Rock music underwent a radical transformation in the beginning of the '80s, and in 1983, the genre made some of its heaviest strides yet.

It was a year that saw heavy metal assert itself as a viable commercial genre, with Quiet Riot's Metal Health unseating the Police's Synchronicity to become the first metal album to top the Billboard 200. It was far from the only glam-metal record to make waves that year, as Def Leppard's Pyromania and Motley Crue's Shout at the Devil also sold millions of copies apiece and established their respective artists as stars.

Other, older acts saw the shifting tides and decided to reinvent themselves accordingly. Kiss famously ditched their signature makeup and adopted a glam-metal approach on the career-rejuvenating Lick It Up, while Ozzy Osbourne sweetened his production and embraced synthesizers on Bark at the Moon. ZZ Top, meanwhile, augmented their raunchy, Texas-fried blues-rock with synthesized beats and pop hooks on the diamond-selling Eliminator.

The nascent thrash metal subgenre also captured the public's attention in 1983, with groundbreaking debut albums released by Metallica and Slayer. Both bands also expressed their love of Mercyful Fate, the Danish occult metallurgists who took the metal world by storm with their debut album Melissa, also released that year. And all three groups owed a debt to Iron Maiden, who maintained their hot streak with Piece of Mind.

Now, keep in mind that not all listeners had the vocabulary to properly assess heavy music in 1983, so artists like Night Ranger, Billy Idol and even Journey also fell under the "hard rock" umbrella. You'll see them and other acts all along the heavy music spectrum in our list of the Top 20 Hard Rock and Metal Albums of 1983.

Top 20 Hard Rock and Metal Albums of 1983

It was a great year for headbangers.

Gallery Credit: Bryan Rolli

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