Its 2014; I did some quick calculations and that’s thirty years since 1984, making this year the thirtieth anniversary of many classic metal albums. That’s got me to remembering back to when I was a lad, feverishly purchasing and wearing out so many classics, hanging with my metal pals, cranking metal and thrashing out. What a year for metal. Here are my top fifteen metal albums for 1984 that I actually purchased in 1984 (on vinyl back then.) Yes I was there when these masterworks of metal first came out, that makes me special :-) … and old.
Early Anthrax is good Anthrax. This is some prime early American thrash/speed metal. Killer vocals, punishing riffs, powerhouse drumming. Anthrax had a couple of good records after this, sadly after that it’s been downhill. You can’t take away this record’s place in history or it’s nasty violent cover art.
W.A.S.P. was one of those bands that never could quite duplicate the excellence of their first record. These dudes had the look and all the attitude you could handle. Fronted by Blackie’s tremendous voice this album was a beast. Loved the saw blades.
Take a bad ass shredding riffmeister and a stratospheric metal screamer and you get TNT. Boom!! I played this record to death in ’84. Yes there are a few clunkers on it but the good ones are so memorable. And the solos, damn no one sounds like Ronnie Le Tekro.
I remember first hearing the song Violence and Force in my buddy’s car back in ’84. We used to just park and sit around in cars listening to metal, that was our favorite past time. When I heard Violence and Force with the frenetic riffing and Dan Beehler’s steamroller drums and banshee scream vocals it was like a cannon shot to the gut; I had to get that album right away!
An underground classic! We didn’t know it back then though; it was just a kick ass metal record with song after awesome song. “Rock Me to the Limit”, “Unleash the Beast”, “Dead of the Night”, the title track; all killer. Classic riffs with the powerful melodic screeches of Vic Wright. Many nights in the car were spent headbangning to this classic.
In ’84 thrash metal was well on its way and Metal Church was at the cusp of thrash metal’s early wave of classics with their debut. After I heard the first two songs on this monolithic record that was it, I was sold. It was all gravy from there. David Wayne’s eerie wails, the crushing riffs, and the brilliant drumming of Kirk Arrington. Finally a church I could believe in.
In ’84 Ronnie James Dio was already a classic as far as my metal crew and I were concerned. We were rabid fans of the Dio/Sabbath records and had discovered most of Dio’s earlier Rainbow stuff by then. Last in Line was another pillar in the temple of masterpieces that was Ronnie James Dio’s canon.
This was the record that busted metal guitar wide open. The influence of this record is undeniable. And I ate it up. The music on it was awesome. It was all fresh, melodic, and memorable. This is way before we heard Yngwie rehash these licks ad nauseam. A heavy metal milestone.
Powerslave was one of those records I was eagerly awaiting the release of. Since ’82, Maiden was it! Four brilliant albums, what would they do next? More awesomeness was the answer. Packed with classics and followed up with an unforgettable tour that my metal crew and I saw multiple times, most notably at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Maiden rules!
I distinctly remember hearing Metallica for the first time. I was playing in a cover band and our bass player brought this record to a rehearsal. I was flabbergasted. I just couldn’t handle it. I didn’t like it. Somehow, a short while after, a buddy and I were at a record store wrestling over the only copy of this thrash classic. It’s mine. No its mine!
Judas Priest were already metal icons by the time this record came out. I was fan since ’82 and had gobbled up the back catalog by then. Defenders was yet another link in a chain of metal masterworks. My cover band enjoyed playing Love Bites incessantly. Indeed!
After the EP in ’83 we were rabid Queensryche fans just dying for a full length album. The Warning was a mind blowing record that far exceeded our expectations. I think I pretty much wore out my LP. Stupendous songs, all of them. And the vocals! The passion, the range! Stunning. Queensrÿche opening for Maiden on the Powerslave tour was another unforgettable experience.
I remember the Manowar fans in high school. Rabid and over the top. Who were these guys Manowar? I soon found out the accolades they were getting from the headbangers in my school were well deserved. This record is Manowar in their prime. Every song a gem. Epic metal glory.
What!? Two awesome albums released in the same year? Only Manowar could do that! Hail to England is an album jam packed with classics. Yes every song!
This record was thrust upon me by the same bass player that blew my mind with Ride the Lightning on that fateful day. Yes he also introduced me to Mercyful Fate at the same time. My young heavy metal brain could not process it. First Metallica’s pummeling thrash and now King Diamond’s inhuman vocals! Like Metallica, I was not yet ready for Mercyful Fate and I didn’t like them. Eventually it clicked and I consider this to be one of the all best metal albums ever.