For every Velvet Darkness They Fear or Something Wicked This Way Comes or Blackwater Park or Nightfall in Middle-Earth there is a Theatre of Tragedy or Iced Earth or Orchid or Battalions of Fear – records mediocre compared to the things that would come (or even just straight up mediocre). I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I wanted to put together some of my personal favorite debut albums. Records that kicked ass out of the gates, and in some cases were really the best material that the band ever even produced. So here, filling up the July lull in releases, is another Top 5 list. Now it’s true that I’ve left off some records that I thought of adding (it would probably be a Top 10[ish] list that’s needed), so don’t get your panties in a bunch when you don’t see Cynic or Entombed on here. ‘Cause those are great records, but they’re not my favorites.

Crimfall - As the Path Unfolds...#(ish): Crimfall // As the Path Unfolds… (2009) — I actually am still not over this record. It was released in 2009 and my initial reactions to it were that it was good, but I never imagined myself being so into this album five years later. The thing has just sunk its claws into me. The synthesis of TurisasNightwish, and Moonsorrow makes Crimfall the quintessential Finnish band. And As the Path Unfolds… isn’t a revolutionary record, but it’s just damn well executed.

Ozzy Osbourne - Blizzard of Ozz#5: Ozzy Osbourne // Blizzard of Ozz (1980) — I’m not super nostalgic about Ozzy’s career, and I have very little real personal context for the split from Black Sabbath and what was expected of Osbourne at the time. But what I do know is that Blizzard of Ozz is still a pretty fucking awesome record. Not only is it loaded with some of metal’s greatest hits, but the guitar playing on this album was truly awesome and I still am impressed with Rhoades after all this time (not just the playing, but also his really amazing guitar tone). Some of the tracks on here are better than others, so it’s not necessarily the best for consistency, but it’s still a blast to listen to.

Iron Maiden - Iron Maiden

#4: Iron Maiden // Iron Maiden (1980) — Cast your mind back to what you were doing in 1980. Oh right, many of us weren’t even born then, so it might be a bit of a task to do. While Blizzard of Ozz was released the same year as Iron Maiden‘s debut, Maiden was doing something truly spectacular and unique. This record is filled with a punky attitude and rambling bass like nothing you’ve ever heard before or since. And Iron Maiden lit up the underground in a way that I think no one really expected. I still consider the record a classic and love listening to it, even if the songs sound pretty tired when the guys play ’em on the road nowadays.

Taake - Nattestid#3: Taake // Nattestid ser porten vid  (1999) — It’s hard to remember, but in 1999 people were pretty much putting the nails in the Norwegian black metal scene. After its big explosion in the early ’90s, and bands moving away from their original sounds, the now infamous Norwegian Taake showed up and breathed life anew into Norwegian black metal. Nattestid is probably the best melodic black metal record that I own. The songs are superbly written, and the riffs are addicting. The production is atmospheric without being totally shit, and Høst’s vocal performance is chilling. A superb debut.

Blaze - Silicon Messiah#2: BLAZE // Silicon Messiah (2001) — Back after Blaze Bayley got kicked out of Iron Maiden for not being Bruce Dickinson, he did something that was actually really smart. He found a group of young, English musicians and made a fucking heavy metal record. This album was not quite what everyone expected. Instead of being an Iron Maiden rip-off, it had a distinctly down tuned, modern sound and was produced by Andy Sneap to excellent effect. Blaze sounded tough, his writing was good and the record was crushing. Pay special attention to the guitar work. These cats could fucking play, and they wrote some of the best guitar solos I’ve ever heard.

#1: Ásmegin // Hin vordende sod & sø (2003) — Hin vordende sod & sø is a beast of a record. It is a tour de force of blackened folk metal at its finest. With a fantastic vocal approach of a death metal vocalist, a black metal vocalist, a female vocalist and Lasare from Solefald and Borknagar, this band of nobodies wrote eleven mighty tracks of brutal, melodic, smart and intoxicating folk metal. Every song carried the album forward to perfect effect, and the vocal arrangements are triumphant. This is a record that takes multiple listens to understand and appreciate and Arv, the second record, was almost always doomed to “sophomore slump” from the get-go. Hin vordende sod & sø is a brilliant album that did something I’d never heard before or since and it belongs in everyone’s CD collection.

Ásmegin - Hin Vordende Sod & Sø

  • KingKuranes

    Thanks for the recommendations!

  • I’ll have to check out the top three (and the “ish”)! As for my top debut records, I need to think about that for a bit, but one that immediately sprung to mind was Dissection’s The Somberlain.

  • I’ll have to check out the top three (and the “ish”)! As for my top debut records, I need to think about that for a bit, but one that immediately sprung to mind was Dissection’s The Somberlain.

    • Hurenhugo

      Allthough I really like “The Somberlain”, I feel that “Storm of the Light’s Bane” is too good to put their debut into a list like that. :D

  • nuiski

    I’m totally with you on the Blaze album; it’s great!
    I think it’s funny how similar in style it is to “The Chemical Wedding” by Bruce Dickinson which he made just before re-joining Maiden. Both albums are like classic Maiden mixed with something much darker and heavier.

  • nuiski

    I’m totally with you on the Blaze album; it’s great!
    I think it’s funny how similar in style it is to “The Chemical Wedding” by Bruce Dickinson which he made just before re-joining Maiden. Both albums are like classic Maiden mixed with something much darker and heavier.

  • Vlad Invictus

    Just a note that Blind Guardian’s debut album was “Battalions of Fear” and not “Blind Guardian”. I don’t really consider as debuts albums which feature musicians who already established their careers in previous bands (did I say Blaze? :P).
    For example, first Gamma Ray was awesome, but Kai Hansen was at the time very well known figure in metal genre. Same goes for Primal Fear etc…

    My favorites for sure are “Angels Cry” by Angra, “Awakening the World” by Lost Horizon and “Legendary Tales” by Rhapsody. Yeah, there are certainly tons of great debut albums I can’t remember right now and I’m pretty tired.

    • LOL. How embarrassing. I knew that, I just wanted to see if Blind Guardian fans would get angry. :P

      Blaze definitely counts, imo, because the rest of the band was pretty much fresh faced newcomers (excepting the drummer who had been in Circle II Circle).

      • Марко Гајић

        Not really sure why would a BG fan be angry, if only by how wrong you are. And even then – not angry, but amused. :)
        I find every single song from Battalions to be on par, if more raw, with anything the band did up until NIME, where they started the genre shift.

        • Eryops

          If a BG fan isn’t angry, they’re on the wrong site.

          • Марко Гајић

            Well, I’m a new guy here. :P

        • Frankly, I just think BG fans are whiney more than anything. ;)

          • Марко Гајић

            I don’t know every BG fan so I can’t argue with you on that. I just know this one isn’t. :)

          • I’m a big fan, actually. I just wrote a review of one of their records and I’ve never, ever experienced the kind of blowback I got from that one. In-sane.

  • RU63

    Kill ‘Em All !

    • Mike Eckman

      When I first started reading this article, Kill Em All was one album that immediately came to mind, except that the criteria for this list is for debut albums where it was downhill from there, and theres no way you or anyone can convince me that Master of Puppets and Ride the Lightning weren’t awesome albums as well. I’ll even go as far as to say that Puppets is one of the best metal albums of all time!

      • RU63

        My interpretation of the criteria is that the release had to be something that kicked ass out of the gate (Kill ‘Em All), and that the “downhill” part was only in some cases (Iron
        Maiden didn’t go downhill after their first release).

        I agree that Master of Puppets is one of the best metal albums of all time. m/

        • Mike Eckman

          Aaah you’re right! I misread the opening paragraph. I will sentence myself punishment to 5 minutes of listening to Insane Clown Possee. No wait, thats too harsh. No man should be subjected to that!

      • Angel of Deaf

        I think that Ride The Lightning (and AJFA…) is way better than Master Of Puppets.

        To this day, it still baffles me (and pisses me off) that people call MoP Metallica’s best album, WORSE… they call it Thrash Metal…

        • son_of_rain

          I agree, Ride is my personal favorite.
          But Justice aint a pure thrash album either.
          Like Master

  • Jeremy González

    Nice, loved that you listed Crimfall, Taake and Ásmegin (proud of owning those three records). Not really a fan of Ozzy and while Maiden’s and Blaze’s debuts are good they were succeeded by better albums.

  • Mike Eckman

    I’ll have to check out 1-3, since, you know, I probably have memorized every lyric and every note of 4 and 5. For me, two that I would put on a list like this are To/Die/For’s debut “All Eternity”. Back in the late 90s, I was very much into the goth side of metal and loved this debut album by these guys and had it in pretty regular rotation. When Epilogue and Jaded came out, I was disappointed and havent really paid attention to the band since.

    My other suggestion will probably be controversial, but I submit that HammerFall’s debut “Glory to the Brave” was the best thing they ever did. Sure, “Legacy of Kings” was pretty good too, but it had more filler IMO, and the rest of their albums would have a good track here and there, but overall, not as great as Glory to the Brave is from start to finish. Maybe it was the relaxed approach when that first album was written (HammerFall was originally a side project that involved none other than Mikael Stanne, Jesper Stromblad, and Niklas Sundin, amogst others).

  • Brian Kelly

    its hard to go against any of ur fav bands first cds, whoever they are, but to pick something different from opeth or sonata arctica or whatever, i think the one & only record from timeless miracle is the best cd by a band with only 1 cd ever. and so the best debut cd. it really makes me sick they appear to have broken up & wont have another cd since its been like 8 years now.

  • Good picks. I don’t think I’ve heard Asmegin, I’ll have to check it out. I end up listening to As the Path Unfolds all the time. Glad I found it on this site back then. (Whoa, have I been checking this site for that long!?)

  • Hurenhugo

    Personally, my number 1 on that list would be Decapitated’s “Winds of Creation”.

  • doom-erik

    Dio – Holy Diver
    Cathedral – Forest of Equilibrium
    Candlemass – Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
    Shadow Gallery – S/T
    Katatonia – Dance of December Souls
    Black Sabbath – S/T
    Kiss – S/T
    Helloween – Walls of Jericho

  • ab

    “Defying the Rules” by Hibria would definitely be on my list.

  • z00rk

    Zero Hour – The Towers Of Avarice (their first album was a limited, self-release and later got re-released as Metamorphosis)

    Acid Bath – When The Kite String Pops

    Beastwars – Beastwars

    Beyond Creation – Aura

    Deathspell Omega – Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice

    … to name a few.

  • The Flying Scotsman

    One off the top of my head that should get more attention: Disillusion – Back To Times Of Splendor

  • Gage Trader

    I’ve been listening to the Blaze album this morning and find the guitar playing pretty average. The leads are very wah-heavy, bluesy, and I personally don’t find them particularly impressive. They fit in well with the songs, but not a single one has stood out to me, and to call them some of the best guitar solos you’ve ever heard surprised me, considering how much metal has filled your ears. To each his own, I suppose!

    I am enjoying the album though, and I like that you’ve got some outside-the-box albums on this list. Articles like this are why I make sure AMG is a daily read.

    Some albums that immediately came to mind for me:

    Arsis – A Celebration of Guilt
    Emperor – In the Nightside Eclipse
    Ulver – Bergtatt

    If we’re including bands with only one release:

    Slumber – Fallout
    Lykathea Aflame – Elvenfris
    I – Between two Worlds
    Thorns – s/t

    • Thanks Gage!

      The thing I’d say is that it’s important to differentiate between “technically good” and what I think the Blaze cats are so good at: melodic solos that fit perfectly. I think the key to it for me as an example is “Stare at the Sun.” That song is my personal favorite heavy metal song ever. And the guitar solos aren’t Yngwie or Satch, but they’re perfect.

  • Barry Neilson

    Not a bad list…. I’ve got some other suggestions.

    Ihshan – The Adversary …. could have gone either way after Emperor, but this guy blew it out of the park

    Leprous – Tall Poppy Syndrome

    Solution .45 – For Aeons Past . (I do love me a bit of Christian Alvestam)

  • Carlos

    Thanks will check a couple of these out….Nit picking now but id say BlizofOz doesn’t really count as a debut…killer record, for me the first metal record I ever heard, and the record that got me into Sabbath…

    my favourites would include

    Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
    Hendrix – Are You Experienced, I know not metal but wow mind blowing debut album
    Mettalica – Kill em All
    Ghost – Opus Eponymous

    Priest – Sad Wings of Destiny

    • Shahir Chagan

      Rocka Rolla was Priest’s début…

  • Shahir Chagan

    I know I’m a little late here, but I just dropped in to say that I love, love, love, LOVE Hin Vordende Sod og Sø!!! I walk around singing ‘Til Rondefolkets Herskab’, ‘Huldrandans’ (yes, the female sung track) and ‘Blodhevn’ despite barely knowing any Norwegian XD (and frankly, not making any new friends by doing so).
    But it’s so goddamn fantastic and easily one of my favourite records I’ve ever heard in my young life. And I have you, Angry Metal Guy, to thank, for introducing me to them through your top 50 list.

  • Phil Daly

    Can remember being floored when I first heard Blaze’s debut. Just a great, great metal album and so much more heft than anything he did with Maiden. Other debuts LPs? In no real order :-

    Macabre – Gloom
    Necromentia – Crossing the Fiery Path
    Varathron – His Majesty at the Swamp
    Forbidden – Forbidden Evil. (first track is “Chalice of Blood” for crying out loud!)