The Top 21 Bay Area Metal Albums: The Complete List

Montrose - Montrose cover.jpeg
15. Montrose, Montrose
Montrose's self-titled debut in 1973 announced leader and guitarist Ronnie Montrose as a virtuoso six-string badass in the same league as Jimmy Page and Richie Blackmore, laid the template for future hard-rock game-changers Van Halen, and -- for better or worse -- introduced the music world to singer Sammy Hagar. The ferocious opening salvo of "Rock the Nation," "Bad Motor Scooter," and "Space Station No. 5" alone would qualify the album for inclusion in the Top 20 of any hard rock/heavy metal album list. The lascivious swagger of "Rock Candy" and deep cuts "I Don't Want It" and "Make It Last" lift the effort to legendary status. -- Dave Pehling

14. Sleep, Dopesmoker
The very definition of "too much of a good thing is just enough," San Jose's Sleep pushed stoner attention spans with a John Cage-worthy study in extremes: a nearly 70-minute album consisting of "one riff" repeated ad nauseum. In reality, it was a precise, meticulously planned exercise in subtle variation closer to composer Morton Feldman, albeit quite a bit louder. It's a quintessential piece of uncompromising art: it lost the bandmembers their label, halted the first act of their careers, and secured their spot as heavy metal legends and trailblazers of the highest order. -- Alee Karim

13. Machine Head, Burn My Eyes
During the lengthy lull between Metallica's self-titled 1991 blockbuster (aka The Black Album) and the shark-jumping disaster of Load in 1996, Oakland-based outfit Machine Head came together to sate the Bay Area's head-banging masses with the skull-cracking tunes of Burn My Eyes. Led by thrash veteran Robb Flynn (Forbidden, Vio-lence), Machine Head married the pugilistic menace of Pantera with the ruthless aggression of Slayer for a unique sound on the band's monstrous 1994 debut. Driven by Flynn's vitriolic riffs and the assaultive drums of Chris Kontos, songs like "Davidian," "Old," and "Blood For Blood" blazed a new, groove-oriented path in metal that would dominate the rest of the decade. -- Dave Pehling

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