After three years of brilliant pop frivolity, 1987 has a huge contrast in mood with albums and singles that seem far more thoughtful and downbeat. U2 turned in a career best with ‘The Joshua Tree’; Pink Floyd made a huge comeback with the moody ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason’ and from a more alternative perspective, Sisters of Mercy and The Jesus & Mary Chain made huge waves with epic goth sounds.
In terms of extreme metal, Dystopia A.D. are a little more interesting than most. The riff-heavy, New Jersey duo are keen to take death and thrash metal sounds into new territory on their current single ‘Plaguebringers’.
With debut albums from Crowded House and The Housemartins standing alongside massive hits from Madonna, a-ha and Red Box, 1986 would already have a strong enough grounding to challenge 1984 as one of the decade’s finest years for music. With Huey Lewis’s ‘Fore!’ challenging 1983’s as his masterpiece, a strong AOR debut from Robert Tepper and Jackson Browne’s ‘Lives In The Balance’ channelling a very commercial sound, it was also very much a year for great Transatlantic AOR and sounds that now seem so entrenched within that decade, you can’t help but love them.
Following two enjoyable studio releases, San Francisco stoner rock band The Watchers give fans a genuine treat with their third release. ‘High And Alive’ shows the band in their natural environment, in front of an enthusiastic crowd. With four tracks recorded at The House of Rock, the EP shows how much better this band sounds without the constraints of a studio and with some extra volume applied.
Canadian metal band Zero Fire’s second EP ‘Second Sun’ was packed with great riffs. By creating a brand of melodic metalcore that also included nods to groove metal and contrasted its heaviness with use of clean vocals, it managed to be very broad in appeal. A year on, ‘The Attic Sessions’ offers fans and newcomers a couple of live recordings that demonstrate both extremes of the band’s sound. While a new studio recording would have been preferable – and a full length album better still – this EP has the benefit of giving a premier to a pair of previously unrecorded tracks.