There are metal albums out there just the mere sight of which would make a collector drool before haunting their dreams for a week with the image of that record they must own. Metal of all generations and genres is appreciated by today’s collectors, young and old, and rock has always had the ability to transcend age. Even younger musicians are tapping into a century-old technology. Vinyl, however, is still the thing that gets metal fans most excited. Here are some of the rarest and most expensive metal records ever.
What makes these records valuable?
The records that are considered the most valuable are not those that were the most popular, but ones where only a few early pressings were ever released. There are sometimes other factors, of course, such as misprints or miscolorings. Among the records most in demand are those by famous artists before they became big names. The Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen, however, ranks among the most expensive records in any genre, valued at £8,600. Most of its 25,000 copies were destroyed, with an estimated just nine left with the A&M sleeve. When it comes to LP, EP and single pricing, what makes a worthwhile investment largely comes down to the condition of the record and the sleeve. Serious collectors typically only consider a purchase should the record be in either “mint” or “excellent” condition.
Paradoxx, Plan of Attak (1985)
The four-track EP from this Chicago metal band has previously sold from $1,000 to $2,000. Reportedly just 50 copies were picked up from the pressing plant. The label had problems and the copies were either sent out as promos or given to friends, so the EP was never available through retail. Some of the copies came with a lyric sheet. Only a small number are believed to remain, with the value dependent upon the condition of the record.
Katharsis, 666 (2000)
Among the more significant black metal albums from Germany, 666 may not be among the most expensive records on the list (valued at $300-375), but it has an interesting story all the same. The one problem is that Katharsis’ 666 has been bootlegged so much that, while there are supposedly just 200 copies in existence, it appears as though Sombre released more copies before deciding against letting anyone know. That may be impossible to ever confirm, as Marcus Spaller, the head of the label, has passed away. While its rarity factor is in question, it remains a classic album.
Wizard, Future Knights (1984)
Future Knights is the first pressing, Knights of Metal is the second. Both are very difficult to find, and both are very expensive, should you at all be able to find them. There have been a number of represses, which are available at a much fairer price, but you will have to work much harder to find the first two pressings as well as prepare to pay a far higher figure. For the original pressing, it would set you back upwards of $1,800. You would likely be asked to invest somewhere in the $1,200-$1,600 range for the second.
Osculum Infame, Dor-Nu-Fauglith (1997)
This album was supposed to be limited to just 333 hand-numbered copies, but before they were all printed, the owner of the label killed himself. As a result, the last 100 or so were never given their number. To add to the rarity factor, the mother of the late label owner blamed the music for the death of her son and destroyed a large number of copies (estimated to be 70) so there are little more than 200 copies available, and around 30 without a number. The low-numbered and numberless copies are valued higher than the rest. This LP can be found anywhere from $300 to $800 depending on whether it has a number, and, of course, on its condition.
Iron Maiden, Twilight Zone / Wrathchild [brown vinyl] (1981)
For anyone who appreciates Iron Maiden, this is the holy grail of record collecting, mainly because the record is a mispress. As a result of mixing colors at the pressing plant, a select few turned out in a strange light brown hue. They’re almost impossible to come across, although one can occasionally be found on message boards for sale between $1,200 to $5,000. There were only a few that were pressed, and it comes complete with the paper picture sleeve which features the famous Derek Riggs artwork of Eddie.
Mayhem, Deathcrush (1987)
There were only 1,000 copies of this record ever printed. It’s Mayhem’s debut album (well, EP), and there were a number of inserts included. It isn’t the hardest to find record on the list but it certainly comes with a hefty price tag. For a copy in good condition, with inserts included, it would set you back anywhere between $700 and $1,400. The price fluctuates to a large degree with this one.
Whether you’re a seasoned vinyl metal collector or new to record collection, one of the sheer joys of growing your collection is coming across a rare gem. Not that the odds are great, but the next time you’re digging through those crates in your local thrift store and you come across one of these titles, bite their hand off.