The Top 21 Bay Area Metal Albums: The Complete List

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6. Metallica, Kill 'Em All
Metallica would go on to make much better albums than Kill 'Em All. But the quality of its opening 1983 salvo can be seen in just how many songs from this uneven effort remain in the band's setlist today. And not just for the Met Club diehards, either: "The Four Horsemen" is still seven thrilling minutes, and "Seek And Destroy" continues to close out pretty much every Metallica show ever. You can hear hints of the stunning complexity that would come on later albums, as well as its scrappy punk influence, all of which add up to make Kill 'Em All a Bay Area metal classic. -- Ian S. Port


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5. Exodus, Bonded By Blood
A certifiable classic, the neck-snapping 1985 debut of East Bay heathens Exodus remains one of the most brutal albums produced during the Bay Area's golden era of thrash. Propelled by mainstay Gary Holt's inventive riffs and dueling tandem solos with guitar foil Rick Hunolt, mosh-pit anthems "A Lesson in Violence" and "Strike of the Beast" never failed to leave feral hordes of teen heshers (this writer included) bloodied and bruised at the band's ferocious live shows. Small wonder Exodus has revisited the album twice -- 1998's live Another Lesson in Violence with original singer Paul Baloff (R.I.P.), and a 2008 studio re-recording with current vocalist Rob Dukes. -- Dave Pehling

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4. Metallica, Ride the Lightning
With all the energy of Kill 'Em All but a more confident sense of songwriting and musicality, Ride The Lightning was huge step forward for Metallica. Unlike the band's debut, every song on here feels developed and original, and most of them work devastatingly well. It could've easily played off the horror tropes other metal bands used, but "For Whom The Bell Tolls" is genuinely unnerving -- even to this day. The mournful "Fade to Black" was a first glimpse at the sheer, epic beauty of which Metallica was capable, and how thoroughly these four could marry that grace to bone-crushing heaviness. As for "Creeping Death," its musical assault more than lives up to what the title promises. Released in 1984, Ride the Lightning set a new bar for thrash metal -- both in the Bay Area and elsewhere. -- Ian S. Port

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