There have been plenty of high points to the year in music, with a healthy stream of stellar albums coming out every month. Some were from extreme metal masters, some were from rising stars and some were from newcomers or relatively unknown bands, which got us thinking about extreme metal’s formative years three decades ago.
It’s impossible to deny that 1987 was an absolutely formative year for heavy music. Grindcore progenitors Napalm Death came blazing out of the gate with Scum and Death created a new genre of metal in the image of their debut, Scream Bloody Gore; Bay Area thrash stalwarts Testament reared their heads; Bathory released their masterpiece third record, Under the Sign of the Black Mark; Mötley Crüe were riding high on yet another massive album and more.
Below is a brief retrospective of five seminal debut albums released in 1987.
Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction (Geffen Records, July 21, 1987)
Appetite for Destruction is an absolutely massive debut album. Even today, more than three decades post-release, Appetite is the best selling debut of all time, having moved over eighteen million units. Though they followed with the impressive Use Your Illusion double album, Guns N’ Roses never replicated the towering success of their glorious entry.
Napalm Death – Scum (Earache Records, July 1, 1987)
The debut LP from the English grind masters still holds up as a ferocious grindcore record today. For many, including Rotten Sound axeman Mika Aalto, Scum led them to start their own bands that furthered pioneered extreme metal.
“The album literally blew my mind as I had never heard anything that fast and rough,” Aalto told Decibel. “After Scum, I also wanted to start my own band and play fast music, which made me get my first guitar and start creating some.”
With three Hall of Fame inductions—one for Scum—, a Decibel Tour headlining slot and two Decibel cover appearances (plus a special issue), Napalm Death are grindcore’s forefathers and nonstop workers. Read all about them in the new special issue of Decibel.
Death – Scream Bloody Gore (Combat Records, May 25, 1987)
While the mighty Death’s first effort may lack the polish and progressive vision of the outfit’s later releases, Scream Bloody Gore is undeniably a classic and immensely influential record (it even nabbed the number 21 spot on Decibel’s Top 100 Death Metal Albums list).
Testament – The Legacy (Atlantic/Megaforce, April 21, 1987)
Bay Area thrash stalwarts Testament broke onto the scene with their debut album The Legacy. They spent plenty of time that year supporting Anthrax on the road in both North America and Europe.
Cacophony – Speed Metal Symphony (Shrapnel, 1987)
Guitar virtuosos Jason Becker and Marty Friedman were but sixteen when they recorded Cacophony’s Speed Metal Symphony. Though the shred-filled opus is badly produced and far from the most accessible, it was the first release from Friedman, who would go on to play with Megadeth on landmark albums like Rust in Peace and Countdown to Extinction, and Becker, who would go on to release solo records and one with David Lee Roth, before eventually developing ALS.