Agoraphobic News' Top 30 metal albums of 1987!

24/12/2017 Articles Share
In retrospect, 1987 was a golden year of thrash metal. It is really cool to see how many talented bands existed at the time. Also, 1987 is a year with few early & very influental death metal/grindcore and black metal releases that gave birth to a whole new generation of bands. This is our list of 30 best albums of 1987. Enjoy!

30) Exumer – Rising from the Sea

Second album of the German thrashers, Exumer, called Rising from the Sea, may be a second tier band coming from the Teutonic thrash scene, but this one definitely deserves your attention. Their music can be described as fast,  simple, on spot, and not too technical.

29)Whiplash -Ticket to Mayhem

Second album of New York based Whiplash is unlike any other thrash band, either coming from the East Coast or Bay area. With dirty production and aggressive vocals, Whiplash’s  Ticket to Mayhem is one of the albums every thrasher needs to hear at least once.


28) Possessed- The Eyes of Horror (EP)

Even though it’s not as brilliant as Possessed’s groundbreaking debut Seven Churches,  the first thing that comes to my mind about this release  is the fact that The Eyes of Horror  EP was produced by the legendary Joe Satriani. The music is a lot more thrashy than its predecessor, but with an album cover like this, you just can’t skip it!

27)  Sacred Reich – Ignorance

With no doubt, Sacred Reich’s Ignorance is a pretty strong debut album. The lyrics were up to date and really political. The album opener,  Death Squad is one of the most iconic thrash anthems from the 80s.  P.S.  Sacred Reich were ripped off by German thrash metal legends in that one!

26) Agent Steel - Unstoppable Force

This is what comes to my mind instantly when someone says speed metal. Even though it was 1987 and thrash metal was at its peak, some of the bands like Agent Steel were still adding a brutal dose of  NWOBHM sound to it. The riffs you might find on Unstoppable Force are crushing! And yeah, you either love or hate Cyriis’ high pitch vocals. There’s no in between.

25) Heathen - Breaking the silence

Heathen was one of these bands that cannot be described neither as thrash nor speed metal.  However, their music is damn heavy! Breaking the Silence is a hell of a debut! Catchy riffs  and David Godfrey on vocals is a winning combination! Heathen’s sound may be miles away from Exodus’ style but Lee Altus really knows how to play the axe!

24) CarnivoreRetaliation

Well, this band represents the  true face of Peter Steele (R.I.P). Carnivore was pretty awesome, but a very underrated thrash band from the 80s. Fast riffs, sharp socio-political lyrics and all the Cold War paranoia that surrounds this record is a cup of tea for every thrasher out there.  P.S.  any similarity with Sodom’s Persecution Mania album cover is unintentional. I guess...

23) Lȧȧz Rockit – Know your Enemy

With this album,  Lȧȧz Rockit cleansed themselves of their dark and shameful past (yes, I am talking about their glam phase). The moment you see that Duke Nukem-like figure on the album cover, you’ll know what’s this albumis all about! And some of their best songs like Euroshima, Shot to Hell and Last Breath  will make you crave the 80s!

 22) Artillery  -  Terror squad   

This album is the exact opposite of what you might think of by taking a glance at its cover. It’s definitely one of the most ridiculous album covers of all time, but still, Artillery are a high-tier thrash metal band coming from Denmark. Within seconds, you’ll realize how powerful and crushing these riffs are. Not to mention Flemming Rönsdor, who is, without exaggeration, one of the most underrated and yet one of the most original front man in  thrash metal. His vocals blend with the music perfectly. Highly recommended for all you thrashers who are not familiar with this band.

 21)  Suicidal TendenciesJoin the Army  

Even though it’s not their best nor thrashiest release, Join the Army is an album worthy of your attention. This one shows that SxTx was still heavily influenced by the hardcore scene from which the band had arisen. Some of the songs like Possessed to Skate, Human Guinea Pig and War Inside my Head are still their fans’ favorites!

20) D.R.I.Crossover

Cult release from a cult band. Combining the elements of both hardcore and thrash metal, D.R.I. are one of the founders of crossover thrash along with Corrosion of Conformity, Suicidal Tendencies, Cryptic Slaughter, S.O.D.   among other bands. The rules are simple – the moment you hear Five Year Plan, you instantly become a fan. I guess that a lot of teeth and bones were broken while D.R.I. was delivering these songs.

19) Death Angel – The Ultra Violence

Holy shit! Ultra Violence is a monster of a debut! The album title may have something to do with Stanley Kubrick’s movie Clockwork Orange. However, Death Angel was the youngest  Bay Area thrash metal band and that’s a fact! Their drummer Andy Galeon was just fifteen when their debut was recorded!  Mark Osegueda’s ferocious screams are unmatched in the whole genre! Speaking of songs, do I even need to say more than Voracious Souls, Kill As One, Thrashers&The-Ultra Violence?

18) Toxik – World Circus 

Progressive/technical thrash metal masters Toxik are one of the most underrated bands on this list. Coming from New York, these guys’ approach to music was a bit different from both the Bay Area and East Coast scene. Their vocalist, Mike Sanders, was actually one of the few guys within the thrash metal genre who could actually sing and reach high notes with ease. His vocals are a perfect match for Josh Christian’s shredding tendencies. What makes this album even more recognizable is an album cover drawn by the legendary Ed Repka. World Circus album cover perfectly reflects the 80s Cold War paranoia, representing a clownish politician ready to push the button at cost of a nuclear war.

17) MayhemDeathcrush 

With this 17 minute long EP, Mayhem had changed the face of black metal music forever! Deathcrush is one of those cult underground releases that inspire generations of bands  since its release day. It just can’t get more primitive  and dirtier than Deathcrush which  is one of the most influental EPs of all time! Black metal in its most essential, savage and aggressive form! Maniac’s and Messiah’s vocals are  simply crushin’!  RIP Euronymous!  Mayhem’s first studio effort is  pure fuckin’ sonic armageddon!

16) TankardChemical Invasion

Can you imagine the Teutonic thrash metal scene without Tankard?  Or can you imagine a world without beer? I don’t think so! Chemical Invasion is fast, brutal and pretty bluesy thrash metal album even for nowadays standards. That bluesy element was definitely their trademark in the 80s which made them stick  out from the rest of the Teutonic Thrash metal  legends. Songs like Don’t panick, masterful instrumental For a Thousand Beers and Chemical Invasion are one of the finest of the record. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t listen to the whole damn thing at once. Sadly,  Tankard was and will  always be criminally underrated.

15) DestructionRelease from Agony

 Is there any album cover more brutal than Destruction’sRelease from Agony? There are quite a few albums that sound as dark as that one. Plus, Schmier and Mike Sifringer were really on top of their game! Sign of Fear is by far the strongest tune on it and that’s a fact! That creepy intro, acoustic guitar solo....everything about it is just over the top! The lyrics are quite pessimistic, as the band raises a question:  will we return to middle ages? Schmier’s hellish screams will pierce your ears everytime you listen to this record. Still, I really couldn’t separate this album from Eternal Devastation  ‘cause they’re standing even,  shoulder to shoulder. Highly recommended.

14) OverkillTaking Over

The line up on this album is just amazing: Bobby Blitz on vocals, D.D. Verni on the bass, Bobby Gustafson on the guitar and Rat Skates on the drums.Taking Over is a power-chord based thrash metal at its finest! Blitz vocal range is high as the stars in the sky! The overall awesomeness of the music is inversely proportional to the shittiness of the album cover. The riffs, solos and vocals are pretty memorable.  Fatal if Swallowed, Wrecking Crew, In Union We Stand and groundshaking Powersurge stand out from the rest of the tunes as the best ones, but that doesn't mean that the rest  of the songs won't melt your face away!

13) Sarcofago - I.N.R.I.  

 Sarcofago’s debut is without a question one of the most brutal, aggressive, and extreme albums of 1987.  Even though their music is far from technical,I.N.R.I. is praised as one of the most influential album that incorporates elements of thrash, death, black metal, and even grindcore.  Jeff Becerra of Possessed and Chuck Schuldiner of Death have brought death growls within the genre, but Wagner Antichirst had pushed the limits way further. At the time, his vocal brutality is simply unmatched. Period. The coolest thing about this album is, even though the drums were recorded on a drum machine, these blast beats will make you feel as if you were listening to some tight death metal  or black metal band.

12) SepulturaSchizophrenia

 If we were talking about Beneath the Remains, that album would probably end up straight on #1 if the list was about albums that came out in 1988. However, Schizophrenia was a huge leap forward for the band from the chaotic, out-of-tune  Morbid Visions.This album was the first to feature Andreas Kisser, one of the driving creative forces that gave Sepultura a new face! The lineup featurng Andreas Kisser and Max Cavalera on the guitars, Paolo Jr. on the bass and Igor Cavalera on the drums is just unmatched! To the Wall, Escape through the Void, R.I.P. and re-recorded version of  Troops of Doom will make you bang your head for hours! I would swim across Atlantic to see old Sepultura play but that's not going to happen. However,  Schizophrenia was just an overture for years to follow.

11) CoronerR.I.P

Many of you think that the Bay Area scene was synonymous for highly technical virtuosity in thrash metal, but this band changed everything! Coroner had raised the bar of virtuosity to a new level, like no one before. Their music can be described as Nicolo Paganinni meets  Yngwie Malmsteen on steroids (on first two albums at least) and that’s the enough of an excuse why they are considered as one of the first technical thrash metal bands, all along with the US thrashers Watchtower. Coroner’s R.I.P. was living proof that Switzerland has something to put on the market except Nestle  and  Celtic Frosted Flakes. R.I.P. stands for  one of the strongest debut albums, whose technical virtuosity overshadowed both the Bay Area and Teutonic thrash metal scenes. I bet that songs like Reborn through Hate, When Angels Die, Nosferatu, R.I.P. would totaly make Bach and Tchaikovsky bang their heads!

10) Voivod - Killing Technology

Good old Voivod. They are the thrash metal equivalent of what Motorhead is in the world of rock ‘n roll. Criminally underrated and yet highly influential at the same time.Voivod’s Killing Technology was the band’s defining record, on which  Canadian thrashers have put aside their Venom & Motorhead influences and created a sound of their own. These dissonant, noisy riffs are nowhere to be heard in thrash metal but in Voivod’s music. It’s pretty sad to live with the fact that Piggy, the mastermind behind Voivod is no longer with us. The whole atmosphere surrounding Killing Technology is a mix of noise music and robotic vocals that will launch you into a space odyssey! Piggy’s  dissonant, chunky riffs which can be heard in Killing Technology, Tornado, Forgotten in Space, Ravenous Medicine, Cockroaches and the overall approach that the band  underwent on this record have made Voivod   push up the boundaries of heavy metal music  to the outer limits!

9) King Diamond – Abigail

Denmark may be a country of high class handball, but King Diamond is what makes it unique. Kind Diamond’s second album is, without exaggeration, one of the shiniest gems of heavy metal.  Andy LaRocque’s punching riffs and frantic, but still melodic & memorable solos gives a delicate flavor to this album. Speaking of King Diamond’s vocals, one might think that his vocal range can reach the stars! His sense of mixing high pitched screams with low notes is what will always be hated or praised by many. King Diamond stands for one of the finest bands within the genre. In the end, we are talking about a heavy metal band that is on par with the almighty Judas Priest. Singling out songs from this record is kind of stupid. This album is meant to be played in its entirety! P.S. Mikkey Dee rules!

8)Motörhead– Rock ‘n’ Roll

An underrated album from an even more underrated band. Motörhead's Rock 'N’ Roll may not be their greatest effort but still, it’s an album you have to listen to.  It’s clear as day that if it weren’t for Lemmy and Motörhead, half of the bands on this list wouldn’t have even existed. On this album, Motörhead was a four piece band, with Lemmy on the bass, Wurzel and Phil Campbell on the guitars and Philthy Animal on the drums. On this album, it seems like the guitar duo was working like a charm.  Songs Rock ‘n’ RollEat the Rich, Stone Deaf in the U.S.A., Dogs,  Boogeyman are as fresh as they were 30 years ago.  This album is so catchy and easy to listen to,  and it was a nice way to pay an homage to Rock'n' Roll. It’s such a shame that Lemmy, Philthy Animal and Wurzel are no longer with us. However, Motörheadwill still live in our hearts and ears.  And remember kids, Lemmy was father to us all!

7) Kreator - Terrible Certainty

Woaaahh. They say that the 3rd albums are usually the best ones. I don’t see that as a rule, but it totally works this time. Kreators Terrible Certainty is a milestone of Mile Petrozza’s outstanding riff mastery. His soloing may not be top notch, but that’s what makes Kreator unique and easy to recognize. Of course, we should all have in mind that he wrote the majority of this album. This album was released via legendary Noise Records, which makes things even more interesting. Terrible Certainty is the embodiment of Cold War paranoia  par excellence. Not only that riffs are amazing, but Mile really had something to say on this record. The lyrics convey essential topics of thrash metal genre, such as politics, environmental issues, apocalyptic fears and of course, Christianity. Once again, Ventor sang on one of the best tunes on the album – As the World Burns. Other songs like Terrible Certainty, Toxic Trace, No Escape and Behind the Mirror are pretty much one of the best Kreator songs of all time.

6) SodomPersecution Mania

Is there a better German thrash metal band than Sodom? I don’t think so.  Persecution Mania is the fastest, most vile record Sodom had ever written.  The band consisted of Tom Angelripper on the bass & vocals,  Frank Blackfire on the guitars and legendary Chris Witchhunter on the drums (R.I.P.).  This hellish trio has proven to be a worthy  heir of Motorhead & Venom. Tom’s bass sound on this record is so dark and piercing that  his vocals would make Satan be ashamed of himself! Not to mention Witchhunter’s rage on the drums and Blackfire’s guitar mastery! These guys were completely out of control on this album!  The lyrics of the song Nuclear Winter are probably one of the finest and most brutal  in the genre. I mean, hello! We are talking about testing nuclear bombs on human subjects! I would single out Procession to Golgotha as one of the eeriest sounding instrumentals of all time! Funny enough, album is closed by a really dissonant, almost out of tune take of German national anthem which can be heard in Bombenhagel for which the band was accused of being right-wing & Nazi (oh the irony)!  Persecution Mania album also comes with bonus songs taken from Expurse of Sodomy EP with essential Sodom tunes such as:  Sodomy and Lust, The Conqueror, My Atonementand a re-recorded version of Outbreak of Evil. Quite impressive songs, right?

5) Napalm DeathScum

And grindcore was born. Even though Repulsion’s demo  Slaughter of the Innocent was released in 1986 and is recognized by some as the first grindcore release ever, we give advantage to Napalm Death’s debut album Scum. This album is so awesome that I don’t know where to begin. Short,one and a half minute songs were not something new in metal, especially if you have in mind that the most hardcore band’s discographies consist of these small haiku masterpieces. But 28 songs in 33 minutes? Neat!   This album includes the shortest song in the world  -You Suffer (But why?) (1,36 seconds) for which the band even got recognition from the Guinness book of records. The album cover was created by the legendary Jeff Walker of Carcass. It depicts a world corrupted by politicians and corporations who stand on piles of human skulls. If you take a closer look at it, you will see logos of McDonalds, Ford, General Motors, BP, IBM, Nestle, etc. (hence the album title – Scum).  And of course, this album has one of the strongest lines in metal: Multi-national corporations, genocide of the starving nations! Politics aside, the riffs in songs such as Instincts of Survival, Scum, Siege of Power, Born on your Knees, Success? are bone crushing!

4) DeathScream Bloody Gore   

This is what happens when you’re a teenage guitar-god on the rise, and you watched a lot of Italian horror movies in your spare time.  Scream Bloody Gore is, without a doubt, one of the most important and most influential debut albums of all time. Scream Bloody Gore was recorded in the Meat Grinder in LA. California, miles away from the swamps of Florida. Chuck Schuldiner recorded all the guitars by himself, but his partner in crime on the drums was no one other than legendary Chris Reifert who later founded his band Autopsy. Funny enough, there are no blast beats on this record. Lyrics on this album may not have been Chuck’s best effort, but Scream Bloody Gore has started an avalanche of blood & gore, horror and zombie-themed topics in death metal, only to be later despised by Chuck. In the end, Chuck Schuldiner's riffs and Nazgul-like screams completely defined the genre in years to follow. It's pretty cool to say that every song has some sort of melodic part here and  there. Speaking of songs, Zombie Ritual, Denial of Life, Evil Dead, Scream Bloody Goreand Beyond the Unholy Grave are one of the strongest on this album! However, it's 2017 and Death still lives! Rest in peace Chuck Schuldiner! You will always be in our hearts (and ears.)

3) Exodus – Pleasures of the Flesh      

Many of you think that Bonded  By Blood, featuring the legendary King of Bay Area, Paul Baloff, is the only legit Exodus album, but you’re all wrong!  For  Pleasures of the Flesh, the band had found the perfect replacement for the previously irreplaceable frontman, Steve Souza. His unique vocal approach, which kinda sounds like Bonn Scott on steroids, is either loved or despised by fans. Some of the strongest songs on this record  -Brain Dead, Seeds of Hate and Pleasures of the Flesh were finished at the time Paul Baloff was still in the band.  Steve Souza changed the lyrics of already mentioned songs, but if you prefer it the Baloff way, you still can listen to these tunes on Another Lesson in ViolenceH-Team’s guitar virtuosity ( for dummies: Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt) whose riffs’ ferociousness  is an equivalent of H Bomb and is almost nowhere to be found within the genre. Just listen to this tremolo violence and hysterically-awesome guitar tone! I mean, we are talking about Gary Holt, who wrote 30 seconds and amazing No Love classical guitar interludes, and Rick Hunolt, whose guitar teacher was no one other than Joe Satriani!  What’s unique about Tom Hunting is that he is not pursuing 300 bpm speed and his double bass attacks are not as frequent, but still, he can beat the living shit out of any heavy metal drummer and that’s a fact! And just pay attention how detailed his drumming is in Seeds of Hate!  Singling out songs from this album is kinda pointless, ‘cause they all rule,  but I must say that Faster than you’ll ever be, Chemi-Kill and Choose your Weapon should be incorporated into every Exodus live set!

2) TestamentThe Legacy   

Wow! Some bands know how to write masterpieces from the start of their career. Testament is definitely among them! These Bay area thrashers were previously known as Legacy, but the changed the name after some legal dispute with the other band of the same name.  1987 was a crucial year for both Testament and Exodus. Steve Souza, an original Legacy singer stepped in Exodus and replaced Paul Baloff on vocals. This was a golden opportunity for Chuck Billy to become the lead singer of Testament. Testament’s line up on their debut album The Legacy consisted of Chuck BIlly on vocals, Greg Christian on bass, Louie Clemente on drums  and the legendary guitar duo, Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick (who was 18 at the time!!!!). It’s pretty interesting to point out that  all the  lyrics on this album were written by Steve Souza.  This is one of those albums that have no “filler” songs at all. Groundbreaking album opener Over the Wall is a friendly reminder to Slayer and Metallica that Testament wrote a prison song and video for it before it was cool. The next tune, The Haunting has one of the eeriest guitar riffs in metal, period! Just by listening to Burnt Offerings intro, you’ll admit that Testament is on its own level. Not to mention Alex Skolnick’s masterful solos and arpeggios that make other guitars sound like sonic trash.

1) AnthraxAmong the Living

It started back in high school... if you don’t know where this line comes from, you either didn’t go to high school or you are simply missing a lot! Anthrax’s Among the Living is without a doubt, the best album of 1987. At that moment, Anthrax had a classic line up which consisted of Scott Ian and Danny Spitz on the guitars, Frankie Bello on the bass and Joey Belladonna on vocals. The boys were surely in their prime! There’s so much history related to this masterpiece. This album was also dedicated to the late Cliff Burton of Metallica who was big friends with ‘thrax guys.  Album title was inspired by a Stephen King novel The Stand while the album cover represents a character Randall Flag from a novel with the same name. Without a doubt, Caught in a Mosh is one of the most popular Anthrax songs. The song itself is about the band’s guitar tech Artie Ring. One day, some local kid stepped on Scott Ian’s guitar pedal. Artie ran for the kid, caught him up and all of the sudden they both fell into a mosh. The next day, when the band asked Artie what’s wrong with him, he said: I got caught in a mosh! And there’s a story behind one of the most iconic thrash metal songs of all time. I am the Law is a song inspired by a British comic book  hero, Judge Dredd. Its lyrics represent a post-apocalyptic world:

When the Sov's started the Apocalypse war
And Mega-city was bombed to the floor
Dredd resisted, and the judges fought back
And crushed the Sov's with their counter-attack

For those of you who might not know, Efilnikufesin  (N.F.L.)  stands for Nice Fuckin’ Life and was inspired by the American comedian, John Belushi, who died of drug abuse. The song itself is a reminder for kids to stay away from drugs. The next one on the album, Skeletons in the Closet is inspired by a Steven King’s novel  Apt Pupil which deals with a former nazi who tries to cover his dark past and true identity.  Indians is of course, one of the most popular Anthrax songs that comes with a political message. The lyrics are about Native Americans  “who were rounded up and  forced to live on shitty reservations.“ Scott Ian was told that Joey’s mother was  part-Iroquois so it made perfect sense to pay a tribute to the Indians. One World resembles the Cold war tensions between the US and Soviets and talks about steps necessary to avoid nuclear annihilation. Immitation of Life is by far, one of the greatest Anthrax songs of all time. The boys should have gotten a Nobel Prize for it or something. That one is about plastic people who just can’t be themselves. Funny enough,  Immitation of Life  was based on a  riff  from  S.O.D.’s song Aren’t you hungry?.  A.D.I. /The Horror of It All is dedicated to the  late Cliff Burton and was recorded last on the album.  It was only after the release of Among the Living, that Anthrax started playing in front of 7000 people every night. It was this album that made them legends in the world of thrash metal. Thirty years after, I had a chance to hear the whole god damn thing live in Budapest, and I must say that it sounded as if you were listening to the record on your stereo. It was then that I realized what wardance and  moshing music really is.




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