Here Are 10 Metal Albums You Must Hear Before You Die
By Alex Distefano
I have been a heavy metal fan for over 50 percent of my existence on this planet. But when you're talking about the all-encompassing musical genre known as "heavy metal," you might as well be talking about something as infinitely complicated as the universe. It's that vast, and the amount of territory to cover is limitless, especially for the uninitiated.
From traditional heavy metal, to the many sub-genres of metal -- black metal, thrash, death metal, grindcore, etc. -- there seems to be an eternity of music out there, from the younger up-and-comers to old-school favorites that stand the test of time. Coming up with a list of 10 was not as easy a task. After hours upon hours of listening, serious contemplation, and coin-flipping, I managed to come up with a list that, although definitely biased towards a more aggressive and extreme forms of heavy metal, still highlights some amazing albums that contain solid musicianship and, above all, great songs.
10. Mercyful Fate, Melissa (1983)
How could I have any sort of legitimate discussion about anything metal without including one of the most revered vocalists in the genre, King Diamond? This debut album, released by Mercyful Fate in 1983, is a classic record for anyone who's into heavy metal. Melissa was definitely ahead of its time and was at the forefront of heavy metal music.
Interestingly, Diamond was the first to use corpse paint on his face as part of his live act, and the songs on Melissa (and later releases) paved the way for black metal, power metal, thrash metal and even major acts such as Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer among a countless horde of other metal bands. King Diamond's high-pitched operatic voice is so distinct you can tell it's him from the first note, and Melissa set that standard. Classics include the opening track "Evil," "Into the Coven," "Curse of the Pharaohs," "Black Funeral," and "Satan's Fall." Without this album, modern-day bands like Ghost would not exist.
9. Possessed, Seven Churches (1985)
Seven Churches, the debut album from Possessed, is pivotal to the entire sub-genre of death metal, and founding member Jeff Becerra (bass/vocals) is even said to have coined the term "death metal" in 1983; it's the title of the last song on this record. To this day, this collection of songs is revered as not only the first death metal album, but the missing link between death metal, thrash metal, and even -- some might argue -- black metal. Original guitarist Larry LaLonde (currently in Primus) buzzes through heavy-hitting songs like "Burning In Hell," "Pentagram," Evil Warriors," "Satan's Curse," and the smashing, evil yet melodic first song, "The Exorcist."