Sylencer Main Man Markus Johansson Picks the Top Five “Big Four” Albums

The brainchild of musician Markus Johansson, Sylencer recently released their new album, A Lethal Dose of Truth, which features guest appearances by Brendon Small (Dethklok), Gene Hoglan (Death, Testament), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Andy LaRocque (King Diamond), and Rob Caggiano (Anthrax). The last guest reflects Johansson’s love of the so-called “Big Four” of thrash metal–Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax. Below, he picks his top five albums by the Big Four bands.

1. Megadeth, Rust in Peace
“Arguably Megadeth’s finest hour, this album welcomed their most iconic lineup change, bringing lead guitarist Marty Friedman and drummer Nick Menza into the fold. Rust In Peace is relentless in its excellence, and you’d be hard pressed to find any Megadeth fan who wouldn’t fall out of their chair at the chance to see this lineup play this album in full.”

Recommended track: “Tornado of Souls.”
“On an album with iconic songs such as ‘Holy Wars,’ and ‘Hangar 18,’ “Tornado Of Souls’ reigns supreme because Marty Friedman’s guitar solo on this track could possibly be one of the greatest solos ever recorded…by anyone…ever.”

2. Slayer, Seasons in the Abyss
“This release has all of the classic elements that make a killer Slayer record for me, showcasing Slayer’s speed and intensity, while also slowing things down at times, and bringing in some melody. Seasons in the Abyss is also the last Slayer release to feature the legendary Dave Lombardo on drums, before his return nearly a decade later. If Lombardo had never returned to Slayer, this would’ve surely been a high note to leave on.”

Recommended track: “Seasons in the Abyss”
“‘Seasons’ is hands down my favorite Slayer song. I love everything about this track. The haunting intro, Dave Lombardo’s crazed drum fills, and the slightly more ‘melodic’ side of the shred we’ve come to know and love from guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman.”

3. Anthrax, Persistence of Time
“Anthrax made this record after losing most of their gear and recording studio to a fire. The result is a ‘darker’ side of Anthrax, both lyrically and musically. Sure, there’s the cover tune ‘Got the Time,’ which isn’t all that ‘dark,’ but there are some seriously killer songs on this album. A clean guitar intro with harmonized guitars even make an appearance, segueing into the lyrically charged and heavy ‘Belly of the Beast.’ Where Anthrax might have abandoned some of their brand of ‘speed metal’ on this album, they more than made up for with what some would call ‘maturity.'”

Recommended track: “Keep It in the Family”
“Even though this isn’t the track from Persistence of Time that made it into the Married with Children episode ‘My Dinner With Anthrax’ featuring the band, it has to be one of their best efforts to date. It’s heavy, groovy, and still maintains that classic Anthrax feel.”

4. Metallica, Masterof Puppets
“What can I possibly say about this album that hasn’t already been said 1,000 times before? From start to finish, this is arguably one of the best metal albums of all time. The longer songs all maintain their direction, as it was most likely the natural progression of the writing process that lead them there. They weren’t writing long tracks just for the sake of their being long. It explodes from where they left off with Ride the Lightning, and one can only imagine what direction the band would’ve taken on their next album, had Cliff Burton not tragically passed.

Recommended track: “Disposable Heroes”
“Warning: This song contains some of the best riffage that Metallica have ever produced. In fact, there are probably more great riffs in this song than on most other albums in their entirety. Contents may melt your face.”

5. Megadeth, Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying
“Despite the fact the song ‘Peace Sells’ has probably been played at every Megadeth gig since the song has been written, this album’s ‘Side B’ is the reason that I have put a second Megadeth album on a top five list that could have any number of alternate album listings from four of the biggest metal bands of all time. ‘Good Mourning/Black Friday’ and ‘My Last Words’ could easily have been the album’s first and fourth tracks, swapping positions with ‘Wake Up Dead’ and ‘Devil’s Island.’ And if you can juggle tracks around on an album in this way, just to rearrange the awesome, you know you’ve got something well worth listening to.”

Recommended track: “Good Mourning/Black Friday”
“The intro to this song is one of the coolest of Megadeth’s entire catalog. You could probably sit in a studio today, with an army of producers, engineers, and modern technology to try and recreate the sound and feel that was captured in this track, only to fail miserably. The ending of the song also rips something fierce.”


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  • rbase

    Two Megadeth albums? Ugh.

  • Brian Underkoffler

    I choose South of Heaven, Ride The Lightning, Sound of White Noise, Youthanasia, and Among The Living. Sound of White Noise shows that John Bush could handle taking over for Joey, most of the albums afterward say otherwise though.Ride The Lightning is equal to Puppets in my book so either way a great album is a great album. South of Heaven really shows that there was no slowing down or decline in the quality of their albums. Youthanasia is just a showcase of the evolution Megadeth went through with Marty and Nick. Among the Living is revered as the greatest album Joey sang on until Worship Music.

  • Brian Hudson

    Certainly, the omission of Slayer’s “Reign In Blood” was a mistake, right? Must be. No credible journalist naming the “Top 5 from the Big 4” would EVER leave off “Reign In Blood” unless the writer forgot. That must be it. I’m giving the writer the benefit of the doubt here. Must’ve been an accidental omission. Right??

    • Markus Johansson

      It was an opinion piece, of my top 5 favorites. I’m a musician, not a journalist. Just because I didn’t list an album, doesn’t mean it’s any less awesome/influential.