BATHORY: BLOOD FIRE DEATH
It's not often that one band can be responsible for the rise of two musical genres. That is the case here on Bathory's second inclusion into this series. This album saw a new sound arise out of Bathory's early take on black metal, a sound that the band would develop more thoroughly the next album out. That sound is viking metal. This is my favorite Bathory album because it is raw and epic at the same time. Truly a classic.
IRON MAIDEN: SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON
This is the last truly great album Iron Maiden released and is a culmination of all of their musical experimentation since the band was formed. It is truly a landmark album, not only for the band, but the entire heavy metal genre. In my early list of my favorite metal albums of all time, this came in second overall. It is filled with amazing melodies and riffs, great songs, and one of the best vocal performances in metal by Bruce Dickinson.
MANOWAR: KINGS OF METAL
I have never been a huge Manowar fan, but this album is undeniably great. Manowar helped influence the American power metal movement, which is a substantially different sound than the European sound. This is one of the band's better mid-period albums, not quite rising to the classic heights of their early days. It was also the last album to feature guitarist Ross the Boss. The band suffered a little after his departure and never rose to this level again.
METALLICA: ...AND JUSTICE FOR ALL
I suppose I can talk about Metallica once in this space. Not to say this will definitely be the only time, I have not played far ahead here. But this is an amazing album. The band has never before been as fast, technical, or progressive as they were on this album. This is also the first album in which many casual fans became aware of Metallica. Thanks to the blistering "One" and it's accompanying landmark video, Metallica started to forge a mainstream following. This is the last excellent album by this band.
QUEENSRYCHE: OPERATION: MINDCRIME
This is a concept album about a man becoming involved in a revolutionary group as an assassin of political leaders. It is one of the better concept albums in the metal genre, and let's face it, I don't know about any from other genres better than this. It is truly unique because it is more of a rock opera, the characters all have their own voice and the story really comes alive. In between, there are simply great songs.
Honorable Mentions: Blind Guardian: Battalions of Fear, Bolt Thrower: In Battle There is No Law, Carcass: Reek of Putrefaction, Danzig: Danzig, Death: Leprosy, Death Angel: Frolic Through the Park, Fates Warning: No Exit, Forbidden: Forbidden Evil, King Diamond: "Them", Megadeth: So Far, So Good...So What!, Morbid Saint: Spectrum of Death, Overkill: Under the Influence, Razor: Violent Restitution, Slayer: South of Heaven, Testament: The New Order, Vio-Lence: Eternal Nightmare.
Bands that formed in 1988: Amon Amarth, Cadaver, Cannibal Corpse, Dismember, Eyehategod, Gamma Ray, Paradise Lost.