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Yet another 10 metal albums that anyone can love

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All good things come in threes.

The original Star Wars movies, Schammasch albums… blind mice.

So I just knew I couldn’t leave the “10 metal albums anyone can love” articles as just a duo, especially when there are so many more fantastic, heavy records out there that those outside the heavy rock circle could easily adore.

So, for the third and final time, here are ten of the most diverse and accessible records to come from music’s dark side:

10) Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988)

How has it taken me this long to bring up Iron Maiden in one of these articles?

Sure, everyone and their grandmother – maybe even without realising – has heard a Maiden track at least once in their life, and owning the band’s magnum opus The Number of the Beast (1982) is an essential ingredient to being a metalhead, but Seventh Son… is not only one of Maiden’s most overlooked records, it is also brilliantly, easily accessible.

The British pioneers’ aptly named seventh record is one that is somehow both radio-friendly (as heard on cuts like ‘Can I Play with Madness’ and ‘The Clairvoyant’) and progressive, exhibiting a ten-minute title track and an underlying, lyrical emphasis on the telekinetic and psychic.

If you’re looking to break into both classic metal and experimental rock in one fell swoop, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is truly the perfect place to begin your journey.

9) TriviumSilence in the Snow (2015)

Trivium has to be the most divisive band in modern metal. Upon the release of their unprecedented, ground-breaking sophomore record Ascendancy (2005), the four-piece became treasured darlings of the metalcore scene, adored especially in the UK after opening the main stage at the 2005 Download Festival.

But as the band went on, they became more and more melodic, peaking at 2015’s Silence in the Snow, which completely ditched screamed vocals in favour of soaring, clean passages from front-man Matt Heafy. It was a change that was met with praise from critics but hazing from long-time fans.

However, none can deny that Silence in the Snow truly invokes flashbacks to metal’s old-school, influenced by classic acts such as Ronnie James Dio and Iron Maiden. The album’s arena rock overtones may not be beloved by metalcore elitists, but will truly be infectious for newcomers to the Trivium canon.

8) Grand Magus – Sword Songs (2016)

The eighth album by Swedish prodigies Grand Magus truly has to be heard to be believed. The second the blood-pumping riff of Sword Songs’ opener, ‘Freja’s Choice’, meets the ear, you’re lulled into an addictive record that simultaneously feels epic, melancholic and majestic.

While Sweden may be the land of death metal, Grand Magus specialise in huge melodies combined with memorable, perfect guitar-work, both of which can be attributed to band leader J.B.

Among ‘Freja’s Choice’, such battle-hardened highlights include the anthemic ‘Varangian’ and the constantly building ‘Forged in Iron / Crowned in Steel’.

Its balanced mix of power and speed also makes Sword Songs a fantastic record to blast through your earphones while at the gym. Although, be warned: you might break the rowing machine.

7) Slash – Apocalyptic Love (2012)

Originally, this slot was going to be occupied by Guns n Roses’ sweltering 1987 debut, Appetite for Destruction. But with that record being among the best-selling in rock history, chances are you’ve already heard it by now.

However, if you want an album that continues Appetite…’s anarchic, sexy, rebellious spirit, Apocalyptic Love will definitely do the trick.

25 years after Slash laid down a plethora of mind-bending axe solos on GnR’s first record, he created Apocalyptic Love as his second solo album, bringing a wide array of extremely talented musicians into the studio with him to make it.

Among Slash’s protégés on the album are Theory of a Deadman and Alice Cooper alumnus Brent Fitz and acclaimed Alter Bridge vocalist Myles Kennedy.

The latter especially knocks his performance out of the park (as always), emulating the melodic, hard rock swagger of Axl Rose while providing a delivery that is very much Kennedy’s own.

6) Alter BridgeFortress (2013)

And speaking of Myles Kennedy, the fourth album by his main band – Alter Bridge – is pretty damn good too.

For years (until I discovered Gojira’s Magma), Fortress was my favourite record ever made.

But why do I love Alter Bridge and Fortress so much, and – more importantly – why should all of you reading this go and check them out?

Because the Floridian four-piece takes the heavy rock riffs of acts like Slash and interweaves them with legitimately emotive, diverse and sometimes progressive song-writing.

Sure, Fortress is full of melodic and heavy powerhouses like ‘The Uninvited’, ‘Cry a River’ and lead single ‘Addicted to Pain’, but it also manages to feel visceral and emotive on cuts such as ‘Lover’, ‘Waters Rising’ and the blistering, seven-minute-plus title track.

Any fan of any style of rock – or even pop – needs to check out Fortress for its technical precision, emotional versatility and rip-roaring choruses. Not to mention the mind-bending shreds of Kennedy and partner in crime Mark Tremonti.

5) Diamond Head – Lightning to the Nations (1980)

Lightning to the Nations really doesn’t get the respect or admiration that it deserves. Not only is it one of the best records to come out of the then-beginning New Wave of British Heavy Metal (or NWOBHM for short), but it has inspired two of the biggest bands in heavy metal today.

Founding members of both Metallica and Megadeth have gone on record saying that Diamond Head’s 1980 debut was a quintessential ingredient in their desire to go out and make music.

And upon listening to it, it’s no wonder why. The record is catchy, it’s full of hard-rocking riffs and headbanging rhythms, it’s even somewhat ground-breaking with the eight-minute magnum opus ‘Am I Evil?’ and the nine-minute ‘Sucking My Love’. What’s not to like?

Plus, without it, heavy metal as we know it would be a very, very depressing place.

4) Ramage, Inc.Feel the Waves (2013)

From the old-school in Diamond Head to the newest of the new-school in Scottish progressive metal upstarts Ramage, Inc.

While it may not be as trailblazing or as heavy as its follow-up Earth Shaker (2015) – which, by the way, is an album every rock fan needs to hear – there’s no denying that Ramage, Inc.’s debut in 2013’s Feel the Waves is probably the more accessible album for newcomers to both the band and metal as a whole.

On average, the record’s songs are shorter and feel more punchy and to-the-point, while Earth Shaker is much more patient and truly takes its time.

But in the end, each album is absolutely stunning, and you wouldn’t be making a mistake in buying either (or, ideally, both).

Which one is the better release depends entirely on personal taste. While Earth Shaker is more mature, Feel the Waves is more melodic and delivers more songs for your buck.

Take your pick. You’d be happy with whichever one you end up grabbing.

3) Vola – Inmazes (2015)

Well, after the glistening five-star review I gave it, I really talked myself into putting Inmazes on this list, didn’t I?

An album so nice they released it twice, Vola’s studio debut is one of the most musically versatile records to come out in a while.

It has bits of rock, bits of metal, bits of progressive rock, bits of ambient, bits of industrial and even a good splash of electronica, all expertly stitched together into one blindingly great album.

Whether you like pop, metal, rock, electronica or any other kind of clean-sung, empowering style of music, you will adore Vola’s Inmazes.

Guaranteed.

2) Dio – The Last in Line (1984)

Much like with Ramage, Inc., there are two albums which could fill this slot and fill it damn well: Dio’s 1983 debut Holy Diver and its 1984 successor, The Last in Line.

Practically every Dio fan seems to prefer the former record, and sure, it is pretty much perfect and its title track does contain one of the greatest guitar riffs of all time. But, while it is very difficult to choose between the two, I think I prefer The Last in Line. And I think metal newcomers without the nostalgia goggles will prefer it too.

As amazing as Holy Diver is, The Last in Line just feels bigger, more ambitious and more grandiose.

The artwork is more awe-inspiring, the choruses are louder and climb higher, the experimentation is more far-reaching, peaking at the seven-minute opus ‘Egypt (The Chains Are On)’, one of the greatest and most underrated songs of Ronnie James Dio’s famed career.

Holy Diver was Ronnie’s debut as a solo artist, his proverbial first step into a new dynamic. With it, he found an amazingly solid footing, and used it as ground to make an epic, longer and higher leap with his following Last in Line album.

1) Paradise LostIcon (1993)

Why is the fourth (and greatest) album by doom metal pioneers Paradise Lost among the best records to draw newcomers into the brilliant world of metal?

While it isn’t the most radio-friendly entry on this list, nor the most ambitious, nor the most progressive, Icon is an absolute fantastic introduction to the melancholic and macabre tone of heavy music.

It’s dark, it’s mid-paced, it’s gothic, but it also never once goes over-the-top, deciding to retain – unlike so many other metal records – a true sense of subtlety and sensibility.

It turns gloomy ideas and poetic lyrics such as “Anger looks on the quiet dreaming / Seals the scenes, incandescent ones / All that remains of the glowing embers / Is a bleak, cold irrelevance”, “All I want is a true belief” and “Stand on your own, killed from behind / Fools are blind, you're on a lonely road”, and transforms them into hard rock-inspired choruses.

The essence of Icon and this effect it has is fuelled by the heavy but never overpowering electric guitars of Aaron Aedy and Greg Mackintosh as well as the raw-yet-clean, James Hetfield-esque delivery of singer Nick Holmes.

Paradise Lost maintain moderation in a genre that prides itself on its excess, creating a gothic and haunting but still accessible aura that has not since been replicated.

And nor should anyone try to, because it will never be done better than on Icon.

Be sure to check out our other lists of “10 metal albums anyone can love” and “10 MORE metal albums that anyone can love”.




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