This one wasn't close. There were votes for other albums, mostly out of respect or nostalgia I suppose. But this one dominated all others: Slayer's Reign in Blood.
I was 12 when this album came out. This was the year of my boom box. I was still shaping my idea of what heavy metal was. But after the ass kicking and subsequently finding that friend who lived nearby, I was introduced to Metallica. Megadeth. And eventually - Slayer.
I didn't know what to think at first. I could handle Metallica and Megadeth. There were heavy and fast, but still maintained pretty conventional ideas of melody and harmony and song structure. Not Slayer. Not Reign in Blood. It blew the doors off convention. It challenged every other metal band to step up their A game. There was no more pussyfooting around. You either brought the stomp or the metal public was going to put you in the same class as Journey and Bad Company.
To be completely honest, it took me a couple of years before I appreciated Slayer. It was just to unconventional for me then. I had to cut my teeth on Megadeth, Metallica and other, less heavy, heavy metal first. I also, later that year, made a friend at school who was really into punk. So, while I'm discovering all this new metal, I'm learning about all these bands that have come before. But a couple of years worth of Misfits, the Pistols, the Kennydys, GBH, and all the metal I'd been listening to, I was ready for Slayer.
That's what they were to people who'd never heard them: overwhelming. And this album, 20 years later, is still overwhelming. There may be faster bands. There may be heavier bands. There may be "better" bands. But none of them have made an album that is so much better than the sum of its parts like Reign in Blood.
Thanks to everyone who participated. Later today, I will have another, different kind of poll. We're nearing the end of Metal week, so the best is yet to come!