Picking up where Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of our Under-Appreciated Classics Of American Thrash Metal features left off, we have selected yet another 6 unsung classics of U.S thrash that are deserving of further praise.
As we trawled through the vaults of thrash history it came as no surprise that the sheer wealth of quality U.S. thrash releases over the years was simply staggering. Subsequently, what was set to be just a two part series will continue. So, keep ’em peeled for Parts 6 & 7 (and maybe more) over the coming months!
If there’s a particular American 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.
Intrinsic – Intrinsic (1987)
A real heavy metal meets melodic thrash metal mix, the pioneering acts of the 70’s and early 80’s remained an obvious influence in 1987, with California’s Intrinsic slamming the past into (what was ) the thrash present with their audacious, self-titled, debut.
“Possessor” and “RIP!”were as forceful a power/thrash-fest as their titles would suggest, the kind of songs that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the first two Metal Church albums (David Wayne actually became Intrinsic’s vocalist between 1987 and 1989!) and while “Ahead Of The Game” may have proven to be an overly ambitious title, an endless array of NWOBHM riffs – bolstered by occasional bursts of speed and aggression – marked Intrinsic out as a band with huge potential.
Vocalist Garrett Graupner took an old school approach, interspersing his upper range with a thrash metal yelp here and there and while undeniably effective, it would take the arrival of future frontman Lee Dehmer Jnr for Intrinsic to establish their own identity.
Certainly not the fully formed article at this stage, Intrinsic’s debut is instead a blast of old-school power/thrash/speed metal; an album whose latent qualities would fully reveal themselves on the progressive thrash masterpiece – and ‘lost’ classic – that is Nails.
Gammacide – Victims Of Science (1989)
Gammacide‘s only album, Victims Of Science, may not be well known (except to the thrash die-hards, of course) but it’s a late 80’s release far more deserving of simply also ran status!
Fans of Vio-lence and Exodus will appreciate Gammacide’s technically skilled but aggressively direct approach and their no nonsense attitude elevates Victims Of Science to a level which far surpasses the majority of their peers.
Built around that age-old thrash chestnut of nuclear war and falling victim to mankind’s technological ‘progress’, Gammacide were the thrash equivalent of armageddon and their ripping, snarling vocals, high-speed riffs, outstanding solos and whip-crack tempos were refreshingly direct and as remorseless as a nuclear winter.
Mankind has always been doomed…..and Gammacide’s Victims Of Science will always provide the soundtrack!
Torture – Storm Alert (1989)
Home to eerie The Omen-esque intros, demonic vocals and whip-crack thrashing, the one and only full length album from Texas’ Torture was always a feral beast and one utterly committed to thrashing your tits off….and the passing of time has not softened its impact!
Kindred spirits of Dark Angel, Slayer and Possessed, these evil sounding bastards may have laced their visceral attack with twisted humour – check out the absurd intro to “Slay Ride” – but where they excelled was in delivering track after track of hyper-speed thrash.
“Ignominious Slaughter” was pure proto-death metal; obscenely fast and excessively violent and way ahead of the curve. In comparison, the epic title track was progressive thrash gold; an atmospheric 8 minute Ride The Lightning-esque smörgåsbord of ideas and no end of satisfying chug.
Torture had talent to burn and Storm Alert is a minor thrash masterpiece that deserves to be held in much higher regard!
Silence – Vision (1991)
Featuring guitarist Sonny Mayo (ex-Amen, ex-Hed PE, ex-Sevendust, ex-Snot), who went on to be a major player in the 90’s nu metal scene, Silence were actually a formidable thrash force who sadly only released one album, in the shape of 1991’s Vision.
Accomplished, technical and brutal (bordering on death/thrash at times), Silence were as adept at thrashing hard, fast and with as much precision as the majority of their peers and surely deserved far more than their all but ‘forgotten’ status.
With tempos that shifted on a whim, the likes of the intricate “Echoes of Damnation” were as adept at getting that head bangin’ as they were at mesmerising you with their labyrinthine peculiarities; none more so than on the progressive epic that is album closer “Necromantic”, a 10 and a half minute magnum opus which subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, traversed the thrash metal spectrum for inspiration.
Overkill – W.F.O (1994)
What the fuck are Overkill doing in this list, we hear you cry?! They’re not under-appreciated!
Well, just hear us out…..
After a successful excursion into groove metal with 1993’s I Hear Black – another vastly undervalued album incidentally – just a year later Overkill returned to their good ol’ thrashin’ ways with W.F.O. and it has remained a divisive album in Overkill’s formidable back catalogue ever since!
Although we’re unsure why as the result was an old-school blast of furious thrash that reminded fans exactly why they fell in love with these New Jersey noiseniks in the first place.
Home to killer opener “Where It Hurts” (these boys never fail to deliver an absolute belter of an opening track) and thrash juggernauts “Fast Junkie” and “Up To Zero”, it was the ridiculously infectious “Bastard Nation” that stood out from the pack; faithfully thrashy yet surely designed to be a monster ‘hit’ if the bastards had just paid attention!
W.F.O. (or Wide Fucking Open for its full title) proved to be the last hurrah for Overkill’s glory days as the 90’s all but stalled their progress. Nevertheless, W.F.O should be celebrated as a classic 90’s thrash album that bucked prevailing trends and thrashed like a mutherfucker!
Faustus – …and Still We Suffer (1996)
…and Still We Suffer may have arrived a little late in the day but there’s no denying that this semi-obscure effort from Seattle’s Faustus was a brave, complex and, ultimately, highly rewarding slab of progressive thrash metal. This was thrash made for the true fans, those committed souls who had continued to fly the thrash flag in the face of death metal, grunge and groove metal and …and Still We Suffer was their well-deserved reward!
With more than a hint of Nevermore informing their sound, Faustus were undoubtedly looking to push thrash into ever more expansive realms; unleashing a tirade of ingenious riffs, multi-faceted vocals and ever-shifting time signatures in the process. While “Erosion” had an Atheist vibe – which removed the majority of the death metal elements but retained that recognisable free-form nature – it was “The Hell We Make” which provided the most succinct summation of Faustus’ skill.
While at times Faustus’ approach may have appeared scattershot (which can be attested to their abundance of ideas), it was actually their undying commitment to challenging trends, their obvious technical ability, their go-for-broke mentality and high octane performances which marked them out as a band with plenty to offer.
Keep an eye out for Part 6 of our under-appreciated classics of American thrash metal series soon!
In the meantime, pop your suggestion s in the comments section below….