Metallica Studio Albums Ranked from Worst to Best

What Is The Best Metallica Album?

Love them or hate them, there is no doubt that Metallica is one of the all-time greats of heavy metal, and with ten studio albums (not including cover albums and live albums), we ask: What is the best album Metallica has ever produced?

Metallica have developed and evolved through a number of musical changes since their famous thrash metal days in the 80s. This has kept the band fresh, and they have gained a host of new fans along their journey.  For many thrash metal lovers, discovering Metallica was the most pivotal moment in their lives, and that truly is a testament to how influential these American rockers have been over the years.

So, after much deliberation, here is the list of Metallica albums ranked from worst to best...

#10. ST. ANGER

This was not Metallica's finest hour as a metal band, and many of their fans disliked St. Anger as soon as it was released. Metallica has always prided themselves in changing their musical styles, but this attempt at being commercially viable backfired spectacularly. Too much snare, and way out in the wrong direction - it's a total mess of an album, but on a positive note, at least it's interesting.


Death Magnetic is actually a decent metal album, and it would probably be a well-respected piece if it was released by any other metal band breaking onto the scene - but with so much quality before it, Metalica were always facing an uphill task with this one. But as a metal album, there's really nothing wrong with it. It's perfectly well-produced, it's thrash-y-ish, and hey, Kirk is soloing again! But that was kind of all there was to it. This album has plenty of energy, but it lacks depth in key areas.


Hardwired... to Self-Destruct is actually a really good metal album, full of energy and thrash, and much like Death Magnetic, it does tick a lot of heavy metal boxes, but it also lacks the spark that made Master Of Puppets and the Black Album such iconic rock records. Although it doesn't stand out a great deal, this is, without doubt, the best Metallica album since the 90s.


Many hardcore Metallica fans will be shocked to see Kill 'Em All ranked so low on this list, because of its historical significance, but for a debut, this is a damn good album. The problem is, it doesn't quite feel like a Metallica album. Not fully, anyway. For all it's rocking qualities, it still lacks in certain areas, most notably Hetfield's not-quite-yet-Hetfield vocals. This album created a great start in the band's legacy, but it was quite easily surpassed countless times.


The 90s was an odd decade for Metallica. They changed their identity both on the stage and in the studios, with a modern, lungy sound that would stir mixed opinions with fans. ReLoad was the second instalment of the 'Load Albums', and many would agree, by far the weaker of the two. For all its weaknesses, we mustn't forget that this album is actually a very diverse piece, with some iconic Metallica tracks on it like 'Fuel', 'The Memory Remains', and 'Low Man's Lyric'.


Following Master Of Puppets was never going to be an easy task, even by Metallica's high standards, so we should give ...And Justice For All a lot of credit, especially as they did it without one of the best bass players of all time (RIP Cliff). Is this the best Metallica album of the lot? Probably not, but it's the heaviest, that's for sure. This album is a huge favourite for many fans, and you could argue that it has one of the greatest metal tracks ever produced on it, in 'One'. But it still doesn't make our top 4...

#4. LOAD

Released during the peak years of the grunge takeover, Load was up against it from the very start. This new Metallica set dreamy tones and slithery leads that could easily have been picked up off Nirvana's cutting room floor. However, this album has always been hugely underrated by critics, and many rock fans seem to forget just how great this record actually is. It's pretty damn good! Tracks like 'Hero Of The Day', 'Bleeding Me', and 'Until It Sleeps', are absolute rock belters. If you delve deep into this record, you'll find it hard to find a bad track on this album.


It wouldn't surprise many if Ride the Lightning was number one on this list, but as it stands, with us anyway, it gets a hugely respectable third place. 'Fight Fire With Fire', 'For Whom the Bell Tolls', and 'Creeping Death', are three of the best Metallica tracks they have ever produced, but based on its status and impact, we believe this is Metallica's third best album.


Has there ever been a better thrash metal album than Master Of Puppets? We don't think so, and when you listen to tracks like 'Master Of Puppets', 'Battery', 'Welcome Home', and 'Orion', it would be hard to disagree with us. This album is a true masterpiece and one that shot Metallica up as the greatest band of their metal genre. This album single-handily set Metallica apart from other thrash metal giants like Slayer and Megadeth.


The idea of a band "selling out" is a dumb, reactionary, and silly concept that discourages growth and experimentation. The Black Album showed the worst side to many Metallica fans, which did this masterpiece a complete injustice. Was this album commercially friendly? Yes, probably. But did this album compromise on the metal aspect of the band? Absolutely NOT! Loaded with a variety of blockbuster hits, this album has to rank as one of the best-produced heavy metal albums of all time. Even fans and critics with generous expectations for this album probably didn't see it going 16x Platinum and becoming one of the best selling albums of the last 30 years. Numbers don't lie, and in our humble opinion, the Black Album was the most relevant and influential Metallica record of the lot.


  1. What a fucking JOKE...the black album #1??? LOAD better than Justice?!? RELOAD better than Kill 'Em All?????? Total bullshit

  2. Ride the Lightning is #1
    Master of Puppets #2
    And Justice For All #3
    Black Album #4
    Kill Em' All #5


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