Martin Meyer Sparvath’s Top 5 Metal Albums
1: Metallica – Black Album (1991)
When this dark heavy rock/metal masterpiece was released back in 1991, I was just starting to get into metal, and of all the music in my growing collection, this album is by far the one that holds the dearest memories to me. This was very heavy shit for a twelve-year-old boy, and “Black Album” seems to have it all: diverse guitar work, dark atmosphere, well-crafted soloing, hook-laden and utmost dynamic and comprehensive songwriting with competent arrangements. Especially in the vocal department, one rarely comes by an album containing that many hooks which just get stuck in your head from the very first listen without ever losing their effect. Despite the fact that the album has a running time of approximately one hour, it never tends to get boring because of the thoroughly considered running order plus the mere quality of the songs.
To me, the topicality of this album hasn’t worn off yet and the impact is still intact after all these years.
2: Black Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)
Apart from being Sabbath’s proudest moment, I also regard this piece of music one of the best albums ever released, if not the best. Just like Metallica, Sabbath were way ahead of their time, and what these great Englishmen achieved on this album was pure magic, leaving me with goose bumps every time I spin it. Sabbath seemed to perfect their own style and recipe on “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” with everything glowing from start to finish: huge production, crushing guitar riffs, catchy bass lines, versatile drumming and atmospheric keyboard parts. Ozzy’s recognizable wailing siren of doom and despair is spot on, and the vocal lines found on this album are simply unforgettable and unsurpassed. On this album, Sabbath also began integrating “real” choruses into their songs which really applies the finishing touch making these tracks shine even more.
Released in 1973, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” still sounds fresher than ever, and to me, this album just strikes a very huge-sounding power-chord compared to other Sabbath classics.
3: Megadeth – Youthanasia (1994)
A lot of things can be said about Dave Mustaine, but when it came to writing memorable and melodic heavy metal/rock with a “square touch”, he really had the upper hand in the early to late nineties. After having heard the tracks “Train of Consequences” and “A Tout le Monde” at a friend’s place, I was hooked and immediately went to purchase this album which is probably the album I have been listening to the most in my entire collection. From a traditional and technical viewpoint, Dave was really never a “good” singer, but he compensates for that with his “bigger than God” personality and attitude which is projected into his songwriting. Another thing that makes this album one of my all time faves is Marty Friedman’s delicate, exotic and smooth lead guitar work: his solos have always been superbly well-played and well-constructed plus they practically constituted tiny songs themselves. Apart from that, I have always had a penchant and weakness for the catchy drum patterns of Nick Menza who made drumming look and sound very easy. Bassist David Ellefson is not to be sneezed at, either and without a doubt, Ellefson and Mustaine are a perfect match.
4: Crimson Glory – Transcendence (1988)
At an old friend’s request, I remember buying this album at the Wacken Festival (Germany) back in 2000 without precisely knowing what to expect from a band carrying a name just as “suspicious” as Crimson Glory. When I got home, I put on this record and was instantly mesmerized by the great melodic riffing and excellent twin guitar attack of Jackson/Drenning. Not to mention the “softer-than-silk” vocals by masterful Midnight whose delivery on this album is nothing short of breathtaking: from this man, one shall hear the naked truth, and it is always a pleasure to be shanghaied into his magical dream world. Midnight’s vocals are just magnificent on this album and rarely, you will hear a more honest, “larger-than-life” delivery: An excellent storyteller who makes this album and its beautiful cover art come alive. The cover art reflects the musical contents perfectly, and at the risk of sounding too corny and cliché-infected, I will maintain that to find enough room to fit the grandiosity of this album, you will need the space depicted on the cover.
To sum everything up, I consider Crimson Glory to be way underrated and they could have reached the stars had they not lost their grip after this album.
80s US power/heavy metal at its best.
5: Judas Priest – Painkiller (1990)
Even though Judas Priest have released many high quality albums, to me, “Painkiller” stands as their most perfect and complete with no fillers or “unpleasant” cheese balls at all. This album is flawless, and every song contains killer hooks on all instruments, even though the bass lines are rarely emphasized in the mix: Instead, they are lurking beneath the surface, allowing the guitar-driven compositions to be the rhythm section’s centre of attention. The bombastic and pounding drums lay the foundation for the hard-hitting “in-your-face” riffing, and Halford really outdoes himself, reaching his pinnacle of power with his most impressive performance to date. The lead guitars are truly amazing, and it seems that the British gentlemen Tipton and Downing worked their asses and fingers off to top each other off resulting in some utmost well-crafted and well-arranged solos. In other words: a brilliant blend of melody and speed with even the fastest parts being filled with melody and majestic superiority. Each band member really stepped up to create one of the greatest albums in heavy metal history, and the then new drummer Scott Travis added some fresh blood and energy to the line-up.
On this album, Judas Priest strived at perfection in which they truly succeeded in every possible way.