80s Metal Music

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80s Metal Music History

NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal)

While the fathers of metal music were 70s bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple, metal music really took off in the 80s. It started at the beginning of the decade with British bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Def Leppard, Diamond Head, Girlschool, Motörhead, and Saxon. These bands left the bluesy sounds of the 70s metal scene behind and developed a much harder sound and image. The fast guitar solos and power chords as well as the long hair, leather outfits, spandex, and denim jackets of these early metal bands defined the look of 80s metal for the rest of the decade.

LA's Sunset Strip Metal Scene

In the States, bands like Rainbow, Van Halen and Ozzy Osbourne were the fore runners of 80s Metal. In the early 80s, metal music developed a following in the clubs of LA's Sunset Strip with bands such as Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, Ratt, and W.A.S.P. leading the way. Quiet Riot helped take 80s metal music mainstream with the hit song "Cum On Feel the Noize" which helped their album "Mental Health" reach #1 on the Billboard Charts in 1983.

Thrash vs Glam

By the Mid-80s, 80s metal music had split into two major categories. Thrash metal, led by bands like Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, Overkill, and Metallica, was a harder sound featuring high speed guitar riffs. Glam Metal bands like Twisted Sister , Motley Crue, Dokken, and Ratt, went for a more mainstream rock sound. 80s metal music became even more mainstream in the later 80s with Pop Metal bands like Bon Jovi, Poison, Europe, and Cinderella coming to the forefront. By the early 90s, the popularity of metal bands began to wane. Some blamed the demise of 80s metal music on the over reliance on metal ballads, others on the emergence of Nirvana and grunge music. Now some 20 years later, 80s metal music is experiencing a resurgence. Some of the largest grossing tours are by 80s Metal Bands. Motley Crue, Poison, Def Leppard, and Bon Jovi all have had highly successful tours in the last several years.