Treble’s Top 100 Metal Albums

top 100 metal albums

Carcass Necroticism90. CarcassNecroticism — Descanting the Insalubrious
(1991; Earache)

Bill Steer & Co. are now the wise elders of death metal, demanding continued recognition with last year’s excellent Surgical Steel, but more than two decades ago they triumphantly led the genre into the ’90s. On their third album, the aptly-titled Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious, they refined their heavy, violent sound and finally completed the musical maturation that they showed on predecessor Symphonies of Sickness, turning in one of the tightest and most brilliant guitar records in metal’s corpus. With the incendiary duo of Steer and Michael Amott – who would carry them on to even better work later — leading the way, this violent album isn’t for the faint of heart. But it is an indispensible death metal classic. – Connor Brown

Type O Negative Bloody Kisses89. Type O NegativeBloody Kisses
(1993; Roadrunner)

The self-professed ‘four dicks from Brooklyn’ had already made their mark on the east coast hardcore scene with their debut offering Slow, Deep and Hard and its follow-up The Origin of the Feces, but it was the band’s third record that helped spread their self-depreciating sorrow nationwide. Equal parts hardcore, goth rock and doom metal with a sprinkling of Beatlesque psychedelia, Bloody Kisses comprised a sound with no comparison. In spite of the exquisite cacophony of sounds that the Drab Four managed to conjure up, Bloody Kisses wasn’t necessarily a walk in the park, with loss, grief and unrequited love being central themes of many of its songs. That being said, a certain sense of tongue-in-cheek humor runs throughout Bloody Kisses, like the scene lambasting opus “Black No.1” and the furious dirge of “We Hate Everyone.” Those shades of humor, combined with lead singer Peter Steele’s (R.I.P.) signature baritone croon make Bloody Kisses one of the most memorable metal albums of the ‘90s, if not all-time. – Ryan Brun

Decapitated Winds of Creation88. DecapitatedWinds of Creation
(2000; Wicked World)

At 15, I can safely say that I did almost nothing productive with my life. Decapitated’s former drummer, Vitek, put one of the finest death metal drumming performances to record at that same age. Winds of Creation is a phenomenal record, regardless of context. Knowing just how young its members were at the time? Well, that makes it awe-inspiring in a “what am I doing with my life?” kind of way. The riffs aren’t simply heavy and fast, they are punishing. Every member here handles their weapon with athletic ease, making the fury come from every angle possible. Winds is an exhausting listen that’s rewarding in the same way that spicy foods are – it hurts, but damn does it hurt good. – Dakota Foss

Harvey Milk Life the best game in town87. Harvey MilkLife… the Best Game In Town
(2008; Hydra Head)

With their fifth studio album, Harvey Milk achieved the perfect balance of being accessible and brutal all at once. The melodic heaviness of “Motown” and the slow sludge of songs like “Good Bye Blues” create ideal conditions for a musically cinematic storm straight out of The Wizard of Oz. Great metal albums cannot exist without a majestic opener, and for the sake of my aforementioned reference, “Death Goes to the Winner” is the perfect song to be both the ominous calm and the unforgiving mayhem that ensues. Life… The Best Game in Town toys with the listener from the start by rewording a line from the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” and closes with the group’s own whimsical take on the Looney Tunes theme before a random gong rattle closes the ceremony, but in between the goofiness is a band making immense strides in metal while being on the cusp of their true masterpiece. – Dan Pritchett

Eyehategod take as needed for pain86. EyehategodTake as Needed for Pain
(1993; Century Media)

NOLA sludge heroes Eyehategod do a lot of things right. They write solid songs and know how to switch up their approach often enough to maintain a fresh feel without sounding too pretentious or overthought. But, most importantly, they have a knack for paying homage to the best qualities of Black Sabbath’s dark, down-tuned bluesy doom without losing their own distinct flair. Perhaps ‘flair’ isn’t the best term because, in this band’s case, that means a cathartic wall of noise that supports each riff as Mike Williams lets out gut-wrenching, almost moan-like growls. On sophomore release Take as Needed for Pain, they’re as gritty as ever, throwing out quick, dirty riffs on “Sister Fucker (Part 1)”, slower doom devastation on “Take as Needed for Pain” and just about everything in between. The journey is gritty as hell, but the destination is more than worth the turbulence. – A.T. Bossenger

Voivod Dimension Hatross85. VoivodDimension Hatross
(1988; Noise)

While Nothingface remains the pioneers of prog-metal’s most well-received and accessible collection of songs, 1988’s Dimension Hatross stands as a fully-realized concept album. It tells the story of Voivod’s monstrous mascot Korgull the Exterminator who, frustrated with the destruction of his own planet, manufactures a new universe. In it, his creations both revere him and rebel against him. The Canadian metal heroes took a huge risk, leaving behind the screaming thrash of their first three releases and hedging their bets on the hopes that Denis “Snake” Belanger could actually sing (he can). The first track, “Experiment,” is just that: an experiment, daring the listener to follow the 7/4 overture before delving into top-notch speed metal. Along with the late Denis “Piggy” D’Amour’s inventive chords and compositions, Dimension Hatross etched Voivod’s permanent entry in the metal lexicon. – Chad Gorn

Bathory Under the Sign of the Black Mark84. BathoryUnder the Sign of the Black Mark
(1987; Black Mark/Under One Flag)

Newcastle, UK’s Venom invented the term “black metal” with the release of their 1982 album of the same name, but when it comes to shaping the sound of black metal, no band is more important or more instrumental than Sweden’s Bathory. Named for a murderous Hungarian countess, and fronted by Thomas Börje Forsberg, better known as Quorthon, Bathory — like Switzerland’s Hellhammer before them — took thrash metal to its farthest limits, essentially perfecting the blueprint for black metal on 1987’s Under the Sign of the Black Mark. Guided by Quorthon’s menacing croak, Black Mark is an old school dose of blast-beat heathenism in its rawest form. Its at various points catchy (“Woman of Dark Desires”), terrifying (“Call From the Grave”) and unrelentingly intense (“Equimanthorn”). With bilious and dark entries by Mercyful Fate, Hellhammer and Venom, an evil seed was planted; this is where it bloomed. – Jeff Terich

Diamond Head lightning to the nations83. Diamond HeadLightning to the Nations
(1980; Happy Face)

Every genre and every generation has “lost classics” – albums that didn’t quite get a fair shake from society in the assessment of their quality. That is why we all know all the members of Metallica and probably not one from Britain’s Diamond Head, despite the fact that the latter’s Lightning to the Nations (1980) deserves every bit as much recognition as Kill ‘em All. With some contemporaries drifting toward arena rock, the fact that Diamond Head performs with such a unique and heavy sound (courtesy especially of guitarist Brian Tatler) on Lightning to the Nations is all the more remarkable. Though they would never quite reach this level of momentum ever again, the undeniable strength of every track here – including metal staples “Am I Evil?,” “Lightning to the Nations,” and “Sucking My Love” – is enough to place this album among the best the genre has to offer. – Connor Brown

Mayhem De Mysteriis dom sathanas82. MayhemDe Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
(1994; Century Black)

A good majority of modern black metal acts tend to come off as, well, kind of goofy. With corpse paint, blastbeats and satanic imagery so pervasive in the genre, it can be difficult for such an over-the-top presentation to be taken seriously. But occasionally, an album is released that not only defines a genre, but transcends its limits. The debut full-length from Norway’s Mayhem, 1994’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is one such album. Sure, the record has got all of the hallmarks of the black metal sound, but there are a few differentiating instances that set De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas apart. First and foremost is the vocal performance from Atilla Csihar. His growls, moans and unique sense of melodic inflection are a drastic departure from the high-pitched shrieks that typically permeate black metal. Furthermore, the band’s history (murders, suicides, church arsons etc.) lent a sort of dark credibility to the band, making the bleak sound and subject matter found on De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas horrifyingly believable. Granted, maybe that’s not the reputation that most of us would prefer, but in the black metal underground, Mayhem ware (and arguably are to this day) the kings of the scene, and it all started here. – Ryan Brun

Isis Panopticon81. IsisPanopticon
(2004; Ipecac)

“Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: To induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power,” says a quote in the liner notes of Panopticon from philosopher/historian Michel Foucault. Given the concept of Isis’ third full-length — a Panopticon was a circular structured institutional building designed by Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century to better allow for the visibility of prisoners — there are four parts of the above Foucault quote that can be used to describe the album. The listener will be induced by the cascading crescendos; the sensual rollercoaster of the seven songs will alter the state of conscious; the separation and fusion of the instrumentation is permanently visible; and the intensity is powerful. Panopticon is almost too progressive to be metal, but it’s certainly heavy enough. It’s angular and cosmically expansive, and close to the vigor of hardcore, but also relaxing at times. Aaron Turner’s and Michael Gallagher’s guitar riffs are monolithic, drummer Aaron Harris excellently holds and carries beats as the anchor, and Jeff Caxide’s bass strings sound like smooth gel. So, knowing the concept of Panopticon, were Isis the watchmen or the imprisoned? – Jordan J. Michael

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View Comments (24)
    • Ryan, Treblezine have asked me to apologize on their behalf for this misunderstanding. It appears that you are operating under the ludicrous assumption that the staff at Treble got together to compile a list of “Ryan’s favourite 100 albums”. A simple glance at the title of this article should alleviate any confusion.

  • I mean this isn’t my list or anything but 2 baroness albums?

    like 9 sabbath records?

    should’ve had some burzum on there, some maudlin of the well, and you know, not throw out the same names every 3 pages.

    • There’s only three Sabbath albums. We didn’t include Burzum, but Varg is on the Mayhem and Darkthrone albums. We figured that was plenty.

  • Although of course I don’t agree with everything on the list, this is the best list of metal albums I’ve been able to find on the internet. There’s a good variety of music, the albums descriptions actually seem relatively intelligent and coherent, and the same bands don’t repeat over and over. Also it isn’t filled with bands like Guns n Roses and Led Zeppelin(I like these bands but they aren’t metal). Good list guys!

  • I love this kind of lists, because they a) expose me to cool music I might miss otherwise and b) it’s insanely fun to tear them up.

    As Top Metal albums lists go, this one is both extremely sincere (it clearly states it’s mostly about this site’s staff taste) and utterly worthless as an historical document because of it’s many systemic bias issues I’ll adress next, coming from the mind of a 42 year old metalhead with over three decades of enjoying heavy metal under his belt:

    a) This list slants way too much towards bands from the US and completely ignores important bands from all over the world. A good example is Kreator’s absence: Pleasure to Kill was as influential on what would eventually become extreme metal as Reign in Blood was. ?

    b) The list also slants way too much towards 00s bands that still have to prove their influence an importance. I have no issue with Harvey Milk being in this list, but do they really deserve two entries? Same goes for Baroness, Converge, Mastodon, Isis, Agalloch and Deftones, they may be great bands, but you can’t seriously equate their impact or legacy with bands like Maiden, Judas, Slayer or Metallica.

    c) There’s way too much slant towards extreme metal. I get it, a lot of what was perceived as metal in the 70s and 80s was downgraded to hard rock in the early 00s, but still, bands like Deep Purple, Scorpions, AC/DC, Van Halen, Guns ‘n Roses, Rainbow and Mötley Crüe, which had a huge role on heavy metal’s formative years should be included.

    d) As a consequence of a) and c) this list has no prog or power metal, two genres that have a huge audience worldwide (Dream Theatre sells out arenas worldwide, and Helloween, outside the US is a festival headliner). Also, there’s no symphonic metal, and gothic metal’s contribution is reduced to a single Type O Negative album!

    e) Finally, a detail that really, really bothers me is A Vulgar Display of Power’s placement. Really, impact and influence wise, that album deserves a place in any Metal Top Ten, much more than Converge, or Botch, Baroness, Defheaven and Agalloch, bands that have albums included in this top 20.

    That was fun!
    Now to get myself some Harvey Milk… 🙂

    • Ha, glad you enjoyed that. All fair points; I think there’s no way we could possibly encompass the entire history of metal in 100 albums, and we definitely debated over whether to include bands like Deep Purple or AC/DC, ultimately deciding they were more “proto-metal.” In any case, happy to provide fuel for debate.

      • Well, if you take “metal leaning hard rock” as “proto-metal” a lot of your choices make a lot of sense.
        I really enjoyed this list, and I’m gonna check both Ken Mode and Harvey Milk, two bands I’ve never heard before.
        That, IMO, is the real purpose these lists serve: to give everyone ideas of great music to check out.
        Cheers. 🙂

  • Nice list.
    Some little points of crit:
    # ND’s scum deserves no spot in the top 10…
    # Pig Destroyer twice in the Top 100??

  • Never thought of Harvey Milk as a metal band – more of an experimental rock band to my ears. Obituary’s “Slowly We Rot” is a cornerstone death metal album, and where are Fear Factory?

  • Well you got the top 3 right. Have to give you credit there. After that there are some questionable choices.

    Nice job on: Coroner, Mayhem, Diamond Head, Bathory, Voivod.

    Right band but wrong album(s): Sepultura (Morbid Visions or Beneath the Remains over Chaos A.D.), Atheist (Piece of Time over Unquestionable Presence), Napalm Death (From Enslavement over Scum),

    Not metal: Alice in Chains, Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, Bad Brains (great band though), Deftones, Korn. Plus some others that I don’t know but don’t seem like metal bands to me. You could fit so many worthy records on the list if you jus left these off.

    There are much better choices than: Mastedon, Tool, Botch, Helmet, Boris, Rage Against the Machine, System of a Down, Deftones.

    You forgot: Obituary, Autopsy, Cadaver, King Diamond, Destruction, Sadus, Def Leppard (High n Dry), Candlemass, Pestilence, Burzum, Fates Warning, Ozzy (Diary), Exodus (Bonded by Blood), Queensryche (Operation Mindcrime), Saint Vitus.

    I forget was Stained Class on the list?

    Pantera flat out sucks. Same with Rage Against the Machine. Awful crappy bands. Not in the top 1,000 metal albums.

    Paranoid at #1 is a definite. No doubt there.

    • While I agree that NIN is not typically a metal band, Broken is the exception. Definitely a metal album

  • Someone will have to explain the love for Converge. I just don’t get it. Anyone who puts Jane Doe ahead of Master of Puppets just lost a lot of credibility in my eyes.

  • Without a doubt one of the worst list’s I’ve ever seen. While you have a buncha great stuff and the top 3 right (but still barely, it is a cop out top 3), there are countless bands that are not metal and for the ones that dance on the metal/rock/core barriers, you picked the wrong albums.

  • I like this list, it’s eclectic and open minded with some outstanding albums. Do I agree with the order or everything on it? Nope. But wouldn’t it be really dumb if we all shared the absolute same tastes?

    I’m highly suspicious of Deafhaven’s hipster haircuts though, but that’s probably because I’m getting old, I’m sure I’d love Deafhaven if I was 15 year old.

  • This is probably the best list I’ve seen so far. Open-minded enough to annoy elitists and those with incredibly narrow genre definitions (you’re looking at a genre Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple were once included in…are Harvey Milk and Soundgarden really such a stretch?) but still sticks to quality albums. I’m not so sure about the order (Paranoid isn’t even my favorite Black Sabbath album), and my list would have a bunch more black metal (I’m a black metal nut), but the selections are good overall.

  • Albums that deserve to be added IMO:

    Karp – Self Titled LP
    Don Caballero – Don Caballero 2
    Mgła – Exercises in Futility

  • What a list you can come up with just by looking up Wikipedia, Did you actually listen to anyone of these? Believe me you don’t know the whole story..

  • Great list! Certainly much better than Rolling Stone’s garbage list, although everything RS does sucks dick. Obviously, no one is going to agree on all your choices, so here’s a few albums I’d put on my personal list:

    Soundgarden- Superunknown
    Alice In Chains- Self Titled
    Shai Hulud- Hearts Once Nourished With Hope And Compassion
    Tad- Inhaler
    The Melvins- Gluey Porch Treatments
    Venom- Welcome To Hell
    Faith No More- The Real Thing
    Faith No More- Angel Dust
    Living Colour- Vivid
    Acid King- Busse Woods
    Earth Crisis- Destroy The Machines
    Gruntruck- Push
    Anal Cunt- It Just Gets Worse
    Parkway Drive- Blue

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