While thrash in the 80’s was generally an American phenomenon the Canadians were hot on their tails, releasing a steady stream of ferociously violent yet technically astounding albums that helped to change the shape of thrash as we knew it (presented in alphabetical order as opposed to ranking)…..
Annihilator – Alice In Hell (1989)
A simple and often stated fact: Jeff Waters is one of the finest metal guitarists of all time. You can’t argue with such a statement and his prodigious, precocious talent first came to the world’s attention on Annihilator‘s stunning debut.
In 1989, Alice In Hell represented technical thrash of the highest order, an album overflowing with ideas and executed with more panache and ability than virtually anyone outside of Megadeth. The unforgettably monikered Randy Rampage (R.I.P) led the charge – delivering one of the dirtiest, unrefined and downright unpredictable vocal performances in thrash metal history – and when welded to Waters’ exquisite riffs, thrash metal magic was inevitable.
Check out the blistering speed of “Human Insecticide” and the incredible interplay and sheer maddening bravado of “Alison Hell” for ample proof that an on-fire Jeff Waters, and an-on fire Randy Rampage, were a formidable partnership forged in the bowels of hell….or Canada!
Dead Brain Cells – Dead Brain Cells (1987)
How’s this for a debut!
To those in the know, DBC were a crossover thrash phenomenon. While those outside of the thrash underground may not have woken up to DBC‘s intrinsic charms until much later (if at all), those who caught on early to their crunching mix of hardcore-inflected technicality and speed were instantly taken by a band who should have made huge waves in the scene.
While “Lies” gave any late 80’s crossover act a run for their money it was the likes of “Tempest” – with its more ‘expansive’ leanings – which truly showcased what these Canadians were capable of….and would go on to achieve!
Infernäl Mäjesty – None Shall Defy (1988)
Despite the cartoonish artwork which adorns their debut album, Infernäl Mäjesty were an undeniably savage act and they made an immediate impact on the underground with the release of None Shall Defy.
The antithesis of Razor, Annihilator and their ilk, Infernäl Mäjesty specialised in the sounds of the underworld and had more in common with the unholy terror of Slayer‘s Hell Awaits and Possessed‘s Seven Churches than anything released by fellow countrymen Exciter and Anvil.
A key release in the ongoing development of death metal, None Shall Defy‘s march towards Satan came replete with a vile and ultimately evil aesthetic; one characterised by the unnerving sounds of blackened death/thrash perfection found on “S.O.S” and the scintillating title track.
Don’t let the sub-par cover art fool you, Infernäl Mäjesty meant serious business…..the devil’s business!
Sacrifice – Forward To Termination (1987)
Part of Canada’s “big four” alongside the potentially more recognisable names of Razor, Voivod and Annihilator (more on all of those later), Sacrifice‘s 2nd album, Forward To Termination, was a fast and ferocious shit-storm of an album.
A marked improvement on their admittedly decent debut Torment In Fire, 1987’s Forward to Termination upped the ante in almost every department while also maturing at an astonishing rate. A virtually perfect amalgamation of snarling attitude, ingenious riffs and diverse song structure, Forward To Termination – and the likes of the cult favourite “Re-Animation” in particular – have gone down in history as an all time classic of Canadian thrash!
With this outstanding album, Sacrifice proved once and for all that Canada had thrash bands that could rival those found in the USA and Germany and they should have found themselves at the top of the thrash pile.
Voivod – Killing Technology (1987)
It was a close call between this and 1988’s Dimension Hatröss but Killing Technology is so much thrashier and considering this is a best of 80s Canadian THRASH list…. it’s Killing Technology that nicks the top spot!
One of thrash metal’s most distinctive bands should need no introduction – with Voivod having spent their entire career releasing music that barely stayed within the confines of thrash and purposefully flaunted the rules at every step – and Killing Technology can be considered their pinnacle thrash release. That’s not to say that future albums wouldn’t usurp this title (the likes of Angel Rat, Nothingface and The Outer Limits are all outstanding prog metal releases) but Killing Technology is where it’s at if we’re talking cold, hard, 80s thrash.
Atypical and abstract, the riffs of Piggy and the vocal delivery of Snake remain utterly unique and otherworldly and this twisting, turning, tumultuous sci-fi fever-dream made flesh still sounds like absolutely nothing else on earth. “Tornado”, “Ravenous Medicine”, “Cockroaches” were light years ahead of the pack and their peers (if they have ever really had any) are still frantically trying to keep up.
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