The Top 21 Bay Area Metal Albums: The Complete List

3. Metallica, ...And Justice For All
Wherein Metallica pushed its epic ambition to transcendent -- and sometimes exhausting -- lengths. Derided by fans at first for its harsh, gravelly production -- and the virtually inaudible bass from new bassist Jason Newsted, who replaced Cliff Burton after his tragic death -- ... And Justice For All can be a long, difficult listen when taken at once, but it easily contains some of Metallica's best songs. The title track is a nine-minute suite, one of the most progressive pieces of music Metallica ever assembled. "One" would become Metallica's first music video, a war story that introduced MTV audiences to the band's taste for exquisite misery. "Dyers Eve" saw James Hetfield grapple with his difficult childhood in one of this band's darkest and most brutal songs ever. Big, bleak, and imposing, ... And Justice For All was the finale of Metallica's epic thrash period -- and what a fantastic end it was. -- Ian S. Port

2. Metallica, Metallica
Purists might dismiss this one as thrash metal lite, but there can be no minimizing the fact that Metallica's 1991 self-titled blockbuster brought almost all of the band's brutality to a huge new audience -- albeit in shorter, more digestible songs. "Enter Sandman," "Sad But True," and "Wherever I May Roam" might have sacrificed length -- but they gave up nothing in heaviness or speed. And even if "The Unforgiven" and/or "Nothing Else Matters" aren't your thing, they saw Metallica taking more chances than ever before, ensuring that this blowout success was also one of the band's most satisfying long players. -- Ian S. Port

1. Metallica, Master of Puppets
The best Metallica album, the best Bay Area metal album, and very possibly the best metal album, period, Master of Puppets is eight perfect songs in perfect sequence, extending the speedy onslaught of Nor-Cal thrash into huge, multi-part compositions. It saw the peaks of both sides of Metallica's early sound: Pure, speedy mayhem ("Damage, Inc."), and extended, instrumental grace ("Orion"). No one in the Bay Area (and probably anywhere) has done metal better, before or since. -- Ian S. Port

See also
* The Top 20 Greatest San Francisco Musicians
* The Top 15 Most Cocaine-Influenced Albums of All Time

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