Want to get into metal? Some of my favorite albums to get you started...

My gateway drug to heavy metal was '80's Glam/Hair metal. I grew up listening to country music, so the catchy melodies and traditional arrangements were not too much of a leap. Poison's The Best of: 20 Years of Rock, Motley Crue's Dr. Feelgood, and some random compilation CD I got at a truck stop during a road trip were my first '80's rock favorites.

Thanks, Bret!

Even before that, I was always fascinated with darker, heavier music. Kids who are told Metallica is evil are bound to turn on MTV late at night to see what all the fuss is about.

MTV used to play music videos. By rock bands. Seriously.

In my mid-twenties, I fell in love with a metal-loving dude who took me to a Lamb of God concert on one of our first dates. While it all sounded like a bunch of noise to me, I took a step back and started to find heavier artists I do enjoy.

Randy Blythe-style vocals will never be my favorite. But much like I forced myself to like beer because it's cheaper than expensive girly drinks, I taught myself to tune my ear to the music. Now I can find the groove, really listen to the guitar, and appreciate the skill it takes to play good metal, even when I'm not digging the vocal style. This genre is an acquired taste, but if you have a need to feel that pounding in your chest and throw those horns, it's worth the search for bands you love.

As someone who wasn't raised on heavy music, I know what it's like to be on the outside looking in, completely overwhelmed with no clue where to start.

Fear not, wannabe headbanger! If you're looking to get into metal, Here are some albums I recommend for beginners:

Anthrax / Worship Music

You'll soon figure out your favorite type of metal. Don't get hung up on trying to be cool. Just listen to a variety of styles until you find what you like. My bag: hard, riff-heavy music paired with melodic singing. That's exactly what you'll find with Anthrax's Worship Music. The album starts with the triple punch of "Earth on Hell," "Devil You Know," and "Fight 'Em Til You Can't." Anthemic moments in "The Giant," "Crawl," and "In the End" make Worship Music an album you can sing along with.

Like it? Want more? Check out Anthrax's Anthrology: No Hit Wonders (1985-1991) This double album has most of the band's hits. Being well-versed in these tunes will have you looking like a hardcore fan, should you see Anthrax in concert. Which you should.

Black Sabbath / Paranoid

Paranoid features songs you've probably heard: the powerful and epic "War Pigs," the unrelenting title track, and "Iron Man." "Electric Funeral" and "Fairies Wear Boots" bring a fun, bluesy/swing vibe, while "Planet Caravan" is creepy and beautiful. Be sure to take the time to zone in on Tony Iommi's killer guitar work, and appreciate that he pretty much invented metal.

Like it? Want more? Check out Black Sabbath's self-titled debut album for a piece of metal history.

Black Sabbath / Heaven and Hell

Yes, there are two Black Sabbath albums on my list. On Heaven and Hell, you'll hear a very different voice over those signature riffs. The one and only Ronnie James Dio fronted Sabbath for this one. The album opener, "Neon Knights," is an absolutely killer track. I love the melodies in the verses. The groovy "Lady Evil" and "Walk Away" are also standouts.

Like it? Want more? Check out Dio's The Very Beast of Dio. If you love RJD, this album brings you 17 tracks featuring the most legendary voice in rock. My favorite tunes: "Holy Diver," "Straight Through the Heart," "Mystery," and "Hungry for Heaven." Just try to get past the '80's synthesizers.

Metallica / ...And Justice for All or Death Magnetic

Remember what I said about finding what you like and not worrying about being cool? It's not cool to like any Metallica album released after ...And Justice For All.  It's my husband's favorite from the biggest metal band in the universe. He told me that's the one I should pick for this list. If you are serious about being a metal head, you should listen to each of Metallica's first four albums. (So in addition to Justice, add Kill 'Em All, Master of Puppets--my favorite early Metallica album, and Ride the Lightning to your list)

If the production on those early albums is too rough for you, I recommend Metallica's latest studio release, 2008's Death Magnetic. This does not make me cool. But, damn, I love this album. Every song has that hard-driving quality of Metallica's earlier stuff. It's a bit more polished, though, and should be easier to take for those who don't worship at the throne of Hetfield and Hammett.

Like it? Want more? Check out Pantera's Vulgar Display of Power.

You should listen to Pantera anyway, because Dimebag Darrell. This particular album is another Mr. W. recommendation. Mike says it's Pantera's best. I'm not going to argue. Dime's gift of writing brutal, driving riffs that stay catchy and groovy was something special. Rest in Peace.

Iron Maiden / The Number of the Beast

This is the first album Maiden recorded with the amazing Bruce Dickinson, so it's a great one to check out. Driving, layered guitars, and Dickinson's dramatic delivery are the big selling points for The Number of the Beast. However, those things, along with the fact many of Maiden's songs clock in at 6+ minutes are reasons some people can't get into the band. You'll have to decide for yourself. "The Prisoner," "Number of the Beast," "Run to the Hills," and the epic "Hallowed Be Thy Name" are must-listen tracks on Number of the Beast.

Like it? Want more? Check out Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, or any of Maiden's 172 live albums.

This barely scratches the surface of the giant, complicated world of hard rock and heavy metal. If you're really into becoming a metal nerd, check out Banger Films' Metal Evolution miniseries.

I am by no means a metal expert...so, fellow fans, what did I miss?

Rock on,

Mrs. W.


  1. I cant' disagree with one thing you said. Especially the part about the gigantic, complicated, confusing world of hard rock/heavy metal. And the part about liking what you like.

    I still like the uncoolest music ever - Hair Metal/sleaze rock/glam/pop metal whatever you want to call it. And it's been called worse.

    I grew up listening to George Strait and AC/DC, Garth Brooks and Iron Maiden. Tanya Tucker and Pat Benatar. Try to figure that out. Which is why now I'm listening to Chris Stapleton and The Dead Deads.

    What did you miss? Well, this is only my opinion.
    Y&T - Black Tiger, Mean Streak and In Rock We Trust are three great straight-up hard rock records.
    Cinderella - Night Songs, Long Cold Winter and Heartbreak Station. Down and dirty bluesy hard rock.
    Queensryche - The EP, The Warning and Operation:Mindcrime. Could be a bit prog for some, but those three records are great.

    1. I have been listening to Cinderella all evening, (Long Hard Winter, and now Night Songs) and I LOVE it. Your description is perfect!

      A friend on facebook recommended Queensryche as well. I have already listened to, and liked Mindcrime, (on your recommendation!) so I definitely appreciate other albums to check out. I never know where to start when an artist has a huge catalog.

      I am only familiar with Y&T from reading your blog. So Y&T, and Scorpions (who my facebook friend also recommended) are next on my list!


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