Razor – Shotgun Justice (1990)
Canadian thrash’s answer to Slayer’s all-conquering Reign In Blood, Razor’s Shotgun Justice (and yes, some people are gonna be pissed we haven’t included their favourite Razor album but tough shit, it’s our list) is as potent as ever and is a balls-to-the-fucking-wall shotgun blast of ultra-aggressive, high speed thrash!
Fuck your technical / progressive thrash bollocks, Razor specialised in working man’s thrash that hit hard and hit fast and not only were they plenty pissed, they were operating at the top of their game; it’s no stretch to suggest that the likes of the relentlessly abrasive “Meaning Of Pain and “Parricide” should be considered career highlights.
Beloved original frontman Stace “Sheepdog” McLaren may have departed but the throat-shredding shouts of the incoming Bob Reid were more than capable of delivering the goods and Razor were arguably never again as hostile as they were here.
Rigor Mortis – Rigor Mortis (1988)
Rigor Mortis‘ self-titled debut opened with a furious instrumental that pretty much set the scene for the entire record. Violently relentless, Rigor Mortis‘ raw production, animalistic tendencies and jugular-slashing riffs lent it a kinship to Death‘s Scream Bloody Gore, Possessed‘s Beyond The Gates and Kreator’s absolute classic Pleasure To Kill.
Hard-as-nails thrash may have been the order of the day but these mad-as-fuck Texans were leading the charge into ever faster, darker and meaner territories. In fact, the formative years of death metal can be heard in guitar god Mike Scaccia’s (RIP) lightning-speed tremolo picking and the abrasive rasping vocals of Bruce Corbitt.
Some may argue Rigor Mortis epitomised the balls-out belligerence of 80’s thrash metal….and some people are right!
Sepultura – Beneath The Remains (1989)
An all-time death/thrash classic, Beneath The Remains fully marked the emergence of one of metal’s most enduring talent’s and laid down the gauntlet to thrash metal bands the world over. According to vocalist Max Cavalera, Sepultura had “really found [their] style” on that album and you’d be a fool to argue with that particular sentiment.
The epitome of all killer – no filler, a de riguer acoustic intro gave way to Beneath The Remains’ incendiary title track and the ‘Seps’ were off and running; thrashing with more aggression and more intensity than the majority of their peers could ever hope to muster. “Inner Self” and “Stronger Than Hate” then offered the ‘hits’ before the riff-fest of “Mass Hypnosis” garnered Sepultura ultimate technical bragging rights!
A brutal indictment of growing up in the favelas of Brazil, the ‘Seps’ harnessed their experiences and produced a visceral, primitive sound, bringing world music to the thrash scene and setting themselves up as one of extreme metal’s finest ever bands.
Slayer – Reign In Blood (1986)
29 frantic minutes, 10 blistering tracks; this peak of thrash perfection was created by a band who epitomised the scene like no other, with Dave Lombardo’s aggressive and revolutionary drumming, Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman’s piercing, puncturing riffs and Tom Araya’s growling bass and vocals somehow merging to create an extreme metal benchmark which transcended genre and solidified Slayer‘s position among the thrash elite.
Slayer played harder than anyone else , they played faster than anyone else and Reign In Blood was more ruthless and more clinically effective than any thrash album that had come before it. And, while it may be no easy listen, Reign In Blood remains an endlessly rewarding experience and its insistent and incendiary nature never fails to surprise.
Vio-Lence – Eternal Nightmare (1988)
Quite simply one of the most fearless, ferocious and downright feral thrash albums ever recorded, Vio-Lence‘s debut, Eternal Nightmare, is the thrash connoisseur’s album of choice and ranks as high in both the aggression and sheer insanity stakes as Slayer’s Reign In Blood, Exodus’ Bonded By Blood and Dark Angel’s Darkness Descends!
Originally home to Machine Head’s Robb Flynn (but you knew that already), just 7 tracks of thrash perfection was all it took to announce that a new breed of thrash maniacs were in town – that ‘town’ being, of course, San Francisco’s Bay Area – and with the likes of “Kill On Command”, “Bodies On Bodies” and “Calling In The Coroner” in their arsenal, Vio-Lence were on a collision course with underground notoriety and unending acclaim.
Sean Killian’s vocals remain an acquired taste but those ‘in the know’ understand that without him, Vio-Lence were nowhere near as unique nor as thrilling a prospect.
As great thrash debuts go, Eternal Nightmare still takes some beating.