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Metallica’s Studio Albums Ranked

With a new album on the horizon, and an EPIC new single released, I’ve decided to rank the nine studio albums by the greatest band of all time: Metallica. This band has been part of my listening experience for most of my life, and nothing has come close to usurping them as my favorite. Here are their albums, ranked worst to best.

#9 – St. Anger (2003)


St. Anger is one of those albums that divides the community. On one hand, you have the Metallizealots. They’ll eat anything that Metallica releases up. Doesn’t matter if it’s a complete shift from their original style, or if the music is even good. They’ll consume it regardless. Then we have the Metallipurists. These are the individuals that don’t like anything past …And Justice for All, due to the band “Selling Out” by going mainstream. They’re both right, and both wrong. St. Anger has some great songs on it. I can listen to The Unnamed Feeling and Some Kind of Monster all day long. Because they’re good. But when I hear Frantic-tic-tic-tic-tic-tic-tic tock…. I want to cry. And Purify? Holy fuck! Talk about a throw away song!!! Anyways, I still bought it, and don’t necessarily regret the purchase. I’m just thankful that my fast forward button hasn’t worn out yet.

#8 – Re-Load (1997)


Re-Load was the first Metallica album I purchased. I was so into Fuel as a teenager, that I went out and spent my hard earned money on this album. Now, Fuel suffers the same fate as Thunderstruck by AC/DC. It’s one of those songs that I can live the rest of my life without ever hearing again. It’s exceptionally overplayed, and easily an overrated song from Metallica. Also, Choking on a Bad Seed should just be called Choking down a bad song. I can’t get into it. This album, however, does feature classics such as The Memory Remains, and Unforgiven II. These are definitely great Metallica songs, and make this album rise above the bottom of the line, even if slightly.

#7 – Kill em All (1983)

This is where it all started. Kill em All used to be my least favorite Metallica album. I have since learned to use my ears, and appreciate Kill em All for the many high points it offers. Hit the Lights, Jump in the Fire, Seek and Destroy, and Whiplash are all pretty fun songs. The real masterpiece of this album has to be The Four Horsemen. Now, I know what you’re all thinking: Dave Mustaine wrote that song! And yes, he did. But Metallica’s version is superior. I would even go so far as to put this song on a list of top ten Metallica songs of all time. Unfortunately, there’s a decent amount of filler present on Kill em All, making it third from the bottom. Though, there is a gap between this one and Re-Load. At least in my mind.

#6 – Load (1996)

Ah yes. The bluesy Metallica album. Load features a slew of really solid songs. Aint my bitch, 2×4, and King Nothing are songs I have yet to get tired of. They’re quick, rough, and a lot of fun to rock out to. I would say that the first half of this album is among the bands strongest. It starts to slow down a bit after that, but there are still some gems in there; I’m looking at you Wasting my Hate. Overall, this album is middle of the road for me. There are some greats, and some not so greats. And while I do have a soft spot for the Bluesy era Metallica, it pales in comparison to their masterful take on thrash metal demonstrated in prior entries to their discography.

#5 – Death Magnetic (2008)

This album brought Metallica back to their roots. It is also the first album of theirs that I bought within a week of it coming out. (I’m a bit on the young side… Plus it had been five damn years since St. Anger!) This album has some incredible thrash in it. All Nightmare Long provides an intensity I haven’t felt since the solo in One. It’s fast as fuck! This album also shows that Metallica can create a successful trilogy: The Unforgiven. The Unforgiven III is an exceptionally solid song, and I honestly find myself listening to it more than it’s predecessors. But my God! The mix for this fucker is WAY TOO LOUD! WTF!!!  All in all, this album is solid, but still middle of the road overall. But, this is the greatest band of all time we’re talking about here….

#4 – Ride the Lightning (1984)

Ah man. Creeping Death is yet another one of those songs that I could literally never get tired of listening to. I’m serious. The day I can’t enjoy that song, is the day I end it all. Ride the Lightning brought us a more focused, more organized, and frankly more better version of Metallica. This is the album that started the greatest era of music this world has ever known. I know that Kill em All was definitely thrash, but this one fine tuned everything. It also established the groups ability to excellently craft a slower song in such a way that it totally fits. Fade to Black is the pioneer for may great soft-ish Metallica songs to follow. This album is a must for any fans of Rock and Metal.

#3 – Metallica (1991)

Yes! The first Metallica album released in my lifetime. This album is a masterpiece. There isn’t a single song on here that I don’t enjoy to some respect. It makes Metallica sound like the biggest thing in the world, and for good reason. This album is the best selling entry in their entire discography, and I’m totally okay with that. Listening to Sad But True, Unforgiven, and Enter Sandman makes me realize just how huge a band could sound. The mix for this album is incredible, and doesn’t blow my ears out at half volume. I can’t say enough good things about Metallica’s Metallica. If you haven’t listened to it, we can’t talk anymore! Also, I almost put this one below Ride the Lightning, but then my brain started to work again, and I realized the error in my ways.

#2 – …And Justice for All (1988)

Alright. I know I’m going to get a ton of shit for this. Especially from that Joe guy. Just endless amounts of shit. Anyways, And Justice for All is fucking incredible. One is easily my favorite Metallica song of all time. Who can deny the machine gun fire during the breakdown? Also, that solo! Holy balls! Simply incredible. Blackened is another song that I would place in the top ten songs, as it is brutally fast, and incredibly enjoyable. For many years, Justice was my favorite album by this band. The only reason I switched it to it’s rightful second place, is the lack of bass. I know that the band was devastated at the loss of Cliff Burton, but come on man. Why would you mute the track for your new bassist? It’s not like he killed the guy. But all in all, this is easily my second favorite album of all time, as well as my second favorite from Metallica.

#1 – Master of Puppets (1986)

Master! Master! Pleasant dreams that I’ve been after!!!!!! Oh fuck yeah. I love this album. I love how heavy it is, I love how quick it is, and I love how there’s a bass guitar to be had. Master of Puppets is the greatest album in the history of music. It features classics such as Battery, Master of Puppets, Welcome Home, and Damage Inc. This is thrash at it’s finest, and makes the entries of Megadeth, Slayer, and that little group Anthrax seem like music for a child. When I want someone to get into thrash, I point them to Master of Puppets. I would follow that up with …And Justice for All, and then probably Rust in Peace by Megadeth. I actually think it’s time to rock out to some Master….


What do you think of my list? What are your favorite albums by Metallica, and why?


4 thoughts on “Metallica’s Studio Albums Ranked

  1. Gammonstark says:

    For the last month, I have had Metallica on the mind. I thought it was because of the new single, but it may have more to do with this post. I read this about a month ago when I first checked out the new site, and then got caught up in work and never returned. I think I shall revisit the Metallica albums and get caught up on the many I have missed (basically anything in the last 15 years or so). Thanks for the inspiration, Schweiss.

  2. Metunnica says:

    Boom! Metallica are the greatest band ever (despite being complete Dicks!)

    For me its as follows!

    9:St Anger: but on a side note the song Dirty Window is amazing
    8:Death Magnetic: Good but still not at their best
    7: Re-Load
    6:Load: love both these albums but I like the feel of Load (Just not in the eye 🙂 ) more.

    Now it gets tricky!

    5: Black Album: Its sooo good but it makes a change in style and I just love the old school Metallica more.

    4: Kill them All!: What a start with the rolling symbols! make the hairs on my arms stand to attention, ready for metal up my Ass (the album was going to be called ‘Metal up your Ass’)

    3:Ride the Lightning: My first Metallica Album 🙂 Ahh memorberries

    2: Master of puppets: A masterpiece but somehow bettered by…

    1:.And Justice for All : RIP Cliff your sorely missed

    I Bloody last Metallica. Seen them 9 times in 3 different countries and seen Master of Puppets and the Black album preformed live and in their entirety… Just amazing.

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