So after getting into Iron Maiden I entered my metal phase. For whatever reason I never really got into the other NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) bands, though I do remember liking Def Leppard after seeing them on MTV.
Instead I went backward. As I bought up Iron Maiden's discography, I noticed that a lot of the older, (and to me) more obscure albums on the shelves were actually much cheaper. For this reason I started listening to bands like Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.
I loved all that stuff for a while, but I guess none of those albums managed to resonate with me until years later. I suppose a lot of it had to do with my age at the time, and also the fact that they those albums sounded a bit quaint and old-fashioned to my adolescent ears. I would change my mind later of course, but back then I was looking for the next big thing.
Enter Megadeth and "Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?" The first time I heard this song was on MTV's Headbanger's Ball, and even before the song was over I'd kind of forgotten about Iron Maiden. Megadeth just sounded so new. They had the attitude, they weren't dressed like girls, and their music sounded great over a pair of earphones.
Dave Mustaine, unknown to me then, had been around during much of my brief obsession with Iron Maiden. While I was discovering Maiden he was playing in Metallica. A lot of the other thrash bands also had roots in the early 80s, but many of us didn't discover this until much later on. Our awareness of these bands began with the TV and radio shows that promoted them, and these TV and radio shows only appeared several years into their respective careers.
I branched out into Anthrax, Metallica and (to a lesser extent) Slayer. I grew my hair long. I had a denim jacket with patches. I started wearing a lot of black, and I bought T-shirts of my favorite albums. I probably looked ridiculous at times, but comments about how I looked only set me more firmly on the path I was traveling. The "Big 4" (Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica) led to Suicidal Tendencies, Sepultura and Testament. Every month I was discovering a new band, and learning a new song by heart.
This went on until the end of high school, when I have to admit that grunge/alternative stole some of the space from my once sprawling thrash collection. But until 92 or so I was an avowed metalhead, hating nothing more than the slow, poppy strains of glam bands like Cinderella, Ratt and Poison.
I think this is what drew a lot of people to thrash metal in the first place: a shared hatred of "glam" or "hair" metal. We knew what we hated, and this made us love what we loved even more. Motley Crue? FUCK that noise! Bon Jovi? Christ, what's wrong with you? Yeah, it seems kind of silly in retrospect - especially given the ironic way in which the glam/hair metal bands are followed now, but back then the threat was real, and those of us who knew about REAL music had to band together.
Looking back at that time, there are some definite standouts among the thrash albums of that era. As said above, my introduction was through "Peace Sells," but there were a lot of other great albums released during that period. Megadeth's (mindblowing) "Rust in Peace" and "Countdown to Extinction." Metallica up to (and not including) "The Black Album." Anthrax's "Persistence of Time." Slayer, a band I didn't really appreciate back then, had a spectacular run of albums up until "God Hates Us All." All of which is not to mention the bands from Florida, Sweden, Germany, other parts of Europe and elsewhere. Seattle even had its own thrash band, Metal Church, who are sadly forgotten.
But yeah, grunge. For many of us grunge made thrash seem old in the way that thrash made the NWOBHM bands seem old. It's sad to say, but musical styles fall out of fashion, and thrash was no exception. Claim whatever loyalty to metal you will, you're not likely to hold on to your Metallica T-Shirts when everyone around you is suddenly sporting Nirvana or Mudhoney.
I can only hope you won't judge me too hard for this. I was after all a teenager living in Seattle, and those grunge bands were our own. I never disavowed my love of thrash, I never threw away any cassette tapes or CDS, but as the 90s rolled in I developed a definite preference for Alice in Chains, Nirvana and Soundgarden. Alice in Chain's Dirt tour was the first big concert I ever went to, and by that time the thrash bands were already fading from our collective consciousness.
Not that I didn't get back to thrash later on. After passing through grunge, jazz, glam rock, progressive rock, and whatever other phases I did manage to reunite with that copy of "Rust in Peace," purchased so many years previous, and worshiped so devoutly.
And you know what? It still sounds awesome today.
Albums That Changed My Life 6: Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast"
Albums That Changed My Life 5: Rush's First Album and "Power Windows"
Albums That Changed My Life 4: The Top Gun Soundtrack
Albums That Changed My Life 3: Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band's "Trout Mask Replica"