10 Often Overlooked Metal Albums
It happens to all of us. No matter how dedicated of a heavy metal fan we are, years often go by before we discover the magic of a lost classic from a band we all know, or a band we should have known. We strike our fists down and kick ourselves for wasting the last however many years not listening to an album we overlooked. Today is your lucky day as we hope to save you from realizing a mistake years down the road.
Sometimes a band’s greater work blocks out the sun when it comes to some of their other albums. Other times, a band changes their style and fans are outraged and it isn’t until later on when they find the album has actually aged rather well. Underground bands release cult classics that never get endorsed by the mainstream, despite the should-be legendary quality of their work. Here are 10 Often Overlooked Metal Albums for you to consider instead of the next time you go to spin your favorite record for the zillionth time.
There’s a number of music fans who think ‘Cowboys From Hell’ is Pantera‘s first album. Before their groove-laden ferocity was unleashed, Pantera were a glam metal act fronted by a singer named Terry Glaze for their first three albums before Phil Anselmo joined the band in 1988 and the group recorded ‘Power Metal,’ which is rooted more in traditional metal than glam. Diamond Darrell (Dimebag’s nickname at the time) was churning out riffs in his distinct playing style while Anselmo belted out savage Rob Halford inspired falsettos. The title track, ‘Over and Out,’ and ‘Proud to be Loud’ are lost Pantera gems.
Crimson Glory may have received more notoriety as of late with one-time singer Todd La Torre recently joining Queensrÿche. But it’s the piercing vocals of Crimson Glory’s original singer, simply named Midnight, that are truly unmistakable. The band took influence from early Queensrÿche and applied their own mystique in the writing. Songs like ‘Lady of Winter’ and ‘Lonely’ are on the catchier side while ‘Red Sharks’ and ‘Masque of the Red Death’ are straight up ripping traditional metal monsters.
‘Lock Up the Wolves’
After Craig Goldy’s brief tenure in Dio, singer Ronnie James Dio sought out 19 year old Rowan Robertson to be his new axeman. The kid had a thing for the blues and showcased his talents on ‘Lock Up the Wolves.’ The sleazy riffing brought Dio into the modern day in 1990 with stellar jams like ‘Between Two Hearts’ and ‘Evil on Queen Street.’ Of course, the familiar uptempo rockers are still present on ‘Wild One’ and the ever-catchy ‘Why are they Watching Me.’ It’s unfortunate Robertson was only around for one album.
‘Fire in the Brain’
Finnish traditional metallers Oz have been kicking around in the underground their entire career. The band’s crowning achievement is the ultra-fun and undeniably catchy ‘Fire in the Brain.’ The high energy pace is relentless and only gives way for ‘Black Candles’ which displays a clean-picked, reverb-soaked atmosphere. ‘Search Lights’ kicks off the album perfectly, while the title track closer could easily be the opener instead. Oz are raw and aggressive, but never abrasive and know how to throw a heavy metal party with this album.
Megadeth mainman Dave Mustaine displayed incredible versatility when taking a simpler approach to his music. The stripped down style came to full fruition in 1994 when the thrash band took on a midtempo pace with soaring vocal hooks on ‘Youthanasia.’ This was a far cry from the shred-fest of ‘Rust in Peace,’ but there was no point in re-inventing the wheel. Mustaine and his crew penned ‘Train of Consequences,’ ‘Elysian Fields,’ and ‘Blood of Heroes,’ which are criminally underrated when talking about the band’s accomplishments.
‘A Crystal Vision’
The members of Sacred Oath were all still in high school when they unleashed this cult classic. With influences like Mercyful Fate and Iron Maiden present, the band manages to craft their own sound with ‘The Ferryman’s Lair’ serving as a slight nod to the aforementioned legends. ‘Two Powers’ and ‘Message to the Children’ are home to impressive songwriting, especially for a band so young. A dynamic approach is taken on ‘A Crystal Vision’ with thrashier moments giving the band just the edge they needed to stand out from the crowd.
Everyone knows this album, but for the wrong reasons. ‘Turbo Lover’ is an incredibly fun song, but many fans denounce the rest of this album and call it a blunder. Sure, it isn’t filled with the fist-pumping arena anthems Judas Priest are known for, but this was originally planned as a double album. Instead, we got a one-off experimental album from the metal gods. The mid to late ‘80s were a strange time in music, but the inclusion of synthesizers spawned other killer Priest tracks like ‘Locked In,’ “Out in the Cold,’ and ‘Reckless.’
Many regard the first three Danzig albums as the golden era of the band, but ‘Danzig 4p’ deserves to be in that realm. Stylistically, the album is a major change, despite maintaining the original lineup for the last time. The edgier rock-oriented influences take the back seat in favor of a more atmospheric, brooding, dark blues approach. Songs like ‘Little Whip,’ ‘Stalker Song’ and ‘Going Down to Die’ are the best indicators of what this album is all about.
Wait, that’s not Bruce Dickinson singing? Enter new singer Joe Comeau to the Liege Lord fold and what we get is the album Iron Maiden never wrote. ‘Master Control’ is a titan of an album. The band pummels away with their rhythm heavy focus and well-placed leads that balance the album so well. The lead flourish in the chorus of ‘Soldiers’ Fortune’ is a perfect example of the guitar texturing on this album. ‘Broken Wasteland’ is perhaps the most Maiden-esque song here, treating listeners’ ears since it was first heard.
The Tony Martin era of Black Sabbath has never been treated fairly. Sabbath released a host of more than respectable albums with Martin at the helm, ‘Tyr’ being the cream of the crop. The synthesizers are still present, but not as prevalent as they were in the 1980s. Instead, they gently accent the doomy music Tony Iommi conjures. ‘The Law Maker’ and ‘Valhalla’ are throwbacks to the more uptempo Ronnie James Dio era classics. On the opposite end, we have ‘The Sabbath Stones,’ which falls in line with some of the band’s heaviest songs.