It was a golden year for me, full of musical red-lettter days, a year when I discovered when my spirit really was wrapped in black.

But enough colour-based similes. We’re here to talk about 1982, the year when I first properly became a fully paid up headbanger, embarking on a course from which, thirty four years later, I’m still to deviate. Yep, 1982 was a golden year.

So much good music was released that year, it was if I’d literally died and gone to heaven. Van Halen, Rush, Kansas, Asia and Rainbow all released corking hard rock albums that we ain’t even gonna mention, whilst on the punk side of the coin Charged G.B.H. and The Exploited did likewise. When I started researching this piece, I trawled the interwebs looking for ‘best of’ lists from magazines and websites dealing with 1982’S crème de la creme. It brought back some great (and, let’s be honest, not-so-great) memories. After I’d done that, I submitted the list to an expert panel of judges from all over the metal-speaking world, keen for their input to make some sort of sense of the grandeur… And after much hand-wringing, after no little wailing and gnashing of teeth, that august body put together what they considered to be the very best of the best, the real precious metal from the Golden Year of metal that was 1982 – Here’s what they came up with…

20. Heavy LoadDeath or Glory (Thunderload Records)
I remember seeing the ad for this album in Kerrang; there could be no doubt that Sweden’s Heavy Load were a heavy metal band – the huge drum riser bearing a massive double-kick enabled kit, the walls of Marshalls, the flying V… but did they sound any good I pondered? Well, if you love proto Euro power metal the answer had – and has – to be yes…

19. DemonThe Unexpected Guest (Carrere Records)
Regular listeners to Tommy Vance’s Friday Night Rock Show on BBC Radio One in the UK were well up with UK pomp rockers Demon; I became enamoured after picking a copy of this, their second album on Punky’s second hand record stall in Maidenhead Market for a fiver. Chock full of stinging guitar work, big choruses and sharing Saxon’s label, it seemed that The Unexpected Guest couldn’t fail. But the album peaked at 47 in the UK and that proved to be the commercial high watermark for this most underrated of British rock bands…

18. Diamond HeadBorrowed Time (MCA)
You know the Diamond Head story by now, surely? Another band that seemingly had it all in their grasp before succumbing to the slings and arrows of something or other, in 1982 the World sat at the band’s feet. Long before Wolfmother had ever even been thought of, Brian Tatler and Sean Harris mixed the best of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin in glorious style. See below for proof if required.

17. Witchfinder GeneralDeath Penalty (Heavy Metal Records)
Listen to WG now, and you wonder what all the fuss is about; Quite literally a thousand bands have picked up the Zeeb Parkes doom baton and run with it since 1982, but at the time the band courted comment, most of it adverse; from the ‘controversial’ Page-Three-Girl-With-Tats-Oot cover through to Kerrang’s accusations that the band were barely competent nothing seemed to be right about Witchfinder General, a fact which probably lured us to them like moths to a smutty flame… Whatever, a legend grew around the band, leaving Death Penalty as a much-revered doom template in 2016…

16. TankFilth Hounds of Hades (Kamaflage)
I came to Tank late, not seeing them until they supported Metallica at London’s Lyceum in late 1984, but plenty of my mates were already avid filth hounds by then. They always seemed a bit punky to me in 1982 (bassist/vocalist Algy Ward had been in The Damned, after all), a scene I was kicking against, but by 1984 my blues-based sensibilities had been so battered I was ready to submit and admit my mistakes – this was what I’d been missing out on two years earlier. What was I thinking?

15. GirlschoolScreaming Blue Murder (Bronze)
Of course I loved Girlschool – guitarist/vocalist Kim McAuliffe was my first metal crush, after all, and on SBM everything the band had been working towards on their previous two albums seemed to click. Kelly Johnson had blossomed into a fine, melodically-inclined lead guitarist giving a bit of musical credibility to a band sometimes sneered at by the cro-magnon element of metal fandom that didn’t believe girls could rock a hard as boys. They can, of course, and this album proved it beyond argument.

14. Y & TBlack Tiger (A & M Records)
Californians Y & T were, alongside Nightranger, seemingly capable of no wrong to my young ears in 1982; Melding the American ear for melody to European muscle and musicality, they had it all, and in Dave Meniketti they had one of the best singer/guitarists of his or any other generation. Melodic heavy rock at it’s very finest – and Black Tiger is far from the best of Y & T!

13. AnvilMetal on Metal (Attic)
In 1982, metal was just metal, Simple as that. Labels and sub-genres just didn’t exist and though in 2016 Canadians Anvil are seen as proto-this or that, in 1982 they were just one of the heaviest, fastest bands on the planet. Two years later they were overtaken by faster, heavier bands and went down the gurgler pretty sharpish before having their career resurrected by that documentary, but over the course of this album they made heads bang in a simple, uncomplicated way that was a joy to behold.

12. RavenWiped Out (Neat Records)
Before they signed to a major label and started touting what they called ‘athletic rock’, Raven were, like Anvil, pure, heads-down metal madness in recorded form. Simply too heavy for many casual listeners raised on a diet of Wishbone Ash and Rush, they found their superior chops mocked as people were blinded by speed and volume. This is clearly the thinking of mad people, as you’ll hear from just the one listen to this supremely accomplished piece of heavy metal grandeur from possibly the most underrated band ever to come out of Newcastle…

11. Gary MooreCorridors of Power (Virgin)
One of the first albums I was ever ‘a slave’ to, Corridors of Power finds Gary Moore in career-best form; Before the Celtic-cash ins, before the birth of the bluesman, here is Moore as the unabashed guitar hero, backed by the likes of Ian Paice, Neil Murray and, improbably, Jimmy Nail on a set of high quality shred-friendly hard rock. Even the ballads rock. That’s how rock this album is. Look at the cover – it’s Moore standing in a corridor made from bits of guitar. I say again – rock. Crank this one up. RIP Gary.

Check back tomorrow for part II!