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British Thrash: The 10 Greatest Old-School Albums

God save our noble THRASH!

Source // www.metal-archives.com

Considering the UK invented heavy metal, it’s always frustrating to reflect on how seemingly unsuccessful we were at thrash metal!

Predominantly an American phenomenon (although the Teutonic trio of Destruction, Kreator and Sodom were equally as accomplished), British thrash caused a few waves over the years but this was nothing compared to the Tsunami caused by Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, Testament, Death Angel, Overkill, Exodus etc.

In retrospect, British thrash bands actually had much to offer, album sales and general exposure may have been significantly lower than desired but the talent and musicianship was clear to see. Largely forgotten over the years, it’s time to re-address the balance and take a look at the British thrash albums that really mattered.

Virus – Lunacy (1989)

Forming in 1986, Virus would go on to release an album a year over the next 3 years culminating in 1989’s Lunacy; an album that deserved far wider acclaim than it received. 

If you’re a fan of frenzied Vio-Lence-esque riffs, killer gang-vocals and hooks that’ll snag you square in the chops from a hundred yards, then Virus are the band for you and Lunacy could become your new favourite album. Capable of matching any of the 2nd tier American thrash bands, their bass-heavy, gritty and hyper-fast thrash should have reached a wider audience; a case of British thrash again being overlooked in favour of an American contingent.

Virus were a band with a fearsome live reputation – with the clout to make some serious noise within the thrash metal scene – and Lunacy was ample proof that they were fast evolving into serious contenders.

As infectious as ever, Virus are very much active (check out 2020’s career highlight, Evilution Apocalypse).

If you liked this, check out: Force Recon (1988), pure ferocity and a UK companion piece to the feral likes of Dark Angel’s Darkness Descends and Kreator’s Pleasure to Kill!


Slammer -The Work Of Idle Hands (1989)

Slammer – The Work Of Idle Hands... (2020, CD) - Discogs

Slammer‘s debut, The Work Of Idle Hands, has aged considerably well, with it’s professional production and solid foundations belying it’s semi-forgotten status. With a street-smart atmosphere pervading throughout, and Paul Tunnicliffe’s convincing raspy vocals giving each track an urbanised edge, the likes of “Tenement Zone” and the expansive “Hellbound” stand-out from the pack….but the entire album is worthy of your time.

Slammer‘s sound may not be original, but they were damn good at what they did and if consistently impressive and aggressive guitar work is your bag, you’d do well to hunt down a copy. But beware, this really is a lost classic and hard to track down at a reasonable price!

Highly reminiscent of Testament at their most accessible, Slammer had a sound that was tailor-made for the American market and should have lead to significant album sales and worldwide recognition. As it turned out, Slammer were just another British thrash band who should have made a big splash on both sides of the pond but failed to make more than a ripple; only with hindsight can we see they had much more to offer.

If you liked this, check out: Insanity Addicts (1990) was Slammer’s second EP and a decent stab at taking their sound into ever more marketable areas. 


Re-Animator – Condemned To Eternity (1990)

Condemned To Eternity [Explicit] by Re-Animator on Amazon Music - Amazon.com

Arriving a little later in the day, Re-Animator still had enough potential to cause a stir and 1990’s Condemned To Eternity is their greatest achievement.

Another band in thrall to Testament’s semi-melodic approach (particularly in Kev Ingleson’s Chuck Billy-aping vocals), Re-Animator still possessed the required skill to amount a convincing thrash attack; proof positive that us Brits could thrash like fuck when we wanted to!

“Low Life” and the instrumental title track are the real highlights, both demonstrating the bands knack for experimental and yet vertebrae-shattering riffs. While “Low Life” may rip off Metallica‘s “Creeping Death” in its opening bars, that can be forgiven as the song goes on to establish itself as a frenzied neck-breaker in its own right, and the title-track challenges Death Angel‘s “The Ultraviolence” in the epic instrumental stakes.

In the end, Condemned To Eternity may be one for thrash diehards….but it’s no less convincing because of it!

If you liked this, check out: The previous year saw the arrival of Deny Reality, an EP that merely hinted at what was to come!


Hydra Vein – Rather Death Than False Of Faith (1988)

Hydra Vein - Rather Death Than False Of Faith | Discogs

Shit cover art aside, Hydra Vein were a ferocious and precocious late 80’s thrash band whose Rather Death Than False Of Faith debut deserves to be heralded as a minor classic.

Wallowing in the same dirty cess pool as early Onslaught and VenomRather Death Than False Of Faith stands toe to toe with the cream of late 80’s thrash metal. These guys could out slay Slayer when they put their filth-encrusted minds to it and the pure thrash carnage of “Crucifier” and “Rabid” (in fairness, this one’s a little too Slayer-esque for comfort at times) provides a welcome jolt to the system and may take newcomers by surprise!

Regardless of tempo – and Hydra Vein were as adept at blinding speed as they were mid-paced stomp – the key to Hydra Vein’s success (we use that term loosely) hinges on quality over quantity. Featuring just the 8 tracks, it’s notable that all 8 tracks have their moment, whether that’s a shout from the rooftops chorus, face-ripping solo or neck-wrecking riff , each and every song slams hard and features at least one highly memorable moment.

Hydra Vein may have been left in the thrash wilderness but fans of Onslaught’s The Force, Sacrilege’s Behind the Realms Of Madness, Venom’s Black Metal and Slayer’s Hell Awaits need this album…. and that’s despite the cover art which looks like it was painted by a partially sighted 4 year old!

Liked that? Try this: Hydra Vein’s sophomore effort, After The Dream, almost matched the intensity of Rather Death Than False Of Faith. 


Acid Reign – Obnoxious (1990)

ACID REIGN - Obnoxious LP - Gatefold Limited Edition

Alongside Lawnmower Deth, Harrogate’s Acid Reign were another British band to often embrace the sillier side of thrash. However, Acid Reign reined in the lunacy on Obnoxious and the result was an album that embraced a previously untapped progressive edge.

Slowing down, slightly, Acid Reign adopted a more focused attitude, imbuing their intricate riffs and clever lyrics with a keener eye for detail and the results were impressive to say the least.

“Thoughtful Sleep” remains the album’s highlight, a technical excursion into a story of child neglect which surprises with its schizophrenic myriad of time changes and personalities. Intelligent, complex and highly original, in an ideal world this song alone would have elevated Acid Reign into the big leagues. As it turned out, they were unjustly overlooked and imploded shortly after Obnoxious‘ release.

Recent reappraisal of Acid Reign resulted in an eagerly awaited reformation (albeit without 3 of the members who penned Obnoxious) and the band released ‘The Apple Core Archives’ – a box set retrospective that was an absolutely essential purchase for anyone with even a passing interest in thrash. One of the finest thrash albums in recent history then followed in 2019, with The Age Of Entitlement blowing the competition out of the water!

If you liked this, check out: Many will (quite rightly) bemoan our inclusion of Obnoxious over 1989’s The Fear….but it’s our list and we’re sticking with it. How do you like them apples?! (The Fear is brilliant though).

About Chris Jennings (1726 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/

43 Comments on British Thrash: The 10 Greatest Old-School Albums

  1. “God’s Gift” by Toranaga (1990) would definitely make my top 10. But not a bad list, not bad at all.

  2. Paul Russell // December 17, 2014 at 8:13 pm // Reply

    Slammer was a crackin call . Loved that album . Lawnmower deth just awesome and needed to be above number one amongst the outer planets !

  3. Virus Force Recon 1988 was better outsold Lunacy

    • Chris Jennings // December 17, 2014 at 11:22 pm // Reply

      A close call, both are excellent albums. Lunacy, regardless of album sales,just seemed the more complete album to me. Thanks for reading and commenting \m/

  4. All the way through I thought you’d run out before you got to ten great British thrash records…. And then you show me history of a time to come, a record that blew me away and spent many, many hours on my turntable. Unquestionably awesome, thanks for the reminder.

  5. Lawnmower Deth are timeless, their live shows with Evil Scarecrow absolutely smash all over the competition. I still love that album as much as the day I bought it about 24 years ago, long live the mower liberation front! \m/

  6. Great list of great bands I grew up to, forgot some of these albums. Defo will be back on the turntable.

  7. Some great albums in there. Own several of those myself. I would have included albums by Deathwish, Arbitrater and Pariah as well.

    • Chris Jennings // December 18, 2014 at 8:36 pm // Reply

      Thanks Kris. Deathwish’s At The Edge Of Damnation very nearly made it in, consider it placed at No.11 \m/

    • Simon Reeves // December 19, 2014 at 6:17 am // Reply

      Pariah! Another excellent call… I’d forgotten about those guys too! Yup gimme pariah over xentrix any day. First album was awesome, then the second had that insanely long guitar duel in the second song that made me laugh every time I heard it! Happy days….

      • Chris Jennings // December 19, 2014 at 7:52 am // Reply

        Poor Xentrix! I’m gonna have to revisit Pariah, they never really did it for me but I’ll give ’em another go. Thanks for reading and commenting Simon \m/

  8. Deathwish-Demon Preacher..top album
    Followed `Virus’ from Pray For War too, Saw Lawnmower Deth in a small pub in Derby..Excellent!

  9. Can’t believe I forgot to mention DAM as well. Love their Human Wreckage album.

  10. Steven McKinnon // January 2, 2015 at 12:03 pm // Reply

    Great article, will definitely check these albums out. Glad Thrashist Regime got mentioned, their first album (Fearful Symmetry) is tremendous, and they’re amazing live. They’re working on a new LP that sounds like it’ll be killer!

    • Chris Jennings // January 2, 2015 at 12:32 pm // Reply

      Thanks Steven, some great albums, the majority of which are truly underrated. Thrashist Regime get my vote, looking forward to some new material! \m/

  11. Thanks for the positive words. It’s good to be reminded that not everyone agreed with the bad press the album got at the time at the time.

    • Chris Jennings // February 2, 2015 at 1:40 pm // Reply

      Hey Paul, for every hater I’m sure you’ll find twice as many who appreciated the efforts of Slammer, Virus, Anihilated etc. Nothing but British classics in this article \m/

  12. Sabbat – History Of A Time To Come Is A Thrash Masterpiece!

  13. Kevin LeBlanc // February 18, 2015 at 4:28 pm // Reply

    Any list of mandatory thrash albums would be sorely incomplete without Sabbat’s ‘History of a Time to Come,’ and when talking about British thrash, having it anywhere but at #1 is a fuckin’ crime.

    It’s all killer and no filler, and with one of the greatest lyricists our genre will ever see.

    • Chris Jennings // February 18, 2015 at 4:33 pm // Reply

      Couldn’t agree more Kevin. It’s the one British Thrash album that stands toe to toe with the all time greats of Thrash \m/

  14. BlackCatTheory // July 3, 2015 at 9:55 am // Reply

    Good lord! I’d totally forgotten about Slammer and Cerebral Fix. As a young lad, Xentrix were our great white hope. Sadly, if you fly too close to Metallica, the wax holding your wings together melts and you fall to earth!

    • Chris Jennings // July 3, 2015 at 11:26 am // Reply

      Cerebral Fix are still going strong and Xentrix are back! Probably better than Metallica nowadays as well 😉

  15. Brendan Carter // July 4, 2015 at 1:12 am // Reply

    Very good list indeed, Sabbat rightfully `….numero uno…`, only difference is, i would have, `D.A.M, 2nd, Seventh Angel 3rd, and Deathwish & Detritius, both scraping into the 10. Those Lawnmower knobs, do not deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as other great bands. D.A.M, were not given enough credit for taking a more edgier, darker sound, compared to some of the more mainstream rubbish of some other British bands.

    • Chris Jennings // July 6, 2015 at 7:29 am // Reply

      All good Brendan, can’t really argue with any of your suggestions. Perhaps a ’20’ list would have been a better idea! I have to defend Lawnmower Deth, having seen them live just last weekend all I can say is their defiantly British sense of humour and seriously great musicianship mark them out as one of Thrash’s (and UK Thrash’s) most unique bands…I love ’em!

      In hindsight, omitting D.A.M and Seventh Angel was probably an error but in the same breath I can’t pick the albums to remove in order to fit them in. Such a conundrum!! 😉 Thanks for the comments Brendan \m/

  16. Erm…anyone heard of a band called Venom?

  17. Seventh Angel is another thrash entry from the UK and Detritus who sounds almost like Metallica from Master of Puppets (and they employ the use of a saxophone with the pacing of their lyrics.)

    • Chris Jennings // October 3, 2015 at 3:39 pm // Reply

      Seventh Angel are/were exceptional Nickolaus….check out Ian Arkley’s current Doom Metal project My Silent Wake….amazing stuff! \m/

  18. Matthew Miller // February 6, 2016 at 10:29 am // Reply

    Great shouts, great article. I seem to remember poor Slammer getting pelters in Metal Forces letters page and fanzines due to them being signed up to a ‘Major Label’. Did I dream that or can anyone else remember? Fantastic album, very over looked

  19. Aaadabaadab // June 16, 2017 at 1:17 pm // Reply

    My next suggestion:

    Canadian Thrash: The 10 Greatest Old-School Albums

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