The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time

The most headbangable records ever, from Metallica's Black Album to Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid'

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Soundgarden, 'Louder Than Love' (1989)

69. Soundgarden, 'Louder Than Love' (1989)

Five years before Soundgarden broke into the mainstream with the moody psychedelic sound of "Black Hole Sun," they were a nasty, flagrantly uncommercial heavy-rock band. They fused punk and metal on their earliest releases to make their own brand of primal-scream therapy (witness Chris Cornell's three-octave caterwauling and Kim Thayil's guitar noisemaking on "Beyond the Wheel," from their 1988 debut Ultramega OK), but it was on Louder Than Love that they fully embraced their metal side. Standout "Gun" starts with a Sabbath-styled sludge riff that increases in speed like a freight train, as Cornell sings menacingly, "I've got an idea of something we can do with a gun"; there's even a guitar solo break where Cornell, at his most metal, shouts, "Fuck it up." There's a perverse confrontational nature to songs like "Power Trip" and "No Wrong, No Right," and a sick sense of humor to "Big Dumb Sex" with its full stereo "I'm gonna fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck you" chorus (later covered by sometime tourmates Guns N' Roses) and the self-explanatory "Full on Kevin's Mom," which even gets a ballad-y reprise at the end of the record. But what makes the album unique in the metal canon is the pain and emotion in Cornell's voice; he screams in unison with Thayil's guitar on "Power Trip" and sounds possessed as he yowls, "I love you, loooove you," on "I Awake." The album is thrilling and scary in the way Black Sabbath had originally intended metal to be, and it also carries an importance as it inspired Metallica's biggest hit. "Soundgarden had just put out Louder Than Love," Kirk Hammett once said of how he wrote the main riff to "Enter Sandman." "I was trying to capture their at­titude toward big, heavy riffs." K.G.

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