The metal genre has a bevy of pioneering albums, and we're honoring 11 of them right here. From Black Sabbath to Metallica, read on for Gibson.com's 11 Essential Metal Albums, in alphabetical order by artist. Metal on!

AC/DC, Highway to Hell

Essential Metal albums

While Back in Black may have been more commercially successful, AC/DC's Highway to Hell shows frontman Bon Scott at his finest. From the opening riff of "Highway to Hell" to the intoxicating sounds of "Girls Got Rhythm," this album is pure metal fire. It's also AC/DC's final album before Scott's death less than a year later.


Black Sabbath, Paranoid

Essential Metal albums

Paranoid is the definitive album of the classic metal era. It's loud, cutting and brutally heavy-- basically everything that's good about metal wrapped into an eight-song opus. Where would heavy metal be without menacing tracks such as "Iron Man" or "War Pigs?" Let's not go there.


Guns N' Roses, Appetite for Destruction

Essential Metal albums

Slash, armed with his Goldtop Les Paul, rips through Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction like it's nobody's business, with jaw-dropping solos and soaring leads. That's not to mention the songs on this record are simply catchy. Who can resist singing along to Axl Rose's mile-high vocals on "Sweet Child o' Mine" and "Welcome to the Jungle?"


Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast

Essential Metal albums

This record inspired a crop of metal guitarists thanks to the clawing leads of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith. Add to that Bruce Dickinson's operatic vocals and the album's sinister themes, and you have one of the most unique metal sounds of the era.


Judas Priest, British Steel

Essential Metal albums

Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing perfected their musical chemistry and electricity on British Steel. Eternal songs such as "Breaking the Law" and "Living Under Midnight" are rock solid, and the twin guitars are on fire. It's albums like this that make the guys a no-brainer pick for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year.


Megadeth,Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?

Essential Metal albums

A pioneer of early thrash,Peace Sells...But Who's Buying? offers a political commentary wrapped in a dark, shreddy, musically complex collection of songs. With its influence on the thrash genre and striking musicality, Peace Sells is one of Megadeth's biggest benchmarks.


Metallica, Master of Puppets

Essential Metal albums

Master! Master! Metallica unleashed a giant of a thrashy metal record with 1986's Master of Puppets. James Hetfield's snarly vocals, Kirk Hammett's lightning-fast solos and Cliff Burton's "lead bass" make for an irresistible metal concoction, and tracks such as "Battery" and "Damage, Inc." are still fresh and radiant decades later.


Motörhead, Ace of Spades

Essential Metal albums

The late Lemmy Kilmister is a metal pioneer, and Ace of Spades remains the band's defining moment. Well, Overkill is hard to top, too, but who's keeping a tally? In the end, the loud and robust style of Ace of Spades, as well as the strong songwriting, makes it a classic Motörhead moment.


Pantera, Vulgar Display of Power

Essential Metal albums

From the sharp guitar attack of "Mouth for War" to the darting power-thrash of "Live in a Hole," Pantera's Vulgar Display of Power offers an insanely intense mix of metal sounds that makes it difficult for its listeners to come up for air. Thanks to the late, great Diamond Darrell for giving us this treasure of a metal record.


Slayer, Reign in Blood

Essential Metal albums

Did you really think we could get through this list without including some Slayer? Of course not. Reign in Blood is Slayer's shining star, with 10 gut-wrenching tracks jammed into a mere 29-or-so minutes of listening. With pulsating articulation and precise moves, it's a must-have in any metal enthusiast's collection.


Thin Lizzy, Jailbreak

Essential Metal albums

Anyone who appreciates both Les Pauls and metal music should have a special reverence for this album. With the "twin lead" Les Pauls of Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham, Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak is a special kind of metal album, oozing with melody and character.