This year was probably one of the most influential years for me as far as music goes. One big reason is that I got my driver’s license that year and my first job (bagging groceries). Not that I was making much money at it for a summer job, but it kept gas in my car and allowed me to buy records and tapes a little more freely. It also afforded me a way to continue to add to my drum set.
Another thing that was a big musical influence that year was a guy I went to high school with that I met later in 1986 (junior year). Through him and his friends I found a lot more stuff that I may have overlooked otherwise. For that guy and a small group of his friends, I am eternally grateful. That dude and I were best friends for our last 2 years of school and for a few years after. But over time we lost touch and began to run in different circles. And that’s ok, it happens.
Thankfully we did a lot of tape trading back then. No way could I afford buying all of these making $3.35/hr!
So much music in that year though, so many great releases. Let’s just cover a few (not in order of importance).
- Slayer – Reign in Blood. Quite possibly one of the biggest albums for me and definitely the biggest one for me in 1986. I didn’t really care for Slayer that much until I heard this one. Truly a game changer in thrash/speed metal. No one other than maybe Gene Hoglan was playing drums to that level in metal.
- Metallica – Master of Puppets. I loved this when it came out, but not as much as Ride the Lightning. I went years upon years without listening to it and finally spun it again recently. Lots of good memories sitting in the parking lot before church with my pals jamming to this.
- Megadeth – Peace Sells. My oh my. This one may be bigger for me than Reign in Blood. I’ve lamented more than once on this website how much I love this album. It still gets plenty of airtime with me.
- Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time. Thanks to Unicorn Records I got this a few days before it came out officially. I remember calling my friend Chris and playing it for him over the phone. Good times. Great album and the last of their run of great albums in my opinion.
- Dark Angel – Darkness Descends. Raw…Brutal…Power. Gene Hoglan’s under-produced drums still powered through.
- Fates Warning – Awaken the Guardian. Oh my. Another of the big ones for me that year. I had been into Fates since first hearing Night on Brocken but this album was…erm…is such a masterpiece. Arch’s vocal melodies and harmonies, the songwriting in general, the production…it is a perfect record from front to back. When I met Frank Aresti a few months ago, he stated that the new album with Arch will be a good follow-up to Guardian. Let’s hope!
- Crimson Glory – S/T. A prog classic. Not too many folks were singing like Midnight nor had many bands starting trying to emulate early Queensryche like these guys did.
- Metal Church – The Dark. This is an album that kicked me in the teeth from the first note. I love Metal Church and can never place which of the first 3 is my favorite.
- Flotsam & Jetsam – Doomsday for the Deceiver. Another thrash classic. I highly recommend the reissue that came out a few years ago. The sound is amazing.
- Queensryche – Rage for Order. While this album was not as great as Warning, it’s a worthwhile release, and for me the last one I like. Sorry Mindcrime fans, I’m out.
- Fifth Angel – S/T. One of the most underrated albums in metal. Not too fast, not too slow. Great vocals and guitar work. tastefully written and played metal.
- Omen – The Curse. Omen releases another perfect album. Period. Sure, Battle Cry and Warning of Danger may have been better, but this one stayed on course for them. Teeth of the Hydra!
- Nuclear Assault – Game Over. This was my introduction to Nuclear Assault. While I didn’t play it a lot, it got some rotation. I’m pretty sure I got this as a dubbed tape from a friend as I don’t remember actually owning it.
- Sword – Metalized. Great effort from these Canadians. Their follow-up? Not so much.
- Hallows Eve – Death and Insanity. I love this album. It’s thrash in its simplest form. It wasn’t until a week ago that I realized they were and east coast band (GA). It’s a fun album.
- Damien – Every Dog Has Its Day. Another great record that never got its due.
- Cinderella – Night Songs. Bought it by recommendation right when it came out. Sold it a week later. WTF was this trash? About 10 years ago I gave it another spin and now I like it. I didn’t care much for the hairband phase of the 80s.
- Yngwie Malmsteen – Trilogy. I saw this tour when they opened for Triumph. I was already a fan but didn’t care much for this album. Going from Jeff Scott Soto to Mark Boals was a huge change, plus the production value on the album is lacking. It took some years, but I finally got to where it’s one of my favorites by Yngwie.
- Loudness – Lightning Strikes. Man oh man I have listened to this album 100s of times since 1986. It’s my favorite by Loudness by far. Just great all the way through.
- Ozzy – The Ultimate Sin. I like this album a lot, even with the primarily goofy Ozzy lyrics. Jake was great even though the production of this album sucked.
- Zebra – 3.V. My favorite by these NOLA/NYC rockers. I still listen to it quite often and was fortunate enough to catch this tour with Alcatrazz (post Yngie/Vai) and Rough Cutt.
- Lizzy Borden – Menace to Society. Again, terrible production of a great album. This one gets more play than any of their others.
- Battlezone – Fighting Back. Dianno’s solo band. Their first 2 releases are wonderful and I’m so glad I got to see them live.
- Angus – Track of Doom. One of the guys from my school gave this to me as a birthday gift. Thanks Duane! Great Swedish power metal.
- Damien Thorne – Sign of the Jackal. Just find it and buy it. You won;t be disappointed.
- Obsession – Scarred for Life. This is another one of those albums that sits on top for me. Countless days and nights spent listening to this and playing drums to it. It’s a perfect album.
- Triumph – Sport of Kings. Easily in my top 2 favorite Triumph albums. Sure it was a little more poppy, but it’s a great record. Another great tour that I caught.
- Cerebus – Too Late To Pray. While I loved this back then, it leaves me flat now.
- Purgatory – Tied to the Trax. Heard this one through a friend. Awesome album.
- CJSS – Praise the Loud. Some of Chastain’s finest work.
- TT Quick – Metal of Honor. Another great and underrated record. Buy it.
There are a lot more great albums that came out that year that I didn’t hear until later like King Diamond’s Fatal Portrait and Anthem’s Tightrope. That’s why they aren’t mentioned above. Many in the list up there still get played on a regular basis and with good cause. I guess it can be said that in some ways, I am stuck in 1986…and I make no apologies for it!
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