30. Exodus – Bonded By Blood (1985)
Talismanic standard bearers for the Bay Area thrash scene, Exodus (opens in new tab) defined the entire genre with their debut album. Led by the none-more-diehard Paul Baloff, they tore through nine flawless lessons in hard-riffing violence and deftly nailed the thrash blueprint for all time. ‘Metal takes hold, death starts to unfold… it’s loud like the world’s at and end!’ sums it up.
29. Disturbed – The Sickness (2000)
Disturbed (opens in new tab)’s debut spawned the ultimate nu metal club anthem in Down With The Sickness, with its angry breakdown about an abusive mother, while the equally powerful Voices and Stupify weren’t far behind. David’s Draiman (opens in new tab)’s distinctive bark became symbolic of the scene, while the album sparked the band’s ascent into metal’s upper ranks, where they’ve enjoyed a place ever since.
28. Evanescence – Fallen (2003)
Evanescence (opens in new tab)’s multi-million selling debut album sat at the confluence of goth (opens in new tab) and nu-metal, and benefitted from the massive popularity of both. But despite the presence of a rapper on lead single – and out of the box smash - Bring Me To Life (opens in new tab), Amy Lee’s vision was more Broadway than street corner. Grandiosity was ingrained in Fallen at a cellular level, not least on the Peter Pan-inspired My Immortal. It worked: the album propelled Evanescence to instant superstars, and turned their singer into a new kind of icon for the 21st century.
27. Alter Bridge – One Day Remains (2004)
Following Creed’s meltdown in 2004, guitarist Mark Tremonti (opens in new tab) regrouped his former rhythm section that same year – pointedly swapping out divisive frontman Scott Stapp for newcomer Myles Kennedy (opens in new tab) – and something astonishing happened. Where Creed had been lumpen and pious, Alter Bridge (opens in new tab) were lean and hooky, and planted the hard-rock flag deep into the modern age.
If Kennedy appeared to be something of a doormat when he was unveiled, then the band’s debut One Day Remains revealed a more tangible reason for Tremonti choosing him: that voice. It’s a gravity-defying, gale-force, octave-straddling bulldozer of a larynx. And one that instantly quashed conspiracy theories – fuelled by the addition of Creed bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips – that Tremonti wanted someone who sounded like Scott Stapp but who caused less friction.
26. Kiss – Kiss (1974)
When the first Kiss (opens in new tab) album was released on February 18, 1974, the band’s make-up design was not yet perfected – but the music was fully formed. From the start, the New Yorkers wrote anthems. Seven songs from the album would become Kiss standards: Strutter, Cold Gin, Firehouse, Deuce, Nothin’ To Lose, 100,000 Years and Black Diamond. Kiss was not a hit at the time – US chart peak: No.87 – but it stands alongside Aerosmith, Montrose and Van Halen as one of the classic debut albums that built American hard rock in the 1970s.
25. Bullet For My Valentine – The Poison (2005)
Front to back, Bullet For My Valentine (opens in new tab)’s debut LP is a shot of melody, heaviness and dexterity straight to the cranium. Everything here is gold. The Gothenburg (opens in new tab)-inspired riffing’s here in buckets through Cries In Vain and the masterful Her Voice Resides, and Bullet’s ballads have never been as brilliant as they were back here. Tears Don’t Fall remains a modern classic when it comes to the art of epic, sing-along soppiness – yeah, we know there’s the thrashy bit too, steady on – and All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me)’s instantaneous, loserish loneliness could’ve been a radio mainstay were it not for the, well, metal bits. They’ll probably never recapture that crisp, fresh-out-of-the-box power they had on The Poison (opens in new tab).
24. Slayer – Show No Mercy (1983)
“Pure, unadulterated junk” said one review of Slayer’s first album. Even Dave Lombardo now describes it as “primitive and naïve”. But for numerous extreme metal bands that followed, Show No Mercy is one of the most powerful and influential albums of the 80s.
Slayer’s own influences were clearly evident: Evil Has No Boundaries had the fury and spooky, satanic vibes of early Venom (opens in new tab); in The Antichrist’s multiple riffs there were echoes Iron Maiden (opens in new tab) and Mercyful Fate.
Some misunderstood the band’s high speed, unrelenting approach as proving they had little of musical value to offer. Wrong! To be as convincing as this, the fearless foursome had to be more than competent. A true invocation of dark forces that can still unnerve the unwary – but from here it would get lot uglier.
23. Avenged Sevenfold – Sounding The Seventh Trumpet (2001)
Released on Belgian punk label Good Life back in 2001, Sound The Seventh Trumpet is by no means a bad first go at releasing a record, even if it is very derivative of the goth-leaning metalcore that was bubbling up through the underground courtesy of 18 Visions, xCanaanx and more, but Avenged Sevenfold (opens in new tab) would go on to outstrip it considerably with pretty much every release they recorded after that. Still, the stomping We Come Out At Night will still get fans of old school metallic hardcore moving all the same.
22. Rammstein – Herzeleid (1995)
It seemed crazy at the time. Rammstein (opens in new tab) were a band from Germany (opens in new tab) – from the former East Germany, no less – who were arrogant/stupid enough to think they could make a career out of singing songs in German. Were they taking the piss? Apparently not.
Debut album Herzeleid brought Rammstein into this horrible world (opens in new tab) and gave us Du riechst so gut and Wollt ihr das Bett in Flammen sehen?. And while it lacks the variety and sheer firepower of later efforts, it cemented their titanic Neue Deutsche Härte racket and proved that, despite all opposition, keyboards are cool.
21. Megadeth – Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good (1985)
In terms of refining and defining the thrash metal template, Dave Mustaine (opens in new tab) is unquestionably the genre’s kingpin. Aside from writing at least half of Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All (opens in new tab), he also created his own band’s debut album: a fast, furious and relentlessly pissed off assault on the senses that haughtily upped the ante for the entire metal scene. More technically impressive than the rest and driven by fury and revenge, Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good (opens in new tab) revealed that Megadeth were a unique and formidable proposition.