Metallica, the band that got me into music, the band that got me into metal, and the band that was the very first I ever got sick of hearing. When I was in 5th grade I discovered Metallica and for the next 3 years I was obsessed with the band, I could name ever single song in track listing order off the top of my head and I made it my duty to be able to play every single song on drums. By 2003, St. Anger came out and it was time for me to discover other forms of music out there, which I did. But I can’t deny that Metallica brought me to the dance, despite going home with pretty much everyone else. Today, since we are all caught up in our own sanitariums at home, why not cover the 10 album discography of the band so far ranked from 10th to 1st and see how much you disagree with me on the biggest metal band the world may ever know.
1.) No EPs, cover albums, live albums, b-side albums, or best of/greatest hits collections. Just original studio LPs. Albums that have a cover or two on it are just fine.
2.) This is just my opinions on the albums in question. No outside influences other than my own and is far from a definitive world ranking. If you have a different ranking, AWESOME! Keep that up!
3.) The reason for doing this to help people get into a band/artist/etc and give ideas of what to expect if they decide to dive into the work.
4.) This is ranked from least favorite to favorite (countdown/TRL style). I will give a few words about every album as we go down the list.
5.) There will be a Spotify playlist (where applicable) to go along with the list with a song off each album so you can get another idea of what to expect. The songs will either be my favorite song off the album or one that represents the album the best in my eyes. (if you are reading this on social media, click the official link to get the playlist)
6.) Have fun and spread the word....SPREAD IT!
10.) Reload (1997)
Despite what others, including the band, will tell you; this album feels like a 100% b-sides album disguised as a full LP. There are a couple good songs on it that I can still dig, the rest is simply not enjoyable to my ears. They easily could have made this an EP or a 7” single even and had a MUCH stronger release than what was shown here. While the biggest songs of the alternative era of Metallica are here, It’s not their best and yeah...it’s their worst.
9.) Hardwired...To Self Destruct (2016)
I can’t believe this double album is turning 4 years old this year. It does not feel like it should be at all. It still feels like 2 years max. Anyways, in all honesty, I’ve yet to ever give this album a proper spin. There are some cool fast songs shown off, other songs that really give a Load/Reload feel and others that are just...there? Considering this release is actually smaller than Load and it’s put over 2 discs, this is another shining example of less being more (or at least better) taking off at least half of this record would have made this one of the best releases, if not the best album since ...And Justice For All. Otherwise it just feels like an album that is there, nothing really more, nothing really less.
8.) St. Anger (2003)
Much like I hinted at in the beginning, I thank St. Anger for the sole reason that it made me want to check out other music instead of just listening to Metallica all day. This album is where I finally found flaws in music and realized not everything is as it’s cracked up to be. This “Commercial Suicide” album is a hard listen, tone wise. Everything feels off in the production, and it’s not just Lars turning off the snares on his snare drum. Watch Some Kind of Monster, St. Anger is the soundtrack to that film not just because it was being made and the whole premise of the film, but it’s gargled mess of a group of guys that really needed a break from each other taken some time apart and regather themselves to find out who they are. As that didn’t happen, we got this. The songs, when looking back, are not as bad as you remember them to be. Seriously, just listen to the studio DVD that came with the album, it feels like a much more cohesive experience, then again, the band was sober, the band was full, and Bob Rock was on his way out. Still, this is the black eye of the band that left a shiner to this day.
7.) Death Magnetic (2008)
This album is what some consider to be the return album for the band as it was thrashy again, the songs were fast, the snares were turned back on, and the production wasn’t garbage. To me? Songs went on for way too long and went nowhere, there was fast songs, but also slow and medium paced songs; so speed doesn’t mean good. The snare was back on, but it still doesn’t sound good and the production is was too hot. The mix and mastering is clipping in ways that make it so hard to even joy the album if there was things to enjoy. Overall this is the best album in the last 23 years of the band, but what is that really saying?
6.) Metallica (1991)
Yeah this album is where the albums actually start getting good. Overplayed? You bet your sweet bippy! But there is a reason why they are overplayed, when they came out, there are good songs. And the rest of the album has other great songs on it as well. Sure there’s not the speed you know and love of the first 4 albums, but there are songs that are some of the strongest in the band’s catalog that definitely don’t get the love that they deserve. This album remains on Billboards Top 200 for good reason, it is that classic album that paved the way for heavy music to get on mainstream radio and mainstream rock fans to go the other way and discover some heavier metal than they were used to hearing. It was win/win in the music world. You can fault the band for man, MANY things, but not for the black album. It’s earned it’s right as one of the most popular albums ever made.
5.) Kill ‘em All (1983)
Where it all began. Some say it’s the birth of thrash metal (which is actually not true), some say it’s the first true metal album (also not true), but it was the first time that thrash metal started gaining the recognition that it deserved and would continue to receive as the years and decades went forward. The production is raw, yet enjoyable. The speed, the velocity, the lyrics, the imagery, everything was here and then some. While the band did not gain their fame from this album, it was not far away when the band only got better from here.
4.) Load (1996)
Yup, this album is better than 2 of the big 5 Metallica albums to my ears, and you convince me to think differently. I’m not just a metalhead, I’m a music fan, and the songs that are on this album are great songs. You got your fast songs, almost ballads, epics, and left of center songs. Yes this was the album where a lot of people said the band was dead and buried. For me that’s not true (they got killed after this album), but it is the album where taking a chance both worked and hindered the band at the same time. They were making the music they wanted to make and that alienated a lot of hardcore fans, but it also brought in more fans, it’s a catch-22. I will always stick up for Load, I have no reason to say a bad word about it from Ain’t My Bitch To The Outlaw Torn (one of their best epics) this is Metallica as creative as I ever wanted them to get.
3.) ...And Justice For All (1988)
For the longest time this was my favorite Metallic album, over the years that changed. Why? That shouldn’t happen, it’s their proggiest album, it has their longest songs to date, it has the more pure anger and aggression you’ll ever hear from the band. All of that is 100% true, I guess it does come down to the fact that over the years production has started to matter to me when it comes to favorite albums and Justice has no bass. Yeah, it’s that simple. Arguably they didn’t need bass on this album as One launched them onto the radio and being the biggest metal band in the world. From the non-objective side; bass would have filled out these songs so much better and gave them a life that only feels 7 5% there when it could have been 100%. I still enjoy this album and feel it’s essential listening; but not first album essential. It’s a bronze medal.
2.) Master of Puppets (1986)
WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT MASTER OF PUPPETS ISN’T YOUR FAVORITE ALBUM FROM METALLICA? IT’S THE GREATEST ALBUM EVER MADE!!!1 Well, it’s not my favorite. It’s a great album. Awesome production, great songwriting, some of their best songs to date are on this seminal album; but it’s just not my favorite. Is it worthy of being called the best metal album of all time? There’s a lot of merit for it of course, and of curse when you add best is just subjective; but yes, it’s worthy of all the praise it will receive till the end of time. It is that good, even with some songs being overplayed on the radio or by guitarists looking for a band to join at Guitar Center.
1.) Ride The Lighting (1984)
Now THIS is what I call Metallica’s finest hour. Everything I loved about Metallica is in this album from songs referencing execution, the plague, and H.P. Lovecraft, to the production being that perfect mix of clean and raw, to the perfect and I mean PERFECT guitar tone to my ears. This had that right timing for the band where they were still hungry for what they wanted to be, having their pure aggression of Kill Em All and before the world would finally recognize them. There was a reason why this was the band’s first big label album. It had so many cylinders firing at all the right times to make this an album where the band could write a ballad like Fade to Black, a biblical song like Creeping Death, and even a label mandated “single” like Escape; and they could do no wrong. This is their finest hour to me and unless they change that on the next album, it always will be.
And there you have it folks, I finally talked about the biggest band in the world. Did I do this one because almost all people in the world with internet connection are stuck at home, on social media and bored and would most likely pay attention to this than any other band I’ll ever cover before or after this? Totally! Will this have more comments than people actually checking out the list and the actual reasons why it’s ranked the way that it is? Of course. Will most people even get to this last paragraph before getting mad at me for my ranking order, especially with not putting Master of Puppets at number 1? Like you have to ask! But hey it’s all fun and these are only my thoughts. Thanks for sticking around and just in case you never checked out Metallica for whatever reason; check out my Spotify playlist for Metallica to see a song off each album and see what’s right for you, if anything.
Till next time, this is That Drummer Guy saying, SEE YA!
- Josh Rundquist )That Drummer Guy)