As we trawled through the vaults of thrash history it came as no surprise that the sheer wealth of quality American thrash releases over the years was simply staggering.
If there’s a particular thrash classic you feel has been lost to the annals of time then pop it in the comments below and we’ll look to include it in future articles.
Let’s get thrashed! \m/
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 debut full length album that showcased this undervalued bands full potential and proved to be a total reinvention of their sound.
Eyes Of Tomorrow is progressive thrash incarnate. Off kilter rhythms and mind-boggling complexity jostling with infectious melody, ingenious hooks and heads-down thrashing. Creatively eccentric, it’s the likes of “Being” and the epic “Experience” that still surprise the most. Filled with fluid leads, accomplished solos and dark ambience, the technicality and progressive nature of Eyes Of Tomorrow is clear to hear and stands as the perfect counterpoint to the moments of up-tempo thrash and staccato riffing that remind the listener that this is still a thrash record after all.
While Kyriakos Charlie Tsiolis’ vocals may prove to be an acquired taste – although we challenge anyone to try spitting out lyrics at a pace that matches the frenzied patterns Aftermath conjure – the borderline spoken word nature of his delivery is actually the perfect fit for the schizophrenic aural battery his words accompany. Conventional structure be damned! When music is this undeniably accomplished and genuinely thrilling, the tried and tested formula’s seem relatively passé; the technicality and individuality of Aftermath proving infinitely more rewarding than the meat ‘n’ potatoes thrash trotted out by far too many bands in the early 90’s.
If the likes of Heathen, Anacrusis, Coroner and Voivod float your boat then Aftermath are your next port of call….if you haven’t discovered them already of course!
Powermad – Absolute Power (1989)
With a sound that marries well with that of Metal Church, Flotsam & Jetsam and Forbidden – particularly in Joel Dubay’s powerful vocals – Powermad‘s debut is a strangely alluring hybrid of thrash, speed metal, power metal and core traditional metal values that sucks you in with humungous hooks, unforgettable melodies and a clear, concise sound that’s impressively executed.
“Slaughterhouse” may be a title that conjures images of a typical horror-show bloodbath but – just like the majority of Absolute Power – there’s a refreshing ‘light’ touch and upbeat, bouncy feel to this storming opener that defied the standard unbridled aggression of the day.
That’s not to say that these guys didn’t know how to thrash!
The high tempo and satisfyingly crunchy staccato palm-muted riff-fest of “Test The Steel (Powermad)” stands as testament to their thrash credentials. Ample moments of speed metal frenzy are ably balanced throughout with the kind of controlled yet expansive dynamism that Queensrÿche excelled at in the late 80’s.
An unsung classic, Absolute Power may not be the most aggressive, in-your-face 80’s thrash release but it’s one of the most consistent.
Hirax – Raging Violence (1985)
An anorexic production job does little to dent the ferocious nature of Hirax‘s powerful debut released during thrash metal’s infancy. A blistering crossover thrash / speed metal exercise in full-throttle riffing, Hirax may have been a little rough around the edges but their often undervalued contribution to the scene is actually undeniable.
With one of the most distinctive voices in thrash – as an ambassador for the genre as well as a vocalist – frontman Katon W. De Pena is a thrash icon. His melodic John Cyriis (Agent Steel) meets Eric A.K. (Flotsam And Jetsam) wail was the perfect foil for his bandmate’s hardcore punk infused bouts of maddening metal.
14 tracks in just over 30 minutes signals just how fast these guys actually played and precious few could match them for speed in ’85! Trading finesse for brute force, the likes of “Bombs Of Death” – an all time thrash classic – still managed to drip-feed a little melody into the mix, enabling Hirax‘s barely in control barbarity to warrant repeat listening.
It’s raw, it’s passionate, it is thrash circa 1985 and Raging Violence still relishes using your head as a punching bag nearly over 35 years later!