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10 Best Metal Albums of 1984

Kevin Winter, Getty Images / Theo Wargo, Getty Images / Kathy Flynn, WickedGoddessPhotography.com

When 1983 came to an end, metal fans had a lot to be happy about. The world saw albums like ‘Kill ‘Em All,’ ‘Holy Diver,’ ‘Piece of Mind,’ and a slew of other classics that would certainly be on constant rotation on record players for years to come. The main question was how could 1984 even compete with such a monumental year for metal as 1983? Bands that made our 10 Best Metal Albums of 1983 stepped it up once again and, as always, some new bands came along, too.

As metal continued to evolve, thrash was starting to truly take its shape and the first wave of black metal was hitting its stride. On the prettier side of things, the love-it-or-hate-it genre of glam metal was on the rise in Los Angeles, which would soon spread to the world. 1984 was a year where metal was simultaneously furthering its horizons on the global scene and entrenching itself in the underground. The year became a major turning point where the necessity to label sub-genres came to be, as things were no longer simply just ‘metal.’ Come take a look at this pivotal year as we count down the 10 Best Metal Albums of 1984!


Queensryche, 'The Warning'
EMI
10

'The Warning'

Queensryche
 
 

With a huge buzz surrounding Queensryche after their self-titled EP, fans couldn't wait to get their hands on 'The Warning.' The album is a departure from the standard NWOBHM approach of the EP and immediately saw Queensryche set themselves apart from so many other with their new brand of progressive, "thinking man's metal." Cuts like 'En Force' and 'Take Hold of the Flame' have been live staples and fan favorites throughout the years, with some more hidden gems like 'NM 156' being dusted off every now and then live.

 
Bathory, 'Bathory'
Black Mark Production
9

'Bathory'

Bathory
 
 

One would be hard-pressed to find any black metal band that doesn't state Bathory's eponymous debut album as a major influence. Mainman Quorthon took Venom's dirty approach, sped things up, and added a screeching vocal rasp that has become one of the hallmarks of the black metal style. While Quorthon continuously evolved the Bathory sound and eventually sparked viking metal, 'Bathory' and its raw, aggressive sound still holds up as one of the finest contributions to the unabashed first wave of black metal.

 
W.A.S.P., 'W.A.S.P.'
Capitol
8

'W.A.S.P.'

W.A.S.P.
 
 

W.A.S.P. seemingly always get lumped into the glam band realm, and while they may have borrowed some of the look, Blackie Lawless and his crew always maintained more of an edge than any of the bands in that scene. Metal anthems like 'I Wanna Be Somebody' and 'L.O.V.E. Machine' are found on this self-titled album along with some overlooked classics like 'Tormentor' and 'The Flame.' With 'W.A.S.P.,' the band immediately stood out in the hair genre they were always being associated with.

 
Dio, 'The Last in Line'
Warner Bros.
7

'The Last in Line'

Dio
 
 

Following the massively successful and influential 'Holy Diver' album, it was time for Ronnie James Dio and his Dio band to go back to work. What came was 'The Last in Line,' a worth successor to the mighty debut album. Songs like the title track and 'Evil Eyes' continued the sound with Vivian Campbell's savage guitar playing leading the way, anchored by Vinny Appice's titan drumming. 'The Last in Line' shows that 'Holy Diver' was not a fluke and the legendary frontman once again was a musical force to be reckoned with.

 
Yngwie J. Malmsteen, 'Rising Force'
Polydor
6

'Rising Force'

Yngwie J. Malmsteen
 
 

When anyone thinks of metal and guitar virtuosos, Yngwie Malmsteen is usually the first person to come to mind. His neoclassical approach to metal blew minds and dropped jaws, redefining what it means to shred. Malmsteen composes traditional songs like 'Now Your Ships Are Burned' as well as instrumentals 'Far Beyond the Sun' and 'Icarus' Dream Suite Op. 4.' 'Rising Force' helped pave the way for guitarists like Michael Romeo in Symphony X among a host of others.

 
Ratt, 'Out of the Cellar'
Atlantic
5

'Out of the Cellar'

Ratt
 
 

Ratt were among the first glam bands to burst onto the scene in 1984 with their widely successful debut album 'Out of the Cellar.' The mega-hit 'Round and Round' saw significant airplay on MTV, which helped the song peak at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. The sleazy riffing of Warren DeMartini and Robbin Crosby saw the ethos of the Los Angeles scene seep past the lyrics and into the music itself. Other hits off 'Out of the Cellar' include 'Back for More' and 'Wanted Man.'

 
Mercyful Fate, 'Don't Break the Oath'
Roadrunner
4

'Don't Break the Oath'

Mercyful Fate
 
 

After the making waves in the underground with their debut album 'Melissa,' Mercyful Fate made a name for themselves with 'Don't Break the Oath.' Taking cues from '70s Judas Priest and Paul Di'Anno era Iron Maiden and putting their own Satanic twist on things with King Diamond's dynamic voice, this album helped to define an era. The overall mood from the production is haunting, furthering the Satanic lyrics, making 'Don't Break the Oath' a sinister record.

 
Judas Priest, 'Defenders of the Faith'
Columbia
3

'Defenders of the Faith'

Judas Priest
 
 

While many fans may had been wondering how Judas Priest could follow 'Screaming for Vengeance,' the band had more than just an answer. 'Defenders of the Faith' is home to some of Priest's most outstanding displays of songwriting like 'The Sentinel.' The opener, 'Freewheel Burning' sees Rob Halford wail like never before, proving even more that he was worth his weight in gold. The band fire on all cylinders here and added yet another classic album to the mix for fans to debate which is the best.

 
Metallica, 'Ride the Lightning'
Elektra
2

'Ride the Lightning'

Metallica
 
 

'Kill 'Em All' broke new ground as one of the first thrash albums, but still retained a bit of that NWOBHM feel. Where Metallica really broke free was on 'Ride the Lightning,' which is an exercise in no-holds-barred thrash. From the explosive opener, 'Fight Fire With Fire' to the instrumental closer 'The Call of Ktulu,' every song has proven to be a thrash classic. In 1984, there was absolutely nothing out there like what Metallica unleashed.

 
Iron Maiden, 'Powerslave'
EMI
1

'Powerslave'

Iron Maiden
 
 

It may be impossible for Iron Maiden fans to choose their favorite album from the band, but one album that is never out of the conversation is 'Powerslave.' With the singles 'Aces High' and '2 Minutes to Midnight,' the band expanded on their growing success. The 'World Slavery Tour' saw Maiden play 187 shows in 11 months, hitting nearly every corner of the planet. The band brought their Egyptian stage set around the world, busting out all the hits and the epic 'Powerslave' closer, 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.'

 

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