Best Heavy Metal Albums Of 1985

1985 saw the first appearances Anthrax and Megadeth in the year end list, bands that would become mainstays. Celtic Frost also made the list for the second year in a row. Iron Maiden's Live After Death is an outstanding album, but only studio releases were considered for this list.  Here are our choices for 1985's best heavy metal albums.

Exodus' debut album was their commercial and critical pinnacle. Even though they've had a long and successful career, they never matched the success of thrash counterparts like Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax.

This album, though, is spectacular. It's a thrash classic with music played at breakneck speed with a barrage of killer riffs and solos. And even though it's a whirlwind of intensity, the songs are still very catchy and memorable.

Their masterpiece would come one year later, but this is also a fantastic album. It was Slayer's second full-length, and showed an exponential growth in their songwriting ability.

The songs on this album are complex, the guitar work is flawless, and Dave Lombardo's drumming is simply insane. In 1985 this was as extreme as it got, both musically and lyrically.

Celtic Frost's second full-length is a blackened death metal classic, which shows you how strong 1985 was being that it only came in third on the list. The band's songwriting improved on this album, and they added seemingly small touches that add a ton of atmosphere to the songs.

From tempo changes to female vocals to unusual sounds, they add spice to the doomy thrash riffs and Tom Warrior's gruff vocals.

After departing Metallica, Dave Mustaine formed Megadeth, which would become one of the biggest thrash metal bands of all time. Their debut album was very raw and Mustaine was still finding his way vocally, but the intensity, diversity and musicianship was already evident.

Chris Poland and Mustaine wove intricate riffs and solos into the punishing bass and drums of Dave Ellefson and Gar Samuelson. A recent remastering cleans up the production and really showcases how good this album is.

of 10

Anthrax - Spreading The Disease

Anthrax - Spreading The Disease
Anthrax - Spreading The Disease.

Anthrax's second album marked the debut of vocalist Joey Belladonna. His voice was higher pitched and really differentiated the band's sound from thrash contemporaries like Metallica and Megadeth.

The dual guitars of Dan Spitz and Scott Ian shredded through monster riffs and blistering solos. It's a raw sounding album that's powerful and really stands up to the test of time.

of 10

Helloween - Walls Of Jericho

Helloween - Walls Of Jericho
Helloween - Walls Of Jericho.

This was the German power metal band's second release, and first full-length. It combined influences from NWOBHM bands like Iron Maiden and speed/thrash bands.

You'll also hear the epic melodies and complex compositions that would eventually bring Helloween to the forefront of the power metal genre. Their sense of humor is also evident in the lyrics.

Possessed never really got the attention they deserved, and their career was pretty short. This album was an important one that bridged the gap between thrash and death metal. It is considered by some to be the first proper death metal album.

The songs are extreme, and the vocals are the now familiar death metal growl. The lyrics are dark as well, with titles such as "Pentagram," "Satan's Curse," "Holy Hell" and the appropriately named final track, "Death Metal."

of 10

Fates Warning - The Spectre Within

Fates Warning - The Spectre Within
Fates Warning - The Spectre Within.

Fates Warning is an American progressive metal band. It took a while for that style to fully emerge, and their early material, including this album, is more mainstream heavy metal with some progressive influences.

The guitars are heavy, but the songs are complicated and even epic, culminating in the 12 minute finale "Epitaph." Original vocalist John Arch also had a very distinctive sound that set the band's early work apart from their later, more progressive style.

S.O.D., otherwise known as Stormtroopers Of Death, was a side project of Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian and drummer Charlie Benante along with former bassist Dan Lilker (then in Nuclear Assault) and vocalist Billy Milano.

The album was recorded in just three days and caused controversy because their tongue in cheek lyrics were considered by some to be racist and sexist. Their music was a powerful mix of thrash and hardcore punk that was intense and raw.

Dismissed by many as a simple "hair band," Dokken was a group of extremely talented musicians. George Lynch is an excellent guitarist, and Don Dokken's voice is very powerful. The most popular song on this album was "In My Dreams," and also contained the singles "It's Not Love" and "Unchain The Night."

It's an album that is slick and packed with memorable hooks and melodies, but also fantastic musicianship, especially by Lynch.