Tuesday, November 22, 2005

1983 - In the Palace of the Virgin Lies the Chalice of the Soul; or Fast Song, Slow Song - Fast Song

1983 was around the time the floodgates opened and metal had started to establish itself into the mainstream. Subgenres were developing, and we saw the early incarnations of power metal and thrash. Pop metal had been born and bands like Quiet Riot and Def Leppard were selling millions in the USA. Also, 1983 saw many decent bands release their first (and some last) album. In fact, there are 6 debuts in the top ten, so we'll see a lot of new faces this year, as old favorites like Accept, Ozzy Osbourne, and Ozzy's former band Black Sabbath were laying proverbial eggs. There were many more debuts that were pretty good, and it’s a shame that these bands died out so quickly (Ashbury and Jaguar for example).

10. Savatage - Sirens

Savatage begins and ends with Criss Oliva. The guy was a real player and a great songwriter too. Sirens is not the best Savatage album, and I can only take so much of Jon Oliva's vocals, but this album is a fine example of early Savatage and the power of their music. This is a very consistent album, with flashes of brilliance and no real clunkers to hold it down.

9. Savage - Loose 'n Lethal

By 1983, any serious NWOBHM players had already released a few albums and had a decent international following. It would be difficult for a new band out of this genre to establish themselves and Savage would not be an exception to the rule. Loose 'n Lethal is a great album and one of the many hidden gems of the genre. Pretty heavy from beginning to end, not too serious lyrically, and not very original (but not cloning anyone either) are all accurate descriptions, but it's one of those albums you can put on and listen to from start to finish and not hear a bad song.

8. Slayer - Show No Mercy

By 1983, thrash metal was in its infancy and Slayer was one of the bands to establish and perfect the genre. For the time, this was blisteringly fast and heavy, and it holds up very well to this day. Show No Mercy is raw and unpolished, but already you can see that these guys got it. They were immediately superior to the UK's Venom, borrowing certain elements from that band's sound and style, yet improving them by light years.

7. Metallica - Kill 'em All

My personal distaste for Metallica cannot be stressed enough, but I will try to be objective here. This album is a good debut and the poor production can be overlooked considering the quality of the material. Essentially, they borrowed their sound from Holocaust and Diamond Head and took it to another level with better song writing. James Hetfield's vocals are great, and go perfectly with the music. The guitar solos leave a lot to be desired, and the drumming is average at best, but the quality of the riffs here are legendary. All in all, this is a really enjoyable album and is quite good.

6. Motörhead - Another Perfect Day

The first Motörhead album of the post Eddie Clarke era is a good one. Former Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson adds a different sound here and often it works (Dancing on Your Grave, Shine) and on rare occasions it does not (Another Perfect Day). The album is perhaps not as consistent as Ace of Spades or Iron Fist but more daring and interesting. There are melodic moments here (thanks to Robertson) that were very different for the band and it usually worked well. It would be interesting to see how things would have progressed with this line up, but sadly, this is the only album that featured Robertson on guitar.

5. Satan - Court in the Act

As I stated earlier, 1983 was really the tail end of the NWOBHM and British bands without an established following would have a tough go of it. Satan is a perfect example of a great band being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is probably the most criminally underrated, unheralded and un-talked about album of all time. All instruments cook, riffage galore, cool bass line, I tell you, this album has it all. It was way ahead of its time for sure, as here we see the beginnings of power metal, improving on and advancing from the first Heavy Load album from 1982. I wish I had known about this album when I was growing up, as I would have listened to it non stop for sure. A true unheralded classic and an essential album for power metal fans.

4. Iron Maiden - Piece of Mind

Piece of Mind is a great album. For the most part. Where Eagles Dare starts things off right, but things start to slowly deteriorate as you progress through the album. Even the lead single, Flight of Icarus had a shelf life shorter than Chevy Chase's talk show. I find this to be the most overrated Maiden album, by both the fans and by Mr. Harris. It is the first Maiden album to have a couple of real stinkers, and the epic track is, well, not that epic. So by Maiden's standards it is a bit of a disappointment, but compared to the metal community at large, it is a great album, and falls in at number 4 for 1983.

3. Mercyful Fate - Melissa

When I was a kid I was afraid of this album. I started listening to it about five years after its release and I was instantly impressed. While some of the lyrics are silly, this album in general is awesome. The thing that impresses me here is that the music here stands up so well over 20 years later, and it is a debut album. Anyway, from start to finish we have a heavy album with great riffs and solos. Twin guitar work is great here with Sherman and Denner, and Kings vocals are enjoyable. Satan's Fall is a tremendous epic and the other tracks are all very dark and atmospheric. Unfortunately, Mercyful Fate would never put out another album as great as this one, but it really is a classic and a requisite for any metal collection.

2. Saxon - Power and the Glory

Many people saw this as the beginning of the end for Saxon, but I disagree. Saxon was still in their prime with this album, and it wouldn't be until the follow up that the Wheels (of Steel) started to come off. Saxon was a bit more daring here being a bit more experimental and diverse, with progressive elements in The Eagle Has Landed, and more commercial leanings in Watching the Sky, etc. This really is a brilliant album as far as I am concerned. A personal favorite for sure.

1. Dio - Holy Diver

Dio's first solo album, and his best. Dio put together a great band here and this album is a complete masterpiece. Dio had put out some great albums over the years with Rainbow and Black Sabbath, and Holy Diver continued the trend. Really, all the pieces fit together here; great lyrics, great music, and flawless execution make this the top album of 1983. Rainbow in the Dark, Stand up and Shout, the title track and the six others totally rock. Not a flaw on this album. This Bud's For You Ronnie!

1 comment:

Metal Mark said...

Ronnie James Dio had to take some satisfaction in knowing that Holy Diver was great while Sabbath's Born Again was pure crap. Sabbath and Rainbow both stunk it up after Dio left. It's a shame Mercyful Fate broke up when they did because they made a lot of progress is such a short ime period. I like King Diamond and Mercyful Fate's 90's albums, but none of that touched what they did from 82-84.