The Shit List: Top 10 Best Old School Heavy Metal Albums [PART ONE]

As the days grow shorter and darkness falls a little sooner each day, we at The Shit find that our musical tastes as of late have also gravitated towards the darker, heavier sounds. In other words, we've been listening to a lot of heavy metal lately. Thing is, the very term "heavy metal" has come to mean so many different things that we felt it was not only necessary to define "heavy metal" by putting together the definitive list of true metal albums, which we call, simply, The Top 10 Old School Heavy Metal Albums Of All Time!

As with all of our lists, our selections appear in no particular order.

Judas Priest / British Steel

If you call yourself a metal maniac and don't own this record, you may as well have a pile of Barbie dolls and Justin Beiber posters under your bed. Whatever heavy metal had been prior to this album's release, Rob Halford & Co. virtually reinvented the genre with this record, which has stood as a monolithic heavy metal template for 30+ years. For starters, this album is the first to feature the full classic line-up, which was rounded out by the introduction of drummer Dave Holland on this record. Holland's addition solidified the rhythm section, adding more pavement-chewing power to the twin-guitar attack of Glenn Tipton and KK Downing. Upon taking one listen to the iconic riffage of "Breaking The Law", the pulsating drive of "Living After Midnight", and the annihilating groove of "Grinder", metal fans knew they were witnessing the dawn of a new period in metal. Even 30 years later, this album still packs one helluva punch. Best to not stand too close to the speakers, for fear of catching a metal-spiked knuckle sandwich.

Deep Purple / Machine Head

Before we start raving about this one, we think it bears to mention that back in these halcyon days of metal, bands didn't just rocket to the top of the charts with their first album. Nope, back in those days, the road to fame and fortune was a long one, full of dead-end streets and tricky terrain. For Deep Purple, it took them six albums to finally reach the mass audience they now fully deserved. With the release of Machine Head in 1972 the band's transformation from prog-rock act to full-blown heavy metal trailblazer was complete and, with it, came their first taste of worldwide success. Sure, this is the album that has "Smoke On The Water" on it. That, in and of itself, qualifies this album for inclusion on just about any list of great metal albums, but anyone who has taken the time to listen to the rest of the album will find a virtual treasure trove of metal gold sprinkled liberally over the album's seven tracks. That's right, this album has only seven songs on it. Why only seven, you ask? Because these seven songs were so fucking heavy, man. Your standard slice of 12" vinyl could literally not hold any more. With the inclusion of jaw-dropping rockers like "Highway Star", "Lazy", and "Space Truckin'", this album is the definitive Deep Purple record and one of the heaviest records ever made.

Black Sabbath / Paranoid

While many consider the band's debut album, released less than six months prior to this one, to be the shot that started the musical movement that is "heavy metal", we at The Shit consider Paranoid to be first truly great heavy metal album ever made. Sure, that first record sounds like it dropped out of a fucking space ship, sounding completely unlike anything anyone had ever heard before, but the songwriting still left a little to be desired. On Paranoid, though, the band hit upon a truly potent powder keg of hooks and monster riffage that was highlighted by songs such as "War Pigs", "Iron Man", and the title cut. In hindsight, we truly believe that if Paranoid had been Black Sabbath's first album, it would have blown the heads off of all who heard it. By breaking in their audience with a debut album that was, in essence, a warning shot, the world was that much more ready to digest the metal that was to come. Amazingly, this album sounds just as subversive and evil as the day it came out. Even more amazingly, the original Black Sabbath line-up has recently reunited and will unveil a new album and world tour in 2012.

King Crimson / In The Court Of The Crimson King

Okay, many who've never heard it, dismiss this album as "prog wankery", but that's just their complete ignorance talking. In truth, this album is as heavy as any heavy metal album ever made and, based on that fact alone, it qualifies for this list. Truth be told, on paper, this group led by classically-trained guitarist Robert Fripp should never have been able to create an album this monstrously heavy. From the opening wail of "21st Century Schizoid Man", this album literally rockets out of the speakers with a sense of premeditated mayhem that is starkly mesmerizing. There is a dissonant urgency to the album that perfectly matches the album cover of an obviously horrified man captured mid-scream. While the album contains only five songs, the arrangements are so complex that there seems to be many smaller songs within each song, each playing a part in an overall conceptual presentation that is as visual as it is musical.

Motorhead / Ace Of Spades

The very fact that Motorhead lived long enough to make their first album is a testament to the strength of supreme underdog, Lemmy Kilmister. After all, their first album was initially recorded after they'd enlisted a recording engineer to record their final gig after failing to get a record deal. Said engineer then offered to take them into the studio to record a single, which turned into a mnarathon recording session that saw the band lay down thirteen basic tracks. As if that weren't enough, the band kept hammering away until they finally put all the pieces together on their fourth album, Ace of Spades, thereby creating an explosive heavy metal masterpiece that can still knock you on your ass. Lemmy, of course, attributes new producer Vic Maile with much of the credit for helping the band finally harness the raw power that they'd long displayed as a live act, and for pushing Lemmy to write some of his best songs ever. Lemmy, of course, did just that, turning in such gems as "Shoot You In The Back", "Jailbait", and the legendary title cut.


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