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100 greatest heavy metal albums

  • Machine Head, 'The Blackening' (2007). Ambitious and complex, this album finally cemented Machine Head's place among the heavy metal elite. Fact: The US edition features cover versions of Metallica's 'Battery' and Iron Maiden's 'Hallowed Be Thy Name'.

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    Added: 17 Aug 2009

  • Mastodon, 'Leviathan' (2004). An elegant mixed-bag of pure metal and one of the best albums ever to grace the scene. Fact: 'Leviathan' is a concept album based on Herman Melville's great whaling novel, 'Moby Dick'.

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    Added: 17 Aug 2009

  • Mayhem, 'Wolf's Lair Abyss' (1997). Some of the most ferocious and and unrelenting black metal ever committed to tape. Fact: In 2003, a fan suffered a fractured skull after a sheep's head flew off stage during a Mayhem gig.

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    Added: 17 Aug 2009

  • Megadeath, 'Rust In Peace' (1990). A record every metal guitarist should own. Fact: Megadeth was formed by Dave Mustaine as revenge against Metallica, who fired him.

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    Added: 17 Aug 2009

  • Mercyful Fate, 'Don't Break The Oath' (1984). The band split after releasing this, a record that brought the promise of a new world order to metal fans. Fact: 'Melissa' is the name of a human skull that frontman King Diamond took on stage with him.

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    Added: 17 Aug 2009

  • Meshuggah, 'Destroy Erase Improve' (1995). Redefined the spheres of thrash and insustrial metal. One of the most influential albums of the 90s.

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    Added: 17 Aug 2009

  • Metallica, 'Ride The Lightning' (1984). Metallica's second album - and what an album it is. Fact: 'For Whom The Bell Tolls' pays homage to Ernest Hemingway's novel of the same name.

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  • Metallica, 'Metallica' - aka The Black Album - (1991). If you don't like this album, you are dead inside. Fact: 'The God That Failed' describes how James Hetfield dealt with losing his mother to cancer.

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    Added: 17 Aug 2009

  • System Of A Down, 'Toxicity' (2001). This heavily politicised album has all the power and intensity of a head-on collision. Fact: SOAD have been on "permanent hiatus" since 2006.

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    Added: 18 Aug 2009

  • Monster Magnet, 'Powertrip' (1998). A delightfully squalid, sludge-encrusted hell-ride. Fact: The name Monster Magnet was taken from a toy produced by Wham-O in the 1960s.

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    Added: 17 Aug 2009

  • Morbid Angel, 'Blessed Are The Sick' (1991). Labyrinthine arrangements, unconventional time signatures and atonal riffing mark this out as an enthralling addition to the metal canon. Fact: Morbid Angel are the third highest selling death metal band of all time.

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    Added: 17 Aug 2009

  • Motley Crue, 'Shout At The Devil' (1983). The quintessential 80s heavy metal album. Fact: Nikki Sixx's real name is Frank.

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  • Motorhead, 'Ace Of Spades' (1980). Begs to be played at deaf-defying volume, at least once a week. Fact: Lemmy once worked as a roadie for The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

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    Added: 18 Aug 2009

  • Napalm Death, 'Utopia Banished' (1992). 39 minutes of throat-slitting aggression and flat out power from the influential Birmingham band.

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  • Neurosis, 'The Eye Of Every Storm' (2004). Pianos? Bells? Neurosis' eighth release is heavy without being aggressive, and metal without causing puncture wounds. Fact: When Steve Von Till isn't playing/singing in Neurosis, he works as an elementary scholl teacher.

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    Added: 18 Aug 2009

  • Nightwish, 'Once' (2004). Steeped in fantasy, fairytales and unsettling dreams, 'Once' finds its home in the obscure category of symphonic power metal. Fact: Vocalist Tarja Turunen was a judge on the Finnish version of 'The X Factor'.

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  • Opeth, 'Blackwater Park' (2001). An aural challenge that requires one's complete and unwavering attention to appreciate fully.

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  • Ozzy Osbourne, 'Blizzard Of Ozz' (1980). The brilliance of this album is almost entirely down to superhuman guitarist Randy Rhoads. Fact: Ozzy was sued over the track 'Suicide Solution' after it was claimed that subliminal messages in the song caused the suicide of teenager John McCollom.

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  • Ozzy Ozbourne, 'Bark At The Moon' (1983). After Randy Rhoads died, former Dio guitarist Jake E.Lee took over, resulting in another spectacular record.

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  • Paradise Lost, 'Draconian Times' (1995). Paradise Lost pioneered the goth metal scene, influencing the likes of Nightwish, Lacuna Coil and Katatonia.

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  • Queensryche, 'Operation: Mindcrime' (1988). One of the first progressive metal albums ever, and a great leap forward in the genre of concept albums. Fact: After his departure from the band, Chris DeGarmo became a professional charter pilot.

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  • Rammstein, 'Mutter' (2001). A dazzling 45-minute ode to wretched self-loathing. Fact: The band's name translates as "ramming stone".

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  • Rage Against The Machine, 'Rage Against The Machine' (1992). The album's powerhouse drumming and beefy bass lines will murder your stereo thanks to Garth Richardson's immaculate production. Fact: 'Killing In The name' contains just six lines of lyrics.

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  • Rainbow, 'Long Live Rock 'N' Roll' (1978). Incorporates catchy blues rock, elements of funk and of course the heavy driving force of pre-80s metal. Fact: The name Rainbow was inspired by the name of a Hollywood bar and grill.

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    Added: 18 Aug 2009

  • Saxon, 'Strong Arm Of The Law' (1980). One of the best albums to arise from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. Fact: Saxon were originally called Son Of A Bitch.

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    Added: 14 Aug 2009

  • Behemoth, 'Demigod' (2004). Intensely aggressive, almost to the point of being frightening. Fact: Behemoth were reported to Polish officials as alleged Satanists by a religious pressure group called the Committee for Defence Against Sects.

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  • Sepultura, 'Chaos A.D.' (1993). Along with Pantera's 'Vulgar Display Of Power', this album formed the bedrock of the style known as groove metal.

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    Added: 18 Aug 2009

  • Skid Row, 'Skid Row' (1989). Their hair was big, their lyrics inane - but Skid Row were undeniably heavy for their time. Fact: After Skid Row, frontman Sebastian Bach performed in the Broadway musical 'Jesus Christ Superstar'.

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  • Slayer, 'Seasons In The Abyss'. More accessible than previous releases, yet retains the grievous-bodily-harm flavour intrinsic to their output. Fact: Slayer began their career playing covers of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs at parties in Southern California.

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  • Slayer, 'God Hates Us All' (2001). Shrieking atonal solos, punishing drums - this is Slayer at their most vicious. Fact: Vocalist Tom Araya killed time during recording sessions by reading books about serial killers.

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    Added: 18 Aug 2009

  • Slipknot, 'lowa' (2001). Strikes a neat balance between technicality and catchiness, resulting in an MTV-friendly air-drummer's wet dream. Fact: 'Iowa' reached Number 1 on the UK album charts, beating The Strokes' 'Is This It' to the top.

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  • Testament, 'The Legacy' (1987). An album that left its mark on metal as the perfect thrash debut.

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  • Tool, 'Xenima' (1996). Eventually going triple-platinum, this album is, in a word, perfect. Fact: Vocalist Maynard James Keenan appeared on stage with Tori Amos in 2997, accompanying her on the song 'Muhammed My Friend'.

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  • Trouble, 'Manic Frustration' (1992). Despite bing catchier and tighter than their previous releases, sales were dismal and Trouble were dropped by their label. Fact: Singer Dave Wagner appeared on Dave Grohl's heavy metal side project Probot in 2004.

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  • Type O Negative, 'October Rust' (1996). Atmospheric keyboards combined with Sabbath-inspired riffing make for a rich, dark composition. Fact: Frontman Pete Steele once posed nude for 'Playgirl' magazine.

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  • Metallica, 'Master Of Puppets' (1986). Their masterpiece. Fact: 'The Thing That Should Not Be' is based on HP Lovecraft's horror stories.

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  • Van Halen, 'Van Halen' (1978). One of the few metal albums to reach diamond status, marking 10 million copies sold. Fact: Bassist Michael Anthony was replaced in 2006 with Wolfgang Van Halen - Eddie Van Halen's son.

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  • Venom, 'Black Metal' (1982). Despite helping spawn the genre of the same name, 'Black Metal' has more in common with early hardcore punk bands such as Black Flag and Minor Threat. Fact: Henry Rollins once described Venom's live show as "like seeing Spinal Tap... I expected them to go into 'Sex Farm' any second."

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  • AC/DC, 'Highway To Hell' (1979). It has the one thing 'Back In Black' doesn't have: Bon Scott on vocals. Fact: Bon Scott died shortly after recording this album: his final words on the record are "shazbot, nanoo, nanoo."

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    Added: 19 Aug 2009

  • W.A.S.P, 'W.A.S.P' (1984). 38 minutes of mammoth metal anthems. Fact: Blackie Lawless was once injured during a live show after his spark-firing cod-piece malfunctioned.

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  • White Zombie, 'Astro Creep: 2000 - Songs Of Love, Destruction And Other Synthetic Delusions Of The Electric Head' (1995). In 1995, grunge was dying and metal was in need of something else - which White Zombie provided. Fact: Rob Zombie went on to become a successful horror film director.

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  • Yngwie Malmsteen, 'Rising Force' (1984). The debut solo album from the greatest neoclassical six-string slinger alive today. Fact: Malmsteen started his first band, Track On Earth, at the age of 10.

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  • Marily Manson, 'Antichrist Superstar' (1996). Dark, aggressive and surprisingly catchy for such a nightmarish soundscape. Fact: The original sleeve, featuring a naked 'angel', was banned by many record stores.

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  • Dimmu Borgir, 'Death Cult Armageddon' (2003). A right of passage for any fan of Scandinavian black metal. Fact: Before becoming a musician, guitarist Silenoz worked in a kindergarten.

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  • The Dillinger Escape Plan, 'Miss Machine' (2004). An innovative, clever album - although Greg Puciato's decision to sing (as opposed to just screaming) caused some fans to mutter "sell out!"

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  • Cradle Of Filth, 'Damnation And a Day: From Genesis To Nemesis' (2003). Featuring a 40-piece orchestra and a 32-strong choir, this was grand, dark and damning.

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  • Bruce Dickinson, 'The Chemical Wedding' (1998). 57 minutes of atmospheric, William Blake-inspired brilliance. Fact: The title track of Dickinson's album 'Tattooed Millionaire' was written about Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx, who slept with Dickinson's (now ex-) wife.

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    Added: 14 Aug 2009

  • Cannibal Corpse, 'Tomb Of The Mutilated' (1992). A new brand of brutality was born. Fact: The liner notes feature quotations from serial killer and child molester Albert Fish. For more on these albums, pick up 'The 100 Best And Absolute Greatest Heavy Metal Albums In The World Ever' by Jaclyn Bond. It's available now from Amazon.

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    Added: 19 Aug 2009

  • Danzig, 'Danzig' (1988). Rick Rubin's production put Glenn Danzig's voice front-and-centre, conveying Danzig's stripped-back sound in which every old-school riff and sorrowful lyric is audible and profound.

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    Added: 20 Aug 2009

  • Anthrax, 'Among The Living' (1987). Arse-kicking anthems like 'Caught In A Mosh' saved the 80s from hair metal and created an army of devotees. Fact: Anthrax dedicated 'Among The Living' to Metallica bassist Cliff Burton, who had died the previous year.

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    Added: 20 Aug 2009