fake band ala Spinal Tap. Except in this case it was created for the cartoon series Metalocalypse. Parodying (and indulging in) the cliches of extreme metal the series is a bit of a guilty pleasure. That means you have to find ultra-violence funny to appreciate it.
As for the music, it’s actually great. The album features Gene ‘The Atomic Clock’ Hoglan on drums. I could go into great depths about it, but lets just say the first song ‘Murmaider’ is about mermaids committing murder. If that made you giggle, check it out.
5. Iron Maiden – Number of the Beast
I know a few people older than me that sweared by this band. I’d say I liked Mastodon and they’d say “Oh I don’t like the new Heavy Metal, just give me Iron Maiden”. I never quite understood.
So it came as quite a surprise when I realised Iron Maiden is actually fantastic. I’m not even going to give them a stupid name. This is Heavy Metal.
It’s got the guitar solos and well written songs, and the wailing 80s squeals have enough charm to make the whole thing quite likable. Maybe they’ll never make Triple J’s hottest 100 like Queen and Led Zep, but if you look around you’ll see an army of fans who appreciate this classic band.
The Crazy 5
1. Dream Theater – Scenes from a Memory
So lets start out the crazy list with something crazy…
A true Prog Metal concept album, featuring a modern man haunted by the ghost of a girl from 1928. It’s got two acts, 10+ minute songs, a cast of characters and starts with a hypnotist putting you to sleep.
Anyway, I’ve only just got into the band. My initial reaction was the singer sounds a bit ‘try-hard’ and the whole thing is a bit geeky. Though after a few listens, it really started to win me over.
Also… the best story I ‘ve head about Dream Theater is that they had played their concert then at the end announced they were playing “Master of Puppets”. Not the song… the album. They played the whole Metallica Album following their original set. That’s the coolest thing ever!
2. Mastodon – Leviathan
The second appearance for Mastodon is actually a better album than Crack The Skye. It’s down in the crazy list as it’s Sludge Metal. Distorted vocals and guitars are the order of the day.
It’s also got a better idea for a concept album… Leviathan is ‘Moby Dick – The Heavy Metal album‘
It could be my favourite Metal album. At least it’s one I could listen to nearly any time. What works for me is the feeling of churning and rolling in the music that represents the ocean. Plus it’s got one of my favourite epic songs at the end, ‘Hearts Alive’, which runs over 13 mintues long.
It’s regarded as a classic, and I love it to bits, though no-one I know likes it quite as much as me.
3. Arch Enemy – Rise of the Tyrant
Angela Gossow is awe inspiring.
The beginning and end of female Heavy Metal vocalists as far as I’m concerned (and no Jada Pinkett Smith doesn’t count). Female death growling == crazy list.
While the vocalist may be attention grabbing for this band, they are backed up by two brothers who are among the best guitarists around. They hit the right mix of guitar solos, and ‘brutality’ without getting nasty (eg. Most of their songs are about fighting unnamed fights and struggling against… you know… bad stuff). Plus it’s always good when your genre isas awesome sounding as Swedish Melodic Death Metal.
I may say other bands are better… if I talk about my favorite, it has to be Arch Enemy.
4. Lamb of God – Ashes of the Wake, Sacrament & Wrath
These guys are seen to be at the fore front of The New Wave of American Heavy Metal (as opposed to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal… eg. Iron Maiden in the 80s). I put them on the crazy list since the aggro nature of the band turns a lot of non-metal listeners off. If you want to know what’s popular right now, this is where to look.
Generally known as Groove Metal I’ve also heard these guys called Meat and Potatoes Metal due to their solid and reliable approach.
Personally I think they have some of the best metal musicians I know of, particularly the drummer. I also tend to think they put out albums that are 80% great and 20% average. Due to this fact I’ve listed all three of their recent albums as they’ve all got something to offer, yet never quite knock it out of the park.
5. Everything else… ok screw it…
So I’ll admit, I was torn on the last entry. I’d already featured my favourites, so I thought I should hit some of my crazy other albums.
Maybe faster with Caffeine Metal, City by Strapping Young Lad…
Perhaps Math Metal with Meshuggah (I actualy haven’t heard this album, bnut I plan to get it)
Or maybe something old like Black Sabbath or even Led Zepplin…
Instead…. feat your eyes on the glory that is D&D Power Metal!