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35 Old-School American Thrash Albums That Were Equal To Anything Released By The Big 4!

Thrash. Minus The Big 4!

Source // www.centrosangiorgio.com

Sure, The Big 4 released some of the greatest thrash metal albums ever recorded but what of those American thrash albums that fell largely by the wayside, those albums looked over in favour of Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax?

With that in mind, Worship Metal has selected 35 American thrash albums that deserved far more attention and should have been as successful (and sold as many copies!) as the likes of Slayer‘s Reign In Blood, Metallica‘s Master Of Puppets, Megadeth‘s Rust In Peace and Anthrax‘s Among The Living.….

Exodus – Bonded By Blood (1985)

Exodus – Bonded By Blood (1984, Vinyl) - Discogs

One of thrash’s most legendary albums comes from a band who hovered on the periphery of The Big 4 without ever making that leap into the big league. It’s fairly common knowledge that Bonded By Blood was actually recorded in 1984, but was held back for a ridiculous 9 months due to record label wrangling and that lost time proved to be more than just significant.

Instead of spearheading the scene they helped to create, Exodus found themselves endlessly playing catch up and they simply ran out of puff; forever chasing the pack and never actually gaining ground. But, Exodus were at the forefront of thrash, capable of out-riffing their Bay Area peers and, pound for pound, they were the heaviest, most dangerous, most unpredictable and most ferociously adept outfit on the block.

“Bonded By Blood”, “A Lesson In Violence”, “And Then There Were None”, “Piranha”, and “Strike Of The Beast” are all thrash gold, tarnished by bad timing but true treasures in thrash’s trove. While many bands would try to tap into the virulent violence that positively oozes from each track, none could match the intensity conjured by Paul Baloff, Gary Holt, Tom Hunting, Rick Hunolt and Rob McKillop.


Possessed – Seven Churches (1985)

Possessed – Seven Churches (Vinyl) - Discogs

On their debut album, Possessed took a cut and paste approach to their music by incorporating the viciousness of Venom, the speed of Motörhead and the thrashing, atonal guitars of early Exodus and Slayer.

The result was an innovative and primitive thrash metal sound which came to define death metal. “The Exorcist”, “Burning In Hell” and “Seven Churches” were held together by Jeff Becerra’s unholy roar, simultaneously aping Lemmy from Motörhead yet producing a guttural tone that would go on to be the bread and butter of death metal as the late 80’s bled into the early 90’s.

Possessed take the honour of inventing death metal on their debut album. This is constantly up for debate but we’re standing by it; no Seven Churches, no death metal.


Dark Angel – Darkness Descends (1986)

Dark Angel – Darkness Descends (2016, Clear / Blue / Orange Splatter,  Vinyl) - Discogs

Unbridled ferocity, technical supremacy and relentless aural battery….is there a more succinct description of what is arguably the greatest thrash metal album of all time?

Featuring the likes of the rampaging “Merciless Death”, the incendiary “The Burning Of Sodom” and the progressively minded “Black Prophecies“, the first indication of the 100+ riffs per song and epic song length mentality the band would explore on later releases was writ large on Dark Angel‘s terrifyingly tenacious, genre-defining, sophomore effort.

The eerie yet elegant bass intro to the aforementioned “Merciless Death” aside, moments of respite were few and far between on Darkness Descends, as Dark Angel focused on thrashing harder, faster and with more gritted teeth malevolence than any other band on the planet…..and that includes the mighty Slayer!

This immortal entry in the history of thrash metal has lost absolutely none of its power and should have been HUGE!


Flotsam And Jetsam – Doomsday For The Deceiver (1986)

Flotsam And Jetsam – Doomsday For The Deceiver (2011, Green Poison, Vinyl)  - Discogs

One of the greatest thrash debuts known to man, Flotsam and Jetsam’s Doomsday For The Deceiver led the world to believe that a new thrash superpower had arrived (not quite, unfortunately) with a collection of tunes both overwhelmingly powerful and expertly performed.

Taking the very best bits of speed metal, power metal and thrash metal and perfecting them amongst a flurry of cranking bass, warp-speed riffs and Erik A.K’s formidable pipes, the likes of the feral “Hammerhead”, the intense “Iron Tears” and the epic ability of the exquisite title track mark out Doomsday For The Deceiver as an undisputed all-time thrash classic.

Many will recall the rarely used 6K mark awarded by Kerrang back in ’86 but even that rating does this legendary release a disservice…this one truly does go up to 11!

Honourable mention: Flotsam & Jetsam’s follow-up, No Place For Disgrace, is another stone-cold classic from a band who, over 35 years later, are still delivering the goods!


Metal Church – The Dark (1986)

Metal Church – The Dark (1985, Vinyl) - Discogs

Combining traditional metal with thrash, Metal Church had a powerhouse frontman in the shape of David Wayne and riffs most bands would skin their own mothers for. Their self titled debut is an undisputed classic and follow-up, The Dark, also hit the same heady heights!

Featuring all-time ‘Church’ classics “Ton Of Bricks”, “Start The Fire”, the intimidating power ballad – and minor hit – that was “Watch The Children Pray” and the creepy title track, The Dark may have been one of the more melodic thrash releases of ’86 but it was also one of the finest and the most accomplished.

Side 2 may have failed to maintain the velocity of the ‘5 for 5’ hit rate of side 1 but there’s no escaping the fact that both Metal Church‘s The Dark was a monumental influence on the burgeoning thrash scene.

Honourable mention: You really can’t go wrong with Metal Church’s self-titled debut album.

About Chris Jennings (1820 Articles)
I love 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/

36 Comments on 35 Old-School American Thrash Albums That Were Equal To Anything Released By The Big 4!

  1. No Sepultura?????? Coroner No More Color???? Tsk tsk

    • Chris Jennings // March 30, 2021 at 7:18 am // Reply

      Sepultura are Brazilian. Coroner are Swiss.

      What’s the name of the article?

      35 Old-School AMERICAN Thrash Albums That Were Equal To Anything Released By The Big 4!

      Hence, no Sepultura and no Coroner.

      Tsk, tsk

  2. Brazil is America, and also Canada is America (Exciter,Annhilator). Good list regarding USA bands but I was expecting Sadus in a list with 35 albums, at least the master classic ‘Chemical Exposure’

    • Chris Jennings // March 30, 2021 at 10:22 am // Reply

      Fucks sake. Brazil is a country in South America. Canada is Canada, a country all of its own. The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or AMERICA, is a country in North America. It is not Brazil. It is not South America. It is not Canada. IT’S AMERICA! Fucks sake.

    • John Sheehan // April 2, 2021 at 1:10 pm // Reply

      The USA is commonly referred to as America. I know that bothers some people, but it is the only country with America in it’s name.

  3. Scott kluck // April 1, 2021 at 2:33 am // Reply

    Wow, repeats….there were so… many more bands not mentioned

    • Chris Jennings // April 1, 2021 at 5:20 am // Reply

      That goes without saying. There’s always MANY more bands not mentioned as the list is finite. But, there’s also a lot of bands that ARE mentioned. Which is lovely.

  4. Forbidden evil is an amazing debut album. I know, I know… You guys included it in the honorable mentions. What about Tourniquet’s “Stop the bleeding” album. Check it out. They’re American.

    • Chris Jennings // April 1, 2021 at 5:22 am // Reply

      Tourniquet’s Stop the Bleeding is great. Maybe not equal to anything released by The Big 4…..but still great!

  5. miguel angel ferrera matin-albo // April 1, 2021 at 5:29 am // Reply

    Anybody can to make Spotify playlist with them?

  6. E Morto Cosi // April 1, 2021 at 4:18 pm // Reply

    Powermad put out another full length in 2015, “Infinite”. It’s really good.

  7. Sergeant Power // April 1, 2021 at 4:27 pm // Reply

    I would like to make the following points:
    Taking Over destroys Horrorscope.
    Act III is not a thrash album.
    And I still don’t understand the love for Dark Angel. The riffs are sooooo generic.

    • Chris Jennings // April 2, 2021 at 1:34 pm // Reply

      Taking Over is great. In fact, Overkill have barely ever put a foot wrong. As to which album is ‘better’ is a matter of opinion and, as this is my list, I say Horrorscope is better. Lucky me!

      Act III is a thrash album. It is commonly referred to as a thrash album and it shall remain a thrash album. It may have been a mainstream thrash album. But it’s still a thrash album. Thrash album. Thrash. Album.

      Nothing generic about Dark Angel’s riffs. Nothing. You either get Dark Angel – and realise just how incredible they were and how important to the scene they were – or you don’t. You obviously don’t. Which is ok.

  8. What a pile of shit list. Half of that crap is not even thrash and as for the thrashing ones…. a bunch are just bands’s cheesiest albums like DARK ANGEL while SACRIFICE “FTT” are ignored..This is what happens nowadays when such crap is put together by people who doesn’t know shit on a genre. Sad times.

    • Write your own article and publish it on your own website then.

    • Chris Jennings // April 2, 2021 at 7:26 am // Reply

      Oh Laurent, what a funny fucker you are! Let’s go through your comment, piece by piece shall we.

      The albums on the list are considered thrash by the wider populace. That’s a fact. If you don’t consider them thrash, that’s because you’re being wilfully obtuse….which I imagine you are in every aspect of your life. Well done you.

      I’ve never heard anyone describe Dark Angel (and Darkness Descends in particular) as ‘cheesy’ before. I fear you’re on your own there bud.

      SACRIFICE are Canadian…..so wouldn’t be on an American thrash bands only list, would they.

      If you want Canadian thrash, read this: http://www.worshipmetal.com/features/canadian-thrash-the-10-greatest-old-school-albums/

      I know plenty about the genre mate. Enough to write 35 individual reviews for this list alone. Happy times.

  9. Bradley K Thomson // April 2, 2021 at 1:29 am // Reply

    great list and its hard to list all but here are some that were def left off

    Anacrusis- Manic Impressions
    Cyclone Temple- I hate therefore i am
    Mordred- In This Life
    Toxik- World Circus

  10. That list reads pretty much like my tape collection from that era, though I’ll have to dive into some of the bands on the tail end of that list, like Demolition Hammer and Devastation. Props to putting Forced Entry on the list. That band deserved a better fate than what they got.

    • Chris Jennings // April 2, 2021 at 7:28 am // Reply

      Forced Entry are back….hopefully some new material on the horizon. Demolition Hammer and Devastation are well worth checking out – hope you enjoy them!

  11. CosmicBloodPig // April 2, 2021 at 6:44 am // Reply

    Good list! A couple of bands I have never heard of. Glad to see Rigor Mortis and Vio-lence here. Thrash on!

  12. Please…sorry for the SAC mistake. BTW I never said DA are cheese, it concerned that pile of garbage known as “TDNH”… yeah I imagine you know what Thrash and other genres are when I see the sort of lists you’re putting together..yeah.. jeez

    • Chris Jennings // April 3, 2021 at 2:10 pm // Reply

      Nice backtrack. Again, I’ve never head anyone describe Time Does Not Heal as garbage but each to their own, I guess. Bygones.

  13. You missed out one of my favourite thrash albums of all time Chris & they literally piss over a lot of these bands when it comes to great thrash LAAZ Rockit “Annihilation Principle”

  14. Reading this made me weep with joy! 🤘 A fantastic and accurate summary of some of the most beloved and obscure classic Thrash records from the US. Everyone single album listed is pure dynamite and can’t think of any real omissions. Everyone from Death Angel, Vio-Lence, Heathen, Demolition Hammer, Exhorder, Devastation, Morbid Saint all get the glowing praise they rightly deserve. It’s a metal article done right! Thanks Chris 🤘

  15. I was jaw dropping when I heard for the first time ( thanks to you ) DEVASTATION and POWERMAD
    Great list that as you said could be forever. One great addition could also be SADUS – Illusions

    • Chris Jennings // January 25, 2022 at 8:22 am // Reply

      Good call on Illusions – great album. Glad you found Powermad and Devastation via the list, it’s comments such as this that make these articles worthwhile! \m/

  16. I ddnt rip nto Believer, Devastation,ForcedEntry and Suicidal Tendencies..I’ve purchisd releases by them but ddnt interested me much,d rest iv bawt n kept til it wored away.

  17. For some reason, the fact that I have most of the albums listed here makes me proud! Great list! Yes, and I agree, Laaz Rockit’s Annihilation Principle should be on here and it kills!

    • Chris Jennings // January 25, 2022 at 8:23 am // Reply

      Cheers bud. And you should be proud! This is the cream of the thrash crop right here. You’re right about Laaz Rockit….about time we gave them some coverage \m/

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