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

Sink your teeth into this little lot.....

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Continuing in the vein of our under-appreciated UK, U.S & German thrash features and our under-appreciated American death metal features, Worship Metal now casts its critical eye over 6 under-appreciated classics of 80’s American Heavy Metal….and you can forget the big guns of the genre, as we’re focusing on those albums that tend to slip under the radar.

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!

Starting with:

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.


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 Warning, Queensrÿche 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.


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!


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 Helloween, Agent 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!


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.


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 Poison, Cinderella & Warrant etc.

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

Have we forgotten your favourite unsung / under-appreciated 80’s American heavy metal album? If we have, pop it in the comments section below!

About Chris Jennings (1831 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/

4 Comments on 6 Under-Appreciated Classics Of 80’s American Heavy Metal (Part 1)

  1. Héctor Hurtado // May 31, 2018 at 4:22 pm // Reply

    What a list, fantastic! I would only change Open the Gates for Crystal Logic and that’s it!

  2. Culprit, Helstar, Medieval Steel

    • Chris Jennings // June 4, 2018 at 4:34 pm // Reply

      Good call! Helstar are already pencilled in for a future entry but Culprit and Medieval Steel definitely need some attention….we’ll get on it!!! \m/

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