Years of Decay 1983

11 min read

1983… So many years already passed… Many of us were just small kids and some of us didn’t exist yet.
But we love metal and this time we decided to go back many many many years…

Enjoy our 1983 selection but most of all – enjoy your Sunday!

Iron Maiden – Piece of Mind
May 1983, EMI – Capital

We all have that music, those bands that accompany us throughout our lives; bands that walk with us through important times, both good and bad; bands that almost feel like a friend, a friend you might lose touch with from time to time, only to make contact with by chance and realise “shit, I missed you”. IRON MAIDEN are not that band for me.

I’ve heard Metal fans talk about MAIDEN as that band that unified them with all other Metalheads growing up, however else their musical tastes diverged. Not for me though. I was exploring all kinds of Metal avenues before I made any serious attempt to get into this band. I thought they were corny. It took me a long time and many a Metal music stepping stone to appreciate NAPALM DEATH, but I got there years before it occurred to me that maybe I ought to make an effort to understand what all these MAIDEN obsessives were getting all hot under the colour about. read more

So one day, like a non-smoker who wants to take the fast lane to a 20-a-day habit, I borrowed my MAIDEN obsessed friend’s collection and went on an immersive MAIDEN odyssey, listening to all of their albums, again and again and again. And I’ll be damned, these dudes have written some damn fine music.

I don’t see any reason why I’m write about them again, so I might as well put in my MAIDEN catalogue two cents here: “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” seems to me the most perfectly executed MAIDEN album, great, inventive songs, a cool running theme, great playing, immaculate production, but “Somewhere in Time” just shades it as my favourite album of theirs, with track after track of exhilarating, slick, propulsive, Metal. Unlike many, I don’t hold “Virtual XI” as the band’s nadir, but rather the preceding “No Prayer for the Dying” and worst of all “Fear of the Dark”, where the band was running out of ideas and for the most part not offering especially appealing variations on the MAIDEN themes. The first album with Blaze “The X Factor” was an unusually emotive offering that made a nice change; not one of their absolute best, but an interesting change of pace. I put that one just below “Powerslave”, which has a few great tracks, but too much dun-dede-dun-dede-dun-dede-dun horse-riding Metal (which is what I originally thought MAIDEN were purely reducible to, before I realised there was a lot more to them). Of the Bruce Mk II era I put “Dance of Death” at the top (but I only listened to them as far as 2006’s “A Matter of Life and Death”), just below “The Number of the Beast”, and between that and my aforementioned top two we finally get to “Piece of Mind” the band’s fourth album and the second with Bruce Dikinson on vocals.

To go back to my smoking analogy, after going full-tilt on MAIDEN, charging right into my dibiliting habit, I kept at it hard for a year or two and it’s been pretty much cold turkey since then, with not much more than the odd puff here and there. I hadn’t listened to “Piece of Mind” for I don’t know how long before tonight, but while doing so I remembered why I like it. The songs are varied, it’s got great, thunderous, charging numbers like Where Eagles Dare” and “The Trooper”, some good variety and interesting styles that you might not expect of the typical MAIDEN fare; the album also includes one of my all time favourite MAIDEN tracks “Flight of Icarus” where the band goes full-on pomp-rock swagger, like a leather and cod-piece wearing QUEEN who weren’t afraid that anyone would consider them ridiculous for geeking out on Greek myths. Unfortunately the album does contain two of the band’s biggest stinkers towards the end, namely “Quest for Fire” and “Sun and Steel”, reminding, just in case you get carried away, that there is a reason why there’s a whole world of people who think MAIDEN are just silly.

 Altogether though “Piece of Mind” is pretty great. I’m glad I finally made my way into MAIDEN. I don’t revisit them too often, but it’s good to know they’re there and for my money “Piece of Mind” is pretty darned close to as good as they get. FLY AS HIGH AS THE SUUUUUUNNN!!

 Tom Boatman

Queensrÿche – Queensrÿche
September 1983 – EMI

Wow, 1983. That is some bloody years ago and probably before some of the sites followers were born, I wager. Me? Well, I was 6 years old back then and I was a whole decade away before my mid teens and got into heavy metal. In that year, Return of the Jedi came out along with Octopussy in the cinemas and Margaret Thatcher won a landslide victory in the general elections, people were losing their shit in December 1983 buying Cabbage Patch Dolls, and people in the UK (a year later, I may add) were still lamenting the death of the Ford Cortina and outraged at the “futuristic” replacement that was the Ford Sierra – to the point an Arena TV documentary was made about it featuring Alexi Sayle. It was also the early years for metal as we know it, even hair metal – as Motley Crue had only released their second album ‘Shout at the Devil’ and Metallica debuted that year with ‘Kill ‘Em All’. Death metal? Black metal? Well, they were a twinkle in Venom’s collective groins really, and thrash had just started primary school in terms of development. read more

However, it was some 17 years later that I first discovered Queensrÿche’s self titled EP, and Savatage’s debut album ‘Sirens’. Enter Dave Taxidude, as mentioned in Years of Decay from 1988 who got me more into thrash metal, NWOBHM, and 1970s ‘Proto Metal’ than what I already knew.

Queensrÿche initially started life as ‘The Mob’ and were a cover band that played songs from Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden. The band members consisted of guitarists Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton, drummer Scott Brokenfield and Bass and had loaned Geoff Tate for live performances but had no interest in joining a band that played only cover versions. Inspired by positive reception of their gigs, The Mob (who were only between 17 and 19 years old at the time) moved heaven and earth rehearsing five days a week and burned the candle at both ends running days jobs to scrape together money together to record a demo tape, offered a management contract by Easy Street Records and changed their name to Queensrÿche. The demo received rave reviews, and in summer 1983 they were offered a contract with EMI and toured with Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, and opened for Dio. Despite being only seventeen and a half minutes long, the EP is nothing short of mind blowing; ‘Queen of the Reich’ with those incredibly catchy riffs and Geoff Tate demonstrating such incredible vocals that would give Rob Halford a run for his money, which made for a brilliant taster for what was to become on ‘The Warning’ that was released a year later.

Savatage – Sirens
April 1983 – Metal Blade 

Originally starting in 1979 as ‘Avatar’, brothers Jon and Criss Oliva changed the bands name to Savatage due to the name already being taken just before they released their debut album. Along with Queensrÿche, this was one of many bands that I hadn’t heard of until Dave Taxidude pointed me in the right direction (although, my first introduction to the band was via ‘Hall of the Mountain King’). You can feel the youthful bristling energy prevalent in this recording that was going to become a great success, and is one of the best 1980s debuts from a metal band of the time. Just like Queensrÿche, the songs have a powerful and captivating energy where Criss Oliva’s guitars act as the perfect backing to brother Jon’s soaring, dramatic power metal vocals demonstrating a god-like talent that must’ve blown people’s heads clean off back in the day. The haunting riffs of ‘Sirens’, to the power and aggression of ‘Rage’, whilst ‘Scream Murder’ would make anybody – and I mean anybody bang that head like there’s no tomorrow. If things took a path where Savatage signed to a label such as Metal Blade or Megaforce, then the band easily had the potential to have the phenomenal success of other 1980s metal bands to something approaching Metallica levels of fame, the album is quite simply that strong because there’s not a single rubbish track, awkward moment, or filler on it – anywhere.

Basically, if you’ve not got Queensrÿche’s debut EP and the ‘Warning’ album, along with Savatage’s ‘Sirens’ and ‘Hall of the Mountain King’ in your life, then you need to rectify this immediately. Uplifting, powerful, and good wholesome stuff that should make you throw phat metal shapez in your living room at the bemusement of your neighbours.

Goth Mark

Accept – Balls to the Wall
December 1983 – RCA

Many many of my friends know that Accept is one of my favorite bands, even when many of them don´t like the band. But… who cares? Heavy Metal is for everyone and everyone has their musical, genre and sub-genre tastes, something that we are not going to discover now and here because it is something that is already stamped on each one’s chest as if it were a tattoo.
However, there is something that, I think almost everyone agrees is the fact that there are memorable classics that we all have to recognize at least every time we listen to a song. read more

This is the case of this album from the early ’80s, which over the years has been the focus of many fans of this glorious German heavy metal band of pure quality. We are talking about a true masterpiece.
Balls to the Wall, yeah!!! A record that catapults the band to the metal scene around the world,
and it gave them a boost that served as a launching pad for what would come. The sound and production quality is excellent and it shows. It can be perceived in each song, in each riff, in each choir. It is proven German quality metal, with Udo Dirkschneider, Wolf Hoffman, Herman Frank, Peter Baltes, and Stefan Kaufmann, this line-up gives us 10 tracks, and almost 45 minutes, this is one´s of the best seller from Accept.
And this album couldn`t start better than with this hymn that gives the name to the recording.
Controversial lyrics in songs like London Leatherboys, Head Over Heels, Love Child, a controversial cover and a controversial lyric themes that gave them a tremendous boost at the time. Balls to the Wall was a different album from the other 1983 releases, but the instant success it reached became very accepted by several social groups for its theme and strength, very strong pieces that can be considered truly memorable songs that make up a great album. This is a collector’s indispensable record. A classic without a doubt.


Anvil – Forged in Fire
April 1983, Attic Records

In 1983 I wasn’t even alive, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the tunes that predate my very existence. I’ve come to understand that humans only perceive time in a linear sense and our physical locations in spacetime have much deeper connections then our puny brains can perceive. What the hell are you talking about Yeti? Fucking speed metal; specifically Candian speed metal to be exact. Time is fluid and right up the road from my place of birth and current physical space in the city of Toronto, ANVIL was laying down some of the foundations of metal with their 1983 release “Forged in Fire”. At a time where thrash was in its infancy and the big four where just laying their roots, speed metal was alive and well. Fueled by a hunger of gasoline, intoxicants, and a full throttle, the fast riffs and no remorse lyrics caught the eyes of party animals, adrenaline junkies, and anyone looking for a good time!! read more

“Forged in Fire” was ANVIL’s 3rd album in 3 years. Just like their short and furious songs they were getting straight to the point. This release is a bit heavier than their last few with ANVIL pushing the limits of what tempo and aggression had to offer our eardrums. Tracks like “Forged in Fire”, “Free As The Wind”, “Future Wars”, “Hard Times-Fast Ladies”,”Motormount”, and “Winged Assassins” have classic soaring metal vocals and some vicious and furiocious guitar parts full cutting riffs and blazing solos mixed into a sea of kick ass melody. Utilizing some of the best parts of traditional metal bands like Judas Priest, Angel Witch, and Iron Maiden before applying new thrashy guitar tones and galloping percussions gave ANVIL and other Canadian speed metal bands a long and lasting appeal. Only a few on the album didn’t age well (*cough*“Never Deceive Me”“Make It Up To You”*cough*) but the 80’s were a strange time and I’ve forgiven worse.  Overall, I’d place this album as one of the best metal records of this year. It’s collecting some dust these days though, so give it a spin immediately to help break off some of those years of decay!

Metal Yeti

OZ – Fire in the Brain
June 1983, Tyfon Grammofon: Black Mark Productions

The year 1983 saw the release of “Fire in the Brain” the second, and almost indisputably the finest, album by Finnish metal band OZ. This release, although coming from outside of Britain, perfectly captured the style and feel of the NWOBHM movement, which was in full swing by the early 1980s. read more

“Fire in the Brain” is a fairly short release, running for less than 30 minutes, but it’s an energetic album full of drive, catchy riffs, and fast tempos that have the power to induce spontaneous headbanging. The album aptly erupts into being with the catchy opening track ‘Search Lights’. This first track is a definite stand out along with ‘Megalomaniac’, ‘Black Candles’ and the upbeat title track ‘Fire in the Brain’. Choosing stand out moments in this album was difficult as all eight tracks are almost completely flawless, as is the epic vocal performance by Ape de Martini (Tapani Hämäläinen).

The cover art is also suitably impressive, featuring a bloody hand holding a flaming skull. The owner of the hand is supposedly Quorthorn from Bathory, a cheeky little factoid that I have only happen upon recently.

Even now, 36 years later, it’s easy to see how this superb album cemented the band’s reputation as one of the best Finnish metal acts of the time and why it’s still a highly respected work.

Proua Metallist


Truly Yours,
Blessed Altar Zine Team

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