See also: Top 20 L.A. Metal Albums: 20 – 11

Top 20 Greatest L.A. Punk Albums

The Ten Most Unreadable Metal Band Logos

10. Slayer

Seasons in the Abyss (1990)

Seasons in the Abyss is nothing fancy, just pure, sore-neck, eardrum-stripping metal. Full of brutal drum barrages, massive caliber guitar assaults and shredding solos, the work is unlike standard-issue thrash in that it shows the full theater spectrum of the genre, whether charging at breakneck speed or slogging through sonic minefields. Here Slayer fine-tunes the standard they set with Reign in Blood. But the biggest difference with Seasons is that a socially conscious anger emerges through Rick Rubin's clean and clear production that wasn't there before — further buttressing their attack on post-Reagan sonic banality. –Paul T. Bradley

9. Megadeth

Peace Sells…But Who's Buying? (1986)

Megadeth had released their debut album Killing Is My Business…and Business Is Good one year prior, but Peace Sells showed the metal community that Dave Mustaine was for real. The sound of the band is much more refined here, but Mustaine's shifting his lyrical focus to politics and current events gives the proceedings a more powerful weight. Oh, and it's impossible not to sing along with the title track's chorus. –Jason Roche

8.Avenged Sevenfold

Waking The Fallen (2003)

Before they got obsessed with trying to be the next Guns N' Roses, Avenged Sevenfold were a damn fine metalcore band. Their second album Waking The Fallen saw them move from pure metalcore into something more artistically ambitious. Vocalist M. Shadows' transitions between harsh screamed vocals and melodic clean crooning were done with a greater sense of care than other metalcore bands of the time. Guitarist Synyster Gates, meanwhile, has the best work of his career on tracks like “Eternal Rest” and “Second Heartbeat.” –Jason Roche

7. W.A.S.P.

W.A.S.P. (1984)

Only W.A.S.P. could pull off a fake Satanist spectacular like their self-titled debut and keep it shelf stable for 30 years. Though cut from the same cloth as other glam / farce metal acts, Blackie Lawless and his rotating cast of misfits somehow always did things grimier — with assless chaps and stage antics like live S&M and meat-tossing. The album serves as a perfect gnarly ear-invasion. Tracks like “School Daze” and the once-banned “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)” are as delightful to black-clad metal minions as they are horrifying to a generation of pentagram-fearing soccer moms. –Paul T. Bradley

6. Fear Factory

Demanufacture (1995)

Industrial Metal outfit Fear Factory have sold over a million copies of their albums, including 1995's powerful Demanufacture, considered by many to be a classic. A concept work in which they took on more of an electronic influence than previously — and inspired by The Terminator — it includes memorable tracks like “Zero Signal” which was featured in the movie Mortal Kombat. Rarely do concept albums hold up well, but the blazing drums, lead weighted guitars, and the sometimes aggressive, sometimes clean vocals drive the Demanufacture's theme of discouraged man vs. cruel machine. –Diamond Bodine-Fischer

5. Saint Vitus

Born Too Late (1986)

While other metal and hardcore bands of the early-'80s were focused on pure speed and aggression, Saint Vitus slowed their riffs to a snail's-pace on Born Too Late. That crawl provided the perfect backdrop for the world-weary-beyond-his-years vocals of Scott “Wino” Weinrich. The contemplative lyrics of songs like “Dying Inside” also provided a stark contrast to the many bands lashing out at authority at the time. If other bands were cocaine, this was heroin. –Jason Roche

See also: Saint Vitus: Addiction Still Fuels Their Fire

4. Tool

Aenima (1996)

A palimpsest of words, musical notions and off-beats, Aenima is the product of Tool furiously cutting apart the portrait of a progressive metal album and decoupaging it to the wall of an asylum. As a perfectly executed soundscape for introspective philosophical frustration, it comes as no surprise that Tool dedicated it to late anti-corporate comic Bill Hicks — whose voice graces the closing track. Decades from now, this will be the official soundtrack to whatever city sits on Arizona Bay, the body of water lenticularly inscribed on the cover. It's what Hicks envisioned will remain when Southern California sinks into the Pacific. –Paul T. Bradley

3. System of A Down

Toxicity (2001)

System Of A Down's Toxicity was born into a world reeling from smoldering, decimated buildings and frightening uncertainty. Released September 4, 2001, somehow SOAD managed to make the soundtrack for the crippling fear that would come in the wake of 9/11, and was the top album in the country that fateful Tuesday. Why listen to Enya or U2 to soothe your raw senses, when you could get righteously angry all over again with “Chop Suey!” and “Jet Pilot,” with paranoia dripping from the jewel case. Lyrically lead singer Serj Tankian was all over the place — as would become custom — but the pieces fit the time. Remorse, loss, dark skies, “flying over the great bay…” The album was originally meant to be a commentary on Hollywood scum glamor (check the cover art) but it ended up being much more, and is now hailed as a modern classic. –Craig Hlavaty

See also: It's the End of the World as Serj Tankian Knows It, and the System of a Down Frontman Feels Fine

2. Megadeth –

Rust in Peace (1990)

For Megadeth, Rust in Peace was an album of firsts: the first time the band had recorded sober, the first work with virtuosic guitarist Marty Friedman, and the first time a producer (Mike Clink) made it through the whole process without being fired. Stability proved beneficial to Dave Mustaine's songwriting. From the blistering opening riffs of “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” to the final note of the title track, Rust in Peace delivers Megadeth's finest moments. It's not just one of L.A.'s best metal albums, it's one of the best metal albums ever crafted. –Linda Leseman

See also: Dave Mustaine's Advice for Starving Women in Africa: “Put a Plug in It”

1. Slayer

Reign In Blood (1986)

Surprised? You shouldn't be. From the moment Tom Araya screams on album-opener “Angel of Death,” you're in for an experience that will leave you pummeled and bruised — and continually pressing the repeat button. Reign In Blood features 29 minutes of pure thrash mayhem, without even a hint of a lull. Slayer has made some great albums since this one, but it will forever be the benchmark against which all other metal works are measured. –Jason Roche

Follow us on Twitter @LAWeeklyMusic, and like us at LAWeeklyMusic.

Top 20 Greatest L.A. Punk Albums

Top Ten Metal Albums for People Who Don't Know Shit About Metal

The 20 Worst Hipster Bands

The Ten Most Unreadable Metal Band Logos

Top Ten Los Angeles Metal Albums of 2011

The Top Five Metal Guitarists Under The Age of 30

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.