[sponsored]Heavy Metal’s roots trace back to progressions of blues rock and psychedelic rock from as early as the late 1960’s with bands like [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Black Sabbath[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Deep Purple[/lastfm], & [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Led Zeppelin [/lastfm] stirring up the initial dose of chaos. But in the span from 1980-1990, fans would see the release of the five albums that would define the era as well as the genre itself. These albums stand the test of time and are just as relevant today than ever as they continue to inspire people all over the world.
So without further interruption; the five metal albums that will forever be a trademark of heavy music:
1 – [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Metallica[/lastfm]’s Master of Puppets, 1986
Recorded in the heart of Denmark, [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Metallica[/lastfm]’s major label debut Master of Puppets took the world by storm. It packed a punch like no other album before it and set the standard for the next thirty years of metal.
Master of Puppets was produced by Flemming Rasmussen, who recently shed some light on what the Master of Puppets recording sessions were like: “In our studio sessions we worked pretty hard, at the same time having some really magical and inspiring moments. Master of Puppets was totally composed when they came into the studio. They used to produce really good demos before going into the recording sessions. I really appreciated that. Their first idea was to start in the States looking for a pro-studio, but then they decided to continue at Sweet Silence (Studios) again. On that record everything flowed easily. “Master” took about 4 months to be finished.”
Take a trip back in time and check out footage from way back when the band first released Master of Puppets:
Click “Next” below to see which album is number two!
2 – [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Megadeth[/lastfm]’s Rust in Peace, 1990
After years of notoriously tumultuous feuds within the band that led to a slew of lineup changes, [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Megadeth[/lastfm]’s ”classic” lineup finally made their debut on Rust in Peace. The album was unique to [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Megadeth[/lastfm]’s previous catalogue as it marked significant progressions in the bands songwriting as well as lyrical content, which was heavily inspired by subjects ranging from nuclear fallout, war, religion, Area 51 and fantasy. Rust in Peace is the band’s most critically acclaimed effort and served as their gateway to the mainstream metal audience. The band recently honored the album with a 20th anniversary tour in which they played the album in its entirety live for the first time ever.
Rust in Peace is one of the most influential heavy metal albums of all time and its legacy will live on in the hearts of fans forever. [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Megadeth[/lastfm] frontman Dave Mustaine talked about the picture that the words “Rust in Peace” initially painted in his mind, a phrase he first saw on another vehicles bumper sticker as he was “racing down the freeway” in 1990:
“I could just see it now – all these warheads sittin’ there, stockpiled somewhere like seal beach, you know, all covered with rust ‘n’ stuff with kids out there spray-painting the stuff, you know. And um, I just felt that that was one of the most profound statements that we could make at this time because of “Holy Wars” being such a statement, “Rust in Peace…” is also a statement. It’s like my ideal vision is for all nuclear weapons to be eliminated and have the actual warhead itself… to have someone deactivate it… cause ya know you’re still going to have the Uranium and the Plutonium to deal with but, I mean, we have that already.”
Go back in time once again, this time to 1990 to get inside the mind of Dave Mustaine around the time Rust in Peace was recorded:
Click “Next” below to see which album is number three!
3 – [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Slayer[/lastfm]’s Reign in Blood, 1986
Like [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Metallica[/lastfm]’s Master of Puppets released only 7 months earlier, [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Slayer[/lastfm]’s Reign in Blood was the bands major label debut and marked a significant turning point for the band as it brought them their first taste of mainstream success in the metal world. The album was produced by Rick Rubin, who is credited with pushing the band to create tighter and faster songs while delivering a cleanly produced sound that contrasted sharply with their previous recordings. Rubin’s ingenious production tactic reinvented the bands sound completely and immediately made Reign in Blood a genre-defining record that would change the course of metal forever.
On the recent 20th anniversary of the albums release, [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Slayer[/lastfm] bassist/vocalist Tom Araya talked about Rubin’s impact on Reign in Blood, “On that first album [together], Rubin made sure that he recorded. He wanted to duplicate what he was hearing.” Guitarist Kerry King added, “It was the first time you actually heard Slayer in its pure ferocity, and it made a big difference. One funny thing about that album is if it came out today, no one would give a shit. They’d say, ‘That’s cool.’ But at the time it came out it made such a difference. People still reflect on that as a poignant time, where shit changed.”
Check out a clip of Slayer from 1987 while they were promoting their newest release at the time; Reign in Blood:
Click “Next” below to see which album is number four!
4 – [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Anthrax[/lastfm]’s Among the Living, 1987
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Anthrax[/lastfm]’s breakthrough Among the Living propelled the band to heights that they never could have imagined as a small thrash band from New York. The album is dedicated to fallen [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Metallica[/lastfm] bassist Cliff Burton, who died months before the albums release; it is certainly a record that would have made Cliff proud too as it helped shape what metal would become in the coming years while staying true to the raw thrash sound. On top of all that, it still hits you just as hard in the face as Master of Puppets, Rust in Peace and Reign in Blood, which made it a treat for metal-heads around the globe.
Among the Living made the thrash scene come together full circle upon its release and is highlighted by unforgettable moments in songs like “I Am The Law” & “Indians.” In an interview with Charlie Benante, the longtime [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Anthrax[/lastfm] drummer talked about how it was working with his idol, Eddie Kramer – “I remember wanting Eddie Kramer to do that record because of, me personally, my love of the LED ZEPPELIN stuff and the KISS stuff that he did. He just created this sound, and it’s exactly what we wanted. But the record that we wanted to make and the record that he wanted to make were two different records. He was trying to do a ’90s version of a record, where it had a lot of polish on it, you know. We wanted the opposite. We wanted it as dry as possible. There was a vibe that we were trying to create, and, you know, I guess he had a different take on the whole thing where he was adding a lot of reverb to things. We didn’t want that; we wanted that totally pulled back. And then we settled on what we thought was the right mix… But there were moments where it just kind of got a little weird because for me especially I was like, Well, this is Eddie Kramer. How could I tell Eddie Kramer “no,” because I have so much respect for him? He’s a legend. And at the end of the day, it came out good. I have nothing bad to say.”
Check out an interview with [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Anthrax[/lastfm] from 1987 below:
Click “Next” below to see the fifth and final album!
5 – [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Diamond Head[/lastfm]’s Lightning to the Nations, 1980
This was the one that made all the others possible. [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Diamond Head[/lastfm] formed in June of 1977 and released Lightning to the Nations in 1980. It originally came in a plain sleeve with no title, having on it only a signature of one of the band members and no track listings. However, its importance to metal as well as the effect it has had on metal as a whole can not be overstated. Without Lightning to the Nations, it is hard to imagine how albums like Master of Puppets, Rust in Peace, Reign in Blood and Among the Living could have been possible. This album was a key source of inspiration for all involved in the making of those albums and without it, metal might be very different, or even perhaps nonexistent in its current form today.
The album catapulted [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Diamond Head[/lastfm] to the forefront of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene and made [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Diamond Head[/lastfm] a household name. The album was recorded within only seven days at The Old Smythy Studio in Worcester and had an extremely low budget. However, the bands character and songwriting made that a non issue as everything from the song structures to lyrics and of course the heavy riff-age were crafted perfectly to make an album that stands the test of time.
The voice behind Lightning to the Nations, Sean Harris spoke about how low of a budget the band was actually working with in an interview – “Our “white” cover album which we put out ourselves; it didn’t have the title at first cause we couldn’t afford a cover! People like Lars Ulrich got a hold of one and came to England to see us and obviously the rest of that is history.”
Listen to a radio interview with original [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Diamond Head[/lastfm] singer Sean Harris from 1980 below: