Great Metal Albums of 1985: Helloween

Posted in Uncategorized on May 19, 2019 by 80smetalman


Continuing on back tracking the great albums of 1985 which I didn’t learn about til a year later when I was fully immersed in thrash, the debut EP by German band Helloween definitely caught my attention. At that time, any metal that was played fast was called thrash and whether you agree or not, Helloween was lumped into that category. However, it didn’t take most people long to realize that the metal this band played was certainly not thrash. While the label hadn’t yet been officially coined, Helloween were speed metal.

Not wanting to get into the semantics of speed metal, thrash metal or power metal which has been said that this album redefined the latter, I just appreciate the album. The don’t blink or you’ll miss it power riffs in the songs are attention grabbing enough. But what sets Helloween apart from say Celtic Frost or Voivod is the melodic vocals of Kai Hansen. Those vocals are just fantastic and though he can scream, he even does that with melody. Definitely, he’s an underrated vocalist. What is also unique about Helloween is the long almost progressive rock sounding guitar solos on the songs. Again, something you don’t find on traditional thrash record but it sounds so good on this album.

Some might argue that songs titled “Murderer,” “Warrior” and possibly “Victim of Fate” are titles you would expect to find on a Venom album. Those persons are probably not as well versed in metal as they would believe themselves to be. Many mainstream metal bands have songs with similar titles and Helloween is no different. Then again, who really cares about titles when all five songs are played so well. However, the standout for me has to be “Victim of Fate.” That song does it all with the cool intro, the already mentioned melodic vocals and the prog like guitar solo. In addition, there is a spooky sounding whispering part compliments of Hansen which adds a further dimension to the song. It’s the best one in my book and that takes nothing away from the other four.

Track Listing:

  1. Starlight
  2. Murderer
  3. Warrior
  4. Victim of Fate
  5. Cry For Freedom



Kai Hansen- guitar, vocals

Michael Weikath- guitar

Markus Grosskopf- bass

Ingo Schwitchtenberg- drums

Another band stayed beneath my radar in 1985 although I would discover Helloween a year later. While to most people, thrash metal or speed metal wasn’t a thing in 1985, there were some great albums from bands waiting to spring forth upon the world. Helloween was one of them.

Next post: Helloween- Walls of Jericho

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Great Metal Albums of 1985: Voivod- War and Pain

Posted in Uncategorized on May 16, 2019 by 80smetalman


It’s probably me but once again I’m in contradiction with Wikapedia. They say that the debut album, “War and Pain,” from Canadian thrash artists Voivod was released in 1984. I don’t remember seeing or hearing anything about it til 85. Anyway, I never got around to hearing them until 1986 when I saw them live twice that year. My impression of them at the time was that Voivod were so bad that they were actually good! I have maintained that thought about them for many years so with this post, I’ll ask the question: Was that earlier assessment of them correct?

The criticism of heavy metal and thrash in general has always been that the musical ability of those who play such music is limited. Musicians can only play four chords and the singer screams. Yes, I know that it was a total fallacy. As for thrash, it gets even further cast into that mold. I remember one person describing thrash stating the guitars sound like a vacuum cleaner and the vocals like a dog barking. Funny thing is that Voivod come pretty close to that with this album but somehow, it is still very enjoyable.

Probably the best way to describe “War and Pain” is erratic. All of the songs sound like they are just all over the place with the members just doing their bit at will. This is especially the case with guitarist Denis ‘Piggy’ D’Amour who seems hell bent on massacring his instrument. He pounds those chords to death only slowing down to throw in a solo when needed. Surprisingly, his solos are pretty good, at least to my ears. If it’s not the guitar work of D’Amour causing mayhem, then it’s the drumming of Michel ‘Away’ Langevin who like his fellow band member, seems hell bent on destroying his instrument. In this case, he is determined to put his sticks through the skins of his drums. As for singer, Denis ‘Snake’ Belanger, his vocals don’t sound like a dog barking but his voice is nowhere near melodic. While he doesn’t scream, his yells are blood curdling. With all this mayhem, full marks should go to bassist Jean-Yves ‘Blacky’ Theriault who manages to keep a steady beat while all around him is madness.

With all of this metal madness thrashing about, it’s hard to me to pick a favourite track. They’re all one big thrash metal free for all but yet at the same time, they are all likable songs. After a few listens, I have to pick the title track because it does have a near mainstream metal sounding intro before going into the madness. Other standout tracks are “Blower” and “Live for Violence.” The latter has a drum solo in the middle and it makes that track stand out a bit more. “Black City” can be included here too.

Track Listing:

  1. Voivod
  2. Warriors of Ice
  3. Suck Your Bones
  4. Iron Gate
  5. War and Pain
  6. Blower
  7. Live for Violence
  8. Black City
  9. Nuclear War



Denis ‘Snake’ Belanger- vocals

Denis ‘Piggy’ D’Amour- guitar

Jean-Yves ‘Blacky’ Theriault- bass

Michel ‘Away’ Langevin- drums

To answer the question, Voivod were not bad. It seemed back then that they just wanted make lots of noise in a good way. While “War and Pain” is not for the feint hearted, it is a good way to release lots of pent up aggression and have a thrashing good mosh.

Next post: Helloween

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Great Metal Albums of 1985: Celtic Frost: To Mega Therion

Posted in Uncategorized on May 14, 2019 by 80smetalman


Not being content with treating the world to their EP, “Emperor’s Return,” in 1985, Celtic Frost decided to unleash a full length LP onto the world in the form of “To Mega Therion.” In Greek, the title means “The Great Beast,” which is what this album is, a great beast but in a very good metal way.

Normally when an album, even some thrash metal ones, has as short intro song as its opening track, it’s usually some ballad like acoustic sort of thing. This is not the case with “To Mega Therion” as “Innocence and Wrath” is simply a short sharp belter designed to wake you up and say, “Hey, this album is here and you’re going to listen to it” and it does it successfully. Furthermore, it prepares you for the second track, “The Usurper,” which is one of the strongest tracks on the album. The thrash party carries through the next track, “Jewel Throne,” another good all out thrash mad song. I do really like the mosh part with guitar solo included, before slowing down a little for “Dawn of Megiddo.”

“Dawn of Megiddo” highlights the band’s black metal Black Sabbath influence. This song proves that the melding of thrash and Black Sabbath can be done and furthermore, it sounds absolutely magnificent. It is exactly the reason why this track gets my vote for best track on the album.

Contrasting “To Mega Therion” with “Emperor’s Return,” I can safely say that the production on this album is far superior. My evidence in point is the only track from the EP, “Circle of the Tyrants,” which appears on the album. While it sounded okay on “Emperor’s Return,” it sounds a lot better on the LP. It also makes the other tracks sound so good. The musicianship of the band has a little to do with it too. Tom G. Warrior takes on double duties on guitar and lead vocals and does both with finesse. The rhythm section of Steiner and St. Mark do a super job as well. Another great example of this is the track “(Beyond the) North Winds.” This song shows why Celtic Frost were so widely mentioned in thrash circles in the mid- 1980s.

Track Listing:

  1. Innocence and Wrath
  2. The Usurper
  3. Jewel Throne
  4. Dawn of Megiddo
  5. Eternal Summer
  6. Circle of Tyrants
  7. (Beyond the) North Winds
  8. Fainted Eyes
  9. Tears in a Prophet’s Dream
  10. Necromantical Screams


Celtic Frost

Tom G Warrior- guitar, vocals

Dominic Steiner- bass

Reed St Mark- drums, percussion

What I love about writing this blog is the fact that I get to go back in time and reminisce about bands I was heavily into in the 1980s but haven’t listened to them in recent years. Celtic Frost was certainly one of those bands and the album, “To Mega Therion,” was a reason why I love doing it.

Next post: Voivod- War and Pain

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Great Metal Albums of 1985: Celtic Frost- Emperor’s Return

Posted in Uncategorized on May 9, 2019 by 80smetalman


Following up on what I said on my previous post, Megadeth wasn’t the only band who got my attention in 1986 to the point I had to check out their 1985 albums. Another band who definitely caught my ear was Swiss black/thrash metal trio Celtic Frost. The band’s name alone was a valid reason for checking them out. When I did, I discovered that they had put out an album and an EP before that in 1985. They must have been very busy lads that year.

I thought I’d break everyone in nice and easy by visiting the EP first. “Emperor’s Return” is a five song, twenty-one minute long head pounding mayhem of an album. On the other hand, if I had been producing this record, I would have begun things with the second track, “Morbid Tales,” because that song is a belter. It’s pure ferocity reminds me why I got into thrash to begin with. It’s faced paced riffs combined with harsh but appropriate vocals and a blistering guitar solo would have been a better way to start things off. This doesn’t take anything away from the actual opener, “Circle of Tyrants” because that is a cool track. It just would have sounded better second or third. Saying that, no matter where you put it, “Dethroned Emperor” would have sounded great. I love how it starts with the slower Sabbath sounding riffs, especially the intro, before eventually increasing in speed. Vocalist Tom G Warrior is no Ozzy or Dio but his vocals are what is needed here. Speaking of intros, the screeching one on “Visual Aggression” may only appeal to the most tuned of ears, like mine, but the song does belie the title. It’s aggressive! The way thrash ought to be played. “Suicidal Winds” does not close the album in some sort of catchy melodic way. It pounds you into submission one more time, daring you not to give the EP a listen in the future.

Another aspect of thrash albums of the mid 1980s, was the album covers. I remember many an interesting album cover in the design of the one here. Not all of them featured scantly clad women either. What makes this cover stand out is that it reminds me of Succubus creatures in the computer game Diablo only the ladies here don’t have bat wings. Still, I wonder if the designer for the game got the influence for them here.

Track Listing:

  1. Circle of Tyrants
  2. Morbid Tales
  3. Dethroned Emperor
  4. Visual Aggression
  5. Suicidal Winds


Celtic Frost

Tom G. Warrior- guitar, vocals

Martin Ain- bass

Reed St. Mark- drums

In 1986, I welcomed Celtic Frost into my life. Their EP “Emperor’s Return” whetted my appetite for thrash metal, as did many other albums. I only wished I had heard them in 1985.

Next post: Celtic Frost- To Mega Therion

To download Rock and Roll Children, go to: 










Great Metal Albums of 1985: Megadeth- Killing is My Business And Business is Good

Posted in Uncategorized on May 6, 2019 by 80smetalman


If I follow my normal rules, then I shouldn’t actually post about the debut album from Megadeth until I got to 1986 because that was when I first heard about Megadeth and their album, “Killing Is My Business and Business Is Good.” But rules are made to be broken and I like to, as they say in baseball terms, throw the odd curve ball once in a while. Besides, by the time I heard this album in the following year, I was already so engrossed with speed and thrash metal, this album just fitted right. However, if I had first heard the album in the appropriate year, I would have been blown away by how it somehow remains a little melodic without losing any of its ferocity. In 1985, Megadeth were what I call pioneers into a new frontier along with many others.

While nowadays, starting with a piano intro before blasting away into some serious metal is par for the course, however, when Megadeth did it on the opening track of the album, it was something different back then. When I first heard it, I was a little intrigued as to where this was going but that curiosity was quickly satisfied.

Talking about “Killing is My Business and Business is Good,” well it’s just one big eight song long thrash party. I have always found it hard to rank any of these songs as they were all stand out tracks at the time and still are today. If I had to choose a favorite, it would have to be “These Boots” because of how it destroys the more popular version by Nancy Sinatra in the 1960s. That’s just how my warped mind works.

Instead of breaking down the album by tracks, I am forced, okay not really forced, to look at the playing behind those tracks. When recording this album, Dave Mustaine stated that he wanted something harder and faster in order to out do his rivals Metallica. He was still rather bitter about being fired by them. He got what he wanted in the making of this album. All of the songs are brutal but Dave proves that he can sing, thus silencing critics of thrash who say that thrash songs’ vocals sound like a dog barking. Furthermore, Megadeth also demolish the belief that guitars on thrash songs sound like multiple vacuum cleaners. The guitars are just fine here and the solos are even better. What you get here is an album that is a standard bearer of all things to come both with the band and speed metal in general.

Track Listing:

  1. Last Rites/Loved to Deth
  2. Killing is My Business and Business is Good
  3. The Skull Beneath the Skin
  4. These Boots
  5. Rattlehead
  6. Chosen Ones
  7. Looking Down the Cross
  8. Mechanix



Dave Mustaine- lead vocals, rhythm and lead guitar, piano

Chris Poland- lead guitar

David Ellefson- bass, backing vocals

Gar Samuelson- drums, timpani

Here’s another case of I wish I knew then what I know now. In 1985, I had never heard of this band nor this great album. Even when I did, little did I know that Megadeth were to go onto achieve great things. Looking back, “Killing is My Business and Business is Good” made for a fine start.

Next post: I think I’ll stick with the theme of thrash bands who I discovered in 1986 but had albums in 1985. Celtic Frost- Emperor’s Return

To download Rock and Roll Children, go to: 














Great Metal Albums of 1985: Venom- Official Bootleg

Posted in Uncategorized on May 2, 2019 by 80smetalman


After all these years, I’m still not sure what to make of Venom’s live album, “Official Bootleg.” I guess that after four successful studio albums, that a live album should have been on the cards. It would have been the case with many bands out there. However, the quality of the album makes one wonder how serious they were about recording it. After all, the album was recorded live from the legendary Hammersmith Odeon but it sounds like it could have been recorded in someone’s garage. Reviews I have read on the album suggest the very same thing.

Songs on “Official Bootleg” make for a very strong line up of some of Venom’s classics. Take the much acclaimed “Welcome to Hell” for instance. This ranks among my favourite of Venom tunes but the way it’s played on this album makes me a little glad that I wasn’t at this show when it was recorded. Where in the chorus the title should be screamed, Cronus just doesn’t. There is no oomph to emphasize it and that’s something I really like about the recorded version. That’s another paradox, I’ve seen them live twice and they sound a hell of a lot better than what they do on this live album.

Through the negativity, there are some bright spots on the album. Mantas’s soloing on “Seven Gales of Hell” is quite good because it breaks through the dirge of the album. In addition, Cronus’s vocals can actually be heard on some parts of the song. So, I should say that this is the best song on the album by default but the song does drag on a bit too long. The spoken part on “In Nomine Santanas” is done well and there is a good thrash part right after that bit. However, for top song, I am drawn to “Warhead.” Cronus introduces the song with plenty of enthusiasm and his screams at the beginning are just scary, like it should be. Maybe because it’s a slow song in Venom terms but it just clicks with me. While I have always known what Venom were capable of, the fact that it is better heard on it makes all the difference. Maybe the production team were awake when they recorded this. Things do end on a positive note as “Bloodlust” closes out the album very well indeed.

Track Listing:

  1. Die Hard
  2. Seven Gales of Hell
  3. In Nomine Santanas
  4. Welcome to Hell
  5. Warhead
  6. Stand Up and Be Counted
  7. Bloodlust


Cronus- bass, vocals

Mantas- guitar

Abaddon- drums

Another theory someone suggested is that Venom purposely called for bad production on the album in order to take the piss out of bootleg albums in general. I’ve heard many bootleg recordings and a lot of those are even worse. So it is possible but if I had heard this “Official Bootleg” album before I had actually seen them live in 1986, I might not have gone.

Next Post: Megadeth- Killing is My Business and Business is Good

To download Rock and Roll Children, go to:














Great Punk Albums of 1985: Dead Kennedys- Frankenchrist

Posted in Uncategorized on April 28, 2019 by 80smetalman


“Frankenchrist” was the third full length and most controversial album from the San Francisco punk outfit, Dead Kennedys. The band steered away from their hardcore punk and more towards a psychedelic side. For one, they introduced the use of keyboards and East Bay Ray’s guitar playing has been described as more atmospheric than on previous DK albums. I’ll get to that in a moment but some of the songs are slower and longer but other songs prove that they hadn’t completely abandoned the sound that shot them to the top of the punk scene in the early 1980s.

On the subject of East Bay Ray’s guitar playing on “Frankenchrist.” At that time, everyone was talking about the unique guitar sound of The Edge from U2 and I don’t disagree that he played some great licks on those early albums. However, I’m going to go out on a limb and venture the opinion that East Bay Ray blows him away with his guitar playing. His psychedelic-punk licks are splattered all over the album and for me, it is what makes this album unique and so brilliant. Backed up great vocals and a super rhythm section, he is simply allowed to shine. “Chicken Farm” is the best example.

Another great aspect of this album is the topics covered in the songs. The band, especially Jello Biafra, wasn’t afraid to speak out about the problems in 1985 through the music. Take the opener, “Soup is Good Food.” It’s about how someone gets made redundant from their job but after six weeks their unemployment benefit runs out so they’re no longer an unemployment statistic. All through 1984 and 85, the Regan administration kept saying how unemployment was going down when all they did was fiddle the figures. Then again, the Dead Kennedys were never afraid of being controversial.

The track “Jock-O-Rama” pokes fun at how high schools push sports over learning and how athletes, American football players especially get treated like Gods and can get away with things like getting drunk and then crashing the car. The verse about the injured player really sums the attitude of the time. It does reflect a scene from “Rock And Roll Children” where some football players start a fight with the main characters and when it’s broken up, teacher’s sympathies lie towards the jocks.

Of all the tracks, however, the best one is “MTV Get Off the Air.” This was very topical of the time because by 1985, MTV really began to suck and became nothing more than a glorified commercial radio station. These lyrics sum it up perfectly:

It’s a new frontier they say

It’s wide open, anything can happen

But you have a lot of nerve to call yourselves a pioneer

When you are too conservative to take real chances.

Track Listing:

  1. Soup is Good Food
  2. Hellnation
  3. This Could Be Anywhere
  4. A Growing Boy Needs His Lunch
  5. Chicken Farm
  6. Jock-O-Rama
  7. Goons of Hazzard
  8. MTV- Get Off the Air
  9. At My Job
  10. Stars and Stripes of Corruption

Dead Kennedys

Jello Biafra- lead vocals

East Bay Ray- guitar, synthesizer, 12 string bellzouki

Klaus Floride- bass, backing vocals

DH Peligro- drums, backing vocals

Additional Musicians

John Leib- trumpet on “MTV Get Off the Air”

Tim Jones- keyboards on “A Growing Boy Needs His Lunch”

“Frankenchrist” marked a change of direction for the Dead Kennedys but it was a turn for the good. In spite of this being such a great album, it did land the band, Jello Biafra especially in hot water. The four men photographed on the album cover sued the band, I guess for misappropriation of their images even though the photo first appeared in Newsweek magazine in the 1970s, nearly a full decade before the release of this album. Even worse, in 1986, criminal charges would be filed against Jello Biafra for distribution of obscene material to minors. This was down to the picture on the inner sleeve of HR Greiger’s painting called “Landscape XX” which showed a garden of penises and vaginas. More details of that will be told when I get to 1986.

Next post: Venom- Official Bootleg

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