28 May 2023
GREAT ALBUM RUNS IN HEAVY ROCK HISTORY
GREAT ALBUM RUNS IN HEAVY-MUSIC HISTORY
A classic album. Most bands could only ever hope to make one. Managing three in a row elevates any band to mega status. Every classic album is cause for celebration but when a band really hit their groove and rack ‘em up successively, it proves that they are no flash-in-the-pan. But five great albums in a row? That’s rare indeed. How many artists have actually managed to do either.
Road Hounds takes a sniff. We start with the genre definers and then venture through power, thrash, groove metal and beyond.
The run: Paranoid, Master of Reality, Vol. 4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabotage
Black Sabbath maybe where the genre began but they didnt have the fully developed metal sound until Paranoid. Here they hit their stride and deliver the albums that define the genre. They then experiment with their own formula, making it more stoner (Master of Reality), more progressive (Vol. 4), more symphonic (Sabbath Bloody Sabbath) and more angry (Sabotage).
The run: Opus Eponymous, Infestissumam, Meliora, Prequelle, Impera
From cult to arena in five albums. Very impressive indeed. But that’s what a near perfect mix of Metal power and theatre with ABBA-like hooks will do for you. And possibly selling your soul.
The run: The Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind, Powerslave, Smewhere In Time, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
When Bruce Dickinson took over as vocalist everything clicked for Maiden. His air raid siren of a voice was what was needed to go over the top of Harris’s galloping basslines and the trile guitar attack of the new band. Most of their greatest songs emerge during this period including The Trooper, Aces High, 2 Minutes to Midnight, Riem of the Ancient mariner, Hallowed be they Name, Wasted years,, Moonchild.
The run: Kill ‘Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, …And Justice for All, Metallica
Metallica’s first five albums are not just an insight into the development of a band artistically but also of a genre: Thrash. From raw and angry playing in sweaty clubs to controlled and polished filling stadiums. Ride The Lightening is their best but the Black album is their biggest.
The run: Cowboys From Hell, Vulgar Display of Power, Far Beyond Driven, The Great Southern Trendkill, Reinventing the Steel trading in their outdated hair-metal for groove metal anger and a huge new guitar sound the band reinvent themselves for the album Cowboys From Hell and go on to dominate the decade ahead. Vulgar Display of Power is heavier still and Pantera’s music only got angrier and heavier ove their next three albums. A staggering (and exhausting) achievement.
The run: Hell Awaits, Reign in Blood, South of Heaven, Seasons in the Abyss
From 1985’s Hell Awaits through 1990’s Seasons in the Abyss, Slayer were the undisputed, unrelenting Kings of thrash. These albums were the ones that cemented that truth.
The run: Undertow, Ænima, Lateralus, 10,000 Days, Fear Inoculum
Only five full-length albums in 30 years. You lazy gits. But hats the price of putting quality over quantity. Each album is a dense, multilayered Prog epic to be savored with your cans on while stroking yur chin. Heres to another decade till then next one then……
The run: Overkill, Bomber, Ace of Spades
Despite several lineup changes Motorhead remained prolific throughout a 40-year career but the three they cranked out between 1979 and 1980 with Lemmy, Fast Eddie and Philthy Animal made for their hottest streak. The double-bass blast of Overkill’s title track pounded harder than anything wed ever heard before, Bomber had more refined song writing and Ace of Spades was a hit machine. Job done.
The run: Leviathan (2004) / Blood Mountain (2006) / Crack The Skye (2009)
Of all the albums the Atlanta quartet have produced over 20 years, none have been less than great. Abums two, three and four though, were where the legend was born. A crushing concept album based on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, then Blood Mountain which showcased their more experimental side. Then 2009’s Crack The Skye saw them spiral off into far progier territory, referencing bands like King Crimson.
The run: High ‘n’ Dry – Pyromania – Hysteria
Before Def Leppard became a mainstream powerhouse in the late ’80s, they were actually a pretty gritty metal band. Packed with great numbers, and a heavier sound, High ‘n’ Dry is a real fan favourite, and still regarded as one of the best metal albums of the early ’80s. Pyromania was a great follow up, and Hysteria put the icing on the cake.
The run: In Rock – Fireball – Machine Head
Deep Purple hit a golden period from 1970 to 1972, with three of the greatest records in rock. In Rock and Machine Head are absolute mammoth albums that mixes it up with the best of them. 1971’s Fireball saw the band broadening out from the no-holds-barred hard rock direction of the previous record.
The run: Led Zeppelin IV – House of the Holy – Physical Graffiti
Much like some of the other bands on this list, Led Zeppelin had a good run of albums that exceeded just three. You could quite easily pick the first three, or from the second to the fourth. But we’ve gone for the iconic Led Zep IV through to Physical Graffiti, as it saw the band at a stage when they’d matured wonderfully into their peak.
The run: Let There Be Rock, Power Age, Highway to Hell
After tightening up their live act and polishing their songcraft, AC/DC released Let There Be Rock in 1977 which became their first album to chart in the U.S. It contains several tracks which are still in their set including Let There Be Rock and Whole Lotta Rosie. Powerage, released in spring of 1978, expanded their audience even further, with killer tracks such as Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation and Sin City. What really broke the doors down for the band was the following year’s Highway to Hell, which became the group’s first million-seller, with chart friendly tracks like Touch Too Much. Sadly the Bon Scott era was about to end with the death of the great singer.
The run: Stained Class, Killing Machine, British Steel
Stained Class, the record that established Priest as an international force in metal. Along with 1979’s Hell Bent for Leather (Killing Machine in the U.K.), Stained Class defined the nascent New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. The music was harder, faster, and louder and the album featured killer cuts like Exciter. Killing Machine followed in similar style with tracks like Hell Bent For Leather. Drummer Les Binks left the band in 1979; he was replaced by Dave Holland who had more stadium filling power. 1980’s British Steel, entered the British charts at number three, launched the hit singles “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight,” and was their second American platinum record.
The run: Van Halen, Van Halen II, Women and Children First, Fair Warning
Van Halen’s debut is a stone-cold game changing classic. It would eventually sell over six million copies, thanks to the album rock staples “You Really Got Me,” “Jamie’s Cryin’,” and “Runnin’ with the Devil.” Van Halen II, released in 1979, continued the band’s success, as “Dance the Night Away” became their first Top 20 single. Women and Children First (1980) didn’t have any charting singles, but was a success on the album charts, reaching number six. The band supported the album with their first headlining, international arena tour, and were quickly on their way to being superstars. Released in 1981, Fair Warning wasn’t quite as popular as their previous records, yet it still peaked at number six. It’s often cited as the guitarists favourite VH album, full of killer riffs and amazing solos.
Arguably Clutch had two 3 album runs, the first one starting in 2004 with Blast Tyrant, followed by Robot Hive, and From Beale at to Oblivion. All belters. But we’ve gone for their second run. By the 2010s, the veteran quartet reached new heights, achieving late-era success with 2013’s Earth Rocker and 2015’s Psychic Warfare, which both peaked in the Top 15 of the Billboard 200. The excellent Book of Bad Decisions followed in 2018. Congratulations to Clutch for having two hot streaks.
The run: Lovedrive, Animal Magnetism, Blackout, Love at First Sting
Having signed with Mercury Records in 1979 and lost the visionary guitarist Uli Jon Rot, Scorpions reconfigured as a Metal band for the 80s. Lovedrive failed to attract massive attention (the sexually explicit cover didn’t help) despite having Michael Schenker playing lead on it. With a lineup inc. Matthias Jabs on lead, the band released Animal Magnetism in 1980 and embarked on another world tour. Animal Magnetism went gold in the United States, and the Scorpions immediately went back into the studio to record their next release. 1982 saw the release of Blackout, which contained the cult hit “No One Like You.” The follow-up, Love at First Sting succeeded in making them superstars. Released in 1984, the album boasted the MTV single “Rock You Like a Hurricane”.