Years of Decay 1987

13 min read

This time we decided to go back to the year of 1987. One year that metal gave us many many good or should we say classic albums. So enjoy your Sunday on the couch (if you can) and read our choices. 

Keep it HEAVY!

SEPULTURA – Schizophrenia
October 1987, Cogumelo Records

SEPULTURA… In this year I was just a little kid. lol, and I only knew of this album after the album “Arise” in 91. In that time I remember I didn’t like the album. The reason was just one. The lack of sound production on it, that time it didn’t sound me ok. It took a few years to start enjoying this album. read more

This album is very good. This album is a classic. Back on 87 if this album had the same sound production like “Beneath the Remains” or “Arise”… Tchhhhhhh… The album will be one of the best releases ever in the metal history and from Sepultura. 

This album was the confirmation after the “Morbid Visions” and it was the beginning of the 3 best albums ever made. One of the best trilogy ever made, at least in my opinion. “Schizophrenia”, “Beneath the Remains” and “Arise”. Beautiful. I will not do any comparisons with other trilogies out there, too many to mention. 

Sadly for me, I only have the remastered version in CD (Roadracer Records), but… I still have a dubbed tape with the original one. It was recorded that time from a good friend who had the LP version.  

The Key Keeper


SODOM – Persecution Mania
December 1987, Steamhammer

This Sunday we are definitely back in those years when the thrash was in its biggest rise and the bands competed which of them will release faster and heavier record. And it is not a surprise that my choice is another thrash gem. As a big SODOM fan, “Persecution Mania” was an instant choice for me. And I have always claimed it – this is the best ever SODOM album. read more

In 1987 the Teutonic wave clearly have already declared a race with bay area and the mid 80s Teutonic iconic records were already in circulation. These Teutonic classics were violent, raw and blackened, paving the path of the European underground. By the end of Septmeber 1987 KREATOR had their “Terrible Certainty out. However Steamhammer made history on 1 December by releasing not one but two ultra important albums in that same day – DESRUCTION’s “Release From Agony” and the almighty “Persecution mania” by SODOM. It’s worth mentioning here that two months earlier (1st of October), SODOM dropped the 12″EP “Expurse of Sodomy” – more brutal, still containing elements from the early years, but hinting about what’s ahead.

Command to Vietnam!!!

Featuring the very classic SODOM’s line up – Angelripper, Blackfire and Withchunter (R.I.P.), “Peresecution Mania” is a big step forward vs “Obsessed by Cruelty” and the clear start of breaking the chains with the early blackened speed/thrash years. The war themes were clearly occupying Angelripper and took part on the cover art for the first time as well.  These 35 minutes here are among the finest thrash minutes ever though. Fast, violent, uncompromising. Just breaking necks and cutting heads . So fkn enjoyable – great fast riffs, mega solid bass line and mind-blowing drumming. Containing the forever anthems like “Nuclear Winter”, the self-titled “Persecution Mania”, “Enchanted Land”, “Christ Passion” and multi-parted “Bombenhagel” (incl. Bundestag national anthem on solo), the record stands out with its very tight song structures, sound production just on the edge between the underground and the “light”, as well its speed and heaviness typical for those 80’s years. Angelripper’s MOTORHEAD worship has also been declared – “Iron Fist” cover on the album is still probably the best cover version of the track ever made.

Many will argue that “Agent Orange” is band’s finest. I would say these were the best ever years for the band until “Tapping the Vein” including. “Persecution Mania” is a benchmark in the thrash genre. And the best SODOM album! (but I already stated that)

Count Vlad


NECROPHAGIASeason of the Dead
February 1987, New Renaissance Records

When talking about death metal from 1987 it’s almost impossible not to talk about the masterpiece Scream Bloody Gore by Death, so I am going to do exactly that. With Chuck and the gang effectively stealing the spotlight these days, I wanted to shine a light on one of the more decayed bands of this period. Enter NECROPHAGIA. Another incredibly technical and equally brutal death metal band from the days of the genre’s conception. Releasing a number of demos since 1983 and heavily involved in the early death metal scene, the Ohio based metalheads released their first full-length album ‘Season of the Dead’ in February of 1987 on New Renaissance more

I started listening to NECROPHAGIA around the same time I discovered other bands of this nature, but now in hindsight, I can see how extremely underrated they are for their contribution to death metal. ‘Season of the Dead’ opens up with a creepy tension-building instrumental intro track, which works well leading into the vicious onslaught of riffage and brutality the rest of the album delivers. Songs like “Forbidden Pleasure”, “Painful Discharge” and “Reincarnation” deliver similar sharp-toned, riff-heavy sections full of incredible twists and turns, similar to other pioneering bands of the time. They are also one of the early adopters of incorporating classical music into the mix with one of my favorite songs off the album, “Mental Decay”, offering up a putrid rendition of Night on Bald Mountain before kicking things into gear. The growly spoken word vocals are unique to this album, and they add a lot to the atmosphere of the songs with the zombies and violent carnage taking centre stage during vocal heavy moments.

NECROPHAGIA are one of the trailblazers of old school death, and they helped lay the foundation for many of the bands that crawled from the graves after them. The band has been through several lineup changes over the years, even having Phil Anselmo among the ranks for the second album. And while there were some big gaps between, they have consistently put out worthwhile albums over the last several decades, with the latest release in 2014 being one of their most successful. Unfortunately, that album will be the last we will hear from them, as the founding metalhead and vocalist Frank “Killjoy” Pucci passed away in 2018. RIP. So in honor of Killjoy and all of death metal, cheers to one of the greatest and most badass old school death metal bands. ‘Season of the Dead’ is a staple album for death metalheads in my opinion, so let’s give NECROPHAGIA the respect they deserve and crank things up to blast the rust and decay off this putrid classic. Metal Yeti

December 1987, Independent

The late eighties were an exciting time of experimentation, and diversification across the metal landscape. This period was also important in the evolution and solidification of many sub-genres from thrash, black, and death, to newly emerging mash-up sub-genres like death/ doom. 1987 was a particularly interesting year, seeing a mix of old and new metal acts releasing some key albums in their catalogues, many of which are revered as classics more

Attempting to choose an album to highlight or review from this time period is near impossible, and I challenge you to consider it for yourself. To give you an idea of just how much was going on in 1987 here is a brief list of some of the more prominent bands that released albums that year: Bathory, Candlemass, Venom, Mayhem, Saint Vitus, Savatage, Possessed, Celtic Frost, Running Wild, Voivod, Helloween, Dio, Grim Reaper, King Diamond, Warlock, Armored Saint, Anthrax, Pentagram, Testament, Guns N’ Roses, Mötley Crüe and much more. Honestly, I could go on, it is completely astonishing.

Perhaps I am soft, and possess the composition of a jellyfish, but I just wasn’t able to muster the inner strength to choose one of these heavy-hitting bands to review. Instead I reflected on what the underground may have been like in 1987, during a time where there was no internet or easy access to many of the scenes across the globe. Metalheads relied on cassette trading and crudely produced zines for news and updates. Growing up in Australia, I recall my music-obsessed father sending hand-written letters and postal orders all over the world, then waiting patiently for weeks or months for his various zines and cassettes to arrive.

I was excited to imagine what obscure gems I could discover now, using all the modern resources available to me. So, I decided to dig through the underbelly of the internet and sure enough I unearthed my diamond… SEMPITERNAL DEATHREIGN.

SEMPITERNAL DEATHREIGN formed in 1986 and were a death/ doom trio, consisting of three cousins from Gouda in the Netherlands. Death/ doom has it’s origins in the late-eighties, therefore during 1987 there was not yet a definitive sound or formula that defined this newly emerging sub-genre. Therefore, by experimenting and crafting their uniquely blended sound SEMPITERNAL DEATHREIGN must surely be included with the early pioneers of this genre. It’s interesting to wonder how much influence short-lived bands like SEMPITERNAL DEATHREIGN had, as without the internet an artist’s reach would be largely confined to more local scenes. The band was only active for four years and it was in 1987 that they released their first demo tape, simply titled “Rehearsal”. This release is extremely short and includes three tracks, running for a total of 6 minutes and 55 seconds. However, every minute of this recording is pure gold and is packed with a powerful, destructive, but cohesive serving of death/ doom.

This demo is immensely satisfying, but as expected from an old cassette recording the sound quality is rough, almost as if it was recorded from within a cardboard box. Track one is an untitled brief, slow, super-catchy instrumental with interchanging doom-death melodies. Track two “Inferior Thalidomide” is furiously heavy, including insanely fast guitar riffs and manic drums with crushing death vocals and momentary pauses of deep doom. The final track, “Artificial Heart Transplant” continues with the merciless onslaught and before you know it, it is over. After you abruptly snap back to reality all you are left with is a feeling like warm mud oozing from your ears.

As a young child in Australia in 1987, there was virtually no chance of me stumbling upon obscure bands like SEMPITERNAL DEATHREIGN. However, I can tell you that today, as I tunnel through the metal underground, I’m beyond pleased to have the ability to retrieve these lost gems and relive these lost moments. Proua Metallist

HOLY TERROR – Terror & Submission (1987)
Under One Flag (FLAG10)

Personally, this is my No.1 Thrash album of all time. It is simply flawless in all facets of the game and really, in 1987, when many other band were looking to the blueprint that was being forged by Metallica and Megadeth, HOLY TERROR took its cues from the likes of their LA/Californian counterparts in Slayer/Dark Angel combined with the vicious intensity Possessed. It is truly one of the most explosive albums of its time and even more so today, some 32 years after its release, it stands up alongside all of the considered classics of the genre with ease. Yet, for some reason, it still remains somewhat elusive for the general thrash metal fan – an underground classic if you will – so it is with great pleasure that I get to ramble on about its genius here, in the hope that others may seek it out.
. read more

“Terror & Submission” has a unique quality about it. It is on one hand one of the most aggressive, speed driven, intensely delivered thrash albums ever, but also on the other, incredibly catchy and melodic in its riffage and song structures. Main man and guitarist Kurt Kilfelt had a super keen ear for melody and via some sweet compositional arrangements he was able to pen some of the most passionate and emotionally evocative thrash metal anthems you will ever hear. Laced with some incredibly wicked shedding lead work that he shared with sidekick Mike Alvord (now in Mind Wars), HOLY TERROR’s music is simply awash with a power and atmosphere that very few bands could even dream of capturing. Seriously, drop the needle mid-track on the riff breakdown of ‘Guardians of the Netherworld’ and defy your jaw dropping induced behaviour. Likewise, the stunning riff and lead structure of “Distanct Calling” and the apocalyptic ‘Blood of Saints’. Can I get a witness please??

As utterly mind blowing that this is musically, above it all, HOLY TERROR had a major trump card at play – one Mr.Keith Deen on vocals. If there is a new generation of thrash vocalists looking for a way to capture their bands energy vocally, Keith Deen sits atop of the pile as someone to emulate. One of the more tragic losses to the Metal scene with his passing at 56 in 2012, Deen had it all – with a range that only Eric Adams could possibly match – he literally covers all styles of the vocal spectrum on this album. Working from his singing voice (yes, he sings) as his base platform, Deen can move from this to violent piercing screams in a heartbeat – delivered with immense conviction and power the likes of which is extremely rare in this genre. A true master of his craft, his distinctive phrasing was also complemented by HOLY TERROR’s magnificently conceived lyrics. Themes that tackled Anti-Christianity, Corruption and the ills of society are nothing new for the Thrash genre, but you have never heard or read lyrics on these topics like the ones written on Terror & Submission. Coupled with Deen’s impassioned delivery, well, it’s pure genius really.

With a decidedly filthy, grimy production that allows just enough room for their bands melodic senses to shine through, Terror & Submission is a masterful album. One of the greatest slabs of thrash ever recorded in 1987. Truly magnificent. One of the greatest Metal albums of all time.

“The blood spilled in vain for the sake of those profane

Deceit, a cursed blinded lies eclipsed by wrath before our eyes

Disease, famine plagues distress, an empty hole awaits the rest

Astral guide in mercy comes” KMaN

June 1987, Noise Records

My pick for a 1987 album is swiss thrash band CORONER and their debut R.I.P. Released in a year that saw releases from Giants like SODOM, SEPULTURA, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, DEATH, MAYHEM, BATHORY and of course their countrymen CELTIC FROST. I guess CORONER flew under the radar for many a metalhead at the time but seeing the interest in last years re-releases of their classic albums they are not forgotten.. read more

CORONER was formed in 1983 and reformed in 1985 in the incarnation that made this album. Still today this album blows me away every time. From that beautiful piano intro until the record fades out a mere 45 minutes later. CORONER displays superior musicianship and made the ultimate Technical Thrash Metal album of 1987. Picking the ultimate moment on this record? Try Intro (Nosferatu) and the actual track Nosferatu together, don`t know why they separated the intro and the actual track? Anyway, that is one of my all-time favorite instrumentals. This trio of musicians made a lasting impact, not heard them yet? Do yourself a favor, check it out!

Track list:
1. “Intro” (Instrumental)
2. “Reborn Through Hate”
3. “When Angels Die”
4. “Intro (Nosferatu)” (Instrumental)
5. “Nosferatu” (Instrumental)
6. “Suicide Command”
7. “Spiral Dream”
8. “R.I.P”
9. “Coma”
10. “Fried Alive”
11. “Intro (Totentanz)” (Instrumental)
12. “Totentanz”
13. “Outro” (Instrumental)


TESTAMENT – The Legacy
April 1987, Megaforce Records

Well, 1987 eh? What an insane year that was for metal. Granted, I was only 10 years old and too young to have primary evidence of the scene like some of the BAZ writers who are older than me, bearing witness to the metal scene from the late 1980s the first time around – but WOOOOOO BOOOOYEE!!! There was some right bangers released! Death’s debut album? Bathory inventing the blueprint for black metal as we know it today? Voivod’s ‘Killing Technology’? Savatage’s ‘Hall of the Mountain King’? Helloween’s ‘Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1’?! It was certainly an embarrassment of riches, that’s for sure. Anyway, without further waffling – my choice is Testament’s ‘The Legacy’. read more

When people think of thrash metal, they always default back to the supposed “Big 4”. Well, as far as I’m concerned that’s not entirely fair and by all rights should’ve been “The Big 6” to incorporate Testament and Exodus? Okay, Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza was in Testament in the very early days when the band was called Legacy and had to change this due to a Jazz band having the same name – but Testament has been the more consistent band in stability and quality. By the time I discovered ‘The Legacy’ was several years later in 1994, the track ‘Over The Wall’ was aired at stupid o’clock on a TV show called Noisy Mothers that many British metalheads like myself timer recorded on their VHS video recorders, via the nationwide TV channel ITV. This was hosted by a guy called Krusher (real name: Stephen Joule) who had previously worked as a freelance designer in the music industry for bands such as Deep Purple, Motorhead, Anthrax, Uriah Heep and Hawkwind. There was an announcement of a new album (eventually called ‘Low’) which I made a mental note of, but there was something deeply exciting about what I have seen. 

Guitar riffs flew around at a hundred miles an hour like the music video was played on fast forward, with the band members jumping around in a prison. At the time, I befriended a metalhead in college (who ended up in a moderately successful grindcore band of his own) and picked his brains during a lunch break. He loaned me his vinyl copy of Testament’s ‘The Legacy’, for my CD of Cannibal Corpse’s ‘Tomb of the Mutilated’ and my mind was blown by tracks such as ‘Over The Wall’, the tuneful vocals of ‘Alone In The Dark’, and the stomp of ‘Raging Waters’  and ‘Burnt Offerings’. There’s something distinctly tribal and raw about the album, stirring a primal urge causing the hairs on your arms to raise. If cavemen existed today untouched by modern civilization on some forgotten archipelago, they’d dance around to Testament’s ‘The Legacy’ like they had a victorious day making fire and hunting down woolly mammoths – it stirs the soul THAT much. To disagree otherwise is to be a tone-deaf root vegetable. Simple as that. 

Goth Mark

Truly Yours,
Blessed Altar Zine Team

**Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre