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11 Heaviest Metal Albums That Went Multi-Platinum

The most successful heavy albums of all time

Top Selling

Only a handful of metal albums have gone gold (500,000 copies sold) in the United States, let alone multi-platinum (two million or more copies sold). These are the bands who've done it — some with the heaviest album of their career.

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Though all these acts are legendary in their own right, some (Judas Priest) only have one multi-platinum album to their name, while others (Metallica) have released more multi-platinum albums than non-multi-platinum albums. For this list, we limited entries to one album per band and tried to select the heaviest multi-platinum album for each, with a little wiggle room for overwhelming success or influence. You'll see what we mean.

Judas Priest – Screaming for Vengeance (2x Platinum)

Judas Priest’s eighth studio album is the band’s only record that went multi-platinum in the United States. Neck-and-neck with British Steel as Priest’s most celebrated album, and next to Defenders of the Faith as their most rip-roaring, Screaming for Vengeance is Exhibit A for why Judas Priest remains the high watermark for pure heavy metal. 

Megadeth – Countdown to Extinction (2x Platinum)

The punishing, riff-heavy Countdown to Extinction is Megadeth’s best-selling album, and it’s an absolute thrash beatdown from the band’s most iconic lineup. The perfection of the album’s relative simplicity shines through on “Symphony of Destruction” and “Sweating Bullets,” while its closing track, “Ashes in Your Mouth” is a ferociously heavy shred-beast of fury.

Pantera – Vulgar Display of Power (2x Platinum)

Far Beyond Driven may be the heaviest album to ever go platinum, but Vulgar Display of Power could be the heaviest to ever go multi-platinum. It’s the definitive metal record of the 1990s, perfect in its blend of raw power, expert musicianship, locked-in tightness, emotional mastery and bloody-knuckled aggression. Only a band like Pantera could go from “Fucking Hostile” straight into “This Love.”

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Slipknot – Slipknot (2x Platinum)

If Vulgar Display of Power isn’t the heaviest multi-platinum album, then Slipknot’s self-titled record certainly is. When Slipknot broke, they were the rabid dogs of nü-metal, blending the groove-heavy genre with the absolute violence and devastation of death metal. They became their own beast, pioneering an audio sickness that was as unsettling as it was catchy. 

Black Sabbath – Master of Reality (2x Platinum)

Many metal aficionados will agree that Black Sabbath's Master of Reality was the true beginning of doom metal, so it’s unbelievable to think the album has racked up over two million sales in the U.S. Tony Iommi’s tone alone is enough to catapult Master of Reality into one the heaviest albums ever, and his riff writing on “Into the Void” inspired hundreds if not thousands of pot-smoking guitar occultists. We’re truly not worthy.

Tool – Lateralus (3x Platinum)

Tool’s cult classic Lateralus was propelled into the mainstream thanks to the bizarre popularity of “Schism,” but the lead single of Lateralus only scratches the surface of this album’s greatness. With godlike cuts like “The Grudge,” “Parabol/Parabola” and “Lateralus,” Tool’s third album is like a cheat code for the listener’s mental well-being. Existential and progressive as fuck, Lateralus is therapy for the soul.

Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard of Ozz (5x Platinum)

Five million copies sold in the U.S — even more than Black Sabbath’s Paranoid at four million copies. It’s the absolute prodigious genius of Randy Rhoads, on full display in tracks like “Crazy Train” and “Mr. Crowley” that brought Ozzy Osbourne to new heights, leading to the greatest solo career in metal history. Blizzard of Ozz is a timeless work — a capstone to the golden age of heavy metal.

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Korn – Follow the Leader (5x Platinum)

Korn was everywhere in the late ‘90s, and Follow the Leader was their absolute commercial peak. This may be the most emotionally tumultuous album to ever hit the five-million mark, with an unraveling Jonathan Davis spilling his soul into cuts like “Freak on a Leash” and “Seed.” Follow the Leader is uncomfortably dark even when it tries to be fun, and it touches on multiple taboos that make the album’s success absolutely shocking in retrospect. 

System of a Down – Toxicity (6x Platinum)

When nü-metal was widely lambasted for its shallow and jockish nature, in came System of a Down with one of the most intelligent, creative and forward-thinking metal albums to ever hit the mainstream. Toxicity is, frankly, a perfect album. No bad tracks, no dull moments, zero filler. It holds up better than just about any nü-metal album ever released, thanks to iconic cuts like “Toxicity,” “Aerials” and the unfuckwithable “Chop Suey!”

Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory (12x Platinum)

Hybrid Theory was a perfect storm of genre-bending that influenced countless artists for decades to come. It may feature the most aggressive vocals to ever grace a diamond-selling album, and it remains the best-selling hard rock or metal album of the 21st century. One could argue that only Rage Against the Machine has ever walked the genre-fluid tightrope better than Linkin Park, but Linkin Park’s monumental success confirms the band as a generational talent. 

Metallica – Metallica (16x Platinum)

Metallica’s iconic self-titled "Black Album" has sold over 16 million copies in the United States, with worldwide sales officially crossing the 20 million mark and possibly even the 30 million mark. Though not quite as heavy as …And Justice for All (8x Platinum), Metallica is by far and away the most successful metal album of all time, blending take-no-prisoners ‘80s thrash with the alt-rock uprising of the early 1990s. Boasting tracks like “Enter Sandman” and “Sad but True,” the Black Album is the unkillable beast of metal, and it’s spent 10 full years on the Billboard 200 chart. 

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