Incredible records are released every year. Here we revisit ten essential vinyl releases from the abyss and beyond from the golden days 1983.
10. Iron Maiden Piece Of Mind EMI
Though singer Bruce Dickinson’s second record with Maiden, this was the first in which he contributed to the band’s compositions, receiving credit on four of the albums nine cuts. Like all Iron Maiden’s first six full length offerings, …Mind features some of the band’s undisputed classics, though this in no way suggests that they didn’t effectively maintain their prestigious forge beyond 1988 – I’d posit they were less trenchant overall, at least until their Brave New World record dropped a decade and change later.
Dickinson’s arrival clearly enhanced the band, injecting an additional dimension, and while it’s arbitrary as to whether his songwriting contributions made the band’s orchestations better, they in no way subtracted from Maiden’s quest for Heavy Metal mastery.
The title offers a nice play on words, while Derek Riggs vision of Eddie in a padded cell, and the quasi medieval facade grants the collection an ominous tone.
9. Exciter Heavy Metal Maniac Roadrunner Records
You had me at Canadian Metal… Well, before Canadian Metal was a thing, there was Exciter and their electrifying debut Heavy Metal Maniac. Steeped in Heavy Metal affectations (in case the title wasn’t as significant a tell as intended), the overall offensive sits more inline with the rising Thrash Metal current, though the band weren’t all about speed and malice. Tracks like Iron Dogs were heavier, slower in delivery, but equally as dramatic as anything else assembled.
The cover is totally iconic. The classic slasher of the Marshall amp, and the title painted in blood. The staged band photos on the back cover aren’t as convincing as say those shot for Show No Mercy, but it’s unclear quite how Jeff Hanneman was using that crucifix… But this is a small complaint. Exciter’s follow up was arguably better, the title track Violence and Force their greatest composition ever.
8. Accept Restless And Wild Heavy Metal Worldwide
Technically a 1982 release, I’m leveraging the fact that it didn’t hit the UK or US til 1983 as its right to exist in this collective. And when it comes to Heavy Metal – in all its guises – this is one of its true monuments. Everything about it is spot on. The production, those crisp, heavier-than-thou riffs, the anthemic choruses, lead guitar trade offs, and of course, UDO’s quintessential vocal style.
Bands of this era certainly knew how to amplify the statutes of Hard Rock – likely because that’s where the came come from, rather than it being something necessarily conscious. The burgeoning 80s Heavy Metal sound was a condition they were forging, rather than channelling some phenomenon from the past. The studio production of this era augmented the band’s of dynamic range, preserving the kinetics and tension located within the band’s arrangements. You could argue that they had no true influence over this outcome – studio producers guided bands to make emotionally oscillating music that weaponised the range between the quiet and the overkill, providing a frame of experience for the listener. Music production of today isn’t quite the same.
7. The Sisters of Mercy Reptile House Merciful Release
This was a tough one to call. I definitely wanted to include a Sisters record, but debated over whether it should be this, or the Temple Of Love 12”. As colossal as that A side is, as well as the EP closer, Gimme Shelter, originally by the Rolling Stones – I elected to surrender myself to how utterly bleak the Reptile House is, and that unlike a “single” or EP type of format, this can be experienced as a fully evolved release, stylistically cohesive from genesis to epilogue
I’d posit this as the most sombre of all their records, and if the legend be true, it appears that Andrew Eldritch’s siloed approach was the correct one on this occasion. They can’t be all sunshine and lollipops.
6. Dio Holy Diver Mercury
Ronnie James showing the world that he could assemble, direct and deliver a world destroying record off his own bat. While his storied stints in Rainbow and Black Sabbath demonstrated assertive influence over both, on each occasion he was a key collaborator, where the signal of anointing his post Sabbath ensemble after his own nomme de guerre was a bolder declaration.
When looking retrospectively, it’s disingenuous to say that Ronnie stepping in to replace Ozzy in Black Sabbath was any sort of deposition – Ozzy’s documented abstraction from the band that he fronted across the 1970s shows that it was no usurpation. That Tony and Geezer’s Never Say Die attitude in wanting to preserve the legacy of what they’d forged to date, still aspiring to greater heights, isn’t difficult to resolve. But this isn’t the focus here – only a milestone on Ronnie’s journey.
I view Holy Diver as the ultimate experience of Ronnie James without any limitations imposed on his musical vision. This is in no way to limit or diminish the role of his fellow musical assassins, but rather to suggest that they were able to work collaboratively to imagine this new triumph – in no way obstructed by the level of expectations projected onto Black Sabbath, and to a lesser extent, Rainbow.
5. Hellhammer Satanic Rites
Just scraping in to 1983 with a late December release, Hellhammer’s third and final demo was, not surprisingly, their most evolved, and as one would expect of a recording of this degree of influence and importance, has been heavily bootlegged. And that’s great, because this mistyped sleeve, and ill-informed vinyl colour selection you’re looking at, only serves to amplify the abominable intent of these arrangements.
I understand that new people will perpetually be turned on to the Swiss necrolords, but see no need to try and inspire the uninitiated to turn their attention to this. Setting the influence of Tom G and co aside, I’m there for the primeval rush – no greater case needs to be made.
4. Manowar Into Glory Ride Music For Nations
There were probably loads of wannabe Heavy Metal bands in 1983, so my feeling of bewilderment as to how unique and disparate those assembled in this list is probably naive. I am enamored by how singular Manowar’s approach to Heavy Metal was. Unambiguous, un-ironic and eternally defiant, they defined not only their vision of how Heavy Metal should sound, but forged ahead with their own manifesto – prescribing in particular detail its most authentic identity and aesthetic.
They stood head and shoulders above their fans, gods among men, yet promoted a “we’re all in it together” position, which I find appealing on a host of levels. For the oft-conservative metal fan, for those who would only dream of pursuing their own musical path, a larger than life force like Manowar was readily immortalised. From the band’s perspective, their deification was symbiotically entwined within their acolytes belief that the quartet qualified for this fervor. And for their part, over the top shows, heavy handed thematics and an aggressive pursuit of perfection were all measures that contributed to the quantification of that success.
Po faced in a manner that so few acts can pull off, let alone sustain across 40 years, their bold ambition didn’t always work in my opinion, but on this occasion, Manowar were both the hammer and the anvil.
3. Motorhead Another Perfect Day Bronze Records
Despite Motorhead being my favourite band of all time, the records I hold in the greatest esteem do not fall within the parameters of those feted by your typical acolytes. I don’t know what it says about me, where I’m four records deep before Fast Eddie Clarke makes the scene, but I care less about the puritanical view and more about the rush. I certainly share the view that the Lemmy, Eddie and Philthy line up was the ultimate, but from an output perspective, the band would achieve grander heights – framed within my personal experience.
Adding Brian Robertson to Motorhead seemed an odd equation, but I wonder if people get too caught up in the antics; the departure of Eddie, the shorts and the slippers, this idea that Robbo disrespected the band and the fans, all while failing to recognise the value of the sonic odyssey presented, and to acknowledge that APD was a brilliant offering. Iron Fist may be Motorhead’s greatest ever song, but as an album, it was rushed, it contained fillers. It’s symptomatic of a band who aren’t functioning as intended.
Another Perfect Day sees #Lemmy waging war from the centre of the #Motörhead universe – cleaving a trail of destruction, visceral, merciless and unrelenting. Philthy underpins the offensive, while Robbo weaves melodious magick around this caustic swirl, and for me, he knew exactly how to play with Lemmy, and helped to communicate a vision for Motörhead that not only worked, but couldn’t have been conceived by anyone other than Robbo. He wasn’t baffled by any perceived lack of convention, and contributed to a sound, style and suite of arrangements that not even Motörhead would again realise.
Featuring cover art by the magnificent Joe Petagno, who, through this hellish vision, captured the chaos and disorder the band were experiencing during that time, it’s a phenomenal record. In the spirit of @sidsux it’s a top 10 – I’ll go as far as top 2 or 3 when it comes to Motörhead.
2. Mercyful Fate Melissa Roadrunner Records
For Mercyful Fate to be absent from the upper echelons of a 1983 list of this nature would be madness. So I’m going assume that people already fall before the altar of this occult inspired, Heavy Metal opus, and focus on one peculiar detail that I haven’t ever seen referenced before.
Salacious Crumb was an insidious creature, who we first meet in the opening scenes of Return Of The Jedi. He serves as Jabba The Hutt’s court jester of sorts, geeing up the palace guests and steering attention toward mayhem and acts of vengeance. He has a diabolical laugh – a laugh you’d hope never framed you as the next victim.
Now riddle me this? If King Diamond’s laugh on Satan’s Fall wasn’t inspired by Salacious Crumb? Then what the hell was it? Diabolical intervention? Was it channeled by Melissa herself?
Here are the facts:
Return of the Jedi release date: May 25th, 1983.
Melissa recording dates: July 18–29, 1983
Melissa release date: October 30th, 1983.
Considering we’ve never met this Melissa person, logic depicts that Salacious Crumb’s laugh = Satan’s Fall. If I’m lyin’, I’m flyin’.
1. Slayer Show No Mercy
It was difficult to define whether this should be ranked ahead of Melissa, but then again, all these records were hard to rate – especially when considering the disparate currents of metal from which each drew, their comparable experience, and the chasm between those committed to perfecting an established sound, with those hell bent on creating it.
Thrash Metal wasn’t new in 1983, and Metallica had already shown what the aggression of Venom could bring to these arrangements, but it was Slayer who injected true diabolical malice into this, their acclaimed debut.
Their (perceived) embrace of Satanism was decidedly less cartoonish than most of their contemporaries, and while within their aesthetic lingered the faintest hints of… let’s call it geographical glam – the overarching intention was more authentically diabolical, and I’d argue the presence of Slayer in the more malevolent manifestations of metal artists who followed in their wake, was more pervasive than perhaps any other act that came before them. This isn’t to suggest that bands like Judas Priest, Motorhead or Iron Maiden had a lesser hand in forging the violence and force of the bands that arose during the 80s, but I’d argue that Slayer’s declaration of war was more keenly felt in that current. After all, Evil Has No Boundaries!