When Rolling Stone began ranking the 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time, one of the first musicians we consulted was Metallica‘s Lars Ulrich. Not only did he co-write and drum on five of the LPs that made the list – including the Number Two pick, Master of Puppets – he’s been one of metal’s most prominent and outspoken mouthpieces for nearly four decades now. He’s demonstrated his impeccable taste in interviews and on Metallica’s numerous “garage days” releases, on which they’ve covered songs by Diamond Head, Black Sabbath, Motörhead, Mercyful Fate and many other artists who also ultimately made the cut on our list. In short, Ulrich and his bandmates’ taste defined the tastes of generations to come.
The list of metal records he prepared for Rolling Stone represent a wide array of heavy styles, from the intricate arrangements of Iron Maiden to the go-for-the-gut punk spirit of Guns N’ Roses. “For each artist that’s part of my ultimate metal or hard-rock albums, I went for what you would call the definitive moment in their catalogue,” he explains. “And for a lot of these bands, they went through a kind of evolution, a kind of a growth and a lot of them have a lot of great records. So what I picked is a combination of what that album represents from the artist and what impact it had on me.”
Ulrich had such a good time breaking down his favorite records, that he decided to dedicate an upcoming episode of his Apple Music Beats 1 radio show It’s Electric to his list. Tune in this Sunday at 6 p.m. EST to hear the drummer to discuss his picks and play cuts from them, and to hear him interview Rolling Stone’s Kory Grow about how the 100 Greatest Metal Albums list came together. Until then, here are Lars Ulrich’s Top 15 metal and hard rock albums – and his commentary on each – presented in alphabetical order at his request.