Well, we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty here folks. As the list spirals down to #1, the acclaim and criticism of Steel Druhm’s tastes will escalate exponentially. That’s fine, for Steel Druhm cares not what others think and his metal tastes are sublime and unassailable. Without further ado, here is my last ten before we get to the crucial top 20 metalpieces of all time (look, I made up a cool word, Pat. Pending). [Read the previous lists by Steel Druhm: 50-41, 40-31. And by Angry Metal Guy: 50-41, 40-31, 31-20.]
#30: Metallica – Master of Puppets – “Master of Puppets” – Although I’ve come to hate Metallica and all they represent (especially Lars), I can’t in good conscience take anything away from how great they were in their “classic” period when they were proud to be a metal band. Although those times are gone and forgetten by them, the title track to their breakthrough album stands as a monument to their peak songwriting and playing ability. From the dramatic ebbs and flows, the crunching riffs, ass kicking solos and Hetfield’s raw vocals, this is a timeless statement of metal excellence never to be recaptured.
#29: Iron Maiden – Piece of Mind – “Flight of Icarus” – Iron Maiden‘s catalogue is loaded with amazing metal songs and it’s impossible to make a list like this without them crowding in for slots. This is one of their best and it’s tough to argue they weren’t in top form here. It’s powerful as hell and has all that classic Maiden super dramatic goodness. Bruce sounds amazing and everything gels perfectly. This was their golden age and this oozes power and class. Pure metal royalty.
#28: Amorphis – Tales From the Thousand Lakes – “Black Winter’s Day” – Few albums slobberknockered me the way this one did. From the first spin I knew this was something special and magical. This song in particular blew me away and I listened to it in loops for days on end. Mixing brutal death metal with beautiful keys and folk influences, all soaked in a melancholy, haunting atmosphere, Amorphis trapped lightning in a bottle here and created genuinely classic metal moment. As cold and forbidding as a Finnish winter and just as beautiful.
#27: Black Sabbath – Sabotage – “Symptoms of the Universe” – Sabotage is an underrated record which is pretty silly since it has this jewel in the track list. This was one of their fastest, most aggressive attacks and has a hugely memorable main riff. A youthful Ozzy sounds wonderfully manic and shrill and Iommi is at his doomy best. The unexpected break into happy, hippie rock is strange and brilliant and the gentle guitar work that winds out the song is righteous.
#26: Ozzy Osbourne – Diary of a Madman – “Over the Mountains” – Say what you will about Sharon Osbourne but without her, it’s very likely Ozzy wouldn’t have lived to record any of his solo material. That would be shame since a lot of early stuff like this was outstanding. This was vintage Ozzy with Randy Rhodes helping steer the ship. His slashing guitar work and Ozzy’s trademark shriek went only as far as the material took them and this song was a killer of the old school variety. Crunchy, catchy, anthemic, it’s all things for all people. Thanks Sharon!
#25: Fates Warning – Awaken the Guardian – “The Sorceress” – Pretty sure nobody was expecting these guys but damn if they didn’t put out two amazing progressive metal albums early in their career. This song is majestic and takes the listener on a journey through a myriad of moods. The fantastic vocal performance by original singer John Arch take this to another level and his lyrics are subtle, strange and hyper-intelligent. The guitar work is melodic as hell but plenty heavy enough. This one soaks in deep with repeated listens and gets better each time. A criminally underrated band.
#24: Manowar – Into Glory Ride – “March for Revenge (by the Soldiers of Death)” – Manowar is widely regarded as the Spinal Tap of metal [Isn’t Spinal Tap the Spinal Tap of metal? – AMG] but there’s no denying the power and grandeur of their early albums. This one showcases them at their epic, bombastic best with huge galloping war drums from Scott Columbus, powerhouse vocals by Eric Adams and the over-the-top bass noodling of Joey DeMaio. No chorus is more metal than this one and the corny dungeons and dragons theme seems deadly serious here. R.I.P. Scott Columbus. Death is Life!!!!!
#23: Metallica – Ride the Lightning – “For Whom the Bell Tolls” – Like “Master of Puppets,” this was a grand moment in the early history of thrash metal. The hungry and angry version of Metallica (as opposed to the fat and self-satisfied version) was unstoppable on cuts like this. The raw energy and force conveyed by the guitars and snarling vocals was boosted by one of Ulrich’s rare above average drum performances and history was made. Featuring some of the most instantly recognizable metal moments of the past 25 years, this was a big crunchy, dramatic win.
#22: Megadeth – Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying – “Good Mourning/Black Friday” – Mustaine and company rarely equaled the songwriting ability of their hated nemesis Metallica but every now and then they managed to reach their level and this the first time. Dave’s sneer never sounded so good and Chris Poland helped rip and tear with his fluid riffing and soloing. This had an edge and urgency that really made me sit up and take notice and it hits like a runaway truck. Love the lead in guitar work.
#21: Slayer – Reign in Blood – “Angel of Death” – This was the high point of the Bay Area thrash wave and the most perfectly executed thrash metal album ever. This track was a standout among the many phenomenal thrash anthems here. Tom Araya’s blood curdling screams, Kerry and Jeff’s berzerk riffing and soloing, the gruesome (and controversial) subject matter, it’s everything your parents hated. A perfect storm of ugly, vicious thrash and it sounds as savage today as it did when released. AHHHHHHHHHH!