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Metal by Numbers: The best-selling rock and metal in 2016

Posted by on January 5, 2017

Mid-last year, we broke down what the biggest-selling albums of 2016 were through the first four months of the year. A lot more records came out since then, and with the year over, we’ve taken a look at what the biggest-selling metal and hard rock records in 2016 were. Notice we didn’t say “of” 2016, as many of the albums not only didn’t come out this year, but many years ago. In fact, only nine albums on this list came out this year.

Metallica is at the top of this article for a few reasons. Not only did Hardwired… To Self Destruct lap the competition, but the band have five other albums (!) on the list. Even Prince (R.I.P.) didn’t have that many albums on the chart (he had five). Guns N’ Roses is the only other artist to have multiple albums on the list. Also, while Avenged Sevenfold’s surprise-release experiment might not have paid off the way they wanted to, they still have a successful album. All of these numbers are approximate. 

 

Metallica, Hardwired… To Self Destruct (Blackened Recordings)
516,000 sold

Even though it only had a month of so of sales, Metallica’s 10th album is already gold. In fact, for albums that came out in 2016, it’s the seventh-biggest selling record of the year. 

 

 

Disturbed, Immortalized (Reprise)
298,000 sold

Thanks to the Paul Simon-approved cover of “The Sound of Silence,” the band’s album 2015 album is gold, and the single is the 25th most-bought single of the year (and first rock one if you don’t count Twenty One Pilots.

 

 

Metallica, Metallica (Blackened Recordings)
267,500 sold

The Black Album went over half gold 25 years after it was released. That’s absolutely insane. And of course it’s not the last time you’ll see the band on the most-sold albums in 2016 list. 

 

 

Bon Jovi, This House Is Nor For Sale (Island)
174,000 sold

Is Bon Jovi metal? Hell no, not any more. More like rock for soccer moms that kinda like country. But hair metal lived and died by him 30 years ago, so here’s how he’s doing now, and now you know who to blame if you weren’t around then.

 

 

Journey, Greatest Hits (Columbia) 
169,000 sold

This absolutely isn’t metal either, but we’re including it to demonstrate the power of “Don’t Stop Believin.'” Also, Neal Schon kinda rips on guitar.

 

 

 

Metallica, Master of Puppets (Blackened Recordings) 
163,000 sold

Usually, this is the second-biggest Metallica seller of the year, but the fact that the band put out a new album this year pushes it to third. Also, any band selling 163,000 copies of an album would be a huge year for them, let alone a 30 year-old album.

 

 
Metallica, …And Justice For All (Blackened Recordings)
155,000 sold

It’s amazing how closely Metallica’s second, third and fourth albums sold in proximity to each other. And it’s amazing that they still keep selling this much year over year.

 

 

Metallica, Ride the Lightning (Blackened Recordings)
153,000 sold

You’d think this might be the last time you’ll see Metallica on this list. You’d be wrong. It’s still pretty phenomenal to see such a small margin of sales between the band’s mid-to-late ’80s albums.

 

 
Megadeth, Dystopia (Tradecraft/uME)
148,000 sold

Poor Megadeth. Until November 18th, they would have had the biggest-selling metal album released in 2016. Then a little band that Dave Mustaine used to be in went and released an album. That being said, kudos to Megadeth for their best-received album in years that may well be their best-selling one as well. 

 

Five Finger Death Punch, Got Your Six (Prospect Park)
146,500 sold

This album’s sold over 425,000 copies so far, and more than one third of them were sold in 2016. No wonder their label wants another album from them before they head over to Rise. 

 

 

Avenged Sevenfold, The Stage (Capitol)
144,000 sold

If we don’t count Bon Jovi (and we’re not really), Avenged Sevenfold have the third highest-selling metal album of 2016 behind Metallica and Megadeth. That’s not bad at all for an album that only came out two months ago. 

 

 

Guns N’ Roses, Greatest Hits (Interscope/Geffen)
138,000 sold

It’s not like Guns N’ Roses aren’t already perennial sellers, but the band reuniting and going on tour sure didn’t hurt sales. If they made a new album, it would probably be on here too, but let’s be honest, that’s probably nowhere near on the agenda. 

 

 
Deftones, Gore (Reprise)
133,000 sold

The band’s eighth album was one of their best in years, and is the fourth-biggest selling metal album released in 2016. 

 

 

Skillet, Unleashed (Atlantic)
123,500 sold

This four piece Christian rock band are anchored by husband and wife team John and Korey Cooper. The band prided themselves on this album running the gamut from metal to pop, and their 20 year career, along with a sizable Christian audience, made this one of 2016’s bigger-grossing rock albums.

 

 


Volbeat, Seal the Deal & Lets Boogie (Republic)
123,000 sold

This album doesn’t appear to have the staying power that Beyond Hell/Above Heaven and Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies did, as both of those albums continued to sell for several years. It was still their highest-debuting album in the States, though.

 

 

AC/DC, Back in Black (Columbia)
117,000 sold

While there’s a distinct possibility that AC/DC might have played their last show ever, this is still one of the best and biggest-selling rock records of all time, and “You Shook Me All Night Long” will be a stadium anthem as long as there are sporting events.

 

 

Guns N’ Roses, Appetite For Destruction (Interscope/Geffen)
115,000 sold

The best rock debut of a generation? Sure, if that generation includes the ’80s and ’90s. It’s no surprise that this (like AC/DC above) are on this list, just as they were last year. As long as classic rock and active rock radio exist, songs like “Welcome the Jungle,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Paradise City” will be turning new people on to GN’R, or reminding the old ones to download or buy another copy of Appetite.

 

Nirvana, Nevermind (Interscope/DGC)
114,000 sold

It came from the ’90s. We’re now at an age where there’s people being turned on to Nirvana that weren’t alive before Kurt Cobain offed himself in 1994. In other news, you’re getting old, but the quality of this album (and Dave Grohl’s band before Foo Fighters, for you younguns) isn’t going anywhere.

 

 

Trans-Siberian Orchestra, The Ghosts of Christmas Eve (Atlantic)
113,000 sold

As long as TSO exist, there will be an audience for their Christmas albums (spoiler, they’re all Christmas albums!). Their over-the-top show is popular enough for there to be different versions of the band touring. Who would have thought in the Hall of the Mountain King days that the core of Savatage would be flourishing 33 years later? 

 

 

Shinedown, Threat to Survival (Atlantic)
110,000 sold

This album is halfway to gold, and that it’s still selling steadily a year and a half later speaks of the popularity of the Active Rock mainstays. 

 

 

 

Pierce the Veil, Misadventures (Fearless)
105,000 sold

A pretty good way to celebrate your tenth anniversary is by having your fourth album, and first in four years, sell over 100,000 copies in a little over six months. Their last album, Collide With the Sky, was just certified gold in October, so screamo is still a thing.

 

 

Metallica, Kill ’em All (Blackened Recordings)
104,000 sold

Imagine if six of your albums were among the best-selling records of the year over 30 years after you formed. There’s a lot of bands that don’t even put out six albums in their entire career. 

 

 

A Day To Remember, Bad Vibrations (ADTR)
102,000 sold

A Day To Remember had a pretty great 2016. They sued Victory Records a few years back, and while a verdict hadn’t been announced, they were allowed to work on new music while it was settled. Their second album released while the case went on, Bad Vibrations, came out in September, and two months later, they won the lawsuit. 

 

Korn, The Serenity of Suffering (Roadrunner)
100,000 sold

Korn’s best-reviewed album in years was a return to their heaviness, and while this isn’t going gold any time soon just yet, the band are likely going to be on the road in support of it this year, so it could make an appearance on next year’s “biggest sellers of 2017” list. 

 

 

Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill (Def Jam)
99,000 sold

Why are we putting this on the list? Well, Kerry King is on two songs, it turned 30 this year, and Rick Rubin was involved in it. 

 

 

 

 

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Categorised in: Columns, Metal By Numbers