If you’re gonna turn a listener into a fan, you’ve gotta convert them instantly. The first track on an album completely sets the pace, and if you can capture someone’s attention with a monster opener, you’ll keep them around until the album’s final moments.

Slayer have always opened their albums with crushing modern classics. “War Ensemble” launching Seasons in the Abyss and South of Heaven leading with its title track are iconic moments in thrash, but “Angel of Death” is the ultimate Slayer opener. The Reign in Blood kickoff is relentless and is often cited as the first “extreme metal” song.

Ozzy Osbourne has always made huge first impressions with Black Sabbath, his solo career and even his private life. Sabbath’s first album kicks off with “Black Sabbath” — arguably their most definitive song and the arrival of heavy metal itself. We also made sure to show some love to Jake E. Lee and his Ozzy Osbourne band introduction, “Bark at the Moon.”

Moving into the 21st century, Mastodon have taken opening tracks in stride, using them to kick off epic stoner tales on Leviathan, Blood Mountain and Crack the Skye. For this list, however, we chose “Oblivion” as the essential Mastodon opener.

Check out our picks for the 15 Greatest Album Openers in Metal History in the Loud List above.

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