Credit: Superkratos

From Black Sabbath to Motörhead: Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich names the 15 best rock albums of all time

If there’s one man you can guarantee to give you a thumping playlist it’s Metallica’s drummer Lars Ulrich—and that’s just what he’s done with this epic selection of the 15 best heavy rock and metal albums of all time.

The Metallica man brings together a truly satisfying list of the best heavy rock albums of all time for Rolling Stone. From his musical past, Ulrich selects some of the forefathers of heavy metal, he looks to his contemporaries for added gusto and even finds room on the ultimate playlist for some newer records too. We’ve put it all together in one sumptuous playlist.

Classic selections on this playlist include AC/DC’s 1977 classic Let There Be Rock. About which Ulrich tells Rolling Stone: “This is AC/DC’s heaviest record, AC/DC’s densest record, AC/DC’s most energetic record.” He naturally gives nods to Blue Öyster Cult’s On Your Feet or On Your Knees and Motörhead’s Overkill – the latter of which Ulrich said, “I had never heard anything that sounded like that. It blew my head off. And then that kind of energy continued—it was so raw.”

While much of Metallica’s musical milestones are strewn across the decades, it was during the late eighties and early nineties that the band really hit their stride along with the heavy rock genre. During this time, the genre and the fuzz only got larger and larger. As such, Ulrich has picked out some classic LPs for consideration such as Guns N’ Roses opus Appetite for Destruction, Alice in Chains’ Dirt and the little known Warrior Soul’s The Space Age Playboys.

It’s likely not meant to be an insult to the genre of heavy rock but Ulrich doesn’t really offer much of the more modern musings in his list of the best—but he does still doff his cap to one of the 21st centuries best. Ulrich selects System of a Down’s game-changing 2001 record Toxicity, explaining: “It was political, it was crazy, it was kooky, it was energetic, it was incredible, from a songwriting point of view, well-crafted. It was very inspirational on what we did.”

While Rage Against The Machine’s The Battle of Los Angeles may just fall short of that moniker the album is still the pinnacle of rock. “The Battle of Los Angeles just sounds so fucking authentic,” he said. “There’s no filter. It feels so instinctive, impulsive and from the gut. Until that time, a lot of hard-rock records were very laboured over, including our own.”

The playlist is what you might come to expect from Lars Ulrich. The Metallica man picks a plethora of records from across his amazingly long career. While the length of his career is a wondrous thing, the depth of his knowledge and the passion he has for it is what we really enjoyed.

So sit back, and nag those heads away to the 15 best heavy rock albums of all time, as selected by Lars Ulrich.

Lars Ulrich‘s 15 favourite metal and hard rock albums:

  • AC/DC – Let There Be Rock, 1977.
  • Alice in Chains – Dirt, 1992.
  • Black Sabbath – Sabotage, 1975.
  • Blue Öyster Cult – On Your Feet or On Your Knees, 1975.
  • Deep Purple – Made in Japan, 1972.
  • Diamond Head – Lightning to the Nations, 1980.
  • Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction, 1987.
  • Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast, 1982.
  • Judas Priest – Unleashed in the East, 1979.
  • Mercyful Fate – Melissa, 1983.
  • Motörhead – Overkill, 1979.
  • Rage Against the Machine – The Battle of Los Angeles, 1999.
  • System of a Down – Toxicity, 2001.
  • UFO – Strangers in the Night, 1979.
  • Warrior Soul – The Space Age Playboys, 1994.

Stream the playlist, below.

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