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Metallica Album Covers Ranked



Metal is a genre filled with some of the coolest, and least cool album covers of all-time. Sometimes there’s a really fine line between the two. But thrash gods Metallica have mostly skirted the debacles that have ensnared their metal brethren (see here, and here, and here).

In fact, they probably rank pretty high on the list with some pretty badass and iconic album covers. While they don’t have an instantly recognizable mascot like Iron Maiden’s Eddie or Megadeth’s Vic Rattlehead, they have some pretty good artistic sensibilities when it comes to their album art.

Here’s Joe’s ranking of the covers of their 12 studio albums, plus Garage Inc., plus the two S&M albums.

15. S&M 2

If this is your worst, than you’re probably in the clear. It’s a little too photoshopped looking. You’re Metallica, you have the money, just blow up a cello and take some pictures. Don’t fake it.

14. Hardwired to Self Destruct

The Metallica chimera is a cool concept but it would probably work much better with motion. It looks a little too photoshopped. Plenty creepy though.

13. S&M

James Hetfield’s crotch as your focal point wasn’t a great decision for the cover of Metallica’s live symphony collab… or maybe it was revenge for Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett choosing the covers of Load and Reload.

13. 72 Seasons

It’s just too damn yellow.

11. Garage Inc.

Oh, I get it. They’re mechanics. Cuz of the title. It kind of looks like Jason Newsted’s about to walk off the job. Foreshadowing much?

10. Death Magnetic

Kind of cool. Kind of too computer graphic-y. Especially that coffin. Production values, guys. You’re rich as hell. You can afford a real coffin.

9. Reload

What’s more metal than a mix of piss and the blood of a bovine?

7. Load

No wait…. What’s more metal than a concoction of semen and bovine blood pressed between two panes of plexiglass?

10. Lulu

No wait! What’s more metal than the torso and head of a female mannequin with a font that looks like smeared blood.

6. Kill ’em All

You got the classic Metallica logotype, a snapshot of what looks like a murder and a title that screams “we’re dangerous”. It looks very 1980’s horror movie poster.

It’s hard not to lament what could have been, however, since the band wanted to call the album “Metal Up Your Ass“. The concept album art is just as good as you’d hope.

5. St. Anger

Work entitled “the restraining of an Elektra rep after listening to the final mix of St. Anger”.

4. Metallica (Black Album)

It’s hard to get much more black than Metallica’s self titled. Other than the embossed Gadsden “Don’t Tread on Me” snake and the Metallica logo. If they tried this today, they’d probably get a lot more shit for it, but back in the 90s, Metallica were coming off such a hot streak of thrash classics that they could pull it off.

3. And Justice for All

Pretty on the nose. Lady liberty being pulled down, money spilling from her scales. I’m guessing Metallica were at odds with the idea of an unbiased judiciary. Not loving the debossed green Metallica as much.

2. Ride the Lightning

Is this their most “metal” looking album cover? You get the classic Metallica logo in 3D with a cool glow effect. And lightning. And an electric chair! Hell yeah.

1. Master of Puppets

Totally badass and metal, yet also makes you think. The blood red hands, the wires, the lines of crosses. It’s epic and harrowing and also has a valid political point.

Well that’s it. That’s Joe’s ranking of the best Metallica album covers. If you disagree, you’re wrong. But you can be wrong in the comments with your own list if you desire.

And while Metallica week has sadly ended here on Tastes Like Music, you can watch our video ranking of the best Metallica albums and songs and get a peek backstage in our St. Anger-like side 3.

Subscribe to our channel too. Seriously.

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