These L.A. glamour boys one-upped Iron Maiden on the satanic shtick with this one, but several songs here are primo headbang fodder. "Looks That Kill" is razor-sharp, and "Red Hot" is just that. Nasty as they wanted to be, these Circus magazine poster children recorded themselves having sex with groupies in the studio and mixed a tape of the proceedings into "Ten Seconds of Love."

Reign in Blood

With this album, Slayer carved out a new, higher, finely wrought level of verbal and sonic speed-metal carnage. If you only want to own one death-metal album, this is it. Soaked in the high-octane drag-race guitar work of dual leadists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King and riddled with stories of horrible acts told from the perspective of their mutilated victims, Reign in Blood is disturbing, but damn good.

Alice in Chains
Jar of Flies EP

Where Soundgarden started out as a grunge band and wormed its way into the metal scene, Alice in Chains is the real deal--a '90s metal band with the chops to jump genre and break through to the larger alternative market. Jar of Flies captured this band's arena-rock brilliance and Layne Staley's junkie-journal lyrics right before the band went on hiatus to give Staley a chance to kick. Last year's comeback album was good, but not this good.

Under Lock & Key

Widely underrated, Dokken first dented the charts with "Breakin' the Chains," the title single off its 1982 debut, then followed it up with a hit called "In My Dreams" off this nearly flawless pop-metal album. George Lynch is a blistering, innovative soloist, and when he wasn't duking it out with bandleader and prima-donna vocalist Don Dokken, the two of them managed to forge an album's worth of high-grade metal. Check out "It's Not Love" and "Lightning Strikes Again." Lyrical content revolves around generic teenage angst and lust, but Dokken's clarity and range are impressive.

P.S. Anyone have any idea what Dee Snider is up to these days? Just curious.
--David Holthouse

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