‘Master of Puppets’ is without a doubt one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time. Taking what they started on ‘Ride the Lightning’ and pumping it full of steroids, this takes all the best elements of Metallica's previous album and magnifies it a thousand times over, firmly placing Metallica amongst metal's royalty.
A nice combination of heavy and melodic, ‘Master of Puppets’ mirrors its predecessor very closely, but at the same time it manages to maintain its own identity. Opening track ‘Battery’ is very similar to ‘Fight Fire with Fire’, starting with a nice clean guitar harmony, followed by riffs of complete chaos that'll destroy all your senses. ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’ takes the ballad concept started on ‘Fade to Black’ and pushes it further than anyone thought possible, and ‘Orion’ is a nice eight minute instrumental that can go toe to toe against ‘The Call of Ktulu’ any day.
Despite the similarities, ‘Master of Puppets’ shows a band becoming more mature with each release. The lyrics are even more grim and darker than before, and the song-writing, especially on tracks like ‘Master of Puppets’ and ‘Welcome Home’, shows a band that has developed closer over the years to become as tight as they can be, with Hetfield and Hammett's guitars working in perfect harmony with Burton's bass-lines and Ulrich's (somewhat limited) drum skills.
Often cited as the single greatest metal album in history, it’d be hard to disagree.
Genres: Thrash Metal
It was back in 2003 that I was looking in a Virgin Megastore (remember those?) with the noble intention of investing my money in a band I'd never heard before. These were before the days when YouTube and streaming were so easily accessible. When we had to take risks with our money to try out new artists. I had stumbled across an album by a band I'd only heard of in name, but that risk was about to pay off; Dream Theater.
Being a 16-year-old heavy metal fan at the time, raised on a healthy diet of groups such as Megadeth, Metallica, Kiss and Rammstein, my initial thoughts were, quite simply; “this album sucks”. However, one thing piqued my interest, and it should come as no surprise that it was the amazingly heavy intro to the opening track, ‘Pull Me Under’.
As I heard more and more, the album grew on me. All these random traits of progressive music were becoming clearer. Odd time signatures, long, complex arrangements, the eclectic mixture of styles, keyboards (a heavy metal no-no), the creative lyrics and massive instrumental sections... It all started to make sense. To this day, 'Images and Words' not only introduced me to a new style of music, but a whole new way of looking at music.
So what makes it so great?
'Images and Words' is an album that defined a genre. Without Dream Theater, progressive metal might never have become what it did. Coming at a time when the genre was in its infancy, Dream Theater had that intangible X-factor that bands like Fates Warning, Queensryche, and even a group like Rush, were all missing at that point.
There's a perfect combination of everything on this album. There's metal songs, there's ballads, there's funky songs and there's jazzy songs too. The musicianship came at a time when there weren't many bands displaying such incredible technical prowess, at least in the mainstream anyway. Every song is perfectly crafted, with interesting musical passages and mind-boggling lyrics. 'Pull Me Under', 'Take the Time', 'Learning to Live' and the monstrous epic 'Metropolis Pt. 1; The Miracle and the Sleeper' are all staples in prog metal history.
This is the record that put Dream Theater on the map, and defined all progressive metal bands/albums for years to come. Every fan of the genre needs this in their collection, immediately. And I'm sure most old-school progressive rock fans will at least appreciate the importance this album had on prog music as a whole. Undeniably my favourite album of all time, 'Images and Words' is better than perfect.
Genres: Progressive Metal
'Iced Earth' was a solid debut album that set the bar pretty high for this band very early in their career, but they've managed to take what worked before and build upon it, with this, 'Night of the Stormrider', an equally solid follow-up.
Most of what we have on this album is identical to its predecessor with just a few tweaks. Most notably is the acquisition of a new vocalist (a position that will change many times in this bands history) in John Greely, who replaces Gene Adams. While Adams did a great job with his fairly limited ability, Greely has a much more powerful voice which suits the more symphonic and operatic elements which have been implemented into the groups sound with this record.
Guitarist, songwriter and all-round band leader Jon Schaffer takes charge once more with lightning-fast riffs that puts most thrash metal bands to shame. With song-writing so polished and precise, this sounds like a band that has been around for a long time. If their debut album didn't convert any fans, then tracks like 'Stormrider', 'Desert Rain', 'Travel in Stygian' and the true gem of this release 'Angel's Holocaust' will surely win you over.
Whilst I personally prefer ‘Iced Earth’ to ‘Night of the Stormrider’ (personal preference), strong songwriting and beefed up production make this a worthy successor to a strong debut. It no doubt helped establish Iced Earth as one of power metals heavyweights, and deserves its place in the genres history.
Genres: Power Metal
Music fads come and go so quickly that it's hard to keep up with a lot of them. That's why when Black Sabbath firmly established the genre of heavy metal (whether they solely created it or not is a different debate for another time) back in 1970, it's amazing that's it's stood the test of time and is still going strong today as one of the most popular genres of music in the world.
With that said, I'm not a massive Black Sabbath fan. I respect their achievements, and rightfully so, as the genre I hold so dear wouldn't exist without them, but that doesn't change the fact that their music just doesn't quite "do it" for me.
I can appreciate how revolutionary this was back in the day, nothing as heavy, dark or doom-laden had come before. However, by the time I came around to owning this CD, it sounded rather dated and didn't quite measure up to a lot of the stuff I was listening to at the time (I was born in 1987 to put that into context). Ozzy Osbourne's vocals are very primitive and somewhat annoying to listen to (story goes that he was only invited to join the band as he owned a PA), and Tony Iommi's guitars were never quite heavy or interesting enough for me.
That being said, there are one or two decent tracks, most notably 'N.I.B.' and the title track, but in all honesty I could think of thousands of other songs I'd rather listen to.
When it all comes down to it, it's just a matter of taste. While this is arguably one of the most influential albums of all time, I respect it for that, it's just not something I enjoy listening to. The record's status as a classic is certainly not in any danger due to my opinion, and hell, if you think this is blasphemous, you should check out my review for 'Paranoid'...
Genres: Heavy Metal
Power metal has always been the ginger-haired stepchild of heavy metal. It's cheesy. It's repetitive. And sometimes it's Sonata Arctica, in which case, it kicks ass!
Sonata Arctica's debut album burst onto the scene with such gusto and youthful enthusiasm, it's hard not to like it. There's fast-paced neoclassical speed metal guitar shredding, and lots of cheesy 90's keyboard harpsichord sounds. The lyrics focus on the usual themes of fantasy, love, kingdoms and over nonsensical topics we're not really bothered about, because it comes with the territory, and above all else though, it really is 100% cheese, and that's what we love about the genre!
I first came across this band when I heard 'Replica' on a compilation CD. I loved it! I was completely blown away by how awesome this band sounded and to this day, that is still one of my favourite songs (and I still have no idea what it's about, either). I rushed out to get 'Ecliptica' and was not disappointed. 'Kingdom for a Heart', 'Full Moon', 'Letter to Dana', 'Mary Lou' and 'Picturing the Past' are all fine examples of why power metal should never be so easily dismissed. Oh, and 'Replica' too!!!. This album is worth it for that song alone.
I've been stuck for ages writing this review, struggling to think of anything clever or witty to say. The truth is, this is a typical power metal album, and if you're not a fan of the genre, you won't notice any difference here between Sonata Arctica and any other band. But there's just some sort of charm about this record that makes it fresh and exciting, and definitely worth trying out.
Genres: Power Metal
They weren't the first band to do it, but with the album ‘Hybrid Theory’, Linkin Park kicked off the huge rise of the genre known as nu metal that dominated the early years of the new millennium.
Whilst bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn had already garnered a huge following for this particular style of metal, featuring simple song arrangements, detuned guitars, DJ’s and rapping vocals, it was Linkin Park in the year 2000 that really pushed the genre into the mainstream, and with five hit singles and millions of sales, the album would go on to become one of the finest representations for what nu metal was all about.
Not bad for a debut album.
While Linkin Park’s debut record certainly has some excellent tunes, it’s the singles which are easily the best, and most recognizable, songs. Tracks like ‘Papercut’, ‘One Step Closer’, ‘In the End’ and ‘Points of Authority’ may all have been played billions of times on the radio or had their videos played on metal television channels, but there’s just some magic in the songs that make them great to listen to through loud speakers, no matter how often you've heard them.
Unfortunately, with the exception of ‘Runaway’, probably my favourite track from the album, the rest of the songs are pretty pointless, filler material. And towards the end the constant lyrical themes of depression, regret, rebellion, anxiety etc, start to wear a bit thin (a problem that would ensure this genre’s stay at the top would last no more than a couple of years).
Linkin Park is far from being one of my favourite bands, but coming from a time when metal music in the mainstream was near non-existent, ‘Hybrid Theory’ gives the music world a good kick in the arse, and helped to revitalize a dying genre.
Genres: Alternative Metal
Surely every heavy metal fan knows the story of Dave Mustaine being kicked out of Metallica and forming Megadeth? Right? No? Ok, I'll wait here while you quickly look it up.
With Megadeth, Mustaine had one goal, and that was to create something faster, heavier and more extreme than his former band. It's arguable, but I'd say he succeeded. 'Killing is My Business' certainly has a raw, ruthless energy to it, and whilst it oozes bloodthirsty hatred towards Hetfield and Ulrich, it sadly comes at the expense of the actual compositions.
Sure, the riffs are fast, the vocals are full of spite and bitterness, and the songs rage with angst and rebellion, but to be honest, it quickly becomes very repetitive. The horribly tacky and rushed production makes most of the riffs indistinguishable, and the guitar solos sound like nothing more than an annoying, high-pitched flail of notes. And I'm fairly sure a five-year-old could come up with more interesting vocal melodies than this.
There's only really one or two memorable moments on this album. 'Last Rites – Loved To Deth' is probably the only song I'd consider passable, whilst all the others have the odd riff here or there, but there really is nothing that can truly save this debut. Then there’s ‘Mechanix’, the infamous song that Mustaine introduces as; “There’s their version, and there’s OUR version”. Sentimentality aside, Metallica's version (titled 'The Four Horsemen') is simply better in every way.
Megadeth are a fantastic band, and this is really the only record of theirs I don’t like. I've got to believe that if this was the debut from any generic thrash metal band in the 80's, they probably never would have made it to the 90's. Thankfully for Mustaine, he was a member of the genres biggest band and had garnered himself a cult following that gave him the opportunity to progress past this album. And to be fair, most metalheads in the 80's loved it regardless. 'Cause they'd buy anything anyway.
God-awful debut, but better things are coming.
Genres: Speed Metal Thrash Metal
It's the early years of progressive metal, Fates Warning and Queensryche have been going from strength to strength over the years and Dream Theater have released their debut album, but are yet to unleash its follow-up 'Images and Words' upon the world, which would pretty much lay out the blueprint for every prog metal album to follow. So with that, Shadow Gallery's self-titled debut release came at a time when the genre was still establishing itself.
All the enduring qualities of the genre are here in their infancy, and they work well. Lengthy songs with complex structures and vast musical passages, Mike Baker's incredible vocals, which add so much depth and credibility to the band, their trademark vocal harmonies (which would be expanded upon and perfected on later releases) and some of the finest musicianship around. It's no wonder they would go on to become one of prog metals most beloved cult bands.
In fact, the biggest detriment is the "epic" of the album, 'The Queen of the City of Ice'. Perhaps the metal world just wasn't quite ready for these 20-minute odyssey's just yet, or perhaps it was a trait best left to the old-school Yes's and Genesis's of the music world, but either way, this song is BORING!!! It's slow, uninteresting, and features a spoken dialogue section which goes on for way too long. It's a massive blow to what would be an otherwise stellar debut, as 'Darktown', 'Mystified', 'Say Goodbye to the Morning', 'Questions at Hand' and 'The Dance of Fools', in fact, all the songs on this album are early classics that really makes this a solid release, but it's all hindered by that 17-minute track that completely brings everything to a standstill.
Still, don't be deterred by that, as otherwise this is a great album that helped lay the foundations for progressive metal by firmly distinguishing all the early traits the genre would adhere to.
Genres: Progressive Metal
The early 90's saw an influx of bands that were blending rock and metal with hardcore and hip-hop influences. Rage Against the Machine were probably the most commercially successful, but there were a number of bands around the world that were also making contributions, such as Stuck Mojo and Body Count from the United States, H-Blockx from Germany, and one of the lesser known pioneers of what would come to be known as "rap metal", Sweden's Clawfinger.
While Clawfinger's music is fairly straightforward, it's the uncompromising attitude of the band, and in particular, the unsparing lyrics of vocalist Zak Tell, that makes them so endearing. The songs are energetic, with some simple yet infectious guitar riffs that aren't overly flashy but are enough to get heads banging. And Tell may not be a legit "rapper" by any stretch, but his hardcore-inspired style gives the music the exact grittiness and rawness it needs.
The lyrics are fairly cheesy at times, spouting out the usual anti-governmental hip-hop clichés that lambast war, racism, corruption, and society in general, but they're also sincere and catchy, and at times show a group that aren't afraid to be a little tongue-in-cheek. And in all fairness, the rapid-fire rhymes are actually fairly impressive when you consider that English isn't the groups first language.
'Deaf Dumb Blind' is a solid debut by Clawfinger, and while this type of music may not appeal to everyone, standout songs such as 'The Truth', 'Don't Get Me Wrong', 'Warfair', 'Rosegrave', 'I Need You' and the awkwardly titled 'Nigger' are all perfect examples of why rap metal shouldn't be so casually ignored.
Genres: Alternative Metal
After his 1994 solo release, guitarist Michael Romeo was met with a proposal from a record label to form a band and record an album in the similar vein to his solo material. "Sure, why not?"... and thus was born one of progressive metals most popular and influential bands.
Borrowing heavily upon the neoclassical style of shred made famous by Yngwie Malmsteen, Symphony X's self-titled debut release is a humble album that shows a band with the potential for big things, with the only major setback being the rather subpar production. While it's certainly not terrible, it just lacks that little bit of punch that the music really needs. It's a punch that would be added to future releases, and the difference is immediately noticeable.
As for the music itself, it's nowhere near as ambitious as the bands later releases, which would go on to utilize massive orchestrations, but it's still pretty good, and lays down a solid foundation upon which the band would establish their defining sound. As expected, Michael Romeo's guitar playing is the star of the show here, with his neoclassical virtuosity matched perfectly by keyboardist Michael Pinella, both displaying enough talents to secure their careers in a post-grunge metal scene. Vocalist Rod Tyler does a good job, and is vastly underrated for his work on this album, but it's his only appearance with the group and he will soon be overshadowed by his replacement, powerhouse singer Russell Allen.
'Symphony X' overall is a good debut, with early signs of greatness evident. 'Masquerade', 'The Raging Seasons', 'Premonition', 'Thorns of Sorrow' and the ballad 'Shades of Grey' are all notable reasons why this should be in your collection, and if you're a collector like me, it's certainly not one you'll regret having to own.
Genres: Neoclassical Metal Progressive Metal
Timing in everything when it comes to music. Heavy metal, the genre created by bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, was already starting to stagnate by the end of the 70's, with a lot of the genres leaders already burning themselves out. Thankfully, in 1980, Iron Maiden unleashed their debut album, taking the flag and running with a new subgenre known as the 'new wave of British heavy metal', or NWOBHM for short, and giving the metal world a kick up its own ass, as it prepared for a whole new level of global domination.
Combining elements of heavy metal with 70's punk, Iron Maiden's self-titled debut is a ball of raw energy, with its gritty production and its unpolished songwriting, this is an album where no punches are pulled. It's rough, it's dirty and there's certainly room for the band to mature, but there's just a charm and importance about the album that makes it stand out. I mean, it's Iron bloody Maiden for Christ's sake!
However, all praise aside, let's get to the nitty gritty of the review. The music is fun, catchy and full of life, but there's nothing truly outstanding jumping out at me. Each track is good, but lacks that extra something that leaves me feeling like I've just listened to a masterpiece.
Musically the band are pretty tight. Guitarists Dave Murray and Dennis Stratton display a chemistry other bands at the time were lacking, and Steve Harris' fast-paced, galloping bass playing instantly sets him apart from other bassists from that era. Vocalist Paul Di'Anno, who would only appear on one other Maiden record before being replaced with the beast that is Bruce Dickinson, may not have the widest vocal range or the most powerful voice, but he makes use of what he has, and it fits the stripped down, almost punk-esque feel of the album.
While the London five-piece would certainly go on to release more ambitious albums (and take over the world, pretty much), 'Iron Maiden' itself can only really be considered a "good" album. 'Prowler', 'Running Free', 'Transylvania' and 'Phantom of the Opera' are all reasons to get this album. But the truth is, realistically, Iron Maiden will go on to release some of the greatest metal albums of all time, and pretty much all the later material makes this album seem a bit dated and obsolete now.
It's good, and it has stood the test of time well, but I'd still only class it as "good". A worthy addition to the collection.
Genres: Heavy Metal
Stuck Mojo's brief flirtation with rock stardom came in 1998 with the release of their third album, 'Rising'. Having garnered a loyal following due to their relentless touring and insanely energetic performances, the rap rockers scored big when they filmed a music video featuring superstars of World Championship Wrestling, at the time one of the hottest shows on television. This gave the band an unprecedented amount of promotion that they'd never had before, as the video received heavy rotation on WCW's flagship show; 'Nitro'.
(It was also how guitarist Rich Ward met wrestling legend Chris Jericho... his future Fozzy bandmate).
Brimming with groove metal riffs and rapping vocals, Stuck Mojo's sound is simple and effective; heavy, energetic, and full of attitude. Ward's instantly recognizable guitar tone and style makes for some truly memorable headbanging anthems, and rapper Bonz is on fire lyrically, lashing out at governments, society, and celebrating all things America! What 'Rising' lacks in intricacy it more than compensates for in enthusiasm and machismo.
'Crooked Figurehead', 'Rising', 'Southern Pride', 'Enemy Territory', 'Dry', 'Pipe Bomb'... the whole bloody album is just one great song after another. Even goofy hip hop bonus track 'Suburban Ranger' has a nice charm to it.
Sadly, rap metal is usually considered the black sheep of metal subgenres. Which is a huge shame, as 'Rising' is such a great album that blended old-school metal with a legit rapper, as opposed to a singer who can rap. Stuck Mojo have toured with some heavy hitters such as Pantera and Machine Head, and it's evident in their music, that if metal fans can open their minds just a little bit, there's a true gem of a record waiting for them.
Genres: Alternative Metal
When renowned gangster rapper Ice-T wanted to form a metal band, he hooked up with guitarist Ernie C, and thus, Body Count was born. Blending metal guitar riffs with rapping vocals, the band's music takes a huge inspiration from hardcore, thrash and punk music.
Spewing hatred and anger with lyrics touching upon subjects such as racism, corrupt politicians and gang warfare, Body Count made an immediate splash with the song 'Cop Killer' (sadly not included on my copy of the album), which was highly controversial upon its release. However, all it really did was serve to give the band even more publicity.
Foul-mouthed, and brimming with hardcore metal riffs, 'Body Count' is not for the weak hearted. It's dark and menacing, a huge contrast to the whiny, angst-ridden grunge bands of the early 90's, with Ice-T and company making no effort to hide their displeasure at the mistreatment of coloured people in America. And the music itself packs one hell of a punch. It's heavy and it's ballsy, oozing with attitude but never taking itself too seriously that the band can't afford to be slightly tongue-in-cheek from time to time.
With anthems such as 'Evil Dick', 'Body Count's in the House', 'KKK Bitch', 'There Goes the Neighbourhood', 'Momma's Gotta Die Tonight' and 'The Winner Loses', it's apparent that Ice-T is onto something special here. And his solo track, 'Freedom of Speech', which takes the place of 'Cop Killer' on censored versions of the album, fits in perfectly, both stylistically and lyrically. And there's plenty of skits thrown in between songs to keep the record flowing effortlessly.
This could easily be dismissed as rap metal, and in fairness that's an easy assumption to make, but coming out at the right place and at the right time, Ice-T and Body Count struck gold with this release, and if you're willing to look past the gangster rap stigma of the group, you'll find a pivotal album of early 90's metal.
Genres: Thrash Metal
Before they became comfortable releasing rock operas full of theatrics and orchestrations, Savatage were a straightforward heavy metal band, who's debut album 'Sirens' caused a small buzz when it was released in 1983, but has since been lost in time, swept under the rug of the then-rising thrash metal scene.
'Sirens' may not be as epic, complex or majestic as the bands later material, but it's raw and gritty sound perfectly encapsulates the energy of the bands performances. Song's like 'Scream Murder', 'Holocaust', 'I Believe' and the title track are all fantastic examples of early 80's metal, and it's an absolute tragedy that this album has become not much more than a hidden gem in the metal landscape.
The music, sound, and overall vibe of this album is very reminiscent of Randy Rhodes-era Ozzy Osbourne, with the production and songwriting just oozing everything 80's. Jon Oliva's shrill vocals along with brother Criss Oliva's guitar virtuosity puts them both miles ahead of all the young players coming out of the thrash scene of the time. What this albums lacks in aggressiveness and attitude, it more than compensates for with melody and enthusiasm.
'Sirens' is nothing groundbreaking or unique, it's just a straight-up metal album which spawned the careers of one of the genres most beloved cult bands, and should be in the collection of every metal fan.
Genres: Heavy Metal
"My gun control is a steady hand".
With lyrics like that, you know this album will pull no punches while hitting harder than a steel toe-capped kick to the testicles. Mental meltdown indeed. Rich Ward, Bonz, and the crew are back with this follow-up to the 1995 cult classic 'Snappin' Necks', and every aspect of this record improves upon its predecessor.
The guitars sound heavier, the riffs are groovier, the drums pound harder and the rapping cuts deeper than before. Everything here is a step up. This album just sounds so complete and so confident. It's a young band with a lot of anger, set to explode, lashing out at celebrity culture, a stagnant music scene and politics. All the makings of a great metal album.
Produced by the legendary (?) Devin Townsend, it's certainly no surprise this album has an almost "industrial" feel to it, musically similar to bands like White Zombie or Ministry. Townsend himself lends some backing vocals to the record, with his trademark high-pitched screams being heard on a number of tracks. And with bassist Corey Lowery and drummer Frank Fontsere (the beginnings of a life-long musical partnership with Ward), this album ushered in what many consider Mojo's "golden era".
'Pigwalk', 'Mental Meltdown', '(Here Comes the) Monster', 'Only the Strong Survive' and 'Violated' are all some of the finest examples of why hip hop and metal go so well together, and this album is a testament to why Stuck Mojo are one of the most underrated metal bands ever.
Only the strong survive.
Genres: Alternative Metal
It's hard to believe how much Metallica's music had matured within a year of their debut album ‘Kill 'Em All’. With plenty of clean guitars and intricate harmonies, this is a band that has grown tighter and stronger as time went by. James Hetfield seems to be more confident as a singer here, and the band all-round seem a lot more comfortable with where they are headed musically. The lyrics are better thought out and the songwriting as a whole is a lot more complex and established than what we heard on their previous record.
Though some of these songs are instant classics, such as 'For Whom the Bell Tolls', 'Fade to Black', ‘Creeping Death’ and ‘The Call of Ktulu’, there are still a couple of tracks lingering around to fill up space, in particular, 'Trapped Under Ice' and 'Escape'. A fact shown true by the band themselves, who never play these songs live. And let's be honest here, is there anyone who can actually claim that their favourite Metallica song is ‘Trapped Under Ice’? Didn't think so.
With that said, the odd filler or two do not take away any momentum from the album, which flows smoothly all the way to the end. One of the biggest heavy metal albums of all time, there’s enough diversity here that non-metal fans may even like what they hear.
Genres: Thrash Metal
We all have those bands that we're huge fans of, yet no one else has ever heard of them. Or perhaps they have, but they're just not as passionate about them as you are. Maybe they like the odd song, or mildly enjoy their discography, but wouldn't go as far as to consider them a favourite of theirs.
Allow me to introduce you to "that band" of mine.
Stumbling across Andromeda online, I purchased this almost immediately after hearing and falling in love with the title track, 'Extension of the Wish'. I couldn't believe how stellar this, their debut album, was. Being a huge fan of progressive metal, theirs was the perfect sound. Atmospheric with a spacey vibe, and full of the usual over-the-top virtuoso performances that you'd expect of the genre. How are this band not more well-known?!
Written by guitarist Johann Reinholdz (who was only 21 at the time... jeez...), 'Extension of the Wish' is full of guitar and keyboard acrobatics that put most other bands to shame. The drumming is absolutely insane, yet Thomas Lejon never misses a beat, and singer David Fremberg's powerful voice is full of passion and raw energy.
Opening track 'The Words Unspoken' is one of the best prog metal songs I've ever heard, and instrumental 'Chameleon Carnival' is an absolute joy to listen to, showing off Reinholdz's vast knowledge of guitar scales and fret-board mastery. Then there's songs like 'Crescendo of Thoughts', 'Star Shooter Supreme', 'Arch Angel', bonus track 'Journey of Polyspheric Experience' and of course, the title piece itself, 'Extension of the Wish'. There is not a dull moment on this incredible album and it's an absolute travesty that not many people know this band exists.
Without a doubt Andromeda are one of my all-time favourite bands, and this, their debut release, is exactly why. It may seem ludicrous to think a band can get a five-star rating with their first outing, but damn, 'Extension of the Wish' really is that good! If you're into prog metal, do yourself a favour and get this album now.
Genres: Progressive Metal
Full of energy and pulse-pounding riffs, this is Metallica's debut album with which they changed the heavy metal world back in 1983. Although the songs are a lot more immature than Metallica's later material, in both lyrical and musical content, the songs are still great if you're after a straight forward headbanging album from start to finish, with many of these songs still being a major spotlight of any Metallica live set today.
Although some tracks are weaker than others, the album as a whole runs smoothly without giving the listener a chance to catch their breath. Metallica classics such as ‘Seek and Destroy’, ‘The Four Horsemen’, ‘Hit the Lights’ and ‘Whiplash’ make this essential for all metal fans.
It won’t be your favourite Metallica album, but your metal collection won’t be complete without it.
Genres: Thrash Metal
Iced Earth’s quest to become one of the most popular bands in the power metal genre began back in 1990 with the release of their self-titled debut album, which combined elements of the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) and thrash metal to produce songs which are crammed with intense, galloping riffs, interesting harmonies, and epic vocals.
Power metal has long been the ginger-haired stepchild of metal, but anyone expecting a complete cheese-fest is solely mistaken. Are the lyrics a bit daft at times? Absolutely! But the music here is top-notch. The songwriting, most of which is handled by guitarist and band leader Jon Schaffer, is very well-structured and mature, and although the band would go on to release much better records in the future, their debut still contains some of their best work, such as ‘Iced Earth’, ‘Written on the Walls’, ‘Colors’, ‘Funeral’ and the awesome ‘When the Night Falls’.
The production is far from perfect, but that actually benefits the record greatly, as it gives the music the exact sound these riffs need. If anything, the only real detriment to the album is vocalist Gene Adam. At times his voice powerfully suits the music, at other times, it comes across as quite forced, annoying, and almost embarrassing.
Other than that, this is a pretty stellar release, and a key moment in power metal history. Worth checking out for fans of all subgenres.
Genres: Power Metal
Rising from the ashes of power metal band 'Twilight', Danish prog metallers Beyond Twilight's first release 'The Devil's Hall of Fame' is a very twisted journey into the depths of the human mind, and certainly not a record for the weak-hearted.
Having a concept album for a debut can be a big risk for any band, but Beyond Twilight pull it off here, with incredible compositions and production that sound as though they are coming from a band with years and years of experience together. It's exciting to listen to this and imagine what else this group can come up with.
Keyboardist Finn Zierler's layer-upon-layer of dark and gloomy melodies fits perfectly with Anders Kragh's haunting and exciting guitar riffs, all perfectly played in minor keys to bring the best depressions out of anyone. And this chilling and epic tale is told wonderfully by a man who has one of the most "metal voices" out there, Jorn Lande. Highlights of this incredible first- time outing include the dark 'Godless and Wicked', the psychotic and twisted 'The Devil's Waltz' and 'Crying', a song as beautiful as it is chilling.
An interesting and very exciting debut, this certainly isn't the album you'd choose to help lift your spirits, but for some incredibly dark and gothic prog metal, this is a fantastic debut from a band who shows limitless potential.
Genres: Progressive Metal
With this debut album, the world is introduced to Stuck Mojo, one of the most beloved and influential cult metal bands from the 90's. They weren't the first band to mix metal and hip-hop, but they were the band that really took it to the next level. They showed how, when done properly, it didn't need to be referred to as a mixture of styles, but a whole new musical force in its own right.
The main core of the band is centred around guitarist Rich Ward and vocalist Bonz, both with their own unique styles that helped Stuck Mojo stand out amongst the mid-90's metal scene. Ward's guitar work focuses mainly on power and groove, with an unmatched tone and riffs-galore, the music on this album will suit any fan of bands such as Pantera and Disturbed, and sets Mojo apart from later "rap metal" acts such as Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock.
Bonz has an amazing style of rapping that takes influence from hip-hop, punk and hardcore music, which fits perfectly with the metal riffs contributed by Ward. His ferocity and lyrics are unique in their aggression, with shouting and rapping blending perfectly without having to resort to growling and unintelligible metal grunts.
With some killer tracks such as 'Not Promised Tomorrow', '2 Minutes of Death', 'F.O.D.' and 'Uncle Sam Sham', this album is a relentless assault of metal and hip-hop done effectively. Full of Mojo classics that remain staples in live sets, 'Snappin' Necks' is an album that rarely gets recognized or remembered these days, which makes it an absolute underrated classic.
Genres: Alternative Metal
Quietly unleashed upon the world in 1989 to approximately no fanfare, radio airplay or any kind of recognition, 'When Dream and Day Unite', the debut album of progressive metal band Dream Theater, was the birth of a legend that approximately nobody saw coming.
It's a debut that has garnered mixed reactions since its release, despite the bands later successes. Personally, I think this is an incredible effort with some fantastic compositions, especially for such a young band. The band clearly know who their influences are, and hold no gripes against showing it, as there are definitely similarities here to bands such as Iron Maiden, Queensryche and most notably, Rush.
Vocalist Charlie Dominici, making his only appearance on a studio album, has always been a common complaint of fans. His pop-inspired singing grating to some, I think his voice has a very majestic tone to it that perfectly fits the raw sound of this album, especially when accompanied by Kevin Moore's 80's sounding keyboards. As for the others, guitarist John Petrucci, drummer Mike Portnoy and John Myung are all serious musicians (having met at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston), who are only just starting their incredible journeys to becoming some of the most revered and respected musicians in the world.
Another strong point of this album of "young" musicians is the lyrics, which contain some of the most random and yet, well thought-out passages I've ever heard. Especially on the track 'Only a Matter of Time'. Other gems worth checking out are 'A Fortune in Lies', 'The Killing Hand' and 'Light Fuse and Get Away'.
An incredible debut. Not as polished as ‘Images and Words’ and lacking the production values of ‘Scenes from a Memory’, but strip away any faults and there are some truly great songs here.
Genres: Progressive Metal
"Duh duh duh-duh-duh... Duh duh duh-duh... Oh wah-ah-ah-ah!!!"
Released in 2000, Disturbed's debut album came at just the right time as nu metal was creeping into the mainstream and making itself one of the biggest genres in the world (albeit, only briefly). With countless bands coming out of the woodwork and jumping on the bandwagon, only a few of them were able to transcend the sub-genre from which they came and become credible bands.
Disturbed are one of those bands.
You probably wouldn't have thought it back in the day, mind you. Musically this album fits right in with the nu metal fad. Heavy, groove-laden tracks, angst-ridden lyrics, de-tuned guitars with no solos in sight... So what set Disturbed apart from the rest?
With their hit single, 'Down With the Sickness' and it's legendary opening of "oh-wah-ah-ah-ah" that would go on to spawn countless internet memes, puns and pop-culture references, it was vocalist David Draiman's unique style that instantly gave the band their own identity. And it's stood the test of time, because Disturbed would go on to "oh-wah-ah-ah" their way to being one of metals most beloved bands.
Unfortunately, none of that was really all too evident in their debut release, as 'The Sickness', despite a few standout tracks, really suffers from the same mediocrity that a lot of groups suffered from back then. Sure, there's a few hits in here, 'Voices' is an absolute classic, and 'The Game', 'Fear', 'Meaning of Life' and the aforementioned 'Down With the Sickness' are all valid reasons for owning this record and really highlight the significance of Draiman's vocals. But then sadly, a lot of the other tracks just seem to be there to fill time, with special mention going to 'Conflict'... a song in which the word "enemy" (pronounced "en-na-may") is sung a staggering 52 times! Please, no more!
Overall 'The Sickness' is not a terrible record, it's just not really all that memorable either. Well produced and accompanied by a couple of hit singles, it did what it was meant to do and helped put Disturbed on the map.
Genres: Alternative Metal