The Top 21 Bay Area Metal Albums: The Complete List

18. C4AM95 (aka The Fucking Champs), III
Perhaps the most positive metal record ever made, The Fucking Champs' III is a love letter to guitars, to bombast, and to the barest impulse that leads one to make heavy metal. Fist-pumping, anthemic, and almost completely instrumental, the album still manages to be an evocative and even fun collection that wins over metal casuals. Dubbed "poser" and "hipster" metal by the usual suspects, The Fucking Champs' detractors miss the point that The Melvins' King Buzzo has been trying to make for years: You can't do this kind of thing for this long if you're "joking." The 'Champs continued to release records that were variations on the same proggy instru-metal thesis, but this hour was their finest. -- Alee Karim

17. Mr. Bungle, Mr. Bungle
Though the profane, schizophonic stew cooked up by singer Mike Patton and company on Mr. Bungle's self-titled Warner Bros. debut cross-pollinates a myriad of musical styles, the monolithic riffs unleashed by guitarist Trey Spruance often serve as the axis at the center of the band's whirling carousel. Spruance provides the crushing foundation at the base of opening bad-acid clown carnival "Quote Unquote" (aka "Travolta," before the band got a cease-and-desist letter,) and manically flashes between funk licks and six-string vehemence throughout "My Ass is On Fire." Vocally, Patton careens wildly from sultry, velvet croon to distorted howl, helping push the metal quotient of his savage ode to masturbation, "Love Is a Fist," into the red. -- Dave Pehling

16. Melvins, Houdini
Tempting as it is to include earlier Melvins classics like Ozma and Bullhead, recorded during the band's late '80s/early '90s sojourn in S.F., there's no ignoring the brilliance of the band's Atlantic Records debut Houdini. Buzz Osbourne would surely bristle at the metal label, but how else would you categorize the album's pulverizing onslaught? From the cannonade of Dale Crover's opening drum fill on "Hooch," through the lumbering metric tonnage of "Night Goat," dead-on Kiss cover "Goin' Blind," "Hag Me," and the frenzied explosion of "Honey Bucket," Houdini offers up some of the band's heaviest gems as well as a compendium of Osbourne's greatest riffs. -- Dave Pehling

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