Yo! Back again with another top ten list. I’m making my way through the 1980s. I have already published my top ten albums for ’80 and ’81. Now it is time to tackle 1982. Keep in mind, these are not the top ten albums of 1982, just my top ten. These are simply my personal favorites. No apologies! Here we go…
Note: I originally drafted this list in November 2010. Since then, I have added ten additional albums to the list. So now the list is actually a top twenty instead of a top ten. Deal with it!
20. Baron Rojo – Volumen Brutal
Okay here’s the deal, Baron Rojo recorded their lyrics entirely in Spanish. Therefore, I don’t understand a word of what is being said on Volumen Brutal, but that’s okay porque éste es un álbum mucho fabuloso!
Baron Rojo are one of the most famous heavy metal acts from Spain, and one of the few to garner attention in non-Spanish speaking countries. There is actually a version of Volumen Brutal that has the lyrics sung in English, but I’m more use to, and quite prefer, the original Spanish version. I think the vocals flow much smoother in the Spanish version because that’s the way the songs were intended to be sung. The English version sounds very unnatural, and the accents of the two singers are so damn thick that I still don’t understand most of what is being said.
Incomunicación introduces the album with a big ass riff which leads into a speedy verse overflowing with smokin’ energy. Then, the tempo gets cut in half for the gnarly chorus riff. What a memorable riff this is! Baron Rojo definitely had an ear for tasty, original riffage. Incomunicación is just a great slice of heavy effin’ metal, period. My other favorite on Volumen Brutal is Resistiré. This one is a speed-baggin’ anthem of defiance. If the chorus refrain doesn’t have you yelling along (in Spanish!), then you, my friend, are dead inside.
The original Spanish version of Volumen Brutal was released on Chapas Discos (Spain), as well as Mausoleum Records (Germany). The English version came out on Kamaflage Records (United Kingdom), as well as Mausoleum Records. My score: B+
19. The Michael Schenker Group – Assault Attack
MSG’s third studio offering greets us with a new singer, Graham Bonnet (ex-Rainbow, future Alcatrazz). Gary Barden, the singer on MSG’s fist two albums (plus a live document) got shit-canned. Bonnet recorded the album, but was out of the band before the album was even released due to an on-stage debacle during his very first gig with the band. I don’t want to delve too much into the soap opera, but let’s just say it was a drunken spectacle, and Bonnet’s wiener was prominently involved. Soon thereafter Barden was back in the band. Actually, Schenker wanted to re-record Assault Attack‘s vocals tracks with Barden singing instead of Bonnet, but the record execs said it was too late and too costly. So Bonnet’s vocal tracks remained on the final product.
Assault Attack featured more of Schenker’s famously fluid guitar work. Gladly, Schenker always remained grounded in the framework of the song at hand, as opposed to flying off into narcissistic wankery. Lord knows he had the chops to do so if he pleased. My favorite track is Rock You To The Ground, which features Bonnet at his vocal best. Assault Attack also benefits from excellent production by the always dependable Martin Birch. Just another fine album by Michael Schenker, adding to his already impressive body of work. My score: B+
18. Accept – Restless And Wild
Restless And Wild was first released in Germany on Brain Records. The year was 1982. By the time Restless And Wild came out in the U.S.A. (on Portrait Records) it was 1983. The cover depicted on the left is the original Brain Records cover. The Portrait Records cover was different.
The album kicks off with one of the all-time greatest intros. If you haven’t heard it I won’t ruin it for you, but I’m guessing the intro surprised more than a few fans who put their needle on this vinyl for the first time in ’82 or ’83.
The highlight of this album is, of course, the ferocious Fast As A Shark. This balls-out speed monster is a neck-snapping jack hammer of righteous metal awesomeness. In case your neck is still intact after Fast As A Shark, the album also includes one of my favorite fist-pounding anthems, Shake Your Heads. Another cool track (with a gnarly intro) is Neon Nights. My score: B+
17. Anvil – Metal On Metal
In 1982, Anvil were one of the “heaviest” bands around. With their LP Metal On Metal, the Canadian band positioned themselves at the forefront of metal’s cutting edge. At times speedy, at times thrashy (this was before “thrash”, mind you), and at times hit-you-over-the-head heavy, Metal On Metal delivers a knuckle sandwich to your ugly mug. The title track is probably Anvil’s most famous tune, an anthemic bludgeoning delivered with endearingly dumbness. Anvil’s technical dexterity is on full-display on scorchers such as Mothra, Jackhammer, and 666. Robb Reiner’s drumming deserves some real accolades here. The album’s lyrics are, for the most part, fairly lighthearted. Vocalist Steve “Lips” Kudlow has a goofy charm that comes across as fun, sometimes cliché, and maybe even a bit cheesy (to those way-too-serious types). But make no mistake, Anvil had the chops. They were also sincere in their metal lust. Back in 1982, I think only Raven could rival Anvil in terms of fusing velocity-metal and technical ability. And Anvil were not as off-the-rails insane as Raven. (Forget Venom, they weren’t even in the same league as these guys.). Anvil was definitely metal on metal, and more metal than you. My score: B+
16. Diamond Head – Borrowed Time
Working up to Borrowed Time, Diamond Head had generated quite a buzz in the metal world with their independently released debut (known as Lightning To The Nations), and a few independently released singles. Hailed as one of forerunners of the NWOBHM, Diamond Head were snatched up by a major label, MCA Records. Unfortunately, critics didn’t seem to like the LP that followed, Borrowed Time. The album failed to propel Diamond Head into super stardom as some had predicted/hoped. In hindsight, Borrowed Time may have been the wrong album at the wrong time for Diamond Head. Borrowed Time was a much tamer, well-behaved album than Lightning To The Nations, which wasn’t what the public was looking for. Nevertheless, I think that Borrowed Time is a really strong album, and in my opinion it’s somewhat of a hidden treasure.
Borrowed Time contains only seven tracks, but I think all of them are quite good. The album starts off with In The Heat Of The Night. Immediately one notices that the in-your-face guitars of Lightning To The Nations are no more. Instead, we are greeted with a polite, well-balanced mix with excellent fidelity. In The Heat Of The Night is a slow-paced tune, and with a surprising subdued main riff. Yet the song works thanks to Sean Harris’ clever vocal performance. Harris really shines on this album. Vocal-wise, he had many unique idiosyncrasies in terms of timing and note selection that made him an entertaining listen. Diamond Head continue to show their restraint with To Heaven From Hell and Call Me. Again, the pacing and arrangements of these tunes are a stark contrast to the Lightning To The Nations album. Speaking of the Lightning To The Nations album, the song Lightning To The Nations follows, a re-recording of the original. Track number five is the album’s cornerstone, the brooding title track — a menacing atmospheric tune that clocks in at almost eight minutes. Don’t You Ever Leave Me follows, another eight minute number. The first five or so minutes of Don’t You Ever Leave Me kind of meander aimlessly, but for the last three minutes the tune turns into a beautiful slow blues piece highlighted by Brian Tatler’s mournful lead guitar and Harris’ emotive vocals. The last track is a re-recording of the now classic Diamond Head masterpiece Am I Evil?. This version is not quite as good as the definitive original but it still brings the Borrowed Time album to a rousing finale (note the small lyric changes on this version). In the end, we are left with an album that I truly believe is better than Lightning To The Nations, though I expect few would agree with me. I definitely recommend discovering this misunderstood album for yourself! My score: A-
15. Rage – Nice ‘N’ Dirty
Before renaming themselves Rage, this U.K. band was called Nutz, and they released several albums in the seventies. When the NWOBHM started making waves in the early eighties, Nutz saw the new musical climate as an opportunity for a rejuvenation of sorts. They ditched the Nutz name and became the ill-monikered Rage, a name not necessarily suited for their fairly benevolent brand of hard(ish) rock. They signed to the French label Carrere Records, home to NWOBHM acts Saxon and Demon, and released three albums for the label. Nice ‘N’ Dirty was the second Rage album. The sound was traditional rock (now it could be considered “classic rock”) in the vein of bands like Bad Company, maybe Foreigner, and one would guess, Nutz (though I’ve never heard ’em). Though Rage weren’t exactly keeping with the metal times, Nice ‘N’ Dirty is actually a pretty damn enjoyable spin. Sure, the riffs are dogs, but pretty much every song on the album is catchy and memorable, particularly on the excellent side one. American Radio Stations, Wasted Years, Woman, and Silver And Gold should all sound great blasting from the car stereo on a summer night. Rage prove you don’t have to get complicated to pull off a good tune. My score: A-
14. Trance – Break Out
There weren’t a whole lot of German metal bands to keep track of in 1982. There was, of course, Scorpions (they released the great Blackout album in ’82), and certainly Accept was one of the big guns (they released Restless And Wild in ’82). What about the lesser-known acts? Well, here’s one for you… Trance!
Break Out was Trance’s debut (Rockport Records), and a very impressive one indeed. The recording itself is excellent for 1982, with a robust bottom end and plenty of fidelity. This kind of tight, crisp production was not uncommon among the upper-echelon traditional metal acts coming out of Germany during the early to mid-eighties (check out Accept, Viva, and Gravestone albums…). The extra attention to sonic detail given to these albums has helped them to stand the test of time. The guitar sound on Break Out is great; plenty of overdrive but not at all sloppy. The rhythm section is tighter than my bunghole in a prison shower. The riffs aren’t all that unique; mostly simple, metal-101 stuff. What makes the compositions interesting are the lead melodies dancing on top of the riffs. The vocal work of Lothar Antoni is an acquired taste, but I really enjoy his screechy, slightly psychotic, delivery.
Break Out consists of nine cuts. The title track is one of the highlights. This song is driven by a pounding mid-paced groove and clocks in under three minutes. As the album opener, Break Out sets the tone nicely. Break The Ice is another highlight. I like the heavy-handed, percussive riffing during the verses. Melodic guitar leads swirl about during the heavy chorus. The lyrics are about the adrenaline rush of a live rock show. Confession is yet another fave. The lyrics are very sincere and genuine. The song is about Antoni’s passion and love for music. I love these lyrics because I can really tell that these words come from the writer’s heart and soul. As someone who gets tons of joy out of music each day, I guess this song speaks to me. The last highlight I need to mention is the album’s stunning, soul-crushing final track Baby Child. The lyrics and the emotional delivery of Antoni make this semi-ballad one of the darkest and depressing songs I’ve ever heard. Really, this is an unbelievable track!
If you enjoy Trance’s Break Out, you might also enjoy Century Rendezvous by the Swedish band Glory Bells (1984). I find the two bands to be quite similar. In particular, I think Glory Bells’ vocalist, Glory North, and Trance’s Lothar Antoni were cut from the same cloth. Both give wild, unrestrained performances, and wear their emotions on their sleeve. My score: A-
13. Whitesnake – Saints & Sinners
David Coverdale’s Whitesnake was one of those bands that always delivered quality. Before turning into a “hair” metal juggernaut in the late eighties, Whitesnake was a rockin’ rhythm and blues act with a cool barroom sound.
Saints & Sinners (which I previously reviewed here), contains a handful of great boozy jams including the swaggering title cut and the fun Love An’ Affection. Let’s not forget that Saints & Sinners houses the original version of the masterpiece Here I Go Again! This version of Here I Go Again is more stripped-down than the glossy “metal” version the world would come to know a few years later when it was re-recorded for the Whitesnake album. The original version of Crying In The Rain also appears on Saints & Sinners. This album is one of Whitesnake’s finest hours. My score: A-
12. Tank – Filth Hounds Of Hades
What an awesome album cover! Yes indeed, the hounds have most definitely been released! This is Tank’s gritty debut, Filth Hounds Of Hades. One can almost smell the stale beer (and even staler urine) soaking through the speakers when these pub-ready rockers are cranked to eleven.
Many of the songs center around interesting, note dense, blues-inspired riffs; not just straight power chords. There are some pretty tasty leads, too. But in the end, Tank’s creativity takes a back seat to their endearing puke-and-rally attitude. Raucous rockers such as Turn Your Head Around and Blood, Guts And Beer are two of my particular favorites; both filth-ridden and rowdy enough to inspire a night of boozin’ or fightin’. Yet, for me the absolute highlight is T.W.D.A.M.O., a melodic and slightly laid-back tune with quirky lyrics and a chorus that sticks in the brain.
Filth Hounds Of Hades was originally released by Kamaflage Records in the United Kingdom. My score: A-
11. Witchfinder General – Death Penalty
These lovable knuckleheads of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal served up a heaping portion of Black Sabbath worship with their debut Death Penalty (Heavy Metal Records). Lead track Invisible Hate houses a groin rattling riff. The six-minute bludgeoning culminates with vocalist Zeeb Parkes praising the healing powers of “sex, drugs, rock, and beer”. That pretty much sums up what Witchfinder General’s tongue-in-cheek lyrics were all about. Well, that and burning witches at the stake. The lyrics Zeeb sings are blunt, juvenile and AWESOME.
Death Penalty is not an album that feature a whole lot of technical musicianship, but it is jam-packed with some of the fattest riffs you may ever hear. There are only seven tracks but all put a big ol’ grin on my hideously ugly face. And what’s not to love about that cover? It’s nice to see a realistic portrayal of a witch’s execution for once. I’m pretty sure the appearance of a heaving pair of milk sacks was commonplace at every Salem witch trial. My score: A-
10. Y&T – Black Tiger
With Black Tiger, Y&T unveiled their shiny, ornate, and AWESOME new logo. I just love it. The cover art is also super cool. And the album inside is another winner from one of America’s earliest and best heavy rock bands.
After a brief intro, the record launches into high gear with the swaggering power house Open Fire. Other favorites include the melodic Don’t Wanna Lose and the stellar Forever. Black Tiger closes with the bicep flex of My Way Or The Highway and the moving balladry of Winds Of Change. Such a well-rounded album. All the tracks are distinct in the moods they convey.
This album was produced by the great Max Norman, a man who knew how to crank a knob or two (his masterpiece, in my opinion, was Ozzy’s Diary Of A Madman). Y&T’s Black Tiger is simply a great example of American hard rock from a very talented band that had killer grooves and lots of sack. My score: A-
9. Krokus – One Vice At A Time
One Vice At A Time is pretty much the most essential AC/DC album ever created by a band not called AC/DC. While Krokus copped AC/DC in every way possible on this album, they did it so damn well, and with such passion, that all you can do is tip your hat and enjoy the show. Hell, Krokus even made some improvements to the patented AC/DC formula, as Fernando Von Arb’s solos throw in some cool ’80s metal flourishes, and Marc Storace adds some scorching highs to his Bon Scott-meets-Brian Johnson screech. Yeah, it’s as unoriginal as a Xerox copy of my buttocks, but with firebrands like Long Stick Goes Boom, Bad Boys Rag Dolls, and I’m On The Run tearing through your speakers like a runaway Mac truck, are you really going to give a f*ck? I say no. My score: A-
8. Ozzy Osbourne – Speak Of The Devil
It is not every day that I get boned up about a live album, but here’s a rare exception. Ozzy and his powerhouse band of Rudy Sarzo (bass), Tommy Aldridge (drums), and Brad Gillis (guitar) blaze through a monster set of Black Sabbath classics. Speak Of The Devil (called Talk Of the Devil in the U.K.) was a way for Ozzy to fulfill a contract obligation with his label, Jet Records. The folks at Jet wanted a live album, but Ozzy didn’t want to give them tapes containing his recently deceased guitarist Randy Rhoads. So he decided to record Black Sabbath covers over two nights at The Ritz in New York specifically for this live album. These days Ozzy dismisses the album as “bullshit” and has deleted it from his catalog. Nevertheless, the album sounds great (almost studio quality). Ozzy (seemingly drunk off his ass) sounds near-perfect and Gillis rips it up. Personal faves include Snowblind, The Wizard, and an intense version of Never Say Die. My score: A
7. Shiva – Firedance
Assuming you are a fan of old school heavy metal (you’re on this site, aren’t you?), eventually you’re going to start exploring the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (if you haven’t already). When you do start rummaging around for the ol’ NWOBHM stuff, don’t stop at the usual first line bands (Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Saxon, Venom, etc…). Dig deeper. You’ll get to the second tier (Witchfinder General, Tank, Samson, etc…). Don’t stop. Keep going. Pry up those old floorboards and start digging around for the forgotten gems of the NWOBHM, for there are many. Here’s one of my personal favorites. Firedance by Shiva!
Firedance was Shiva’s one and only album (Heavy Metal Records). It is not a particularly “heavy” album, but it contains brilliant songs executed with gusto by this Bristol trio. The production is robust, the lyrics are smart, the vocals are excellent, and the melodies are very catchy. It takes a while to get into these mildly proggy hard rock tunes, but once engaged the album won’t leave the stereo. Particular favorites include the infectious Call Me In The Morning and the bludgeoning Wild Machine. The album also houses what I consider to be no less than a masterpiece in a song called Angel Of Mons. Easily one of my favorite songs EVER! My score: A
6. Heavy Load – Death Or Glory
Born from Odin’s testicular froth, Heavy Load descended from Valhalla’s hall to deliver this glorious offering of Scandinavian steel. The original LP was released by the band’s own Thunderload records. The album featured nine barrel-chested hymns of epic Swedish metal. A 7-inch single accompanied the original LP; adding two more songs to the package (Take Me Away and Trespasser).
The playing on Death Or Glory is not all that technical, but the songs bludgeon the listener into submission with meaty guitars and drums that sound as if they are played using fists instead of drum sticks. Heavy Load didn’t really sound much like any other metal band in ’82, but that was probably due more to naivety than design. The songs are crude but sincere. The Load (as I call them) jam-packed their songs with big, fat melodies. The chorus refrains seem almost arcane; calling to mind songs from the ’50s or ’60s. The kind of stuff you may hear on oldies radio. Seriously. You’ll be singing these songs for days. You won’t be able to get the Load out of your mouth!
The band’s image was one of almost Spinal Tap-esque cliché. The album cover sums up what Heavy Load was all about: low-budget as hell, but overflowing with grandeur.
These days the original LP fetches a high price, as do CD versions (either from Japan or bootlegs), so a download may be in order. Try to get something ripped from the original vinyl because CD versions that I’ve encountered DO NOT contain the song The Guitar Is My Sword despite the track being listed on the back cover. My score: A
5. Vandenberg – Vandenberg
The debut album from Vandenberg is an unsung jewel of classy, well-played, well-produced, and well-voiced Dutch hard rock. The band’s namesake was guitar virtuoso (and artist) Adrian Vandenberg, who showcased his excellent songwriting, and tasteful guitar mastery throughout this superb, smooth record.
This is an album that can be played start to finish without any need for the skip button. Every song is a good one. The production is understated, but quite fitting for the band’s disarming nature. You would be hard pressed to find an album that has a more even partitioning of the individual instruments; bass, guitar, drums, and voice. Adrian Vandenberg does not try to take over the show and outshine his band mates, although one could not blame him if he did, as he is quite the player indeed.
The band’s other not-so-secret weapon was the bright and pitch-perfect voice of Bert Heernick. He’s a great singer; one I could listen to all day. His English enunciation is not quite perfect, but who says it has to be?
Favorites include the ballad Burning Heart, and rockers Your Love Is In Vain and Ready For You. Those of you who only know Adrian Vandenberg from his stint later on with Whitesnake should check out this excellent band that lasted for three solid albums. Start with Vandenberg, the first and best of the lot. My score: A
4. Scorpions – Blackout
Blackout features the mighty Scorpions at the height of their Teutonic powers. The album is a textbook example of radio-ready heavy metal done to perfection. It’s accessible and commercial, but still has tons of nut. I can’t imagine a better choice for the tape deck while cruising on a hot summer night in ’82.
The title track kicks off the album with a roundhouse kick to the jaw. The hits keep coming, one after another, through side one and deep into side two. Only the album’s last track, the wimpy When The Smoke Is Going Down, disrupts the fun. My personal favorite track on the album is Arizona, a deep cut that is upbeat and mega-catchy.
Of course, I can’t leave without mention of the song China White. Pay attention all you female strippers out there, this song would be a perfect choice for your stage act! China White has one of those killer, massive grooves that seems tailor-made for strutting around in ten-inch heels through a cloud of machine-generated fog. Come to think of it, “China White” isn’t that bad of a stage name either. So really its just an all around great song for sluts.
Blackout was released by Mercury Records. It is certified platinum in the United States. My score: A
3. Breaker – In Days Of Heavy Metal
Here’s a rare piece from a Canadian band called Breaker. It’s one of those diamonds in the rough that caught my ear and never let go. In Days Of Heavy Metal was an independently released EP that contained four tracks; all very much locked on to the best attributes of the NWOBHM. Simply put, this little gem is a glorious triumph of pure kick-assity! I previously posted a full review of this album here. My score: A
2. Manowar – Battle Hymns
Let’s be honest, there wasn’t a whole lot of American heavy metal to write home about in 1982. Just take a look at this list if you need proof. Most of the bands came from Europe. Enter Manowar! An American metal band to be proud of. New York’s Manowar made a definitive statement with their 1982 debut Battle Hymns. This was loud, brash, cocky, in-your-face heavy f*cking metal! Interestingly, the album takes almost no cues from the exploding NWOBHM scene. The album contains a mixture of straightforward metal songs and… well… BATTLE HYMNS! Previously I discussed this album in detail (post found here). Check it out if your interested in learning a bit more. Bottom line: Battle Hymns was the beginning of the Manowar legend, and, in my opinion, still stands today as the best thing they ever did! My score: A+
1. Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast
Maiden’s third LP is the first to feature Bruce on vocals. He was snatched up from Samson, another fine NWOBHM band. This really shot Maiden into a whole new stratosphere. Although previous vocalist Paul Di’Anno had a certain street urchin appeal, I think he was definitely going to become a limiting factor for Iron Maiden if they were ever to break out of the NWOBHM scene into a full-fledged world-wide phenomenon. With Bruce, there was no ceiling. The rest was history.
These days The Number Of The Beast is still widely considered one of the top five metal albums ever. There is little that I can add in terms of a review that hasn’t already been said. The Maiden “classics” on The Number Of The Beast are the title track, Run To The Hills, and Hallowed Be Thy Name. But for me, I enjoy visiting with the deeper tracks (as the aforementioned trio have been played to death by this point). My absolute favorite is the inspiring The Prisoner. Gangland is another deep cut that shows Maiden at their most vicious. This viciousness would last for about two more albums before Maiden started to get bogged down and a bit gluttonous. This album, 1983’s Piece Of Mind, and 1984’s Powerslave are essential Iron Maiden releases. Maiden was quite possibly the best traditional metal band in the world from 1982-1984. Better than Priest for sure. My score: A+
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