Thursday, October 20, 2016

Five of the Most Underrated Metal Albums of the 1980s

The 1980s was a huge decade for heavy metal and hard rock thanks to plenty of radio airplay and emergence of MTV and MuchMusic. While there were many, many great albums produced, some of them were largely overlooked by metal fans thanks to a lack of marketing or minimal exposure on video channels and radio airplay. If you haven't heard any of these five albums, do yourself a favour and check them out!

Mechanical Resonance by Tesla

The debut release from the Sacramento quintet is a hard rock tour-de-force that's exceptionally produced by metal heavyweights Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero. Released in 1986, a couple of tracks "Little Suzi" and "Modern Day Cowboy" got some airplay on MTV and MuchMusic in Canada. Mechanical Resonance is an album that kicks ass from the extended string scratch and solo to open the record on "EZ Come, EZ Go" to the trippy ballad "Right Before My Eyes" that closes the album. Aside from the stellar vocals of Jeff Keith, guitarists Tommy Skeoch and Frank Hannon provide the punch on this album with their brilliant fretwork.

Last Decade Dead Century by Warrior Soul

A band that should have been much bigger than they were, Warrior Soul burst onto metal scene in 1990 with their debut Last Decade Dead Century, a bleak look, from the gutter, at the drug scene in American ghettos, Cold War politics and the rampant consumerism that took over in the '80s. Mixing great melody and harmonies with heavy guitar, Last Decade Dead Century is an album that stands out among the tiring generic metal that was coming out at the end of the decade. There isn't a weak song in this record, which only suffers from production that could be improved. "We Cry Out", "The Losers" and "Charlie's Out of Prison" are exceptional tracks.

Rage For Order by Queensrÿche

Many metal fans know Queensrÿche's opus Operation: Mindcrime, but the record they produced before it is just as good. Rage for Order is the band's sophomore studio album, released in 1986. Among the album's 11 tracks are all-time Queensrÿche greats like "The Whisper", "Neue Regal", "Walk in the Shadows" and "London". The album, a fine blend of metal and progressive rock, took five years before it went Gold in the U.S. (500,000 sales), showing how under-appreciated it was upon release. Production-wise, it sounds better than their debut "The Warning" thanks to Neil Kernon, who worked with the band on the record.

Vices by Kick Axe

When record companies began churning out hard rock records in 1984 after the success of Def Leppard's Pyromania and Quiet Riot's Metal Health, one of the bands they stumbled upon was Kick Axe, who originally hailed from Regina, Saskatchewan. Vices was the Canadian band's debut album and was produced by Spencer Proffer, the guy who was behind the board on Metal Health. Vices is built around hard rock anthems like "Heavy Metal Shuffle", "Stay on Top" and "On The Road To Rock" with big choruses and crunchy riffs. Despite getting some airplay in Canada on MuchMusic, the album didn't propel the band to the top.

Act III by Death Angel

Another record that straddled the 1980s, Act III was released in 1990 after being recorded in 1989. With uber producer Max Norman (Ozzy Osbourne, Savatage, Loudness) at the helm, Act III is a great sounding record blending thrash, classic metal, a bit of funk "Discontinued" and the amazing ballad "Room With A View". MTV played "Room With A View" and "Seemingly Endless Time" but the album never really went anywhere. While Act III is an underrated record, it should be noted how underrated Rob Cavestany is a songwriter and guitarist. Without him, there is no Death Angel.