10 Heavy Metal Double Albums That Make Us Want to Buy a Turntable

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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.

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8 comments
Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg topcommenter

Someone NEEDS to define METAL  !

You are CLUELESS ........

Nwm2112
Nwm2112

Where is heaven and hell? If you like a little keyboard in your metal,deep purple's machine head. Maybe it's because i'm 54 and like the older stuff, I agree with 4 of the albums.

Nathan Smith
Nathan Smith

I tried not to get caught up playing the "What Isn't Metal" game. KISS, Today is the Day, GNR, and Zeppelin have all been tagged as "not metal" plenty of times, but I thought they were all close enough to count. NIN and Lou Reed are definitely the farthest outliers from the family tree on this list, but those albums immediately came to mind when I was thinking of good ones. I liked them better than some others I thought of, so I included 'em.

Daniel Mee
Daniel Mee

I would like to hear an explanation of how Nine Inch Nails and Metal Machine Music count as "heavy metal." Metal Machine Music isn't even a rock record. Thumbs up on Today Is The Day though.

Cnoterox
Cnoterox

 Fair point. But we are talking about heavy metal still right? You said yourself that it was a short list. I think NIN and Lou Reed are stretching the parameters of heavy metal

TheOSD
TheOSD

Guns N' Roses, Use Your Illusion I & II? Please

Nathan Smith
Nathan Smith

Sorry about the UFO blue balls (serious. heh). Strangers in the Night could have definitely made this list, but I figured I included enough live albums as it is. Thought the studio double albums would be more interesting, since that's what Baroness has done.

Cnoterox
Cnoterox

I kept scrolling through this, the tension building as I looked for UFO's "Strangers in the Night," and as I got to the last page I actually was naive enough to think it was going to be #1. Then I remembered it was the Houston Press, so I bashed myself for even considering a piece to be serious.

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