After spreading its roots for much of the 1970s, heavy metal really flourished as a commercial force in the 1980s, opening the floodgates for, not only lots more bands, but the first specialized heavy metal independent record labels: launched specifically to exploit and nurture this suddenly hot musical commodity.

By the end of the decade, these labels included names like Megaforce, Metal Blade, Combat, Roadrunner, Noise, Music for Nations, Century Media and many more. Another label, Nuclear Blast, got off the ground in Germany, in 1987, with a few hardcore releases, but quickly developed into a heavy metal kingmaker after sniffing out some of the most compelling death metal bands in the underground.

Other strains of metallic expression soon rounded out Nuclear Blast’s roster, as the label grew into a true powerhouse, helping to drive the global scene and building from strength to strength throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Looking back now, well into the 2010s, Nuclear Blast has remained impressively steadfast in their loyalty to the metal arts and it continues to offer a safe haven for many a legendary act, from Kreator to Carcass to Immolation.

So get ready to duck and cover! It's time to celebrate 30 years of this iconic metal label with the Top 30 Nuclear Blast Albums in the gallery above.

10 Try Not to Headbang Challenges (Expert)

More From 94.5 KATS