After a great response to our 12 Albums That Kept Thrash Alive In The 90’s feature, it felt necessary to right a few wrongs, give a shout-out to the albums we had forgotten and generally wax lyrical about 12 more albums that defied trends – and the onslaught of grunge, groove metal, alt metal and nu metal – to steadfastly fly the flag for 90’s thrash as the decade flew by!
Again, we’re concentrating on those albums that kept fighting the good fight from, predominantly, the mid 90’s onwards. So, don’t go expecting anything from the early 90’s…..Megadeth’s Rust In Peace (1990) for example, does not frickin’ count!!
So, here’s 12 more albums that kept thrash alive during the grunge and nu-metal filled 90’s…..
Tankard – Two Faced (1994)
One thing you can rely on when discussing the work of beer-obsessed German thrashers Tankard, is that they are categorically not two-faced! Once a thrasher always a thrasher and 94’s Two Faced was a continuation of their trademarked sound….amplified by the fact thrash was dying on its arse while Tankard soldiered on regardless.
Two-Faced was Tankard’s sixth album – the last to feature founding guitarist Axel Katzmann – and found the band tackling serious subject matter like never before. With the usual levels of insane energy and dynamic riffing ever present, it was left to the politically biting lyrics to single Two-Faced out from the rest of Tankard’s back catalogue.
With Two-Faced, Tankard seriously (not a word often used to describe any of Tankard’s output!) got their shit together and produced the kind of scathing thrash/crossover thrash assault the mid 90’s so desperately needed!
Accuser – Reflections (1994)
Another band whose outstanding output (1989’s Who Dominates Who is an all time thrash classic) often finds itself consigned to also ran status, Germany’s Accuser found themselves treading water in the mid 90’s but still delivering work of note!
While the band were clearly no longer pre-occupied with high velocity workouts, the brutish vocals and crushing guitar work found on Reflections created an all-encompassing atmosphere of extreme violence; replete with coruscating solos and a raft of mid-tempo stompers blessed with that Biohazard-esque touch.
Accuser’s groove/hardcore influenced Reflections remains a gritty slab of crushing thrash, a little too informed by the changes in trends of the era perhaps, but worthy of reappraisal nonetheless.
Aftermath – Eyes Of Tomorrow (1994)
Aftermath may have first turned heads with the thrash assault of their speed-of-light, full-throttle demo Killing The Future but it’s their only full length album to date, released in 1994, that showcased this undervalued bands full potential and proved to be a total reinvention of their sound.
Frankly, Eyes Of Tomorrow was progressive thrash incarnate and its off kilter rhythms and mind-boggling complexity jostled with infectious melody, ingenious hooks and heads-down thrashing. Creatively eccentric and filled with fluid leads, accomplished solos and dark ambience, the incredible technicality and progressive nature of Eyes Of Tomorrow remains clear for all to hear.
D.R.I – Full Speed Ahead (1995)
Is it thrash? Is it hardcore punk? It’s D.R.I muthafuckers and Full Speed Ahead remains a damn fine representation of these imbeciles’ pioneering crossover thrash!
Careening forth at high speed, D.R.I all but perfected their crossover sound on this, their final full length album. No one – and we mean no one – was able to meld punk and metal as well as D.R.I and thrashers must have been happier than a pig in shit when Full Speed Ahead dropped in 1995.
Here was an album that hadn’t even heard of grunge and presumed Korn was something you ate on the cob!
A full-on crossover thrash assault on the senses, Full Speed Ahead‘s many pleasures were clear to hear as D.R.I defiantly thrashed like their lives depended on it!
Kreator – Cause For Conflict (1995)
Every thrasher worth his salt is aware of Kreator‘s ill-advised, genre-splicing dalliances with industrial metal and goth in the 90’s, but to dismiss their output from this period entirely would be remiss to say the least!
Following the semi-confusing Renewal, Kreator’s Cause For Conflict heralded a temporary return to thrashier realms and while it hardly compares to the ferocity of Kreator’s 80’s output, at least it sounded more energetic and more rounded than Renewal.
With Joe Cangelosi (Whiplash/Brooklyn Militia/Uncivil War) ensconced behind the kit, Kreator sounded unhinged again as they rattled and roared through industrial-tinged thrashers which seamlessly combined Mille Petrozza’s recent experiments with his thrash metal glories of old.
A sonic onslaught, there’s a strong case for Cause For Conflict being Kreator’s most underrated album….but we’ll leave that for you to decide!
Aura Noir – Black Thrash Attack (1996)
You can always rely on the Norweigans to shake shit up and in 1996, a good shakin’ was exactly what thrash needed!
A blackened thrash album (what else was it gonna be!), Aura Noir’s Black Thrash Attack fully lived up to its name with a remorseless assault that immediately marked Aura Noir out as integral to the scene. Blistering opener, “Sons Of Hades”, discarded the courtesy of an intro – or even some sense of warning of what was to come – and simply delivered nothing but black/thrash perfection.
While the charred-hell of early Sodom and Destruction were obvious inspirations, Aura Noir were looking to the future and the mid-tempo stomp of “The One Who Smite” offered the variation to elevate Black Thrash Attack to classic status.
One of the finest albums ever released under the blackened thrash moniker, Aura Noir’s full length debut did more than just give thrash a necessary shot in the arm, it took the genre to new heights and opened new doors entirely!
Xentrix – Scourge (1996)
Another album that receives a shit load of flack but Xentrix‘s final shot is still an album of merit; just one that needs to be taken in context!
With the departure of frontman and figurehead Chris Astley, Xentrix faced an uphill battle but Simon Gordon (Kill II This) was installed in his place and Xentrix soldiered on regardless….and they released a damn fine metal album in the process!
Admittedly, there’s a groove/rap metal element (a sign of the times unfortunately) to the likes of the title track and “Caught You Living”, but the thundering grooves and throaty holler of Simon Gordon still resulted in an album of mid-tempo thrashers that deserved way better a reception than it received.
Scourge isn’t a bad album by any means, it’s just not a match for Xentrix’s high water marks Shattered Existence or For Whose Advantage?….but that’s like saying Testament’s Low isn’t any good just because it’s not The Legacy or Practice What You Preach, which would be a ridiculous assertion! Scourge may be different to what came before, incorporating a few new influences to meet the modern demands of the time, but its quality remains clear to hear.
A sadly overlooked treasure of mid 90’s melodic thrash.
Sodom – ‘Til Death Do Us Unite (1997)
God bless you Sodom….always fighting the good fight, regardless of the era and prevailing trends!
Sodom returned to the sound of exuberant thrash with ‘Til Death Do Us Unite and after the death/thrash of Tapping The Vein (1992), the crossover thrash of Get What You Deserve (1994) and the rough and ready Masquerade In Blood (1995), this was exactly what Sodom fans were clamouring for.
Elements of punk remained but ‘Til Death Do Us Unite was a devastating thrash onslaught at heart and remains a vicious little shit of an album.
One of the most underrated Sodom albums, ‘Till Death Do Us Unite seems to get lost in the quagmire of the virtually thrash-less late 90’s but Sodom were on rich form here, waging war on the establishment and thrashing as hard as ever!
Infernal Majesty – Unholier Than Thou (1998)
Canadian thrash is a wonderful thing and Infernal Majesty are a wonderful band. Here was how to deliver a top-class thrash album in the late 90’s, with supreme conviction and
11 long years after None Shall Defy shook up the underground, Infernal Majesty returned majestically, armed to the teeth with a set of blasphemous thrashers that shook the fillings from your teeth.
Adapting well to the need for more complex and adventurous arrangements, Infernal Majesty’s technicality also came to the fore – particularly on “Gone The Way Of All Flesh” – as they procured inspiration from progressive thrash and death metal to create a release that still sounds devastating today.
In ’98, there was only one mantra a thrash fan (and thrash band) could live by…..and that was to fight for your thrash lives! Fight to the death!
Solitary – Nothing Changes (1998)
One of the UK’s best kept thrash secrets, these nutters decided to embark on a career in thrash in 1998 and couldn’t have given two shits about the sorry state of the genre as the decade drew to a close. Fuck it, they’d create their own scene if they had to!
Debut release, Nothing Changes, made an immediate impact on the UK’s own nascent thrash scene, reminding thrashers that the UK could still shake shit up when we wanted to and Nothing Changes proved to have a hit in its considerable arsenal!
By 2002, “A Second Chance” had topped the mp3 Metal Charts – having on average been downloaded four thousand times per month – and Solitary were a name to watch and with a solid ear for groove, it was the heads-down clattering of “A Second Chance” and “Twisted” that made Nothing Changes a 90’s thrash album of note.
For thrash, everything was changing!
Ritual Carnage – The Highest Law (1998)
A love letter to the glory days of thrash supremacy, Japan’s Ritual Carnage rewound the clock with their debut The Highest Law, an album that struck at the heart of the genre with its frantic pace, satanic lyrics, proto-death metal leanings and more than a cursory nod to the legendary likes of Onslaught, Nasty Savage and Exumer.
A remorseless thrash attack from the East, these quick-fire bursts of speed and aggression sprayed thrash bullets with wanton abandon, hitting each and every target with their throwback sound.
With more intensity that any of The Big 4 had mustered in years, thrash needed Ritual Carnage in 1998, it needed an album like The Highest Law and with no let up in fury and velocity this weaponised assault signalled that a thrash re-birth was in the offering!
Dekapitator – We Will Destroy…You Will Obey (1999)
Dekapitator blasted out of California in 1999 with a debut that was simply some good, friendly, violent fun!
Featuring members of Californian death metal masters Exhumed, this death/thrash opus was produced by the inimitable James Murphy (Obituary, Testament, Disincarnate, Death and more) and it reeked of old-school quality from start to finish.
The name of the game was riffs – peeled off at a ridiculous rate and channeling the genre-defining early work of Exodus and Possessed – and thrash fans ‘in the know’ revelled in an absolute masterclass of raw production, time-honoured thrash barks and shrieks and more hardcore thrashin’ than is medically encouraged.
Heads bled and necks were broken….one shot, one kill indeed!
Check out Part 1 of our Albums That Kept Thrash Alive In The 90’s series for even more saviours of 90’s thrash!