The Top 20 Metal Releases of 1985

While the west coast of the United States had an army of thrash bands on the field, Europe had a vicious scene that was gearing up for total war. Brazil’s scene began to vomit blood on the carpet.

Disclaimer:

Please don’t unleash years of suppressed anger and throw a hot cup of coffee in your dog’s face if you don’t see (insert name of band) at (insert position) or any such situation. This feature is based on the opinions of an author that writes, primarily, based on experiences and makes no claims that the collection of albums you’re going to be reading about is certified by God, Satan, Rick Moranis, or any such other extremely prominent deity. Enjoy.

Intro:

I was born in 1985. On a day where nothing significant occurred in human history.

AIDS was the hot accessory of the year, celebrity-level musicians virtue-signaled a bunch of starving Africans through USA for Africa, The Unibomber was going strong, and you could get one of those bean bag lounge chairs for 40 dollars. Some kid died by crawling into one of those beanbag chairs, aspirated a bunch of those tiny foam balls they were filled with. I saw the autopsy photo. Those always make me hungry for some reason.

Heavy metal had iconic and formative releases behind it at this point. The influence of bands such as Motorhead and Black Sabbath was still very strong in the heavy metal template. Punk, NWOBHM and heavy metal all began various stages of assimilation with one another, producing numerous offshoots and strands of sound. Speed metal and thrash were busy laying down foundational albums in their genres, the concept of ‘doom’ was starting to solidify and more extreme sounds were starting to emerge.

While the west coast of the United States had an army of thrash bands on the field, Europe had a vicious scene that was gearing up for total war. Brazil’s scene began to vomit blood on the carpet.

Prepare yourself with the resources necessary to survive an extended period on the toilet and enjoy Apanthropy’s Top 20 Metal Releases of 1985.


#20: Holocausto (BRA) – Massacre (demo)
Label: (none)

Part of the absolutely toxic strike of Brazilian bands in the 80’s alongside Mutilator, Sepultura, and Sarcofago, among others. Holocausto put down some early extreme death metal with this short display. While Repulsion, Atrocity and Necrodeath all put out some of their earliest works during this time period, it was Holocausto that flashed the hairy dick of extreme metal at the general public.


#19: Mein Kampf (JPN) – Speeder (EP)
Label: Deathrash Bound

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Obscure Japanese speed metal with Nazi imagery and entirely too much eye makeup. 1985 saw the only two releases from Mein Kampf, a self-titled demo and the Speeder EP, before the band shut down. Drummer Toshinori Fujimoto deserves mention for total abuse of double-bass on this EP.


#18: Sepultura/Overdose (BRA) – Bestial Devastation/Seculo XX (split)
Label: Cogumelo Records

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The first release from Cogumelo Records and Sepultura’s first official release. In a recent interview, Jairo, the lead guitar player for Sepultura in 1985, talked about how they were scratching the fuck out of the Overdose side of the split so people couldn’t listen to it. The Brazilian metal scene in 1985 was just as good as anything else going on globally and it was the raw, primitive might of records such as Bestial Devastation that helped pushed extreme music forward.


#17: Bulldozer (ITA) –The Day of Wrath
Label: Roadrunner Records

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The Italian Venom. 80’s Bulldozer produced some solid records. The Day of Wrath was the band’s debut and the start of a promising hot streak that ended with a whole bunch of total fuckery in 90’s. Rippers like ‘Cut-Throat’ and ‘Whisky Time’ showed the bands approach to speed and tracks like ‘Fallen Angel’ could easily pass for Venom.


#16: Artillery (DNK) – Fear of Tomorrow
Label: Neat Records

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Artillery’s debut full-length was an encyclopedia of riffs. Fear of Tomorrow was almost like a cross between Overkill and Megadeth. The vocals were a little disappointing but the musical execution on this record is a lost art these days. Absolutely stellar solos and lead work throughout the album. The production was ahead of the curve for the time.  Drummer Carsten Nielsen and guitarist Michael Stutzer put on shows of force in songs like ‘Show Your Hate’.


#15: Loudness (JPN) – Thunder in the East
Label: Nippon Columbia

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Quite possibly Loudness’ finest moment. Guitar player Akira Takasaki was capable of throwing down some dynamic leads and catchy riffs. From the iconic album cover to the simple heavy metal style devoid of fluff and edgy idiocy, Loudness produced a record that fit well into a lot of different occasions.


#14: Pentagram (US) – Pentagram
Label: Pentagram Records

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Pentagram releasing Pentagram on Pentagram Records. If I’m not mistaken, I believe this entire record was a ported version of Death Row’s first demo, All Your Sins, released in 1982. Pentagram, along with Saint Vitus, Witchfinder General, Trouble, and related acts of the time, helped push the Black Sabbath worship into the early doom metal period. Songs like ‘Run My Course’ can lead to bloodshot eyes and extensive cravings for those little microwavable pizza bagel things. Vocalist Bobby Liebling looks like a child-eating gypsy. Get your soul wasted.


#13: Watchtower (US) – Energetic Disassembly
Label: Zombo Records

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Watchtower were one of the first thrash bands to take a highly technical approach to songwriting and composition without it blowing up in their face. Antonyms to bands of the time such as Sepultura, Watchtower managed to weave inventive narratives and complex riffs together to create a sound that was far ahead of the standard at the time. Rick Colaluca’s drumming on Energetic Disassembly blew away a lot of other drummers’ material at the time courtesy to what seemed like an endless well of chops and fills. Bill White and Doug Keyser also deserve mention for their guitar and bass work on this record.


#12: Black Hole (ITA) – Land of Mystery
Label: City Records

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Obscure, cult, Italian progressive rock band that borrowed generously from the early doom palette. A personal favorite of mine. Black Hole was short-lived, releasing six demos and a single full-length between 1983 and 1985 before disappearing for 15 years. Land of Mystery took the prog mentality of groups like Blue Oyster Cult and fused it to the dirge constructs of early Black Sabbath to create what felt almost like death rock in the vein of Christian Death or a heavy metal version of Alien Sex Fiend. ‘Demoniac City’ needs to be used for a throwback horror movie.


#11: Kreator (DEU) – Endless Pain
Label: Noise Records

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The first strike of the legendary German thrash band. Raw, abrasive, fast, and aggressive, Kreator pushed the breakneck nature of thrash into the red with their early releases. Tracks such as ‘Endless Pain’, ‘Tormentor’, and the epic ‘Flag of Hate’ allowed Kreator to start muscling their way to the front of the European thrash movement. A position they still maintain to this day.


#10: Megadeth (US) – Killing is my Business…And Business is Good!
Label: Combat Records

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I’ve tried many times to like Dave Mustaine’s vocals and I just can’t do it. I have a love/hate relationship with Megadeth. Killing is my Business… does deserve praise for being an all-around positive impact on the thrash scene in general. ‘Rattlehead’ and ‘Mechanix’, despite having laughable lyrics, were powerhouse songs that showed the band’s characteristic knack for writing easily digestible heavy metal. That Nancy Sinatra cover, that was a real…winner, of sorts.


#9: Overkill (US) – Feel the Fire
Label: Megaforce Records

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ROTTEN. To. The. Core. Bobby Blitz has the face of a catcher’s mitt with some of the more renowned vocals in metal coming out of it. Even to this day, his voice has stood up remarkably well. Feel the Fire is another debut album on this list and one that stood up to the test of time. ‘Rotten to the Core’ still has crowds shouting the chorus during shows. Overkill did not perform a Nancy Sinatra cover on their debut, unlike some bands…


#8: Onslaught (UK) – Power from Hell
Label: Children of the Revolution

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Merging the more straightforward narrative of Show No Mercy with the English mania radiating from Black Metal and Welcome to Hell, Onslaught’s debut is their most well-known album. With tracks like ‘Onslaught’ and ‘The Devil’s Legion’, armed with hardcore punk rancor and blaring, primitive guitar tone, Onslaught laid down a worthy performance of breakneck thrash with Discharge-style composition.


#7: Bathory (SWE) – The Return……
Label: Black Mark Productions

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Bathory’s sophomore release needed six periods in its title to contain the unholy glory represented within it. Bathory’s follow up to their self-titled debut showed a more refined songwriting style with a stark and prominent black metal atmosphere that would serve as the perfect stepping stone leading to one of black metal’s all-time great albums, Under the Sign of the Black Mark. ‘Total Destruction’ and ‘The Return of Darkness and Evil’ are synthesis to the self-titled debut and the eventual third release while ‘Born for Burning’ shows off songwriting akin to an early glance at 1988’s Blood Fire Death. This is certainly not the last time Bathory will show up on these sorts of lists.


#6: Razor (CAN) – Evil Invaders
Label: Viper

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Definite winner for best album cover of 1985. Razor’s second release of 1985, Evil Invaders, was a monster. Like a meth-fueled baptismal orgy, the record just pounded non-stop. The opening intro, ‘Nowhere Fast’, and its transition into the neck-wasting ‘Cross Me Fool’, was gold. This would have made Terri Schiavo walk again.


#5:  Celtic Frost (CHE) – To Mega Therion
Label: Noise Records

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Celtic Frost’s last great record before the down slide into 1987’s Into the Pandemonium and it’s horrifyingly shitty follow up album, 1988’s cringeworthy Cold Lake. I was roughly 13 or 14 years old when I first heard the Morbid Tales EP and Celtic Frost were one of the first bands I really got into. Enough that I have the cover of 1984 EP inked onto my right shoulder (Hellhammer artwork on the right shoulder). Featuring legendary tracks such as ‘The Usurper’ and ‘Circle of the Tyrants’, To Mega Therion was released alongside the Emperor’s Return EP in 1985, helping cement Celtic Frost’s legacy and conclude the journey that had started in 1982 with the extreme proto-metal of Hellhammer.


#4: Possessed (US) – Seven Churches
Label: Combat Records

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It has and can be argued that Seven Churches was the first death metal release. It was unique for the time in a lot of different ways. Seven Churches was heavier than the vast majority of bands they shared the global scene with. Seven Churches wasn’t attempting to assimilate into the thrash and speed metal genres, evident with their very first demo, appropriately titled Death Metal. Possessed were moving along their own path, dragging the influence along with it, writing music that wasn’t necessarily as fast as some of the thrash and speed metal bands of the time but more concentrated in its approach and more focused on delivering crushing phrase after phrase of lethal riff.


#3: Exodus (US) – Bonded by Blood
Label: Torrid Records

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Bonded by Blood: the legendary debut of Exodus, the first full-length Gary Holt ever appeared on, vocals performed by the revered Paul Baloff. Fast, tight, refined, high-energy, well-composed thrash metal. The title track that opens the album is a mandatory headbanger that rivaled iconic hits produced by members of the Big 4. Bonded by Blood as a debut, as an album in general, exceeded the debut records of the Big 4 in the cases of Megadeth and Anthrax. This record pairs well with things such as punching your boss in the mouth or aggressively powerwalking with your dog in a suburban neighborhood.


#2: Celtic Frost (CHE) – Emperor’s Return (EP)
Label: Noise Records

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Emperor’s Return asked one of the most important questions in the history of extreme music. Are you morbid? Nobody really knows where the Emperor was returning from, based on the album cover and the bald bitch with him, I’m willing to guess that it was pretty amazing. All five tracks on this EP have withstood the test of time, and as a precursor to To Mega Therion, Celtic Frost had a great 1985. This is textbook heavy metal and a nice blending of the early traits of death metal and black metal.


#1: Slayer (US) – Hell Awaits
Label: Metal Blade Records

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Coming off a trio of successful releases between 1983 and 1984, Slayer put down their second full-length, Hell Awaits, in 1985. Featuring some of Slayer’s most progressive songwriting in their entire career, Slayer expanded the range of their capabilities and delivery to levels that no other band was capable of matching at the time. From the sinister intro leading into the title track, to the endorsement towards the stabbing of babies in ‘Kill Again’, to the cult chanting of “Kill” in ‘At Dawn They Sleep’, to the confrontation of the most painfully obvious existential truth in ‘Praise of Death’, to the romantic corpse fondling of ‘Necrophiliac’, to the epic violation of the unbroken seal of Hell in ‘Crypts of Eternity’, to the proverbial slamming of the fucking casket in ‘Hardening of the Arteries’, nobody touched this record.

We’re only living to die.


There you have it.

Agree? Disagree? Position the albums a different way? I’m always willing to discuss. Free feel to comment.

Thanks for reading.

-A.Krause

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Author: A.Krause

Not human.

2 thoughts on “The Top 20 Metal Releases of 1985”

  1. Bonded would have been my choice but I’m impressed with the list even though I’m not going to pretend I’ve heard of some of these bands. This is the year in my life I converted to all metal.

    Like

    1. The first version of the list I made had ‘Bonded…’ as #1. I struggled where to place some of these and I had to ditch stuff like Trouble to give attention to Black Hole and other obscure stuff.

      Like

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