12 Great Heavy Metal Albums From The 80’s That Are Under The Radar (Part 2)

Great Metal Albums from the 1980’s That Have Been Forgotten

Continuing our article from Part 1 of twelve metal albums from the 1980’s you should check out:

1986 – Metal ChurchThe Dark (Elektra)

Metal Church put out great albums during the 1980’s and 1990’s and even opened for Metallica during their 1991 tour and this should have lead to more exposure for the band. But Metal Church never caught on with the music video generation and that may have had an big impact on sales. The Dark was Metal Church’s second album and it has some incredible tracks. Among them: Ton of Bricks, Start The Fire, Method To Your Madness, Watch The Children Pray and Line Of Death.

1988 – Flotsam and JetsamNo Place For Disgrace (Elektra)

Flotsam and Jetsam is known for primarily one reason: Jason Newsted was plucked by Metallica after a worldwide search to become Metallica’s new bass player after the death of Cliff Burton. Newsted won the musicians dream lottery, staying with Metallica from 1986 -2001. The band Newsted left behind, Flotsam and Jetsam would continue to put out music that was powerful and meaningful. It is a shame more people are not familiar with Flotsam and Jetsam’s music. Their second LP is a force to be reckoned with.  I’ve seen over 300 bands perform live. At a half filled club, L’Amour in Brooklyn was the setting where I saw the greatest live performance of any band in my life. Flotsam and Jetsam were clean, energetic and awesome live. New bass player Troy Gregory, singer Eric A.K. and the rest of the original band just ripped through their set with a passion that befitted an arena, not 500 metalheads in a sweaty Brooklyn club. The songs from this album that stand out are: Hard on You (Flotsam’s answer to the PMRC), N.E. Death I Live You Die, P.A.A.B., Dreams of Death, Misguided Fortune  and the title track.

1988 – Dirty LooksCool From The Wire (Atlantic)

If AC/DC ever needed a replacement singer they could have looked no further than Henrik Ostergaard the lead guitarist, singer and main songwriter of Dirty Looks. This album Cool From The Wire has the whole Bon Scott / AC/DC thing going for it. I asked Henrik at the time of the release if they were going for the AC/DC  sound and he denied it. But after pressing him, I asked did the producer ask him to try and do a Bon Scott imitation and he admitted that during the spoken refrain of “Ruby’ s got class, when she shakes her ass” in the middle of Oh Ruby, he was asked to summon up Bon’s spirit. But let’s forget about the similarity to Bon Scott. On the whole, Dirty Looks was one kick ass band with great songwriting and they put out several albums that very few people seemed to buy.   The album Cool From The Wire is one of the best hard rock albums to come out of the 80’s. Unfortunately this line-up of Paul Lidel (guitar), Jack Pyers (bass) Gene Barnett (drums)  lasted for only one more album (1989’s Turn of The Screw) before going through a wholesale line-up change. They were dropped from Atlantic and put out a few more very good albums with with almost no recognition or sales. After leaving the music industry for a number of years from the mid 90’s – 2006 Henrik put together another version of Dirty Looks and started recording and touring again. Unfortunately Henrik Ostergaard died at the age of 47 on January 27, 2011 of liver disease. Beyond the AC/DC similarity there is much more to the music of Dirty Looks and this album is a good starting place for you to get familiar with their music. Best tracks: Cool From the Wire, It’s A Bitch, Oh Ruby, Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You, Put A Spell On You.

1988 – WargasmWhy Play Around (Profile)

The best unknown band bar none. The album Why Play Around is great. Period. I have written about Wargasm here before. Rather than recount the sad story of Wargasm, we will let the music speak for itself. Best tracks: Revenge, Wasteland, Sudden Death, Bullets and Blades

1989 – Tora Tora Surprise Attack (A&M)

Memphis, Tennessee is where Tora Tora emerged from and this talented hard rock band made a couple of great records that were mostly overlooked by the critics and most hard rock and metal fans. Almost every song on Surprise Attack is melodic and catchy without being overtly commercial. The production on the album by Joe Hardy and Paul Ebersold is among the best you will ever hear. Every song is crisp without being overproduced. Songwriting is strong and no two songs sound alike. Lead singer Anthony Corder has a strong voice and Keith Douglas is highly underrated as a guitarist.  This is a band that I wish would have continued putting out music for the last 20 years. Instead they stopped recording in the early 90’s and now sometimes play a reunion show.  Too bad. Best songs: Guilty, Walkin’ Shoes, 28 Days, Love’s A Bitch.

1990 – Death AngelAct III (Geffen)

Not technically from the 1980’s although the album was recorded in 1989, Death Angel’s Act III  was a polished major label debut after two albums released on the smaller Enigma records. Many old school metal maniacs would not be able to explain why Death Angel never became a big time band. With money behind them and a loyal fan base and some airplay on MTV’s Headbangers Ball, I certainly thought the band would catch on. Instead within two years of making this album Death Angel broke-up and took a ten year hiatus. They are again putting out new music, so that is a good thing.  Act III was definitely a high point in their career. Stand out songs include: Seemingly Endless Time, Stagnant, Stop, The Organization, and Veil of Deception.

5 thoughts on “12 Great Heavy Metal Albums From The 80’s That Are Under The Radar (Part 2)

  1. Megan. Michaels

    There lots more bands I grew up on with this genre like legs up legs diamond loverazer crimson messiah back alley sally Big Bang babies I know about every single band in the glam sleaze topic I grew up on that genre since I was a little baby of the eighties

    1. dude

      great, can you tell me this song? Something like, Ive never seen somebody like you, “something something” it’s you! oh yeah, ” with a lot of it’s yous in it” , more of a ballad, around 88-90. heard it in 90, have been through every heavy metal , hard rock band on spoitfy, internet, etc… cannot find the song. A friend got the cassette in 89-90, said it was hard to get, all i remember is i loved the song, was not a well known band and i swear before i leave this earth i must remember and find that song lol. thanks!

  2. Patrick

    Great choices! I was one of those guys turned off by W.A.S.P. in their heyday. I didn’t even really listen to see if I liked them. I came of age in ’85, so I found them to be hokey as hell and skirted them altogether. Also, W.A.S.P. were liked by that “other” heavy metal contingency in my high school – the one that worshipped Ratt and Mötley Crüe, even after ‘Theatre of Pain’ came out, so I think I just looked backward in the Maiden catalog and sought other inspiration. Laughably enough, I was a big fan of Manowar and Lizzy Borden. I guess their hokiness didn’t irritate me because no one else in my school listen to them.

  3. Bill

    A couple more that shoulda made the list crimson glorys transcendence and their self titled debut savatage hall of the mountain king and sirens and any of bathorys albums and all slayer albums

  4. Stacey E

    That was a surprise to see Flotsam and Jetsam on your list. Jason Newsted used to work at a Taco Bell in Phoenix with my brother about 25 years ago. I had no idea that band ever did concerts outside of Arizona.


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