25. Motörhead – Orgasmatron
The first full length Motörhead album to feature Phil Campbell, Würzel and Pete Gill alongside the ubiquitous Lemmy Kilmeister, Orgasmatron saw a welcome return to the more pile-driving rock sound for which the band had made their name.
“Nothing Up My Sleeve” felt like another welcome re-working of “Ace Of Spades”, opener “Deaf Forever” was a hard rockin’ slap around the face and the title track remains one of the most distinctive Motörhead anthems ever recorded.
Sonically devastating, the chugging relentless riffing and distorted vocals of “Orgasmatron” was way ahead of it’s time and the fledgling world of extreme metal was certainly listening; Lemmy had just paved the way for an aural onslaught that still echoes throughout the genre.
24. Fifth Angel – Fifth Angel
Fifth Angel were the American power/heavy metal band who had it all yet sadly remained virtually unnoticed by the majority of metal fans. Neither hair metal nor thrash metal, Fifth Angel were simply a heavy metal band in the purist terms; having more in common with the likes of Dio than the prevailing trends of the year.
Their clean and catchy sound should have seen them break into the mainstream and while pop-metal would be a fair description, the hard-hitting anthemic likes of “In The Fallout” and “Call Out The Warning” distanced them from the glam-metal shenanigans of Poison, Cinderella & Warrant etc.
Fans of Ratt, Skid Row and Quiet Riot should invest in Fifth Angel (if you haven’t already) as these guys were a seriously pristine act with a quality album to back up the superlatives!
23. Agnostic Front – Cause For Alarm
A definitive crossover release, Agnostic Front were part of a very select group (Corrosion Of Conformity, Cryptic Slaughter, Crumbsuckers, Excel and D.R.I included) who were blurring the lines between punk and metal.
Seamlessly gelling the precision riffing of heavy metal with punk’s raucous raw nature, Agnostic Front were as adept at speed metal – opener “The Eliminator” could give Agent Steel a run for their money – as they were at retaining their roots; the NYHC classic “Your Mistake” may be ‘metallized’ but it’s still punk rock incarnate.
A daring triumph, Cause For Alarm is as overwhelmingly innovative and powerful now as it was back in ’86; a revolutionary release from a band unafraid of breaking the so-called rules!
22. Sword – Metalized
Another cult metal release, Sword‘s Metalized took the sound of Saxon, Accept and Dio and ran with it, not in a different direction per se but they certainly carved their own niche in an overcrowded genre; even if the world failed to take heed.
Neither thrash, power or speed metal, Metalized was simply a traditional metal album, built on effective riffs, convincing vocals and massive hooks. “Stoned Again” had that melodic Megadeth sound years before Dave Mustaine courted the mainstream and “Runaway” opens like a classic Maiden track Bruce and the boys failed to write! The rest of the album is as equally flamboyant, fun and frantic, riff after riff supplying that thrill only quality 80’s metal albums provide.
100% heavy metal; there’s no better recommendation than that!
21. Bad Brains – I Against I
Bad Brains epitomised diversity and I Against I is a masterpiece, regardless of which decade it surfaced in. One of those albums where the stars just seemed to align, Bad Brains arguably peaked with a scathing and exhausting collection of violent, visceral compositions led by the instantly recognisable “House of Suffering”.
Radical and ridiculously focused, the funky innovative rhythms of Dr Know and the vocal gymnastics of H.R. somehow resulted in a warm, yet blisteringly raw, anomaly when it came to 1986 releases.
Bad Brains were operating in their own world and while the influences punk, funk, soul, reggae and metal loomed large they forged their own sound entirely, a feat precious few band ever achieve!
20. Metal Church – The Dark
Featuring all-time ‘Church’ classics “Ton Of Bricks”, “Start The Fire”, the intimidating power ballad – and minor hit – that was “Watch The Children Pray” and the creepy title track, The Dark may have been one of the more melodic thrash releases of ’86 but it was also one of the finest and the most accomplished.
Side 2 may have failed to maintain the velocity of the ‘5 for 5’ hit rate of side 1 but there’s no escaping the fact that Metal Church and The Dark were a monumental influence on the burgeoning thrash scene.
19. Heir Apparent – Graceful Inheritence
Heir Apparent’s debut album may have been virtually ignored by their native Americans but Europe lapped it up, drawn in by a majestic sound – not attributable to the mix which is uniformly terrible it has to be said – which recalled the early sounds of Fates Warning, Queensrÿche and the NWOBHM.
Historically, this underground treasure of U.S. power metal has much to offer. Ahead of its time and revered amongst aficionados, its humble beginnings (self funded and without label help) are writ large but the songwriting nous and accomplished musicianship on tracks such as the instrumental “R.I.P (Live)” and the delicately immersive “Keeper Of The Reign” is obvious.
18. Crumbsuckers – Life of Dreams
Infused with an endless array of exemplary hardcore meets thrash riffs – Crumbsuckers arguably perfected the art of combining the two styles on Life Of Dreams (follow up Beast On My Back followed a more metal path) – this groundbreaking collection was musically accomplished and stood Crumbsuckers out as the most talented of the crossover pack.
Twisting and turning through riff and tempo changes, this schizophrenic beast of a record remains a hardcore flurry of adrenalised aggression; simply brilliant!
17. Flotsam and Jetsam – Doomsday For The Deceiver
One of the greatest thrash debuts known to man, Flotsam and Jetsam‘s Doomsday For The Deceiver led the world to believe that a new thrash superpower had arrived (not quite, unfortunately) with a collection of tunes both overwhelmingly powerful and expertly performed.
Taking the very best bits of speed metal, power metal and thrash metal and perfecting them amongst a flurry of cranking bass, warp-speed riffs and Erik A.K’s formidable pipes, the likes of the feral “Hammerhead”, the intense “Iron Tears” and the epic ability of the exquisite title track mark out Doomsday For The Deceiver as an undisputed all-time thrash classic.
Many will recall the rarely used 6K mark awarded by Kerrang back in ’86 but that does this legendary release a disservice…this one truly does go up to 11!
16. Nuclear Assault – Game Over
Another thrash milestone – 1986 truly was the greatest year in thrash metal history – Nuclear Assault‘s debut album saw Danny Lilker and his merry men release an unrefined and cataclysmic thrash metal assault on the world!
Still tapped in to the raw emotion and pure power over technical skill mentality of thrash metal’s early releases – that’s not to say these boys couldn’t play but it’s the attitude that shines through – Game Over bordered on a crossover release; revelling in gang vocals, thunderous bass and John Connoly’s unhinged and apocalyptic screeching diatribes.
From the blacker than black humour of “Hang The Pope” to the end of the world announcing “Nuclear War”, “After The Holocaust” and “Radiation Sickness”, Nuclear Assault hit like the proverbial atomic bomb in ’86 and instantly cemented their place amongst the greats of thrash metal.