A few days ago, I was tooling around on the internet when I happened upon metalrules.com's list of the Top 100 Heavy Metal Albums. Needless to say when it comes to any musical countdown list, it's wrong, and what's more, it betrays the same sort of favoritism that Rolling Stone does with lists like these. Just switch "Metallica" with "The Beatles" and "Iron Maiden" with "Bob Dylan" and you're pretty much adhering to the same principals.
Still, as is often true with Top lists, it does work as something of a primer, more of a "100 Important Heavy Metal Albums" than "The Best In This Order". And it did get me thinking: If somebody were to stumble upon this list and take it's advice, how effective would it be in segueing them into metal as a genre?
So hey: Guess what this new column is going to be about!
Now, I haven't heard all 100 albums, and I don't have the time or money needed to do so. I have heard about 30 of them in their entirety, though, and these are the ones I'm going to be looking at and analyzing. There are three questions I'm going to be asking for each one:
1. Is it good?
2. Is it "important"?
3. Is it a good entry place for a beginner?
But before I get to that, there are several bands that I feel I need to warn the uninitiated listener to stay away from. Most of their list is solid, but there are some real clunkers on here also. So in the same way you can safely discard anything by Fall Out Boy on a list of greatest albums of the 21st Century, here are the bands and albums to stay away from, lest they ward you off of the genre forever:
- Dio: Any album that has Dio's inovolvement(save for Dehumanizer by Black Sabbath, which doesn't actually make an appearance anywhere on this list) is utter poison. He's like a bizarro Iron Maiden, in that instead of taking unpalatable concepts and making them awesome, he makes you feel like that much more of a greasy loser for having heard his music. He practically bleeds Lame. Stay away from the two Black Sabbath albums he recorded in the early '80s: Heaven and Hell and The Mob Rules. And if any metalhead ever recommends Dio to you(and they will), make sure to slap them squarely in the penis.
- Motley Crue: Once again with the other-band analogies, they're sort of like a parallel-version of Guns 'n Roses, in that instead of being the kind of trashy guys that pee off the roof, punch cops and basically make kickass parties, they're the sort of dudes who'll fuck the drunk girl on the couch when she's passed out. And then puke on her.
- W.A.S.P: Imagine if Motley Crue took themselves seriously. Yeah.
- Helloween: Wanna hear where power metal bands like Dragonforce and Stratovarius got their inspiration? No, I wouldn't want to, either.
- Def Leppard: Besides having one of the worst names in music history, they also brought hair metal into the mainstream, and we had to wait until bands like Anthrax and Slayer came along until any "real" metal from America started popping up again with any significant impact. Is this getting through? They came this close to killing the genre. That takes a lot of money and a lot of really lowest common denominator bullshit to accomplish.
- Iced Earth: Think Iron Maiden without the vocal prowess, the charm, or the songwriting ability. That small "pop" you just heard came from your ribcage.
- Overkill: There's not even anything about them that I can really make fun of. They're just dull. And any band that limits my ability to throw zingers can go fuck themselves.
- Manowar: I'm not trying to be offensive here, but listening to Manowar is scientifically proven to turn you retarded.
My goal is to give you a solid listening foundation for heavy metal by the time I'm done with this. So...yeah.
Let's fuckin' go.