Best Heavy Metal Albums of 1984


Yellow image of the metal band Metallica. We're celebrating the best heavy metal albums of 1984.

We’re celebrating the best heavy metal albums of 1984. – Author Anne Erickson, Metallica photo via Tim Saccenti

If you ask a metalhead what they think is the best year for metal music, many will say 1984. Now, people will have different opinions, of course. But many metalheads see 1984 as the pinnacle for the metal genre blooming. In that spirit, we’re celebrating the best heavy metal albums of 1984.

Best Heavy Metal Albums of 1984

The year 1984 was a massive one for heavy metal, especially thrash. Really, I can’t think of a biggest moment in thrash metal than when Metallica released their 1984 opus, “Ride the Lightning.” Songs such as “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Fade to Black” showed off this young band’s talent and ability to thrash out loud and proud but also create beautiful ballads. “Ride the Lightning” really put Metallica on the path to being one of the biggest bands in the world. Now, let’s get into the full tally of the five best heavy metal albums of 1984.

5. Ratt, “Out of the Cellar”

It’s 1984, so we have to get some hair metal in here. Ratt debuted their dirty sound in 1984 with their hugely successful debut album, “Out of the Cellar.” It’s one of the best heavy metal albums of 1984 and certainly one of the best in the glam metal genre. “Out of the Cellar” has all the fun and excitement that you’d want from a hair metal album and more.

4. Dio, “The Last In Line”

After Dio released “Holy Diver,” Ronnie James Dio and company kept rocking and rolling. They released another stellar set in “The Last in Line,” featuring incredible guitar playing from Vivian Campbell and heavy drums from Vinny Appice. It’s absolutely one of the best heavy metal albums of 1984.

3. Judas Priest, “Defenders of the Faith”

The year 1984 was a great one for British metal, and that, of course, means Judas Priest had a monster of a year. They had already released a great album in “Screaming for Vengeance,” and then, they followed it up with another winner in “Defenders of the Faith.” Rob Halford and company sounded as strong as ever here, and this album became an instant favorite. I’ve interviewed Rob Halford before, and I was so impressed by how down-to-earth he is, even being one of the most successful metal vocalists of all time. I also recently interviewed Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest, who said that he really don’t know when the band will retire. “…Never say never, you know?” he said. “Then, you’ve got to think, what are we going to do from here? We can’t do a record like this. Which way is it going to go? Again, the album normally dictates where it’s going to go, but we don’t want to repeat ourselves ever. So, what would do next time? It’s all good conversation, and if we ever got to that stage again about doing another record, it will be an interesting one, for sure.”

2. Iron Maiden, “Powerslave”

Some would say Iron Maiden‘s “Powerslave” is the greatest heavy metal album of 1984, and they wouldn’t be wrong. It’s fantastic, from start to finish. But, I have to put it at No. 2. That said, it’s hard to argue against “Powerslave” being one of the most influential albums in all of metal music. Songs such as “Aces High” and “2 Minutes to Midnight” are absolute classics.

1. Metallica, “Ride the Lightning”

You should already know from reading some sections earlier in this article that I’m a big fan of “Ride the Lightning.” But, I’m not just picking my favorite album for No. 1 on this list. While “Kill ‘Em All” put Metallica on the map, “Ride the Lightning” was the album that solidified their place as one of the greatest metal bands in the world. Every song has become a thrash must-listen. It’s really the best heavy metal album out of 1984 and one of the greatest of all time.

If you’d like to get in on the conversation and share your favorite heavy metal albums of 1984, please do so. Contact me at

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Metal, Music, Rock News