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6 Essential Metal Vinyl Records You Need

If you’re a vinyl enthusiast and need something new and exciting to listen to, metal is one genre worth exploring. Whether you’re a veteran of hardcore, hard rock, and heavy metal or a newcomer to the world of loud, abrasive music, we’ve got some album recommendations that you need to check out.

Metal’s Origins

In the late 60s and early 70s, the world was primed and ready for the dawn of heavy metal. Rock and roll had dominated the airwaves throughout the 60s, and several of the pioneers of that genre made the transition towards louder, rougher recordings. 

Some of the earliest forerunners of heavy metal were bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, groups with a sound characterized by lots and lots of distortion, long guitar solos, and grandiose vocal performances. 

By the time the 70s were in full swing, a new wave of heavy metal artists was gaining legions of devoted fans. These groups included Motorhead, who blended punk rock with staples of the metal genre, Kiss and Alice Cooper, who were known for their horror-inspired outfits and lyrics, and British groups like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, who brought something entirely new to the table.

How Metal Went Mainstream

By the 80s, metal was gaining more traction as a mainstream genre. The subgenre of glam metal became incredibly popular with help from the likes of Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Motley Crue, and other subgenres became more prominent as well. In the 80s, thrash metal exploded in popularity, in large part thanks to bands like Metallica and Megadeth. The rest, as they say, is history.

Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at some essential metal records that every vinyl enthusiast needs to own.

1. Poison – Look What the Cat Dragged In

Poison is widely considered to be one of the quintessential Glam Metal acts of the 80s and 90s. The group released their debut album, Look What the Cat Dragged In, via Enigma Records on May 23, 1986. Following the record’s release, it climbed to the top three on the US album charts, in large part thanks to the runaway success of singles like “Talk Dirty to Me,” “I Won’t Forget You,” and “I Want Action.” 

Look What the Cat Dragged In was produced by metal and hard rock legend Ric Browde. Browde has also worked with the likes of Ted Nugent, German group Victory, Joan Jett, and more. Look What the Cat Dragged In is one of the most successful albums that Browde ever produced, and it’s one of eight Platinum-certified albums that Ric worked on. 

This essential Poison album is available as an exclusive picture disc from right here at The Sound of Vinyl. 

2. Metallica – Master of Puppets

Metallica’s third record is a perfect introduction to the iconic thrash metal group. After reaching number 29 on the Billboard 200, the album became an incredibly successful record around the world, selling millions of copies and earning a sextuple-Platinum certification in the US. The album is best known for its smash-hit single “Master of Puppets,” which was ranked by VH1 as the third greatest metal song of all time. It’s earned similar accolades from the likes of Q Magazine, Guitar World, Total Guitar, and more. 

Master of Puppets was produced by the band, along with Danish engineer Flemming Rasmussen. Rasmussen co-produced several of the band’s other records, including …And Justice for All and Ride the Lightning.

3. Def Leppard – Vault

Def Leppard’s 5x-Platinum-certified greatest hits compilation is one of the best ways to get familiar with the band’s discography. The English rock group was formed back in 1977, and they've since released some of the most successful and celebrated glam metal records of all time. The Vault compilation contains some of the band’s biggest hits, including tracks like “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” “Photograph,” “Hysteria,” and more. The record features 15 tracks total, including songs from every record the band released between 1980 and 1995.

The 80s and 90s were some of the best decades in Def Leppard’s career. During this period, the band released the records High ‘n’ Dry, Pyromania, Hysteria, and Retro Active. Their song “Two Steps Behind” was also featured on the soundtrack to the film Last Action Hero. 

The tracklist for Vault includes the previously unreleased single “When Love and Hate Collide,” a track that was released to promote the release of the compilation back in 1995. That song became a top 10 hit in Canada and hit the Billboard Hot 100, reaching number 58 in the US. The song was accompanied by three music videos and produced by the band with assistance from Pete Woodroofe.

Vault is available from The Sound of Vinyl as a limited-edition 180-gram 2LP.

4. Megadeth – Rust in Peace

Rust in Peace is Megadeth’s fourth studio album, and it’s also one of their most critically and commercially successful LPs. Produced by band member Dave Mustaine and industry icon Mike Clink, the album went on to earn a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance, as well as Platinum certifications in the United States and Canada. 

Mike Clink, the co-producer of Rust in Peace, had previously worked with the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Whitesnake, Motley Crue, and Metallica, all bands that are considered Megadeth’s peers in the ranks of metal greats. With help from Clink and others, guitarist Dave Mustaine penned all of the tracks on the album and was the main creative figure behind the project. The result is a metal masterpiece that fans of the genre need on their shelves. 

Rust in Peace is available from the Sound of Vinyl as a limited-edition Colored LP.

5. New York Dolls’ Self-Titled Record

Produced by musical genius Todd Rundgren and released on July 27, 1973, New York Dolls is considered one of the earliest glam-rock albums to break into the mainstream. After The New York Dolls got signed to Mercury Records, the label sought out Rundgren as a collaborator based on the success of his solo recordings. The result of the collaboration between Rundgren and the New York Dolls was a combination of rock, punk, glam, and metal that earned the band a slew of critical acclaim.

New York Dolls is available as a limited-edition pink LP from the Sound of Vinyl shop.

6. …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – Source Tags & Codes

…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead are one of the most celebrated post-rock two-pieces of all time. They blend elements of post-hardcore, progressive rock, alternative, and art rock with incredible skill, switching off between drumming and playing guitar. The two members of the group, Jason Reece and Conrad Keeley, also alternate between handling lead vocal duties.

Source Tags & Codes is the duo’s third album, and it’s also one of their most celebrated. The album was produced by the members of the duo and Mike McCarthy, and it came out on February 26, 2002, via Interscope Records. After earning a perfect score from the notoriously stingy review outlet Pitchfork, the album became the stuff of legends, and it’s often hailed as the band’s magnum opus.

The album is available as a limited edition colored LP, exclusively from our shop.

Conclusion

If you’re trying to build an eclectic collection of classic albums, make sure to visit the Sound of Vinyl’s online shop. There, you’ll find some of the most celebrated LPs from artists in a plethora of genres, including hardcore, metal, and more.

Sources:

Todd Rundgren Biography, Songs, & Albums |  AllMusic

...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead: Source Tags and Codes | Pitchfork

A Brief History of Metal | Heavy Metal 101 @ MIT
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