As I was poking around the Amazon website to find the name of a certain Venom album I had owned when I was younger, I cam across an amusing forum thread entitled What is the best band of the 80’s, in the metal forum. Presumably they would be discussing metal here and by that nature, presumably they’re not really looking for “chart” bands because metal wasn’t as “mainstream” as it is today (of course, today’s definition of metal and all of the available sub-genres make most of today’s metal crap).

It was quite amusing to read some of the posts.. people thinking Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, and Def Leppard were mentioned. Folks… that isn’t really metal. That’s hard rock. The so-called hair metal or “glam metal” of the 80’s wasn’t real metal. That was all hard rock. Just the fact that those bands got air time in the 80’s is proof enough they weren’t real metal. The thread is a bit old so I didn’t bother posting to it, but it made me think… so here I am listening to some old Venom and I have to say that the best bands (and by best I mean innovative, stuck to their principles and didn’t sell out (at least not in the 80’s), as well as those that turned around and defined the genre or influenced a lot of later bands) are probably Venom, Slayer, Metallica, and Iron Maiden.

Sadly, out of those I mentioned, only Maiden got the most “credit”. In the 80’s, Maiden had some really great albums. Albums like Powerslave and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son are remarkable. I’m surprised Venom didn’t get more credit… while I don’t really go for all the pro-Satan lyrics, musically these guys were trend-setters. I get why they didn’t really get “mainstream” even in the metal scene then… the music was quite harsh and raw, and the vocals leave a bit to be desired, but that’s the whole point. That sound defined a genre. Look at bands like Metallica and Slayer who cite Venom as big influences. And Slayer… well… for thrash metal, they were true pioneers. Albums like Reign in Blood and South of Heaven were masterpieces in my opinion (although they were mastered too tame…. to really enjoy those songs, you need to listen to the live Decade of Agression which is probably the best live album ever produced). As for Metallica, despite my less-than-stellar opinion of them now, albums like Master of Puppets and Ride the Lightning were amazing.

Why anyone would put Bon Jovi and metal in the same sentence is beyond me. Other decent bands of that decade were Ozzy, Judas Priest, Sepultura, and Anthrax. Of course, these people prove their cluelessness by including bands like Morbid Angel, Testament and Cannibal Corpse in their list of best 80’s bands. While I don’t dispute the fact that a band making their debute in the late 80’s should count (which Morbid Angel did), Cannibal Corpse didn’t start producing stuff until the 90’s. Ah well… between picking bands from the wrong decade and picking hard rock/glam metal there are quite a few people that probably need their heads examined.

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