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Top 10 Metal Albums for People Who Don’t Like Metal

VO: Matt Campbell

Script written by Oscar Pearson

We get it: this genre isn’t for everyone. But these albums definitely are. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks forthe top ten Metal albums for people who don’t like metal. For this list, we’ve selected albums usually classified as metal that have captured mainstream success while still sounding true to the genre.

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Top 10 Metal Albums for People Who Don’t Like Metal

We get it: this genre isn’t for everyone. But these albums definitely are. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks forthe top ten Metal albums for people who don’t like metal.
For this list, we’ve selected albums usually classified as metal that have captured mainstream success while still sounding true to the genre. Basically, these are releases that will have both your mom and your teenage cousin banging their heads.


#10: “Mezmerize” (2005)
System of a Down

Kicking off our list is the Armenian-American formation known as System of a Down. Originating in Los Angeles County, the band members grew up in one world’s largest musical melting pots. The band’s mix of influences reached its pinnacle in 2004’s “Mezmerize”. The album combines elements from several different genres including acoustic, progressive rock, and even reggae. And that’s only to name a few. However, the band’s metal presence is still center stage in the form of advanced guitar play, sudden tempo changes, and unique vocals. When combined with their eclectic background, this masterful stirring of sounds creates an experience with something for everyone.

#9: “The End of Heartache” (2004)
Killswitch Engage

The third studio album from this metalcore group was the result of several lineup changes. Former drummer Adam Dutkiewicz took on the duties of lead guitar, while Justin Foley was recruited to take his place on the drums. Also, Howard Jones took the seat as the band’s frontman. This “musical chairs of the personnel” went over well, as “The End of Heartache” became a massive critical and commercial success, with its title track earning the group a Grammy Nomination. Exploring the softer side of metal - if such a thing exists, ”The End of Heartache”’s lyrical topics include romance, faith, and unity, which are amplified through harmonic guitars and Jones’ booming delivery. On the strength of accessible songs, such as the album’s title track, “The End of Heartache” was certified Gold in 2007.

#8: “Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses” (2004)


Okay, just bear with us on this one. While the horrific masks and relentless brutality of Slipknot can scare away even some veteran rock fans, “Vol. 3” was the band’s pinnacle of widespread appeal. By cutting out curse words and incorporating melodic overtones, the Iowa natives reached beyond their hardcore fan base and caught the attention of the mainstream. However, commercial genius producer Rick Rubin found a way to do so without sacrificing the band’s face-melting sound. The result was an album that left very few unsatisfied. Not only did it go Platinum in less than a year, but it was named one of the best albums of the decade by “Metal Hammer” magazine. It also didn’t hurt that its singles had some of the best music videos in Slipknot history.

#7: “Sunbather” (2013)


Metal has never sounded this dreamy. Band members George Clarke and Kerry Mccoy combined Black Metal elements with a Post-Rock atmosphere to create an album that drew in universal acclaim. This was accomplished through the “Wall of Sound” technique. The method involves layering instruments and different effects multiple times to produce a truly immersive listening experience. This allowed some of Deafhaven’s major metal influences to still be present without scaring would-be listeners away. Somewhere among the sea of samples, interludes, and guitar effects are classic Black Metal vocals. Through this pop-inspired recording technique, “Sunbather” undoubtedly drew in many prospective Metal fans - and maintained those already in for the ride.

#6: “City of Evil” (2005)

Avenged Sevenfold

Many of the albums on this list were stylistic departures from the band’s normal sound. By far, the best example of this was Avenged Sevenfold’s third studio release. For this recording, singer M. Shadows toned down his usual screaming and adopted a grittier style. Additionally, other band members expanded on melodic sounds that previous albums only briefly featured. This helped the band pivot from a moshing Metalcore act into a more traditional Heavy Metal group. The musical makeover paid off, as “City of Evil” remains the band’s most successful album to date. This was due to a balance of high-powered guitar riffs and repeatable lyrics. Accessible tracks like the face-melting “Bat Country” and tear-jerking “Seize the Day” helped “City of Evil” earn the respect of both hardcore fans and casual listeners alike.

 #5: “The Hunter” (2011)

The Georgia-based act originally gained recognition through their unique and progressive sound. However, as the band’s career evolved, so did their musical style. By the time “The Hunter” was recorded, Mastodon had already adopted cleaner vocals and polished instrumentals. However, this time, the record also featured the recruitment of producer Mike Elizondo. His past collaborations include several popular artists, such as Eminem, Maroon 5, and Fiona Apple. Under Elizondo’s proven guidance, the album combined ludicrous guitar play, various singing methods, and epic choruses under attention-grabbing production. The result was a massive success that the members have named as the most fun to record. Luckily for them, it is also arguably the most fun for mainstream fans to listen to.

#4: "Blizzard of Ozz” (1980)
Ozzy Osbourne

Although the Prince of Darkness had already experienced success as the front man for Black Sabbath, he had to share the spotlight with fellow rock legends Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler. It wasn’t really until Osbourne went solo that his natural charisma as a performer started to blossom. His debut album came only one year after his firing from Black Sabbath (more on them later). Backing up the future Godfather of Heavy Metal was guitarist Rhandy Rhoads, whose classical background added a sense of refinement and complexity to Osbourne’s shrill vocals. Together, the two produced blistering tracks such as the iconic “Crazy Train”, which remains one of Ozzy’s most popular songs to date. The Madman’s first venture by himself was a huge success, going platinum 4 times and cementing the singer as a household name.

#3: “The Number of the Beast” (1982)
Iron Maiden

Like we mentioned earlier, stylistic shifts are a common theme on this list. The third studio album by Iron Maiden is no exception, as it was the first to feature legendary singer Bruce Dickinson. Dickinson’s soaring vocals and energetic delivery made “The Number of the Beast” more of a Metal opera than a normal album. Bassist Steve Harris’ galloping style helped facilitate several heart-racing tempo changes, which made the blistering guitar work easy to digest. Several of the songs also made recognizable references to things like movies and religion. Combining all these elements made for a release that was approachable, relatable, and still reflective of the band’s Metal roots. As a result, “The Number of the Beast” is considered an absolute landmark for the genre.

#2: “Paranoid” (1970)
Black Sabbath

A great place to start when introducing a newbie to a music genre is at the origin. While the debate of which was the first Heavy Metal album includes several choices, Black Sabbath’s sophomore release is undeniably one of the most influential of the pool. It isn’t much of a stretch to say that every entrant on this list was in some way influenced by this iconic album. Guided by guitarist Tony Iommi’s iconic riffs, “Paranoid” spoke of harsher life topics including war, depression, and drug abuse. The dose of reality worked, as the masses embraced tracks such as “War Pigs” and “Iron Man”. The album’s widespread appeal helped open the door for countless Metal acts to follow, and cemented the band’s status as one of the pioneers of the genre.
Before we reveal our top spot, here are a few honorable mentions:
“Meliora” (2015)
“Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?” (1986)

“The Strength / The Sound / The Songs” (2005)
“Once” (2004)

“Images and Words” (1992)
Dream Theater
“To Plant a Seed” (2009)
We Came as Romans

#1: “Metallica [aka “The Black Album”]” (1991)
Picking just one of this band’s releases is tough, considering their back catalogue includes masterpieces like “Ride the Lightning” and “Master of Puppets”. However, for the top spot on this list, we have to give it to the self-titled album that turned Metallica from Thrash legends into global icons. The widespread hysteria surrounding the album was due to its versatility. Not only did the nicknamed “Black Album” feature classic thrash tracks such as “Through the Never”, but it also featured widely-loved slower songs like“Nothing Else Matters”-- which has been covered over 40 times. This balance reached its pinnacle in the leading track, “Enter Sandman”, which is now one of the most recognizable Metal songs in history. On its way to going platinum 16 times, “The Black Album” helped to establish Heavy Metal as a widely embraced music genre. And nothing else matters!

Do you agree with our list? Which albums do you think are great for non-metal fans? For more accessible top tens published every day, be sure to subscribe to


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