Every metalhead has favourite albums. Either being the milestones of discovery of new genres, or just personal favorites – some we revisit from time to time, some we just remember fondly.
But I am pretty sure we all have our personal top tens. Today, I’d like to talk about 10 metal albums which have contributed to my development as a metalhead. And that’s a helluva great personal journey, I have to say!
1. Accept – Metal Heart (1985)
There was a time when every metalhead I’ve known back in the day had been talking about Accept. Well, the “Metal Heart”, with the famous solo “Für Elisse“ has certainly contributed to the fame of those German metalheads, then still fronted by the small guy with a great crispy voice, Udo Dirkschneider. And even today this album stands out as a pillar of the German metal scene – and that scene is great to this very day, and for that we are all thankful, aren’t we?
2. Metallica – Master Of Puppets (1986)
Although as the time passes, I prefer Jump in the Fire EP as my favourite ‘llica material (and Master of Puppets with …And Justice For All would be together on the second place, that’s for sure), Master of Puppets was on the very same bootleg tape I’ve had Accept’s “Metal Heart” on, so it’s safe to say those two albums made me a metalhead. Being only 9 years old back then, even a kid could recognize the great stuff those thrashers present. And for the record, I’ve stopped to listen to them after Black Album, but that’s a story for another day, I guess. Still, Master of Puppets rule. No doubt about that.
3. Slayer – South of Heaven (1988)
And then along came Slayer. From the Big 4, Metallica and Slayer were the only bands I’ve regularly listened to (sorry, Anthrax, sorry, Megadeth – although I’ve found my way to Dave Mustaine’s stuff later on, while as for Anthrax, only album I’ve been able to listen to was State of Euphoria – liked it, but it didn’t convince me to pursue the other material by groovy thrashers from New York further).
While many would swear on Reign in Blood as the best album Slayer has ever put out (and with “Angel of Death” probably most controversial), the first two songs from South of Heaven (the titular one and “Silent Scream”) must convince anyone this is the fine stuff. And it is. For me, Araya & Co. did their best right here. End of story.
4. Sepultura – Arise (1991)
I won’t be able to tell you which album was the first encounter with those fierce Brazil guys from Bello Horizonte, but it was the middle of 1987, so it had to be either Bestial Devastation or Morbid Visions. And for my ears, accustomed to Metallica, Accept, Destruction and Helloween, this was the heaviest stuff there was. And heavy it was, but it was Arise with the shitloads of catchy trash-death tunes, which made it to the staple diet of a young metalhead. Beneath the Remains album was OK (and “Inner Self” was – and still is – a fucking kickass song), but “Arise”, “Desperate Cry”, “Dead Embryonic Cells” and the rest of Arise album simply bulldoze anything they did before to the ground. I need to say I’ve stopped to listen to Sepultura after Chaos A.D.
5. Death – Spiritual Healing (1990)
Ah, Death…would you believe I’ve exclusively had this tape in my tape player for about 6 months straight? Yep, I have and I’ll tell you a secret, the other album sharing this honor was, surprisingly, Enya’s The Memory of Trees – man, I love this album so much!
But Death’s Spiritual Healing record was – as far as I can remember – probably the first death metal album I’ve heard. Not so long ago I’ve played it again and the nostalgia coming from hearing those riffs was beyond belief. Fucking great record. And while later I’ve come back for Scream Bloody Gore and Leprosy, plus later stuff, Spiritual Healing is the best Chuck Schuldiner ever presented to my ears. RIP, man!
6. Bathory – Twilight of the Gods (1991)
Here again, older metalheads will definitely argue first Bathory albums were the best (and for Quorthon’s black metal era it’s undeniable he’s one of the fathers of black metal), I’ve falled in love with this magnum opus. The slow mood of the windy Scandinavian lands, the Viking themes, great musicianship and especially characteristical choruses – along with previous album, Hammerheart, Bathory single-handedly created the whole new genre – Epic (or Viking) metal. Not that this is the only thing I am grateful for, but Twilight… is to this day in my playlist. It’s simply great.
7. Cathedral – Forest of Equilibrium (1991)
Who would have guessed which musical way will Lee Dorian go after departing from grindcore monster called Napalm Death! Certainly not me but I’ve been hooked up the moment I’d read about it in one Czech fanzine (it was Metaliště fanzine, for your information).
And man, does that album kills!!! Doom and gloom simply flows through your speakers straight to your ears! I’ve used to listen to this album while reading H. P. Lovecraft’s stories and those two have created the perfect combo. To this day I’m thinking of Cathedral while re-reading Lovecraft – and of Lovecraft while re-listening to Cathedral. And I won’t stop anytime soon, that’s for sure!
8. Beherit – The Oath of Black Blood (1991)
Now it’s called a compilation (but I remember back in the day it was never called that, just an album), but I am not here to argue about it. But imagine the jaw falling down when I’ve seen the cover. What young metalhead didn’t want the t-shirt with that cover? I certainly did (but alas, never managed to get one). And luckily, I’ve been able to buy a tape from my friend who – although a metalhead himself to this day – haven’t really appreciated the chaotic black metal of Mikko Laiho and co. Well, I have and certainly agree this stuff is not for everyone. But I adore the chaotic nature of this album and the next one, Drawing Down the Moon is simply another classic of the genre, albeit in totally different way.
9. Mayhem – Live in Leipzig (1993)
De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is for me the pure essence of Mayhem, but the best recording of those evil Norwegian black metallers is this live material. Pure, undilluted evil filtered through Dead’s vocals and supported by no less evil music from Euronymous and the rest of the group. Along with Burzum debut (and Aske EP) this – at least for me – is the Norwegian black metal in it’s truest form.
And for the sake of completion, I’ve had this album only on tape, with black cover and pink Mayhem logo. The above cover with Dead was released only later.
10. Impetigo – Ultimo Mondo Cannibale (1990)
What an album! It took me ages to lay hands on the Polish bootleg tape of this amazing album, and it was probably the first expose of my ears to deathgrind/goregrind. And to this day, as we all agree (right?) it stands the test of time as the greatest goregrind album of all time. Who does disagree?
Apart from wild music and Stevo’s unbelievable vokills, this album introduced me to my favourite thing from metal records – intros made using the audio clips from various horror movies. Yes, back in the day every good album has some intro (and I truly miss this feature), but Impetigo has brought a fistful of them and also created a craving to get all those movies (and that has happened only long after I’ve been listening to this great album).
Of course, there are other albums I could have mentioned, but that would be outside the scope of this article (noisecore era of Meat Shits, for example)..damn, now I need to go and listen to those albums again!!!!