20. Anthrax, 'Among the Living' (1987)
Thrash metal wasn't just about speed, volume and the adrenaline rush of bouncing off the walls and other fans in a mosh pit. It was also about equality. "Metal has always had this larger than life image. We're more into being real," Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante told Melody Maker. "We just try to be on the same level as our audience – except we're onstage." But what elevated the New York band's third LP, Among the Living, to a thrash classic wasn't just the way songs like "Caught in a Mosh" articulated the generational rage ("Get the hell out of my house!") that made slam-dancing a necessary form of release. It was also the way the music churned and flowed, thanks to the sudden accelerations and rhythmic shifts found on songs such as "One World." Benante and his bandmates may have been regular guys in other respects, but as musicians there was no denying the technical agility that went into each aural onslaught. Yet the album never lords that over the listener; instead, its best moments – "Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)," "I Am the Law," "Indians" – democratize that brilliance by attaching it to some of the band's catchiest, most approachable material. J.D.C.