Yngwie Malmsteen, Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force
Speaking of Van Halen, there were plenty of shreddy guitarists out there in the wake of 1978’s “Eruption.” In fact, Mike Varney formed a label, Shrapnel, dedicated to the instrument in 1980. Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteeen joined the label via the band Steeler in 1982, and two years later, the axeman unleashed the fucking fury with his solo album. Rising Force. A hybrid of neoclassical guitar, power metal, and full-on shredding, the album also featured vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (who actually sang in Journey for a bit) and keyboardist Jens Johansson, now in Stratovarius. And here’s a random piece of trivia – Primus’ Les Claypool was an engineer on Yngwie’s first two albums!
Ratt, Out of the Cellar
One of the breakout rock/metal bands of 1984 was Ratt. The Los Angeles band had been around for a while with different names, but a six-song EP released in 1983 led to a deal with Atlantic, who released their debut full length Out of the Cellar in March of 1984. Due to the band’s video for “Round and Round,” which featured comedian Milton Berle and hit just as MTV was reaching a critical mass, the album went multi-platinum, peaking at #7 on Billboard’s charts. The album cover featured guitarist Robbin Crosby’s high school sweetheart Tawny Kitean three years before she was doing splits on David Coverdale’s Jaguar and 25 years before she was arrested for DUI.
Metallica, Ride the Lightning
Metallica had released Kill ’em All in 1983, but it was the release of their sophomore album a year later that really put them on the map. Initially released on Megaforce in July, the band were signed to Elektra and the album re-released in November. On this album, the band stretched from the more straight-ahead thrash attack of their first album towards more straight-ahead metal on songs like “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and even thrash’s first power ballad with “Fade to Black.” It’s also the last album that Dave Mustaine had any writing credit on.