UNSURE WHERE TO START BUILDING YOUR ESSENTIAL BAY AREA METAL COLLECTION? GET ON THIS, OR GET ON WITH BEING A POSER!
METALLICA RIDE THE LIGHTNING (MUSIC FOR NATIONS, 1984)
Metallica’s genre-defining debut album, Kill ’Em All, was largely written in Los Angeles, before Cliff Burton could bring his considerable compositional talents to the table. with his input, Ride The Lightning represented a staggering leap forward, with Fight Fire With Fire a face-ripping reminder of their thrash roots.
EXODUS BONDED BY BLOOD (COMBAT, 1985)
The definitive homegrown Bay Area thrashers, infamous for the violence at their gigs, Exodus should have been the scene’s second breakthrough band. Cruelly, label/legal hassles tied up the release of their savage debut, by which point every metalhead had acquired a 10th-generation copy. A still underrated masterclass.
POSSESSED SEVEN CHURCHES (RELATIVITY/ COMBAT, 1985)
The first true death metal album, taking Venom’s diabolical black metal blueprint and upping the aggression, speed, nastiness and unabashed Satan worship. Ahead of their time, Possessed never reaped the commercial rewards of their Bay Area peers, but Hell has rarely been conjured quite so convincingly.
TESTAMENT THE LEGACY (MEGAFORCE, 1987)
The best band from thrash’s second wave, Testament began life as The Legacy, with future Exodus frontman Steve ‘Zetro’ Sousa lending bite to their technical, ferocious riffing. His replacement Chuck Billy brought melodic nous and no little charm, and track-for-track this can hold its own against any of the scene elders.
MACHINE HEAD THE BLACKENING (ROAD RUNNNER, 2007)
Machine Head’s stunning 1994 debut album Burn My Eyes single-handedly re-ignited global interest in the Bay Area metal scene post Nirvana. This, though, is Robb Flynn’s band’s masterpiece, a beautifully controlled, artfully crushing, fiercely emotional collection, which stands as one of the greatest metal albums of the century to date.