Summarizing heavy metal history with 50 of its greatest albums is, needless to say, a daunting task. After all, if you view Black Sabbath's arrival in 1970 as the metal genre's year zero, simple mathematics would only allow for just over one album from each year. The point being, mathematics were no help to the Loudwire staff as we set about compiling, debating, challenging and insulting, and finally reluctantly agreeing to the list you now see before you in the gallery above.

In it, you'll find some obvious names, like Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Slayer, some expected ones like Megadeth, Judas Priest, Motorhead and Pantera, and hopefully some surprises, but our goal was to represent the albums containing the very best music and displaying the greatest influence within a genre that has been thriving for 40 plus years with no signs of slowing down.

So check out Loudwire's Top 50 Metal Albums of All Time in the gallery above! And check out more Loudwire lists below.

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