Final Six: The Six Metal Albums/Non-Metal Albums Everyone Should Own
Chris “scurvy dog” Krovatin is the author of two young adult novels, Heavy Metal & You and Venomous. He is currently working on multiple new writing projects, as well as new material with his local New York metal band Flaming Tusk. He is a freelance writer for Revolver and generally comes off as a good-natured pain in everyone’s collective ass.
Look, us metalheads like other things. We have diverse musical tastes that embrace varying sources of atmosphere and melody. It’s not that we don’t like your music, it’s just that we’d often prefer metal, because we’re not always in the mood for Rancid, Underworld, or Little Richard, and we’ll always listen to Slayer. If you catch us on just the right day, we’ll put on the softest, weirdest, or cheesiest shit you’ve ever heard, and you have heard it, because it’s your music, too. Mostly, you guys don’t like our shit. We’re down with a lot of your albums, we just understand the scientific fact that most situations require something like “Holy Diver.” And yeah, admittedly, some of us learned that too early and forgot to open our minds a little.
But look at your record collection! Do you ever listen to this copy of Stay Hungry? How come you have two Napalm Death albums gathering dust down there? And what the…is that a Manowar record? Admit it—there are metal albums you love, non-metal buddy. Your wardrobe may suggest you’re a serial ghost-story writer circa 1922 or a clerk from the Gap circa 1984, but your heart is that of a Satanic wargoat, hammer held high. So whether you’re a metalhead who needs to branch out or a headbanging acolyte who needs an education, you should enjoy my picks for the Six Metal Albums and Non-Metal Albums Everyone Should Own.
The Six Metal Albums Everyone Should Own:
1) Slayer, Seasons in the Abyss With their intensity, overt morbidity, and complete lack of apologies, Slayer are a beautiful and unrelenting expression of metal’s extremity. This album sees them at their most well-rounded. Seasons is Slayer murdering the ’80s, introducing the world to its hideous future.
2) Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast Majesty is so much of metal, and Iron Maiden is majesty incarnate. Brilliantly intelligent, technically brilliant, and all around astoundingly, they changed both the face and soul of music with Beast. To understand metal, you must take the time to know this album.
3) Mötley Crüe, Shout at the Devil For the longest time, metal and punk were different creatures. Conventionally heavy-music history would say that this gap was bridged by thrash, but, in attitude, in particular, glam metal did the deed, too. Meet four metalheads who honestly—honestly—don’t give a fuck what you think.
4) Black Sabbath, Masters of Reality Yes, hard and extreme are part of the ethos of metal, but what of the Void? Is there anything harder and more extreme than the endless cold of eternal darkness? And is not that darkness what lies at the core of all human beings? Off you go.
5) Metallica, Master of Puppets Instinct plays such an important role in this music, and no album sounds more instinctually awesome than Master of Puppets. Upon first listen, it’s amazing. The second, third, and 400th listen only work to affirm this.
6) Opeth, Blackwater Park Death and black metal exist to showcase the undeniable beauty of pure ugliness. This album epitomizes that principle by moving beyond the supernatural horror of its peers and acknowledging the ugliness of humanity, wrapping it all in heartbreaking melody. A shining example of pushing boundaries in a genre often known for its limitations.
The Six Non-Metal Albums Everyone Should Own:
1) Portishead, Dummy It’s usually in the dark, quiet spaces that we hear ourselves most clearly. Dummy fuses soothing female vocal melodies with primal urban psytrance and uses it as a balm for the overdriven soul. A sigh can be a scream.
2) Frank Sinatra, Songs for Swinging Lovers “Swing” is an overused term to define assholes in fedoras snapping their fingers. But on this album, Nelson Riddle’s orchestra creates a brass pendulum of sound that allows Old Blue Eyes to manipulate his vocal patterns magnificently. Never say goodbye to romance.
3) Paul Westerberg, 14 Songs Fusing country, punk, and alternative rock, the ex-Replacements singer created a collection of tunes that touch the human soul without sounding mushy or stilted. Every indie-rock band on earth is striving to create this album.
4) Smashing Pumpkins, Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness There remains an old belief that rock music can be either sexy or deep, but never both. Perish the thought. There is an oasis in the desert of Cool, a place where dark psychedelia met with godlike attitude and merged to create something unbelievable, something large and scary.
5) The Clash, London Calling Punk is reactionary rock and roll brought low by a dissatisfaction with the way things are. And while wrath and chaos are part of that reaction, so is self-understanding, sorrow, and a sense of humor. What the Clash did with this record cannot be understated in the formation of the punk movement.
6) Michael Jackson, Thriller There are few moments where songwriting and technical ability come together in perfect harmony in typical pop music. Thriller is the ultimate example of such a confluence. Say what you want about its creators—this record is essential.