Friday, November 11, 2005

1982 - The Year of the Beast

By the end of 1982, the NWOBHM had just about run out of steam. Still, it seemed that record company executives were like drunken sailors handing out recording contracts to anyone with an MXR distortion box. Some bands with little to no redeeming value were releasing albums at this point, so the metal community had to endure the likes of Acid, Tank, and Bitches Sin.

But by this time, there were well more than 10 good metal albums to choose from, so the process of coming up with a top 10 became more difficult.

10. Manowar - Battle Hymns

Manowar is a punching bag among some of the elitists in the metal community and it's not hard to see why. Their ridiculous appearance as fighters out of a Dungeons and Dragons module is laughable, and their Death to False Metal cry is somewhat juvenile. However, Manowar has recorded some really good albums. Their first, Battle Hymns, is a bit raw and unpolished, and not quite as heavy as some of their later works, but it is a really good metal album.

9. Venom - Black Metal

I am not a Venom fan, but Black Metal is a really good album. More than that though, it is an absolute genre defining album. Some would argue that's what their first album, Welcome to Hell, did, but I think Black Metal is a better release. Also, Black Metal is more polished and professional, it's got better riffs and hooks and is more of an enjoyable listen.

8. Demon - The Unexpected Guest

Demon's second album sounds like a continuation of their first, which is a good thing. "Melodic" is a term often used to describe Demon, but that is a bit deceiving, as they are heavier than Praying Mantis or Gaskin, but not as heavy as their album covers and song titles would lead you to believe. In any case The Unexpected Guest is a solid NWOBHM album with good sound and production for the time.

7. Heavy Load - Death or Glory

I admit, I had not heard this album until I decided to do this top 10 project, but I am glad I did, and regret that this album flew under my radar for 20+ years. This is probably because Heavy Load is a Swede outfit, and had no exposure in the USA at all during the 1980's. Some would argue that this is the first ever Power Metal album, and while primitive compared to today's Power Metal, I agree that this album was very influential in the genre.

6. Motörhead - Iron Fist

I will never understand why this album is not as critically acclaimed as earlier releases. I think it is one of Motörhead's best albums. The last with Fast Eddie Clark, this album is blistering and heavy. I do hear some evolution in their sound with this release, though it is still textbook Motörhead and it rocks.

5. Legend - Death in the Nursery

Legend was probably a victim of bad management and that is why they never got picked up after the release of this album. This is one of the best NWOBHM releases, and I just do not understand how the likes of Tank and Bitches Sin had record deals and this album had to be self-financed and released on an independent label. Far more polished and original than their first effort, Death in the Nursery does not sound at all stale (maybe a little dated) and is a real gem from start to finish.

4. Judas Priest - Screaming For Vengeance

Priest makes a triumphant return with Screaming For Vengeance. With their last effort being sub-par despite some great moments, the hot leather dude and company needed to make a statement here, and they did it. With one of metal's all time great openers (The Hellion/Electric Eye) this album really does scream for vengeance. There are about six absolute classics on this album, and Priest had really proved that they were among metal's elite bands. Unfortunately a couple of real turkeys keep this from being one of the greatest albums of all time.

3. Accept - Restless and Wild

I find Accept to be one of the strangest bands in the history of metal. Until this point, they were pretty average. Their 1979 debut was a decent album, and I give them a lot of credit for being a bit ahead of their time, but the two follow up albums had progressed very little. That all changed with Restless and Wild. A great opening with the German folk/polka music and then ripping into Fast as a Shark (this is where all those thrash drummers got the idea for double bass) this album is a sonic assault of true heavy metal. For 1982, this thing rocked like nothing else and it still holds up very well today.

2. Rush - Signals

Many old timers feel that this was a release that tried to kill metal, and they may have a point. When New World Man (the worst song on the album) came on the radio, metal fans were horror struck. By this time Rush had abandoned any sound that would be called "heavy metal" and while I would say Rush never did a metal album, I can't think of anyone who would call this album metal. Signals is still heavy progressive rock and the sound is explosive for sure. Slick production and brilliant musicianship along with well-written songs make Signals one of Rush's finest moments and a worthy follow up to Moving Pictures. "Glad you enjoyed it."

1. Iron Maiden - The Number of the Beast

Really, what more can be said about this album. Ironically, Steve Harris is the biggest critic of this album, and I never understood why. Granted, a couple of the songs here are not as good as the others, but none of them are throwaways. Bruce Dickinson was the final piece to creating, in my mind, the best metal band ever assembled. Unfortunately, this is the only album ever recoded with this line up and it is one of the true travesties in the metal world. Maiden would go on to release brilliant album after brilliant album, but they never quite got to this level again (neither has anyone else as I see this as the finest album ever recorded).


Metal Mark said...

Have to say that I always liked Tank quite a bit. I thought Battle Hymns was Manowar's weakest album. Actually I think their sound was kind of weak until say Sign of the hammer. No argument about The Number of the beast because it's probably in my top five metal albums of all time. It's different than the previous two and the albums that would follow, but it has some of the strengths of both those sounds plus some songs that are different than anything else they ever did. I love Nicko's playing on all the other albums, but Clive Burr was golden on this album so it's shame we didn't get to hear more of him with Maiden.

T-_Bone said...

Thanks Mark. I guess Tanks just didn't do it for me. As far as Manowar, I kind of agree, but this is still a good album.

I like Nicko a whole lot for sure, but I think Burr was the better drummer for a metal group. It cerainly is a shame that Clive is so sick now.