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The turn of the decade is always a time of transition in music. As the ‘70s came to a close, punk was getting experimental, rock was transitioning into heavy metal and the goth scene was just starting to emerge — and these are the 50 Best Rock + Metal Albums of 1980.

In metal, the sound was still being defined after Black Sabbath and Judas Priest pioneered a harder and heavier version of the rock acts that had preceded and co-existed alongside them. Harmonized lead guitar playing was starting to come to the forefront, as was the gallop so expertly laid down by Iron Maiden — two hallmarks of heavy metal’s original vision.

On the rock side, while there were still some tried and true rock outfits, we saw the punk revolution that started a few years prior really start to evolve, as acts like The Clash, The Ramones and others incorporated other outside influences in growing their sound and a second wave of punk acts planted their flag in the music world, taking it to the next level.

We’d also see a few new genres start to take hold with the upbeat danceable stylings of ska and something more dark and introspective in goth. 1980 also gave us both veteran and new bands beginning to incorporate synths and keyboards more, forecasting the new wave explosion that would break in the coming years and dominate the ‘80s era of music.

Simply put, it was a new decade and time to make a new musical statement. So join us as we reflect on the 50 Best Rock + Metal Albums of 1980 in the gallery below.

The 50 Best Rock + Metal Albums of 1980