It's Tournament Time: Week One Opening Rounds
Voting for Part I is closed. Click Here to vote on Part II.
I never realized how important the Comments section on a leaf was until very recently. A couple of weeks back, I wrote about The Essential Heavy Metal Albums and got a really great response to the article. There were some really great comments given, but one of them really stood out and gave me an idea for my next few articles. Jusjaesho commented that it was a great list, but that “it would be a really daunting task to arrange all of these albums into some sort of top 10”. I started thinking about what the best album on the list was from my standpoint and from a critic’s standpoint. I began to realize how hard it would be to decide on a top ten or even the best heavy metal album of all time with so many great albums to choose from, so here is what I decided to do:
I am going to let the Zujava readers decide what the best heavy metal album of all time is, and in doing so I will also formulate a top ten list. How will we do this you ask? I will take the thirty-one albums listed in my article and add on more to make thirty-two. The thirty-two albums will be placed in a bracketed single elimination tournament much like the NCAA basketball tournament. Just like the NCAA, there will be four regions with albums seeded one through eight and the champions of each region will face off in a final four to decide a winner. The tournament will progress over six different leaves in a six week period beginning on March 1, 2012. The first leaf will consist of the opening matchups for two regions (16 albums; 8 matches). The second week will be the opening matchups for the other two regions. Week three will be the final sixteen albums. The quarterfinals (the metal eight) will be contested in week four. Week five will be the metal four and week six will be the championship.
The readers will be given a background and critical opinions for the albums in each matchup. In addition, each album will have two YouTube videos associated with it in their opening round matchups to help make the best decision. Each round after, the band will be represented by one video and then the two albums in the championship will be represented by their three most well known videos. Please don’t just decide, oh I’ve heard of Metallica and never heard of the other band, so I’ll just vote for Master of Puppets. Check out the videos for the other album. You might be surprised. So I don't continually repeat myself in each leaf, the album descriptions and critical opinions will only be written in the first two opening round articles. If you need to go back and look, I will have links to the first two articles in all proceeding articles and you can also click on the Amazon links for information and fan reviews. After reading and viewing each matchup, there will be a link for you to vote on which album is better.
The four regions are places where metal has strong seeded roots. They are Scandinavia, New York, Massachusetts, and San Francisco. The quarterfinals and metal four will be in the region of Britain and the championship will be in Wacken, Germany. This first leaf will be the opening rounds in Scandinavia and San Francisco.
Before we go forward and begin voting, I would like to discuss a few rules and changes I have made. Only one album per band is allowed in the tournament, so the bands will be represented by their best album. Voting for each week will close on Wednesday at 11:59 and the leaf for the next week of matchups will be posted on Thursday. The winning album will have an entire leaf dedicated to it at the end of the six week period and a top ten list will be created. In my last article I added a section of female fronted metal. I added them because I think it is important to metal history and the four albums are essential. However, I would not consider two of the four to be in any kind of top thirty-two metal albums. I have replaced Feed the Bound and Gagged by Walls of Jericho and Century Child by Nightwish with Black Metal by Venom and Slaughter of the Soul by At the Gates. Lastly, I have added The Powerless Rise by As I Lay Dying as there were only thirty-one albums on my essential albums list. Let’s get things under way.
Opening Round Matches
Paranoid vs. Comalies
Black Metal vs. Dirt
Rust in Peace vs. The Powerless Rise
Holy Diver vs. The Art of Balance
This matchup will pit Black Sabbath’s Paranoid against Lacuna Coil’s Comalies.
Paranoid (1) is the second studio album from Black Sabbath released in 1970. It is known as one of the first heavy metal albums and influenced most of the metal bands around today. It took bluesy riffs, down tuned them and mixed them with high pitched angsty lyircs. The album contains three of the bands most popular songs: "Iron Man", "Paranoid", and "War Pigs". It is ranked in Vibe's 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century and Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It reached 1 on the UK Album Charts and 12 on the Billboard 200. It is widely recognized as their best album and one of the best metal albums of all time.
Paranoid or Comalies?
Venom vs. Alice In Chains
Black Metal (4) released by the British band, Venom, in 1982 highly influenced the subgenres of Thrash and Black Metal that would become highly popular both in the US and internationally. This album is huge because it birthed an entire subgenre. The imagery and demonic lyrical content is what really influenced the birth of the Black Metal subgenre. Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir have both covered songs from the album. The title track is featured in Tony Hawk's video game American Wasteland. It features the songs "Black Metal" and "Countess Bathory".
Dirt (5), the second album from Alice in Chains, came out in 1992 at the rise of the Grunge movement. It is regarded as one of the heaviest albums in the Grunge subgenre and one of the best rock albums of the 1990’s. It was their breakthrough album and would go on to influence bands like Staind and Seether. Dirt was one of the first heavy albums to deal with the subjects of drug use and depression. It peaked at number six on the Billboard 200. It contains some of their most well-known songs, like “Them Bones”, “Rooster”, “Would”, “Angry Chair”, and “Down in a Hole”.
Black Metal or Dirt?
Megadeth takes on As I Lay Dying
The fourth album from Megadeth was Rust in Peace (3) released in 1990 at the end of the Thrash boom. It is one of the best Thrash albums to ever be released. Two songs from the album were nominated for a best metal performance Grammy and it is regarded by most to be their best album. It reached number 23 on the Billboard 200 and met with rave reviews from both mainstream and underground metal critics. “Holy Wars” is thought to be one of the best songs to ever open a metal album. This song and “Hangar 18” are two of their most popular songs. I personally recommend the song Lucretia.
Rust in Peace or the Powerless Rise?
Dio matches up with Shadows Fall
Holy Diver (2) released by Dio in 1983 is their debut album. It is regarded as one of the best and most influential releases in metal history. The album is known for birthing the European Power Metal movement. It is one of the first albums to use mystical and medieval images and lyrics. It was a huge influence on the images and look of Black Metal bands as well. It reached 56 on the Billboard 200 and 13 on the UK album charts. The title track “Holy Diver” is one of the most popular and recognizable metal songs of all time. “Rainbow in the Dark” is another well known metal track from Holy Diver.
Holy Diver or The Art of Balance?
Bands from the Scandinavian Bracket
Opening Round Matches
Ace of Spades vs. Anthems of Rebellion
Badmotorfinger vs. Slaughter of the Soul
Vulgar Display of Power vs. Alive or Just Breathing
Blizzard of Ozz vs. Dusk and Her Embrace
Motorhead vs. Arch Enemy
Ace of Spades (1) was released in 1980 by the British Band, Motorhead. Their fourth album is famous for mixing Punk with Heavy Metal which highly influenced bands like Metallica and Slayer and helped jump start the Thrash Metal subgenre. The title track is their most popular song and is known as a metal anthem. Also check out the tracks “Jailbait” and “Bite the Bullet”.
Ace of Spades or Anthems of Rebellion?
Soundgarden vs. At the Gates
Soundgarden released their third album, Badmotorfinger (4), in 1991. At the time the album peaked at 39 on the Billboard 200 as it was overshadowed by Nirvana’s Nevermind and Pearl Jam’s Ten. In the years after its release, the album became more popular and began to be recognized as a breakthrough album in the meshing of Grunge and Heavy Metal. Soundgarden would go on to become more of a Progressive Rock band, but with songs like “Outshined” and “Rusty Cage”, this will always be thought of as a top flight metal album.
Badmotorfinger or Slaughter of the Soul?
Pantera grapples with Killswitch Engage
Pantera, arguably the most popular metal band of the 1990's, released its most important album in 1992, Vulgar Display of Power (3). This is the album that put Groove Metal on the map and paved the way for Nu Metal bands like Korn. Gone were over intricate guitar riffs. The songs on the album made use of repeating the money riff and head bangers loved it. It reached #44 on the Billboard 200 at a time when metal was at a low point and spent an astounding 77 weeks on the chart. The album contains their two most popular and recognizable singles "Walk" and "This Love".
Alive or Just Breathing (6) was created by Killswitch Engage in 2002. It would be the last album with Jesse Leach on vocals before the band blew up commercially with Howard Jones. Although not that commercially successful when released, it has gained a huge following in recent years and is one of the albums credited with the mainstream kick off of metalcore. It is known for the single “My Last Serenade”, but true fans love the songs “Fixation on the Darkness”, “Life to Lifeless”, and “Temple from Within”. Without this album, metalcore may never have risen out of the ashes left by Nu Metal. This is a very important album in the history of metal. It almost made IGNs list of the top 25 Metal Albums. It received an honorable mention.
Vulgar Display of Power or Alive or Just Breathing?
Ozzy Osbourne vs. Cradle of Filth
The Blizzard of Ozz (2) was the first solo album for Ozzy Osbourne released in 1980. This album would catapult Ozzy to becoming one of the most popular metal artists of all time. The album reached 21 on the Billboard 200 and has sold over six million copies since its release. The record was controversial and is still considered one of the best metal albums of all time. The album is so good that it reached platinum status within 2 years without the benefit of a top 40 radio hit. “Crazy Train” is all over the place now and “Mr. Crowley” is still one of his most recognizable songs.
Dusk and Her Embrace (7) released in 1996 by Cradle of Filth is one of the most commercially successful Black Metal albums of all time, by one of the most commercially successful bands in the subgenre. It used concepts of vampirism and paganism that have been rampant on other Black Metal albums since its release. This is the next most important album to this subgenre behind Venom’s Black Metal in my opinion. It allowed for other Black Metal bands, like Dimmu Borgir, to find ways to add other elements to their music and gain a larger more commercial following. “Dusk and Her Embrace” and “Malice Through the Looking Glass” are great songs.
The Blizzard of Oz or Dusk and Her Emrace?
Bands from the San Francisco Bracket
More Opening Rounds
The Polling is closed for Part I. Click Here to vote on Part II