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80 Lesser Known Hard Rock And Metal Bands From The 80s That Should Have Been Bigger

80 Lesser Known Hard Rock And Metal Bands From The 80s That Should Have Been Bigger

For every Motley Crue, Def Leppard, and Van Halen, There were many other bands that were really good, but somehow didn’t quite make it to the top. The 80s Hard Rock and Metal scene had some really great bands that didn’t have good promotion, good managers, good record labels or simply imploded because of personality conflicts within the band. All of the bands on this list deserve to be heard and if you haven’t heard some of them before, do yourself a favor and check them out. There’s a lot of great music out there just waiting to be discovered.

AXE

Florida hard rock band AXE mixed heavy guitar with keyboards to create their sound. During the 80s they released Living on the Edge (1980), Offering (1982), and Nemesis in 1983. The band cracked the top 100 charts with the singles “Now Or Never” and “I Think You’ll Remember Tonight”.  The band’s sound was much less heavy than the image on their album covers, which made them appear to be more of a heavy metal band.

Listen To Axe on Spotify


Banshee - Race Against Time

Banshee

Banshee came from the Midwest part of the USA, in the Kansas City area.  And while their image was right in line with the glam/hair metal scene at the time, musically the band had more of a power metal sound.  Race Against Time was Banshee’s debut full-length album, which was released on Atlantic Records in 1989 and was a great showcase for their sound which incorporated melody with power metal. The debut album was the only release the band released through Atlantic.  The band is still around and has released several albums in recent years, albeit, with a more modern metal sound.

Listen To Banshee on Spotify


Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge technically released their debut album “Shake Your Soul” in 1990, but it’s included here because it reflects the band’s earlier material.  The band originally started in 1986 with Kelly Keeling handling the vocals after switching from the guitar.  Keeling would later go on to record and perform with King Kobra, MSG, John Norum, George Lynch, and many others. Baton Rouge released three critically albums “Shake Your Soul”, “Lights Out In The Playground” and “Baton Rouge” before calling it a day.


Beau Nasty - As Nasty As They Want To BeBeau Nasty

By The Time Beau Nasty released “Dirty But Well Dressed” in 1989, the glam/hair metal scene was glutted with bands. That’s a shame for Beau Nasty because the band showed real potential. With a sound similar to Britny Fox, the band produced some great songs including the album opener “Shake It”, “Piece Of The Action” and “Love Potion #9”.

 

Listen To Beau Nasty on Spotify


Black N' Blue...Where Are They Now?Black N’ Blue

Black N’ Blue is one of those bands that you just simply have to scratch your head as to why they never hit the top. The band had top-notch talent and delivered four great albums for Geffen records. Guitarist Tommy Thayer would later go on to replace Ace Frehley in KISS. The demos that lead to their debut album were produced by none other than Don Dokken. Every song on this album was great and should have cemented the band as the next big thing. The band reached the pinnacle of their success with MTV airplay for the song “I’ll Be There For You”. The band still performs live and still releases new albums, albeit without Tommy Thayer.

Listen To Black N’ Blue on Spotify


Black SheepBlack Sheep

Black Sheep fronted by Willie Basse released their debut album “Trouble In The Streets” in 1985 on Enigma Records. The band is famous for having more than a few members that would go onto greater fame in other bands including Paul Gilbert (Racer X, Mr. Big), Slash (Guns N’ Roses), Randy Castillo (Ozzy Osbourne, Lita Ford, Motley Crue) and James Kottak (Kingdom Come, Scorpions). While the production seems a bit hollow on this album, it’s a rarity to even find it anywhere these days.


Cats In Boots -Kicked And KlawedCats In Boots

Another band to unfortunately release their debut album at the end of the glam/hair metal era was Cats In Boots. Vocalist Joel Ellis provided a gritty vocal style and the guitarist and bassist were from the Japanese metal band Seiki Matsu, now known as Seikima. The band’s sound was sleazy and brought to mind a more raw sound of bands like early Motley Crue, Vain, Faster Pussycat, and other sleaze bands. The album was released on EMI in 1989 and critics and fans both seemed to like it.

Listen To Cats in Boots on Spotify


Circus Of Power

Circus Of Power came onto the scene with their debut self-titled album in 1988.  Visually and lyrically the band appealed to the biker scene with lead vocalist Alex Mitchell covered in tattoos.  Coming from New York, the band had a street-tough attitude with music to match.  Their debut album received high praise from critics with Mitchell’s voice drawing comparisons to that of the late Doors singer Jim Morrison. The band would record two more albums in the 90s with Vices (1990) and Magic & Madness (1993). The band reunited in 2017 for the album Four with a new album to be released in 2020.

Listen To Circus Of Power on Spotify


Cold Sweat

Notable for featuring former Keel guitarist Marc Ferrari. Cold Sweat was poised to achieve fame and fortune. Featuring a then-unknown vocalist, Rory Cathey, the band often brought comparisons to Dokken. With outstanding vocals and a guitar virtuoso, the comparison to Dokken was easy to see. Unfortunately, the band failed to reach the mainstream heavy metal and rock crowd in terms of taking the next step to the top. Break Out is currently out of print and is a sought-after collector’s item by metal fans. Marc Ferrari has recently written a children’s book and Cathey now fronts the band “The Fifth”

Listen To Cold Sweat on Spotify


Crimson Glory

Crimson Glory, whose classic line-up consisted of vocalist Midnight, guitarists Jon Drenning and Ben Jackson, bassist Jeff Lords, and drummer Dana Burnell. The band is considered to be one of the originals in the progressive metal movement, along with Queensrÿche, Dream Theater, Fates Warning.  Visually the band was quite different,  with the members wearing chrome masks. Crimson Glory released Crimson Glory (1986) and Transcendence (1988) and then followed up in the 90s with Strange and Beautiful (1991) and Astronomica (1999) which featured Wade Black on vocals before calling it a day as a band.  Vocalist Midnight died in 2009 from a stomach aneurysm. While he never recorded an album with the band, current Queensryche vocalist Todd La Torre was with the band for a brief period.

Listen To Crimson Glory on Spotify


Cry Wolf

Glam metal band, Cry Wolf released their self-titled album in 1989.  They received a decent buzz among rock journalists and fans.  The band released the album Crunch (1990) which would be their most successful release. The band was originally named Heroes, and the band consisted of Tim Hall (vocals), Steve McKnight (guitar), Phil Deckard (bass), John Freixas (drums), and JC Crampton (Keyboards). Vocalist Tim Hall has drawn comparisons with the vocal style of Stryper’s Michael Sweet.


Danger Danger

Danger Danger released their self-titled debut in 1989 and with the help of MTV had success with the single “Naughty Naughty”.  The band mixed a lighter keyboard sound with glam metal to offer a radio-friendly sound. They didn’t release their second album until 1991 and by then the 80s metal genre was already in decline due to changing tastes in music. Currently, the band continues to record and perform and though they have had a few lineup changes over the years including different vocalists, they still have a devoted fanbase.

Listen To Danger Danger on Spotify


Diamond Rexx - Land Of The DamnedDiamond Rexx

Diamond Rexx is a unique band. The band seemingly combines glam metal, sleaze, and punk all into one unified sound. That uniqueness may also be their Achilles heel. Admittedly, the mixture of sounds might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was good enough to get them signed to Island Records in 1986. The band comes from Chicago which also contributes to the fact that they sound different than a lot of the other glam bands that were flooding the L.A. music scene at the time. The band released the following albums, Rated Rexx (1990), Golden Gates (1991), Rexx Erected (2001), The Evil (2002), and are set to release a new album in 2020 called Psycho Ward.

Listen To Diamond Rexx on Spotify


Dirty Blonde

Dirty Blonde is a diamond in the rough. Having released their only album, “Passion” in 1989.  By this point in the 80s, glam metal bands were practically everywhere. This made it much more difficult to get noticed and Dirty Blonde was a victim of being one of many in a scene that was already jam-packed. The band was quite talented and remains an underground favorite for many fans of the genre. Their album is still highly sought after by collectors.


D’Molls

The D’Molls featured Desi Rexx on vocals, bassist Lizzy Valentine, guitarist S.S. Priest (Diamond Rexx), and Billy Dior on drums. They released their debut album in 1988 on Atlantic Records. The band got their video for “777” featured on MTV, but it did little to sell more copies of the album. The band would go on to release two more albums “Warped” (1990) and Beyond D’Valley Of D’Molls (1997).

 

Listen To D’Molls on Spotify


Femme Fatale

Femme Fatale, lead by vocalist Lorraine Lewis released their self-titled album in 1988 and immediately found success on MTV with their video for “Waiting For The Big One”.  It was enough to propel them into the top 200 charts in the U.S. However Femme Fatale didn’t release a second studio album with MCA records.  Essentially, a one-hit-wonder when it comes to commercial sales, the band still attracted a decent audience. Sadly, guitarist Bill D’Angelo died of a heart attack in 2005.  Lorraine Lewis had a brief solo career and now fronts the band “Vixen” replacing Janet Gardner as the vocalist.

Listen To Femme Fatale on Spotify


Fifth Angel

Fifth Angel was a band filled with incredible talent and great musicians. However, despite that fact, the band never found mainstream success. The band was compared to bands like Queensryche, Fates Warning, and others. Ted Pilot was an amazing vocalist. Ken Mary, former Alice Cooper drummer provided an incredible thunderous rhythm and James Byrd was spectacular as the guitarist. The band releases a second album “Time Will Tell” but eventually disbanded afterward.

Listen To Fifth Angel on Spotify


Giant

Giant was founded by Dan and David Huff, founding members of the Christian rock band Whiteheart.  They released the album Last of the Runaways in 1989. They scored a radio hit with the single “I’ll See You in My Dreams”.  The band was critically acclaimed and developed a fan base rather quickly, in part from fans of Whiteheart and then new fans from MTV and radio airplay. Giant disbanded in the early 90s but has returned with different lineups, most recently in 2010 with the album “Promised Land”.

Listen To Giant on Spotify


Giuffria

Originally a side project formed by Greg Giuffria after his band Angel ended, Giuffria became a full-fledged band.  During the 80s they released Giuffria (1984), Silk + Steel (1986) to good reviews. Singer David Glen Eisley drew comparisons in vocal style to that of Journey’s Steve Perry. The band had their first taste of success with the single “Call To The Heart” which helped push the album to #26 on the U.S. charts.  The band received MTV airplay for their single “I Must Be Dreaming” from their sophomore album Silk + Steel but failed to break into the big time commercially.  Greg Giuffria would go on to form the band House Of Lords and then ultimately retire from music altogether.  David Glen Eisley and Craig Goldy reunited in 2017 for an album called Blood, Guts, and Games. The album also included work from former Giuffria member Chuck Wright.

Listen To Giuffria on Spotify


Gorky Park

After the fall of Communism in the U.S.S.R., this Russian band quickly embraced the western culture of rock and metal music.  They were signed to Mercury Records where they released their debut album in 1989.  The band released “Bang” as their first single and was the first Russian band to be featured on MTV. They also received radio airplay with the singles “Try to Find Me” and “Peace in Our Time”. They performed at The Moscow Music Peace Festival with Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, Skid Row, Cinderella, Ozzy Osbourne, and Scorpions.  However, this would be the peak of their career outside Russia. Gorky Park released their last album Protivofazza in 1998.

Listen To Gorky Park on Spotify


Gypsy Rose

Gypsy Rose was one of the first bands to sign to Gene Simmons’ record label. This Canadian band released two singles, “Poisoned By Love” and “Don’t Turn Your Back On Me Now” from their debut album “Prey” and garnered them a growing fanbase. While the band disbanded when the height of the glam metal era began to fade, vocalist Michael Ross returned with solo material and has also returned with a new lineup of Gypsy Rose. The band has since released several albums with FNA Records.

Listen To Gypsy Rose on Spotify


Halloween

Not to be confused with the German metal band Helloween, Halloween commanded quite a cult following. The band is known for their album Don’t Metal with Evil (1985).  Formed in Detroit, the band was outside of the glam metal scene that took Hollywood by storm. Unfortunately, their geographic location probably kept the band from being big. As many bands were relocating to L.A. to play the clubs in search of big record deals.  Halloween never made the jump, but is one of the hidden gems that collectors still look for.  The band went through many different lineups and released several albums throughout the 90s and 2000s.

Listen To Halloween on Spotify


HawkHawk

Hawk was the band founded by Doug Marks, which you may remember from all of the 80’s Metal magazine ads for his “Metal Method” Guitar Lessons. Members of Hawk included: Doug Marks (MetalMethod.com), Scott Travis (Judas Priest), Charles Morrill (Charlie Wayne Morrill), Lonnie Vencent (Bullet Boys), David Fefolt, and Matt Sorum (Guns ’N Roses). The band imploded due to personal differences after releasing only one studio album. However, that self-titled Hawk album remains a hard-to-find classic metal album.


HeavenHeaven

Australian band Heaven released three studio albums “Bent”(1982), “Where Angels Fear to Tread” (1983), and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” (1985). The band toured the U.S. under support for their single and video for “Rock School” and picked up news fans. However, they never seemed to break through to the mainstream U.S. metal audience. Early on their sound was closer to that of AC/DC but later albums went in a more commercial, radio-friendly version. Fans regard all of their albums as quality releases and they are still collected heavily by metal fans. In 2015, vocalist Allan Fryer died after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Listen To Heaven on Spotify


HEAVY PETTIN's 1983 debut album 'Lettin Loose' will be reissued on CD on November 29thHeavy Pettin

Heavy Pettin is a Scottish band that released its debut “Lettin Loose” in 1983. The band’s sound was often similar to that of early Def Leppard material. They seemed to be a band on the rise with the release of their second album “Rock Ain’t Dead”(1985) but their sound became more commercial and keyboard-heavy by the time they released “Big Bang” in 1989. Melodic metal fans still seek out all three albums and recently the band has re-formed to release a new EP called 4Play.

Listen To Heavy Pettin on Spotify


Hellion

Hellion released their self-titled Ep in 1983 and the album Screams in the Night (1987), and another EP, Postcards from the Asylum (1988) during their run in the 80s.  Led by vocalist Ann Boleyn, the band often headlined shows on the Sunset Strip clubs but failed to find a major record label offer. Ronnie James Dio offered his help to the band and worked on demos with Boleyn.  The members of the band decided to split from the singer. Undeterred, Boleyn reformed Hellion and formed her own record label, New Renaissance Records. The band continued to release material into the 2000s.

Listen To Hellion on Spotify


Hurricane

Hurricane is notable for having the brothers of Carlos Cavazo and Rudy Sarzo from Quiet Riot, Tony Cavazo, and Robert Sarzo as bassist and guitarist. Kelly Hansen, who now fronts Foreigner was the fantastic vocalist that rounded out the band along with drummer Jay Schellen. The band had the biggest success with 1988’s “Over The Edge” album, but never quite made it to the level of bands like Motley Crue, Ratt, and others that were dominating the L.A. music scene at the time. Recently, Hurricane has reunited with only Sarzo and Cavazo as the original members and has plans to record new material in the near future.

Listen To Hurricane on Spotify


Icon

Icon released their debut album Icon in 1984. The band showed extreme talent and promise for the future. Then in 1985, they released the appropriately named “Night Of The Crime”, because it’s simply a crime that this album didn’t top the hard rock and metal charts at the time. If any band had everything that it needed to hit the big time it was Icon. One of the best albums to come out in the 80’s it’s criminally underrated. The band seemed to suffer from a lack of exposure problems, which cost them their rightful place as one of the best bands in the ’80s. While bands like Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Ratt, and Cinderella were getting airplay on radio and coverage on MTV, this Arizona band simply seemed to fall through the cracks. Night Of The Crime is a brilliant album from beginning to end, with outstanding production and talent to spare. The band released several albums after this with a different vocalist, A More Perfect Union (1987), Right Between the Eyes (1989) but it just didn’t have the same magic that Night Of The Crime did.

Listen To Icon on Spotify


jack starrs burning starrJack Starr’s Burning Starr

Releasing Rock the American Way (1985), No Turning Back (1986), Blaze of Glory (1987), and Jack Starr’s Burning Starr (1989), the band proved to be talented but lacked great promotion and good tours with other bands to really help them reach a large audience. Led by former Virgin Steele guitarist, Jack Starr Burning Starr produced some solid albums during the 1980s. The band reformed with a different lineup and have released three more studio albums in the 2000s.

Listen To Burning Starr on Spotify


jetboyJetboy

Originally based in San Francisco, Jetboy relocated to L.A. in the 80s to be a part of the growing glam/hair metal scene at the time.  Jetboy fused everything from metal, punk, and rockabilly into their sound.  Their debut album, Feel the Shake (1988) was a modest success, but it took the band two years to release a follow-up and by then the scene had begun to disappear. Undaunted, Jetboy would go on to release the albums Damned Nation (1990), A Day in the Glamorous Life (1997), Make Some More Noise (1999), One More for Rock N’ Roll (2002), Off Your Rocker (2010) and their most recent release, Born to Fly (2019).

Listen To Jetboy on Spotify


kick axeKick Axe

Canadian metal band, Kick Axe never seemed to get a fair shake. They were another band that just didn’t receive enough exposure to be well known with hard rock fans. The band released several great albums, with “Vices” being their most widely known album. The band always had great songs and arrangements to make any metalhead go wild, but the band seemed to die a slow death with very little promotion.

 

Listen To Kick Axe on Spotify


killer dwarfsKiller Dwarfs

This product of Canada released its debut album in 1983. The original lineup consisted of Russ Graham (vocals), and Darrell Millar (drums),  Bryce Trewin (guitar) and,  Ange Fodero (bass).  Guitarist Mike Hall and bassist Ron Mayer were the latter members soon after. The band found a decent amount of success with their second album “Stand Tall”. Armed with a sense of humor, (all the band members adopted the stage surname Dwarf) the band found MTV airplay helpful to reaching a larger audience outside of Canada. Big Deal would be their last album during the 1980s and it also did moderately well. The band is currently still performing and released the album Start @ One, most recently in 2013.

Listen To Killer Dwarfs on Spotify


King Kobra

King Kobra was the brainchild of drummer Carmine Appice, who had played with Rod Stewart and the king of metal, the madman himself, Ozzy Osbourne. The band featured band members that would later go on to other bands like W.A.S.P. and the Bulletboys. King Kobra’s look was unusual, to say the least with all members except for Appice having extremely bleached blonde hair. Ready To Strike was a great album and promised great things to come, but unfortunately the band never quite reached this level again. The band recorded the soundtrack to the movie Iron Eagle” and several other albums but ultimately disbanded. Lead vocalist Mark Free has since changed his gender to female in now known as Marcie Free. Carmine Appice is currently performing with his brother Vinnie Appice in Drum Wars.

Listen To King Kobra on Spotify


kings of the sunKings Of The Sun

This Australian band barely got noticed in the U.S., but if you did happen to hear them, it was usually met with rousing approval from hard rock fans.  The band forged a raw hard, bluesy hard rock sound that had a bit of a 70s rock sound mixed in.  It was different from what most of the metal bands were doing, but nonetheless energetic and rousing rock. The band was formed by Jeffrey Hoad and Clifford Hoad in 1986. Kings of the Sun released their self-titled album in 1988. It charted in the top 200 in the U.S.

Listen To Kings Of The Sun on Spotify


Laaz Rockit

This 80s pseudo-thrash band released City’s Gonna Burn (1984), No Stranger to Danger (1985), Know Your Enemy (1987) and Annihilation Principle (1989) during their 80s run.  While these guys were part of the Bay Area metal scene, they have never gotten the recognition that bands like Metallica, Testament, Death Angel, and Megadeth have. When the band signed with Enigma Records and released Known Your Enemy, it was a much-needed shot in the arm for the band and saw them get larger record distribution. The album as well as the follow-up, Annihilation Principal both received good critical reviews and the band hit the tour circuit with bands like Metallica, Anthrax. Megadeth, Overkill, and more. However, the band just never seemed to reach a large commercial audience The band is currently thought to be still technically active, but their last recorded album was in 2008.

Listen To Laaz Rockit on Spotify


Le MansLe Mans

Le Mans was an underrated band that released two albums and featured original Enuff Z’ Nuff guitarist Derek Frigo. Their first release “On The Streets”(1983) was straight ahead classic-sounding heavy metal with a glam look, but the band quickly went to a much softer overall sound for their second album, simply titled Le Mans (1986). The band was obviously trying for radio airplay and MTV attention with the more commercial material, but it failed to materialize into anything long-term. The band briefly featured Randy Castillo (Ozzy Osbourne, Lita Ford, Motley Crue) and Leonard Haze (Y&T).


leatherwolfLeatherwolf

Leatherwolf released their self-titled album in 1987 which featured a triple axe attack and incredible power metal sensibilities. The band garnered great reviews from fans and critics alike. The song “The Calling” was a great anthemic metal track that propelled this album to reach new fans. Unfortunately, the band could never seem to duplicate the same formula in later releases. The band has reformed in recent years and has released several quality albums since.

Listen To Leatherwolf on Spotify


lionLion

Lion came out of nowhere with Dangerous Attraction to deliver one of the most underrated metal albums of the ’80s. Featuring Doug Aldrich on guitar who would later go on to work with bands like Dio, Whitesnake, and currently Dead Daisies. Kai Swan’s vocals were incredibly powerful. In an untimely and unfortunate accident, drummer Mark Edwards suffered a broken neck which lead to the band breaking up a month later. Aldrich and Swan continued on in a new band called Bad Moon Rising. Lion was probably best known for recording the Transformer’s Movie Theme. While the band was on a major label at the time of Dangerous Attraction’s release they were never truly exposed to the large American mainstream metal audience that could have helped them reach the level of bands like Whitesnake, Motley Crue, and Def Leppard who were dominating the airwaves at the time.


londonLondon

Sadly London is more famous for being a stepping stone for other band members that went on to bigger things including Blackie Lawless (WASP), Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue), Steven Adler (Guns N’ Roses), Slash (Guns N’ Rose), Izzy Stradlin (Guns N’ Roses) and Fred Coury (Cinderella).  London released two albums in the 80s, Non-Stop Rock (1985) and, Don’t Cry Wolf (1986). Led by Nadir D’Priest and guitarist Lizzie Grey these albums are worth listening to but failed to chart commercially.  The band was a staple on Sunset Strip during the glam metal years and appeared in the documentary The Decline of Western Civilization Part 2: The Metal Years. London has released two albums since then with the latest being in 2018.


lord-tracyLord Tracy

Lord Tracy released The Deaf Gods Of Babylon” in 1989 and the single “Out With The Boys,” reached #40 on theBillboard charts.  The band featured former Pantera vocalist Terry Glaze, who performed with the band during their glam era before Phil Anselmo joined.  The album was filled with a sense of crass humor and developed a cult following because of it. Unfortunately, it didn’t sell well on a commercial level and the band split up. The band has released several albums since comprised of demos and unreleased material.

Listen To Lord Tracy on Spotify


projectdriverM.A.R.S. Project Driver

This one-off project released on Shrapnel Records is pretty amazing.  The title stands for (Tony) MacAlpine, (Tommy) Aldridge, (Rob Rock), and (Rudy) Sarzo or M.A.R.S. The band is filled with talented musicians and this is heavy metal guitar shredders dream.  The biggest issue with this album would have to be the sound production, which comes off as a terrible mix considering the artists involved. It would have been great to see this group continue because this album showed real chemistry between the players involved.

Listen To M.A.R.S. on Spotify


madam xMadam X

Formed by sisters Maxine and Roxy Petrucci and including Bret Kaiser and Chris Doliber, the band actually once featured a young Sebastian Bach. They released the album We Reserve the Right in 1984 and scored a minor hit with the song “High In High School”. The band would break up in 1988 but returned again in 2017 to release the album Monstrosity. After the original breakup, Roxy Petrucci would join Vixen and is still a member of the band today.

Listen To Madam X on Spotify


maliceMalice

Malice hit the L.A. metal scene in the early ’80s and developed a great following. Often compared to bands like Queensryche and Lizzy Borden, primarily because of the high-pitched vocals of James Neal. The band featured incredibly talented musicians with License To Kill being the epic album that failed to put them over the top. The band has morphed through different members over the years and still records and performs periodically. Sadly, Guitarist Mick Zane passed away in 2016.

Listen To Malice on Spotify


Mama's BoysMama’s Boys

Mama’s Boys was an Irish metal band featuring the three McManus brothers Pat, a.k.a. “The Professor”, John (bass; vocal), and, Tommy (drums). The band’s Power and Passion album broke into the Billboard top 100 in the US. Mama’s Boys released the following albums during the ’80s: Official bootleg (1980), Plug It In (1982), Turn It Up (1983), Mama’s Boys (1984), Power and Passion (1985), and Growing Up the Hard Way (1987). Sadly, Tommy McManus died in 1991 from complications from bone marrow replacement surgery. While the band was never considered commercially successful in the U.S., they remain a favorite among metal music collectors.


MasiMasi

Masi was a band created by guitarist Alex Masi to showcase his abilities. They signed to Metal Blade Records in 1986 and released two albums Fire in the Rain (1987) and Downtown Dreamers (1988).  Downtown Dreamers featured the hit single “God Promised a Paradise” and the video brought them a great deal of attention courtesy of MTV. Alex Masi moved on to release his first solo album Attack of the Neon Shark (1989) which was nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Instrumental Rock” album category. All in all, Alex Masi has released 17 total solo albums since disbanding the original “Masi” band.


MassMass

Christian metal band Mass released the following albums during the 80s: Mass (1985), New Birth (1985), Take You Home (1988) and, Voices In The night (1989). The band was comprised of Gene D’Itria guitars, Joey Vadala drums, Louie St. August vocals, and, Kevin Varrio bass. The band hailed from Massachusetts and signed with Medusa Records which distributed their album “Take You Home” and found the band going down a similar path to Stryper who signed with Enigma records.  However, Mass was never able to achieve mainstream success as Stryper did.

Listen To Mass on Spotify


odinOdin

Odin is now recognized as one of the bands featured in the Penelope Spheeris documentary,  The Decline Of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. The band was featured prominently in the film and performed two songs in it “Little Gypsy” and “12 O’Clock High”. Odin is Jeff Duncan – Guitars, Shawn Duncan – Drums, Randy O. – Vocals, Aaron Samson – Bass.  Odin was well known all over the Sunset Strip area in L.A. during the 80s metal boom. Odin is the only unsigned band as a headliner to have shattered attendance records on multiple nights at both Gazarri’s on the Sunset Strip and The Palace. Odin”s entire catalog was re-issued on EMP/Universal/SPV worldwide in 2018.

Listen To Odin on Spotify


OmenOmen

Omen was formed in L.A. in 1983 by guitarist Kenny Powell and the band signed to Metal Blade Records in 1984.  Their style is considered power metal and they built a loyal following with each album that they released. During the 80s they released: (1984) Battle Cry, (1985) Warning of Danger, (1986) The Curse, and (1988) Escape to Nowhere. Omen has released three studio albums since then. Sadly, In October 2003, their original singer, J.D. Kimball, died, having succumbed to cancer after three years of treatment.

Listen To Omen on Spotify


Paul Dianno's BattlezonePaul Dianno’s Battlezone

Paul Di’Anno was the original Iron Maiden vocalist who was replaced by Bruce Dickinson. He then formed a solo band called Di’Anno that released only one album. After the breakup of his solo band, he created Paul Di’ Anno’s Battlezone.  The band’s initial line-up featured Di’Anno, guitarists John Wiggins & John Hurley, bassist Laurence Kessler and Sid Falck on drums. The band released only two albums in the 80s: Fighting Back (1986) and Children of Madness (1987). The band imploding with members fighting with each other.  A completely different lineup appeared on a later release called Feel My Pain (1998).

Listen To Battlezone on Spotify


Princess PangPrincess Pang

Featuring vocalist Jeni Foster, Princess Pang was an exciting glam metal band that played sleazy hard rock. Unfortunately, they only released one album, the self-titled release in 1989. The album is available through Metal Blade Records and is still sought after by glam metal collectors worldwide.

 

Listen To Princess Pang on Spotify


ProphetProphet

Prophet released two albums in the 80s: Prophet (1985) and Cycle of the Moon (1988). The self-titled album featured future Danger Danger vocalist Ted Poley on drums. Prophet featured a more AOR style of melodic metal.

 


Rage Of AngelsRage Of Angels

Christian metal band Rage Of Angels released their only self-titled album in 1989.  Featuring a sound that resembled secular metal which Christian metal fans were seeking, the band made a big splash on the Christian rock scene with just this one album. lead guitarist Chris Risola, rhythm guitarist Frank DiCostanzo, and the now-deceased drummer John Fowler would go on to form the original lineup of the glam metal band Steelheart featuring vocalist Miljenko Matijevic that was released in 1990.

Listen To Rage Of Angels on Spotify


SarayaSaraya

Featuring vocalist Sandi Saraya, this female lead band was really quite good and deserved a shot at the big time. Releasing the album, Saraya (1989), the band found success with the single “Love Has Taken Its Toll” and eventually released a second album in When the Blackbird Sings (1991).  Originally Polygram Records wanted to create a sex symbol out of vocalist Sandi Saraya similar to a female Bon Jovi. Musically the band was solid and has been one of the bands that flew under the radar but were known to 80s hard rock fans and collectors.

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SavatageSavatage

Savatage was started by brothers Jon and Criss Oliva from Tarpon Springs Florida. The band was prolific at releasing albums in the 80s which included: Sirens (1983), Power of the Night (1985), Fight for the Rock (1986), Hall of the Mountain King (1987), and Gutter Ballet (1989).  The band often blurred the lines between power metal, symphonic metal, and occasionally even thrash. Tragedy struck when Criss Oliva was killed by a drunk driver in 1993. Savatage released four albums after Criss Oliva’s death but has been on hiatus ever since.

Sea HagsSea Hags

Sea Hags were a San Franciso-based band that showed up at the end of the era of glam metal with their self-titled album in 1989. The band had actually started in 1985, but the band struggled with both time and finances to record an album until 1989. The Sea Hags had a bluesy sleaze metal sound that resonated with listeners but just came along at the wrong time. Guitarist Frank Wilsey would later join Stephen Pearcy in the bands Arcade and Nitronic.

SeduceSeduce

Detroit rockers Seduce were pushed into the spotlight in the movie “The Decline Of Western Civilization Part Two: The Metal Years”. The band released their self-titled debut album in 1985. The band was interviewed and performed their song “Crash Landing” in the documentary “The Decline Of Western Civilization Part Two: The Metal Years”. Seduce released a second album “Too Much Ain’t Enough” in 1988 and it was well-liked by fans and critics alike. Seduce broke up in 1991. The two full-length albums are still highly sought after by metal record collectors and the band has achieved a cult following their movie appearance in Penelope Spheeris’ documentary.

Shok ParisShok Paris

Shok Paris released the album “Go For The Throat” in 1984. It received critical acclaim.  They released the follow-up, Steel, and Starlight in 1987 on I.R.S. Records and is considered by many fans to be the band’s best work. They would release “Concrete Killers in 1989. After a long hiatus, Shok Paris returned in 2019 to release a brand new album called “Full Metal Jacket”.

 

Shark IslandShark Island

Shark Island debuted their major label album “Law Of The Order” in 1989 for Epic Records. Prior to this album release, the band was known around the L.A. music scene simply as “The Sharks”. The band was a regular on the Sunset Strip but failed to turn their success in the clubs into successful album sales. While “Law Of The Order” was well received by the bands’ fans it simply didn’t get much promotion because of the changing musical climate. Shark Island has since reformed with different lineups and released the albums “Gathering Of The Faithful” (2006) and the critically acclaimed “Bloodline” in 2019.

Shotgun MessiahShotgun Messiah

Swedish glam metallers “Shotgun Messiah” impressed a lot of people with their trashy, sleaze sound on their self-titled debut in 1989. The band was originally called Kingpin but changed their name to Shotgun Messiah with their sights set on the L.A. Music scene. Original vocalist Zinny J. Zan left the band one year after the debut album and Bassist Tim Tim (Tim Skold) took over vocal duties. The band released the albums Second Coming (1991), I Want More EP (1992), and Violent New Breed (1993). Tim Skold would later go on to join industrial rockers KMFDM and perform with Marilyn Manson as well as a solo artist with his own band SKOLD. Original vocalist Zinny J. Zan released a solo album and two albums with his band The Zan Clan. Rumors have swirled recently that Tim Skold may be planning to reform Shotgun Messiah.

Silent Rage - Shattered HeartsSilent Rage

Silent Rage released their debut album “Shattered Hearts” in 1987 The band scored a minor hit with the song “Rebel With A Cause”. Unfortunately, in 1987 there was a significant amount of competition for attention among bands, and Silent Rage suffered from a limited amount of promotion. The band followed up “Shattered Hearts” with “Don’t Touch Me There” in 1989. And while it was a hit with fans, it was a little too late to gain the attention of mass record buyers as the scene was moving toward grunge and alternative rock. Silent Rage released a third album called “Still Alive” in 2002.

SinnerSinner

This German band led by Mat Sinner is often compared to another great metal band, The Pretty Maids.  The band started in 1982 and released the following albums in the 1980s: Wild ‘n’ Evil (1982), Fast Decision (1983), Danger Zone (1984), Touch of Sin (1985), Comin’ Out Fighting (1986), and Dangerous Charm (1987). Mat Sinner would later go on to join the band Primal Fear as bassist and backing vocalist and Sinner still releases new material, their latest album was released in 2019. Originally the band was a much heavier, traditional style metal band, but moved to a more melodic metal sound over the years.

slave raiderSlave Raider

Formed in 1985, Slave Raider released two albums in the 80s: Take The World By Storm (1986) and What Do You Know About Rock ‘N Roll? (1988). An interesting cross between pirate attire and glam, the band was known for their wild antics including lead vocalist Chainsaw Caine using a chainsaw on stage during the performance. The band opened for bands like Poison and Ratt, but never quite caught on with glam metal fans. The band did have the song “Make Some Noise” appear in 1988’s License to Drive movie.

smashed gladysSmashed Gladys

Smashed Gladys hit the L.A. glam scene and released 3 great singles from their album “Social Intercourse”. The songs”17 Goin’ on Crazy”, “Lick it Into Shape” and “Legs Up” were all great tracks that should have brought the band way more attention and exposure than they did. The band seemed to be another victim of lack of promotion. Rarely seen in rock magazines, on MTV, and with virtually no radio airplay, it’s a mystery what happened with their promotional team. Led by singer Sally Cato, the band released “Social Intercourse as their major-label debut. The band released one more album, years later, which appeared to be early songs and possibly pre-released EP material. It’s a shame that they didn’t receive more acclaim.

sound barrierSound Barrier

Sound Barrier broke the color barrier in heavy metal by being one of the first metal bands to have all black members. Formed in 1980, the band was started by Bernie K. And Spacey T. who had originally met in a funk band. The band released the album “Total Control” in 1983. The debut album only sold 12,000 copies and they were dropped by MCA records for lack of sales. The band released “Speed Of Light” (1986) after signing with Metal Blade Records. However, the band split up a year later. Vocalist Bernie K went on to sing on the critically acclaimed “Fire In The Rain” album by guitar virtuoso Alex Masi. The band briefly reformed and released the single “I’m Just A Man” in 2017 on Tom Morello’s (Rage Against The Machine) Firebrand Records.

stone furyStone Fury

Fans of Kingdom Come will recognize the vocals of Lenny Wolf on these early 80s albums by Stone Fury. The band released two albums: Burns Like a Star (1984), Let Them Talk (1986) but couldn’t quite reach a large audience.  The band received rave critical reviews but success eluded them.  However, Wolf would find success on a much larger scale later with Kingdom Come.

 

Sweet Pain

Sweet Pain took their name from the KISS song, signed to Combat Records, and released their only album in 1985. Notable for featuring a then-unknown Kelly Nickels on bass, who would later go on to join L.A. Guns. The album actually features the recording of the song “Shoot For Thrills (In The Night)” written by Nickels, which would also appear on L.A. Guns’ self-titled album. Sweet Pain was a decent glam rock band that literally disappeared overnight. The album is quite rare and sought out by collectors since it has long been out of print.

Sweet Savage

Sweet Savage was a glam band based out of Texas that just never reached the next level. I’m sure the cover photos of all 4 members appearing shirtless with bleached blonde hair didn’t help their case. Musically, they were considered a little more bubblegum glam than bands like Poison but had great catchy songs that earned them a following. Their debut EP was produced by none other than Dana Strum, who later go on to play bass in the Vinnie Vincent Invasion and Slaughter. They received the most attention with their cover version of Sweet’s “Fox On The Run”.

Sword

Sword is an outstanding true metal band that just got lost in the shuffle. Metalized should have brought these guys into the limelight because it’s own hell of a great metal record. It’s outstanding from beginning to end, especially considering it’s their debut release. The band went on to release one more album which also received praise from critics and fans. The band eventually broke up, but has reformed recently and has joined the newly re-formed Combat Records label owned by Megadeth’s David Ellefson. The band is currently working on new material to be released in the near future.

T.T. Quick

T.T. Quick was formed in 1980 and then hit the scene in 1984 with their debut EP.  Singer Mark Tornillo would later replace Udo Dirkschneider as the vocalist in the German band Accept. T.T. Quick released the following albums in the 80s decade: TT Quick EP (1984), Metal Of Honor (1986), and Sloppy Seconds (1989). The band had a following of die-hard fans but never found the big success that other bands from the 80s found. T.T. Quick is a great band for those looking for hidden gems that they somehow missed years ago.

talasTalas

Talas is famous for being bassist Billy Sheehan’s first full-time band and it helped him showcase his abilities.  Of course, Sheehan would later go on to play in David Lee Roth’s solo band and Mr. Big. Both Shy Boy (David Lee Roth) and Addicted To That Rush (Mr. Big) were written by Sheehan while in Talas.  Talas released two albums in the 80s: (1982) Sink Your Teeth into That and
(1983) Live Speed on Ice.  The band’s biggest success came when they opened 30 dates for Van Halen in 1980, but they never could make it much further in a crowded field of metal bands.

Tigertailz

Tigertailz was the U.K.’s version of Poison. Musically their debut was much heavier than Poison’s. The band featured vocalist Steevi Jaimz on vocals, who had a more gruff voice that contributed to the band sounding less like a bubblegum glam band and more like a sleaze rock band in the vein of L.A. Guns or Faster Pussycat. Young And Crazy was a fantastic debut, but the band parted ways with Steevi Jaimz after this release. While they continued on with other vocalists, and still do today, they never reached the level that they achieved with the first album. Young And Crazy was one of the best glam metal releases of the ’80s. If you can find this one, you should get it. It’s great on every level.

TKOTKO

TKO released “In Your Face” in 1984. Raspy-voiced vocalist Brad Sinsel gave the band a decidedly heavier sound, while still being melodic. The band had a raw “street” sound that provided a sleazy hard rock sound mixed with classic heavy metal. The band based out of Seattle signed with Combat Records and later released the album “Below The Belt” for Roadrunner Records in 1986. Vocalist Brad Sinsel went on to front the band “War Babies” which released their only album in 1992 and had a minor hit with the song “Hang Me Up”.

tokyo bladeTokyo Blade

This English heavy metal band hit the scene in 1982. While they’re considered part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, the band would change their sound and image as well as lineups a little too frequently. By 1987 the band sounded closer to the glam metal bands of Hollywood than their original sound which was closer to early Diamond Head. Their 80s albums are: Tokyo Blade (1983), Night of the Blade (1984), Black Hearts & Jaded Spades (1985), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (1987) and, No Remorse (1989).  The album Night Of The Blade released in 1984 is probably their most popular and well-known release.  Tokyo Blade is still alive and well and making new albums as of 2020.

Tuff LuckTuff Luck

Tuff Luck was a really talented band that fell victim to not being able to land a big record contract. The band was based in South Florida and were drawing thousands of people to their local shows. they did however release one album for Ann Boleyn’s New Renaissance Records. The album is still sought after by collectors and fetches top dollars in auctions. The self-titled album had some great tracks like “Sleaze if you Please”, “Take It or Leave It” and “Tonight, Tonight”. The band released a second album in 1993 but it failed to capture the spirit of the original album. A documentary DVD was also filmed showing the band’s struggles that kept them from reaching the top of charts alongside bands like Dokken, Ratt, and Motley Crue.

tytanTytan

Tytan features a then-unknown Scottish vocalist Norman ‘Kal’ Swan who would later front the critically acclaimed glam metal band Lion. Tytan also featured bassist Kevin Riddles and drummer Dave Dufort and guitarist Steve Gibbs The band’s only album Rough Justice (1985) was released after they had already broken up from the original recordings that were planned for an album prior to Swan’s departure.

 

vampVamp

Vamp released their only release “The Rich Don’t Rock” in 1989 and it’s a totally underrated hidden gem of the hair metal scene. The album was released on Atlantic Records and is hard to find. Collectors are often on the lookout for this album and those who have it and have heard it, know that it’s a great album from the era. Drummer Dicki Fliszar would go on to work with Jack Russell’s Great White.

 

WarriorWarrior

Warrior released the space-themed album Fighting For The Earth in 1985. For a band that was previously unknown, these guys put together a really solid classic-sounding metal album. Singer Paramore McCarty has a voice that combines gritty and high-pitched screams. Overall, the entire album is well done and shows a maturity that many other bands did not display at the time. McCarty resurfaced as Perry McCarty serving as the lead vocalist for Steve Stevens Atomic Playboys. In 1998 Warrior released the album called Ancient Future with McCarty. The band has also released two other albums which featured vocalists Marc Storace of Krokus and Rob Rock.

Waysted - VicesWaysted

Waysted released their debut album “Vices” in 1983 on Chrysalis Records. The band features former UFO bassist Pete Way, as well as Fin Muir on vocals, Ronnie Kayfield on lead guitar, Paul Raymond on rhythm guitar, and Frank Noon on drums. After Vices, the band released Waysted – EP (1984), The Good the Bad the Waysted (1985), Save Your Prayers (1986), Wilderness of Mirrors (2000), You Won’t Get Out Alive (2000), Back from the Dead (2004), The Harsh Reality (2007), and Totally Waysted (2008). The band received another shot at stardom in the U.S. with the album “Save Your Prayers” which featured future Tyketto vocalist Danny Vaughan. “Save Your Prayers” had a more commercial radio-friendly appeal to the sound but also failed to sell a large number of albums with limited promotion.

White SisterWhite Sister

White Sister was formed in 1980 in the L.A. area and released two albums: (1984) White Sister and (1986) Fashion by Passion. The band was featured on several movie soundtracks including Fright Night, Thrashin’, and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. The band had a slightly more AOR, melodic rock sound with heavy keyboards.  After White Sister, three of the band members would go on to form another band called Tattoo Rodeo.

White Tiger

White Tiger was notable for featuring former KISS guitarist Mark St. John who played on the Animalize album, only to be released by the band and replaced by Bruce Kulick after being unable to play with acute tendonitis. St. John was a great player, but this album suffers from really poor production that burdens this album throughout. With more support and clean production and mix, Mark St. John might have re-established himself in the world of metal guitarists, but the album was purchased mostly by die-hard KISS fans and virtually no one else. This was the only album released by White Tiger. St. John released a few solo albums independently but never to the level of his previous success. Sadly, St, John died in 2007 from a brain hemorrhage.

white wolfWhite Wolf

This Canadian metal band released two albums in the 80s: Standing Alone (1984) and, Endangered Species (1986). Both albums cracked the top 200 in the U.S. but failed to generate any hits. The band released a music video for the song “She” which received some airplay on MTV.  The band toured throughout the U.S., Japan, and Europe to support the albums but didn’t have the success that they had hoped for in finding a commercial audience. The band reunited in 2007 and released new material. They are currently active.

 

 

 

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About the author

Bobby Caughron

Bobby Caughron is a music journalist and Editor-In-Chief for XS ROCK. He began a life-long fan of hard rock and metal music after hearing KISS as a kid. He is still an avid fan of the 80s metal scene and continues to discover and write about new music in all rock genres today.

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