Metallica didn't invent thrash, but they certainly brought it to the masses, and this album is the one that started it all. Their debut album was groundbreaking, packed with raw power and blazing fast riffs that they would polish and perfect over the years. Dave Mustaine co-wrote several songs on this album, although he was no longer a member of the band by this time. Highlights include "Whiplash," "No Remorse" and "Seek and Destroy."
Iron Maiden continued their spectacular run in the '80s with another outstanding album. They had another lineup change, adding drummer Nicko McBrain to the group. It's a really diverse album, and a little less cohesive than Number Of The Beast. The lyrics are also diverse, taking elements from several different books and films. "Flight Of Icarus" is the highlight of this album.
Two of metal's "Big 4" of thrash debuted in 1983. Slayer would prove to be a groundbreaking band, brutal and menancing. They would peak a few years later with one of the all time great metal albums, but their debut Show No Mercy showed Slayer's vast potential. They hadn't quite defined their sound yet, and the lyrics are somewhat cheesy, but there's no disputing the great guitar work and distinctive vocals. This album set the stage for a long and successful career for Slayer.
Mercyful Fate was King Diamond's band. They released a couple of outstanding albums and then broke up for a decade. This was their debut, and was very important in the black metal genre. It had evil lyrics, dual guitars and elements of goth and progressive metal. King Diamond's vocals are really diverse, going from guttural growls to operatic singing.
The album's title track was a big hit and brought Accept some short-lived U.S. popularity. Balls To The Wall was melodic, but still packed plenty of punch. It had a great balance of simple riffs and more complex solos along with many different tempos. The lyrics were a bit cheesy, but English wasn't the German band's first language. Top to bottom this was probably Accept's best album.
Def Leppard's third album was their masterpiece. Not only was it a monstrous commercial success, it also received a lot of critical praise. This was the album where everything came together, a combination of catchy rock anthems and massive MTV and radio exposure that pushed sales into the millions. Pyromania was filled with hits, including "Rock Of Ages," "Photograph" and "Foolin'."
The Crue's second album saw them refining their sleazy Sunset Strip glam metal, although the sound was still pretty raw. "Looks That Kill," "Too Young To Fall In Love" and the title track were successful singles, and they also did a cover version of the Beatles' "Helter Skelter." Commercially it also did rather well, peaking at number 17 on the album chart. It symbolized the sex, drugs and rock 'n roll vibe that the '80s were all about.