Years of Decay 1981

10 min read

1981… The majority of us, we were just a kids and maybe we never thought that we will be metalheads. eheheheheh

Enjoy our 1981 selection but most of all – enjoy your Sunday!

Black Sabbath – Mob Rules
October 1981 – Warner Bros. Records

My time has come to choose the year for this Sunday Years of Decay. 1981 was a great year imo. “Killers” (Maiden) “Diary…” (Ozzy) with my pick today, “Mob Rules” (Sabbath) are with no doubt on my top ten list of metal albums ever. Well, Mob Rules is not my fave Sabbath album but it gets the number three spot today. But my personal sabbath fave album may not be on that list of ten metal albums. Cause I don’t regard it as 100% metal… anyway, I’m here to write about “Mob Rules” and why I chose it. read more

Many many fans will have “Heaven And Hell” (1980) on top of “Mob Rules”. Mob, will always be like a small brother under the shadow of its bigger and smart sibling. Well, not for me. Even though there is no denying that HH was a great first album for the new Sabbath, I regard their second one, once Bill Ward left, to be a better over all album. Why? Because this is a true test of what Iommi/Dio really could create. HH as being the first album was also a mix of both styles. Sabbath sounding more like Rainbow. Where in MR the simbyosis was complete. The new Sabbath was born and it unleashed one of the heaviest and darkest albums that comes to mind. Doom metal at its best, epic as Conan The Barbarian riding a Dragon on a blood red sunset. This is the album Dio tried to emulate on his solo career but never could. Also Iommi could never produced one so heavy and dark until both heroes paired again in 92.
This is Black Sabbath dark gem. You must revisit. You must bow!
And as a closer to the article, the song that closes the album with a blues that will break your spine. Doom On!



Rush – Moving Pictures
February 1981 – Anthem Records

I don’t think I can talk about 1981 without bringing up “Moving Pictures” from RUSH. In the early 80’s metal was still in its infancy in a number of places. Even though they are not the heaviest of bands, their progressive mastery laid the groundwork for so many bands that came after them. Full disclaimer before we go any further, I was not alive when this one came out. Not even close; but I guess that is the beauty of a timeless record.
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WAs I type this, “Moving Pictures” is blasting on my record player. I snagged the album from a flea market immediately after my eyes landed on it. Everything from its very local Toronto artwork, to its energy and unusual musical elements make this album legendary. “Tom Sawyer”, “YYZ”, and “Limelight” are three of my favourite RUSH songs but we also get some lesser praised songs like “The Camera Eye” and “Vital Signs” as well. I’ve seen a number of local Toronto metal bands cover YYZ (in a variety of formats) and it just goes to show how big of an impact RUSH has had on a number of different generations over the years.

Every note of “Moving Pictures” is magical. The righteous Lifeson riffing and Geddy bass lines really hit their full stride on this album. As always Peart proves he’s an absolute genius, with the drumming a delight and the lyrics hitting just as hard as the instrumentals! The result is progressive perfection. If your RUSH records are starting to decay, there is no better time than the present to get them out and dust them off. Cheers to some good tunes and the times we had listening to them. RIP Neil “The Professor” Peart!

Metal Yeti


Cirith Ungol – From and Fire
January 1981 – Liquid Flame Records

So, 1981 eh? It was an early time for extreme metal, to be honest. But, with regards to early metal bands influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Motörhead, Iron Maiden, Rainbow, Judas Priest and so-called “NWOBHM” that were already around for a few years were at a somewhat embryonic stage to say the least. Notably, this is the year Anthrax, Slayer, Sodom, and Metallica formed, but it was way too early for them to conquer the world and were collectively doodling about in bedrooms, garages, and school music groups figuring out how to conquer the world with this new fangled concept called ‘Thrash Metal’. Hell, it was even too bloody early for hair metal, come to think of it. Black metal, death metal? What was that? Didn’t Venom wobble on about something? I dare say the likes of Dani Filth and his mates were far more interested in watching The Professionals, and playing with Action Man figures – whilst their Mum picked them up from school in an Austin Metro to have Findus Crispy Pancakes and Birdseye Potato Waffles for tea – they were far too young to dressed like a bunch of dead girls, scaring the shit out of the beigerati. read more

Anyway, Cirith Ungol. They formed in 1971, but it took until 1980 for them to be signed up by Liquid Flame records to record their debut album “Frost and Fire” in April of that year, to be released in January 1981; hailling from California with a desire to play heavier music similar to protal metal titans Mountain (‘Nantucket Sleighride’ is a massive banger, by the way) and to a lesser extent Grand Funk Railroad. The album gets off to a roaring stompy start with “Frost and Fire”, with the thundering bass of Greg Linstrom as the perfect funky backdrop for the searing guitars of Jerry Fogle – whilst the strong vocals of “Pterry Dactyl” (Neal Beattie) lead to spawn a sea of power metal imitators, with fantasty lyrics about swords and sorcery. In fact, in some ways you could be forgiven for thinking the album is the musical version of Conan The Barbarian a year before the film was released. Along with Manowar, it can be rightfully argued that Cirith Ungol is the genesis of power metal itself (especially as the band were clearly massive Lord of the Rings fans), and influencing the evolution of doom and stoner metal too (try doing a quick switch between playing a Cirith Ungol track and a Fu Manchu one, for instance). Nearly 40 years on, the album is of its time, but has also aged gracefully. Whereas lesser bands from the era compared to modern day production values and genre overload, comes across as sounding somewhat quaint.

Goth Mark


Girlschool – Hit and Run
April 1981 – Bronze Records

1981… I was a small kid. Ahahahahahahah.

GIRLSCHOOL is a band that I only get in “touched” at the end of the 90’s. A big friend of mine (RIP) showed me the band. At the time, I thought to myself “No big deal, it’s ok” but he said “You are crazy? This is amazing”. So I started digging them music and… read more

I’m glad I did. “Hit and Run” is the second album from this English band and is the best one for me. Maybe, cause it was the first album I heard of them? I don’t know. The band is very good. Like all bands, they have good and bad albums or ok albums or just “it’s another album of them”. Well, that depends on each point of view. GIRLSCHOOL even if it is not a band that I listen to every day is a band that reminds me of very good old times. GIRLSCHOOL is nothing than a rock band with some punk influences. Not everyone likes it but is good. Check them, if you don’t know…

The Key Keeper


Van Halen – Fair Warning
April 1981, Warner Bros

1981, the year I was born. Needless to say though, I discovered Van Halen a little later in life. In fact, although “Jump” (from the band’s hugely successful “1984”) is one of the first songs I ever remember hearing (in a seemingly vast Melbourne shopping centre when I was but a child), I never got round to listening to VAN HALEN in earnest till sometime in my early 20s, I think. From the mid 90s onwards, when I was starting to pay attention to the music out there, I’d see VAN HALEN reviews and album covers and think of them as some bloated, Rock dinosaurs, with nothing of interest for me. The turning point came in the midst of my enduring obsession with Henry Rollins, reading one of his books, where he talked about singer David Lee Roth and I thought “oh, I guess this is someone worth investigating”. And so it proved. read more

My appreciation for VAN HALEN then really came from my appreciation of David Lee Roth (and his very entertaining memoire “Crazy From The Heat”). Of course, Eddie Van Halen is an incredible guitarist, and there’s plenty of impressive guitar work on “Fair Warning”, the band’s fourth album, like the fluid, choppy, harmonics and riffing on album opener “Mean Streets”. The next track “Dirty Movies” was an obsession of mine for weeks when I first heard it, and to this day is probably still my favourite song by the band. The stomping rhythm section, the brilliantly, sleazy guitar lines, and Diamond Dave at his lascivious best, is impossible for me to resist.

While the rest of the album doesn’t falter as far as the impressively muscular rhythms, inventive guitar ejaculations and DLR being DLR goes, nothing else quite grabs my attention as the first awesome one, two punch does. Although “Hear About It Later” has a beautiful guitar intro and some lovely melodic lines, and “Push Comes To Shove” has a great, funky bass-driven groove, elsewhere it’s mostly a case of enjoyable-while-it-lasts, but not exceptionally memorable Hard Rock of the early 80s. All the same, there’s no doubt that the band was a pretty exceptionally well oiled, Rock beast back in the day. “Fair Warning” isn’t an album to change the world or turn your life upside down, but hey, it’s only rock-n-roll after all.

Tom Boatman

Fongus – Aferrado al Rock
March 1981, Discos Cronos

For this 1981 instalment of our recurring segment ‘Years of Decay’ I have been burrowing deep underground, and much like a subterranean critter blindly eking out its living in the darkness, I have sniffed out something juicy to sink my teeth into. Today, instead of offering tribute to a 1981 release from one of the metal greats, I have opted to dig up something obscure, lost to time and totally new to me. Please join me as we bring the band FONGUS to light and hopefully unearth some long-lost treasure from the underground. read more

OK, so who are FONGUS? FONGUS were formed in Guadalajara Mexico during the mid 1970’s by brothers Jorge and Pablo López. Pablo eventually left the band and the core group became Jorge López (vocals and bass), Francisco Ruiz (lead guitar), Pedro Zavala (drums and vocals), and Humberto Camacho (guitar). During their career, between 1975 and 1996, FONGUS released five full-length albums. Initially the band were a hard rock act, but with each new release their sound developed, becoming heavier over time. The focus of this review will be their second album “Aferrado al Rock (clinging to rock)”, which was released in 1981, and being earlier in their career, is not quite as heavy as later releases.

The various styles of rock that FONGUS offer on “Aferrado al Rock” shift throughout the album, and this diversification of sound, from track to track sometimes feels like the band were yet to establish their own unique aesthetic. The album presents a fusion of hard rock, 50’s rock ‘n’ roll, blues, Latin rock, and progressive rock. Track one “Los Huevos de la Araña” starts the album with a classic 50’s rock ‘n’ roll vibe, but this is followed by “Banda Civil” which, for 1981, is a much more progressive and contemporary hard rock sound. The heaviest song on the album is the title track and this one was also my favourite track, with prominent thick and fuzzy guitar riffs. Track six, “He Esperado Mucho Tiempo”, is slower paced but has a groovy Latin rock quality, and in parts resembled something akin to Santana. Another standout is the closing track “No Me Calientes”, this funky, upbeat tune has some nice little guitar interludes and perfectly concludes the album.

“Aferrado al Rock” is the type of album that you can listen to ten times and find something new on each return. It feels like an ambitious effort for the time period, and the diversity in the styles of rock being put forth feels fun and refreshing, if at times surprising or unexpected. FONGUS are an intriguing band, they are nothing like anything else that I usually listen to but I’ve still enjoyed the time I’ve spent unearthing this early 80’s artifact. Perhaps, in time, I’ll decide to dust this curio off and place it on the mantle with the other great 80’s pieces.

Proua Metallist

Till next time…

Truly Yours,
Blessed Altar Zine Team

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

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