25 Great Hard Rock Albums of the ’80s That You Might Have Missed

What a glorious era for hard rock enthusiasts! It was a time when the airwaves echoed with the anthems of bands like Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, and Guns N’ Roses, while MTV served as our rock‘n’roll compass. Yet, amidst the chart-toppers and headliners, some lesser-known hard rock gems quietly thrived. 

Why don’t we revisit 25 fantastic hard rock albums that may have slipped under your radar from that unforgettable decade?

Alcatrazz – No Parole From Rock N’ Roll

Kicking things off is Alcatrazz’s No Parole From Rock N’ Roll, which marked the major-label debut of Swedish guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen. Despite a devoted following, especially among guitar enthusiasts, Alcatrazz fell short of mainstream rock and metal stardom.

Anthem – Bound To Break

Anthem, one of Japan’s best heavy metal bands, attempted to follow in the footsteps of Loudness but didn’t quite capture the same level of attention in the United States.

Black N’ Blue – Black N’ Blue

Black N’ Blue had all the makings of the next big thing with their self-titled album featuring Tommy Thayer, who would later join Kiss. They peaked with MTV airplay for I’ll Be There For You but persisted without Tommy Thayer.

Cold Sweat – Break Out

Noteworthy for showcasing former Keel guitarist Marc Ferrari, Cold Sweat was on the verge of stardom. With the then-undiscovered vocalist Rory Cathey, they drew comparisons to Dokken.

Dead End – Ghost Of Romance

Hailing from Japan, Dead End’s unique style left American audiences puzzled amidst the glam metal wave.

E-Z-O – E-Z-O

Gene Simmons of Kiss gave E-Z-O a boost, and their Japanese folklore-inspired leather and black-and-white makeup added a unique touch. Still, didn’t quite achieve mainstream success.

Fastway – Fastway

Fastway by the band of the same name, formed by “Fast” Eddie Clarke and Pete Way, delivered a powerful debut album. Vocalist Dave King drew comparisons to Robert Plant.

Fifth Angel – Fifth Angel

Fifth Angel boasted incredible talent, with Ted Pilot’s vocals and Ken Mary’s drumming making them a force to be reckoned with.

Hurricane – Take What You Want

Hurricane featured the brothers of Quiet Riot’s Carlos Cavazo and Rudy Sarzo. Although they had their share of success, they never reached the same level as bands like Motley Crue.

Icon – Night of The Crime

This is a brilliant album that, unfortunately, suffered from a lack of exposure despite being an undiscovered masterpiece, unmatched by their later works.

Kick Axe – Vices

Canadian metal band Kick Axe knew how to craft killer songs and arrangements that could send any metal enthusiast into a frenzy. But the album faded away with very little promotion.

King Kobra – Ready To Strike

King Kobra showed promise and had members who would later find their way into other notable groups like W.A.S.P. and the Bulletboys. But despite recording the Iron Eagle movie soundtrack and more albums, the band couldn’t sustain their initial success.

Leatherwolf – Leatherwolf

Leatherwolf’s self-titled album featured a triple-axe attack and powerful power metal elements. The band has since reformed and released quality albums.

Lion – Dangerous Attraction

Dangerous Attraction is one of the most underrated metal albums of the ’80s. Sadly, an accident led to their breakup and prevented them from reaching the heights of their peers.

Malice – License to Kill

Malice was packed with exceptional musicians, and this album was nothing short of epic. They had a great following in the LA metal scene but couldn’t quite make the leap despite their high-pitched vocals and talented musicians.

Pretty Maids – Future World

Pretty Maids gained recognition in Europe and received MTV airplay with Future World. Although they didn’t quite break into the mainstream in the USA, they enjoyed a strong following worldwide.

Racer X – Street Lethal

Racer X’s Street Lethal embodied the true spirit of bands like Judas Priest and marked the debut of guitar prodigy Paul Gilbert, who later found fame in Mr. Big. 

Rough Cutt – Wants You

Rough Cutt’s second album improved the band’s exposure, but they disbanded when vocalist Paul Shortino joined Quiet Riot.

Smashed Gladys – Social Intercourse

Smashed Gladys had the potential to make it big with singles like 17 Goin’ on Crazy and Legs Up. Unfortunately, they were rarely featured in rock magazines, seldom seen on MTV, and received virtually no radio airplay. 

Steeler – Steeler

Despite its brief existence, the band left a notable mark in heavy metal history. Notably, Rik Fox and Mark Edwards later joined W.A.S.P. and Lion.

Sweet Pain – Sweet Pain

Sweet Pain, featuring an unknown Kelly Nickels on bass (who would later become a member of L.A. Guns), had a brief existence but left its mark with a rare and sought-after album. 

Sweet Savage – Sweet Savage

Sweet Savage, a glam band from Texas, had catchy songs but struggled to break through despite their association with Dana Strum.

Sword – Metalized

Sword’s Metalized is a true metal album that deserved more recognition. On the brighter side, they released another album that earned praise from both critics and fans.

Tigertailz – Young & Crazy

Tigertailz, the UK’s answer to Poison, delivered a fantastic debut that them apart from the bubblegum glam bands of the era. However, they later took a different path after parting ways with Steevi Jaimz.

Warrior – Fighting For The Earth

Warrior’s space-themed album Fighting For The Earth showcased their maturity and solid classic metal sound but remained relatively unknown.

Special Mention: White Tiger – White Tiger

Had the album received better support and cleaner production and mix, Mark St. John might have had the chance to re-establish himself in the world of metal guitarists. White Tiger mostly found its way into the hands of die-hard KISS fans.

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