Rockwest logo

10 Best Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Albums of All Time

#1 Metallica - Master of Puppets - Electra Records - 1986

In the early ‘80s, as MTV helped give rise to commercial American hard rock and heavy metal music and the New Wave of British heavy metal was reaching our shores, a new force was building in the underground world on both US Coasts. Fusing the best of what had come before with additional speed and power, thrash metal was becoming an alternative to the mainstream. Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, Exodus and Megadeth were dominating the scene at clubs and mid sized venues in and around New York and San Francisco.

From 1983’s frenetic and groundbreaking ’Kill ‘Em All’ to 1984’s the iconic masterpiece ’Ride The Lightning’ released by independent label Megaforce Records, Metallica began their rise to the top of the genre that led to a multi-year recording contract with Elektra Records, including a reissue of ‘Ride The Lightning’.

With 1986’s ‘Master of Puppets’ we knew we were witnessing the emergence of the band that would become the legends we know today. The tone was darker and more serious with ominous social commentary on ‘Disposable Heroes’ and “Leper Messiah’. Speed tracks such as ‘Battery’ and ‘Damage, Inc.’ were blisteringly fast with more precision than ever. With classics such as the title track ‘Master of Puppets’ and ‘Welcome Home (Sanatarium)’, the compositions became more elaborate yet catchy. ‘The Thing That Should Not Be’ redefined heavy while the instrumental ’Orion’ showcased their overall musicianship and cohesion as a band.

The album received immediate acclaim by fans and critics alike and Metallica began reaching the masses on their ‘Damage, Inc. tour’ while opening for Ozzy Osbourne. Unfortunately, during the European leg of the tour, Bassist Cliff Burton was killed in a tour bus accident.

Metallica would continue on to greater commercial success with iconic albums ’And Justice for All’ and ‘Metallica (The Black Album)’ but ‘Master’ is in a class by itself.