31 (more) of My Favorite Metal Albums:
The Honorable Mentions
To celebrate my birth month, every day in March I shared one of my all time favorite metal albums over on Twitter.
The selection process revealed to me that I have a lot more than 31 favorite metal albums. So I decided to share a few more here at Beaucoup!
Whether you’ve never listened to extreme underground metal or if you’re an old-school metalhead who saw that December 6th 1986 Slayer show at The Ritz in New York, I hope you might find something amongst these 62 albums that tickles your fancy.
That said, I recognize it’s an acquired taste.
“im not a huge fan of Black Metal because of how horrible it sounds”
— redditor Flimsy-Assumption513, in a thread seeking recommendations for black metal albums
Unlike redditor Flimsy-Assumption513, I adore things that sound horrible. Especially what they classify at the Hollywood Amoeba Records as “Extreme Metal” or “Underground Metal.” Things like Death Metal, Black Metal, Thrash, Grind, etc.
Julian Schaap and Pauwke Berkers characterize extreme metal as “sonic, verbal, and visual transgression."
So, yeah, basically music as sonic assault. That which evokes rage and fear and terror.
Because sometimes I want to feel creeped out and uncomfortable. Sometimes I want scary music and unintelligible vocals. Sometimes that sonic blast calms me, soothes me, balances out the tempestuous cacophony raging in my head. A negative times a negative equals a positive, after all.
I should say, you’ll likely notice a pattern: with this genre of music I mostly don’t want to understand or even recognize lyrics as human utterances. I certainly don’t want to hear singing or crooning, for the most part. Instead, I tend to want to hear loud vicious noises. Creepy, scary, angry noises. High-pitched squeals and deep thunderous croaks as if the singer’s throat might rip apart at any moment. Grunts, growls. Snarls, screeches. Harsh, brutal, guttural sounds. Guitars as fast as brakeless trains barreling down mountainsides. Drums like marbles in a blender sped up a hundred thousand times. Over the top intensity. Pounding. Throbbing. Audio horror.
I should also say I only began listening to metal in my mid thirties, circa 2012. Since I’m now forty-five, I’ve only logged ten or so years of listening. I’m therefore hardly an expert, let alone a lifelong devotee. Plus, I didn’t get into it young enough to get involved in the scene at its apex or witness the release of all the classics. Back in the 80s I listened mostly to pop music. In the early 90s I listened mostly to rap, grunge, and alt rock. In the late 90s I listened mostly to electronic, folk, indie, and experimental music. Metal never really spoke to me as a kid or young person. The aggression it presented didn’t appeal to me. I drew much greater resonance with the aggression presented by NWA, Ice-T, Public Enemy, Ghetto Boys, and Wu-Tang Clan. Rap and hip hop appealed to me and my small circle of friends while most others in my age group who lived where I lived in a small town in Wyoming gravitated towards country, hard rock, and heavy metal. Lots of Iron Maiden, Megadeath, Guns and Roses, Metallica, Judas Priest, that sort of thing. And honestly, that’s the type of stuff I thought of when I thought of metal music: basically heavy-sounding mainstream rock-and-roll type music with cheesy butt-rock riffs and melodramatic falsettos.
And then in the summer of 1996, after graduating high school, I quit my job in Frontier Mall selling preppy clothes at The Buckle to work in a locally owned video rental store called Hollywood Video. Our location sat diagonally across the street from our main competition: Blockbuster Video. If you wanted mainstream movies you went to Blockbuster; if you wanted weird, obscure, arthouse, foreign, indie, horror, sci-fi, and porn — perhaps the greatest differentiator between the two competitors — then you came to Hollywood Video. There I worked with this older guy who had a septum piercing and giant gauged earlobes and red hair and a long scraggly goatee and massive tattoos and beat up Doc Martens and who often wore the same bloodstained Slayer t-shirt. He introduced me to a lot of weird stuff including the music of Merzbow, John Zorn, Boredoms, and Diamanda Galás. That was - I think - my first taste of extreme underground sounds.
Then years and years later, while pursuing my doctorate, a friend turned me on to this whole world of extreme metal when they loaned me a copy of Michael Moynihan & Didrik Soderlind’s book Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground, and burned me CDs of Ash Borer, Wolves in the Throne Room, and Krallice.
Now I’m hooked.
And I’m always looking for more…so if you have favorites that didn’t appear on these lists, please share them in the comments below!
[PS - In terms of organization, following the model I used on Twitter, I’m listing these in the order of their release rather than the order of my favor. Also, I challenged myself to only include one album per artist.]
[PPS - Be on the lookout for the first ever Beaucoup Mixtape, a podcast sort of thing, which I’ll soon share with all subscribers!]