First Blood: 20 Classic Debut Albums In Heavy Metal And Hard Rock History

  • exodus

    [Photo: Combat Records]

  • montrose

    [Photo: Warner Bros. Records]

  • merciful-fate

    [Photo: Megaforce Records]

  • celtic-frost

    [Photo: Metal Blade Records]

  • aerosmith

    [Photo:Columbia Records]

  • anthrax

    [Photo: Megaforce Records]

  • kiss

    [Photo: Casablanca Records]

  • rainbow

    [Photo: Polydor Records]

  • slayer_show_no_mercy_fix

    Getty Images

    [Photo: Metal Blade Records]

  • ac-dc

    [Photo: Albert Productions]

  • motley-crue

    [Photo: Elektra Records]

  • motorhead

    [Photo: Chiswick Records]

  • ozzy-osbourne

    [Photo: Jet Records]

  • dio

    [Photo: Warner Bros. Records]

  • led-zeppelin

    [Photo: Atlantic Records]

  • black-sabbath

    [Photo: Vertigo Records]

  • metallica_ali_fix_may

    Getty Images
    [Photo: MegaForce Records]

  • van-halen

    [Photo: Warner Bros. Records]

  • iron-maiden

    [Photo: EMI]

  • guns-n-roses

    [Photo: Geffen Records]

Where would we be without the number one? One is the beginning and the final destination, the ultimate, the pinnacle and the symbol for wholeness and unity. It’s no wonder then that we pay so much attention in music to an artist’s first album. It is the start of their career, their introduction to the world, and where first impressions are made. As the saying goes, a band has their whole lives to make their first album (and, unfortunately, six months to make their second). Hard rock and heavy metal is full of important, groundbreaking debut albums. Whether it be the seminal first steps of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin or the game-changing stylistic breakthroughs of Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Metallica. In truth, sometimes a band’s first record isn’t their best. Often times, they’re recorded too soon or before the band had developed their own unique, as in the case of Judas Priest or Deep Purple, thus their absence from this list. But it being the first of the month we wanted to turn our attention to 20 of the greatest, most influential and classic hard rock and heavy metal albums of all time. Check out our picks and keep your eyes peeled for the great debut albums of the future, because as these records show us, just when you think you’ve heard it all, someone new comes along and blows your mind with a brand new sound.

Hear Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider and That Metal Show host Eddie Trunk discuss their first impressions of hearing Metallica’s historic debut album Kill ’Em All.