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5 Often Under-Appreciated Classics Of 80’s American Heavy Metal (Part 1)

Give 'em the love they deserve!

This feature is here to highlight those 80’s American heavy metal classics which, we feel, deserve far more love….and this is just PART 1, there’s plenty more quality 80’s American heavy metal to come!

Presented in order of release as opposed to any kind of ranking….

Manilla Road – Open The Gates (1985)

Manilla Road – Open The Gates (2018, Vinyl) - Discogs

With Open The Gates, cult favourites Manilla Road recorded their heaviest, most focused album to date. Taking their cues predominantly from thrash and the NWOBHM, their epic brand of heavy metal marched on from 1983’s Crystal Logic into ever more muscular territory.

The fantastical and the epic were embraced with no sign of cliche and it was this commitment to pure heavy metal that propelled Open The Gates along at breakneck speed.

Highly underrated, Manilla Road and this classic album deserve to be household names and why they fail to receive the mainstream respect they fully deserve is beyond comprehension!


Crimson Glory – Crimson Glory (1986)

Crimson Glory – Crimson Glory (1986, Vinyl) - Discogs

Few bands could rival the metal perfection engineered by Crimson Glory on this, their debut album, and its equally accomplished follow up Transcendence. Bombastic, heavily charismatic and enlivened by the outstanding vocals of frontman Midnight….Crimson Glory had it all!

Masterful musicianship and a theatricality that left even Queensrÿche flailing, the likes of “Azrael” remain mind blowing; a true classic of 80’s American heavy metal overflowing with enough ideas and perfect riffs to fill an entire album.

A band that should have experienced the success of the Maiden’s and Priest’s of this world, their footnote standing in the annals of 80’s American heavy metal history is a disgrace.


Fifth Angel – Fifth Angel (1986)

Fifth Angel – Fifth Angel (1986, Vinyl) - Discogs

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 an accessible heavy metal band in the purist terms; having more in common with the likes of Dio than the prevailing trends of the day.

With their self-titled album, their clean and catchy sound should have seen them break into the mainstream and while pop-metal would (sometimes) be a fair description, the hard-hitting anthemic likes of “In The Fallout” and “Call Out The Warning” distanced them far from the glam-metal shenanigans of PoisonCinderella & Warrant etc.

Fans of the heavier moments of RattSkid 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 debut album to back up the superlatives!


Heir Apparent – Graceful Inheritance (1986)

Heir Apparent – Graceful Inheritance (2022, Vinyl) - Discogs

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 WarningQueensrÿche and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

Historically, this underground treasure of 80’s American heavy 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” remain obvious to hear.

Cult. Class.


Savage Grace – Master Of Disguise (1985)

Savage Grace – Master Of Disguise (1985, Vinyl) - Discogs

Savage Grace are one of those bands that get a bum deal. Acknowledged as highly influential by their peers, yet left to rot by the record-buying public. A situation that was grossly unfair and one listen to Master Of Disguise should explain why.

If lightning-fast speed/heavy/power metal tickles your fancy this will leave you practically giddy and fans of HelloweenAgent Steel and Exciter should consider Master Of Disguise a must-own album.

Master Of Disguise is accomplished NWOBHM-inspired-thrash that should have been massive, make amends for your ambivalence and grab a copy.…NOW!

About Chris Jennings (1955 Articles)
I love metal. Always have. Always will. As editor of Worship Metal - a site dedicated to being as positive about metal and its myriad of sub-genres as possible - my aim is to 'worship' metal through honest reviews, current news and a wide variety of features; offering the same exposure to underground bands as we do to mainstream/well known acts. Our mantra; the bands are partners and we exist to serve the bands \m/

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