Top 50 Albums of Thrash (Year 3)


Abr 17 2010, 19h58

So I first started this list three years ago and over the years I've optimized it further and further. Here is the latest version.

Comments and suggestions are welcome, but please note that I am fully aware that the are a number of big names missing (Sodom, Kreator, Dark Angel, Megadeth, Anthrax etc.) from this list. No need to point it out. But if you want to know why I think these bands are not deserving of a mention, feel free to ask.

50. Hypnosia - Extreme Hatred

49. Horrorscope – Pictures of Pain

48. Sepultura – Beneath the Remains

47. Rammer - Incinerator/Krusher

46. Ulysses Siren - Above the Ashes

45. Necrosis - The Search

44. Indestroy – Senseless Theories EP

43. Seventh Angel – Lament for the Weary

42. Master – With Noose Around the Neck

41. Darkness – Death Squad

40. Exhorder - Slaughter at the Vatican

39. Destruction – Mad Butcher EP

38. Overkill - Feel the Fire

37. Iron Angel - Hellish Crossfire

36. Deathrow – Riders of Doom

35. Gothic Slam – Killer Instinct

34. Annihilator – Alice in Hell

33. Flotsam and Jetsam - Doomsday for the Deceiver

32. Holy Terror - Terror and Submission

31. Mekong Delta - Dances of Death (and Other Walking Shadows)

30. Bulldozer – Day of Wrath

One of the pioneers of blackened thrash metal, but fuck that. Just listen to this album from a straight-up thrash perspective. It’s got everything—a raw production, distortion all over the place, but riffs that are so jagged that they cut straight through that. And the solos coming out of nowhere very much in the tradition of early Slayer. You even have a long-ass drum solo. And still catchy as fuck.

29. Tourniquet – Psycho Surgery

Considering the dregs with which Christian metal has come to be associated with, it’s actually quite striking that there have been great Christian thrash albums out there. And this is one of those rare gems. It’s proggy, highly technical thrash that gallops along with a good load of speed metal and crossover influences. Lightning fast drumming guides short, quick, (at times) bass-envenomed guitar riffing. Oh and the lyrics are not mind-numbingly retarded, which is obviously rare with Christian metal (Mortification, I’m looking at you).

28. Depressive Age – First Depression

I am admittedly a sucker for German speed/thrash, but this album is still distinctive. The vocals, at first listen, seem somewhat inappropriate, but they actually give this album a texture unlike anything I’ve heard. The vocals seem more at home in doom metal, and so, here, they give the entire album a very mournful and, yes, depressive feel. It’s hard to find thrash albums the create that kind of atmosphere, but here it is.

27. Aura Noir - The Merciless

One of the progenitors of blackened thrash metal, their musical output fully ripened with their third full length. Though ripened isn’t the word to use. Their musical output rotted and fermented into a kickass moonshine that’ll turn you blind. Filthy, foul-smelling thrash that brings the rough and raw influences of black metal into some badass thrash riffage. The drumming stands out at the forefront. And considering how well and varied it comes off that’s just right for an album like this. And of course there’s intoxicating riffs aplenty--all peppered with (bizarrely sing-along) black metal shrieks. CONDOOOOOR!

26. Infernal Majesty - Unholier than Thou

It’s the best mid-to-late-90s thrash out there. This is where thrash should have went instead of reducing itself to the simplicity of groove metal. Crisp, clear production with a very high bee-like buzz for guitar tone. Lot’s of rhythm changes with very thin sounding riffage, but damnit if it doesn’t work—it’s one of the most interesting pieces of thrash out there.

25. Exodus - Fabulous Disaster

Exodus you say? Bonded by Blood sure was a good album! Yeah, yeah. See Fabulous Disaster. See, unlike Bonded By Blood, the production on FD was tweaked to give it a thick dose of venom to each riff and lyric. Unforgetably catchy with a new-found heaviness that gives the genre a subtle extra kick. I've yet to hear a thrash album that does the same thing.

24. Deceased – The 13 Frightened Souls EP

This EP is the perfect example of death/thrash. It’s a little on the death metal side of death/thrash, but the heart of this short little gem of an album lies firmly with neck destroying thrash riffs delivered in machine-gun bursts. The DM growls come off like rhythmical barks—as one would expect of a vocalist who’s also the drummer. The changes in pace make for quick effective songs that integrate extreme aggression with melodic interludes. Unbelievably awesome death/thrash all around.

23. Varathron Genesis of Apocryphal Desire

So the question that anybody unfamiliar with this album would ask, “What is a black metal band doing on a thrash album list?” Well if you were to listen to this compilation of old demos you’d realize that Varathron was a slightly blackened version of a Slayer-worshipping thrash band. You get some filthy as fuck riffs delivered over hoarse growls. And while the album often flirts with black metal, it is at its core a thrash metal album as much as anything Slayer put out in the 80s. The precarious balance of black metal and thrash metal make this album a mindfuck to listen to. Cause it certainly isn’t just a blackened thrash album.

22. Wardance – Heaven is for Sale

If you liked Doro on Burning Witches, but you wish it was a speed-thrash album, you’re in luck. While the vocalist of Wardance is not distinctive as Doro, she still lends herself well to distinguishing this German speed/thrash metal band from the rest of the herd. You get brilliantly written speed demons of songs accompanied by shrill, punky female vocals. But what really sells it is that it has among the most effective basswork I’ve heard on a speed/thrash album. Major bonus points for a sped up thrash cover of House of the Rising Sun.

21. Poltergeist – Depression

Bouncy, speedy thrash stuffed down your throat. It’s catchy yet varied, with solos to blow you the fuck away. The vocals just lead you along an album that’s got the spirit of crossover, but is pure fucking thrash. A Lawnmower Deth spliced with Reign in Blood and with the distortion turned up a bit and a shit-ton of neo-classicism.

20. Shah - Beware

Soviet thrash metal? How more badass can you get? Well I'll tell you just listen to Shah's guitar texture and tell me it's not one of the most refreshingly unique chainsaw sounds to ever rock the fuck out of thrash metal in '89. That's one thing, but the fact that each song on this album is perfectly composed in every feasible way makes this album a must own for all thrash fans. Just listen to the guitar lead on "Threashold of Pain" at around the 2 minute mark and tell me it's not the most perfectly timed musical device possible. It makes me cry tears of molten lead every time I hear it.

19. Grinder – Dawn for the Living

See now this is German thrash for people who like their thrash without the death metal and black metal influences. Who needs to be raw and brutal when you can shred the fuck out of an ear canal with lead guitarwork suited for prog-rock, speed of speed metal, and riffs galore. Fast speed metalesque thrash with a bite.

18. Sabbat – Karmagmassacre

Sabbat has consistently released kick-ass albums, so the question is which piece of Satanic thrash should grace the hallowed halls of this top 50. Well it largely comes down to personal preference and this little album has the rough, rusted up sword edge that makes every thrashy jab as venomous as can be. And yet through it all, the classical influences seep through. Catchy, head-banging ecstasy for thrashers who like their thrash to be rotten at the core, but with technical savvy on the edges.

17. Metal Church - Metal Church

Sometimes there comes along a band that is defined by one man to such a degree that it becomes acceptable for that man to completely rip off the logo and cover-art of the main band for his solo project. In this case, that man is of course David Wayne. No disrespect to the rest of the guys of Metal Church, but David Wayne's insane shrieks have propelled this particular album towards the apex of my list. And trust me, I don't listen for vocals when I put on a thrash record, but damnit if David Wayne didn't lead the band's thrash songs into a clear and compelling compositional structure. Without him, none of their songs ever demanded the same attention from me. Rest in peace, Wayne, you were truly one of the best thrash vocalists out there.

16. Slaughter – Strappado

Make way for the incinerator! These guys tuned all their instruments to play death metal and then played thrash instead. Don’t be fooled by the guitar tone and heavy distortion--nor the fact that Schuldiner had a brief stint with this band. This is some majorly headbanging mid-paced to slow-paced thrash. An innovative little bastard that has had a major influence on death-thrash.

15. Hellhammer - Apocalyptic Raids

In terms of influence on extreme metal genres to come, this album could very well be number one. With its combination of the plodding, droning riffs and a thrash rhythm, this album skirts the line between thrash and something completely different. An unforgettable sojourn into weirder realms that, for all its experimentality, is fun as hell to listen to. A great coalescence of the avant-garde and the catchy.

14. Sabbat - History of Time to Come

Martin Walkyier is a vocalist god. He went down a very folksy route later on, but this is the album that marks that perfect medium between the thrashy folk metal to come with early Skyclad and straight-up conventional thrash. It’s bouncy and focused on the rhythmical, lispy vocals of Walkyier. The riffage is straightforward, but composed perfectly to induce total neck-breaking headbanging.

13. Heathen - Victims of Deception

From the get-go this album gets a million extra-credit points, for one of the best intros to an album in the history of music. Jim Jones giving one of his rabble-rousing speeches and then DUM DUM. A perfect segueway into mid-paced thrash. As for the music itself, two words: The solos. Good God the solos! Not that the riffs aren't solid-as-fuck, but the melodic aspect of this band just dominates this record. But see they know what it is to keep things within reason. No guitar-wankery. A disciplined, strictly compositional approach yields blazing solos that resist the temptation of ever becoming solos for solos sake. Their solos work with the song and lift what would be just a solid thrash band to the level of musical godliness.

12. Slayer- Show No Mercy

You could say all you want about your Hell Awaits and Haunting the Chapel, but it's all about Show No Mercy. Why? Never mind that people consider it a second-to-finish thrash album. The NWOBHM-influenced riff apocalypse lends itself to the creation of blazing speed/thrash to last the test of time. One of the most satisfying evolutions of speed metal.

11. Metal Church - The Dark

I like to think of the first three Metal Church albums as the Godfather trilogy. Their debut was Part 1. The Dark was part 2. And part 3 was... well you see why Blessing in Disguise is missing from this list. Anyways, I know I've tended to put debuts ahead of later albums, but The Dark is just a more mature, more badass version of the s/t. There's really little that differentiates the two albums musically wise. They may as well have been one album, but The Dark was just a little catchier and just a little louder. Metal Church was playing at 10, The Dark was turned up to 11, in a metaphorical sort of way. The Dark was the only follow-up to a balls-out killer debut that didn't disappoint me, which means it's that much better.

10. Vendetta – Brain Damage

I’m not sure what it is these guys got. Their playing style seems largely middle-of-the-road, but they can damn well make songs. Every goddamn note, every goddamn riff fits perfectly. They know what a thrash metal aesthetic is and they are going to pummel it into your brain. If you want to know what a fucking thrash instrumental is supposed to sound like, go no further than Fade to Insanity. It’s nearly seven minutes long and never are you ever bored. A shit-ton of riffs, but not too many. Just enough to make you want to put this track on repeat to catch each unique riff anew. Bloody fucking brilliant album.

9. Overkill - The Years of Decay

So many good Overkill albums, so little time (and space). I think no one disagrees that Overkill has probably the best track record as far as thrash metal bands that have survived into the 90s go. I think that may be one of the reasons why I chose Years of Decay, specifically. '89 and no signs of waning. Longstanding champions of thrash were beginning to decay--a pun ha!--in influence and quality. But not fucking Overkill! Besides, I just think it's their best album by a close margin--chaotic speed all over the place and D.D. Verni's kickass bass-work twanging louder than most of their thrash contemporaries. Unforgetable riffs and a completely headbangable sense of rhythm.

8. Exumer – Possessed by Fire

A rough and speedy thrashmageddon with riffage no less (if not more) memorable than anything the Big Three in Germany ever put out. Sure, every seasoned thrasher knows this band, but these guys deserved a nice big piece of fame that Kreator, Destruction and Sodom hogged in Germany. And this album should have definitely been what did it for them. Some traces of the melodic, but mostly just balls-out thrash with riffs sharp enough to mince and mangle flesh. Thrash ambrosia.

7. Slayer - Reign in Blood

This marvelous bastard of an album defines the boundary between speed metal and thrash metal for me. Maybe because a short song like Necrophobic blazes through with clear leads rather than the crunchy riffs, but I've always considered this album more speed than thrash. Either way, this album surges forward with fucking precision. No mindless guitar wankery here; it feels composed and whole despite its unrelenting fury.

6. Assassin – The Upcoming Terror

Aggressive speed/thrash that will smack you upside the head over and over, leaving a helluva fucking mark. Oh and fuck me, but if it isn’t melodic as well! Melodic, fast, aggressive speed/thrash with harsh vocals and lead guitarwork that impresses even non-thrashers. Catchy too! How the fuck is all of that possible in one single band? I don’t know how they did it, but this kicks utter ass.

5. Artillery - We Are the Dead Demo

I have a good mind to make this number one, but it's only about 15 minutes long. I have listened to this demo over and over again and I have become completely convinced that this is truly the first stage of high quality thrash. I consider this to be one of the first fully thrash demos out there. Now I don't usually include demos on here, but this is the exception of exceptions. Nothing Artillery ever did afterward sounds remotely like this. Satanic, diabolical, raw as fuck, and completely evolving the hell out of speed metal into (rather simple) thrash riffage. I should also mention that the vocals have no resemblance to their operatic technicality in later albums. Here they're sloppy, amateurish, and with a strong accent. But they just work with the raw, catchy feel of this amazing piece of music.

4. Grinder – The 1st EP

This little speedy bastard of an album starts of on a kinda odd quirky note—a bit of a funky riff leading a song into some truly orgasmic guitarwork. You don’t even know this is a straight-up thrash outfit until Adrian Hahn sings “as long as I am standing in the pit” and the best fucking solo possible follows, guiding your ungrateful ears to a paradise of riffage unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. Goddamn and this album just doesn’t let go. Every song just keeps on hammering with beautiful riff after beautiful riff. Balls-out-attitude, speedy, intricate—like Heathen, but with the ear for experimentation of later Death Angel—it’s everything that Act III should have been, but wasn’t. Goddamn this album rocks

3. Torture - Storm Alert

This is a fucking monster of an album. Completely underrated, often overlooked, but now that they rereleased Storm Alert, you should have no excuse of not having heard it. This is brutality incarnate and no eardrum shall be left unraped. Imagine the bite of Sadus packaged in Kill Em All with the brutal heaviness of Sodom but still with the musical intricacy of Mekong Delta. All that and faster, heavier, and more complex. Fucking bass solos out of nowhere, instrumental tracks, and the most memorable riffs since Kill Em All! Hell yeah, it's that good!

2. Holy Terror - Mind Wars

In 1988, someone stole the soul of punk and shoved into a thrash band. And this isn't even crossover! None of that smug mocking cynicism--just the most heartfelt balls-to-the-wall desperation possible. Fast. Complex. If this was the last stand of thrash it'd be a battle to the fucking death with the most hyperactive little beast you've ever seen. It'll claw your eyes out before you kill it.

1. Metallica - Kill Em All

I hate Metallica, personally. And by that I mean, I think they are wretched human beings. But that doesn't mean that their achievements in the early days of thrash deserve to be marginalized. Kill Em All was the first pure thrash metal album, in that it comprehensively included all the necessary musical elements that defined the burgeoning genre. Most people can concede that fact, but far too many people seem to forget how fucking amazing the record is. Catchy, but not overly-simple. It stands the test of time even today. The naysayers will say that the best thrash metal album is possibly some obscure album that's VERY out of print today (Morbid Saint I'm looking at you)... But these naysayers forget the sheer amount of influence Kill Em All had on the thrash metal scene. When the album came out, it was fucking revolutionary. Kill Em All is still thrashy as fuck today and will be for years to come. This is the album that defines what thrash stands for (despite any personal qualms one has towards the douchebags that comprise the band today).


  • Nekrokilldozer

    помню как у меня в 1988 году был диск Holy Terror по русски хули террор, а теперь опасно с чурками в метро ездить взрываются суки

    Abr 28 2010, 9h08
  • TyECOK

    I have to re-listen Grinder's 1st EP. Reeling on The Edge is a kick-ass song, but I seem not remember the rest. @Nekrokilldozer: Всех коментаторов распугал. @caedes: Add connections to Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, Kreator etc. Should bring more people.

    Jun 11 2010, 18h16
  • RhinoX753

    Just want to hear your personal opinion about: Anacrusis - "Suffering Hour"

    Ago 22 2010, 10h18
  • caedes

    So I thought I didn't like Anacrusis that much, but that was mostly cause I picked up Screams and Whispers a long while back and wasn't too impressed. I just checked out Suffering Hour and I'm really digging this. Thanks for =mentioning it.

    Ago 24 2010, 22h42
  • wingkon

    I've met one of the members of Tourniquet, so it's nice to see them mentioned. I'll have to check out some of these bands. And what was your reasoning for leaving out Kreator?

    Out 1 2010, 10h48
  • caedes

    Simple reason. I never liked any of their output. I can appreciate its musical importance but that doesn't mean I enjoy listening to it.

    Out 3 2010, 4h46
  • Thrasher_Dge

    Great journal!Check this out! ;)

    Out 13 2010, 21h09
  • EdHunter

    Nice list!

    Jul 12 2011, 20h22
  • pateewack

    'Big' band(s) or not, I definitely would include Possessed 'Seven Churches,' Testament 'The New Order,' Powermad 'Absolute Power,' Sacrifice 'Forward To Termination' and Dark Angel 'Darkness Descends.' And I don't agree with your includion of 'Fabulous Disaster' as well...Exodus has been hit or miss with Zetro as vocalist (I mean, come on...The Toxic Waltz? Gimmie a freaking break...) - I saw them live a few months before 'Pleasures Of The Flesh' came out, and immediately noticed Baloff was no longer at the mic...something about him just irks me. They've had their good songs (Verbal Razors, etc etc) but I just think the brutal-ness Baloff brought to the band was impossible to replace...other than that, your list is cool.

    Dez 10 2011, 8h53
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