First things first, Pantera's Cowboys From Hell is not their first album. We love it, too, but it doesn't belong on this list no matter how many of you voted for it. Second things second, GN'R's Appetite for Destruction is a mind-blowing classic of a first record, but for the purposes of this poll, we're not counting it as "metal" per se. Awesomely badass hard rock, definitely; metal, not this time, at least. Those two disclaimers behind us, here in ranked order are the top five LPs you voted for when asked to pick the single greatest debut metal album ever. Debate, disagree, discuss‚ but above all, blast them at high volume.
"Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast!" It's one of metal's great shout-along choruses, off one of metal's great album openers, off one of metal's greatest first albums. From "Davidian" to "Block," Machine Head's 1994 debut is all killer, no filler, slamming together Pantera's far-beyond-heavy groove, Biohazard's urban grittiness and Slayer's repentless thrash to create something revolutionary and, if not exactly eye-burning, definitely eye-opening as to the shape of metal to come.
While many may debate which Metallica LP is actually the best, the simple fact that a rookie band could make a debut LP that has stood the test the time the way that Kill 'Em All has speaks volumes. Credit Dave Mustaine for his contributions to this monster, of course — Kill 'Em All is the beginning of thrash, and rocks just as hard today as it did back in 1983. No wonder Metallica close so many of their shows with its classic mission statement "Seek and Destroy."
Long before the phrase "nu-metal" became instant grounds for cringery, Korn were inspiring a new generation of disenfranchised suburbanites that they too were capable of transforming their anger and trauma into something artful. Jonathan Davis turned the abuse he had faced growing up into a padded-cell-ready vocal style few could keep up with, all soundtracked by screeching, tribalistic guitar grooves and a hip-hop–inflected rhythm section.
The fastest-selling metal debut in American history (per Soundscan), Slipknot's eponymous LP catapulted the Iowa band to international stardom immediately upon its release, legitimizing their rowdy, masked antics by way of hard-hitting, sample-spiked arrangements ("(sic)"), insidiously catchy choruses ("Wait and Bleed," "Spit It Out"), and of course, Corey Taylor's gut-wrenching vocal exorcism, which remains iconic to this day. Nearly two decades later, songs like "Eyeless" and "Eeyore" still cut straight to the bone.
Ozzy, Iommi, Geezer and Ward's self-titled debut isn't just a great record — its tolling death bells, netherworldly howls and blues-turned-pitch-black riffs set the tone for an entire movement, a genre, a lifestyle and a sound. This is heavy-metal ground zero and simply one of the most important artistic statements ever made.