Thursday, 24 December 2009

Music: All-Time Best Selling Heavy Metal Albums and CDs


Also check out the 50 Best Heavy Metal Albums of All Time, as selected by heavy metal fans.

The list below is a comprehensive summary of the all-time best selling heavy metal albums. The data was mainly derived from RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) web-site, and therefore generally reflects US-based sales. For data on the all-time best-selling heavy metal bands, the total heavy metal album sales per band are summarized here.

All studio albums (including the more noteworthy EPs) by heavy metal bands that have been certified by the RIAA as Platinum (1 million and over in sales) are included. Compilations and live albums, which generally include little or no original material, are excluded.

There is no end to the arguments about what constitutes heavy metal. This list is intended to broadly define the genre, and in addition to traditional metal bands, includes artists mainly active in the alt-metal, nu-metal, prog-metal and industrial metal genres, as well as artists who straddle the metal/hard rock and metal/grunge sounds.

The borderline between metal and non-metal needs to be drawn somewhere. To help define this line as far as this list is concerned, the following bands were not considered metal: Bad Company, The Black Crowes, Boston, Cheap Trick, Foreigner, Free, Heart, Journey, Meat Loaf, Pearl Jam, Queen, Red Hot Chili Peppers, REO Speedwagon, Rolling Stones, Santana, Sex Pistols, Status Quo.

Please let me know if any significant heavy metal bands or albums have been missed, and I'll edit and update the list as needed.

The All-Time Best Selling Heavy Metal Albums

1. Led Zeppelin (IV), by Led Zeppelin (1971): 23 Million
2. Back In Black, by AC/DC (1980): 22 Million
3. Appetite For Destruction, by Guns N' Roses (1987): 18 Million
4. Physical Graffiti, by Led Zeppelin (1975): 16 Million
5. Metallica, by Metallica (1991): 15 Million

12 Million
Led Zeppelin II, by Led Zeppelin (1969)
Slippery When Wet, by Bon Jovi (1986)
Hysteria, by Def Leppard (1987)

11 Million
Houses Of The Holy, by Led Zeppelin (1973)

10 Million:
Pyromania, by Def Leppard (1983)
Led Zeppelin, by Led Zeppelin (1969)
Hybrid Theory, by Linkin Park (2000)
Nevermind, by Nirvana (1991)
Van Halen, by Van Halen (1978)
1984, by Van Halen (1984)
Eliminator, by ZZ Top (1983)

8 Million:
Toys In The Attic, by Aerosmith (1975)
...And Justice For All, by Metallica (1988)
Whitesnake, by Whitesnake (1987)

7 Million:
Highway To Hell, by AC/DC (1979)
Get A Grip, by Aerosmith (1993)
Pump, by Aerosmith (1989)
New Jersey, by Bon Jovi (1988)
Use Your Illusion I, by Guns N' Roses (1991)
Use Your Illusion II, by Guns N' Roses (1991)
Significant Other, by Limp Bizkit (1999)

6 Million:
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, by AC/DC (1976)
Led Zeppelin III, by Led Zeppelin (1970)
In Through The Out Door, by Led Zeppelin (1979)
Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavoured Water, by Limp Bizkit (2000)
Master Of Puppets, by Metallica (1986)
Dr. Feelgood, by Motley Cue (1989)
Metal Health, by Quiet Riot (1983)
5150, by Van Halen (1986)

5 Million: A to M
The Razors Edge, by AC/DC (1990)
Who Made Who, by AC/DC (1986)
Permanent Vacation, by Aerosmith (1987)
G 'N R Lies, by Guns N' Roses (1988)
Follow The Leader, by Korn (1998)
Ride The Lightning, by Metallica (1984)
Load, by Metallica (1996)
Garage, Inc., by Metallica (1998)

5 Million: N to Z
In Utero, by Nirvana (1993)
Open Up And Say...Ahh!, by Poison (1988)
Skid Row, by Skid Row (1989)
Superunknown, by Soundgarden (1994)
Break The Cycle, by Staind (2001)
Van Halen II, by Van Halen (1979)
Afterburner, by ZZ Top (1985)

4 Million: A to M
For Those About To Rock, by AC/DC (1981)
Dirt, by Alice In Chains (1992)
Paranoid, by Black Sabbath (1970)
Godsmack, by Godsmack (1998)
Are You Experienced?, by The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1967)
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, by Iron Butterfly (1968)
Shout At The Devil, by Motley Crue (1983)
Theatre Of Pain, by Motley Crue (1985)
Girls, Girls, Girls, by Motley Crue (1987)

4 Million: N to Z
The Downward Spiral, by Nine Inch Nails (1994)
Blizzard Of Oz, by Ozzy Osbourne (1980)
No More Tears, by Ozzy Osbourne (1991)
Moving Pictures, by Rush (1981)
Diver Down, by Van Halen (1982)
OU812, by Van Halen (1988)
Slip Of The Tongue, by Whitesnake (1989)

3 Million: A to M
High Voltage, by AC/DC (1976)
Get Your Wings, by Aerosmith (1974)
Audioslave, by Audioslave (2002)
Night Songs, by Cinderella (1986)
Long Cold Winter, by Cinderella (1988)
Adrenalize, by Def Leppard (1992)
The Final Countdown, by Europe (1986)
Issues, by Korn (1999)
Presence, by Led Zeppelin (1976)
Kill'Em All, by Metallica (1983)
Reload, by Metallica (1997)

3 Million: N to Q
Pretty Hate Machine, by Nine Inch Nails (1989)
Cat Scratch Fever, by Ted Nugent (1977)
Diary Of A Madman, by Ozzy Osbourne (1981)
Bark At The Moon, by Ozzy Osbourne (1983)
Infest, by Papa Roach (2000)
Satellite, by P.O.D. (2001)
Look What The Cat Dragged In, by Poison (1986)
Flesh And Blood, by Poison (1990)
Come Clean, by Puddle Of Mudd (2001)
Empire, by Queensryche (1990)

3 Million: R to Z
Rage Against The Machine, by Rage Against The Machine (1992)
Evil Empire, by Rage Against The Machine (1996)
Out Of The Cellar, by Ratt (1984)
2112, by Rush (1976)
Love At First Sting, by Scorpions (1984)
Toxicity, by System Of A Down (2001)
Aenima, by Tool (1996)
Stay Hungry, by Twisted Sister (1984)
Women And Children First, by Van Halen (1980)
For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, by Van Halen (1991)
Balance, by Van Halen (1995)

2 Million: A to B
Let There Be Rock, by AC/DC (1977)
Black Ice, by AC/DC (2008)
Ballbreaker, by AC/DC (1995)
Aerosmith, by Aerosmith (1973)
Draw The Line, by Aerosmith (1977)
Nine Lives, by Aerosmith (1997)
Facelift, by Alice In Chains (1990)
Jar Of Flies, by Alice In Chains (1994)
Alice In Chains, by Alice In Chains (1995)
Master of Reality, by Black Sabbath (1971)
Bon Jovi, by Bon Jovi (1984)
Keep The Faith, by Bon Jovi (1992)
Crush, by Bon Jovi (2000)

2 Million: C to L
Machine Head, by Deep Purple (1972)
High 'N' Dry, by Def Leppard (1981)
Awake, by Godsmack (2000)
Electric Ladyland, by The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1968)
Ritual De Lo Habitual, by Jane's Addiction (1990)
Screaming For Vengeance, by Judas Priest (1982)
Korn, by Korn (1994)
Life Is Peachy, by Korn (1996)
Three Dollar Bill, Yall$, by Limp Bizkit (1997)
Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd, by Lynyrd Skynyrd (1973)
Second Helping, by Lynyrd Skynyrd (1974)
Street Survivors, by Lynyrd Skynyrd (1977)

2 Million: M to R
Countdown To Extinction, by Megadeth (1992)
St. Anger, by Metallica (2003)
Flirtin' With Disaster, by Molly Hatchet (1979)
The Fragile, by Nine Inch Nails (1999)
Ted Nugent, by Ted Nugent (1975)
Free For All, by Ted Nugent (1976)
The Ultimate Sin, by Ozzy Osbourne (1986)
No Rest For The Wicked, by Ozzy Osbourne (1988)
Ozzmosis, by Ozzy Osbourne (1995)
Vulgar Display Of Power, by Pantera (1992)
The Battle Of Los Angeles, by Rage Against The Machine (1999)
Invasion Of Your Privacy, by Ratt (1985)

2 Million: S to T
Every Six Seconds, by Saliva (2001)
Crazy World, by Scorpions (1990)
Slave To The Grind, by Skid Row (1991)
Stick It To Ya, by Slaughter (1990)
Slipknot, by Slipknot (1999)
Badmotorfinger, by Soundgarden (1991)
Dysfunction, by Staind (1999)
The Great Radio Controversy, by Tesla (1989)
Undertow, by Tool (1993)
Lateralus, by Tool (2001)
Christmas Eve & Other Stories, by Trans-Siberian Orchestra (1996)

2 Million: U to Z
Fair Warning, by Van Halen (1981)
Contraband, by Velvet Revolver (2004)
Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich, by Warrant (1989)
Cherry Pie, by Warrant (1990)
Pride, by White Lion (1987)
Slide It In, by Whitesnake (1984)
La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol I, by White Zombie (1992)
Astro-Creep: 2000, by White Zombie (1995)

1 Million: A
Powerage, by AC/DC (1978)
Flick Of The Switch, by AC/DC (1983)
Fly On The Wall, by AC/DC (1985)
Blow Up Your Video, by AC/DC (1988)
Stiff Upper Lip, by AC/DC (2000)
Rocks, by Aerosmith (1976)
Night In The Ruts, by Aerosmith (1979)
Just Push Play, by Aerosmith (2001)
The Nature Of The Beast, by April Wine (1981)
Out Of Exile, by Audioslave (2005)
City of Evil, by Avenged Sevenfold (2005)

1 Million: B
Black Sabbath, by Black Sabbath (1970)
Black Sabbath Vol. 4, by Black Sabbath (1972)
Sabbath Blody Sabbath, by Black Sabbath (1973)
Heaven And Hell, by Black Sabbath (1980)
Agents Of Fortune, by Blue Oyster Cult (1976)
7800 Degree Farenheit, by Bon Jovi (1985)
Have A Nice Day, by Bon Jovi (2005)
Lost Highway, by Bon Jovi (2007)
These Days, by Bon Jovi (1995)

1 Million: C
Heartbreak Station, by Cinderella (1990)
Love It To Death, by Alice Cooper Group (1971)
Killer, by Alice Cooper Group (1971)
School's Out, by Alice Cooper Group (1972)
Billion Dollar Babies, by Alice Cooper Group (1973)
Welcome To My Nightmare, by Alice Cooper (1975)
Trash, by Alice Cooper (1989)
Electric, by The Cult (1987)
Sonic Temple, by The Cult (1989)

1 Million: D to G
Perfect Strangers, by Deep Purple (1984)
On Through The Night, by Def Leppard (1980)
Holy Diver, by Dio (1983)
The Last In Line, by Dio (1984)
Tooth And Nail. by Dokken (1984)
Under Lock And Key, by Dokken (1985)
Back For The Attack, by Dokken (1987)
Out Of This World, by Europe (1988)
The Real Thing, by Faith No More (1989)
Faceless, by Godsmack (2003)
The Spaghetti Incident?, by Guns N' Roses (1993)
Chinese Democracy, by Guns N' Roses (2008)

1 Million: H to J
Standing Hampton, by Sammy Hagar (1981)
VOA, by Sammy Hagar (1984)
Axis: Bold As Love, by The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1967)
The Cry Of Love, by Jimi Hendrix (1971)
The Number Of The Beast, by Iron Maiden (1982)
Piece Of Mind, by Iron Maiden (1983)
Powerslave, by Iron Maiden (1984)
Somewhere In Time, by Iron Maiden (1986)
Nothing's Shocking, by Jane's Addiction (1988)
British Steel, by Judas Priest (1980)
Defenders Of The Faith, by Judas Priest (1984)
Turbo, by Judas Priest (1986)

1 Million: K
Destroyer, by Kiss (1976)
Rock and Roll Over, by Kiss (1976)
Love Gun, by Kiss (1977)
Dynasty, by Kiss (1979)
Lick It Up, by Kiss (1983)
Animalize, by Kiss (1984)
Crazy Nights, by Kiss (1987)
Untouchables, by Korn (2002)
Take A Look In The Mirror, by Korn (2003)
See You On The Other Side, by Korn (2005)

1 Million: L
Coda, by Led Zeppelin (1982)
Results May Vary, Limp Bizkit (2003)
The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1), by Limp Bizkit (2005)
Nuthin' Fancy, by Lynyrd Skynyrd (1975)

1 Million: M
Smells Like Children, by Marilyn Manson (1995)
Antichrist Superstar, by Marilyn Manson (1996)
Mechanical Animals, by Marilyn Manson (1998)
Peace Sells...But Who's Buying, by Megadeth (1986)
So Far, So Good...So What!, by Megadeth (1988)
Rust in Peace, by Megadeth (1990)
Youthanasia, by Megadeth (1994)
Garage Days Re-Revisited, by Metallica (1987)
Death Magnetic, by Metallica (2008)
Psalm 69 by Ministry (1992)
Molly Hatchet, by Molly Hatchet (1978)
Beatin' The Odds, by Molly Hatchet (1980)
Montrose, by Montrose (1973)
Too Fast For Love, by Motley Crue (1981)

1 Million: N to O
Hair Of The Dog, by Nazareth (1975)
Midnight Madness, by Night Ranger (1983)
Seven Wishes, by Night Ranger (1985)
Broken, by Nine Inch Nails (1992)
Bleach, by Nirvana (1989)
Incesticide, by Nirvana (1992)
Weekend Warriors, by Ted Nugent (1978)
Down To Earth, by Ozzy Osbourne (2001)

1 Million: P to Q
Cowboys From Hell, by Pantera (1990)
Far Beyond Driven, by Pantera (1994)
The Great Southern Trendkill, by Pantera (1996)
Getting Away With Murder, by Papa Roach (2004)
The Fundamental Elements Of Southtown, by P.O.D. (1999)
Tonight The Stars Revolt!, by Powerman 5000 (1999)
Sailing the Seas of Cheese, by Primus (1991)
Pork Soda, by Primus (1993)
Operation Mindcrime, by Queensryche (1988)
Promised Land, by Queensryche (1994)
Condition Critical, by Quiet Riot (1984)

1 Million: R
Renegades, by Rage Against The Machine (2000)
Sehnsucht, by Rammstein (1997)
Dancing Undercover, by Ratt (1986)
Reach For The Sky, by Ratt (1988)
Crazy From The Heat, by David Lee Roth (1985)
Eat'Em And Smile, by David Lee Roth (1986)
Skyscraper, by David Lee Roth (1988)
Fly By Night, by Rush (1975)
A Farewell To Kings, by Rush (1977)
Hemispheres, by Rush (1978)
Permanent Wave, by Rush (1980)
Signals, by Rush (1982)
Grace Under Pressure, by Rush (1984)
Power Windows, by Rush (1985)
Roll The Bones, by Rush (1991)

1 Million: S
Surfing With The Alien, by Joe Satriani (1987)
Blackout, by Scorpions (1982)
Savage Amusement, by Scorpions (1988)
Animal Magnetism, by Scorpions (1980)
Iowa, by Slipknot (2001)
Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses, by Slipknot (2004)
Down On The Upside, by Soundgarden (1996)
14 Shades Of Grey, by Staind (2003)
Chapter V, by Staind (2005)
Wisconsin Death Trip, by Static-X (1999)
To Hell With The Devil, by Stryper (1986)
All Killer No Filler, by Sum 41 (2001)
System Of A Down, by System Of A Down (1998)
Steal This Album!, by System Of A Down (2002)
Hypnotize, by System Of A Down (2005)
Mezmerize, by System Of A Down (2005)

1 Million: T
Mechanical Resonance, by Tesla (1986)
Psychotic Supper, by Tesla (1991)
10,000 Days, by Tool (2006)
Christmas Attic, by Trans-Siberian Orchestra (1998)
The Lost Christmas Eve, by Trans-Siberian Orchestra (2004)
Trapt, by Trapt (2002)
Allied Forces, by Triumph (1981)
Bloody Kisses, by Type O Negative (1993)

1 Million: U to Z
Winger, by Winger (1988)
In The Heart Of The Young, by Winger (1990)
Antenna, by ZZ Top (1994)
Recycler, by ZZ Top (1990)
Deguello, by ZZ Top (1979)


Notable Heavy Metal bands with Gold certified albums (sales of 500,000) but no Platinum albums:

Accept - 1 Gold Album: Balls To The Wall (1983)

Anthrax - 4 Gold Albums: Among The Living (1987), State of Euphoria (1988), Persistence Of Time (1990), and Sound Of White Noise (1993).

Danzig - 1 Gold Album: Danzig (1988)

Dream Theater - 1 Gold Album: Images and Words (1992)

Helmet - 1 Gold Album: Meantime (1992)

Kingdom Come - 1 Gold Album: Kingdom Come (1988)

Krokus - 2 Gold Albums: Headhunter (1981) and The Blitz (1984)

L.A. Guns - 2 Gold Albums: L.A. Guns (1988) and Cocked And Loaded (1989)

Sepultura - 2 Gold Albums: Chaos A.D. (1993) and Roots (1996)

Slayer - 4 Gold Albums: Reign In Blood (1986), South Of Heaven (1988), Seasons In The Abyss (1990) and Divine Intervention (1994)

Thin Lizzy - 1 Gold Album: Jailbreak (1976)

Steve Vai - 1 Gold Album: Passion and Warfare (1990)

WASP - 2 Gold Albums: WASP (1984), and The Last Command (1985).


Notable Heavy Metal bands with no Gold nor Platinum certified albums:

Amorphis, Anvil, Blind Guardian, Budgie, Cannibal Corpse, Cathedral, Celtic Frost, Children Of Bodom, Corrosion Of Conformity, Death, Deicide, Diamond Head, Bruce Dickinson, Emperor, Exodus, Extreme, Girlschool, Halford, Hammerfall, Hanoi Rocks, Hellhammer, Helloween, Iced Earth, In Flames, King Diamond, King's X, Kreator, Kyuss, Lamb Of God, Yngwie Malmsteen, Manowar, Mercyful Fate, Motorhead, My Dying Bride, Napalm Death, Opeth, Overkill, Paradise Lost, Rainbow, Savatage, Saxon, Testament, Tiamat, Trouble, UFO, Venom, Wolfsbane.

9 comments:

  1. Very nice list dude. I know a lot of work went in to it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Shameful that Celtic Frost has no gold or platinum albums

    ReplyDelete
  3. Suicidal Tendencies has a couple gold albums

    ReplyDelete
  4. Helloween has six platinum albums, and lots of gold albums. Iced Earth has sold platinum, Blind Guardian gold. Yngwie, too.

    ReplyDelete
  5. If Ted Nugent or Thin Lizzy appears in this list as heavy metal bands, so Status Quo, Frantic Four, the original band must appear too... Live 76, Piledriver, Hello, Quo, Blue for you, On the level and others... They hace sold more than 122 million records... and were pionneers in Hardrock... Respect. And please add them.

    ReplyDelete
  6. If bands like Puddle of Mudd, Saliva, and P.O.D. are listed here, you have to include Nickelback as well. "All The Right Reasons" is 8x RIAA Platinum, and if I recall correctly, "Silver Side Up" is 6x RIAA Platinum. Love them or hate them, these guys from Canada have been a mainstay on US rock radio for the past fifteen years.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  9. kiss's album sales are way wrong they have 4X pLAT

    ReplyDelete

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