Top Ten: Metal albums for people who don’t listen to metal

Photo courtesy of Flavio Gasperini on Unsplash

Metal, heavy metal, rock, hard rock and screamo are all terms that have been lumped together and used to describe metal music. But metal, like every genre of music, has a vast history of diverse sub-genres with different nuances and sounds that have evolved since its inception. Since then, there has been pop metal, death metal, folk metal, rap metal, electronic metal, symphonic metal, black metal, stoner metal, thrash metal, groove metal and so much more. 

Slipknot and Tool both topped the Billboard 200 chart with recent albums, showing that metal is still very relevant to this day. Furthermore, you can find all sorts of covers, collaborations and features where metal artists and bands have worked with mainstream artists. One recent notable example is Ozzy Osborne’s feature on Post Malone’s new album “Hollywood’s Bleeding.” 

Metal is a genre that I believe has the potential to be appreciated and listened to by music listeners of all stripes. The purpose of this list is to introduce a few metal albums to those of you who just appreciate music, have an open mind and want to give some metal a try, if you haven’t already.

1. If you like pop: “The Silver Scream” by Ice Nine Kills

If Panic at the Disco made a Halloween-themed metal album, it would end up sounding something like “The Silver Scream” by Ice Nine Kills. The catchy, melodic choruses and pop-infused vocals of lead singer Spencer Charnas are sure to please any pop fan.

2. If you like rap: “DXXM” by Scarlxrd

Scarlxrd – pronounced Scarlord – is an innovator in the rap industry who has managed to blend the trap rap sound of artists such as Future and Young Thug with heavy metal. I believe the execution is superb.

3. If you like country: “Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood” by Volbeat

Danish rockers Volbeat have been going at it for 14 years now, and they’ve always managed to maintain their rockabilly-metal sound, drawing heavily from Johnny Cash in particular. Their fusion of metal, country and blues is wildly creative and fun to listen to.

4. If you like classical: “Reclaimer” by Shadow of Intent

Classical and death metal may seem like an unlikely alliance, but Shadow of Intent blends the two genres all throughout their symphonic death metal album, “Reclaimer.” This album sounds like the musical score of a movie or video game, which makes sense considering the album is Halo-themed. The way the orchestral lines interact with the dark and heavy sounds of the guitars and drums creates a surprisingly pleasing finished product.

5. If you like classic rock: “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath is without a doubt the most well-known band on this list. Who doesn’t know and love their hits such as “Iron Man” or “Paranoid?” But a fact that isn’t widely known outside the metal world is that the Black Sabbath members are actually considered to be the creators of the metal genre itself. The more you know!

6. If you like alternative: “The Stories We Tell Ourselves” by Nothing More

I think of alternative fans, myself included, as those who like that which is different and can’t necessarily be described by one genre. Nothing More definitely fits the bill. These guys drew the attention of many in the music industry when they received the most Grammy nominations in the rock category after the release of “The Stories We Tell Ourselves.” Be prepared for eclectic hard rock hits, emotional power ballads and deep philosophical interludes in this hour-long rollercoaster of an album.

7. If you like female vocalists: “The Strange Case of…” by Halestorm

Who doesn’t love a strong female vocalist? Throw in a touch of metal and a whole lot of badass and you get the excellence that is Halestorm. Elizabeth “Lzzy” Hale’s incredible songwriting and amazing voice is what makes her not only one of the best female hard rock vocalists, but one of the best hard rock vocalists in the industry. Halestorm’s Grammy Award-winning song “Love Bites (So Do I)” that kicks off this album will get anyone and everyone head banging, no matter their musical taste.

8. If you like electronic: “Vessels” by Starset

Starset’s electronic, symphonic metal sound is inspired by their theme of space technology exploration. You’ll also find yourself hearing an Imagine Dragons-esque electropop sound. Just lie down, put on your best pair of headphones and listen to their beautiful album from start to finish. It’s one of my personal favorites.

9. If you like punk: “Disease” by Beartooth

Beartooth’s punk roots are so clear that many have gone so far as to describe the band as hardcore punk, a sub-genre of metal and punk. Whether you’re a fan of The Clash, Blink-182, The Ramones or Green Day, Beartooth’s upbeat punk-driven instrumentals, catchy choruses and powerful vocals are bound to get you hooked.

10. If you like show tunes: “Prequelle” by Ghost

Show tunes can cover such a wide range of diverse songs with different sounds, but the one thing they all have in common is a story, theme, drama and theatrics. Ghost, arguably the biggest band in metal right now, is nothing but those things. Their incredible live show features a huge cathedral setting, saxophones, incense, characters and more than 10 masked members. The masked members are led by the powerful frontman, Cardinal Copia, a character portrayed by vocalist Tobias Forge. Don’t just listen to Ghost, watch them!

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