Metal Albums That Were 20 Years Ahead Of Their Time


“I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet… but your kids are gonna love it.”

Being ahead of your time is a blessing and a curse. It’s like being a loser in high school only to become a legend damn near on your deathbed. Still, these bands have shaped metal in ways only time travelers could, and we thank them for their immeasurable contributions.

Check out these albums that were 20 years (or more) ahead of their time.

How many genres did experimental ’60s band Cromagnon accidentally invent with this wild acid trip? From their sole album, Orgasm, Cromagnon put proto-black metal shrieks on top of pounding drums and harsh bagpipes. “Caledonia” is not just a 20-year precursor to black metal, but of the ’80s noise and industrial metal scenes as well.

Doom and stoner doom experienced an unforgettable heyday in the ’90s and early 2000s, but the sound was born in the early ’70s thanks to Tony Fucking Iommi. Black Sabbath‘s Master of Reality has many moods, but tracks like “Into the Void” and “Lord of This World” were ferociously ahead of their time… so much that critics used to call this style “downer rock.”

Another album that proves the British are time travelers, King Crimson‘s unapologetically weird Larks’ Tongues in Aspic boasts one of the first examples of avant-garde metal. The riffing style found on this album directly influenced the Dream Theater school of prog metal, the Dillinger Escape Plan‘s extreme free jazz, or even the instrumental style in tech death — all which began to take form 20 years after Larks’ Tongues.

No worries if you’re unfamiliar with Avenger. The ’80s heavy metal act came, rocked, and went just like a thousand other bands of the age… but the band was 20 years ahead of its time with one little guitar part. In 1985, Avenger wrote the metalcore riff. You know… the one every metalcore band used in the 2000s? Check it out below.

One of the most “ahead of their time” bands ever, Bathory essentially penned the blueprint for viking metal. So much folk-driven, war-inspired and viking-themed metal can be traced back to Bathory‘s 1988 album, Blood Fire Death. And what album came out exactly 20 years later? Amon Amarth‘s Twilight of the Thunder God.

Cynic were hated then so bands like Between the Buried and Me could be loved now. Releasing an album as beautiful as Focus in the ’90s death metal scene put a massive target on Cynic‘s back. The negative reception put the band into hibernation, and they only thawed out in the late 2000s when the style of metal they pioneered finally became popular. What a masterpiece.

Forget 20 years ahead of their time… Meshuggah were 30 years ahead. When it came to predicting the future of heavy music, Destroy Erase Improve is as pivotal as Judas Priest‘s Sad Wings of Destiny. Every modern metal act has aped Meshuggah. Every last one of them. The off-beat rhythms… the utterly brutal guitar tones and production… this was the takeoff point for djent.

Runhild Gammelsæter will forever be a pioneer for women in extreme metal. In the mid-’90s, Thorr’s Hammer got together for like two months, laid down some of the heaviest shit ever, and promptly packed their bags. Though Angela Gossow would become metal’s queen a few years later, even the Arch Enemy vocalist didn’t dare try gutturals as low and brutal as Runhild‘s. It took nearly 20 years for bands like Cerebral Bore and Abnormality to reach Runhild’s depths, and now, Jinjer is one of metal’s biggest bands. Hail Runhild.

It’s tough to call Calculating Infinity ahead of its time, because it’s a fucking unicorn album. 25 years later and nothing like this has been made since. Sure, there’s some awesome bands like Car Bomb, the Locust or Seeyouspacecowboy that go deep into the mathcore genre, but nothing like the Dillinger Escape Plan. Only time will tell exactly how ahead of its time this album really is.

Remember when we said every modern metal band has aped Meshuggah? Here’s the other band that birthed the style of today. When Gojira put out From Mars to Sirius, underground metal was split between metalcore and tech death. While the deathcore scene was beginning to build, some weird French band went all-in on pummeling rhythms, progressive structures, zero guitar solos and near-operatic levels of sonic drama. It was way before its time and certainly didn’t fit into any trend. Now, the Gojira playbook is one of the most studied in metal.

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