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10 Old-School British Thrash Albums That Put The ‘Great’ Back Into Britain Again!

British thrash at its finest!

Considering the UK invented heavy metal, it’s always frustrating to reflect on how ‘seemingly’ unsuccessful we were at thrash metal! Predominantly an American phenomenon, UK thrash always rode the coattails of our Transatlantic cousins when, in retrospect, British thrash bands actually had much to offer.

Largely forgotten over the years, it’s time to re-address the balance and take a look 10 old-school British thrash albums that put the ‘Great’ back into Britain again!

No ranking, we’ve gone for alphabetical order. Every one of these albums is a blinder!

Acid Reign – Obnoxious (1990)

Source // www.musicstack.com

What’s so bloody ‘great’ about it?

A British band known for embracing the sillier side of thrash, Acid Reign actually reigned in the lunacy on second album Obnoxious and the result was an album that embraced a previously untapped progressive edge and proved, once and for all,  that us Brits had what it taook to step up to the next level.

Slowing down, slightly, ‘H’ and co. adopted a more focused attitude on Obnoxious, imbuing their intricate riffs and biting lyrics with a keener eye for detail and the results were impressive to say the least.“Thoughtful Sleep” remains a highlight; a technical excursion into a story of child neglect which surprises with its schizophrenic time changes and multiple personalities. Intelligent, complex and highly original, in an ideal world this song alone would have elevated Acid Reign into the big leagues.

As it turned out, they were unjustly overlooked and imploded shortly after Obnoxious‘ release.

What are they up to now?

A relatively recent reappraisal of Acid Reign’s contribution to thrash finally resulted in an eagerly awaited return (albeit without 4 of the members who penned Obnoxious) and the band released ‘The Apple Core Archives’ in 2014 – a box set retrospective that was an absolutely essential purchase for anyone with even a passing interest in thrash. Two brand new singles followed in the formidable shape of “Plan Of The Damned” (2015) and “The Man Who Became Himself” (2017) with a new album imminent. All is looking rosy!

Liked that? Try this: Acid Reign’s comeback album, The Age Of Entitlement, was an absolute triumph and has fully cemented Acid Reign’s position at the top pf the UK thrash pile!

Anihilated – The Ultimate Desecration (1989)

What’s so bloody ‘great’ about it?

Anihilated’s second album is a British thrash milestone, incorporating Exodus’ brash brutality and Slayer’s knack for intimidating menace and groove to form an album worthy of serious attention by thrash hordes the world over.

The grisly grooves of instrumental “Desolation” set the scene as Anihilated’s malevolent, sickle-sharp riffing crunched straight into high gear on “Into The Flames Of Armageddon”. The album never let up from there on in; quality track following quality track with raspy, sandpaper vocals, wall-of-sound drums and Hell Awaits-era Slayer riffs combining furiously to thrash your face (and probably your tits) clean off.

The Slayer comparisons can be a little too familiar at times but if you’re gonna be inspired, be inspired by one of the best…..and if being the ‘British Slayer’ is a bad thing, we’ll be damned!

What are they up to now?

Sadly disbanded, Anihilated did reunite in 2008 and went on to write and record 2010’s comeback album Scorched Earth Policy, 2013’s follow-up iDeviant and 2015’s incendiary Anti Social Engineering.

Liked that? Try this: Anti Social Engineering (2015), one of the finest UK thrash albums ever recorded….and we ain’t fuckin’ kidding! This album absolutely slayed the competition in 2015!

Deathwish – Demon Preacher (1988)

What’s so bloody ‘great’ about it?

With opener “Death Procession” leading us on a morbid march through bell-tolling, doom-inflected pathways, the classic sounds of 70’s UK heavy metal soon met the crunch of Bay Area thrash on the Slayer-esque title track and Deathwish’s inspirations immediately became apparent.

A marriage made in heaven (or should that be hell), this juxtaposition of the UK’s world-conquering 70’s output and the equally successful US thrash sound pioneered by Metallica, Slayer et all is an all-time UK thrash classic.

Deathwish’s gritty thrashed-up reworking of Sabbath’s all time classic, “Symptom Of The Universe” was an unexpected triumph but 70’s worshipping cover songs weren’t all Deathwish had in their locker. “Wall Of Lies” and the unfathomably epic “Prey To The Lord” were a sonic boom of rabid riffing fulfilling the hype this underrated band had once generated.

Demon Preacher should be considered a minor masterpiece, the sounds of the pioneering 70’s combining flawlessly with the fresh and vital thrash attack from across the Atlantic.

What are they up to now?

Demon Preacher and debut album At The Edge of Damnation received re-issues on CD and vinyl via Dissonance Productions in 2016 and Encyclopaedia Metallum has them marked down as active. But what they’re up to is anyone’s guess!

Liked that? Try this: You only have one other option, the rough and ready – but equally as impressive – At The Edge Of Damnation (1987).

Hydra Vein – Rather Death Than False Of Faith (1988)

Source // i.ebayimg.com

What’s so bloody great about it?

Wallowing in the same dirty cess pool as early Onslaught and Venom, Rather Death Than False Of Faith stands toe to toe with the cream of late 80’s thrash metal. These guys could out slay Slayer when they put their filth-encrusted minds to it and the pure thrash carnage of “Crucifier” and “Rabid” (in fairness, this one’s a little too Slayer-esque for comfort at times) provides a welcome jolt to the system and may take newcomers by surprise!

Regardless of tempo – and Hydra Vein were as adept at blinding speed as they were mid-paced stomp – the key to Hydra Vein’s success (we use that term loosely) hinged on quality over quantity. Featuring just the 8 tracks, it’s notable that all 8 tracks have their moment, whether that’s a shout from the rooftops chorus, face-ripping solo or neck-wrecking riff, each and every song slams hard and features at least one highly memorable moment.

Hydra Vein may have been left in the thrash wilderness but fans of Onslaught’s The Force, Sacrilege’s Behind the Realms Of Madness, Venom’s Black Metal, Slayer’s Hell Awaits and Sabbat’s History Of A Time To Come need this album…. and that’s despite cover art which looks like it was painted by a partially sighted 4 year old!

What are they up to now?

Hydra Vein played live for the first time in 32 years inFebruary! Who saw that coming? Not us!!!

Liked that? Try this: 1989’s After The Dream is a damn decent follow-up and well worthy of your time.

Onslaught – The Force (1986)

What’s so bloody ‘great’ about it?

What isn’t fucking great about The Force?!

The first band to truly raise hell in the name of British thrash, Onslaught turned heads with their punk-infused debut, Power From Hell, but it was with 1986’s The Force that they truly announced their arrival on the global scene.

The Force was an appropriate title, as Onslaught’s forceful and vitriolic sound hit you like a ten ton hammer; thrashing harder than most and with just as much conviction as the likes of Dark Angel and Slayer.

Still considered an all-time thrash classic, The Force is probably the most convincing thrash album ever recorded by a British band. Capable of ripping your head clean off, Onslaught were a powerhouse who unleashed a multitude of sinister, stabbing riffs without even breaking a sweat. It all seemed too easy and their place in the thrash elite should have been virtually guaranteed.

What are they up to now?

Still wrecking necks, that’s what!

It would take an incredible 21 years for Onslaught to come full circle and record an album to rival The Force but when, in 2007, Onslaught released the sonically devastating Killing Peace , the thrash fraternity breathed a collective sigh of relief; the boys were back and they have fast become the UK’s finest thrash exports once again.

Long may they reign as Britain’s thrash kings!

Liked that? Try this: The aforementioned Killing Peace (2007), a modern thrash classic to rival anything released post 2000 by Exodus, Testament, Death Angel and Slayer etc!

Onslaught – In Search Of Sanity (1989)

What’s so bloody ‘great’ about it?

Two Onslaught albums? Yep. But this incarnation feels like a different band entirely!

Quite possibly the finest commercial thrash album ever prouced by a UK band, Onslaught were aiming for worldwide recognition when they released this melodic thrash masterclass at the tail end of the 80’s and it should have led to greater things.

Unfortunately, all In Search Of Sanity achieved was splitting existing fans straight down the middle and it would take 18 long years for Onslaught to bounce back. And bounce back they did, with the overwhelmingly aggressive modern thrash classic that was 2007’s Killing Peace….but we’ve covered that already!

In Search Of Sanity saw Onslaught swap the gravel-throated vocals of Sy Keeler (now thankfully back in the fold) for the almighty power of Grim Reaper’s Steve Grimmett, transforming Onslaught from punk/thrash extremists overnight to an altogether more clinical and commercialised melodic thrash machine.

However, while In Search Of Sanity may have been more Metal Church (circa Mike Howe’s original tenure) than Slayer – and cleaner than a nun’s saintly undercarriage in the process – its go-for-broke mentality must be applauded; thrash was huge in ’89 and Onslaught shouldn’t have had to apologise for wanting their own large slice of the thrash pie.

What are they up to now?

Onslaught, as you already know, are stronger than ever and Steve Grimmett recently bounced back from horrific health problems and is back up on stage, where he belongs, singing better than ever!

Liked that? Try this: With screecher Sy Keeler back in the fold, Onslaught returned to the sound of old and Killing Peace (2007), Sounds Of Violence (2011) and VI (2013) are all are hard-as-nails and stand proud as three of modern thrash metal’s finest recordings!

Pariah – Blaze Of Obscurity (1989)

What’s so bloody ‘great’ about it?

A classic sounding thrash band before the term could even be applied, there was something inviting about Pariah’s thrashed up New Wave Of British Heavy Metal based output; of which Blaze Of Obscurity was their finest hour.

Formed from the ashes of NWOBHM heroes Satan, Pariah would go on to donate Graeme English and Steve Ramsey to Skyclad but first came this magnificent slice of technical thrash excellence. The perfect companion piece to Onslaught’s equally ambitious In Search Of Sanity, Pariah’s astonishing array of complex riffs and expansive songwriting should have found them beloved the world over.

As it transpired, Pariah were treated in a manner befitting their name and split after just two short years.

However, Blaze Of Obscurity is so ridiculously accomplished that it deserves nothing less than total reappraisal and should be considered a benchmark for 80’s speed metal and thrash metal guitar work.

What are they up to now?

They’re still in around, in essence at least. The dicking about with name-changes may have been a pain in the arse but Pariah basically reverted back to Satan in 2011……and they’ve been doing rather well ever since!

Liked that? Try this: Pariah’s 1988 debut, The Kindred, is equally as impressive if not a little more indebted to the NWOBHM!

Sabbat – History Of A Time To Come (1988)

What’s so bloody ‘great’ about it?

It’s the greatest thrash album to ever emerge from the UK and one of the finest thrash albums in existence, regardless of bloody geography!

Frankly, there are too few superlatives to convey the true majesty of Britain’s finest ever thrash album. Sabbat were one of the most unique bands in thrash history and although short-lived, their overall contribution to the scene remains unparalleled.

Propelled by the ingenious riffs of producer extraordinaire Andy Sneap (Arch Enemy, Nevermore, Teastament) and Martin Walkyier’s uniquely unfettered and untameable vocals, Sabbat’s philosophically pagan take on religion was ground-breakingly raw and real; an honest summation of the world and it’s failings.

The opening tracks, “A Cautionary Tale”, “Hosanna In Excelsis” & Behind The Crooked Cross” are exemplary, an unholy triumvirate of trailblazing thrash that perfectly encapsulated Sabbat’s religion-baiting sound. However, it was the intelligence on display that truly ranked them as one of the genre’s greats; here was poetry set to furious thrash, the likes of which has never been seen again.

History Of A Time To Come is mandatory listening for every thrasher on the planet and has barely aged; its place in the thrash history books permanently set in stone!

What are they up to now?

A reformation between 2006-2010 sadly yielded no new material but Sabbat’s legacy stands strong.

Liked that? Try this: Sabbat’s equally accomplished sophomore release, the undeniably astounding Dreamweaver (1989).

Sacrilege – Behind The Realms Of Madness (1985)

What’s so bloody ‘great’ about it?

A furious cacophony of pure thrashing noise, Sacrilege‘s seminal debut was a crust punk, D-beat, thrash combo designed to floor apathetic listeners who thought they knew the meaning of ‘heavy’. Ably blurring the lines between more traditional hardcore punk and the darker side of thrash metal, Sacrilege’s blitzkrieg riffing and Lynda ‘Tam’ Simpson’s feral shouts marked them out as true progenitors of crust.

With an antagonistic vigour unrivalled by any other band in the scene, Sacrilege were heavy in every sense of the word with their perfectly rendered noise counterbalanced by political

Behind The Realms Of Madness was/is the kind of album that transcends borders and acts as a defining moment in the 80’s cross-pollination of both punk and metal……its influence cannot be underestimated!

What are they up to now?

Sacrilege are still around, with bassist Frank Healy also plying his trade in Memoriam and guitarist Damian Thompson causing carnage in Warwound. You get the sense that these guys will never stop!

Liked that? Try this: 1987’s Within The Prophecy may have embraced their Brummie roots and thrown Sabbathian doom into the mix but this was still crusty ol’ thrash at its core!

Xentrix – For Whose Advantage? (1990)

Source // picc.it

What’s so bloody ‘great’ about it?

Touted as British thrash’s answer to Metallica (not quite but bloody close), Xentrix embraced an Americanised sound which should have seen them rapidly rise to the very top of thrash metal’s ranks.

Cold, crisp riffing, mid-paced thrashing and Chris Astley’s confident bellow elevated album highlights “Questions?” and “The Bitter End”, and the entire album benefited from a crystal clear production job to rival the genres greats. For Whose Advantage? may have trodden familiar territory but it’s important to note that there was nothing wrong with reliability – Motorhead and AC/DC built entire careers on it! – and Xentrix were fast becoming Britain’s most consistent band simply by sticking to their guns and writing thrash built to cater for the masses.

In reality, their relatively ‘safe’ sound was only ever going to take them so far, and they eventually found themselves lumped in with the plethora of identikit bands who arrived late in the thrash game. Sadly, it’s only with the luxury of hindsight that For Whose Advantage? reveals its true worth and it’s undoubtedly an essential addition to any thrash collection.

Grunge would curtail any further progress as thrash became a dirty word, but for a short while Xentrix appeared to be the one British band who could infiltrate the big leagues.

What are they up to now?

Reformed in 2013 (but minus original frontman Chris Astley since 2015), Xentrix are still very much a going concern.

Liked that? Try this: Shattered Existence, Xentrix’s outstanding debut that almost matches For Whose Advantage? in every respect!

Honourable mentions: Slammer – The Work Of Idle Hands (1989) / Hellbastard – Natural Order (1990) / Seventh Angel – Lament For The Weary (1992) / Virus – Force Recon (1988) / Virus – Lunacy (1989) / Re-Animator – Condemned To Eternity (1990) / Cerebral Fix – Tower Of Spite (1990) / Acid Reign – The Fear (1989) / D.A.M – Inside Out (1991) / English Dogs – Forward Into Battle (1985) / Energetic Krusher – Path To Oblivion (1989).

About Chris Jennings (1497 Articles)
I love Heavy Metal. Always have. Always will. As editor of Worship Metal - a site dedicated to being as positive about Metal and its myriad of sub-genres as possible - my aim is to 'worship' Metal through honest reviews, current news and a wide variety of features; offering the same exposure to underground bands as we do to mainstream/well known acts. Our mantra; the bands are partners and we exist to serve the bands \m/

4 Comments on 10 Old-School British Thrash Albums That Put The ‘Great’ Back Into Britain Again!

  1. who invented thrash metal 2019

  2. Hydra Vein reforming for a gig next year 🙂

  3. robert bailey // March 25, 2019 at 8:51 pm // Reply

    obnoxious is an excellent album and the first acid reign album i heard

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