10 Best Metal Albums of 1983
If a metalhead managed to get a hold of a time machine, 1983 would be one of the first years on the list to visit. It was a time where traditional heavy metal reigned supreme and thrash emerged as a new force to be reckoned with.
Legends continued to release landmark albums and other legends in the making were just starting to make their mark. One of the best years in heavy metal produced enduring albums, so we invite you to take a look at the 10 Best Metal Albums of 1983.
The British had an impeccable knack for writing undeniably great speed metal and Satan stand out as one of the best in the herd. Their quirky court themes are apparent in ‘Trial by Fire’ and ‘Break Free’ while ‘Broken Treaties” deals with American settlers and Native Americans. ‘Court in the Act’ is unrelenting in speed, hooks, dueling solos, and thorough songwriting. This cult classic deserves more recognition than just underground conversation because there are not a lot of true heavy metal albums better than this one.
‘Metal Health’ is immortalized in music history as the first heavy metal album to reach the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart, bumping the Police from the top spot. The L.A. band’s third album, and first without guitarist Randy Rhoads, achieved this through the hit songs ‘Bang Your Head (Metal Health)’ and the Slade cover ‘Cum on Feel the Noize.’ Quiet Riot’s popularity didn’t stop there and they even secured a spot opening for Black Sabbath on the ‘Born Again' tour.
Fresh off a successful debut album, Motley Crue turned up the sleaze in 1983 with 'Shout at the Devil.' The back alley riffing in the title track, ‘Looks That Kill,’ and ‘Too Young to Fall in Love’ soaked the band in the bad boy/good lover charm. Guys wanted to be them and girls wanted to be with them. This is the album that put Mötley Crüe on the map and set the stage for one of the world’s most infamous bands.
Slayer helped to spawn thrash in 1983 with their debut album that takes the mentality of Venom and the songwriting of the cult band Angel Witch to make for one Hellish sonic brew. With the devil on their side, the now historical band penned fan favorites like ‘Die by the Sword’ and ‘Black Magic.’ Though the band quickly abandoned the New Wave of British Heavy Metal feel to their writing, ‘Show No Mercy’ still stands the test of time as one of the best Slayer albums. Evil, indeed, does have no boundaries.
Danish heavy metallers Mercyful Fate took things to a new level with their debut, ‘Melissa.’ With Satanic themes becoming more and more prevalent in heavy music, this group set themselves apart with the falsetto singing of King Diamond. With guitar licks taking influence almost exclusively from 1970s Judas Priest and Iron Maiden’s ‘Killers,’ riff after riff is piled high on the eerie masterpiece. ‘Curse of the Pharoahs’ and ‘Into the Coven’ are among the best cuts here and will make your skin crawl.
‘Pyromania’ is an aptly named album considering it lit the world on fire back in 1983. The classic album boasted four hit singles and has been certified 10x Platinum by the RIAA. What songs like ‘Photograph,’ ‘Rock of Ages,’ 'Too Late for Love,' and ‘Foolin’’ have that other metal bands didn’t were the undeniable pop sensibilities with the melodic hooks and choruses. Def Leppard’s appeal was two-fold and they were able to bridge the gap between rockers and casual music fans with the hit record.
The title track opens the beginning of the Jake E. Lee era of Ozzy Osbourne with a riff that could startle anyone within a 10 miles radius. After the tragic death of Randy Rhoads, Lee had to fill the largest void in metal and did so without a musical hiccup. The axeman picks up where Rhoads left off as he tears off lead after lead with those wild solos to boot. His songwriting did not slack either, busting out gems like ‘Centre of Eternity’ and the stellar album closer ‘Waiting for Darkness.’
Clive Burr’s departure from Iron Maiden had fans worried, but the opener ‘Where Eagles Dare’ buried all doubts about the new drummer Nicko McBrain. The British legends continued their incredible streak of albums in as many years with the songs ‘Flight of Icarus’ and the heavy metal perfection that is ‘The Trooper.’ ‘Piece of Mind’ sees a full departure from the raw Paul Di’Anno era writing style and hones the definitive Maiden sound with warm guitar tones, unforgettable guitar harmonies, and the best solo battles in all of metal.
Following Ronnie James Dio’s exit from Black Sabbath after two successful albums and the unthinkable filling of the shoes of Ozzy Osbourne, where was Dio supposed to turn next? The small man with the huge voice assembled his own band and ‘Holy Diver’ was born. The album is almost unanimously regarded as the best Dio disc, and some will even argue the best of Ronnie’s lengthy career. He had firmly cemented his legendary status by pulling off the hat trick and taking part in another band, equally as remarkable as his work with Rainbow and Black Sabbath.
In 1983, Metallica became one of the first thrash bands to release a full-length album. With Kirk Hammett joining the band just before the disc's recording (replacing Dave Mustaine, who co-wrote four of the album's songs), Metallica unleashed a fury on the metal masses. Songs like ‘The Four Horsemen,’ ‘Phantom Lord’ and ‘Seek and Destroy’ still dominate the thrash titan’s setlists. The crowd is still eager to hear them performed at every Metallica show, serving as a testament to the timeless power of 'Kill 'Em All.'