My Top Seven Heaviest Metal Albums of All Time

Please allow me to digress…

Whenever asked what my musical preferences are, I’m hesitant. If I say I love Hans Zimmer and Clint Mansell soundtracks, it’s true, but it’s really only fifty percent of the story. (I’m lucky if my audience knows who those guys are.) Because, yeah, soundtracks are awesome, but they’re the soft and squishy underbelly. They’re the basement, deep and dark, of my musical mansion. Sometimes even I grow weary of them, with all their eerie, melancholic moods. Sometimes I need to obliterate my calm center and get head-punched.

So let’s be clear. Let’s be honest. I don’t care for jazz. I can’t stand country (except Johnny Cash.) Blues bores me after a song or two. Modern rap, hip-hop, and contemporary just hurt my ears. But…and don’t judge me for saying this…I love extravangantly complex, eardrum-crushing metal. I can’t help it. It’s antisocial, off-the-grid, and hard to understand for most normal folks. I get it. So for your sakes, I won’t subdivide it into Thrash, Black Metal, Grindcore, or whatever. It’s all the same to me. The heavier and more talented, the better.

Let’s do this.

My Top Seven Heaviest Metal Albums of ALL Time:

 7. Vulgar Display of Power – Pantera

This album gets a spot on the list for one reason: Dimebag Darrell. Sure, Phil Anselmo’s roars are massive (ie; Walk, Mouth for War.) But Dimebag’s prowess sets Vulgar Display apart from all other Thrash albums. He’s the Eddie Van Halen of metal. He’s what Yngwie Malmsteen would be if Yngwie had a soul. Just listen to his solos, man. Just listen.



6. Covenant – Morbid Angel

A lot of people will tell you Morbid Angel has better albums (Altars of Madness, Blessed are the Sick) but my favorite Morbid flavor is Covenant. If you like slow, thumping metal, God of Emptiness is a rare treat. If you want your senses overrun, try Vengeance is Mine. Lyrically, this is M.A.’s best album. And if you know what blast beats are, no one did it better than Pete Sandoval.


Dreams of the Carrion Kind

5. Dreams of the Carrion Kind – Disincarnate

My guess is that I’m the only one alive who remembers this 1993 album. It was Disincarnate’s only studio effort, and its weirdness made it enigmatic to all but the most battle-hardened fans. That said, they don’t come much heavier than this. True…you can’t understand a damn word the singer says, but even so. The solos are melodic, the rhythms chunky. Yeah. Get some.




 4. When Satan Lives (Live Album) – Deicide

Ignore the stupid title, dumb lyrics, and Decide’s ridiculously over-the-top lead man. These mofos can shred like no one’s business. Seriously. They play seventeen frenetic songs back-to-back without flinching. I’m guessing they don’t do anything else with their lives besides play guitar and act as Satan’s penpals. Whatever.




3. Left Hand Path – Entombed

No one does it like the Swedes. This album’s thick, soupy, shake-the-world-off-its-chair-at-night rhythms are like no other.




Surgical Steel

2. Surgical Steel – Carcass

In the last fifteen years, only one new extremely good metal album took me by the collar and rattled me to my bones. Earlier this year (yes, 2014!)  Carcass reunited and slapped the teeth out of the metal world’s mouth with their first release in decades – Surgical Steel. Jeff Walker’s grotesque lyrics coupled with Bill Steer’s melodic mastery are a once-in-a-lifetime pairing. I was tempted to put Carcass’s 1993 album Heartwork in this slot, but I believe in my heart Surgical Steel is…better.



1. Seasons in the Abyss – Slayer

Old? Yes. Overplayed in my car? Definitely. Seasons in the Abyss is the defining metal album of my listening career. To this very day, Dead Skin Mask chills me, Skeletons of Society gets me headbanging, while the title track puts me in a darker state of mind than any of the soundtracks I so love and adore. Lyrically relevant, technically transcendant, and cold-to-the-core morbid, Seasons is the album my grandkids (if I’m lucky) will be shouting at me to, ‘turn the eff off, grandpa!” Sorry, kids. No sense in listening to it unless the volume is on 11.

Maybe next week I’ll write about writing.

For now, I’ve an hour to drive to work and an ear itching to be destroyed.

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Author of The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera

Down the Dark Path