10 Heavy Metal Double Albums That Make Us Want to Buy a Turntable
This week, one of our most highly anticipated albums of the summer was released: Baroness' Yellow & Green. We were already looking forward to hearing whatever came next from the Georgia rockers after the success of their epic Blue Record in 2009, but we got especially excited when we found out that their latest color-coded recording would be a double album.
It's hard not to get a little tingle down your spine when you discover that an artist you like is putting together a double-disc release. Usually, it signals that the musician or group is smack in the midst of a creative high, recording a multitude of ideas at once. If you're lucky, they might even throw in a theatrical concept, or try out a new sound entirely.
Yellow & Green hits the mark on all counts. It was a recorded over a yearlong break from touring that allowed Baroness to record extensively, foment a cohesive theme and explore new sonic directions. The result is a sprawling (double albums always sprawl) collection of mystical rock songs that owe as much to the Foo Fighters as Black Sabbath. The jury's still out, naturally, but Yellow & Green feels like what Baroness has been stretching toward for years, and it could soon sit comfortably among the pantheon of essential heavy metal double albums.
Which is a pretty short list, admittedly. Few metal bands have the creative fortitude to even attempt a double album, let alone deliver something special. As a salute to the headbangers who dare to dream big, Rocks Off has assembled this list of the best heavy metal double albums in existence. Turn out the lights, slip those headphones on and dive in, but please take care not to rip the gatefold.
10. System of a Down, Mesmerize/Hypnotize
System of a Down deserves some credit for being the only band from the nu-metal era to have the vision (and staying power) to produce a double album. Mesmerize and Hypnotize were released six months apart in 2005, and people liked them: Both records debuted at No. 1.
The double release was something of a new creative direction for the band, with the lion's share of the music and lyrics written by guitarist Daron Malakian. He also split the vocal duties with singer Serj Tankian.
9. KISS, Alive!
A slew of hard rock bands released successful live double albums in the '70s and '80s, but few were potent enough to be remembered as anything better than a cash grab between studio works. KISS' Alive! is most definitely a cash grab, but it was also good enough to finally break the struggling band big.
Collecting live cuts from the group's first three albums, Alive!finally contextualized the KISS schtick in a way that record buyers responded to. It's still the most essential recording they ever made, setting new standards for both live energy on record and generous overdubbing.