5. XX – Rage Against the Machine
Institutional Racism, American Imperialism, and Political Protest are a few of the difficult & nuanced topics covered in just the first three tracks on this record. Throw in the unbridled anger of Zack De La Rocha and a series of guitar masterpieces by one of the greatest guitarists of our time, Tom Morello.
HIGHLIGHTS – Killin in the Name, Bombtrack
4. Appetite for Destruction – Guns N Roses
While Metallica ignited the underground roots planted by Sabbath & Zepplin, Axel Rose & Slash took hard rock in a new and more mainstream direction. Appetite for destruction raged on with tracks that focused on girls & parties, cutting them with cuts that focused on herroin addiction and the desire for success, bringing the dirty underbelly of the LA Rock scene to the limelight using an accessible sound that refused to sacrifice the wailing vocals and skilled guitar work of their front men.
HIGHLIGHTS – Paradise City, Sweet Child O’ Mine, Mr. Brownstone
3. Ride the Lightning – Metallica
One of Metals quintessential groups, Metallica was at there best on Ride the Lightning. Coming in just under 50 min, this album skips the longer Prog Rock solos that would come later in their career & goes straight to the explosive melodies & complex lyrics that make Metallica amazing.
HIGHLIGHTS – Ride the Lightning, For Whom The Bell Tolls
2. Paranoid – Black Sabbath
While Sabbath’s self titled debut is often considered the record that started it all, it was this follow up in the same year that truly fleshed out the concepts that would go on to be metal. Excellent instrumentals decorating the entire piece, which benefits, as well, from one of the greatest vocalists in rock history, Ozzy Osbourne.
HIGHLIGHTS – War Pigs, Paranoid, Iron Man
•Back in Black – AC/DC
•Vulgar Display of Power – Pantera
•Pornografiti – Extreme
•Songs for the Deaf – Queens of the Stone Age
•Hellbilly Deluxe – Rob Zombie
•The Autumn Effect – 10 Years
Ænima – Tool
Incredible instrumentals, excellent vocals, & unparalleled, conceptual lyricism from one of the best bands to ever do it. The record is long, Sprawling and covers topics of domestic abuse, human evolution, and death. The youngest record on this list, Ænima is, in a lot of ways, a culmination of the ideas that had been developing over many years of hard rock music. Each of the four pieces of the group are some of the best in the world on their respective instruments, and when they work together as seamlessly as they do on Ænima, the world is gifted with one of the best rock albums ever recorded.