12 Most Underrated Metal Albums of All Time


Metallica promo photo.

Audio Ink Radio’s 12 most underrated metal albums of all time – Story by Anne Erickson, Metallica photo by Tim Saccenti

Here’s Audio Ink Radio’s list of the 12 most underrated metal albums of all time

One of the curses of being a successful band in any genre is that sometimes, certain albums get buried in the success of others. Such is the case with a bevy of heavy metal bands who have enjoyed major success with a bunch of records but still have some of the most underrated metal albums in their discographies.

Bands such as Metallica, Judas Priest and Megadeth have worldwide acclaim. However, they’re known for certain albums more and less for others. Now, we’re spotlighting some of these gigantic metal albums that are underrated and should have been bigger.

Read on for Audio Ink Radio’s list of the 12 most underrated metal albums of all time. Reach out to us on social media to offer your picks.

12 Most Underrated Metal Albums of All Time

12. Gojira – “Terra Incognito” (2001)

Here’s a newer album that just makes the list. Today, Gojira are one of the most buzzed-about heavy metal bands out there. They’re touring with Mastodon this year, and they always top the metal charts when they release new music.  The band’s debut album, “Terra Incognita,” sounds very different from how Gojira sound today, but it’s a goodie, with crazy rhythmic time signatures and death metal influences. This record deserves more recognition.

11. Machine Head, “The Burning Red” (1999)

Most successful metal bands have had some period of controversy. For Machine Head, some of the controversy is thanks to “The Burning Red.” Some of the band’s fans absolutely hate the hip-hop textures on here, while others applaud Machine Head for their experimentation. Either way, it’s a snapshot of Machine Head history that deserves attention.

10. Slayer, “World Painted Blood” (2009)

Slayer have so many metal albums that are considered among thrash metal’s greatest. However, Slayer “best-of” lists often leave off “World Painted Blood.” This record is really a treat, though, with Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman delving into a very underground metal sound. Don’t forget the controversial, violent video for “Beauty Through Order,” to boot.

9. Dio, “Strange Highways” (1994)

“Strange Highways” was a unique album for Dio, as it marked Ronnie James Dio’s first album with new personnel, including guitarist Tracy G and bass player and keyboardist Jeff Pilson. The album features a dark, doomy sound and really showcases Dio’s mighty vocals. It’s a forgotten masterpiece.

8. Iron Maiden, “The Final Frontier” (2010)

At the time, fans thought Iron Maiden’s “The Final Frontier” was possible going to be the band’s final LP. Of course, it wasn’t. Iron Maiden are still going strong today. “The Final Frontier” falls towards the middle of Iron Maiden’s discography, and it’s a bit of a lost album. But on it, you’ll find epic songs such as “Mother of Mercy” and “Isle of Avalon.”

7. Pantera, “Power Metal” (1988)

Pantera’s “Cowboys from Hell” and “Vulger Display of Power” are often lauded as their finest moments. However, 1988’s “Power Metal” is a hidden treasure, showing off young vocals Phil Anselmo’s early days with the band. Songs such as “We’ll Meet Again” and “Hard Ride” are highlights.

6. Judas Priest, “Turbo” (1986)

Judas Priest’s “Turbo” album was definitely met with scrutiny. Sure, it has a bit of that 1980s over-the-top, almost hair metal style, which just doesn’t fit Judas Priest, but they had to do it. It was in the mid-1980s, after all. Judas Priest actually pull off the ’80s electronic and dramatic style pretty well, and songs such as “Turbo Lover” and “Locked In” are great ones.

5. Mastodon, “Once More ‘Round the Sun” (2014)

Mastodon’s albums are all unique and stand on their own. However, a few have gotten lost along the way. Following “The Hunter,” Mastodon returned with “Once More ‘Round the Sun,” a deeply personal set that saw them expanding lyrically more than ever before. Armed with songs such as “High Road” and “The Moterload,” this record has some of the band’s biggest singles. It certainly deservers more attention.

4. Megadeth, “Youthanasia” (1994)

In all fairness, metal fans certainly recognize and appreciate Megadeth’s “Youthanasia.” In fact, it’s one of Megadeth’s most loved albums. But, if you ask anyone to name the band’s biggest records, they’ll likely tell you “Countdown to Extinction” and “Rust in Peace.” Really, this one stands alongside those albums with its riff-heavy, thrash-y approach.

3. Black Sabbath, “Never Say Die!” (1978)

“Never Say Die!” is rarely mentioned as one of Black Sabbath’s finest moments, but it’s special. After all, the album marks the band’s final made by the original lineup. The album came out in 1978, and Ozzy Osbourne split with the band the next year. Of course, he came back later to close out the band’s run with “13,” another good set. Even though Ozzy wasn’t clean for the recording of “Never Say Die!,” he has some great moments, and it’s a special album.

2. Iron Maiden, “Piece Of Mind” (1983)

Iron Maiden graces this list for a second time with “Piece of Mind.” If Iron Maiden had released “Piece of Mind” at a different moment, it’s possible the album would have gotten more recognition. The record arrived right between the band’s arguably most successful albums ever: “The Number of The Beast” and “Powerslave.” It’s a dark, glorious set that deserves more attention.

1. Metallica, “Death Magnetic” (2008)

After the backlash of Metallica’s “St. Anger” album (yes, those snare drums didn’t help), the band redeemed themselves with 2008’s “Death Magnetic.” Many fans and critics recognize that “Death Magnetic” is one of Metallica’s best albums to date. However, albums such as “Master of Puppets,” “…And Justice for All” and, of course, “The Black Album” often overshadow it. But, “Death Magnetic” is one of the most brilliant and imaginative albums from a band that’s been around as long as Metallica. It’s more melodic than a lot of Metallica records, so it appeals to a wider fanbase than just the thrash-heads. “Death Magnetic” deserves a top place in metal music history, and it’s Audio Ink Radio’s No. 1 most underrated metal album of all time.

Read Audio Ink Radio’s feature on the most larger-than-life metal vocalists here.

Anne Erickson
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Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Metal, Music