March is a good month if you're a fan of heavy metal music as Amazon.com has once again started its “March is Metal” promotional sale. Hundreds of mp3 albums by metal bands of all stripes are priced at $5.99. It's a great chance to catch up on new releases by rising stars like Deafheaven and Amon Amarth, but it's also an opportunity to fill your metal back catalog with some essential classics to round out your collection. Here are our picks for 5 genre classics that you should snatch up while they're on discount.
Dimmu Borgir- “Abrahadabra”
Norwegian rockers Dimmu Borgir have, more than any other bands, successfully married the onslaught of black metal with the bombast of Wagner-esque symphonic music. While Dimmu Borgir's best album, “Death Cult Armageddon”, is sadly not on the March is Metal sale, their most recent album, 2010's “Abrahadabra” is considered by many to be the second best album since they began moving in the symphonic black metal direction. Standout tracks include “Chess with the Abyss” and “The Demiurge Molecule.”
Ozzy Osbourne- “Tribute”
The only non-studio album on this list, Ozzy Osbourne's live “Tribute” album is arguably the best of his solo career. Guitarist Randy Rhoads, who died in 1982. Rhoads had impressed with his technical wizardry on early Osbourne solo albums, but it was in a live setting that you truly got to see Rhoads' brilliance. Since few metal fans got to see Rhoads live during his all too brief period performing with Ozzy, “Tribute” is an excellent opportunity for fans to hear Rhoads' jaw dropping solos for the first time.
Slayer- “Reign in Blood”
Considered one of the “Big 4” bands that helped create the thrash metal genre, Slayer has remained the most committed to the genre of those bands. While Metallica, Anthrax, and Megadeth have all experimented with other genres and styles to mixed success, Slayer has continued to shred at maximum volume to this day. While fans will argue endlessly whether “Reign in Blood” or “Seasons in the Abyss” are Slayer's best album, it's “Reign in Blood” that stands out as the band's breakthrough. Their first collaboration with producer Rick Rubin, standout tracks like “Raining Blood” and “Angel of Death” make “Reign in Blood” a must own for any serious metal fan.
Opeth- “Blackwater Park”
Swedish progressive outfit Opeth has been pushing genre boundaries since their formation in 1990. Nowhere is their experimentation more apparent and successful than on their 2001 classic “Blackwater Park.” Not content to blend black metal, symphonic rock, and progressive metal as many have done, Opeth also flirts with subtle piano intros and even some Middle Eastern musical influences. Standout tracks include “Dirge for November” and “The Drapery Falls.”
Celtic Frost- “Into the Pandemonium”
One of the most influential and trailblazing bands in the extreme metal genre, Celtic Frost was also one of its most experimental. Many of the albums on this list likely wouldn't exist without Celtic Frost's “Into the Pandemonium”, which saw Thomas Gabriel Warrior and crew playing with unusual covers, industrial and electronic genre influences, and non-traditional songwriting for a black metal outfit. But it was “Tristesses de la Lune” that has most influenced future metal acts. With the song, Celtic Frost became one of the first to bring classical and operatic female vocals into the extreme metal realm. Other standout tracks include “Inner Sanctum” and “Babylon Fell.”