Guitar World's 10 Essential Classic Metal Albums
This list of Guitar World's 10 essential classic metal albums is part of a much larger feature—Guitar World's 100 Essential Guitar Albums—which you'll be seeing in the weeks ahead.
For the time being, we'll start you off with these 10 masterpieces from guys named Tipton, Hammett, Young and Slash.
And, to help you get into the spirit of the music on this list, we thought you could use some inspiration:
INSPIRATIONAL VERSE: "I'm on the highway to hell!" — "Highway to Hell," AC/DC
INSPIRATIONAL LICK: "Iron Man," Black Sabbath
THE LOOK: Leather trousers, demin jacket and long, unwashed hair. Shirt optional.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE:
• Guitar: Gibson Les Paul, Gibson Flying V
• Amps: Marshall JCM800 (with 4x12 full stack, dude!)
• Effects: Rangemaster Treble Booster, DOD 250 Overdrive/Preamp, Dunlop Cry Baby Wah, MXR Flanger, MXR Phase 90
02. AC/DC — Highway To Hell (1979) Frontman Bon Scott penned the most depraved songs of his notorious career for Highway To Hell, then went and drank himself to death. Back In Black sold more, but Highway is still the purest distillation of AC/DC's electric brilliance.
01. Black Sabbath — Paranoid (1970) A landmark event in the annals of hearing loss, Paranoid is loud, brutal, angry, hilarious, scary, mildly retarded and gut-churningly heavy — in short, everything you'd want from a great heavy metal record. While "Electric Funeral" might be kind of a lame metaphor for nuclear holocaust, "War Pigs," "Iron Man," "Fairies Wear Boots" and the hard-charging title track are still remarkably fresh an potent decades on.
09. Thin Lizzy — Jailbreak (1976) On Jailbreak, the dueling Les Pauls of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson filigreed Phil Lynott's finest songs with gorgeous harmony leads, forging a melodic brand of metal whose soulful swagger remains unrivaled.
08. Slayer — Reign In Blood (1986) With 10 blinding tracks crammed into 29 minutes, this album set new standards for metallic speed and heaviness; songs like "Postmortem" and "Angel of Death" took the darkness of vintage Sabbath and magnified it tenfold.
07. Motörhead — Ace of Spades (1980) Lemmy himself claims there have been better Motörhead records, but none swings harder or packs a meaner thrust than this. So hot it could have been pressed on rawhide, Spades remains the band's definitive statement.
06. Metallica — Master of Puppets (1986) Hetfield's pile-driving chords, Hammett's rapid-fire solos and Burton's "lead bass" are hear to brilliant effect here, while "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" proved that the band's melodicism on 1984's "Fade to Black" was no mere fluke.
05. Judas Priest — British Steel (1980) Over three decades of musical partnership, Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing had virtually defined the phrase "twin guitar attack," and their chemistry was never more potent than on British Steel.
04. Iron Maiden — The Number of the Beast (1982) Christian groups decried the band's use of satanic imagery on this, but in reality, the most demonic (and influential) things on the record were the rippling leads of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith.
03. Guns N' Roses — Appetite For Destruction (1987) The surprise success of Appetite for Destruction single-handedly reversed the course of Eighties metal — out went spandex, pointy headstocks and lame party anthems, and in came tattoos, Les Pauls and badass attitudes.
10. UFO — Strangers in the Night (1979) Thousands of guitarists would happily trade their frontal lobes today for Michael Schenker's full-throated, wah-inflected tone, and Strangers in the Night is a major reason why.