Classic is a term used by people in the arts to define the highest standard of works; something that has withstood the test of time, something that has been inserted into the cultural canon. If we’re talking literature, we could use the Iliad or Odyssey as an example, or perhaps something more modern like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. These works undoubtedly shaped their medium since brought into existence. But what about classics in the world of metal specifically? Compared to most art forms, metal is still in its infancy, being somewhere around 40 years old now. Are there really any works that can be universally regarded as groundbreaking and genre-defining?
Starting with the obvious, Black Sabbath‘s early albums have to be considered since they’re widely regarded as the forefathers of metal. What about their contemporaries and bands that came shortly after? Surely Motí¶rhead, Iron Maiden and others deserve consideration. For posterity, let’s just take the landmark works, Overkill and The Number of the Beast respectively. If we include Judas Priest, which of their works should be included? One approach would be the early work, something more landmark for less studied fans, but on the other hand Painkiller is one of the best metal albums of all time and quite a bit more aggressive than the band’s early material, making this a tough decision. The list of bands and albums goes on and on. (more…)