Sunday, July 02, 2017

Rolling Stone Reviews the Top 100 Metal Albums

I love lists and taking apart the ideas and concepts behind each list, particularly with music. Here I looked at the Top 100 Guitarists, the Top 100 guitar songs, and the Top 100 Indie Rock albums. When Rolling Stone reviewed the Top 100 Metal Albums, I was excited to take it all apart and give my 2 cents to the Internet.

Key BandAlbums
Black Sabbath6
Iron Maiden3
Judas Priest3
Ozzy Osbourne2

I started by looking at the list and seeing the "key bands" that they were framing the list around.  They chose Black Sabbath / Ozzy, Dio / Rainbow, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Megadeth, Metallica, Pantera and Slayer.   Not only did they make up 29 of the 100 spots, they represented 16 of the top 20 album slots and almost all of the top ones.  Plus... they cheated by putting a "compilation album" for Motorhead "No Remorse" near the top rather than 2-3 Motorhead albums so probably they are a "key band" with an asterix.

This seems like a pretty reasonable list.  One of the key assumptions in this list is the question
What is heavy metal... and is Band "X" heavy metal or not?
Immediately there are a few bands that I would think of as "heavy metal" (or the equivalent of the "Turing Test" for heavy metal - would your parents at the time view it as heavy metal)  that aren't on the list.  Here are the key ones:

  1. AC/DC - AC/DC is certainly Rock N' Roll but "Back in Black" is possibly one of the most metal albums ever and certainly impacted music immeasurably in this genre.  If you like Bon Scott era metal, then you could pick "Highway to Hell".   Either way, I think AC/DC should have made then list but then you probably need to put 2-3 albums in there and then either "thin out" a few of the key bands or drop a lot of the "one off" bands
  2. Rush - Rush is progressive rock but when you think of "2112" that is a giant metal album with shrieking guitars and screaming and monstrous riffs.  You also have the "Working Man" era Rush as well.  Like AC/DC, the problem with adding Rush is that likely you'd have a few albums in there and it would bump the list a lot
  3. Guns N' Roses - "Appetite for Destruction" is absolutely metal.  It has screaming, heavy guitars, and lots of drugs and sex.  Plus, it would be easy to include because you'd just add one album and forget the rest, unlike AC/DC and Rush which would set off a lot of "how can you just take one" questions.  This one is just a plain-and-simple miss
  4. Bon Jovi - I hate to even bring them up (Bon Jovi opened for the Scorpions in the first metal show I ever saw) but if you have Motley Crue and Def Leppard and Van Halen on here... then you need to throw in Bon Jovi.  Their albums were simply everywhere and swamped the airwaves.  I don't want them either, but your list is inconsistent and that bothers me...
  5. Nine Inch Nails - NIN can be classified a few ways but absolutely dominated the radio for a whole era and are a personal favorite of mine.  "The Downward Spiral" and "With Teeth" are absolutely metal and I am not even getting to the classic "Head Like a Hole".  If I write the list then NIN are there with three albums don't care what you say (Pretty Hate Machine, The Downward Spiral, and With Teeth).  We can figure out the rest later
  6. Led Zeppelin - yeah I can hear you groan but someone once said "Led Zeppelin Four invented modern metal" and went through all the genres that came out of single songs from the metal ballad to doom metal to everything.  And I haven't even thrown Immigrant Song and Kashmir in there.  I know that this totally screws up the list and maybe you need 110 albums now but really more or less Plant / Page dominated this genre in a meta sense

Once you decide what is "metal" or "not metal" (and above I note my challenges with their categorization), then you fill in the rest of the list.  There are 70 other bands on there with an album (and Motley Crue has two, but I just can't bring myself to categorize them as essential.  Sorry).

If you go to a web site like "Loudwire" they have lists and they categorize all the albums by a particular artist.  They take these rankings VERY seriously.  When they need to make choices like "which of Dio's albums are the best" they start to say "hey, these are all great albums, but we need to rank them for a list" and almost pre-apologize for their rankings.  It seems like mostly Rolling Stone would pick the "consensus #1 album" from sites like this.  For example - Korn - they picked their debut album while I would have picked "Follow the Leader" but hey, that's the same one on Loudwire.  So it is probably more me than them.

While I expected Rolling Stone to be "all about the 70's", in fact they did include some more recent albums on the list which let them add bands like Mastodon, Baroness, and Deafhaven.  I think they missed some (Clutch, Pallbearer and possibly Royal Blood) but any list has fuzzy boundaries.

Here is the entire list...

100City of EvilAvenged Sevenfold2005Other
98Monoliths and DimensionsSunn O)))2009Other
97From Mars to SiriusGojira2005Other
95Images and WordsDream Theater1992Other
93La SexorcitoWhite Zombie1992Other
92Take as Needed for PainEyehategod1993Other
91Torture GardenNaked City1990Other
90Body CountBody Count1992Other
88TerrifyerPig Destroyer2004Other
87Hail to EnglandManowar1984Other
86As the Palaces BurnLamb of God2003Other
85Transilvanian HungerDarkthrone1994Other
84Blessed Black WingsHigh on Fire2005Other
83The Red AlbumBaroness2007Other
82Left Hand PathEntombed1990Other
81Under the Sign of the Black MarkBathory1987Other
80Psalm 69Ministry1992Other
79Slaughter of the SoulAt the Gates1995Other
78Dimension HatrossVoivod1988Other
77Destroy Erase ImproveMeshuggah1995Other
76Stay HungryTwisted Sister1984Other
75CovenantMorbid Angel1993Other
74Welcome to HellVenom1981Other
71VividLiving Color1988Other
69Louder than LoveSoundgarden1989Other
68Portrait of an American FamilyMarilyn Manson1994Other
67Operation MindcrimeQueensryche1988Other
66White PonyDeftones2000Other
65Angel DustFaith No More1992Other
63Agent OrangeSodom1989Other
61Jane DoeConverge2001Other
59From Enslavement to ObliterationNapalm Death1988Other
58River Runs RedLife of Agony1993Other
57Anthems to the Welkin at DuskEmperor1997Other
56Calculating InfinityDillinger Escape Plan1999Other
55Blackwater ParkOpeth2001Other
53Bloody KissesType O Negative1993Other
52PyromaniaDef Leppard1983Other
49Through Silver in BloodNeurosis1996Other
48RisingRainbow1976Key Band
47South of HeavenSlayer1988Key Band
45Bonded by BloodExodus1985Other
44Shout at the DevilMotley Crue1983Other
43Stained ClassJudas Priest1978Key Band
42Lightening to the NationsDiamond Head1980Other
41Blues for the Red SunKyuss1992Other
40De Mysteriis Dom SathanasMayhem1994Other
39Far Beyond DrivenPantera1994Key Band
38PowerslaveIron Maiden1984Key Band
37Heaven and HellBlack Sabbath1980Key Band
36Women and Children FirstVan Halen1980Other
35Kill Em AllMetallica1983Key Band
34Master of RealityBlack Sabbath1971Key Band
33Countdown to ExtinctionMegadeth1992Key Band
32SabotageBlack Sabbath1975Key Band
31Seasons in the AbyssSlayer1990Key Band
29Chaos ADSepultura1993Other
28Morbid TalesCeltic Frost1984Other
27ToxicitySystem of a Down2001Other
26DirtAlice in Chains1992Other
25The Black AlbumMetallica1991Key Band
24Rage Against the MachineRage Against the Machine1992Other
22Too Fast for LoveMotley Crue1981Other
21And Justice for AllMetallica1988Key Band
20Among the LivingAnthrax1987Other
19Rust in PeaceMegadeth1990Key Band
17MelissaMercyful Faith1983Other
16Holy DiverDio1983Key Band
15Diary of a MadmanOzzy Osbourne1981Key Band
14Vol 4Black Sabbath1972Key Band
13Iron MaidenIron Maiden1980Key Band
12Screaming for VengeanceJudas Priest1982Key Band
11Ride the LightningMetallica1984Key Band
10Vulgar Display of PowerPantera1992Key Band
9Blizzard of OzzOzzy Osbourne1980Key Band
8Peace Sells But Who's BuyingMegadeth1986Key Band
7No RemorseMotorhead1984Other
6Reign in BloodSlayer1986Key Band
5Black SabbathBlack Sabbath1970Key Band
4The Number of the BeastIron Maiden1982Key Band
3British SteelJudas Priest1980Key Band
2Master of PuppetsMetallica1986Key Band
1ParanoidBlack Sabbath1970Key Band

Cross Posted at Chicago Boyz

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