There’s no shortage of world-beating hard rock albums around the world. Whether it’s Black Sabbath on Paranoid, Metallica on Master of Puppets or Guns N Roses on Appetite for Destruction, musicians have taken the genre in every avenue. The muted heaviness of hard rock was fused with Southern groove, sludge, massive arena rock and a bucket full of emotion to create some of the greatest albums of all time.
It takes a particular level of musical genius and star alignment to write a great record, but the bands on this list have done so much more than that. Not content (or far too adept) with writing one great album, they’ve blessed us with multiple plugs and continually push the genre further than ever before. Sometimes these records become platinum selling albums, but often become underrated gems that are criminally overlooked. The fact that these groups can achieve excellence again and again is remarkable.
On this list are insane guitar solos, experimental musicianship, legendary anthems and more – after all, it wouldn’t be hard rock without a lot of attitude.
Pantera is another band on this list that not only has a great streak of three albums, but four. The band dominated the 1990s with their take on pedal-filled groove metal, and the quartet of Phil Anselmo, Vinnie Paul, Rex Brown and Dimebag Darrel will go down in history as one of the greatest of all time.
For the purposes of this list, we’ll pick Vulgar Display of Power (1992), Far Beyond Driven (1994), and The Great Southern Trendkill (1996) as their greatest series of three, but 1990’s Cowboys from Hell is another classic. As each release came Pantera got harder, their riffs got meaner, they played heavier and by the time The Great Southern Trendkill saw their release, the band had a rage like no other. Spitting pure poison on the society around them, Pantera wanted to start a war against The Great Southern Trendkill and crush anyone who disagreed.
This three-disc series saw Pantera fall into the deepest, darkest south, and while people wouldn’t agree on how good Far Beyond Driven was, it was the start of Pantera’s big hit and a foray into the sound they were going to perfect. These records are 1990s metal classics and they shaped the great heavy groove bands of the future (we’re looking at you, Lamb of God).