Back in Black, AC/DC (1980)
Back in Black sold an impressive 25 million copies, proving just how commercial hard rock can be. Bon Scott may have departed but Brian Johnson just fine in his place, fronting a band that offered arena-rock anthems that sound every bit as good now as they did back then. Replacing a man as beloved as Scott, especially one so young and lost in such tragic circumstance, was never going to be an easy task. However, the collection of songs on this album proved that the band hadn’t lost a step. Back in Black remains an album that fans adore and would almost certainly have seen the late Bon Scott looking down on his one-time bandmates with pride.
Appetite for Destruction, Guns N’ Roses (1987)
From the moment we hear Welcome to the Jungle’s opening salvo to rejoicing in the guitar-led ballad that is Sweet Child O’ Mine to the funky grooves and lyrical terror of Mr Brownstone, Appetite for Destruction established Guns N’ Roses as the wrecking crew from Sunset Strip. Encased in a shell that screams rock ’n’ roll, the album is total genius!
Blizzard of Ozz, Ozzy Osbourne (1981)
The first solo effort from Ozzy gave us some of the finest songs in the genre, such as Mr Crowley, Suicide Solution, and Crazy Train. With Randy Rhoads wielding the axe, this album came close to asking metal fans if they remembered who Black Sabbath even were. That horror-infused album cover of Ozzy with a cross still ranks among the scariest album covers of all-time. He’s always been somewhat the Godfather of the intriguing relationship between heavy metal and the devil, and he is as every bit as popular as a solo artist as he was as the frontman of Sabbath.
Master of Puppets, Metallica (1986)
Either Ride the Lightning or Master of Puppets could have been chosen as a worthwhile inclusion on this list. Both were great examples of 80’s metal’s thrash and burn style and both are benchmarks of one of metal’s all-time great bands. You’d be hard impressed to find a fan of Metallica who isn’t head-over-heels in love with Master of Puppets for its exceptional playing. In fact, if you were to find one, you’d be quite within your rights to call them out for not being a true fan. The album is efficient in its time and is effective and concise.
There wasn’t a single second wasted in the recording of this album, and there isn’t a single minute of time wasted when listening to it. A true classic!
Many of the bands on this list were supposed to have been killed off by the grunge revolution. You wouldn’t know that, however, if you were watching VH1 Classic or simply looking at the acts set to play at your local venues. The fact is that 80’s metal continued to fascinate music lovers and bands such as Anthrax and Slayer are still thrilling audiences to this day.