Ten Metal Albums to Hear Before You Die

Categories: Metal

Vinnie Paul and Phil Anselmo of Pantera
Experts. The world is full of them, now more than ever. There are panels full of them on cable news every night. They're clogging up your Twitter timeline. You overhear them everyday on the train. Everyone everywhere is an authority on everything. Everyone's an expert. Like "hipster" or "passion," the idea expressed by the word is so convoluted it's all but meaningless. So we're well aware that when we tell you "We asked two metal experts to rate the most important albums of the genre" you're rolling your eyes hard. But it's true. When it comes to metal, Jon Wiederhorn and Katherine Turman are--and we don't use this word lightly--experts. They're the authors of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, the unbelievably thorough tome we excerpted on our cover last month. You could say they literally wrote the book on metal. So we locked the two in a room with a bottle of brown liquor and didn't let them out until they'd ranked the ten most important/best metal records of all time--Ten Metal Albums to Hear Before You Die. Feel free to tell them they're wrong. - Brian McManus

See also: The Oral History of NYC's Metal/Hardcore Crossover

10. Mayhem
De Mysteriis Dom Satanas (1984)

Bands who complain about mid-album lineup shifts have nothing on Mayhem's first full-length studio album. During its creation and before its release, vocalist Dead committed suicide, and bassist Varg Vikernes (Burzum's Count Grishnackh) became convinced guitarist Oystein Aarseth (a.k.a. Euronymous) was planning to kill him, so he murdered the guitarist in the middle of the night. These episodes, along with the legendary Norwegian church burnings Vikernes and his associates were involved in threatened the creation of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and practically overshadow the musical quality of the album. But by the powers of Satan, Mayhem prevailed, and the epitaph of Euronymous stands boldy and bloodily on its own as one of the best and most influential slabs of Norwegian black metal. Even without the traditional keyboards of the genre, songs like "Cursed in Eternity" and the title cut evoke chills through rapidly sawed melodic guitar hooks, fleet, booming bass, ferocious blast beats and the sepulchral vocals of Attila Csihar, who has performed on two other Mayhem albums and currently fronts the group, which has cut down on the violence and arson, but still sometimes performs with decapitated animal heads onstage. -- Jon Wiederhorn

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