Bands That Defined The Golden Age of Heavy Metal in 1984

podcast the history of metal Feb 10, 2022
The History of Metal: 1984 - The Golden Age of Metal

On this installment of The History of Metal, the guys tackle the year 1984.
Old guards like Van Halen, Scorpions and Iron Maiden unleash career-topping releases. Up and comers Metallica, Ratt, Twisted Sister and Queensryche  are making noise of their own with ground breaking efforts. While The Underground is bubbling to the surface with kick ass platters from Mercyful Fate, Metal Church, Anthrax, Savatage and Trouble.
Join The Vernomatic, "Metal Walt" and Ian O'Rourke and enjoy 1984. Please Like, Share and Review with all your Metal Friends.


In this particular year, there were more releases from big bands from North America and Europe. What really was that continued growth in emergence in Eighties Rock.

In that category, there's at least six or more debut releases from what would be very well-known acts. And then in the more traditional heavy metal category where there are also a lot of other great debuts. So some of these we'll talk about in detail a little bit later.

On a sad note though, 1984 is marked or highlighted by some pretty major incidents. In two situations they were very tragic. The first being the car accident that resulted in the Def Leppard's drummer, Rick Allen's severed arm--yet his recovery and eventual return to drumming is nothing short of a miracle. Truthfully this would really influence that Eighties Rock sound going forward. 

The other major event in this year was the car accident that claimed the life of Razzle of Hanoi Rocks. As most know, Vince Neil of Motley Crue was the driver behind the wheel when he and Razzle were in the car.

Obviously, they were both drunk because they planned to get beer. As the incident was reported,  they collided with another car, and Razzle was pronounced dead at the hospital. By the end of this, Vince Neil was charged with vehicular manslaughter. It’s crazy to think that his life just carried on after that incident without any major charges against him. In a way when he dedicated the Theater of Pain album for Razzle, this was possibly some closure to that incident. 

Lastly, the documentary by Spinal Tap was released. A satirical mockumentary about a fictional English heavy metal band, it was very tongue-in-cheek and filled with exaggerated cliches about the typical behaviors of a rock band. Surprisingly it was met with positive reviews.

In a way the film provided more exposure to the heavy metal genre--especially to the more mainstream audience, which is never a bad thing. 

Honorable Mentions: Dokken, Yngwie Malmsteen

Dokken’s Tooth and Nail album was a kick in the ass compared to the first album.

The did have the power ballad “Alone Again'', but they had songs like “Into the Fire” and “Just Got Lucky” that received regular rotation on both radio and MTV at the time. 

Yngwie Malmsteen released “Rising Force” that same year. If you were a guitar enthusiast, Guitar Player magazine used to have these little vinyl pullout pages that were actually a 33 RPM place leaf.

And the first song that we heard from him was a song called Blackstar. Since then, guitar players were smitten with the way that this guy was able to pluck the strings on his Stratocaster. 

Our Canadian friends up north, Triumph released the album Thunder Seven. Interestingly enough, this was actually a light concept based on time-related situations, changes in time travel and more. They had a couple of minor hits such as “Follow Your Heart'' and “Spellbound” that came out on the album that were actuall pretty decent. 

Sadly, this was the last album that was penned by the guys in the band. Going forward, they would bring in guest writer that would help shape their sound.  

The final band worth mentioning is Mercyful Fate with their album Don’t Break The Oath. One of our favorite riffs is from the song “Dangerous Meeting” which starts the album off.  There are many other great songs like “The Oath” and “Gypsy” because they were combining a lot of different elements that were circulating in the metal community around the time.

The interesting part is Mercyful Fate’s producer and the equipment was the same when Metallica were in Europe recording.


Old School Underground Metal Honorable Mentions of 1984

Canadian Bands

  1. Exciter, Violence and Force 

This was their second album--the follow-up to Heavy Metal Maniac album.  

  1. Piledriver, Metal Inquisition

This was a bit of a cult band famous with songs like “Witch Hunt”, “Sex With Satan” and the title track “Metal Inquisition”. 

  1. Voivod, War and Pain

United States Bands

  1. Hellstar For A Mob, Burning Star
  1. Jag Panzer, Ample Destruction
  1. Thrust, Fist Held High

The feature song from this year was “Posers Will Die”.

  1. The Rods, Let Them Eat Metal
  1. Manowar
  1. Overkill
  1. Razer, Armed and Dangerous
  1. Slayer, Haunting the Chapel
  1. Trouble, Assassin
  1. TT Quick
  1. AC/DC, Jailbreak
  1. Raven, Live at the Inferno
  1. Alcatraz

A lot of these bands contributed to the history of metal and where we are today.

Honorable Mentions: The Deep Purple “Family Tree” Influence in 1984

This was perhaps the first band of that initial heavy metal period of those gods to reunite. Although the expectations of the lineup were enormous in the end, the Perfect Strangers album was rather unremarkable, in our opinion.

The band put a good effort in, but it doesn't stand with the rest of them. Material they would put out in their later years with Steve Morris would be much better. Nonetheless, the album does contain two iconic classic rock and metal tracks--”Perfect Strangers” and “Knocking At Your Back Door”. 

Staying in the offshoot of the Deep Purple family tree, let’s transition over to Whitesnake and their album, Slide It In. 

This was the breakthrough album for them in the United States and would be the catalyst for their rise which would come around 1987.

This album delivered a harder and more commercially friendly sound--especially on their title track. But it contains really classic Whitesnake tracks, “Loving No Stranger” and “Slow and Easy”.  

There were some lineup changes during the recording, but in the end, the lineup included the addition of guitars from John Sykes.  He really brought a whole different element to both the sound and look at the band. This would really factor into their mid to late eighties image going forward.

Kiss - Animalize

By 1984 Kiss were cool again, just in a different way. They released the album Animalize and in hindsight, the album had all those visual elements going forward. Yet, to be honest and aside from the title track, most of the other kinds of songs fell flat. On a positive note, Bruce Kulick did join the band mid-tour replacing Mark St. John.

Nonetheless, Kiss went back to being an arena size headlining act and had that image to go with it. Once again, they were on top of the world and worthy of an honorable mention.

Quiet Riot - Condition Critical

Despite their unexpected rise to stardom in 1983, their decline went just as fast in 1984. Most bands will tell you that one of the hardest albums to make is that follow-up album.

They fell into a trap despite the accomplishment of the lead single. 

The band never really got back to that big stardom ever again. 

Bon Jovi - Self-Titled

Their eventual massive impact on the Eighties rock scene can't be denied. Bon Jovi’s debut self-titled album should be mentioned for what would become the influence that they had on that genre.

The album did include hit songs “Runaway” and “She Don’t Know Me.”

Also, the band landed opening slots on tours from Kiss and the Scorpions. These were big achievements for a blue collared, middle-class tight band that came out of central New Jersey that really earned their stripes the hard way.  They had to dedicate their time in  the clubs and grow.

Savatage - The Dungeons Are Calling

As mentioned on a prior History of Heavy Metal episode, the tracks on this album were recorded and released as a separate LP in 1984. 

Many of the songs from this album such as the title track plus “By The Grace of the Witch'', and “The City Beneath” are just heavy metal classics. They have all those elements in the songs that would eventually label the band as a first in the power metal subgenre of metal. 

Do yourself a favor, dust this one off and crank it. You will not regret it. 

More Metal Band Honorable Mentions for 1984

Anthrax, Fist Full of Metal

The only album with lead singer Neil Turbin and the original bass player, Dan Wilker.

This was when the band was finally transitioning from the demo days until their first full-length.

After that release Neil Turbin departed and Dan Wilker was replaced by the band with Frank Bello. To this day the band doesn’t play a lot of this album, however it was just filled with a lot of killer songs. This album had great songs like “Death Rider”, “Metal Thrashing Mad” and they even did an Alice Cooper cover of “I’m 18”.  

Saxon - Crusader

This was Saxon’s sixth album release. It dropped in September of 1984. 

Some of the notable tracks on this album are:

“The Crusader Prelude” 

“Little Bit of Your Fancy” 

“Sailing to America”

By this time, their juices from the classic albums were running a little thin with the three or four strings after Denim and Leather and Wheels of Steel. Still Saxon was a fabulous band for the era. 



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