The history and world of heavy metal is vast, encompassing a great array of styles, moods, subgenres, etc. And like getting into any genre of music for the first time, it can be a little daunting to take in all the art form has to offer.
There are also some stereotypes that may turn folks off from trying to get into metal; some may believe all metal is “angry music,” and some may be hesitant to get into the music if they think people are screaming the whole time.
For folks who aren’t all that aware of the genre, it’s understandable that such barriers and stereotyping may be seen as overwhelming. But say you have some non-metal listening friends in your life and you really want to share your passion for metal with them; perhaps you’re into death and black metal, and you’re thinking of sharing some Cannibal Corpse or Blut Aus Nord with them.
If you feel confident in that, by all means, swing for the fences. That said, we think that the following 10 albums are the best records you should show to your non-metal-listening friends in order to get them interested in the genre. These records each feature their own brand of heaviness and also make for great gateways into the larger world of heavy metal.
Master of Puppets – Metallica
Given the recent mainstream exposure the band has had through Stranger Things, Metallica’s Master of Puppets is a great entry point for someone who wants to get more of an idea of what else the band is capable of making. They are more digestible than a Slayer or Sepultura, while still aggressive in their playing. And among the band’s records, Master of Puppets features a great balance in regard to Metallica’s use of thrash metal and moodier ballads.
Hybrid Theory – Linkin Park
Back in the early 2000s, Linkin Park was a major gateway band for folks who had never tried out metal before; all these years later, they still remain a fantastic gateway act. The unique blend of rap, electronics, rock, and metal that Hybrid Theory displays provides a welcoming invitation of sorts that many different kinds of music listeners may enjoy; if your friends love rap, then a great segway into metal is Linkin Park, where they can appreciate Mike Shinoda‘s bars alongside the band’s heavy instrumentation.
Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) – Slipknot
While many metalheads may be more tempted to share Iowa, we think Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) is the better start for metal newbies. Frankly, because of Vol. 3‘s more mainstream-leaning presentation, it is far relatively easier for a brand-new metalhead to dive into and enjoy. Once your friends are hooked on the catchy melodies and exhilarating instrumentation of Vol. 3, then introduce them to the sonic savagery of Iowa.
Leviathan – Mastodon
Over the years Mastodon has leaned in more on hard rock elements, but we still think that their sludge metal classic is worth showing to newcomers. If your pals are already into hard rock, you can say that Leviathan is just hard rock with a more adventurous and sludgy vibe. Along with the brilliant displays of technicality the members provide throughout the album’s runtime, Leviathan is one of the most epic-sounding records in metal history, and may get your friends itching for similar rushes.
Master of Reality – Black Sabbath
Like Master of Puppets, Master of Reality is an absolute classic and a staple in heavy metal history. Heavy as hell, but not as jarring as say a brutal death metal record, this Black Sabbath album is a great start for those who want to get a taste of metal. The record offers a boatload of epic, pulse-pounding instrumentation that all comes together to exude a great air of theatricality. If you think your friends may need a grandiose start to kick off a new musical obsession, you can’t go wrong with Master of Reality.
Post Human: Survival Horror – Bring Me the Horizon
Among the bands on this list – perhaps other than Metallica – there’s a decent chance your friends have at least heard the name Bring Me the Horizon. When it comes to modern metal, the band has cemented itself as one of the genre’s biggest headliners. The band’s album Post Human: Survival Horror features a great variety of musical styles; if your non-metal-listening friends already like heavy electronic music, then Post Human: Survival Horror may be a great start for them when it comes to their metal journey.
Heartless – Pallbearer
Suggesting a doom metal album for metal newcomers may sound surprising at first, but hear us out. In our personal experience, as long as you aren’t trying to push funeral doom on folks, more gentle and melodic presentations of doom seem to resonate well with metal newbies. A great example of this is Pallbearer’s Heartless, an astounding work that instrumentally and lyrically exudes tremendous feeling. If your buds are already enjoying the likes of Sleep Token, you can present Heartless as the next step forward in their metal adventure.
Sunbather – Deafheaven
Honestly, it might be fair to say that Deafheaven’s Sunbather is the most intense experience noted on this list, purely due to the vocal work. That said, if you find success with other heavy albums noted here, then you should absolutely try sharing Sunbather with your friends. Having recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, Sunbather is a beautiful work of shoegaze-driven black metal that is as emotional and enchanting as it was upon its release.
Celestial Blues – King Woman
Similar to our Pallbearer shout-out, King Woman’s Celestial Blues is an amazing work of doom that’s a perfect metal introduction. Alongside the astoundingly rich atmospheres, mood, and intensity the band provides in their music, Kris Esfandiari‘s voice is utterly captivating (she’s easily one of the best modern vocalists in metal today). Celestial Blues also has an epic presentation to it along the lines of Mastodon’s Leviathan, in this case pulling inspiration from John Milton’s Paradise Lost; so if you have friends who like a literary angle to their music, now you got two records to recommend to them.
White Pony – Deftones
Along with Linkin Park being one of the more easily digestible nu-metal acts, Deftones is another excellent band to recommend to people who want to try heavy music but aren’t ready for overly explosive levels of heavy. In particular, we suggest White Pony; not only is it one of the best Deftones albums ever made, but it also offers a great variety of Deftones’ style and technicality, giving audiences both aggressive metal and dreamy soundscapes.