Best Heavy Metal Albums Of 1988

1988 was another rock solid year for heavy metal. This year's list saw only two bands making it for the first time: Queensryche and Danzig. The rest all made it in a previous year or years, and it's no surprise to see groups like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer on the list. Here are my choices for the best metal albums of 1988.

01
of 10

Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime

Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime
Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime.

With their third album Queensryche brought together a great concept and great songs. Operation Mindcrime tells a story filled with political intrigue and romance. The songs are complex, yet catchy, and Geoff Tate's vocals never sounded better.

Highlights include "Eyes Of A Stranger" and "I Don't Believe In Love." As a political statement of what was happening at the end of the Reagan era it is very effective. As a musical statement it's even more effective.

02
of 10

Metallica - And Justice For All

Metallica - And Justice For All
Metallica - And Justice For All.

Metallica's fourth studio album is the one that launched them into the mainstream. The video for the song "One" received extensive airplay on MTV. One of my all time favorite Metallica songs, "Blackened," is also on this album.

And Justice For All was one of their most musically complex album, utilizing unusual time signatures, orchestration and epic compositions. That's especially evident in the nearly 10 minute title track and the epic "To Live Is To Die."

03
of 10

Iron Maiden - Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

Iron Maiden - Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son
Iron Maiden - Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son.

Appropriately enough, for the seventh time in the '80s Iron Maiden makes the year end best of list. Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, like the number one album on this year's list, is a concept album. In addition to their usual epic songs, there are several compact and catchy radio friendly singles.

Highlights include "The Evil That Men Do" and the title track. Maiden had an incredible run in the '80s, but unfortunately would stumble a bit in the '90s.

04
of 10

Slayer - South Of Heaven

Slayer - South Of Heaven
Slayer - South Of Heaven.

Following up a metal classic like Reign In Blood is a no-win proposition, but Slayer came back strong with South Of Heaven. Their sound matured and was a bit slower, but with no loss of brutality in either the music or lyrics.

Tom Araya's vocals improved, and Dave Lombardo's drumming was absolutely monstrous. This album has some excellent songs, including "Spill The Blood," "Ghosts Of War" and the Judas Priest cover "Dissident Aggressor."

05
of 10

Megadeth - So Far, So Good, So What

Megadeth - So Far, So Good, So What
Megadeth - So Far, So Good, So What.

Sandwiched between two of their best albums (Peace Sells...But Who's Buying? and Rust In Peace), this one often gets overlooked, but So Far, So Good, So What is a solid album.

It features a couple new members (guitarist Jeff Young and drummer Chuck Behler), but Megadeth had tons of lineup changes over the years. After opening with an instrumental, the thrash and speed metal kicks in. The only miss is their cover of the Sex Pistol's "Anarchy In The U.K."

06
of 10

Voivod - Dimension Hatross

Voivod - Dimension Hatross
Voivod - Dimension Hatross.

Voivod makes the list for the second straight year. Dimension Hatross is a step forward from 1987's Killing Technology. It's the sound of a band hitting their stride. Their songwriting improved and became more cohesive while stretching the level of experimentation.

Snake Belanger's vocals were also much improved. Their best album would come a year later, but this is a very strong release. Some of the best songs on the album are "Macrosolutions To Megaproblems" and "Chaosmongers."

07
of 10

Bathory - Blood Fire Death

Bathory - Blood Fire Death
Bathory - Blood Fire Death.

Blood Fire Death saw Bathory transition from raw black metal to a more epic and atmospheric Viking style. There's still plenty of thrashy black metal along with the more melodic and mid-tempo songs.

"A Fine Day To Die" and the title track are standouts. Quorthon broke a lot of new ground on this album, paving the way for the countless Viking metal bands that would follow.

08
of 10

Helloween - Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II

Helloween - Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II
Helloween - Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II.

1987's Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I was number 5 on my year end list, and Helloween's sequel was excellent, but not quite as good as the original. Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II has some really good songs, but there is also quite a bit of filler.

It is still a very good power metal album, just a little cheesier and over the top than its predecessor, which takes it down just a notch.

09
of 10

King Diamond - Them

King Diamond - Them
King Diamond - Them.

For the second consecutive year King Diamond makes my year end top 10 list. 1987's Abigail was his best album, but Them was still a strong follow up. There were a couple lineup changes to his backing band, but it didn't really affect the album's sound.

It's another ambitious tale filled with interesting characters and excellent musicianship. King Diamond shows many different vocal sides, ranging from low pitched growls to his trademark falsetto.

10
of 10

Danzig - Danzig

Danzig - Danzig
Danzig - Danzig.

After starting in the hardcore band the Misfits, Glenn Danzig moved on to Samhain before forming Danzig. The band's self-titled debut was straight ahead heavy metal with a dark and theatrical vibe.

Danzig played the part of the evil frontman to perfection, and his distinctive vocals were effective without going over the top. The highlight of Danzig was the hit single "Mother."