This is a fine example of why I stated up front that this list would not be hierarchical. Picking "the ultimate metal album" is an exercise in futility. Like most people with ears and a pulse, I love me some Sabbath, but an all-Iommi diet would leave anyone vitamin deficient. The musical world is replete with bad metal (I'm looking at you, Paul Stanley--yep, I said it, let the fur fly now), but there's also a ton of phenomenal stuff out there that I will listen to till the day I die. Obviously, those are records one never forgets, but I occasionally have to be reminded about others.
In fitting metal fashion, it was a trip to a strip bar where a nice young lady was dancing to "Symphony of Destruction" that caused me to revisit Megadeth's back catalog. That song was from 1992's Countdown to Extinction, which is passable hard rock record, but it was Rust in Peace that held up the best in terms of classic thrash for me. Frontman Dave Mustaine may be a whiney little bitch with a Mega-chip on his shoulder, but the guitar work on this 1990 release is simply unfuckwithable. Opening track "Holy Wars...the Punishment Due" is a masterful bit of composition that even Kirk Hammett could appreciate. Live video of that song is after the jump.