Tom Morello's 13 greatest heavy metal albums of all time
26th Apr 2010 | 07:00
UFO - Strangers In The Night (1979)
"I have to admit, while spinning the wheel on my iPod, I realized what a daunting task it would be to whittle my list down to just 10 records.
"Countless hard and heavy albums have rocked my world over the years, so many, in fact, that the proverbial 'top 10' felt somewhat constricting. Sadly, as can happen when compiling any kind of 'best of,' a few classics get left on the cutting room floor.
"That said, here's my top 10 favorite heavy metal albums of all time, with three additional selections. They're not 'also rans' by any stretch - consider them the bonus jams, the extended version of my top 10 list. I always like to give a little more than what people bargain for. In descending order, let's start things off with UFO's Strangers In The Night."
“A fantastic tour de force for guitarist Michael Schenker, who would soon quit the band. Like KISS, UFO’s greatest recorded moments were live, and this double album is a document of the group in peak form.
“This record influenced me greatly, especially the song Lights Out, which I would put toe-to-toe with just about any jam. A fantastic set. All budding guitarists should seek it out.”
Mötley Crüe - Too Fast For Love (1982)
“The super-raw debut from Hollywood’s bad boys when they were still lighting themselves on fire and before they discovered spandex.
“Jams like Live Wire are insanely wicked and still do the trick, even today. Fun stuff.”
Iron Maiden - Piece Of Mind (1983)
“I wore this album out on my turntable, and that's saying something because I was playing many records over and over during a certain period of my life.
"Between the relentlessness of the galloping bass, the cavalry charge of the drums and the razor-sharp precision of the then-double-axe attack, the whole thing was almost too much for my young metal soul to bear.”
Tool - Undertow (1993)
“I had the privilege of witnessing these songs as they were written and debuted in the LA clubs, and on those nights there was no better metal band in the world.
“While Tool may shun being described as 'heavy metal,' the huge, punishing force of their riffs, coupled with the dark and shadowy lyrics, are everything that’s great in metal. This remains one of my favorites.”
Van Halen - Van Halen (1978)
"In the annals of recorded music, this one captures pure greatness in its most vital, untamed state. Not only that, but if you listen to this album you can truly feel the spirit and energy of the Hollywood Strip circa 1978.
“During this period, no band in their right minds would follow Van Halen on stage - they were that fantastic! - and on this hit-filled debut, Eddie and company packed every exciting second of their live show on wax for the whole world to hear.”
System Of A Down - Toxicity (2001)
“A record like no other, it combines the unique flavor of the band's Armenian heritage with absolutely brutal riffage.
"Top that off with Serj Tankian’s otherworldly vocals and humanistic world view, and you have an experience that you’re not likely to get from any other band.”
Dio - The Last In Line (1984)
“While I’m extremely tempted to put the Dio-era Sabbath record Mob Rules in this spot, as the title track of that album is unholy in its sheer awesomeness, The Last In Line is a more consistent listening experience from top to bottom.
"Great songs overall, and then, of course, you have the impish king of elf metal, Ronnie James Dio, singing his lungs out, with Vivian Campbell’s masterful riffery leading the way.”
Judas Priest - British Steel (1980)
“As a teen, this was a record that was guaranteed to alienate any potential female companionship, which should not be construed as a negative in any way, shape or form.
“It’s one of my favorite records of all time. Judas Priest are a longtime standard-bearer of metal, and this is their greatest moment.”
Ozzy Osbourne - Blizzard Of Ozz (1980)
“The record that introduced Randy Rhoads to the world. In my opinion, he still ranks as the greatest hard rock/heavy metal guitar player of all time.
“What an album! It combined awesome musicianship with furious rock, and it revitalized Ozzy’s career and began to make him the household name he is today. More importantly, if there were no vocals at all on the record, it would still hold this high position due to Randy Rhoads’ axe mastery.”
Guns N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction (1987)
“From top to bottom, it’s the embodiment of lightning being caught in a bottle. An unbelievable combination of band chemistry, great rock and attitude, brewed to perfection.”
Aerosmith - Rocks (1976)
“Depending on how heavy metal is defined, some might question this band and album. But I grew up loving metal and Aerosmith was definitely one of my bands, so I‘m going to include this one because I consider it to be one of the great hard rock records of all time.
“It‘s got all the essential elements: it's heavy, it's sleazy, it's funky and it‘s what all bands with pretensions to play hard rock should aspire to.”
AC/DC - Back In Black (1980)
Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)
“It’s number one for a very simple reason: it’s the greatest heavy metal band’s greatest songs, back-to-back-to-back.
"It’s just unbeatable for its power and heaviness. I dare anyone to try to come close to replicating it in any way. Good luck.”
Liked this? Now read: The 50 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums Of All Time
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