Each year, it seems that the remaining 80s hard rock and metal bands that are still putting out new music seem to get smaller and smaller. However, don’t let that discourage you as a metal fan, because at this point in the game, it’s about quality, not quantity. After all, many of these bands have been around for more than 40 years now. 2023 has been a good year for hard rock and metal and we at XS ROCK want to highlight the albums that we think most 80s metal fans will like. We’ve included a few bands that are brand new but either have 80s rock musicians in the band or have that type of sound that should appeal to the 80s metal listener.
Overkill – Scorched (Nuclear Blast)
One of the best metal releases in years by any band period. Overkill is the AC/DC of thrash metal! Scorched delivers in all areas. 38 years after their first album, these guys still bring the heat with Scorched.
George Lynch & Jeff Pilson – Heavy Hitters II (Cleopatra)
Former members of the classic Dokken lineup release their second cover album of pop and rock hits re-done in their own hard rock/metal fashion. These albums are a lot of fun to listen to. Unique takes on classic songs that you know well, sound fresh and interesting with these new spins.
KISS – Off The Soundboard: Poughkeepsie, New York 1984 (UMe)
While I haven’t been the biggest fan of KISS’ Off The Soundboard albums, this one is actually interesting, since it’s the only known live recording to feature guitarist Mark St. John. Animalize was a hit record for KISS and it was the only album to feature St. John because he developed reactive arthritis afterward that caused his hands and arms to swell, keeping him from being able to perform. So this one is a kind of a cool piece of Kiss history.
Metallica – 72 Seasons (Blackened)
What can you say…Metallica after …And Justice For All, you either like them or hate them. Those who consider the band sellouts will probably still feel that way, but 72 Seasons seems like an attempt for the band to reclaim some of their old sounds and riffs, even if they can’t quite get there. This album seems a little closer to old-school Metallica to me, but it’s also nowhere near anything as good as the early years of the band.
L.A. Guns – Black Diamonds (Frontiers)
L.A. Guns just keeps cranking out album after album in recent years that shows the band experiment a little with new sounds while retaining that familiar sound that the combo of Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis are known for. Black Diamonds is a solid album that should please fans of the band and appeal to fans of the 80s hard rock era.
Metal Church – Congregation Of Annihilation (Rat Pak)
After reuniting with vocalist Mike Howe back in 2015 and releasing two critically acclaimed albums XI (2016) and Damned If You Do (2018), the band looked to be back and better than ever, but tragically, Mike Howe took his own life in 2021 and it looked like Metal Church might be done for good. Rising like a Phoenix from the ashes, Metal Church returned with new singer Mark Lopes, and the album “Congregation Of Annihilation” is an incredible album and returns to the classic sound of Metal Church’s early years.
Sweet & Lynch – Heart & Sacrifice (Frontiers)
Ex-Dokken, Lynch Mob guitarist George Lynch teams up with Stryper’s Michael Sweet for yet another good album that showcases the talents of both guys. While it always seemed like an odd pairing, they’ve really put together some great hard rock/metal albums with the three albums released so far.
Extreme – Six (earMusic)
Extreme returned in 2023 with the album “Six” and it’s an interesting mix of a modern touch with the classic sound the band is known for. Of course, former Van Halen vocalist Gary Cherone is no slouch, but the real star of this album is the guitar playing of Nuno Bettencourt who simply shreds on much of this album.
Winger – Seven (Frontiers)
2023 sees Winger return with a pretty heavy album compared to some of their previous outings and it’s a nice surprise to see them go that route since ballads and radio-friendly songs were what made them a household name in the 80s, to begin with. Reb Beach is one of the most underrated hard rock guitarists out there and he gets a chance to rock a little harder on this album.
Vandenberg – Sin (Mascot)
Adrian Vandenberg returns with only his second new Vandenberg album since the 80s. Former Yngwie Malmsteen vocalist Mats Leven provides the vocals this time out. David Coverdale hasn’t released a new Whitesnake since 2018, and if you’re missing that sound, this album is very reminiscent of that sound. And why not, Adrian Vandenberg was a big part of Whitesnake and their sound for many years.
Last In Line – Jericho (earMusic)
Last In Line returns with former Dio members Vivian Campbell and Vinne Appice along with Phil Sousan (Ozzy Osbourne) and vocalist Andrew Freeman. “Jericho” is the band’s third album and it sees the sound shifting just a bit away from the classic Dio sound and a little more into the hard rock territory. 80s metal and hard rock fans should enjoy it and Freeman is a solid vocalist, even though I’ve never thought he sounded much like the late, great Ronnie James Dio.
Paul Gilbert – The Dio Album (Music Theories)
Guitar virtuoso Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big, Racer X) has released an interesting album that presents his takes on the songs of Ronnie James Dio from both his solo career and Black Sabbath. If you’re a guitar person, this is a fantastic album, as Gilbert fills in the spots where vocals and choruses were in these instrumentals and it makes for a really interesting listen.
Steve Vai – Vai/Gash (Mascot)
If you’re used to Steve Vai’s instrumental solo albums, this is a nice change of pace as this has more of a full band sound with vocals provided by Vai’s late friend Johnny ‘Gash’ Sombrotto. Both guys were passionate about motorcycles and the entire biker culture. Vai wanted to produce an album that fit that culture. Recorded back in 1990, the album sat on the shelf for all of these years until finally seeing release in 2023. It’s quite different from Vai’s usual eclectic outings.
U.D.O. – Touchdown (Atomic Fire)
Former Accept singer Udo Dirkschneider released the album “Touchdown” this year and it’s just what you’d expect. Like AC/DC, U.D.O. albums have a similar, familiar sound to them and Udo’s voice is easily recognizable. Not too many bands are making this type of straight-ahead metal anymore, but Dirkschneider delivers the goods album after album.
Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons – Kings Of The Asylum (Nuclear Blast)
While Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons released their first album in 2017, guitarist Phil Campbell has an 80s metal pedigree unlike most others. Campbell was the guitarist for the almighty Motorhead from 1984 to 2015 until Lemmy’s death when Motorhead disbanded. 80s metal and hard rock fans should absolutely love Campbell’s albums and this brand new album “Kings Of The Asylum” is nothing short of greatness in a straight-ahead, in-your-face rock album.
Fifth Angel – When Angels Kill (Nuclear Blast)
Fifth Angel was a band that always flew under the radar in the 80s, but they are still making surprisingly good albums. Led by drummer Ken Mary (Alice Cooper, Flotsam & Jetsam), “When Angels Kill” is another solid album by the band that should really appeal to fans of bands like Queensryche, Fates Warning, and Crimson Glory.
Elegant Weapons – Horns For A Halo (Nuclear Blast)
This supergroup featuring Richie Faulkner (Judas Priest), Scott Travis (Judas Priest), Ronnie Romero (Rainbow), and Rex Brown (Pantera) released their debut album “Horns For A Halo” and it’s a solid effort with an 80s metal sound that should still resonate with modern metal fans as well.
Anthem – Crimson & Jet Black (Reaper)
Anthem is a classic Japanese metal band that has been around since 1981. While Loudness usually gets most of the coverage in the U.S. when it comes to Japanese metal bands from the 1980s era, Anthem has consistently delivered great albums over their many years of releases, and “Crimson & Jet Black” is no exception to this rule. If you haven’t listened to Anthem before, give these guys a listen.
Obituary – Dying Of Everything (Relapse)
The lone death metal band on this list, Obituary started in 1989 and has gotten only better over the years. The band gets labeled as death metal, but has a lot more in their arsenal with shades of doom metal and thrash sprinkled throughout their sound. “Dying Of Everything” is a critically acclaimed album and rightfully so. Check it out if you want something just a little heavier.
George Lynch – Guitars At The End Of The World (Rat Pak)
“Guitars at The End Of The World” is George Lynch’s second instrumental solo album. Guitar aficionados will appreciate the talent and fiery riff and solo work of Lynch represented here, but it’s full of listenable songs for those who have no idea what Lynch is playing or how difficult it actually is. George Lynch is one of the greatest living hard rock and metal guitarists around and solo albums like this one give him a chance to experiment a little bit more outside of a full band situation.