87. Manowar, 'Hail to England' (1984)
After cutting his teeth with Bronx junk-culture punks the Dictators, guitarist Ross "The Boss" Friedman made a surprising stylistic U-turn when he co-founded one of the most self-serious and gloriously over-the-top acts in metal history. Formed in tandem with one-time Black Sabbath bass tech Joey DeMaio, Manowar began life as an upstate-New York free-livin' and -lovin' biker-metal outfit dedicated to "ridin' on two wheels" and "giv[ing] some square the finger." But by the time of this, their third album, they had evolved fully into the loin-cloth-wearing, sword-wielding, "death to false metal"–proclaiming band they're known as to this day. With songs like the towering, Wagnerian call-to-arms "Blood of My Enemies" and the fan-hailing "Army of the Immortals" ("We were brought together/'Cause we've got the balls!"), Hail to England set the template for Manowar – if not the then-nascent power-metal genre as a whole – going forward. It's all ridiculously over the top, but also incredibly focused and undeniably catchy – the title cut in particular packs excessively epic gestures into an airtight, hook-filled arrangement. An ex-member these days, Friedman once said of Manowar, with characteristic bare-chested bravado, "All our records have been cited as influential." But, he added, "Basically, I thought that the version of the band that played on Hail to England was one of the best metal units of all time – period." R.B.