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Heavy Hitters: Metallica, ZZ Top, Slayer & Yngwie Malmsteen

Paul Gargano kicks up some March madness with four classic albums released this month in the mid-'80s

In this week’s Heavy Hitters, Metal Edge ushers in the new month by honoring four classic March releases from the 1980s. How many of these albums have "marched" their way into your collection? 

METALLICA Master Of Puppets


Metallica changed my life when I saw them live in 1988; they then made their debut in my music collection with this cassette. My library has grown considerably since, and now includes a sealed copy of this original 1986 vinyl that might be worth more than the car I drive. I love my Jeep, but it’s not Master of Puppets. From the supple guitars that open the album before bowing to the bruising beauty of “Battery,” through to the devastating fury of “Damage, Inc.,” there isn’t a weak link on this eight-track masterpiece. “Master of Puppets” and “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” are two of metal’s finest moments, and “The Thing That Should Not Be” remains as haunting today as it was more than a quarter-century ago. I have no intention of opening the crowned jewel in my vinyl collection, but I also have two “play copies” of Puppets – the Columbia House record club pressing, and the digitally remastered vinyl available in our store.

ZZ TOP Eliminator


If video killed the radio star, ZZ Top are guilty of aiding and abetting. The already genius band was relatively faceless until the release of Eliminator in 1983, when their videos became the stuff of MTV legend and their beards the standard by which all facial hair would forever be judged. “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’ ” changed the way we viewed music, while “Got Me Under Pressure” and deep cuts like the salty “I Got The Six,” funky “Thug” and the swinging “Dirty Dog" continued down the same Texas bred, Southern-inspired blues-rock path the band began trailblazing more than a decade earlier. I even had one of those silver ZZ Top keychains from the band's videos. Mine never started anything remotely as cool as the 1933 Ford coupe gracing the cover of the instantly classic Eliminator vinyl, but you know that keychain made my Nissan Pulsar one of the sweetest rides in town. Or not. 

SLAYER Hell Awaits


Metallica may have ushered me into the world of metal, but Slayer were the rite of passage that christened me into heavy adulthood. It was one thing to jump into mosh pits, it was completely another to revel with Slayer as they dragged you into the pits of hell. If you’re anything like me, you feared Slayer before you grew to love them - but forging that emotional investment is what has earned Slayer some the most devoted fans on the planet. From the backward masking of the words “join us” that open this seminal thrash classic, through 37 minutes of the most unrelenting, savage and transformative extreme music the world had ever heard, Hell Awaits became the blueprint for countless bands to follow. The Metal Edge shop currently features that 1985 blueprint in no less than four bludgeoning formats – standard black vinyl, orange and black split vinyl, cassette and compact disc. Join us...

YNGWIE MALMSTEEN'S RISING FORCE Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force


Yngwie Malmsteen doesn’t know this, but he’s singularly responsible for me meeting my wife. When I became Managing Editor of Metal Edge in 1996, Yngwie was one of the first in-person interviews I did after moving back east from Wisconsin. His publicist and I got sloshed on margaritas, she decided I needed to meet her friend, her friend and I started dating, and years later we moved to Los Angeles... where our relationship dissolved faster than Yngwie’s fiercest shredding. But then I met my wife in L.A. – so thank you, Yngwie, I owe it all to you. Also, thank you for this pioneering platter of masterful fretwork and jaw-dropping guitar calisthenics. I can’t play a lick, but it doesn’t dampen my appreciation of this album, or all things Yngwie. The man is a treasure, and Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force is the solo album that started it all in 1984. Added bonus? It also introduced the world to then unknown vocalist Jeff Scott Soto.