4. Sabbat – Mourning Has Broken (1991)
Must Hear Track: “The Voice Of Time”, ultimate shred supplied by Andy Sneap and a herculean excursion into the most epic melodic thrash imaginable!
Ok. We’re going out on a limb with this one. We maintain that the album Andy Sneap himself has long since shunned actually has a lot to offer. Mourning Has Broken may be hard-going at times, it may have been a critical and commercial failure – and virtually unrecognisable from the two world class albums that preceded it (History Of A Time To Come & Dreamweaver for those not in the know) – but there is something about it’s labyrinthian compositions and off-kilter melodies that draws you in each and every time.
“Dreamscape” & “The Demise Of Time” shatter misconceptions that 8 minute epics are predominantly bloated and boring – there’s enough tempo changes and a seemingly endless array of riffs on these two tracks alone to rival Dark Angel’s famous riff-fest Time Does Not Heal – and while a strong attention span may be required to fully appreciate the diversity on display, the brave are rewarded wholesale.
Complex and challenging (too challenging if its lukewarm reception was anything to go by), Mourning Has Broken may sound like the work of a different band entirely – it probably didn’t help that Richie Desmond’s mournful, doom metal-esque vocal style was the complete opposite of Martin Walkyier’s influential, rapid-fire shriek – but this technically outstanding piece of work should be revered as an intriguing experiment and not just a forgotten footnote in the career of the UK’s finest greatest ever thrashers.
Liked that? Try this: As previously mentioned, Sabbat’s History Of A Time To Come & Dreamweaver (Reflections Of Our Yesterdays) are untouchable milestones in UK thrash history. Haven’t heard ’em already? Educate yourself forthwith!
3. Hellbastard – Natural Order (1990)
Must Hear Track: “Interrogate Them”, a beast of an opener that crams more into 6 and a half minutes than most UK thrash acts managed in their entire careers.
Newcastle’s Hellbastard may have started life as a crusty old group of grinders but by the time 1990’s rowdy Natural Order arrived, things had turned defiantly and indefatigably thrashy! Featuring the kind of unhinged vocals that made Paul Baloff so beloved, Hellbastard’s grizzled throat of ‘Scruff’ Lewty is aided and abetted by the nastiest slice of European thrash riffs this side of Kreator.
Few UK thrash acts sounded as raw as Hellbastard and they were just as happy in the company of Carcass, Bolt Thrower, Godflesh and Napalm Death as they were with their thrashier comrades. “Justly Executed” was quite rightly included in Earache’s 1991 sampler Grindcrusher, nestling Hellbastard comfortably alongside those extreme metal legends just mentioned. With blinding speed, an arsenal of riffs and a dab hand at attention maintaining tempo changes, Natural Order remains a pretty fine technical thrash album and an underground cult classic.
Throwing a curveball every now and then by incorporating tender acoustic moments (“TAF” & “A Minor Point”) that were, admittedly, commonplace – but never as medieval in sound as here – die hard fans of the band may have balked when they first heard this transition to thrash in 1990 but Natural Order still reeks of the streets. Hellbastard’s crust punk beginnings were still evident, intrinsically linking Natural Order to the movement they pioneered and, in essence, cementing their place alongside fellow UK crust-thrashers Amebix and Sacrilege; an unholy triumvirate of crustcore/thrash.
Not just an under-appreciated classic of UK thrash but an under-appreciated classic in thrash history. Period.
Liked that? Try this: Heading For Internal Darkness (1988); not thrash per se but a full-on crusty stomp through the UK’s sleazy underbelly….crust punk history in the making!