Heathen – Empire Of The Blind Review

Empire Of The Blind was released in September on Nuclear Blast. Heathen are perhaps not the world’s most prolific band, having only released their fourth studio album since their 1980s inception in 2020, but when they do put something out, you can be sure its going to be good.

Carrying on the general sound and vibe of their previous album, The Evolution Of Chaos, this new album sees the band once again blasting out crunchy Bay Area Thrash Metal riffs, a variety of fast, slow and mid-paced material, great melodic catchy choruses and superb melodic lead guitar lines. (Guitarist Lee Altus clearly uses Heathen nowadays as a vehicle to let out the cleaner catchier stuff that wouldn’t fit with his other band, Exodus).

The only main shift in direction from the previous record would be the amount of mid-paced or groove based parts is higher, and the number of speedy parts is a bit lower (although thankfully, without crossing the barrier into being ploddy).

They don’t frontload it and shove a bunch of filler at the end, it starts off restrained, opens up as it goes along, with the power-ballad just after the middle as a bit of a breather. It arguably gets better as it goes on, and also doesn’t drag on too long, clocking in at a solid 47 minutes with 10 proper tracks, an intro and an outro. The production is flawless, the vocals are remarkably good for singer Dave White’s age (holds up a lot better than many of his ‘80s contemporaries), and the overall flow of the album is just right.

Highlights include the tight and bouncy “Blood To Be Let” and the speedy “The God’s Divide” (I wish that was the album opener actually) as well as and the muscular “In Black” which feels like it could be played at sporting events, and reminds me a tiny little bit of the meatier material on Metallica’s Death Magnetic album (think “Judas Kiss” and “Broken, Beaten, Scarred”). The instrumental “A Fine Red Mist” is the real standout moment however, which balances the faster more powerful riffing with grand guitar textures and victorious mountaintop vista, sword-in-hand feel.

Kragen Lum has been handling the heavy lifting in the song-writing department, and seems to be more into creating a mood and leaving room for the singer and lead guitars to show their stuff, rather than just breaking teeth. The balance is not too dissimilar to recent Queensryche albums actually, (I don’t see how someone who loves Condition Human for example wouldn’t enjoy “Shrine Of Apathy”) although still unmistakably Heathen.

If I was to make a slight criticism, it would be that the album could maybe do with one or two faster songs to keep the Thrashing up. For example just one more “The God’s Divide” would have elevated it from good to very good for me, but that’s just nit-picking and personal preference really, and Heathen have never exactly been a Dark Angel or Razor focusing on relentless speed anyway. As long as you don’t go in expecting Darkness Descends, Violent Restitution, Reign In Blood or Pleasure To Kill however, this album is sure to satisfy and if you enjoyed their previous album The Evolution Of Chaos then there’s little chance you’ll be disappointed with the quality of the songs or the performance of the musicians.

Coroner – Grin Review

Coroner were one of the more unique Thrash Metal bands. While their earliest material was a bit more pure-Thrash, with each new release they became more technical, more progressive and more unique.

By the time of their final full-length studio album, 1993’s Grin, they had pushed the envelope so far, most of the album is hardly reminiscent of pure Thrash at all.

It opens with the hypnotic tribal “Dream Path” intro, which sounds more like Lateralus-era Tool than it does Reign In Blood or Darkness Descends. That should be the first sign this isn’t your average full-speed-ahead thrasher.

After the brief intro, the record bursts into the first full-length song, “The Lethargic Age” which has a bit of a Beg To Differ era Prong feel to it. There’s still crunch and direction to the riffs, but it also intermittently gives way to jangly post punky ringing too.

That’s followed by the faster “Internal Conflicts” which picks up the pace, but also has a bit of a Ministry-Meets-White Zombie vibe, with its stop/start song structure, bouncy chorus, samples, but tight mechanical verse riffs. That then gets capped off with a sweepy Dream Theater sounding guitar solo.

“Caveat (To The Coming)” which follows, opens with a Beatlesy psychedelic jingle jangle intro, before evolving into a sort of proto-Nu Metal groove. Very bass driven and not as fast as you’d think of when you think of the word “Thrash.”

I won’t get into a full track-by-track but you get the picture, the band are expanding their style, looking in many different directions, trying new styles. It is the 90s after all, and very few Thrash bands are keeping it simple and sounding like its still 1986.

As a bit of a Thrash nut, I’ve spent most of my teens and early ‘20s with a sort of “80s rules/90s sucks” mentality when it comes to this sort of music (aint nobody gonna tell me Green is a better album than Forbidden Evil for example), but as I grew older, I definitely began to appreciate the sometimes underrated 90s releases from 80s bands a bit more. I’m sure if I’d have heard Grin when I was younger, I’d have balked a bit when hearing it. As I didn’t discover Coroner until much later, it just seems like another excellent album from the ex-Celtic Frost roadies. Being a Prong fan first also definitely helps.

I think there’s enough of what makes the previous Coroner albums great. There’s the technical prowess, the willingness to explore and the ambition in general. The vocals are still the same as the early albums (don’t expect any Cobain-isms or Alice In Chains-esque harmonies). The lead guitar is excellent – in fact, I’d argue that some of the band’s best solos to date come on this album and the band in general never fail to be interesting. The only thing that’s missing really is the breakneck speed or the warm fuzzy feeling of classic Thrash charm.

If you want a taster track to see if the album is for you, try the 8-minute, multiple-time signature “Paralized, Mesmerized.”

Overall; is this an appropriate album for adding to a Thrash playlist alongside Pleasure To Kill, The Legacy and Bonded By Blood? Honestly, no, probably not. However, if you are already a fan of ‘80s Coroner, should you shun this album because it is different? No, definitely not.

Exumer – Possessed By Fire Review

When you think of German Thrash Metal, chance are you think of Kreator, Sodom, Destruction or Tankard. Rightly so. One band who shouldn’t be overlooked however are Wiesbaden’s underrated Exumer.

I guess line-up troubles and label issues stopped them getting the same exposure and opportunity as some of their peers, because their sound and formula is perfect for this style of music. Its not blackened or crossover, not progressive or technical, not funky or avant guard, its by the book Thrash, done simply, but effectively. Imagine the missing link between Bonded By Blood and Hell Awaits. Exumer’s cult classic 1986 debut album Possessed By Fire is the closest thing to that missing link. Eschewing the darker, more extreme style most Teutonic thrashers usually opt for, Exumer are Germany’s answer to Californian music (kind of like how Xentrix are for Britain).

The vocals are not the most memorable in the world, but serve the songs. They’re mostly in the mid-range but with occasional high screams. Not too cheesy, not too extreme. The guitar and drums are solid. Not flashy, not virtuoso, but get the job done nicely.

The warm analogue production courtesy of Harris Johns (Voivod, Coroner, Kreator, Sodom) is decent for a Thrash debut (certainly better than Destruction’s early work, less tinny and thin for example).

Highlights include the scream-along Title Track, the more adventurous ‘Xiron Darkstar’ and album closer ‘Silent Death.’

If there was a criticism to be made, I guess lack of originality may be the one to level at this band/album. (They do seem to steal a few sections from other songs **cough** Black Magic *cough* Riot Of Violence** cough). However, no more so than any other C-Tier bands of the era.

A good rule of thumb is that if you take a look at the Jason Vorhees meets Attila The Hun looking artwork and get a nice warm feeling in your tummy, then you will kind of already know what this album sounds like. Does it exceed your expectations, probably not, no, but it does meet them. If you dig albums like Terror Squad by Artillery or Malicious Intent by Razor then you’ll know what sort of level to expect.

Agent Steel – Skeptic’s Apocalypse Review

Call it Speed Metal, Thrash Metal, US Power Metal or just plain old Heavy Metal; Agent Steel’s 1985 combat records debut album Skeptic’s Apocalypse is a frentic, buzzsaw of an album that pounds along with an almighty force.

This album is the pure flawless distillation on Metal at the time. No wonder it caused a stir back then. It rocks all the way through, from the (excluding a brief intro) meaty opening track; “Agents Of Steel,” which sounds like if someone took an early Venom song, produced it well, and then inserted insane falsetto shrieks and impressive virtuoso lead guitar work, to the catchy album closer “Back To Reign” – that mixes Iron Maiden’s gallop with some of that Show No Mercy-era Slayer tinny bounce and Feel The Fire-era Overkill vocal power,

Singer John Cryiis is incredibly diverse; sounding by turns like Katon W. De Pena of Hirax, Bobby Blitz Ellsworth of Overkill, Geoff Tate of Queensryche and strangely Philly Byrne of Gama Bomb (check out “Evil Eye/Evil Minds”). His ultra-high moments even give King Diamond a run for his money at times.

In terms of the instrumentalists; Guitarists Juan Garcia (also of Evildead) and Kurt Kilfelt are both an absolute master of the instrument, coming up with lots of memorable lead lines and solos. Drummer Chuck Profus puts in a really solid performance behind the drum kit. The production really leans into the ride cymbal and toms (almost as if the fills were recorded separately afterwards) and makes the drumming really stand out. The bass guitar, courtesy of George Robb can unfortunately be a little inaudible on some songs (or conversely almost too audible in other songs, for example the Queen Of The Reich copyist “Guilty As Charged” has quite loud bass).  

Highlights include the speedy/thrashy “Bleed For The Gods” and the more dynamic and versatile “Children Of The Sun” which has a sort of Warning-Era Queensryche feel meets the vibe of Metal Church’s debut (a Seattle-sound if you will – but not in the flannel shirt meaning of that phrase!) and the slightly darker “144,000 Gone” which sounds like a mixture of Anvil and Iron Maiden but more depressing.  

If you like Iron Saviour or Gamma Ray’s sci-fi lyrics with Judas Priest influences this is worth checking out, or if you like the production, music and vocals on debut albums by Anthrax, Exciter or Armoured Saint this is really worth checking out. If you want something Thrashy but clean, familiar but distinct, well-produced for the time but still charming and unmistakably 80s, then this is the perfect meeting point. It also helps that its just 30 minutes with absolutely no filler, so it doesn’t get old or outstay its welcome. Don’t overlook it for too long, I can’t believe I never tried this when I was younger.

Toxik – World Circus Review

Toxik’s 1987 Roadrunner Records debut, World Circus is a lot less technical or progressive than their sophomore album, Think This, and much more in keeping with a traditional Thrash sound. That being said they are rather adventurous, dynamic and technically proficient a that sound.  

Some bands sound raw, rough and nasty, but this is utter professionalism, precise and dynamic from start to finish. More for fans of Heathen than Hirax if you know what I mean. The production is clean and the playing is flashy in an effortless sounding way. I also has one of my all time favourite Thrash tunes on it. There’s some nice melodic falsetto (almost Power Metal) vocals, some very impressive virtuosic lead guitar wizardry with all sorts of fancy sweeping and trickery, and of course, oodles and oodles of speed.

Why isn’t it a bigger album then? If I had  to guess, the two biggest flaws with the album, are firstly that some of the material can be a bit forgettable after the record has stopped playing, and secondly that the opening track, “Heart Attack” is an absolutely brilliant, catchy, unbelievably fun gem and nothing on the rest of the album can live up to that level or entertainment. If someone asked me “what is Thrash Metal?” its one of the first songs I would play them. Its just a shame the rest of the record doesn’t live up to that unfairly high standard.

That being said, it is not a one hit wonder situation. Anti-drug track “Pain And Misery” has a memorable staccato opening and is one of the most rhythmic Thrash songs released before the 90s. I guess the album is probably most famous for the Title Track having a Thrash recreation of the circus theme tune (do-do, doodoo do do, doo doo) but make no mistake, this is not gimmick band. They are deadly serious, with excellent musicianship and thoughtful lyrics (Eg. “Count Your Blessings” covers the topic of homelessness and not taking what you have for granted).

I love the Ed Repka cover art too. Soooooo Thrash. This is the kinds of thing modern bands like Haydes, Municipal Waste and Havok worship.

Overall; Not the most even record in the world, but definitely worth a look for Thrash fans.

Hirax – Raging Violence Review

Half an hour of straight-ahead ass kicking, Hirax’s debut Raging Violence is certainly appropriately named. The Californian speedsters’ 1985 album is an underrated gem.

After opening with a silly Monty Python-esque spoken word intro (called ‘Demons’), the album speeds ahead with 14 slabs of snarling, rabid, nasty Thrash. Brevity is the order of the day, with most of the songs under 2 minutes and absolutely none longer than 3 and a half.

There’s a really intriguing mixture of NWOBHM sounding moments, colliding with crossover sounding moments, and a sort of intermittent red-hot streak that clearly influenced Napalm Death (who would later go on to cover the band on their Leader’s Not Followers 2 album).

Its full of brief messy shrieking guitar solos, blunt aggressive drumming and singer Katon W. De Pena’s trademark vocals, that sound a bit like Overkill’s Bobby Blitz Ellsworth being squeezed too hard.

Sometimes they sound a bit like Pleasure To Kill-era Kreator, such as on the furious “Bombs Of Death,” sometimes they have a bit of Holy Terror’s runaway train barely-in-time charm, such as on  “Warlord’s Command,” sometimes, such as on the one minute long “Destroy” they would channel Nuclear Assault. Sometimes they would even foreshadow where Dark Angel would go (only without all the changes and technicality).

The production job is a bit low-budget sounding; but considering this was still only 1985, it was still in the opening days of the Thrash movement, before bands were making real money and getting the big name producers. Not that it needs a bigger production; this isn’t a sweeping progressive epic, it’s a punky blast of naked aggression designed to blow the cobwebs off the listener.

Some minor points of interest: The band’s logo was designed by Celtic Frost’s Tom G. Warior. Future Metallica Merch Maestro Pushhead designed the odd psychedelic humpty dumpty artwork. It was released on Metal Blade.

In summary; its raw, is rough, its over in a flash but it’ll kick your teeth out. This is a record worth checking out.  Their next album was half as long and twice as fast again.

Testament – Titans Of Creation Review

I don’t normally like to post reviews of records until I’ve had a while to sit with them and let them sink in, but given how long it took me to review Brotherhood Of The Snake, I thought maybe this time around I should strike while the iron is hot, so here goes…

Its 2020 and the 1980s Thrash Metal legends Testament have dropped their twelfth canonical studio album (ie. not counting First Strike Still Deadly, since that is re-recordings of old material). I was pretty hyped up for this album before it even arrived as the band have been on such great form for the last decade with no weak releases in recent memory. Their latest effort is called Titans Of Creation and has the same killer production style as the last two albums and also features the same line-up as the previous album Brotherhood Of The Snake, which is actually a rare thing nowadays as they usually seem to have at least one line-up shift on each new record since the ‘90s.

Interestingly though, although it has the same line-up as the last record, it kind of sounds like there has been a shift. The album is a lot less direct and a lot more technical and musically complex than ‘Snake was. Its also about 15 minutes longer. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still no intros and no ballads, just metal fury from start to end, and there are still some blunt force all-out Thrashers on there (see the red hot ‘WW3’ or ‘Curse Of Osiris’ for example), but they do take the foot off the gas a few times to flex their musicianship rather than just sanding faces off and full speed for an hour. It ends with a biblical sounding instrumental for example. ‘Symptoms’ goes down quite a technical and melodic route, that really lets you know the current rhythm section were both also previously members of the band Death. Single ‘Night Of The Witch’ should give you some idea of the direction of the record. Songs crammed with numerous tempo shifts, complex structures, virtuoso solos, loud and flashy drumming, as well as little hints of the mid-late ‘90s Groove Metal and Death Metal-influenced Testament style creeping in at points amongst their modern-Thrash style of the last four albums. ‘City Of Angels’ takes things even further, and is probably the closest thing to Low the band have done in a very long time.

Basically, the record takes the building blocks of the few previous records’ style, but really pushes it in several different directions and adds more variety. Whether you prefer this album to previous albums will really just come down to personal preference in issues of precision and succinctness versus experimentation and breadth. In terms of quality however, it is unquestionably as good as anything the band have put out since Chuck recovered from cancer.

In terms of highlights; I think my second favourite track on the album is the off kilter ‘Ishtar’s Gate’ which is very bass driven, has a nice eastern-sounding intro and guitar solo, and revolves around a very satisfying loud/quiet dynamic that reminds me a tiny bit of Annihilator. My favourite song however, and the catchiest song on the album, is probably ‘Dream Deceiver’ which could probably be described as the bastard son of ‘Electric Crown’ and ‘More Than Meets The Eye’ and which is somehow even better than that sounds. It is arguably the most memorable song they’ve written since 2008’s The Formation Of Damnation album (and this is coming from someone who loves the last two albums, so this is saying something!). Oh and in case you were wondering, its not a Priest cover, that was ‘Dreamer Deciever’ you’re thinking of.  

Overall; a damn fine modern day effort from a world class Thrash act, still at the top of their game, that is both similar enough to recent records that if you like them you’ll love this, but differnt enough that you haven’t just heard it all before. Highly recommended.

Ps. I am not usually a particularly sentimental reviewer. I don’t post many tribute posts when musicians pass away or get well soon posts when musicians are ill. However;  Singer Chuck Billy and bassist Steve DiGiorgio are currently recovering from Covid-19 at the moment, about a month after I was within sneezing distance of them at a recent concert, just before the world shut down. Sorry if its cheesy given the timing of this review, but I genuinely do wish them all the best.

I went to go see Testament, Exodus and Death Angel live last night, on The Bay Strikes Back Tour at Bristol 02 Academy, on Tuesday 02.03.2020

I went to go see Testament, Exodus and Death Angel live last night, on The Bay Strikes Back Tour at Bristol 02 Academy, on Tuesday 02.03.2020.

As you probably know if you read this blog, I really, really like Thrash – it is my unquestionably favourite type of music.

Boy, I was so pleased when I saw this concert bill advertised. This is one hell of a concert line up! Three bands that I’ve been listening to since my teens, together on one bill, all playing Bay Area Thrash Metal, my favourite type of music bar none.

The media always likes to talk about the Big Four of Thrash Metal, (all of whom I’ve been lucky enough to seen live before!), but for me it has always been the Big 6 with Exodus and Testament in there too.

Exodus and Testament are so representative of everything good about Thrash. I can never decide which one is my favourite and it can change on any given day. In fact, Exodus and Testament logos occupy both the left and right shoulder positions on my patch jacket, equal in size and position. I’m also quite partial to early Death Angel and their Act III album in particular is one of my favourite Thrash albums.

[Trivia fans may also be aware that there are a few other connections between these three bands. I’ll type just a few here now – Death Angel’s demo was produced by Kirk Hammet, who was in Exodus, and Exodus’ singer Steve Souza was the singer of Testament before their debut album, back when they were called Legacy. Nice connections there].


I’ve been lucky enough to see Exodus before, back in 2016, when I lived in Manchester, on a bill with Prong and Obituary. That gig that got me into Obituary and properly into Prong where before I was just a causal fan. This is my first time seeing the mighty Testament live though, and I couldn’t be more excited. (Crazy as it sounds, sometimes I almost feel like I’ve seen them before though, as I have watched their Live In London DVD more than 50 times, to the point where reality blurs and my memories of it almost feel like I real memories and like I was there). Its also my first time seeing Death Angel live who are a perfect opener for such a bill.

As has become a habit of mine in recent years, I have been listening to these bands constantly in the weeks leading up to the concert, building anticipation. I also listened to them all on shuffle on the drive to the concert, which was in Bristol. This is only my second ever concert in Bristol, as I fear the unfamiliar and large city and much prefer the convenience and familiarity of Cardiff for concerts most of the time – but this line up is too good not to travel for!

I thought since it’s a bit of a stressful drive, I’d book the day afterwards off work, so I don’t go to work on less sleep than usual. Turns out I’m an idiot though, as I booked the day of the concert off rather than the day after! Woops! Oh well, at least I wasn’t in a rush to get there after work then. I tried to get some sleep beforehand to balance it out.

It was much less stressful navigating my way there this time as I made no wrong turns and I was familiar with the parking lot (which is down a weird cobbled side street that looks like you aren’t allowed to drive down) so everything went smoothly. After I queued up and got in, I was just in time to catch Death Angel’s first song. Somehow, I managed to get a good spot with a good view, only a few places from the stage slightly to the left of the venue, stage right.

Death Angel’s setlist was mostly a mix of tunes from their modern post-reunion albums. I only own one studio and one live album from the modern era so far, so it was a bit unfamiliar with the material they chose. They only played two and a half songs from the classic first three albums (‘Voracious Souls’  and a little bit of the title track from their debut album The Ultra-Violence and then the classic opener ‘Seemingly Endless Time’ from their masterpiece Act III). Nevertheless I had a great time.

Death Angel call for blood, and you’ve not spilled enough!

Their performance was great. Tracks like ‘Thrown To The Wolves’ and especially ‘The Dream Calls For Blood’ sounded really powerful and energetic live. There wasn’t much of a stage show, but they really didn’t need it. They really got the crowd gonig with their enthusiasm and crowd ineraction.

I was quite happy with how into it the crowd were. Sometimes the crowd doesn’t go for the opening act. When I saw Diamond Head support Saxon, the vibe was utterly dead for Diamond Head until their last song, but here, people treated Death Angel like a headliner. There were sections of people throughout the room singing every word and most of the crowd were thrashing like a maniac, so to speak. It was a perfect way to start the evening.

Death Angel

The sound was really well mixed. It was a thousand times better than Megadeth had been recently. You could hear everything perfectly but it still had a real crunchy, aggressive power. The vocals soared, the leads were clear and the drums hammered at you. The rhythm guitars hit that sweet crunch spot that makes Thrash so perfect.

In the gap between bands I managed to get closer to the stage still as people went off to find drinks and toilets. I’m not a push to the front kind of guy and am allways mindful of people behind or beside me’s personal space, so sometimes you can’t get the best view, but I got a pretty great view through sheer luck.

Next came Exodus. Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza is still fronting the band. Its nice to see some line-up stability, as there was a lot of upheaval over the years. Tonight was my first time seeing them with main guitarist Gary Holt in the band. Last time I saw them, Garry wasn’t there as he was busy touring with Slayer at the time, following the untimely passing of Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman. Tonight he played a little snippet of ‘Raining Blood’ and Zetro quipped about how he could do it legally now due to having been in Slayer.

Holt and Altus

[Trivia fans may also be aware, just for more Thrash connections, that Exodus’ current line-up featurs Heathen’s Lee Altus. Heathen have also previously had Exodus’ first singer Paul Baloff in their line-up briefly and they currently feature former Slayer drummer Jon Dette.

There are innumerable other trivia links between these bands. If you want to get on with the review, skip to after these brackets. Otherwise; strap in guys, this is a convoluted one…

Also worth mentioning since we’ve brought up Slayer, is that both Testament and Exodus have had Slayer’s second drummer Paul Bostaph behind the kit, and Testament have also had Slayer’s first drummer Dave Lombardo, and while we’re talking about shared drummers – both Testament and Exodus have both had John Tempesta on drums!

The aforementioned Paul Bostaph used to be in Forbidden, who have also had Glen Alvelais, and Glen was in Testament in the ‘90s and has been in Tenent alongside Exodus’ singer and Steve Souza. Testament’s current drummer is former Dark Angel drummer Gene Hoglan. Hoglan has also been in Forbidden briefly and done backing vocals and drum teching for Slayer in the early days.

Speaking of Hoglan, this not strictly Thrash, but he has been in Death with Steve DiGorgio, but it loops back around to Thrash, as DiGorgio is Testament’s current bassist – Its like musical chairs in the Trash Metal world!

I haven’t even gotten into all the Machine Head links yet. Don’t get me started. I had a whole blog about this stuff in my teens called The Thrashagram. Its proably kid’s stuff looknig back at it now, but at the time I was pretty proud of it].

Anyway… When I saw Exodus last time, their performance was great live. I remember writing at the time that if you get the chance to see them, no matter how high up or low down on the bill they are, you really must take it. They aren’t a nostalgia act, they’ve still got the fire in their eyes. This time however, they were even bloody better! They were utterly amazing. On fire. In the zone. Blistering. Whatever you want to call it, they tore the venue a new one. What a difference a Holt makes, am I right?

Zetro made a big speech about how Holt was back and how we were all lucky to catch him on his first UK date back in the fold, and by god was he right. The energy, chemistry and indescribable x-factor going on made the performance utterly captivating. Zetro made a few speechs that night, including one about Bay Area Thrash that really locked into my old teenage love of Thrash and made me smile like a goon.

Exodus’ set was more balanced between their modern and classic material than Death Angel’s had been. They didn’t have enoguh time to cover ever single album, but they hit all the key periods. There were a few tracks from their Paul Baloff-fronted debut Bonded By Blood, a few from the Souza-fronted ‘80s albums (my favourite era of the band), a few from the Souza-fronted modern albums and even one from the Rob Dukes era.

It is nice that they mix the setlist up. Last time I saw them, they didn’t play ‘Deliver Us To Evil’ or ‘Fabulous Disaster’ for example. Last time I saw them, they played ‘The Ballad Of Leonard And Charles’ from the Dukes era, and this time they played the cleverly titled ‘Deathamphetamine.’ I love how this band play material from all eras. It’s a lot better for us fans than situations where some bands have a line-up change or reunion and the returning old guy refuses to play material from his former-replacement’s era. Most fans want to hear it all.

Murder in the front row, crowd begins to bang!

The band were tight, the sound was great again and they played some of my favourite songs (I was so happy to hear ‘Fabulous Disaster’ and ‘Black List’). What a brilliant time. If the night ended here, I would have been utterly satisfied.


Finally came the headliner, Testament. This band’s first four albums absolutely defined my teens and their mighty comeback album The Formation Of Damnation was the metal oasis in my otherwise prog-centric first year of university.

Testament were great live too. Their sound was a bit more restrained and less savage than it had been for Death Angel or especially Exodus. Furthermore; Gene ‘The Atomic Clock’ Hoglan’s drumming is mechanical and perfect, compared to Tom Hunting’s crazed and exciting beast-man drumming style. This made for a nice contrast, and was suited for Testament’s more melodic parts, even if it was a little less pulverising in the heavy parts than Exodus had been.

Atomic Clock

What they lost in savagery however, they made up for in professionalism. Compared to the other two bands, Testament got more time and more of a stage show, with an hour-and-a-half set. Clearly the headliners then!

They had banners, smoke cannons, lazers and a much more colourful light show. The banners changed depending on what album they were focusing on. They had raised points for the guitarists to climb on during solos. Eric Peterson in particular was really impressive. Many of the solos I always thought were Alex from the newer records, were actually Eric. Live, he delivers them with such flare and precision it was a joy to watch.

Peterson slays!

Speaking of joy, after all those years of watching Live In London on repeat, my brother and I always talked about how much fun singer Chuck Billy has. The man looks like being in Testament is his dream come true and that he’s having the best time in the world. His huge smiles as he plays air guitar on his mic stand, and air drums in sync with all the cymbal catches are so infectious. I feel like he is Testament’s number one fan and his joyous enthusiasm is such fun to behold.

Native Blood

No setlist at any concert ever satisfies everything I want to see, and tonight I’d love to have seen the title track from Souls Of Black or something like ‘Alone In The Dark’ or ‘Apocalyptic City’ from their debut. Most of all, I would have really loved to have heard ‘More Than Meets The Eye,’ from Formation Of Damnation which I think may be the band’s finest hour, but overall I was really satisfied with Testament’s choices tonight. Their set list was a real mix as well, not just all old not all new. They covered early stuff, mid-period-stuff, and even a brand-new song from the as yet unreleased next album.

They also played a few songs from their most recent album, The Brotherhood Of The Snake which I’ve been meaning to review for ages now, but spoilers, they managed to play the best two songs from it! Huzzah! Combined with many of my favourite tunes like ‘Practice What You Preach,’ ‘Over The Wall,’ ‘The Preacher’ and ‘Into The Pit’ I was pretty chuffed.

Disciples Of The Watch

Overall, this night was a thrash fan’s dream night if ever there was one. Once again, if it had just been Testament and Death Angel, I would have been wholly satisfied. However; given the utterly perfect set from Exodus, this was a whole other level of good. (And to cap it all off, the traffic and roads were so good, I managed to get home in time to get a fair amount of sleep for work next day! Bonus!).

Next on my concert schedule: Rammstein in Cardiff this Summer, Helloween in Manchester around Halloween, and then WASP doing only tunes from the first four albums in Cardiff a few days after Helloween. (Possibly Sepultura too, depending on money, work and tickets – I’m thinking about it).


 


Corrosion Of Conformity – Blind Review

220px-COC_BlindBlind is a very interesting and unique record within the C.O.C discography both historically and musically. A transitional record for a band who have had several very distinct and separate sounding periods and musical-directions over the years.

In the ’80s C.O.C were a raw, gnarly Hardcore Punk band (but with Sabbathy doomy tracks here and there too) and gained more and more Thrash influence with each release. In the 2012-2015 one of the earlier line-ups reformed but made more sludgy stonery Metal. The band are most famous however for their 1990s period especially the fan favourite Deliverance and Wiseblood albums which saw them add in Southern Rock, Groove Metal and Stoner Rock elements together into one big melting pot resulting in some of the best music of all time (real top 100 albums to hear before you die type stuff, seriously, if you don’t own those two albums yet, drop what you are doing and explore!).

In 1991 however, C.O.C had an interesting and one-off change of pace, direction and line up. Usual bassist and occasional singer Mike Dean was out (he’d be back again) replaced by Phil Swisher. Karl Agell joins the band and takes the mic, about their fifth singer alreay. For the first time guitarist Woody Weatherman finds himself in company as a second guitarist is added to the line-up, a big step in changing their sound from ramshackle Punk flavour to something else, something more metallic. That guitarist was none other than Pepper Keenan. Pepper of course being famous not only as the guitarist in supergoup Down nowadays, but also the band leader and singer of C.O.C for their most famous and beloved work in the ’90s.

Well, all that history and line-up information is certainly interesting, but it really doesn’t give you any guide as to what this particular record sounds like and if you’ll like it or not. Let me ask you a few questions. Do you like Chaos AD? Do you like Burn My Eyes? Do you like Vulgar Display Of Power? Do you like Cleansing? …if so then you’ll probably love Blind too!

The music is a far cry from the early Hardcore Punk and Crossover Thrash directions. It has yet to gain the Stoner Rock vibes, bounciness or Southern Rock influences that meshed into the sound of their most famous stuff. It is a strange pure perfect early Nineties Metal record. The intro and outro tracks are noisy-ass Doom-sounding sludgy dirges; otherwise however, the rest is a little harder to define. I know some people argue that Groove Metal or Post-Thrash or whatever you want to call it is not a real subgenre. I’ve heard this album called all sorts from Thrash (not really right) to Sludge (no…not right either) to Doom (…nope, not right either). The only one that really fits for me is Groove Metal. Take those above-mentioned four albums, Blind sits somewhere in a cross section somewhere the middle of all of them.

Karl’s vocals are James Hetfield/Chuck Billy influenced, semi-barked and semi-melodic, often very reverby and very, very well-suited to the music. The drums are very rumbly and varied. The guitar is very raw and heavy, never Slayer-fast but with a nice Thrash-style chug mixed in with hardcore fueled long ringing chords. Imagine a Supergroup that was half Black Label Society and half High On Fire trying to cover one of the deeper cuts from The More Things Change. In terms of production, it doesn’t have the warm Hard Rock ready sound of the next two records or the tinny budget-sounding job of the earlier stuff, instead it has a very distinctive early-’90s sound, the kind of thing that Pissing Razors had before the millennium. Something somewhere like Demanufacture only without the futuristic robotic vibes. Its a real charming sound.

Highlights include the ridiculously catchy single ‘Dance Of The Dead’ (Seriously; why don’t the band play this live more often!?) as well as the excellent drum-powered ‘Damned For All Time’ and of course the concert favourite ‘Vote With A Bullet’ which has the interesting point of having Pepper sing lead vocals, a hint of what was to come.

Overall; there’s no band quite like C.O.C and there’s no C.O.C release quite like Blind. If you like the band you really ought to check it out if you haven’t already, and if you don’t like the band yet but are a fan of the albums and bands that I’ve been mentioning throughout then this is a serious gap in your collection, do yourself a favour and give it a try!

Thrash Metal Thoughts

Thrash Metal Thoughts: I enjoyed writing my previous post, Hair Metal Thoughts, and felt I could apply that same shell to another subgenre. What better subgenre than my favourite? The one I’ve been into the longest, the one I identify with the most, the one I talk about the most.

Some of the thoughts here may contradict previous reviews but its just what I was feeling at the time of writing. Its not a set of reviews as much as a quick new appraisal. Its just some Thrash Metal Thoughts.

 

Annihilator:

Annihilator – Alice In Hell (1989).
Its very difficult to choose an absolute favourite Thrash album, or make a compelling case for the best one of all time, there’s just so many and so many different takes on it. Some are raw and punky, some are traditional, some are brutal and extreme, some are progressive. Some take on political and social lyrical matter and some are sword and sorcery fantasy based. However; for me an undeniable top 5 contender has to be Alice In Hell; one of and possibly the greatest moments in 1980s Heavy Metal all around and in Thrash specifically way up there. I wouldn’t say its a mixture of all the kinds of Thrash, there’s no proto-Black Metal like early Sodom and no one could mistake it for a lost NWOBHM album like Overkill’s debut, but it does cover a heck of a lot of ground.
On top of all of that, its just got that x-factor. That undefinable greatness, those riffs, those drums, those vocals are all just miles ahead of most of the competition. This is Master Of Puppets levels stuff here. Maybe at times the lyrics and the brief moments of silliness let it down, arguably, but overall this is inches away from perfection.

Favourite Songs: ‘WTYD,’ ‘Wicked Mystic’ & ‘World Salad.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

Annihilator – Never Neverland (1990).
Well, everything I said about Alice In Hell applies here. They’re sort of twin albums, equally fabulous. The new vocalist on this album sounds a bit like Phil Anselmo at times (only a little bit) and some of the more midpaced songs have a certain groove metal swagger, which lends itself well to the Annihilator sound. The rest is the absolute definition of well designed Thrash, and if you have never heard this album make doing so a high priority because you’re seriously missing out.

Favourite Songs: ‘Road To Ruin,’ ‘StoneWall’ & ‘I Am In Command.’
Not For Me: ‘Kraf Dinner’ – I don’t like it when they do jokey bits.

 

Annihilator – Set The World On Fire (1993).
Another album, another line-up change. Hey, Mike Magini the future Dream Theater guy is here! That’s reason enough for people to come back and check this out. Some fans called this album a bit of a sell out, partly because it had a ballad, and partly because the main music had less speed and heaviness more of the time. In all fairness though, they replaced it with Van Halen style fun (‘Don’t Bother Me’ anyone?) and never dipped in quality so I think that’s a very big overreaction. I’m very fond of this album and would defend it to anyone who had bad words for it, that’s for sure.
Also, I have to say ‘Knight Jumps Queen’ has arguably the most fun chorus riff in all of Thrash, next to maybe Exodus’ ‘Brain Dead.’

Favourite Songs: ‘Knight Jumps Queen,’ ‘No Zone’ & ‘Sounds Good To Me.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent. I don’t like the jokey bits in ‘Brain Dance’ but otherwise the song is badass.

 

Anthrax:

Anthrax – Fistful Of Metal (1984).
I got into Anthrax through the John Bush era live album Music Of Mass Destruction, so when I got this I thought I didn’t like it for a long time. I wasn’t keen on Neil Turban’s vocals, or the very non-Anthraxy songs. I was very predisposed to liking it because it had Dan Lilker on it and I was super into Nuclear Assault, but this wasn’t doing it for me at the time. Nowadays, after having heard a lot more NWOBHM and early Heavy Metal this record has really grown on me.

If you’re in the mood for that Scott-Ian’s-Wrist style of riffing, y’know that Iconing style that makes Anthrax Anthrax, then look elsewhere, but just because its different doesn’t mean its not good. Also, fun memory, for a long time the local independent music shop in my small Irish town in the late 90s/early noughties had just three lonely guitar tablature books, one of which was Ratt’s Invasion Of Your Privacy, and Anthrax’s Fistful Of Metal… what a) An Odd Pair b) a weird pair for the times when both bands were very uncool c) weird album covers for big glossy books all alone in a sea of generic Irish traditional music books with generic white covers and plain black text.

Favourite Songs: ‘Across The River,’ ‘Death Rider’ & ‘Metal Thrashing Mad.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent. I don’t feel like the ‘I’m Eighteen’ cover fits, and I’d prefer if it was on Killer Bs instead, but I love it in and of itself.

 

Anthrax – .Spreading The Disease (1985).
This is probably my favourite Anthrax album. I have a Vinyl copy on my wall as decoration. Its the first Anthrax album that really has that definite Anthrax feel. Its very unique among all other Thrash bands, and nothing really sounds anything quite like it. I think its got the catchiest choruses and its varied and a heck of a lot of fun. There’s not a wasted moment and its all very charming and interesting. I don’t know what part is due to Franky Bello and Joey Belladonna coming on board, and what part is confidence and experience, or indeed what’s just sheer luck, but this was a big stylistic shift and quality skyrocket. I also think this is the best vocal performance on any Anthrax album. Also, ‘Gung Ho’ really shows off the band at their Thrashiest…its their equivalent of Fight Fire With Fire in the justification-showpiece stakes. A ‘See Slayer fans, other bands can be fast too,’ sort of thing.

Favourite Songs: ‘Lone Justice,’ ‘AIR’ & ‘Medusa.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty perfect.

 

Anthrax – Among The Living (1987).
Arguably the best Anthrax album, with the most hits, the most concert favourites and arguably the best production job. I love the songwriting on this one, so many catchy choruses, so many great guitar solos, such good drumming and singing, its easy to see why this is most people’s favourite Anthrax album. Its difficult to think of anything new to say on such a beloved and much discussed album, up there with the very best of the genre, along with your Reign In Blood, Master Of Puppets and Rust In Peace crowd. Sometimes I feel difficult describing the most famous album as my favourite, a hold-over from stupid teen days, but in this case it really is a very close toss up between Spreading The Disease and this one. For a while, Anthrax was my absolute favourite band so those two would be among my undisputed all time favourites, of any subgenre.

Sidenote… how much does it suck this wasn’t 1986…then it would be in the gang with Puppets, Peace Sells and Reign In Blood as the 1986 Thrash Masterpieces club. Shall we all just pretend it was ’86?

Favourite Songs: ‘Imitation Of Life,’ ‘One World,’ ‘Indians,’ ‘Caught In A Mosh’ & ‘I Am The Law.’
Not For Me: Nothing at all, it is perfect.

 

Anthrax – State Of Euphoria (1988).
Some people don’t like this album and I really don’t see why. There’s not one song on this album that wouldn’t sound good in concert or on a compilation. I think maybe all together they might cause the attention to drift or something? I love it. I wish they’d play more from it live, especially the second half. Its very overlooked. Solos, production and vocals are all roughly equal to the last album, although the only noticeable difference is that the songwriting is less succinct.
I have the same problem with Anthrax as with Guns N Roses… there are so many amazing originals and they play three or four covers live instead? Covers get on the best-ofs instead? Well; whatever floats your boat but I’d rather hear ‘Who Cares Wins’ or ‘Right Next Door To Hell’ anytime than ‘Antisocial’ or ‘Live And Let Die.’ The album artwork is a bit ugly, but clever on a spinning disc I guess.

Favourite Songs: ‘Finale,’ ‘Schism’ & ‘Be All End All.’
Not For Me: ’13.’ I don’t feel like the ‘Antisocial’ cover fits, and I’d prefer if it was on Killer Bs instead, but I love it in and of itself. Its so Anthrax though. Its so them I can hardly believe its a cover. Its actually one of the best songs on the album too, its just not in the same spirit of the rest of the record.

 

Anthrax – Persistence Of Time (1990).
For a long time, this was my favourite Anthrax album. Over the years I’ve grown to think the first too songs while good, are overlong and slightly repetitive, and that Belly Of The Beast could do without the extra intro. Otherwise, what’s not to love about this album? Some of Anthrax’s finest ever work. I can’t tell you how much I loved ‘One Man Stands’ as a teenager, and ‘Belly Of The Beast’ would be in my top-ten thrash songs of all time, it just works so well, I love the version on Music Of Mass Destruction especially, with its extra drum flourishes and John Bush’s beefier vocal style. The artwork is cool and the coolest thing in Anthrax’s history is the stage-show from this tour with the clocks and backdrop of this album art.

Favourite Songs: ‘Belly Of The Beast,’ ‘One Man Stands’ & ‘Keep It In The Family.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, although some of the longer songs could do with a bit of either trimming or variation. Once again; surprise surprise, I don’t feel like the ‘Got The Time’ cover fits, and I’d prefer if it was on Killer Bs instead, but as with the previously mentioned ‘Antisocial’ I like it in and of itself and feel like so Anthrax-sounding that I can hardly believe its a cover. Both those songs are like greatest hits of the band, which rankles a little tiny bit because your hits should be your own songs, and as I mentioned before, part of what irritates me about Guns N Roses, but objectively they are great.

 

Anthrax – Live: The Island Years (1994; Recorded ’91/’92).
This album covers that aforementioned incredibly cool period. Its actually from two different shows, the radio show and the concert video. Its got a pretty great version of Bring The Noise which is different from the studio version, and quite interesting. Its not the greatest production job but then not poor either, way better than say, Nuclear Assault’s live stuff, but not as great as Annihilator’s.
Its got a pretty strong tracklisting and I wish they had marketed this differently because it feels like a real throw-away cash-in sort of thing (because of record label issues and cheapo packaging) but the actual product is actually way better than it feels like anyone gave it credit for.

 

Cacophony:

Cacophony – Speed Metal Symphony (1987).
I wanted this album (and the other Cacophony studio album) for about a decade before I finally got around to it. Everybody knows this is what Marty Friedman was up to pre-Megadeth and that is definitely worth checking out in my book. I finally picked up a copy in like, 2013 or something and have been listening to it fairly regularly ever since, going in between liking it and not liking it but listening to it a lot to feel like I didn’t waste my money. I don’t think its as fast or heavy as I’d like, nor as succinct and compact. Its really musically impressive but not all that catchy or fun and the vocals aren’t top-tier. All that sounds like heavy criticism, but I guess I just focused on the negatives there, because it really is a rather fantastic album and I don’t want to sound like its bad… its just not as great as the more famous albums in this article. I’d take it over an Atrophy or Morbid Saint album, sure, but not over an Overkill or Metallica album if you know what I mean. Its the best of the c-list, and just because it isn’t in the big leagues doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Probably too, if I’d have bought it earlier I’d be closer to it. Sometimes the stuff you get in your early teens sticks with you the longest (although in fairness, I’m a lot closer to C.O.C and Helloween from my twenties than stuff like Spineshank and Ill Nino I bought in my early teens).

Favourite Songs: ‘Desert Island,’ & ‘Concerto.’
Not For Me: ‘Speed Metal Symphony.’

 

 

Dark Angel:

Dark Angel – Darkness Descends (1986).
I think, if I’m not mistaken, this is one of the most recent Thrash albums I bought (in the same order as Overkill’s Horrorcope, I think, about a year ago this month). Its fast, ugly and brutal. Its a kind of spiritual brother to Pleasure To Kill and famous to fans of the heavier stuff, influential to more extreme bands and it brought Genre Hoglan to fame. Its production is a bit rough and its just a wee tad too extreme at times for me to absolutely love it but I have to say, I like it a lot better than I expected. I’ve listened to Leave Scars and Time Does Not Heal on Spotify recently and they totally nail what I wanted from Dark Angel, so that’s the next two on my to-buy list (only about a decade and a half after I originally wanted to get em). If you are a Black Metal fan working backwards from Emperor to Hellhammer to Sodom, then this might be another one to check out. Otherwise, don’t check this out until you’re already fairly familiar with Annihilator, Exodus and Testament first.

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.

 

 

Death Angel:

Death Angel – The Ultra Violence (1987).
The band’s most straight-forward and normal album, recorded at a young age yeah-yeah, but just as professional as any of the competition. Forget about the demographics and listen to the music…
I feel like all anyone ever talks about this band is the Kirk Hammet connection or the family aspect or the age but never just how impressive that instrumental is, or how satisfying tunes like ‘Evil Priest’ and ‘Thrashers’ are. There’s some great soloing, some serious speed and energy and a real ‘spirit’ to the performances. Arguably its not always super memorable and a harsher critic than me might call it generic if they were feeling unkind, but all that would be sorted out on future records.

Favourite Songs: ‘Thrashers,’ ‘IPFS’ & ‘The Ultra Violence.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent, but some tracks are a bit overlong.

 

Death Angel – Frolic Through The Park (1988).
A halfway point between where the band came from and where they were about to go, this is the experimental first steps into transitioning between pure straight traditional Thrash and the more dynamic, progressive, technical stuff on the subsequent album… Frolic Through The Park can come off as a bit more jarring, wacky and odd than Act III as they hadn’t utterly nailed transitions and smoothed everything down to perfection yet, but its undeniably good in and of itself and without the Act III context is a fine album on its own, a strange follow-up to The Ultra Violence sure, but a good one. People at the time must’ve been baffled, but baffled with a touch of excitement.
I’ll confess I don’t listen to this one as much as the other two nowadays, because when I want the glory and perfection I go for Act III and when I want the purity and simplicity I go towards The Ultra Violence so this falls behind a little bit… but I’d still recommend people check it out. Overshadowed, justly, but it need not be ignored, there’s some killer stuff on here that would be a shame to miss out on.

Favourite Songs: ‘Why Do You Do This,’ & ‘Bored.’
Not For Me: The cover of ‘Cold Gin’ doesn’t really fit.

 

Death Angel – Act III (1990).
The undisputed diamond in the crown, this album is a masterpiece for the genre and one of the most interesting, entertaining and well-written albums the genre has to offer with heaps of innovation, but never sounding gimmicky or losing its Thrashiness. On top of that, its simply the best set of choruses and solos the band have ever come up with, and the acoustic tracks are some of the best and least forced-sounding in the genre. If you only get one Death Angel album, this is the smart choice.

Favourite Songs: ‘Ex-TC,’ ‘Disturbing The Peace’ & ‘Veil Of Decption.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

 

Exhorder:

Exhorder – Slaughter In The Vatican (1990).
Everyone tells you the same thing… this is where Pantera stole their sound from, Phil used to roadie for em. Then you go and check it out and it sounds nothing like Pantera and that’s usually the end of it. There’s a lot more to the band that just that, but its all so ‘almost.’ Their brutal production style is almost awesome, their singer is almost awesome. The songs are almost as good as Slayer’s fast stuff. I could go on but the main thing is its just a bit forgettable and I listen to it a lot to try and not feel like I’m only in it for the cheap Pantera connection, and at the time I may even enjoy it, but a day later, could I hum you even one chorus? Could I bollocks.

Favourite Songs: Nothing Stands Out.
Not For Me: Nothing Stands Out.

 

Exhorder – The Law (1992).
A much better album, with much more memorable songs. A huge improvement in vocals, riffs, songwriting, production, performance, the works. If they had have continued on this tack they might’ve ended up like Sepultura and Machine Head did in the mid-90s. Ugly artwork, but hey, artwork’s not that important anyway. Not as important as some of those awesome screams, or the interesting funky bass. Funk in Metal was a bit of a novelty, see Death Angel, and a few quick seconds of it without being goofy is just the ticket. If I want some Exhorder, my go-to choice is side-A of this album. Check it out if you’re interested in the band.

Favourite Songs: ‘Un-Born Again,’ ‘Soul Search Me’ & ‘The Truth.’
Not For Me: ‘(Cadence Of) The Dirge’ and the ‘Into The Void’ cover.

 

 

Exodus:

Exodus – Bonded By Blood (1985).
I’ve never heard an album so simultaneously over and underrated at the same time, nor have I ever flipflopped so much between liking and disliking something. Its been mostly liking in the last ten years to be fair though. I’ve got to say though, the title track is so insanely, monumentally good that the whole rest of the album just drastically pales in comparison. Like, the tile track is unquestionably on of the band’s, subgenre’s and even overall genre’s finest hours. That chorus. That chorus just does something to me. I know there’s some great moments on the rest of the record, like the acoustic guitar bit, or the aggression, or the little lead lines, but its otherwise all so c-lister compared to that absolute world class title track. I also, contrary to popular opinion really don’t think Paul Baloff is any good. I get that he was fun as a person in San Fransisco in the 80s and there’s lots of fond memories but musically, my ears just don’t gel with him. Zetro is so much better for me that its almost distracting thing about it. I like tracks from this live with Zetro. I like tracks from this live with Rob Dukes. But I don’t love it the way magazines and websites seem to say I should. Apart from the title track. Frig me, that title track is so good!

Favourite Songs: ‘Bonded By Blood,’ & ‘A Lesson In Violence.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, but sometimes I’ll take a notion for a while that I don’t like ‘Piranah’ or ‘Strike Of The Beast’ or ‘Exodus’ but at other times I love them, so its hard to give a straight answer.

 

Exodus – Pleasures Of The Flesh (1987).
This is what I’m talking about! This is why Exodus are so important to me. This is what’s great about Bay Area Thrash. I mean, the catchiness, the power, the musicianship. Sure the album art isn’t good, and yeah, fan favourite Paul Baloff is gone, but how could you argue with these songs?

The production is also a lot less reverby than the debut. The lyrics are more interesting. The solos are more musical and damn, there’s some fuuuuun riffs. I think the difference is that this album is fun and only the title track of the previous one is fun. So, if you’re more into extremity it’d be better but if you’d rather hear Among The Living than In The Sign Of Evil, then this is more suitable.

Favourite Songs: ‘Brain Dead,’ ‘Seeds Of Hate’ & ‘Chemi-kill.’ (Three of the best
Thrash songs ever, ever written).
Not For Me: I hate the intro to Deranged, the bit about the salad, and some of the lyrics, but the song is decent. I think the title track is a bit overlong or needs more variety, and also it should be the album closer not just halfway through. Why don’t Thrash bands end with the epic as much? Most don’t actually close with the logical climax.

 

Exodus – Fabulous Disaster (1989).
The best Exodus album in my eyes. The closest they ever came to absolute perfection. The most memorable songs. The most varied material. The finest performances and of all the early albums the best production and songwriting. Admittedly, the lyrics can be a bit dodgy at times, like the fun bit in that documentary where they’re joking about the difference between ‘Athlete’ and ‘Ath-a-leet,’ or the line ‘devastating plaster’ but I can overlook that when the songs are so good.

The title track is one of the absolute definitions of Thrash Metal for me. Also how heavy is that opening track? The guitar tone is so biting its crazy.

 

Favourite Songs: ‘Fabulous Disaster,’ ‘The Toxic Waltz ‘Verbal Razors’ & ‘Corruption.’
Not For Me: ‘Cajun Hell’ is a bit weird, but still good. ‘Like Father Like Son’ is clearly better as the closer, Thrash bands should do that more. What I actually dislike though is the ‘low Rider’ cover, seems so out of place and out of character and doesn’t fit and partially derails the momentum.

 

Exodus – Impact Is Imminent (1990).
Almost as good as the previous few and nowhere near as bad as the weird ‘its disappointing’ reputation it has for some reason…similar to Testament’s Souls Of Black in that respect. I hate the album artwork, but again, not that important. I think the only problem musically with this one is that the songs might be a bit overlong. That and how do you compare to the amazing Fabulous Disaster material?

Special shout out to the guitar solo on ‘Within The Walls Of Chaos’ …odd tone, really makes the song.

Favourite Songs: ‘Impact Is Imminent,’ ‘Thrash Under Pressure’ & ‘Only Death Decides.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

Exodus – Good Friendly Violent Fun (1991; but recorded 1989).
I only bought this one recently because its only got eight songs, one of which is an AC/DC cover, and it has really ugly artwork and I used to be more shallow. I’m glad I’ve finally taken the chance though, this is a pretty great little live album. I think the tracklist is awesome, and all that’s really missing for such a brief album would be ‘Bonded By Blood.’ Its great to have so many of my absolute favourites in one set though. Its a pretty stunning collection to be honest. The production and performances are pretty decent too, nothing to complain about. I’m not so used to this yet that I can really think of much more to say. Its good and I’d recommend it. Is that enough?

 

Forbidden:

Forbidden – Forbidden Evil (1988).
The best album artwork of the 80s? The best vocal performance outside of the big-four? The best songs of Forbidden ever wrote?
Yes, Yes and Yes. Man, I’d love to have a copy of that on my wall.
You might’ve noticed I really enjoy solos and catchy choruses so this one is pretty much guaranteed to be one of my favourites. There’s such great razor sharp riffs, such fantastic drums (I think I originally bought it to get more Paul Bostaph drums since I have a bit of a drummer crush on him…those fills!). I guess there might be a wee bit of filler, but at least three-quarters of this record is best-album-of-the-subgenre quality stuff.
I have so many fond memories of school trips and stuff listening to this. Great, great album. If you don’t own it, fix that!

Favourite Songs: ‘Forbidden Evil,’ ‘March Into Fire’ & ‘Chalice Of Blood.’
Not For Me: Sometimes, but not always, I get a bit of a thing against ‘Off The Edge.’

 

Forbidden – Twisted Into Form (1990).
Its more progressive than the debut, but less slow and groove orientated than the next two. Its not just as world-class as the debut but it is very strong for a second-waver (man, I always remember this one line in a magazine that said ‘Forbidden never amounted to a hill of beans in the UK’ and when I listen to this or the debut I really wonder why). I always feel the need to throw Forbidden’s name in with Exodus and Testament, because it really belongs there… even if the charts at the time didn’t work out that way. Okay, side A is defiantly a little stronger than side b, but its still a great album.

Favourite Songs: ‘Out Of Body (Out Of Mind)’ & ‘Twisted Into Form.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

Heathen:

Heathen – Breaking The Silence (1987).
This album came free on their website for a while. I really like it, but I always feel like I don’t really own it because it was free. Even after having it for years and years. Anytime I’m in a Thrash mood I break some of this out and I always enjoy it, but I still don’t feel like I can really accept it, because I don’t have a physical copy. Its weird. I’m weird. Whatever. When I’m not being a bit mental, this is a very good album. Not quite in the league of Testament, Exodus and Forbidden but still yet another example of great Bay Area Thrash with a high singer. The Sweet cover of ‘Set Me Free’ is even better than Saxon’s cover of it too, that’s worth mentioning. Usually, I think a cover can throw off a Thrash album but here it really works.

Favourite Songs: ‘Death By Hanging’ & ‘Pray For Death.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

Heathen – Victims Of Deception (1991).
A very different musical direction. Much more technical, lengthy and elaborate. The guitar work is amazing. I love it on the one hand, but if I’m not in the right mood I’d argue it could use a few more fast songs…arguably against the point of the album in the first place but sometimes I’m in weird moods.

On the previous album, the cover really worked, but I guess the Kill The King doesn’t necessarily meet the proggy vibe here. I can’t decide if it throws me off or not. Its so good, but I guess it isn’t the right fit. I can’t decide.

I used to think that there was a different singer but I just didn’t know the singer changed his surname from Godfrey to White. I also didn’t know until researching this article that Paul Baloff was briefly in the band. I guess that makes the fact that Lee Atlus is in Exodus nowadays even more logical.

Favourite Songs: ‘Prisoners Of Fate,’ & ‘Guitarmony.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, but some of ’em could use a trim.

 
Kreator:

Kreator – Endless Pain (1985).
This album isn’t one you ever hear people talk about all that often. Its almost as if Pleasure To Kill was the debut. This one is a bit slower, a bit less extreme, a bit more reverby. A bit more simplistic. A bit more samey. A bit less professional. Its not like, a joke or something, but its not Master Of Puppets either. Much, much better than Sodom’s debut though, if you want a comparison.

Favourite Songs: ‘Dying Victims,’ ‘Cry War’ & ‘Tormentor.’
Not For Me: Nothing stands out, but its all a bit too rough and dull.

 

Kreator – Pleasure To Kill (1986).
This album is deceptive. With its reputation and its ferociously aggressive first two songs you’d be forgiven for thinking this was just a brutal nasty selection of unpleasant harsh bashing. There’s a surprising amount of complexity, depth and musicianship though. Its not mindless hammering, its much more sophisticated than that. And when they slow down there’s some serious groovy riffs and memorable moments. I know the exciting story is about the speed and savagery (and of that there is no shortage) but there’s so much more to this record than that, if you take even half a second to look deeper. I think I first gave it a second chance when I heard Napalm Death’s cover of ‘Riot Of Violence’ and saw what it had to offer.

Favourite Songs: ‘Pleasure To Kill,’ ‘Riot Of Violence’ & ‘The Pestilence.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

Kreator – Terrible Certainty (1987).
This is a much more focused and well-formed version of Pleasure To Kill. It takes the different song-types of that album and makes every track here a mixture of them all. Its still got that nasty tinge to it, that bit heavier and harsher than the yankee Thrashers… but there’s a good quarter of this album wouldn’t sound weird on Among The Living or The American Way either, if you know where to look. Yeah, its a bit slower and a bit more mature, but so was Seasons In The Abyss, and we all know how good that was. This feels equivelant.

Favourite Songs: ‘Terrible Certainty,’ & ‘Toxic Trace.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

Kreator – Extreme Aggression (1989).
Most people will tell you this is the best Kreator album and I have no problems with that state of affairs. I think this should be people’s introduction to the band. If you haven’t heard the band before, try this one on for size before anything else. I think this is the best distillation of their essence without being too experimental or too brutal or out of ideas or anything else. This is the core Kreator. This album is Kreator to me.

Favourite Songs: ‘Stream Of Consciousness,’ ‘Betrayer’ & ‘Fatal Energy.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

Kreator – Coma Of Souls (1990).
I think this is my favourite Kreator album. It definitely has my favourite two Kreator songs on it (Coma Of Souls and People Of The Lie…the catchiest two songs the band ever wrote) so that’s a big point in its favour. Its also slightly less harsh and nasty than the earlier ones. Some people say its a bit of a let down after Extreme Aggression but I don’t hear that at all. I think this takes what that built and does it even better. Admittedly, nothing on it is as good as those aforementioned two god-tier tracks, but that would be a big ask. Its consistent, perfectly produced, challenging yet not boring and has the perfect mix of heaviness with pleasantness. If Mille had’ve tried being a bit more melodic on the vocals I’m sure this album could’ve really sold crazy well. As it stands its the perfect ending to the early days.

Favourite Songs: ‘Coma Of Souls,’ ‘People Of The Lie’ & ‘Terror Zone.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

 

Megadeath:

Megadeath – Killing Is My Business (1985).
A lot rougher, a lot rawer and with the fun ‘we blew the budget on drugs’ story, Killing’ is the interesting moment in the catalogue. Weird thumpy tom sounds and reverby drawn back vocals just add to the experience. Sure its ugly, but its good-ugly. If people can listen to Burzum or Crass or early Carcass then this is Dark Side Of The Moon by comparison anyway. These songs are a great deal of fun too, I wish they’d play a lot more from this live… especially the Title Track. It feels like an absolute Megadeth anthem and I’d never make any compliation or playlist without it. It feels like the Death Rider or Metal Thrashing Mad of the piece y’know. The Running Free or Iron Maiden of the album. The one that transcends. That place goes to Mechanix and justly so, but I feel like the title track is just as good and deserves more recognition.

Favourite Songs: ‘Killing Is My Business,’ ‘Rattlehead’ & ‘The Mechanix.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

Megadeath – Peace Sells But Who’s Buying (1986).
If you lose the novelty cover, then this is utterly perfect. I mean, the title track is one of the most important songs in Metal history, for a start off. Then you’ve got the likes of ‘Wake Up Dead’ and ‘Devil’s Island’ with their just other-worldly catchiness. Then you’ve got the variety of Good Mourning and The Counjuring. You’ve got that utterly charming dry production. I mean, do I need to say more. Its peace flipping sells for goodness sake. If you don’t like it you should probably stop reading this.

Favourite Songs: ‘My Last Words,’ ‘Devils Island’ ‘Peace Sells’ & ‘Wake Up Dead.’
Not For Me: ‘I Aint Superstitious’ – Save it for a B-Side.

 

 

Megadeath – So Far So Good So What (1988).
I think this one is my favourite Megadeth album. If it had a slightly better production, an Ed Repka sleeve and it ditched the cover tune, I’m sure it would get the same treatment its successor and predecessor do. Such things oughtn’t concern us though, when the album has In My Darkest Hour on it, should it?

And hey, he said the word ‘Megadeth’ there …that’s worth some points, no?

Ok. I know not everyone is convinced and maybe it is going to feel overlooked forever, especially with the less-famous line-up, but just because its a bit rough around the ages, doesn’t mean its not fantastic fun, musically strong and full of damn memorable material.

Favourite Songs: ‘Set The World Afire,’ ‘Liar’ & ‘Hook In Mouth.’
Not For Me: The intro to ‘Mary Jane’ but not the rest of it. The ‘pull over shithead’ line in the otherwise perfect ‘502’ and the bloody Sex Pistols cover, save that for a B-Side.

 

Megadeath – Rust In Peace (1990).
The title track to this one speaks to me on some near-religious level and can conjure in me feelings almost nothing else can. It is one of the most compelling reasons to enjoy Thrash Metal that I can name. Then you have all the concert favourites, Tornado Of Souls, Hangar 18, Holy Wars. Then you have those awesome deep cuts like Take No Prisoners and Five Magics.

Then the artwork, the beautiful, beautiful artwork. Then the super clean production. Then the damn guitars, I mean seriously, those guitars! I’m struggling to think of an album on this list that can even compete.

For a few years I didn’t realise how much everyone loved this. I thought it was all about Peace Sells and Countdown To Extinction. Good to see nowadays you cannot attend a single Metal gig without seeing or hearing something to do with Rust In Peace. That feels like justice somehow.

Favourite Songs: ‘Rust In Peace …Polaris,’ ‘Take No Prisoners’ & ‘Holy Wars.’
Not For Me: ‘Dawn Patrol’ – I almost always skip it. It reminds me of subterranean mole people.
Metallica:

Metallica – Kill Em All (1983).
It took me a long, long, loooong time to like this and about a decade more to really get it. Even with all the articles and documentaries, I don’t think it was until 2014 when I started looking into Angel Witch and Diamond Head and Motorhead and the like that this finally totally clicked. I remember it finally growing on me in about 2005, but not quite this much. Nowdays I’m very keen on this and its one of my go-to Thrash choices, I guess because Metallica are always so much more and so much bigger and farther ahead of the pack that sometimes you almost forget about them as a Thrash band and they are their own Zeppelin-esque superstar law unto themselves…. but this one still has that teenager in a leather jacket in the garage vibe. I know I’ve seen tracks from this at WCW events or live on million dollar productions, but the actual album versions still feel human, achievable, ahead of the times sure but at least within reach of us mere mortals.

Favourite Songs: ‘Hit The Lights,’ ‘Whiplash’ ‘No Remorse’ & ‘Seek & Destroy.’
Not For Me: I know its controversial, but I hate that flow-killing bass solo. Yes Cliff Burton was good but that solo in the middle of a Thrash album just flat out disrupts everything. Also, sometimes if I’m not in the mood ‘Motorbreath’ and ‘Jump In The Fire’ feel a little half-baked, although most times they’re just charming. One thing that sometimes happens to me though is that I feel weird about ‘The Four Horsemen’ … I actually heard ‘The Mechanix’ first and it was quite a while until I heard Metallica’s version and sometimes I just get that Mustaine “You can either hear it our way or their way” speech from Rude Awakening and it makes me feel oddly guilty. I also prefer Mustaine’s delivery of the chorus. That’s not a hipster trying to be cool thing though, its an actual preference.

 

Metallica – Ride The Lightening (1984).
The cool album to like. Justice and Puppets are so popular you can’t like them the best, the debut is the debut so you can’t look like a hipster, so the person of dedication has to logically choose Lightning. Y’know, if you’re mental and think of things in those terms. Or you could, y’know, love em all. Or like things because you like them and not because of what it represents.
Anyway, how heavy is Fight Fire With Fire? Heavier than the band’s usual. How catchy is ‘Bell Tolls? Very memorable indeed. How passionate and awesome is Fade To Black? You just can’t argue with that tune. How charming is that production? How cool is the idea behind the title track?
This is a perfect storm of x-factor. Its no surprise the band who made this record ended up as the entire genre’s biggest and most important band. How could they not?

Favourite Songs: ‘Fight Fire With Fire,’ ‘Ride The Lightening’ & ‘Creeping Death.’ (Three of the best Thrash songs ever, ever written)
Not For Me: Never been that into Ktulu, and chorus of ‘Escape.’

 

Metallica – Master Of Puppets (1986).
Do I even actually even have to type something here?
This is the business as long as you remember it is and don’t let it get outplayed or act like you’re too cool for it. There’s a reason so many lists have it as the finest anyone has ever written and I won’t insult you going over the reasons why. If you’re reading this, you’ve heard this, and you either agree that it is great or will already have been told you’re wrong before. No need for another voice in the choir. There’s a redundancy in telling the world’s fattest man that he’s fat, y’know, I think he’s heard it all before, and that’s what its like for Puppets.

Oh, and if you’re burnt out on Puppets or have gone cynical over time… if you haven’t actually listened to it in a while, just clear your schedule and drink it all in whilst acting as if you’re hearing it for the first time. It can really reignite it for you. Works for me when I forget every few years just how good it is.

Favourite Songs: ‘Battery,’ ‘Master Of Puppets’ (Two of the best Thrash songs ever, arguably THE best two) & ‘Damage Inc.’
Not For Me: I’m not as into ‘Orion’ as I think I should be.

 

Metallica – And Justice For All (1988).
I have so many fond, fond memories relating to this album. I can still remember the sofa I was sat on when I first ‘got’ this album after a few years as a Metallica skeptic (It was green & white checkered, and cloth rather than leather). I can remember the baddies from the videogame (Devil May Cry 2) I was killing at the time I first heard the chorus to ‘Eye Of The Beholder’ and finally totally accepted Metallica were just fundamentally better than all their competition. I remember trying to learn the awkward title track on drums. I remember singing Blackened at the top of my lungs with friends in the park one drunken teenage night, I remember seeing ‘Harvester Of Sorrow’ live in Dublin and feeling like I was in on some secret.

I never really had a problem with the production either. Maybe its because as a teenager my brother and I would play guitar and drums together often without a bassist and the lack of bass just doesn’t bother me as an individual? I love Hetfield’s voice here. I love the lyrics. I love the artwork. I love footage of this era. I love that anything this dense and challenging and proggy (and miles ahead of the competition) is so ubiquitous and necessary for every single Metal fan to hear. Ace Of Spades aint as Proggy as this, nor is Paranoid or Back In Black or British Steel …heck, even Number Of The Beast isn’t THIS dense or epic. Its amazing really that THIS is so popular, famous and beloved when you think about it.

Sometimes I think about Lulu or Beyond Magnetic or some of the more embarassing scenes from the excellent and underrated Some Kind Of Monster documentary and I forget that the band made this. Every time I come back and actually hear it, I’m slightly taken aback by just how good it is.

Favourite Songs: ‘Blackened,’ ‘…And Justice For All’ ‘The Shortest Straw’ & ‘Eye Of The Beholder.’
Not For Me: Not one second, it is perfect. Sometimes I fool myself into thinking I don’t like ‘One’ anymore because it is overplayed or like, because the Korn version doesn’t have a guitar solo, or something, but when I actually hear the actual studio version… especially the bits they cut out’ve the video version like the extra solos, well, its absolutely awesome and I think that the staccatto ‘LANDMINE. HAS TAKEN MY SIGHT. TAKEN MY SPEACH. TAKEN MY HEARING’ bit is one of the singular greatest bits of record music I’ve ever heard and I don’t mean that as hyperbole. It just really grabs me, so, so much.

 

[Side note, I know we aren’t supposed to count The Black Album because purists get so uppity about it; but ‘Holier Than Thou,’ ‘Don’t Tread On Me,’ ‘Trough The Never’ and ‘The Struggle Within’ are four of the best ever Thrash tunes and its madness if you rob yourself of them just to make a point.]

 

 

Nuclear Assault:

Nuclear Assault – Game Over (1986).
When you think about how un-heavy the guitar tone is (sounds like a 15 year old with a tiny clip-onto-the-belt novelty amplifier) and how love-it-or-hate-it the distinctive vocal style is, you may be forgiven for thinking at first glance that this is some poor, half-baked nonsense.

If that happens, persist, because I promise you this is actually one of the genre’s finest ever releases and easily up in the very top tier with any classic you care to name. This is absolutely essential for Thrash fans and I couldn’t recommend it any stronger. Like Thrash? Please, please try this.

Favourite Songs: ‘Sin,’ ‘Nuclear War’ & ‘Game Over.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, but I’m not always in the mood for ‘My America’ and ‘Hang The Pope’ …I get what they’re tryna do, but I have to be in the right mood. Same thing with ‘Lesbians’ from some versions.

 

Nuclear Assault – The Plauge (1987).
I got it free as bonus tracks to my Game Over and listened to that disc end to end constantly for a few years so the distinction between the two is sometimes lost on me and I may mis-attribute one song from one to the wrong one at times. Its great either way. Even if I sometimes forget its technically a separate release.

Favourite Songs: ‘Nightmares’ & ‘Justice.’
Not For Me: Sometimes I’m not in the mood for ‘Butt Fuck’ …I like the music but the comedy is just lame. I agree that drink driving and manslaughter are bad, but I’m not always in the mood for this.

 

Nuclear Assault – Survive (1988).
This is the second most I’ve ever paid for an album. I think the only time I ever paid more for anything was Powerman 5000’s Anyone For Doomsday which had literally been almost entirely recalled and destroyed by the record company, save for a few copies left for radio stations and magazines. Anyway, this was just out of print and not yet reissued and I couldn’t wait. I think I spent something stupid on it I’m embarrassed and too forgetful to list here.

Its got one of the best album artworks of all time (I wore a t-shirt of it quite often for a good few years and have a vinyl copy on my wall for decoration) and more importantly, the music is good. Its got the singles, the opening two being concert staples, the singles all being career highlights, and all the deep cuts being great. Apart from the token joke tracks and a stray Zeppelin cover this is pretty perfect and I’d highly highly recommend it. Especially now its been reissued.

Favourite Songs: ‘Survive,’ ‘Fight To Be Free’ & ‘F Sharp.’
Not For Me: It could do with trimming away ‘PSA,’ ‘Got Another Quarter’ and the Led Zeppelin cover. I guess you could argue that this is what gives it character though.

 

Nuclear Assault – Handle With Care (1989).
Which is the best Nuclear Assault album? You could honestly choose any of the first three and you’d be right either way. The debut had the charm, the sophomore has the songs and this one has the speed, power and musicianship. Which album should you try first? Do you want a mixture of Iron Maiden and DRI…go Game Over. Do you want a mixture of Anthrax and Sacred Reich…go Survive. Do you want a bit of Kreator meets SOD? Then this is for you.
Great lyrics too, on the non-joke songs.

Favourite Songs: ‘New Song,’ ‘Critical Mass’ & ‘Search & Seizure.’
Not For Me: ‘Funky Noise’ and ‘Mother’s Day’

 

Nuclear Assault – Out Of Order (1991).
Unfairly overlooked. Not just as amazing as the previous stuff but almost up there. Its highlights are very good. If just two more songs were amazing I think it would’ve titled the scales and public perception would be totally different. Also, such ugly, ugly artwork… but that’s not important. Also, the keys on the lengthy title track are a fun surprise that totally works and doesn’t feel gimmicky. A foreshadowing of Dream Theater?

Favourite Songs: ‘Quocustodiat,’ ‘Stop Wait Think’ & ‘Save The Planet.’
Not For Me: ‘Ballroom Blitz’ though excellent, doesn’t fit.

 

Nuclear Assault – Live At The Hammersmith Odeon (1992; Recorded 1989).
The artwork, packaging and production make this seem like cheap crap. I was so in love with the band at the time I had to get it, but every time I hear it I just feel like I wasted my money. I’m sure its better if you have the video with it, but on its own its just a bit poor. Not the best sound, not the best performance and not the best package containing those. Good tracklisting though. I feel bad disliking it… I feel like I SHOULD like it or at least lie about it or something, because the band feel like underdogs for some reason when they should be up there with Megadeth and Anthrax, but unfortuantely this specific product just isn’t their best.

 

 

Onslaught:

Onslaught – The Force (1986).
I bought this to try some British thrash for once. Its pretty much taking the Slayer track ‘Chemical Warfare’ and stretching it out to a whole album, complete with reverby toms. The vocals aren’t the best, the songs aren’t super memorable and the song lengths are a bit too long for the amount of ideas, but it is pretty decent. A solid album but never an amazing one.

Annoyingly, when I was in a band once I lent one of the members this when in the car on the way to a Gama Bomb gig, and the band broke up before I got it back…but small price to pay for a free gig I guess.

Favourite Songs: ‘Thrash Till Death’ & ‘Metal Forces’
Not For Me: Nothing really, but its all a bit overlong, grimy, and rough.

 

 

Overkill:

Overkill – Feel The Fire (1985).
It sounds a bit more ’83 than ’85, and there’s a few noticeable playing mistakes that made the final recording, its a bit of an influences-on-the-sleeve affair and the filler isn’t up to the standards of the best moments. That said. That said I say, this is amazing. The real highlights of the title-track and band’s-name-track are an absolute win for the band, and of the absolute utmost quality. Live, there’s almost nothing off this album that wouldn’t put a smile on my face. Its such a strange mixture of Priest/Maiden worship, punky rough and ready charm and theatrical drama, but when it all converges it births the Overkill sound and just really really works.

Favourite Songs: ‘Feel The Fire,’ ”Overkill & ‘Rotten To The Core.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, but the drums on ‘Raise The Dead’ seem out of time at times.

 

Overkill – Taking Over (1987).
This is pretty much a perfect album. Its the perfect Heavy Metal album. If someone had to show an alien or a lost jungle tribesman who’d never heard of Metal and had no idea of any preconceived notions about the music or culture at all… this is what I’d give em to succinctly deliver the pure heart of metal. This is the album Anvil and Metal Church wanted to make but didn’t quite achieve.

Favourite Songs: ‘In Union We Stand,’ (better than any of Priest or Manowar’s anthems) ‘Deny The Cross’ & ‘Wrecking Crew.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent. ‘Overkill II’ doesn’t have the same fun as the first one, I guess, but that’s just nitpicking.

 

Overkill – Under The Influence (1988).
I like this, and the single ‘Hello From The Gutter’ is great fun, but of the early material this one is the one I listen to or indeed like the least. I have nothing negative to say about it, but for some reason it just isn’t as good as the other four of the early five. Its well produced, chocked full of character, its got variety, its got heaviness, its got no weak moments…. but something just doesn’t sit right with me and I just don’t connect with it the same. No idea why. Maybe I’m just being weird?  I also kinda think Bobby’s vocals get a bit to cartoony on this album, maybe that’s it? I’m not sure.

Favourite Songs: ‘Hello From The Gutter,’ ‘The End Of The Line’ & ‘Never Say Never.’
Not For Me: Same goes for Overkill III, not as good as the first one. Also, I find it difficult to connect with the progressively structured Shred.

 

Overkill – The Years Of Decay (1989).
The best Overkill album, with about half of it all being my favourite Overkill songs (can you follow that sentence’s logic… 50% of the album’s contents are among the best of the band’s entire work). The mixture of doom, speedy Thrash, epic progginess and fun charecterful uniqueness is the solidification and perfection of everything the band have been trying to do before coming together and really gelling. Some of the most memorable material they’ve ever come up with.

Favourite Songs: ‘Elimination,’ ‘I Hate’ ‘Evil Never Dies’ & ‘Birth Of Tension’
Not For Me: ‘Playing With Spiders/Skullkrusher’ is a bit boring if I’m not in the mood, although its actually a cool Sabbathy doom track, just…not what I want when I’m in a Thrash mood.

 

Overkill – Horrorscope (1991).
I’ve wanted to get this forever. I finally did last year, over a decade and a half after my origional Overkill love-fest began. I saw the video for the title track once and was afraid this album was one of those weird 90s album fails like Exodus’ Force Of Habbit if you know what I mean. When I finally got around to it I’m glad I was wrong, its one of the best things they’ve done. Its one of those Thrash-perfection albums, with a stunning production, some damn fun and inventive riffs and fills, and a pure and simple great collection of songs. There’s a touch of groove here and there, but no more than Never Neverland… a hint at Pantera but still very much in the Thrash tent.

Favourite Songs: ‘Coma,’ ‘Blood Money’ ‘Nice Day For A Funeral’ & ‘Thanx For Nothin.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, but it took me a few listens to like ‘Horrorscope.’

 

Sacred Reich:

Sacred Reich – Ignorance (1987).
This is a very solid yet unremarkable album in the Nuclear Assault mould only without the crossover bits and quirky moments. Its all technically fine on every level, the only thing missing is that x-factor or charm. Like, nothing is bad, but nothing makes you say ‘well, this is my favourite song’ either. I tend to listen to it shuffled in with other thrash bands so its part of a nice Thrash smorgasbord, as any song on its own works fine, but I don’t always sit through the whole original track order.

Favourite Songs: Nothing really stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing really stands out.

 

Sacred Reich – Surf Nicaragua (1988).
If you don’t get any bonus tracks or anything, its pretty short. The music is awesome. Each track would be the best track on Ignorance and a good song on The American Way. There’s not too much else to say really. Its awesome, just a shame its not a full length… maybe that’s just me being greedy though. Hey, if the two best songs off of Independent were on this, it’d be like, the best Thrash EP on the market.

Its weird that this is more famous and iconic than their albums. Was it just the novelty of the surf part? I hope not. It deserves more than that.

Favourite Songs: ‘One Nation’ & ‘Surf Nicaragua’ …although I think itd be better without the actual surf part in there.
Not For Me: I could do without the Sabbath cover.

 

Sacred Reich – The American Way (1990).
The best album of their career. One of the most flawless albums of the subgrene. Amazing vocals, such good choruses, awesome lyrics, the perfect production and some nice, niiiice riffs. The final track is a novelty track that technically spoils the word ‘flawless’ but if you consider it a bonus track I can justify the ‘flawless’ tag. I wish they made one more clone of this before moving on. The first four albums are all so different from eachother, could’ve done with a bit more of each, but maybe I’m just being greedy. Anyway, I don’t know what this is, but I really love this album, its got character, charm, x-factor or something. Its just that little bit inexplicably better than almost everything else. Apart from the world-beaters like Years Of Decay and Peace Sells But Who’s Buying and Spreading The Disease… well, this just about the best you can get. Trust me, you need this.

Favourite Songs: ‘Who’s To Blame,’ ‘The American Way’ & ‘Love… Hate.’
Not For Me: ’32 Flavours.’

 

Sacred Reich – Independent (1993).
Much like ‘Bonded By Blood’ the title-track is dramatically better than everything else. Its a bit repetitive and forgettable towards the end and although the highlights are amazing its not as good towards the deep cuts. It also of significance for introducing the world to Dave McClain. I mean, its great but I am writing a lot of these and I’m getting a little too honest for my own good. Even more than I’m even honest with myself. Or I guess I’m allowed to change my mind. I really like it sometimes and sometimes I’m not as in the mood as others.

Favourite Songs: ‘Independent’ & ‘Supremancy.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

Sepultura:

Sepultura – Morbid Visions (1986).
This just aint my cup of tea. I get it in a curiosity sort of way and I can see why some of the extreme crowd might be into it, but yeah, not for me. Also; Is it true that Igor couldn’t afford a pedal so he played the kickdrum by actually kicking it?

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.

 

 

Sepultura – Schizophrenia (1987).
A lot better than the previous album, but nowhere near as good as the next two. Its still a bit too rough, its still a bit harsh and its still a little bit samey, but boy is it better than the previous album and EP.

I remeber reading the linear notes of this whilst at a bus stop and my highschool English Teacher gave me a dissaproving look. I was actually listening to Set The World Afire by Megadeth at the time, but he gave me the whole ‘why do you listen to this nonsense, grow up’ thing. If we were talking Schizophrenia I’d have been tempted to agree with him, but you can’t mess with Set The World Afire.

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.

 

Sepultura – Beneath The Remains (1989).
The title track is awesome and I love it, but apart from that I don’t really listen to this often enough to distinguish the other tracks. Its a little bit samey though much, much better than the previous material. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this album, but I don’t know, I have some sort of mental block. I agree with anyone and any review that says its good, but I can’t ever seem to just stick it on and get into it.

Favourite Songs: ‘Beneath The Remains’
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.

 

Sepultura – Arise (1991).
It took me a long time to get into this. I remember for a little while I didn’t know Sepultura had a past, I thought their debut was Chaos AD and their Breakthrough was Roots. This resulted in quite a while of calling anything prior to this ‘Old School Seps.’ Of all the old school Seps albums, this one is the most varied, accomplished and not only realistic, but impressive. I am not in love with it or any Sepultura pre-Chaos AD but it is objectively great. I think they’re better at parts than songs, and there’s tonnes of sections I enjoy but this isn’t an album isn’t something I listen to that often.

Also how weird was it to hear this in Taledega Nights? So unexpected,

Favourite Songs: ‘Arise,’ ‘Dead Embryonic Cells’ & ‘Infected Voice.’
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.

Slayer:

Slayer – Show No Mercy (1983).
I avoided this album for years based on the silly cover and the silly make-up photo on the back, but hearing both ‘Die By The Sword’ and ‘The Antichrist’ on Decade Of Aggression made me take a shot, and I’m glad I did. I really, really like this. Its very NWOBHMy, charming and unique. It almost feels like a different band from the guys who made Reign In Blood or Seasons In The Abyss, but I love it all the same. Its like two different bands, but two awesome bands. The production job is really interesting, there’s nothing quite like it… Overkill and Megadeth’s debuts have charming production but its still different than this. Also for all the Venom influence that gets talked about regarding this band, y’know who this reminds me of? The other Newcastle guys… Raven.

Favourite Songs: ‘Crionics,’ ‘The Antichrist’ & ‘Final Command.’
Not For Me: ‘Metal Storm/Face The Slayer.’

 

Slayer – Haunting The Chapel (1984).
This EP is a lot heavier and more Slayer-y than the debut. I feel like these tracks would fit in with Hell Awaits a lot more than Show No Mercy should they be packaged together at some point. For such a famous and oft-played song, ‘Chemical Warfare’ is a bit dull, but the rest is pretty nifty. Nowadays I don’t listen to this much on its own, but I get decent coverage from it when listening to all Thrash on shuffle.

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.

 

Slayer – Live Undead (1984).
This one feels a bit pointless, like, a live album done in the studio with a tiny crowd, and tracks from only the debut and one more EP. Like, who is this really for? I don’t dislike it, but I’ll never love it. I guess there’s a certain charm to it. I don’t listen to it often, but when I do I don’t feel like its been a complete waste of money. Not that I’d recommend it either. But if you’ve already got it, don’t throw it in the trash just yet.

 

 

Slayer – Hell Awaits (1985).
Its a bit monotonous, a bit slow and a bit too reverb-y, but its still a pretty strong album. I think the performances are the least aggressive of any Slayer album to date, and the production makes it feel a bit muted, but the songs themselves are pretty boss. Also, there’s not one, but two prototype riffs for the iconic Raining Blood riff from the next album, check em out, its like they were trying to figure out how to make the best riff in the whole genre.

Favourite Songs: ‘Kill Again’ & ‘Hardening Of The Arteries.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

Slayer – Reign In Blood (1986).
This album was so hyped and so highly recommend that I felt it was actually a big disappointment for me. It actually took me a rather long time to get into and for years I’d speak of it in mocked derisive tones. If I ever used the word ‘overrated’ it was probably in conjunction with this. The main exceptions to my cold shoulder to this where Raining Blood and Post Mortem because they are Slayer’s best two songs period. Nowadays I’m actually pretty keen on this record. It works better as a whole than in bits though. I more routinely shuffle music nowadays, but getting a random ‘Epidemic’ or ‘Jesus Saves’ doesn’t really blow my skirt up in the way a deep cut off an Overkill or Annihilator album might. Its a complex relationship I have with this. In awe, respectful, but resentful, but also too self aware to stay resentful. Oh yeah, and what about that production? Hands down the best Thrash production of the 1980s.

Favourite Songs: ‘Raining Blood,’ ‘Postmortem’ & ‘Alter Of Sacrifice.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

Slayer – South Of Heaven (1988).
When you read about this one, the articles always act as if its the slowest album ever recorded. When things like Silent Scream and Live Undead are pretty darn quick I just don’t get that. I’d argue Silent Scream is faster than at least half of Reign In Blood. Its not the slow broody numbers or the speedy bangers that really set this album apart though, the mid paced and famous tracks are the most memorable moments here for me. I don’t care if they are outplayed, The Title Track and Mandatory Suicide are a real high water mark for Thrash in my opinion. Oh, and the artwork is cool.

There’s a famous moment in my family where my dad got a McDonalds when not used to it and was expecting some gourmet burger and instead got soggy gross fast food. He proclaimed it a ‘dollop of slop’ and threw it out. I was listening to this album at the time. Anytime I see discarded slop on the roadside, I think of Slayer and my dad and I smile.

Favourite Songs: ‘South Of Heaven,’ ‘Mandatory Suicide’ & ‘Silent Scream.’
Not For Me: ‘Spill The Blood.’ Also as a sidenote, I didn’t know for years that Dissident Agressor was a cover and it was my among my favourite ever Slayer songs.

 

Slayer – Seasons In The Abyss (1990).
This album is pretty near flawless. Its got some really heavy nasty stuff, some nice groovy catchy stuff, some interesting slow creepy stuff, a mixture of lyricaly topics from social, fantasty and real life serial killer content. The production is absolutely immense, especially the drum sound and each band member’s performance is arguably their career best. No Slayer fan should be without and I’d argue no Thrash fan should either. I got this one slightly later than other Slayer albums (in the same purchase as Megadeth’s Killing Is My Business, in the same week my friend Paul lent me a copy of Sepultura’s Schizophrenia for the first time) but having owned it for many many years now I can definitely say I think its subjectively the best Slayer album and if you catch me on the right day I’d swear blind its always been my favourite Slayer album.

Favourite Songs: ‘War Ensemble,’ ‘Blood Red’ ‘Skeletons Of Society’ & ‘Seasons In The Abyss.’ (Four of the best ever Thrash songs)
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

Slayer – A Decade Of Aggression (1991).
This double album is one of the best live albums released in the actual Thrash era (There’s plenty of amazing ones from later, like Testament’s Live In London from 2005), with a longer and deeper, and more representative tracklisting than most live Thrash releases from the time and a really decent sound and mixing job.

You can imagine why an 8-track Exodus live album seemed a bit too short after this.

 

 

Slayer – Divine Intervention (1991).
With the exclusion of the opening track, Killing Fields, I absolutely love the drumming on this album and have a little bit of a drummer crush on Paul Bostaph. I also like the fact that Dittohead is faster than anything on Reign In Blood although the band weren’t in their fast-fast-fast period at this time. There’s a few tunes on this album that are slow and groovy with a sort of insidious menace and very different vocals than usual from Tom. I think that although I don’t know very many people who dislike this, I still feel its underrated. I don’t know if I’d call it my hands-down unarguable favourite Slayer album, but I definitely wouldn’t want to be without it. If you only have the three most famous Slayer albums, consider adding this to your collection.

Favourite Songs: ‘Dittohead,’ ‘Sex. Murder. Art,’ ‘Circle Of Beliefs’ & ‘Fictional Reality.’
Not For Me: ‘Killing Fields’

 

Sodom:

Sodom – In The Sign Of Evil (1985).
I have to say I don’t like this; never have, probably never will. Part of it is the style, part of it is the execution. My gut reaction is to say crap music made crappily but that feels so harsh and unfair to say. When judging it purely on the merits of comparison to other Heavy Metal albums and not taking into account things like people’s feelings, legacy, influence or budget, or the fact that I’ve never made anything better, and just going on a scale of ‘If we’re comparing this to everything else in the same league as Master Of Puppets and Reign In Blood’ then I have to say that this really is the worst Thrash album I own, the one I like the least as well, and one which I’ve found very offputting. Buying this made me take less chances buying Thrash albums because I never expected I could dislike one so much before I tried this one out.
I’m sure if you have Blaze In The Northern Sky bedsheets and you dog’s name is Sarcofago then maybe you’d enjoy it but for me, it really doesn’t do it. I got into this music for Caught In A Mosh and Battery and Peace Sells. Sorry if that makes me a wimp.

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.

 

Sodom – Obsessed By Cruelty (1986).
I’m not a fan of this. I know its held as a classic by Extreme Metal fans but nope, it really isn’t what I like about Thrash or Metal. I don’t want to be harsh or critical because I know its dear to many people, but as a pure personal taste issue I just can’t get along with this and it distorted my view of the whole band for a while. Its hard to call myself a fan of a band when I dislike this so much.
Years later I see much more value to it but when I first bought this I thought it was pretty much garbage and struggled many years trying to get any enjoyment of it at all. I used to actually feel guilty for having wasted money on it. Which with my current brain I think is a pretty stupid way to feel and would hate to say out loud or hurt the band’s or fan’s feelings about…but when I was a teen I’d tell anyone who’d listen that this album royally sucked and any time I see this album in my collection that is the first thing that flashes across my mind. I guess its not fair to complain that a young band on a budget were making mistakes or not making masterpieces but at the time it seemed like such a big deal… I mean, Metallica were young guys too once and they managed to Make Kill ‘Em All.

You know when you’ve got Thrash on shuffle though, and you hear a run of something like ‘Bonded By Blood,’ ‘Hit The Lights,’ ‘Rotten To The Core’ and ‘The Mechanix’ and you couldn’t be musically more satisfied and then ‘Witchhammer’ vomits over the speakers and snaps you back to reality and all you can do is wonder if you should delete it from the playlist but then you get guilty about wasting money and can’t do that and then you look in the mirror and you are me. I hate when that happens. Or you like it, but then Sarcofago sheds his fur all over your Darkthrone bedsheets, and that’s a nuisance too.

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.

 

Sodom – Expurse Of Sodomy (1987).
This little EP shows the band expanding their sound, honing their skills and producing some memorable material. Hey, didn’t Cradle Of Filth cover ‘Sodom And Lust’ …I knew I’d heard that somewhere before. Its brief, but it works.

Favourite Songs: ‘My Atonement’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

 

Sodom – Persecution Mania (1987).
This album is a huge improvement over the debut. Its a lot less murky, a lot better played and more professional sounding, the tones are more to my individual tastes and there’s a lot more ambition in the structuring and songwriting. If I was being critical I’d point out that its perhaps a bit too samey and it doesn’t have many real stand out moments but that’s only if I’m being really harsh. I wasn’t that keen on it when I first got it and sometimes have to overcome a bit of mental prejudice against it but I actually enjoy it rather a lot these days.

Favourite Songs: ‘Conjuration,’ & ‘Outbreak Of Evil.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

Sodom – Agent Orange (1989).
Ah, now this is what I wanted. This is everything the band had been missing… complex and intriguing songs, memorable lyrics and patterns, melody in the leads, variety, clear production. On top of it all, its not just stylistically more to my tastes but actually better as well. This is actually one of the best Thrash albums in my opinion, overall, when you take every individual marker into account. Oh and the punky ‘Auesgbombt’ is such fun. Damn, even the album art is good!

If you only own Obsessed By Cruelty and therefore think that the band suck, try this, you’ll be very surprised.

Favourite Songs: ‘Agent Orange’ & ‘Tired And Red.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

Sodom – Better Off Dead (1990).
This is one of the newest Thrash albums I own, not like, it is released newest, but like, the one that I bought the most recently. I just had the first three Sodom albums for yeeeears and finally got around to getting the fourth recently and damn, I was missing something. This album is totally to my tastes and I really, really recommend it to Thrash fans. It is the professional, well written and immensely catchy Sodom album I’d been waiting for. I wish I’d heard this before I’d heard Obsessed By Cruelty and I’d probably have had a much better opinion of the band all these years. Hey, if you aren’t yet keen on this band just check out ‘The Saw Is The Law’ …no, Black Metal Fans, it aint exactly Witchhammer, but it works for me.

Favourite Songs: ‘The Saw Is The Law,’ ‘Never Healing Wound’ & ‘Capture The Flag.’
Not For Me: The Thin Lizzy cover doesn’t really fit.

 

S.O.D:

SOD – Speak English Or Die (1985).
I like Anthrax, I like Nuclear Assault. This album is Scott Ian and Dan Lilker (yeah I know he was on Fistful Of Metal too, but still…) so I was all geared up to like this and bought it with excitement (mental note, in the same Omagh CD & Record’s fair where I got that Death Angel boxset, the same year as I got Mastodon’s Leviathan). I don’t actually really like this album very much at all though. The humour isn’t for me, the songs aren’t as memorable as Anthrax songs or Nuclear Assault songs, the singer isn’t to my tastes and in general its just a bit forgettable. There are some seriously great Scott-Ian’s-Wrist riffs in there, but that’s not enough on its own to save this for me. I’ll listen to it quite often to try and get my money’s worth because I don’t WANT to dislike it, but I don’t get much out of this one, sorry, I know its got its share of fans who’d call it a classic but sadly I’m not one of ’em.

Favourite Songs: I like a few of the very Scott Ian mid paced riffs here and there.
Not For Me: Most of it

 

Testament:

Testament – The Legacy (1987).
Arguably the darkest and heaviest Testament album (definitely of the ’80s at any rate) and one of the most relentless Thrash albums on the go, The Legacy is definitely a must-have for any Thrash fan and not just in a ‘people say that but its not my cup of tea’ way, I genuinely recommend this, it is a master-class in heavy metal music.

I really enjoy the performance on this album, its incredibly tight for a debut and there’s a certain edge to the playing.

Favourite Songs: ‘Apocalyptic City,’ ‘Alone In The Dark’ & ‘Raging Waters.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

Testament – The New Order (1988).
Well this is just jam packed full of concert favourites and perennial compilation inclusion choices, now isn’t it? How could anyone who likes this type of music fail to enjoy this? I’ve heard a few people complain about the production but for me, its not an issue at all. The songwriting, singing and playing are all absolutely excellent and how can anyone mess with the absolute anthem ‘Disciples Of The Watch’ ? I’m tempted to throw out some ‘if you don’t like it, you don’t like Thrash’ type hyperbole, so much is it amazing.

Side note: I recently re-arranged the track order so it opens faster and goes slower as it progresses and it works a bit better. I think the instrumental, the Aerosmith cover and the slower tracks feel better as a conclusion than interrupting the fury.

Favourite Songs: ‘Disciples Of The Watch,’ ‘The Preacher’ & ‘Into The Pit.’ (Three of the absolute best Thrash songs ever)
Not For Me: The Aerosmith cover is an odd choice. ‘Hypnosis’ is a bit pointless.

 

Testament – Practice What You Preach (1989).
A bit more melodic than the previous two, and boasting a ballad (imaginatively titled The Ballad) some greebs back in the day might’ve cried sell out (back in the day when people though having lyrics about Black Magic constituted something being Black Metal, rather than the now recognised separate musical genre). I don’t know, if you don’t want to give an even catchier Testament a chance then your loss, but for me this is exactly the right balance of heaviness and tunefulness and what I’d argue good Thrash is all about. It doesn’t sound like a compromise, it sounds like an improvement. Anyway, I reckon its only the real nitpicky Burzum t-shirted folks who make a distinction between this an the rest of the Testmanet work. Sorry, sounding a bit defensive there …old resentments. Any-old-way – This is heavy, punchy, memorable Thrash with all the lead guitar heroics, chugging and crunch you need.

Favourite Songs: ‘Practice What You Preach,’ ‘Sins Of Ommision’ ‘Nightmare (Coming Back To You)’ & ‘Perilous Nation.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent. Yes, even The Ballad!

 

Testament – Souls Of Black (1990).
Criminally underrated. Criminally. I often read people say this album was rushed, or that it is repetitive or doesn’t live up to their previous albums. For me, this is one of, if not the best Testament album and I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t like it. If feels like the perfection of everything they’d been building to at this point.

Side note – the album cover is one of my all time favourites, I want to get a vinyl copy and get it framed and put it up on my wall as art.

Favourite Songs: ‘Souls Of Black,’ ‘Seven Days Of May’ ‘Face In The Sky’ & ‘The Legacy.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

Testament – The Ritual (1992).
This album feels like a missed opportunity to sell out and become millionaires. I mean; Metallica had the Black Album, Megadeth had Countdown’ and Anthrax had Sound Of White Noise, so it seems like Testament could’ve gone down a more hard-rock route and made tonnes of cash, but that was not the case.

At the same time, it wasn’t business as usual either. They doubled the number of ballads from the previous two records (both are decent though, and neither are particularity commercial or cynical), they added a few slow tracks, made more progressive song structures and had a few really good single type songs.

You can’t argue with the likes of ‘Electric Crown’ on its own but the album suffers slightly a lot from a very jumbled track order that doesn’t flow very naturally.

Favourite Songs: ‘Electric Crown’ ‘Agony’ & ‘Let Go Of My World.’
Not For Me: ‘So Many Lies’

 

Vio-lence:

Vio-lence – Eternal Nightmare (1988).
‘Vio-lence;’ that name always slightly annoys me and is difficult to say out loud. Why not just ‘Violence.’ Well, legal reasons probably. Anyway, every time I listen to this, my main though is how much heavier and angrier than Reign In Blood it is without being remotely Death or Black Metal sounding. Sodom or Possesed or Sarcofago may be super influential to extreme Metal, but this is one of the angriest Pure-Thrash albums I’ve heard.

The album was notable at the time of my purchase for featuring Rob Flynn from Machine Head on guitar and then even more interesting when Phil Demmel on this album also joined Machine Head (and ever since as he became more than just a fill-in guitarist and turned into a star in his own right). When I read the phrase ‘Bay Area Crunch’ the two things that imediately flash across my mind are Exodus’ Fabulous Disaster and This, before I start thinking about whoever else.

Favourite Songs: ‘Phobiaphobia’ & ‘Calling In The Coroner.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

 

Vio-lence – Oppressing The Masses (1990).
This album isn’t as constantly fast and blisteringly heavy as the previous one, there’s a lot more meaty and groovier sections and a much better vocal performance. It feels a bit longer and if you aren’t in the right mood, maybe a bit samey, but there’s some seriously good lead guitar work and a very crunchy production that makes the riffs sound perfect.

I don’t feel like I listen to this often enough, but its one of my go to albums to listen to when I feel like I’m not listening to something enough, so I’ve listened to it more under those circumstances than properly.

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.

 

Vio-lence – Torture Tactics (1991).
This quick three-track EP focuses mainly on comedy lyrics and silliness. Musically its the same ballsy Bay Area Thrash as the previous two albums, but with stupid lyrics like “12 Inches Of Dangling Doom” …not to my taste, even back as a teenager. I have this as bonus tracks on Oppressing The Masses, but there’s a certain vibe to these songs that doesn’t fit with the songs from that record, so nowadays I have it as a separate entry in iTunes. I don’t listen to this one that often but have nothing against it per se.

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.

 

Voivod:

Voivod – Killing Technology (1987).
Killing Technology is the Progged-out Canadian Thrash band Voivod’s third album. My clearest memory of it, is my first listen when I was building a flatpack CD shelf from B&Q, my first ever attempt at furniture assembly. I can’t say I really like this, but I’ll go into more details below.

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.

 

Voivod – Dimension Hatross (1988).
Of the two Voivod albums that I own, this one is less specifically Thrash, but more good (wow, my writing skills amaze me sometimes.) The song that made me check out the band, ‘Tribal Convictions’ is on here, but its about the only song on here I like all the way through. There’s loads of good parts on the album, and the production is a lot clearer than the previous album, but all the dissonance, weird music and unpleasant scratchy music is bigger, longer and more prominent. The things that actual Voivod fans would probably go gooey over aren’t really for me. Despite being a big fan of bands like Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson, the gnarlier side of Voivod just isn’t for me. I listen to this album (and the previous one) quite a lot to give them a fair shot, feel like I didn’t waste my money and try not to feel intellectually inferior to imaginary bullies in Burzum t-shirts, but try as I might, this band and album just aint for me.

Favourite Songs: ‘Tribal Convictions.’
Not For Me: It really doesn’t need a Batman theme-tune cover.

 

 

 

Obviously, there’s more to Thrash than that. But this article’s gotta end some time, hasn’t it?