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5 Often Under-Appreciated Classics Of 80’s American Heavy Metal (Part 4)

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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 4, there’s plenty more quality 80’s American heavy metal to come!

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

Destructor – Maximum Destruction (1985)

Destructor – Maximum Destruction (2019, Vinyl) - Discogs

With band members christening themselves Matt Flammable, Pat Rabid, Dave Overkill and Dave Holocaust, you’re not looking for subtlety when you blast Destructor’s 1985 debut Maximum Destruction….. you’re looking for unadulterated THRASH with a side order of POWER! 

And guess what? That’s exactly what you get!

Maximum Destruction’s riotously rudimentary nature may sound antiquated to modern ears but these guys were at the forefront of extremity in 1985, matching Slayer in the ferocity stakes and unleashing all manner of merry thrashin’ hell in the name youthful abandonment. An often overlooked release, Maximum Destruction was every inch the equal of Slayer’s Show No Mercy and Anthrax’s Fistful Of Metal and Destructor fully deserved to reach a wider audience with their reprehensibly raw, heavy metal racket.

Chastain – Ruler Of The Wasteland (1986)

Ruler of the Wasteland by Chastain on Apple Music

Unfairly ignored for the most part, Chastain have always been highly atmospheric, chillingly melodic and had a strong taste for the epic, resulting in Ruler Of The Wasteland; a sophomore album that should have turned far more heads than it actually did when released all those years ago!

Leather Leone, one of the greatest female vocalists in metal, is flawless throughout – matching the likes of the mighty David Wayne on the Metal Church-esque highlight, “Angel Of Mercy” – and Ruler Of The Wastel and exemplifies straight up, lightning fast metal at its finest; a riveting snapshot of what made 80’s American heavy metal so consistently thrilling!

With the band still going strong – 2015’s We Bleed Metal was a riff lovers dream – there’s no better time to retrace the footsteps left by Chastain….starting with the outstanding Ruler Of The Wasteland.

Exorcist – Nightmare Theatre (1986)

Exorcist – Nightmare Theatre (1986, Vinyl) - Discogs

A true cult classic, Nightmare Theatre may have sprung from the mind of David DeFeis (Virgin Steele) but its horror overtones and occult tendencies were far removed from Virgin Steele‘s power metal output.

Like an unholy coupling of Destruction and W.A.S.P, the appeal of Nightmare Theatre lay in its camp 80’s feel and video nasty sensibility that renders it oddly nostalgic whilst still capable of kicking ass!

The only Exorcist release (to date) can lay claim to influencing death metal and black metal but needs to be remembered for being one hell of great mid-80’s speed/heavy/thrash metal record.

The Rods – Heavier Than Thou (1986)

The Rods are a New York classic metal power trio that never got anywhere near the respect they were due in the 80’s. They weren’t flashy and their hair wasn’t big but The Rods knew how to let loose.

Though not as spirited as fellow New Yorkers RiotThe Rods had their own style of street-level appeal that garnered them a following….and the band certainly released some solid albums in the 80’s.

1986’s Heavier Than Thou found The Rods acquiring a new singer, Schmoulik Avigal (fomerly of Dutch metal band Picture), making them a quartet with a new level of vocal intensity and quality. Like the title suggests, The Rods got heavier as the 80s went on, embracing a more traditional power metal direction and they should have achieved more fame and fortune for their efforts. Overall, Heavier Than Thou is an exemplary release and its only flaw is an unnecessary cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown” which failed to deliver.

Hittman – Hittman (1988)

NY metal band Hittman remain somewhat of a forgotten anomaly when it comes to 80’s metal and yet their debut album, the self titled Hittman, is a stone-cold classic of the era!

Reminiscent of Crimson GloryDokkenExciter and Queensryche, these guys excelled at the kind of melodic power metal that would have sent their career stratospheric had it emerged just a few years prior. Instead, thrash had taken hold and Hittman found themselves rudely passed by – despite garnering praise for their outstanding demo Metal Sport in 1985 – which left Hittman in a state of relative obscurity.

Sure, Hittman weren’t delivering anything particularly groundbreaking but they were bloody good at what they did and the uptempo one-two of openers “Metal Sport” and “Dead On Arrival” still hit the target!

Also in this Series: 

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

5 Often Under-Appreciated Classics Of 80’s American Heavy Metal (Part 2)

5 Often Under-Appreciated Classics Of 80’s American Heavy Metal (Part 3)

About Chris Jennings (1986 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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