Revolver has an exclusive 2LP edition of Mastodon's new double album, Hushed and Grim, with a hand-screened album wrap designed by artist Paul Romano. It's available as part of our limited-edition Fall Issue bundle — get yours before they're gone!
Crafting a double album is one of the riskiest choices a band can make. By multiplying the length of an average LP, the band has twice as much space for creative exploration and sonic possibilities as they have room for error. The vast majority of double albums get bogged down by length, lose focus or are just plain unnecessary, but making a truly spectacular double album is a mark of artistic greatness.
With prog-metal veterans Mastodon trying their hand at it with their upcoming opus, Hushed and Grim, and Iron Maiden recently unveiling the epic Senjutsu, we asked our readers to comb through rock and metal's rich history and choose their favorite double album. The top five vote-getters are ranked accordingly below.
Released as two separate albums on the same day, Guns N' Roses' 1991 opus, Use Your Illusion, arrived three years after the band's contentious G N' R Lies record and sealed their place as one of the most popular and commercially successful hard-rock bands of all time. Spawning hits like "November Rain," "Don't Cry" and covers of songs by Paul McCartney ("Live and Let Die") and Bob Dylan ("Knockin' on Heaven's Door") that made them canon for a whole new generation, Use Your Illusion remains a quintessential double album to this day.
Following an impeccable run of releases — 1989's Pretty Hate Machine, 1992's Broken EP and the genre-defining 1994 masterpiece The Downward Spiral — Nine Inch Nails were at a crossroads: How do we follow that up? Well, a double album did the trick. Trent Reznor and Co.'s tremendous 1999 LP, The Fragile, brought more ambient and instrumental electronic elements into their signature industrial-rock ound, resulting in an ambitious knockout that's only continued to gain critical recognition as it's aged.
In many cases, the double album is a format bands turn to when they've already achieved success in one lane and want to push the limits of their creative ambitions. For the Smashing Pumpkins, it was their double album, 1995's Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, that made them alt-rock icons, producing smash singles like "Bullet With the Butterfly Wings" and "1979" that launched their stormy grunge onto Top 40 radio. How many bands have become stars off of two-hour-long records?
Led Zeppelin's sixth installment in one of the most beloved runs in rock history also happens to be one of the most acclaimed double albums of all time. The band's 1975 double LP, Physical Graffiti, saw the English group folding all of their many musical stylings under one sonic roof, traversing hard rock, folk, neo-classical, prog and more throughout an expansive 82-minute affair. It's best enjoyed as one full piece, but individual tracks like "Houses of the Holy" and "Kashmir" are also some of the band's greatest songwriting achievements.
For many rock fans, the Beatles' White Album and Pink Floyd's the Wall are the definitive double albums — and in this poll, the metal-minded voters chose the latter, the more consistently darker and twisted of the two. Still opening the jaws (and minds) of dorm-room psychedelic travelers to this day, Pink Floyd's 1979 concept record is one of rock & roll's most majestic feats — an album so transformative that it was adapted into both a feature film and a straight-up opera.