Top 10 Best Metallica Albums

Vote for your favourite Metallica album. This includes live, cover and EPs.
The Top Ten
1 Ride the Lightning

Metallica at its finest. It still had a tiny bit of Dave Mustaine influence, and Cliff Burton shows incredible musicianship as well. As overrated as Kirk might be, joining the band really helped Metallica define their style for this release. Plus, he brought a couple of Exodus riffs, which gave songs like Creeping Death and Trapped Under Ice that much more of an edge. The entire album flows seamlessly with a consistent display of excellence. Master of Puppets, on the other hand, tends to be overindulgent. Before you vote for MoP, just remember that this album laid out its blueprint, making Ride the Lightning more unique in its own right.

2 Master of Puppets

Master of Puppets was to 80's metal what Paranoid was to 70's metal. Like that album, every song here has meaning. I like to think the album has a continuing theme of war and its effects. It's almost like a full album dedicated to the subjects of For Whom the Bell Tolls on Ride the Lightning or One on ...And Justice For All. Disposable Heroes is obviously about forgotten soldiers. The title track is about drugs, something many soldiers have tried. Sanitarium is clearly about insanity. This could refer to PTSD or other mental disorders associated with war. Maybe this isn't the album's intention, but for me, it makes it more enjoyable. Even if you don't agree with me, we must acknowledge its brilliance. Cliff Burton was never better on bass, exemplified by Orion. But as a whole, the band works great. After ...And Justice for All, the band could never recover what they created.

3 ...And Justice for All

This album is often labeled as near-prog. However, just because song lengths are extended by stretching riffs and vocal lines to their limits doesn't necessarily make it progressive. Many people assume that a song ranging from 7-9 minutes will have multiple different sections, even if it's clearly just an elongated verse-chorus song. Short acoustic intros, like the title track, can also be misleading. Only Blackened has more structure in relation to its length, apart from One, but it's not any more complex than an average 6-minute thrasher. The title track and The Frayed Ends of Sanity feel like repetitions of the same song, separated only by a solo.

4 Metallica (Black Album)

I'm kind of surprised that this is ranked 4th. One key characteristic of this album is that every song sounds different. This was not the case in some of their earlier albums. And Justice For All is most guilty of this, as all the songs on it sound the same, except with different lyrics and slightly altered rhythm, with the exception of One.

Their black album generated not only some of their best songs but also the highest quantity of great songs from one album. It begins with their opener, Enter Sandman. Then comes Sad But True, Holier Than Thou, The Unforgiven, Wherever I May Roam, Through the Never, and Nothing Else Matters.

Some people say that this is not a good album and that it was just more radio-friendly. However, as someone who owns all Metallica studio albums (except St. Anger because let's just forget about that), their black album is still my favorite. This is because they focus on the rhythm of their songs rather than making them fast and thrashy. Now, don't get me wrong, I love thrash metal, but they've been doing the same thing throughout the 80's. This album represented their largest musical growth of any album they've made. I don't know how Metallica purists can still hate this album for its mainstream success. Seriously, who can hate headbanging to Enter Sandman with their less metal-liking friends?

5 Kill 'Em All

While I appreciate this album, I have to say that "Ride The Lightning" represents a COLOSSAL step up from it. "Kill Em All" is commendable, particularly for its atmospheric nature, which I deeply admire. However, its primary shortcoming is the uniformity of its tracks. They lack diversity and audacity. It feels as though Metallica set out to create an album that would solidify their signature sound, but they didn't aim to revolutionize or take risks. By way of comparison, even though they're from a different genre, when Linkin Park crafted their debut studio album, they immediately decided to leave an indelible mark. They wanted each song to be distinctive and groundbreaking, and they succeeded, which is why "Hybrid Theory" is so iconic. "Kill Em All," by contrast, doesn't have the standout tracks that make an album unforgettable. Don't misunderstand. I appreciate the album for its dark, atmospheric quality. However, when weighing musicality and cohesion, "Ride The Lightning" far surpasses it. Just juxtapose "Fade To Black" from "Ride The Lightning" with any track from "Kill Em All." The former easily outshines the majority of the latter's songs. "Ride The Lightning" is a masterwork, and the subsequent albums are equally commendable.

6 Death Magnetic

This definitely doesn't deserve sixth place. It's better than that by far. We call ourselves true Metallica fans, and then we just keep listening to their old music. This album should be at least fourth. Yes, Master of Puppets and the Black Album are better, but this album deserves better. In fact, this is one album where the songs are consistently amazing. In Ride the Lightning, there are some divine ones, but some that are not great. Here, almost every song is divine. I can bet my life that if Cyanide, The Day That Never Comes, Judas Kiss, All Nightmare Long, Suicide and Redemption, Broken, Beat, and Scarred, Unforgiven 3, and My Apocalypse were on And Justice For All, these songs would be worshipped. But no, we have this narrow view that Metallica is no longer the band it used to be. And this is where we fail them as fans.

7 Load

I think this album has gotten better retrospectively and is much better understood as well. While it does have some weak areas at times, the album has aged quite well. Keep in mind that this was released during the mid-1990s, when Thrash Metal became weak commercially and critically.

Before the term "sellout" comes into play, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer all tried something musically different during the time Metallica released Load and Reload. In fact, Metallica, alongside Pantera did its best in keeping Metal relevant during a time when Grunge music started to take over.

8 Hardwired... to Self-Destruct

Basically, it's the Black Album but more Megadeth-like with songs such as Here Comes Revenge, Atlas Rise, and Murder One. These tracks remind me of songs from Countdown to Extinction. There are also a few good thrash songs like Hardwired, Moth into Flame, and Spit out the Bone. These have the speed and aggression of Kill 'Em All combined with the sound of Death Magnetic but with better production. There are some disappointments such as Now That We're Dead, Confusion, ManUNKind, and Am I Savage?. However, there are a few other standouts like Dream No More, which sounds a bit groovy and dark compared to the other songs. Then there's Halo on Fire, which is okay but not that great as a ballad.

I appreciate the tweaks they made, like adding two sides, placing the ballad as the 6th track instead of the fourth, and excluding instrumentals. The issue is, it doesn't feel much like a classic Metallica album from the 80s. Death Magnetic might be better despite its production flaws. Still, this is a good album overall.

9 Reload

ReLoad is my personal favorite. The album has everything except thrash, but that's perfectly fine. There isn't a song on this album that I don't like, which is why I think it's excellent as a whole. I also appreciate Metallica's earlier albums, primarily because they feature some of my favorite songs by them. However, those albums also contain songs I dislike. This album stands out as the best when viewed as a complete entity.

I came to this site solely to give my opinions about this album of perfection. Reload is incredibly atmospheric, and some songs even have a creepy vibe, like Fixxxer and The Memory Remains. Others are fast-paced, such as Attitude and Fuel, or simply showcase fantastic music and melodies, like Carpe Diem Baby and Low Man's Lyric. If you love Reload as much as I do, you understand what I meant. Without a doubt, it's the BEST Metallica album EVER.

10 Garage, Inc.

Another good album, and probably their last good one. Their remake of Turn the Page needs more recognition. So What is another good song. It also has probably the most tasteless lyrics, but yeah, a good song.

This is simply the easiest Metallica album to listen to from start to finish. Every song on the record is awesome!

Metallica can make any song sound great.

The Contenders
11 St. Anger

If I were a music teacher, I would give this album a "B." I think this album is done quite well and it's very different. When you think about snare drums, the absence of guitar solos, and rage, you might think of old-school Slipknot, but the right comparison is actually Metallica's St. Anger.

People really need to relax and give it a listen. If Metallica had continued doing what they always do (I'm actually an old-school Metallica fan), it would be monotonous. Sure, this album has a unique snare drum sound and I really missed hearing some guitar solos, but it's a masterpiece. I swear, Metallica did a good job with this album. For me, it ranks at #6.

12 S&M

This album features many of the best Metallica songs in their finest recordings. Additionally, it boasts one of the most remarkable orchestral pieces ever, written by any composer. Props to the late Michael Kamen for what he achieved collaborating with Metallica on this.

The orchestra sounds so awesome in the back. Metal and classical together – who would've thunk it, eh?

No Leaf Clover is better than any of their songs since the Load era.

13 Beyond Magnetic

Best EP ever! I am so damn surprised that these songs weren't on Death Magnetic. This was a great recovery after Lulu. Oh god, that album made me want to hang myself. I kinda felt like this EP was Metallica's answer to the ticked-off fans that listened to Lulu (since this EP was released about a month after that album). But yeah, awesome, awesome greatness of an EP!

They should've made it a follow-up to Death Magnetic instead of an EP. Because the songs that didn't make the cut for Death Magnetic (for some reason) are very cool. It would be like Load and Reload, but better.

14 Live S***: Binge & Purge

How is this way down here? The Seattle video, in particular, is my favorite live album of all time... by anyone! The only complaint I have against it is that the setlists from the 3 concerts are remarkably similar. They could have tried to throw in a few different ones for each show (Hit the Lights, Fight Fire with Fire, Disposable Heroes, Damage Inc, Phantom Lord, No Remorse - all great songs that don't appear on this album).

Seattle '89 was absolutely amazing. Amazing set, the crowd was into it, Tallica at their best.

15 Garage Days Re-Revisited
16 Through the Never (Music from the Motion Picture)

I think it's great! Many of my favorite songs. And good quality!

17 72 Seasons

This is a good album if you're open-minded and think for yourself.

18 No Life 'Til Leather

The humble beginnings of Metallica are apparent on this great tape. Even as a demo, it sounds awesome! Dave Mustaine killed it on the guitar.

19 S&M2
20 Quebec Magnetic
21 Cunning Stunts

Come on, guys, this is badass! It deserves to be higher on this list.

22 Metal Up Your A**
23 Helping Hands: Live & Acoustic at the Masonic
24 Some Kind of Monster

A good live album. It has an edited version of Some Kind of Monster, which was better than the original, and six good songs from the original three albums. The worst track out of the live ones was Leper Messiah, and I still enjoyed it.

Let's do everything it takes to make Lulu last! Some Kind of Monster is actually a really good song, and probably my favorite on St. Anger.

25 Lulu

I'm amongst the minority who think this album is actually pretty cool. Being a fan of Lou Reed and the Velvets as well as Metallica, I think the album achieves its purpose. It's a conceptual collaboration between groundbreaking musicians more than it is an album. Metallica churns up a wall of sound with some pretty wicked noise as the background to Lou's rambling. I don't find myself coming to it regularly, but here or there, if I'm in the mood for it, I'll throw it on and listen until I get tired of it. It's not a Metallica album. I've always seen it as a Lou thing.

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