Vicious? Yes. Yes it is.

Finally! A new Halestorm album! I first came across Halestorm on youtube years ago when they were doing a Skid Row cover live, and that was all she wrote. They’re perfect together. Lzzy’s vocals are unapologetic, Animal’s, I mean Arejay’s, drumming is relentless, Joe’s riffs are prefect, and Josh’s bass is thumping. He also called me sweetie once but that’s another story. Actually that’s basically the whole story. No wait, there’s a PHOTO TOO: Anyway. If you don’t know Halestorm: they have 4 studio albums and 3 cover EPs. I’ve said it before and I say it again: it’s a special kind of art to do a good cover, and Halestorm has mastered it (so has Metallica and Marilyn Manson, but that’s a whole other post). Check out their version of Judas Priest’s “Dissident aggressor” and tell me I’m wrong.

If you enjoy catchy, thumpy, riffy hard rock with in-your-face vocals and rebellious lyrics, this is the stuff you need. Some of my faves from the first 3 albums are “I get off“, “Mz Hyde“, “Freak like me“, “I miss the misery“, “Daughters of darkness“, “Mayhem“, “I like it heavy“, and “Apocalyptic“. And about 20 others.

SO! The new album is called “Vicious” and is all I expected it to be, and then some. Some of it is entirely surprising, some is comfortably recognizable as the Halestorm I know and love.

Black Vultures” – Wow. That is some insanely distorted screaming. I LOVE IT. Guitars. Drums. Involuntary headbanging. Lzzy’s voice drops down, smooths out. It’s perfect. Super catchy chorus. I can listen to this on repeat all day. I did, in fact, yesterday. The breakdown around 2:40 is GROOVY and I like it so much.

Skulls” – Quiet vocals that erupts in screaming, and repeat. The parts with only vocals and drums. It’s genius. Listen to the lyrics. Feed your empty skull / Leave the tv on / Believe what you want / If you can’t see right or wrong /

Uncomfortable” – PUNKY! More involuntary headbanging. So catchy. I dare you to sit still. Unpredictable arrangement from the bridge into the chorus. I like to be surprised. And again, lyrics. I do it ’cause the whole damn worlds gone crazy / And fuck it man / This is the end /  That riff at 2:52. Chunky.

Buzz” – Aaaahh yes this is the stuff. This song reminds me of something Heart could have done. Catchy. VOCALS. I can’t sleep / I can’t think now / I can’t breathe without you touching me / Oh and they’re doing the whole Bon Jovi thing… the talk box? Yeah, that.

Do not disturb” – Rated R in all kinds of ways. Besides saying that you should pay special attention to the guitar solo at 2:40, I’m just gonna leave this headline from MetalSucks here:

Conflicted” – Not used to hearing Lzzy’s vocals like this. I love it. Chorus is groovy. So groovy.  I’m conflicted / this addiction’s got me twisted on you

Killing ourselves to live” – Wow okay so I spent hours on a transatlantic flight a few days ago with this on repeat. It’s amazing. Heartbreaking. Empowering. Gut wrenching. Thumpy, crunchy, and vicious. Probably my favorite song on this album. This could have been a Pat Benatar ballad from the 80s, but it’s a Halestorm ballad from the 10s and it’s AWESOME.

Heart of novocaine” – Oh break my heart, why don’t you. I absolutely love how Lzzy’s lazy pronunciation emphasizes the emotions in the lyrics. I dare you not to feel this song. With the acoustic guitar and all it kind of takes me back to the best but most heartbreaking parts of the 90s.

Painkiller” – YES. That guitar bend. The thumping. Teasing vocals that turn into screaming on the chorus. Almost a progressive feel. I really like he guitar work on this song. And that vocal part at 2:20? Hot.

White dress” – Classic hard rock. Catchy. Classic Lzzy lyrics. She’s really succeeded in making her lyrics relatable for women of all ages and from all walks of life, not just on this album.

Vicious” – This is AMAZING. The progression and effects make me think of Garbage, but metallized. THIS IS A VERY GOOD THING. Also a song I could have on repeat all day long.

Last on the album is “The silence“, a pretty ballad with some beautiful vocal work. Again, something that might as well could have been released in the late 80s or early 90s.

THIS ALBUM IS GREAT AND IF YOU DON’T CHECK IT OUT IT’S YOUR LOSS SO DON’T COME CRYING TO ME WHEN IT’S GONE oh wait that’s not a problem because METAL IS FOREVER.

Here’s another album you need in your life

When I made my gigantic top 100 list last year, this masterpiece was not out yet. Judas Priest’s “Firepower“, the second fantastic album since Richie Faulkner joined the band. The title track gets you right from the start. Classic Priest riff with Rob’s amazing scream fading in, just like I like it (best ever example of this is after the super duper long guitar solo in “Ram it down”, better scream fade-in has never been heard). Drums tight. Rob’s vocals switch from growly and evil to classic screechy and high-pitched.

“Lightning strike” is one of those songs you just know from the start. It’s automatic headbanging and airguitar playing. It’s fast. It’s Priest. It’s awesome.

“Evil never dies” slows it down a bit. Scarier vocals and lyrics, reminds me of “Nightcrawler” (Painkiller, 1990). Then comes “Never the heroes”. More melancholy. Nice, clean bridge that crosses over in a catchy chorus.

OH, NECROMANCER! Love this song. Creepy backing vocals. “BORN OUT OF HELL, FROM THE DEPTHS OF GOMORRA”. Very scary. Rob is scary. I love it. Thumpy chorus with off-key vocals. Oh and the guitar solo. Richie is one of my favorite guitarists ever. I cannot be happier with him joining the band. Such an asset.

Anyway! “Children of the sun” is stompy and kind of weird in its progression, but once you learn it you have to love it. Also it has this pretty guitar/vocal part at 1:45 which is both haunting and sad.

Ok! Break in the thumpy metalness with “Guardians”. Short instrumental halfway through the album. Gorgeousness for my ears. Wonderful build-up that culminates in the beginning riff to “Rising from ruins”. Another melancholy song with lots of emotional input from Rob. Great riffage (yes it’s a word) that teases you through the song behind an amazing vocal arrangement. Next up is “Flame thrower”, which has a great 80’s sound. Unexpected vocal progression on the chorus (and in other places as well actually). Love it. Nice chunky guitar.

SPECTRE! I love this so much. Riffy. More scariness. It’s like having the metal god telling you a scary bedtime story. Actually, it IS that. But with guitars. Even the way he says “TERRAH!” (terror) is awesome. This also reminds me of “Nightcrawler”. Makes you look over your shoulder, while banging your head. Beautiful guitar dueling. This is a piece of ART.

Okay, now “Traitors gate”. Slow guitar intro. Makes you think this is going to be laid back. NOPE. Enter Richie. RIFFY. SO RIFFY. Powerful vocals. I can’t believe Rob still sounds like this. Live too. OUT OF THE DAAARK, INTO THE LIIIIGHT. This is so good.

“No surrender” is riffy from the start. Classic Priest sound. I could read this album as a book. Love all the lyrics on this album. This song is just clean catchy metal. Short guitar solo at 2min makes a nice break in the thumpyness.

Ooooh “Lone wolf” is an unexpectedly groovy track. “HEY! I AM THE VOICE OF YOUR ANGER”.  Yes. Yes, you are, Rob. We thank you for it. This song is aces. The groove is a nice change from the rest of the album. Excellent surprise quiet guitar/vocal part at 3:13 that gives me goosebumps and then breaks out in total guitar metalness.

Last on the album is “Sea of red”. Reminder of songs like “Blood red skies” (Ram it down, 1990) and “Before the dawn” (Hell bent for leather / Killing machine, 1978). Slow. Haunting. Sad.

Wow. I forgot how amazing this album is through and through. You can’t go wrong with this if you’re into riffy, thumpy metal with amazing vocals. These guys are geniuses. Long live the Priest.

100 hard rock and metal albums you need in your life

This all started with a list made by Rolling Stone magazine, which they named “The 100 greatest metal albums of all time”. I had some opinions on their list and then I decided to make my own.

I’m going to be scientific about this. I am going to use MATH: Metalness According To Hel. This is more of a feel-good kind of scale than scoring guitar sound and drum styles and how loud the bass is or what range the singer has. I’ve picked out 100 albums that rate at least a 7 on the MATH scale. The MATH scale goes up to, in case this wasn’t obvious already, 11.

I haven’t exactly defined what I think metal is. Metal is like p()rn, you know it when you see it. Or hear it, I suppose. But there are some common characteristics for most of my picks – I like a clean, clear instrumental sound (please hold the muddy and compressed). Singers need to have a decent range and good vocal control. I’m not a fan of vocals where I can’t hear the lyrics, hold the screamo singing please. But I don’t mind a nice growl when appropriate, thank you very much. There’s not going to be a whole lot of black or death metal on my list. I mostly have classic, heavy metal, some thrash, quite a lot of sleaze & glam, and hard rock. Bits of industrial/grunge/punk/prog/groove metal as well.

It’s pretty much impossible to individually rank your 100 favorite albums. Master of Puppets is just as awesome as Shout at the Devil and Appetite for Destruction, but completely different and how do you possibly decide which one is best? Well, you don’t. What I did was I picked out 5 groups of 20, where the bottom 20 are 7’s on the MATH scale, and the top 20 are 11’s. I then listed them in alphabetical order. Where possible and/or appropriate, I have provided youtube links.

MATH 7
aka Albums You Need To Listen To At Least Once Because I Said So

AMERICAN TEENAGE ROCK N’ROLL MACHINE (1998) – The Donnas
Straight up 3-chord punk rock with great energy.

BEWARE THE HEAVENS (1999) – Sinergy
Power metal with amazing female vocalist.

BLOOD SUGAR SEX MAGIK (1991) – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Groovy funk metal with attitude. Listen to that bass! So good.

BRITNY FOX (1988) – Britny Fox
Glam metal galore, no hairspray wasted. Excellent vocals by Dizzy Davisdon. Extra credit for great cover of Slade’s “Gudbuy t’Jane”.

CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1996) – KISS
Fairly unknown grunge-effort by mid-90s KISS with one of my favorite lineups, Stanley/Simmons/Kulick/Singer.

CONTRABAND (2004) – Velvet Revolver
Genius to take parts of the original Guns n’Roses and put Scott Weiland from STP on vocals. “Slither” is definitely on my top 100 best songs ever, and “Fall to Pieces” is just heart wrenching.

DREAMING NEON BLACK (1999) – Nevermore
It’s heavy. Very heavy. Great for when you need something to reaffirm your anger. Like “Narcosynthesis“.

ELIMINATOR (1983) – ZZ Top
A classic album with the classic ZZ Top sound. Cars and beards and women. “Sharp Dressed Man” has that characteristic guitar sound that we all know and love.

MAKING ENEMIES IS GOOD (2001) – Backyard Babies
Swedish, kind of sleazy, punk metal. High energy. Loud. “Brand New Hate” is all of these things.

MARCHING OUT  (1985) – Yngwie Malmsteen
Seriously, the man knows how to handle a guitar. Jeff Scott Soto’s clean vocals is a perfect match.

NIGHTMARE (2010) – Avenged Sevenfold
This album is like Dream Theater meets Metallica. It’s good. Really good. The eerie keyboard in the beginning of “Nightmare” is genius.

OPEN UP AND SAY… AHH! (1988) – Poison
Glam metal meets old school rock n’roll. Feelgood music with excellent guitar work by one of my favorite guitar players, CC DeVille. Like on “Your Mama Don’t Dance“.

PRETTY HATE MACHINE (1989) – Nine Inch Nails
The reason I love NIN is because it’s sort of the metalized version of Depeche Mode, which can only be a good thing. “Head Like a Hole” is exactly that.

PRIDE (1987) – White Lion
Classic 80s hair metal with oh so pretty Mike Tramp singing “Wait” and “Tell Me” while we all swooned.

PSYCHO CAFÉ (1989) – Bang Tango
More sleazy glam metal, similar to LA Guns. Catchy, guitar-y, energetic. “Breaking Up a Heart of Stone” is a bit like The Cult meets Dangerous Toys… sort of.

PUMP (1989) – Aerosmith
What can you say – it’s Aerosmith. It’s F.I.N.E. So fine. “Love in an Elevator” is, of course, a favorite from this album.

REBEL YELL (1983) – Billy Idol
I don’t know how to categorize this album, wiki calls it “new wave hard rock”, whatever that is. It’s a classic, for good reasons. Just listen to it. Listen to “Rebel Yell“.

ROCK YOU TO HELL (1987) – Grim Reaper
Screechy heavy metal that sounds like when you rip sheet metal in half (because you do that a lot, right). The vocals on “Waysted love” are aces.

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN (1986) – Europe
They’ll take away my Swede card if I don’t include it. It’s a great album, not just the title track but all of it. Joey’s voice is amazing.

VINNIE VINCENT INVASION (1986) – Vinnie Vincent Invasion
Vinnie Vincent, lead guitarist for KISS 1982-1984, is the main reason to listen to this. His guitar playing is something else. With the addition of Robert Fleischman’s extraordinary vocals, this album will melt your face right off. Just listen to “Boyz are Gonna Rock”.

MATH 8
aka Albums You Should Own
Because You Will Want To Hear Them Again And Again

1984 (yes, 1984) – Van Halen
Fronted by entertainer extraordinaire David Lee Roth, this is a classic 80s metal album with the characteristic Eddie Van Halen guitar sound. “Jump”, “Panama”, and “Hot for Teacher” are all must-listens.

ALL HOPE IS GONE (2008) – Slipknot
Speaking of in your face, this is hard, fast, unrelenting heavy metal at its best. “Gematria” and “Snuff” are aces. “Psychosocial” must be a considered a classic by now.

ANIMAL ATTRACTION (2011) – Reckless Love
Finnish glam rockers with heavy influences from Van Halen (as verified by singer Olli Herman to me on twitter but no big deal). Great musicians, great vocals, great songs. Listen to that guitar, and those drums: “Animal Attraction”.

DIRT (1992) – Alice In Chains
Wow. Slow, heavy, grunge metal that is perfect for those days when you’re in a dark mood. “Would? and “Them Bones” are on my permanent playlist.

DOWN TO EARTH (1979) – Rainbow
Classic album. Even if you don’t recognize either the album or band I bet you know the song “Since You’ve Been Gone“.

EXPOSED (1993) – Vince Neil
Really great hard rock by Mötley Crüe’s singer accompanied by Steven Stevens on guitar: “You’re Invited But Your Friend Can’t Come”. Extra credit for awesome cover of “Set Me Free” by Sweet.

GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS (1988) – Mötley Crüe
Take a ride on the “Wild Side”. Crüe has this reputation of being “too glammy to be metal” but listen to the guitar, the bass, the progression in this song. These guys showed the world you can have fun, look good, AND be metal. “Girls, Girls, Girls” (uncensored video) is a classic.

IMAGES AND WORDS (1992) – Dream Theater
Definitely get some headphones for this great prog metal album, so you can really appreciate the intricateness of the arrangements and excellent musicianship. “Pull Me Under” is a good example.

TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL (1986) – Stryper
It’s the vocals and the guitars. Just listen to the beginning of “The Way“. THAT RIFF. And Michael Sweet is one of the finest metal singers in the business.

IV (1971) – Led Zeppelin
The originators of so many things. Just listen.

MECHANICAL ANIMALS (1998) – Marilyn Manson
Another style I don’t know how to classify. It’s weird. It’s heavy. It’s industrial? It’s definitely intriguing. Maybe an acquired taste, even. I’ve definitely acquired it. Check out “The Dope Show”.

METAL HEALTH (1983) – Quiet Riot
BANG YOUR HEAD. You won’t be able to not do it when listening to this classic metal album. “Cum On Feel the Noise” is the classic metal anthem.

NUMBER OF THE BEAST (1982) – Iron Maiden
Classic metal with excellent power vocals delivered by Bruce Dickinson. It’s dark, it’s fast, it’s captivating. The title track is legendary.

OUT OF THE CELLAR (1984) – RATT
Another classic 80s metal album, distinguished by Stephen Pearcy’s unusual voice and a sort of plain, flat production sound which was uncommon for hair metal bands of this era. “Round and Round” has a weird video but sounds great.

PURPLE (1994) – Stone Temple Pilots
Captivating album with an unusual sound. So many great songs here, made extra great by Scott Weiland’s vocals. “Vasoline” is a favorite.

RAGNARÖK (1995) – GWAR
You love GWAR or you hate GWAR. Either way, GWAR doesn’t care. GWAR will pummel your auditory pathways no matter what you think. “Meat Sandwich”, “RagNaRok”, “Dirty, Filthy”. It’s not for the faint of heart.

REIGN IN BLOOD (1986) – Slayer
One of the Big Four bands of thrash metal. Face-melting for sure. It’s fast and angry. “Raining Blood” is a classic thrash anthem.

SCREWED BLUED AND TATTOOED (1989) – Sleeze Beez
Sleaze metal complete with crunchy guitars and amazing vocals. Great stuff, complete with power ballad “Stranger Than Paradise”.

STICK IT TO YA (1990) – Slaughter
Not as hard as the name implies, but Slaughter has it all. An amazing singer, great musicians, catchy tunes. Classic 80s metal right here.

THE GREAT RADIO CONTROVERSY  (1989) – Tesla
80s feelgood hard rock with unique vocals from Jeff Keith. Bluesy. Love this bass line at the beginning of “Hang Tough”.

MATH 9
aka Albums You Need To Know Or We Can’t Be Friends Anymore

15 (2005) – Buckcherry
Not the last time Buckcherry will appear on this list. No-nonsense hard rock with some of the best bass guitar work I’ve heard. Josh Todd’s vocals are definitely a favorite as well, he has a unique voice that probably irritates a lot of people but it’s so grating and harsh and in your face that I have to love it. “Next to You“, “Broken Glass”, and the exit lighter song of this album, “Crazy Bitch“.

…AND JUSTICE FOR ALL (1988) – Metallica
This album is full of thrash metal classics like “Blackened“, “Shortest Straw”, and “Harvester of Sorrow”. Oh and of course, “One“, the song which Metallica made a VIDEO for and thusly “sold out”… what? Don’t get me started. Just listen to this album.

COCKED AND LOADED (1989) – L.A. Guns
Classic sleaze with a bluesy feel. “Rip and Tear“, “Sleazy Come, Easy Go”, and “17 Crash” are favorites on here.

EVERY DOG HAS ITS DAY (1990) – Salty Dog
Aha! I bet you guys don’t know Salty Dog. You should. Groovy and bluesy with crunchy guitars and Jimmi Bleacher’s absolutely unique voice. I wish they had made more albums – this is their only one! I can’t believe I found a video (240p but still) for“Come along”!

GENERATION WILD (2010) – Crashdïet
Sleazy, punky metal with my favorite kind of vocals (clean voice, big range, but with a growl). The title track is catchy with great guitar sound & drums and represents the rest of the album well.

HARDCORE SUPERSTAR (2005) – Hardcore Superstar
One of two listed albums from this Swedish punk/sleaze band. Fast, fun, & energetic with “My good reputation”, “Bag on your head”, and “We Don’t Celebrate Sundays“.

DYNASTY (1979) – KISS
This album is worth a spot on this top 100 only because it has “Charisma”. Gene Simmons’ vocals, that bass line. Ace’s guitar. Paul’s backup vocals. It’s all so good.

HOLY DIVER (1983) – DIO
Classic power metal. That voice. That evil guitar sound on the title track. And “Rainbow in the Dark” even makes the keyboard sound metal.

IMMORTALIZED (2015) – Disturbed
Their latest album. “The Vengeful One” THUMPS. “The light” is magnificent, especially live. Sounds like old Queensrÿche.

NIGHT SONGS (1986) – Cinderella
Wonderfully bluesy 80s metal with Tom Keifer’s screechy vocals. Great guitar works. I like the drums on this album also. Consistently a great album, well represented by “Somebody Save Me”.

PARANOID (1970) – Black Sabbath
A complete classic. Dark, evil, encompassing the essence of heavy metal with haunting Ozzy-vocals. “Iron Man” is both weird and scary at the same time.

PYROMANIA (1992) – Def Leppard
Most people’s favorite Def Leppard album, which features great songs like “Foolin”, “Too late for love”, and “Comin’ under fire”.

SKID ROW (1989) – Skid Row
Awesome debut album from Skid Row. Sebastian Bach has my favorite vocal style: big range, clean, with a growl when needed.  “Big Guns”, “Here I Am”, and the classic “Youth Gone Wild” are all on here.

SLAVE TO THE GRIND (1991) – Skid Row
A little rougher and harder than their first album, still with Sebastian Bach’s excellent vocals. Besides the title track, “Monkey business“, “Get the fuck out”, and “Riot act” are favorites.

SLIDE IT IN (1984) – Whitesnake
The only vinyl I own. David Coverdale’s sultry, bluesy vocals paired with killer guitars makes this the amazing hair metal classic that it is. “Slide It In”, “Love Ain’t No Stranger”, “Spit It Out”, and of course, “Slow An’ Easy“.

TRASH (1989) – Alice Cooper
Yep. THIS is the Alice album I chose. Because it’s great. “Poison“. “House of fire”. “Spark in the dark”. “Bed of nails“. I COULD GO ON. Extra credits for including people like Steven Tyler, Jon Bon Jovi, & Kip Winger on different tracks.

TURBO (1986) – Judas Priest
Turbo Lover” is one of the best metal songs ever made. This album also includes classics like “Locked in” and “Parental guidance”. Judas Priest is basically the perfect band.

USE YOUR ILLUSION I & II (1988) – Guns n’Roses
So much goodness here. “Dead Horse”. “You Could Be Mine“. “Civil War”. The completely gut wrenching “Don’t Cry“.

VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER (1992) – Pantera
PANTERA!! I only discovered Pantera a few years ago and I’m so excited to have more Pantera to discover yet. “Walk” is by far my favorite song on this album, because it THUMPS.

MATH 10
aka Albums I Don’t Want To Live Without And Neither Should You

BACK IN BLACK (1980) – AC/DC
Everyone knows the title track. For a good reason. There are other classic hard rock anthems on this album as well: “Hell’s bells”, and “You shook me all night long”. “Shoot to Thrill” has been made famous in other contexts as well (you knew I had to do it).

BLOW MY FUSE (1988) – KIX
This is such a great album. Easily digested hard rock with super catchy songs, great guitars & drums, awesome vocals. No fillers on this one. Love the guitar sound, SO RIFFY: “Blow My Fuse”.

CONFESSIONS (2013) – Buckcherry
Songs named after the 7 deadly sins – my favorites are “Wrath” and “Gluttony” (whatever that says about me, I don’t know). This album has the raw, scratchy, punky Buckcherry-style that I know and love.

CREATURES OF THE NIGHT (1982) – KISS
A harder, faster KISS. Everyone knows “I Love It Loud“, but many other excellent songs on here like “Danger”, “Killer”, and best of all, “War Machine”. Also a must-listen is “I still love you”, a masterpiece sung by Paul Stanley. I found this pretty cool 1992 live video of the title track.

DANGEROUS TOYS (1989) – Dangerous Toys
This album will smack you right in the face if you don’t pay attention. Fast, energetic sleaze metal with amazing vocals delivered by Jason McMaster. And listen to this riff on “Teas’n Pleas’n”. And the drums. And the baseline. And the VOCALS. I love the progression in this song.

DR FEELGOOD (1989) – Mötley Crüe
This is an excellent album. Guitar sound. Super catchy songs. It’s all good. FEELGOOD FACTOR: VERY HIGH. Sexy metal at its finest. Just listen to this guitar riff right here at the start of the title track, and “Kickstart My Heart” is always a crowd pleaser.

EMPIRE (1990) – Queensrÿche
Great prog metal album. “Silent Lucidity”, “Empire”, and “Jet City Woman” are amazing. Geoff Tate’s voice was still amazing.

FUCK (2014) – Buckcherry
Technically an EP but had to go on my list. NSFW due to, uh, language. Excellent choice if you’re in a mood and want to tell the world to, yeah, that.  Classic Buckcherry sound. Extra credits for very cool cover of Swedish pop duo Icona Pop’s “I Love It”, but here called “Say Fuck It”.

HIGHWAY TO HELL (1979) – AC/DC
Do I even need to write anything about this? It’s the most classic of the classics. “Touch Too Much” is an absolute favorite.

HYSTERIA (1987) – Def Leppard
A hard rock/glam metal classic. Besides the hits, don’t miss “Gods of War”, “Don’t Shoot Shotgun”, and “Run Riot”.

ISSUES (1999) – KORN
There’s something about this album. It’s addictive. It’s eerie. It’s weird. It’s wonderful. “Falling Away From Me” and “Beg For Me” are favorites. KORN is also one of the best live acts I’ve ever seen.

REDEEMER OF SOULS (2015) – Judas Priest
Their latest album and the first one with new guitar player Richie Faulkner, who is amazing. “Dragonaut” and “March of the Damned” really THUMP and is definitely as heavy metal as it comes. Rob Halford’s vocals are strong as ever. I’m really impressed with this album. Just listen to Richie rip on “Halls of Valhalla”.

RIDE THE LIGHTNING (1984) – Metallica
Classic heavy metal. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” might be one of the best songs ever written and performed.

ROCK N’ROLL (2015) – Buckcherry
This album has an apt title, it’s classic rock n’roll but is made hard with Josh Todd’s screechy vocals and that great guitar sound characteristic for Buckcherry. “Sex Appeal” will stick in your head immediately. “The Madness” has my favorite bassline ever. “Tight Pants” may have the dumbest lyrics but is the catchiest song on the album.

STAY HUNGRY (1984) – Twisted Sister
“What do you wanna do with your life?” “I Wanna Rock.” Anyone who grew up in the mid-late 80s knows exactly what I’m talking about. Besides the title track and “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, you need to listen to “Burn in Hell” and “S.M.F.” as well. Dee Snider goes from dark and evil to loud and obnoxious. Great drum work too.

STICK TO YOUR GUNS (1989) – Sweet F.A.
Quite possibly the best sleaze metal album ever made. Not easy to find, these guys did not achieve the fame they deserved. Everything about this is great. Vocals, guitars, drums, arrangements, production. I dare you to not groove while listening to “Rhythm of Action”.

TOO FAST FOR LOVE (1981) – Mötley Crüe
Plug me in, I’m alive tonight. Their debut album is perfect. A little punkish, a lot of awesome. Vince Neil’s young voice is a perfect match to the still unpolished drums, guitar, and bass. “Live Wire”, “Piece of Your Action”, and of course the title track, are all classics.

VAN HALEN (1978) – Van Halen
An iconic album. Listen to that bass in the beginning of “Running with the Devil”. David Lee Roth’s voice. The guitar work on the instrumental “Eruption” is legendary. “You Really Got Me” and “Ain’t Talking About Love” are both perfect examples of the classic Van Halen sound. Another top-notch debut album.  Extra credits for AMAZING cover of John Brim’s bluesy “Ice Cream Man” (audio only). I DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU to sit still while listening to this.

WAKE ME WHEN IT’S OVER (1989) – Faster Pussycat
The masters of sleaze second work of art. Taime Downe (yes I know) really shows off his extra super sleazy vocals on “Poison Ivy” and “Slip of the Tongue”.  I love the guitar sound on this album, and PIANO! I love love love a good piano riff (is it a riff? I’m gonna call it a riff.) combined with metal guitars and vocals.

WORLD COMING DOWN (1999) – Type O Negative
Basically the opposite of the previous album. Dark, heavy, industrial metal with Peter Steele’s unmistakable vocals, this is a must-have album. “Pyretta Blaze” is a master piece.

MATH 11
aka
Albums That Thump So Much You Will Acquire A Heavy Metal Injury And/Or Ruin Your Voice

1987 (1987, duh) – Whitesnake
Somewhat faster and harder than its predecessor, but still with that bluesy sultriness that David Coverdale’s voice brings. Except for when he hits the high notes like in the “Still of the Night”, which makes this a classic glam metal anthem when paired with that great guitar riff.

APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION (1987) – Guns n’Roses
This is nothing short of a metal work of art. It’s raw, it’s hard, it’s JUST the right amount of polished. Every second of this album is perfection. Every band member does his job perfectly. I COULD GO ON. Do you know where you are? “Welcome to the Jungle”.

BUCKCHERRY (1999) – Buckcherry
One of my top 5 favorite debut albums ever. Much like GnR’s Appetite for Destruction, it’s raw but with just the right amount of polish on top. Slightly punkish hard rock, with the occasional laid back feeling, like on “Check Your Head” and “For the Movies”. What’s gonna get you though, are songs like “Lit Up” and “Crushed”.

BULLETBOYS (1988) – Bulletboys
Yet another AMAZING debut album. “Shoot the preacher down” and “Smooth up in Ya” are top notch glam/sleaze metal with that groove that makes it so much more interesting. Extra credits for including a great cover of “For the Love of Money” by the O’Jays.

COWBOYS FROM HELL (1990) – Pantera
The title track. That riff. The bass and drums kick in. And then it’s ALL METAL ALL UP IN YOUR FACE for 4 minutes straight. It’s a thing of beauty. “Shattered” and “Heresy” are perfect thrash metal songs.

DESTROYER (1976) – KISS
“Detroit Rock City” needs no introduction, neither does “Shout it Out Loud”. This is a KISS classic, with the original line-up (Stanley/Simmons/Frehley/Criss). Just check out this intro to “God of Thunder” , with Gene and his distorted bass and the blood-spitting. CLASSIC. I get goose bumps every time I see this live. KISS is another band that always delivers live.

FASTER PUSSYCAT (1987) – Faster Pussycat
More ultra-sleazy vocals by Taime Downe, and music which is a mix between rock n’roll, blues, and metal. AND THE PIANO. THEY HAVE A PIANO. Just listen to “Cathouse” (audio only). “Bathroom Wall” is another sleaze classic. Love this album.

HARDWIRED… TO SELF-DESTRUCT (2017) – Metallica
HOLY METAL BATMAN! Who knew Metallica was going to put out this much AWESOMENESS at this point in time?! Everything about this album is TOP NOTCH FAST METAL AMAZINGNESS. James’ vocals are excellent. This is just so good, I can’t get over it. “Spit Out the Bone” is my absolute favorite. 7 minutes of in-your-face metal. “Hardwired” is everything you ever wanted. Same with “Halo on Fire”, “Moth Into a Flame”, and “Here Comes Revenge”.

INTO THE WILDLIFE (2015) – Halestorm
By far the best metal band to start out in the last 10 years. Lzzy Hale has an amazing voice and energy, her brother Arejay on drums is channeling Animal from the muppets, and bass and guitar players Josh Smith and Joe Hottinger are aces as well. This is their latest album and it has instant likes such as “Sick individual”, “Apocalyptic”, “I Like It Heavy”, and my absolute favorite “Mayhem”. There’s nothing to not love on this album. It’s straight up metal, sometimes fast and hard and sometimes slowed down with a nice groove.

KISS (1974) – KISS
This is it. This is where it started, with “Strutter”, “Cold Gin”, “Deuce”, and “Black Diamond”.  KISS took good ol’ rock n’roll and metalled it all up. AND SEE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT. 40 years of what is probably the most diverse discography in music history. This is a classic metal album. Also, COWBELL. THERE IT IS: “Nothin’ to Lose”.

MASTER OF PUPPETS (1986) – Metallica
8 classic metal songs. Riff heaven in the beginning of the title track. The progression in “Battery”. That heavy groove of “The thing that should not be”, with James’ eerie vocals. What a masterpiece. The beautiful guitar work in “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”. The way “Damage Inc.” quietly sneaks up on you, just to blast your consciousness with thrashy guitar riffs and speed drums when you least expect it. This album, my friends, is a work of art. It’s also the first metal album to be deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the US Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry in 2016.

METALLICA (1991) – Metallica
This is what made me a metal head. I remember the first time I heard “Enter Sandman”. I remember where I was, what time of day it was, I remember spotting the source of the music and thinking “what is happening in my head right now!?”. It was a good day. Anyway. There’s much to say about this album. It’s heavy. It’s hard. It’s crunchy. It’s catchy. It’s chunky. I LOVE James Hetfield’s vocal style here. I love the lyrics. I love everything about everything on this album. I even incorporated all the titles in a talk I gave earlier this year. In addition to well-known awesome and thumping anthem “Sad But True”, you should really check out “My Friend of Misery”, which is excellent.

OPERATION MINDCRIME (1988) – Queensrÿche
Concept album of the prog metal persuasion, best enjoyed all at once, for the sake of the storyline. Geoff Tate’s voice is perfect for this type of metal. Some excellent guitar work here as well. I spent a transatlantic flight with this cd (!), reading the lyrics. It’s worth doing. Here’s a good representation of the sound & feel on this excellent album: “Eyes of a Stranger” (I don’t know what’s going on with Geoff’s hair though).

RAM IT DOWN (1988) – Judas Priest
The definition of metal, this is. Like the title track: Rob’s voice. Then the guitar. Drums. Bass. Another guitar. It’s not thrash, not prog, not punk, not glam. Like Rob always says when they play concerts, “we’re just HEAVY METAL. Nothing else.” He is right. They play heavy metal, and they do it JUST RIGHT. Please take a moment to listen to the guitar bit in the middle. It’s over a minute long. If you listen closely you’ll think it’s over five (5) times, but it goes on. It goes on for a good minute and a half, and all of a sudden you realize the last guitar note has transferred to Rob’s voice without you even noticing. ART. PIECE THEREOF. There’s even a song CALLED “Heavy Metal” on this album. Also the excellent “Blood Red Skies”. Extra credit for super-metalized cover of “Johnny B Goode” (Chuck Berry).

REST IN SLEAZE (2005) – Crashdïet
Debut album by my favorite Swedish sleaze metal band. Full of all that stuff I love: riffs galore, great vocals, a kind of angry energy. “Breaking the Chainz”, “Riot in Everyone”, and heart wrenching “It’s a Miracle” are all great examples of what a great energy this Crashdïet lineup had. Great melodies too. And that guitar sound.

REVENGE (1992) – KISS
Another album from a really great KISS lineup (Stanley/Simmons/Kulick/Singer). This is a consistently great hard rock/metal album with that characteristic sound only Bruce Kulick can squeeze out of a guitar. Vocals are mixed about half/half between Gene and Paul, like it should be as they complement each other well. I love the rougher songs that Gene sings (“Domino” and “Thou Shalt Not”), and the contrast that constitute Paul’s songs (“Take it Off” and “Heart of Chrome”). I had the pleasure of hearing “God Gave Rock n’roll to you” live in Stockholm once and it was MAGICAL. Anyway, listen to “Unholy”, and you’ll be hooked. I promise. It’s GENIUS.

SHOUT AT THE DEVIL (1983) – Mötley Crüe
This is a scary glam metal album, in the very best sense. Again, it’s early Mötley so it’s a little unpolished, which is EXACTLY RIGHT. It’s the combination of Vince Neil’s unique voice (that clean, high pitch with the added growly parts in just the right places) with Tommy Lee’s harsh drum sound, Mick Mars’ crunchy guitar, and what I can only call the lead bass that Nikki Sixx plays. This album has a bunch of hits besides the title track, like “Looks That Kill”, “Ten seconds to love”, and “Too Young to Fall in Love”. But best on the album is by far “Red Hot” (live from 2005).

SPLIT YOUR LIP (2010) – Hardcore Superstar
A bit punkish, a bit sleazy, all the bits awesome: my current favorite Swedish band has put a bunch of great songs on this album: “Sadistic Girls”, “Guestlist”… you know what, I’m not gonna list all of these, THE WHOLE ALBUM IS GREAT. Start here: “Last Call for Alcohol”.

STEELHEART (1990) – Steelheart
This is another ALL THE WAY THROUGH great album. Miljenko Matijevic has an insane vocal range and control and you sort of just have to stop and listen when “Can’t Stop Me Lovin’ You” comes on. That guitar riff. That voice (and dude, that hair). Then you have “Sheila”, which is just, wow. Miljenko utilizes his growl very well here. And “Sticky Side Up”.

THE STRANGE CASE OF… (2012) – Halestorm
Straight up metal from my favorite female-fronted band. “Freak Like Me”, “Daughters of Darkness”, “I Miss the Misery”, and my favorite, “Mz Hyde”, are the highlights on this album. It’s ALL GREAT though, this is a solid album. Arejay Hale is one of my favorite drummers for sure. Lzzy’s vocals are top notch as always.

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