1985 was an interesting year, to say the least. President Ronald Reagan was sworn in for second term, the Night Stalker Richard Ramirez was captured in Los Angeles, US Route 66 was decommissioned, New Coke was introduced to an unfriendly public (and was quickly pulled from the market three months later), and Wrestlemania made its debut at Madison Square Garden.
In sports, Mike Tyson made his professional boxing debut, the San Francisco 49ers won Super Bowl XIX, the Lakers beat the Celtics in the NBA finals, the Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup, Darrell Waltrip won the NASCAR Championship, and the Kansas City Royals won the World Series – becoming the first team to win the championship after losing the first two games at home.
The top-grossing movies at the box office included Back to the Future, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rocky IV, The Color Purple, and Out of Africa.
In pop music, Live Aid was held in Philadelphia, and the chart-topping singles of the year included “We Are the World”, a-ha’s “Take On Me,” Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is,” Tears for Fears’ “Shout,” and Madonna’s “Into the Groove.”
It was also an interesting year for heavy metal. In most circles, metal and pop-rock were bleeding into one another, and unless the band was deemed “evil” or excessively heavy, the terms “metal” and “hard rock” were almost interchangeable. It was not unusual to see “true” metal bands touring alongside its glam-induced counterparts or even opening for monstrously popular rock bands like Van Halen or Aerosmith.
While two notable acts disbanded in 1985 (Mercyful Fate and Hanoi Rocks), the year was the launching pad for a new crop of bands, many of which would stretch the boundaries of metal and become movers and shakers for years to come, including Agathocles, Britny Fox, Carcass, Coroner, Defiance, Deliverance, Dr. Mastermind, Dream Theater, Exhorder, Extreme Noise Terror, Forbidden, Heresy, King Diamond, Lord Tracy, Macabre, Mekong Delta, Mortal Sin, Mr. Bungle, Mucky Pup, Neurosis, Obituary, Piledriver, Racer X, Realm, Sabbat, Sacred Oath, Salem, Sanctuary, Sarcofago, Shotgun Messiah, Stone, Stormtroopers of Death (S.O.D.), Tangier, Toxik, Tuff, Vio-Lence, and Viper.
For those interested in taking an audio trip down memory lane, here is a selection of metal albums that were released on vinyl and cassette in 1985 that kept our blood hot:
Accept – Metal Heart
Alcatrazz – Disturbing the Peace
Angel Witch – Screamin’ and Bleedin’
Anthrax – Armed and Dangerous
Anthrax – Spreading the Disease
Anvil – Backwaxed
Armored Saint – Delirious Nomad
Bathory – The Return
Celtic Frost – To Mega Therion
The Cult – Love
Dio – Sacred Heart
Dokken – Under Lock and Key
Exodus – Bonded by Blood
Fates Warning – The Spectre Within
Grim Reaper – Fear No Evil
Helix – Long Way to Heaven
Helloween – Walls of Jericho
Icon – Night of the Crime
Iron Maiden – Live After Death
Keel – The Right to Rock
King Kobra – Ready to Strike
Kiss – Asylum
Kix – Midnite Dynamite
Kreator – Endless Pain
Lee Aaron – Call of the Wild
Lizzy Borden – Love You to Pieces
Ludichrist – Off the Board
Megadeth – Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good!
Mötley Crüe – Theatre of Pain
Overkill – Feel the Fire
Pantera – I Am The Night
Possessed – Seven Churches
Ratt – Invasion of Your Privacy
Raven – Stay Hard
Rough Cutt – Rough Cutt
Running Wild – Branded and Exiled
Savatage – Power of the Night
Scorpions – World Wide Live
Slayer – Hell Awaits
Stryper – Soldiers Under Command
Thor – Only the Strong
Twisted Sister – Come Out and Play
UFO – Misdemeanor
Vandenberg – Alibi
Warlock – Hellbound
W.A.S.P. – The Last Command
White Lion – Fight to Survive
Y&T – Open Fire
Y&T – Down for the Count
Yngwie Malmsteen – Marching Out
While several of these albums went on to legendary status, it is interesting to see what was once considered to qualify as metal in the 1980s, don’t you think?