The 1980s is perhaps the most defining decade in hard rock and metal. Bands like AC/DC, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, who emerged in the ’70s, continued to release stellar discs, but a whole new form of metal burst onto the scene in the ’80s when thrash took over and bands like Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth came to the forefront. Within the ’80s also came the advent of glam, death metal, black metal, grindcore, goregrind and anything in between.
Meanwhile, punk rock continued to expand, as hardcore and other subgenres started to emerge. And in mainstream culture, hair bands dominated the airwaves, charts and the newly formed MTV, creating a worldwide revolution that saw heavy music reach its apex.
Elsewhere, industrial music started emerging in underground clubs, as bands like Ministry and Nine Inch Nails made their mark. By the end of the decade, grunge began to make its mark simultaneously with alternative rock, spreading fans of heavy music in all directions as they searched for their favorite genre niche.
It was a diverse 10 years that saw the most change in heavy music, and now it’s time to take a look back at the best albums of the decade. Check out the gallery above, as we count down the Top 80 Hard Rock + Metal Albums of the 1980s.