Heavy metal doesn't need fancy new technology to kick your ass. The raucous wailing of a edgy new B.C. Rich electric axe isn't going to differ much from what we were squeezing out of our Fender Stratocasters in the eighties. It's a genre far less dependant on sci-fi synthesisers or banks of computers that the techno-monkeys use when spitting up their dubstep, funk-house wally-trance and electro-trash bubble pop. Of course over the years there have been elements of fizzy electronica sneaking in here and there - sub-genre affairs with electronic discord and pulsing electro beats like assault rifle fire - but for the most part, metal types tend to weave their heavy magic with the tools of their ancestors. The upshot of this approach is that heavy metal from thirty years ago can be compared on level ground with the shiny new stuff, and still come up looking golden. Which is why, when taking a leather-clad stroll down heavy metal boulevard to pick out the twenty greatest metal albums of all time, a lot of the potential prime candidates will have been out-thrashed not by the bright-eyed fervour of youth, but by the veterans of the genre. Hell, some of these bands don't even exist anymore, but like any great work art they live on through us, the fans. There are modern bands banging their heads right now that will surely prove themselves more than worthy of a place among the greats, but heavy metal is a genre largely entrenched in its past. It's not just lazy nostalgia though; the past has been rife with unforgettable artists whose impact can't be overlooked or simply replaced by the next big thing. Thats not to say that new albums aren't given fair consideration (there will surely be those of you who will shout out your more contemporary favourites in the comments section bellow) and it's purely coincidental that there is only one album on this list that's less than a decade old. But, before we get sucked into a wormhole of prejudicial ageist debating and "My favourite band can beat up your favourite band" banality, lets look back at the stand-out achievements of this loud, often abrasive, most wonderful music we call heavy metal
20. Mastodon - Leviathan (2004)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U__QulYyo0E Mastodon's epic concept album Leviathan is the youngest entry on this list, its 10th birthday coming up later this year. It's also about as heavy as a to-scale concrete model of a certain whale the album is loosely based on. Taking the story of Moby Dick and turning it into a stomping tooth-grinder of a metal album might sound like an odd move, but these guys made it work. By this point, just two records into their career Mastodon was starting to mould the progressive sound that would become their trademark. Don't let the progressive tag throw you off though - we're not dealing with the kind of prog-metal where they wander off into musical obscurity for half an hour between riffs. Throaty, raw vocals reminiscent of Wolverine Blues-era Entombed or Baroness' heavier work, spliced with occasionally powerful clean sections made for a full-force vocal attack - just the right sound to complement the often intricate, always crunchy guitar work and technical drum constructs. Perhaps not as widely known as many of the legends on this list, Mastodon's second full-length was a masterpiece in 2004 and holds up brilliantly today.
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