Most Important Albums in Metal History

The albums themselves don't have to be metal but more about the influence they had on the history of metal.
The Top Ten
1 Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath

The Original Heavy Metal album. This is what my list would look like.

1. Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath - invented heavy metal with it's heaviness and occult themes, something which Deep Purple never hard.
2. Welcome to Hell by Venom - template for all extreme metal genres
3. Kill 'Em All by Metallica - the first complete thrash metal album
4. The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden - made metal mainstream and notorious
5. Stained Class by Judas Priest - NWOBHM
6. Rising by Rainbow - In 1976, metal became metal
7. Seven Churches by Possessed
8. Morbid Tales by Celtic Frost
9. Bathory by Bathory
10. Cowboys from Hell by Pantera

Deep Purple isn't metal. The only subgenre you could say they invented was Power Metal and maybe Prog Metal.

2 Kill 'Em All - Metallica

As much as I don't like Metallica, this album deserved to be on here. It's obviously an important album because of its launch of the thrash metal genre.

Master of Puppets is better but I agree Kill 'Em All was more important.

Without this album, thrash metal wouldn't exist.

3 Paranoid - Black Sabbath

80% of the later metal doesn't sounded like this, while DP's In Rock, which inspired heavy/speed/power/progressive and thrash metal, too! This album inspired maximum doom metal only...

This album is basically the birth of metal. Rock on!

4 The Number of the Beast - Iron Maiden

Not only was it Maiden's first UK number 1 album but it also helped to strengthen Iron Maiden's status as one of heavy metal's finest bands and influenced many bands in its wake. Classic album all round.

5 Bonded by Blood - Exodus

What makes "Bonded By Blood" one of the most important albums in metal history is many of the 80's and current thrash metal bands owe a lot to Exodus. Without them, bands like Testament, Death Angel or Kreator wouldn't have been possible or never would have progressed. Same goes for Slayer, who had apparently heard of one of Exodus' demos (thanks to this tape-trading thing) before recording "Show No Mercy".

Didn't expect this album to be up so high. Thanks for not listing "Master Of Puppets" at #1 though.

This album is proof that thrash metal wasn't and isn't all about the "Big 4".

6 Master of Puppets - Metallica

One of the classic thrash metal albums that helped to gain Metallica critical acclaim and moderate success at the time, and whose stature has only grown throughout the years, especially with the amount of bands it's influenced and how successful Metallica have become since then.

Metallica's last album to feature Cliff Burton, who died not long after the release of this album.

Metallica's last album to feature guitarist Cliff Burton.

7 Reign In Blood - Slayer

Obviously an important metal album because it not only broke Slayer and the entire thrash metal scene of the 80's (which also allowed other bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax increased exposure), but influenced many metal bands of our generation, from bands like Sepultura to Obituary to Lamb of God.

Important for Slayer's contributions to the thrash metal and speed metal genres.

8 Practice What You Preach - Testament

Testament may not be as well known as The Big Four, but to my best knowledge, they were "the next Metallica" (predating Pantera, Sepultura, Trivium and other counterparts) based on their style. "Practice What You Preach" was the album that propelled Testament to a larger mainstream audience, and thanks to the airplay of the title track and "The Ballad", the album peaked at #77 on the Billboard chart and even managed to sell over 450,000 copies, only 50,000 short of Gold Certification.

Without this album, Testament wouldn't have gotten the success they deserved.

9 In Rock - Deep Purple

This album gets dismissed too much, it's a key album for the development of metal. It's too heavy for its time, and Child in Time solo is way ahead of its time.

This is the most important album. It was even more important than Machine Head because In Rock came out earlier (1970), was heavier and gave birth to the metal subgenres that are fast.
Try the song: Hard Lovin' Man - pay attention to its speed, gallop, vocals, screams, etc. Much of Iron Maiden and current metal sound similar to this song.

Of course the most important... only ignorant people think Black Sabbath or Paranoid were more important than this!

10 Ace of Spades - Motorhead

Helped to not only further the NBWOHM but also was a strong inspiration for both thrash and speed metal.

The Contenders
11 Cowboys from Hell - Pantera

The importance of this album is that it not only changed the world, but was a huge influence on many genres that either emerged or were popular during the 90s, including alternative metal, nu metal, groove metal, thrash metal, etc.

Progenitors of groove metal, and their success helped to further the genre's movement.

12 Welcome to Hell - Venom

This was the first thrash metal album. It also influenced extreme metal genres like death metal and black metal (which even got its name from one of Venom's songs).

Pretty much laid the template for all extreme metal genres.Especially Thrash and Black.

13 British Steel - Judas Priest
14 Machine Head - Deep Purple

I think their album 'In Rock' (1970) was more important but 'Machine Head' (1972) was important, too.
The song Highway Star was the most important song to metal from this album. Overall, it's a proto-speed metal masterpiece but the most important part is the guitar solo - it was the first true metal guitar solo. Before 1972 there were heavy solos but they weren't heavy metal solos in the strict sense. For this solo Ritchie Blackmore used Bach-like chord sequences and it was revolutionary.

15 Rust in Peace - Megadeth

Not necessarily the most important, but it is influential. I'd argue that Killing is My Business and Peace Sells are more important.

16 Sad Wings of Destiny - Judas Priest

It influenced Dave Mustaine to become a metal artist.

17 Master of Reality - Black Sabbath
18 Rising - Rainbow
19 Metallica (The Black Album) - Metallica
20 Seven Churches - Possessed

I'm not a Death Metal fan but I have still never seen anyone point to an earlier death metal album. So this little album was probably the first.

To the best of my knowledge - the birth of death metal (1985).

21 Among the Living - Anthrax
22 Holy Diver - Dio

This was Ronnie James Dio's first band and first album after he left Black Sabbath in 1982.

23 Symbolic - Death
24 Ride the Lightning - Metallica
25 Hybrid Theory - Linkin Park
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