What is the Best Sounding Album Ever Made?

We talk a lot about songwriting, tone, melody, and riffs here, but don’t often devote much time to the actual sonics of great albums. Or at least when we do, it’s usually concise (I go by my familiarity with certain engineers’ work as a rubric), because it’s really difficult to talk about production divorced from the actual songs.


So we put members of Exodus, Gorguts, Candiria, Magrudergrind, the Sword, and more, under the gun, and had them explain what their favorite sounding-albums of all time are. Check out their picks below:

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Max is managing editor of Gear Gods.

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  • A couple albums come to mind:
    Converge – Jane Doe
    Isis – Celestial
    The Atomic Bomb Audition – Roots Into The Sea
    I think the common thread here is great drum and bass sounds cementing the mix.
    Non-metal pick: Stars of The Lid – And Their Refinement Of The Decline

  • Opeth: Their albums past 2000
    Tool – 10,000 Days
    Corpsessed – Abysmal Threshhold
    Cynic: Every album
    Bloodbath – The Fathomless Mastery
    Fleshgod Apocalypse: Every album
    Meshuggah: Everything past 1998
    Mastodon: Every album past Remission

    • fleshgod albums sound like shit

  • Thy Art is Murder – Hate
    Everything on that album is perfectly constructed and mixed.

    • This is not true, that album is the demonstration of how bad a producer can work with no bass line, over the top snare sound and medium frequences. I like the song but it sounds really fake, I appreciated more the previous records, more raw but extremly into a “Death Metal” sound

  • that would be either The Great Southern Trendkill or Slaughter of the Soul.

  • Son of Aurelius – Under a Western Sun
    Elder – Lore
    Wrvth – S/T

  • Everything on The Anthropocene Extinction by Cattle Decapitation is absolutely perfect. The mix, the sound of the guitars, everything.

  • That’s not metal material but for me, the first album of Nine Black Alps “Everything is” is just perfect on every single point. But for a metal record I would say Meshuggah’s Chaosphere.

  • The Ocean’s Helio/Anthropocentric have the best sound in metal albums in the last 15 years, maybe The Sun that Never Sets is equal in “awesomeness”

  • Probably no one will agree, but Megadeth’s Endgame is a fucking production masterpiece. Also I love how the last At the Gates album sounds.

  • Non-metal: Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon has hands down my favorite production of any album I’ve ever heard. Everything is so clean but not sterile and everything is just mixed perfectly in a way that everything compliments everything else. Radiohead’s Kid A get an honorable mention for the same reason.

    Metal is a tough one but I’d have to go for either Stag by the Melvins, Mastodon’s Crack the Skye, or any Opeth record since Deliverance/Damnation. All of those records just balance everything so perfectly and have some killer guitar tones to boot.

    • today one guy does the hole Post production mixing etc.! Darkside toke 18 people to engineer until its final stage. i think some of magic have died a little in music making.

  • Death- Human
    Carcass- Heartwork
    Cynic- All of it
    Megadeth- Rust in Peace
    Boris- Feedbacker
    Anything Kurt Ballou does, special mentions to You Fail Me and De Vermis Mysteriis

  • Any of the classic yacht rock albums (early Toto, Ambrosia) would qualify here.

  • Tesseract – Polaris

  • Vallenfyre – Splinters
    At The Gates – Slaughter Of The Soul
    Amiensus – Ascension
    Devin Townsend Project – Addicted

    Also the new Fallujah record will probably be up there

  • I would have to go with either Katatonia – Dead End Kings, Gojira – From Mars To Sirius, or Soilwork – Stabbing The Drama for my choices… not that anybody cares.

    • Stabbing The Drama is one of my favorite albums

    • Agreed. Katatonia makes some great sounding albums… not so much the early stuff though

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  • Anyone else like the production on the Northlane albums?

    • I really like the production on Singularity. Sounds punchy as hell on a decent set of speakers. I wasn’t too keen on the way Node sounded. I found it to be pretty flat and lifeless. That said, it does sound a lot better at higher volumes.

  • Empire by Queensryche has been the gold standard for production for me since it came out. That being said, even though it’s not as good a record as its predecessor, All Hope is Gone by Slipknot is CRUSHING! Best snare sound ever.

  • Animals-Pink Floyd
    Considered Dead-Gorguts
    Dreaming Neon Black-Nevermore

  • I actually got so hang with CANDIRIA once backstage years ago at a show in DC and no kidding, they had Sinead O’Connor in their CD travel pack. Was a little blown away by that. Believe they also had Obituary’s World Demise too.

  • Bathory – Twilight of The Gods – Fucking gigantic. The reverbs on everything sound great, and the kick drum and bass guitar so the low end of the record is just thudding and plodding, and the guitars just roar.

    Trivium – The Crusade – Just a super clear mix where it doesn’t feel super polished because they didn’t drench everything in reverb. Despite being actually very crushed, everything sounds really clear, the guitars have a nice mid-gain bark to them, the drums sound really good. Just a Good Sounding Record.

    Korn – Follow The Leader and Issues – Both mixed by Brendan O’ Brien – The mixing and mastering on these records is fucking masterful. Very dynamic, which makes the syncopated rhythms on a track like “It’s On!” or “Make Me Bad” really pop out. These mixes really center on the drums, which is smart since David Silveria has such great flow.

    Metallica – St. Anger – Fight me. Super thudding kick drum that just pounds through everything, thick sludgy walls of guitars, that pseudo-industrial snare sound that resonates over everything, so great.

    In Flames – Soundtrack to Your Escape. Just a wall of fucking sludge. In Flames from 94-06 always had really crisp musicianship, so they new that they best way to balance that out was by making at least some elements of the recording feel unpolished, and here it’s the way that every instrument stands out by sounding kinda “wrong.” The guitars are too sludgy and grindy for an MDM record, and the drums have that kinda St. Anger-y vibe with the loose snare, and the bass is roaring with distortion.

    Yngwie Malmsteen – Eclipse – Perfect example of why metal records shouldn’t always focus on sounding heavy, the echo-y dreamscapes of this record lovingly emphasize the fantastic, subtle vocals.

    Iron Maiden – Somewhere in Time – Like above, but this time the echo and reverbs give this anthemic sound to the guitars, like these dudes are playing harmonizing leads on top of a mountain or some shit.

    Darkthrone – Panzerfaust – The perfect realization of Fenriz’s analogue fetish, managing a crisp clarity in equal measures with the cold grimness of the guitars.

  • Darkthrone- Transilvanian Hunger

  • I don’t know, I think INDIAN’s Guiltless sounds really good. Ephel Duath’s Pain Necessary to Know is really good, too.

    Kowloon Walled City always sounds fantastic as well.

  • Pandora’s Pinata by the Diablo Swing Orchestra. SO many instruments but they all come through clearly and drums just sound great.

  • Slayer – South of Heaven, Reign In Blood
    Iron Maiden – Anything done by Martin Birch (1981-1989)
    Judas Priest – Stained Class, Screaming For Vengeance, British Steel
    Black Sabbath – First 3 Albums, Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules
    Dio – Holy Diver, Last In Line
    Rainbow – First 3 Albums
    Deep Purple – Machine Head, Fireball

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