British Thrash: The 10 Greatest Old-School Albums
God save our noble THRASH!
Xentrix – Shattered Existence (1989)
Xentrix arrived with an almighty bang when Shattered Existence exploded onto the UK thrash scene back in 1989. Here was a band that could go toe-to-toe with the 2nd wave thrash bands from the United States and they were our’s (if you’re British, of course) to savour!
Home to some serious big-thrash-hitters – “No Compromise”, “Crimes”, “Balance of Power” and “Dark Enemy” – Shattered Existence was a winner from the get-go. With Chris Astley’s dry, Chuck Billy-esque bellow, a strong ear for melody and some killer riffs in their arsenal, Xentrix were capable of thrashing as fast as any of their peers while incorporating groove, technicality and a sense of urbanised menace.
For a short while there, Xentrix appeared to be the one British band who would infiltrate the big leagues.
Should. Have. Been. Huge.
Liked that? Try this: 1990’s For Whose Advantage? took Xentrix‘s sound ever closer to their Bay Area idols.
Onslaught – The Force (1986)
The first band to truly raise hell in the name of British thrash, Onslaught turned heads with their punk-infused debut, Power From Hell, but it was with 1986’s The Force that they truly announced their arrival in the scene.
The Force was an appropriate title, as Onslaught‘s forceful and vitriolic sound hit you like a ten ton hammer; thrashing harder than most and with as much conviction as the likes of Dark Angel and early Slayer.
Still considered an all-time thrash classic, The Force is probably the most convincing thrash album ever recorded by a British band. Capable of ripping your head clean off, Onslaught were a powerhouse who unleashed a multitude of sinister, stabbing riffs without even breaking a sweat. It all seemed too easy and their place in the thrash elite should have been virtually guaranteed.
Liked that? Try this: The aforementioned Power From Hell (1985) was a game-changer. Not just for UK thrash but as a more than notable influence on death metal. In contrast, the highly melodic In Search Of Sanity (1989) is different….but equally essential.
Sabbat – Dreamweaver (Reflections of Our Yesterdays) (1989)
The second full-length album from British pagan thrashers Sabbat swiftly followed their outstanding debut, History of a Time to Come, and this all-time classic follow-up ventured ever further into singer / lyricist Martin Walkyier’s strong interest in Wyrdism, Celtic mysticism, Anglo-Saxon spirituality and paganism.
Dreamweaver – a concept album based on the 1983 book The Way of Wyrd: Tales of an Anglo-Saxon Sorcerer by British psychologist Brian Bates – ably demonstrated the sheer poetry conjured by this most unique of thrash bands. Not least in Walkyier’s expansive lyricism but in Andy Sneap’s ability to conjure magic from his epic and progressively technical compositions.
“The Clerical Conspiracy”, “Wildfire”, “Do Dark Horses Dream of Nightmares?”….. all solid gold (but then you know that already)!
Exceptional doesn’t quite do this album justice.
Acid Reign – The Fear (1989)
As first impressions go, opening with the silly but entertaining, nibbles-obsessed, “You Never Know (WTNWS)” may have initially pegged these self-proclaimed masters of UK Apple-Core as a bunch of ne’er-do-well pranksters….but be sure about one thing, Acid Reign‘s debut full length album, The Fear, was anything but a joke!
“Insane Ecstasy”, “Humanoia” and the title track are three of the greatest tracks the UK thrash scene has to offer – and the rest of the album is no slouch either – and ably showcased Acid Reign‘s penchant for often elaborate song structures and the ability to unleash a shit-ton of riffs (seriously, so many riffs!) on an unsuspecting UK public.
If The Fear proved anything, it’s that Acid Reign weren’t considered one of the “Big 4” of British thrash for nuthin’!
Liked that? Try this: 1990’s Obnoxious was more mature and proved that Acid Reign were capable of evolving into a formidable global thrash act.
Sabbat – History Of A Time To Come (1988)
Yep. Sabbat again.
There are too few superlatives to convey the true majesty of Britain’s finest ever thrash album. Sabbat were one of the most unique bands in thrash history, regardless of origin, and although short-lived, their overall contribution to the scene remains unparalleled.
Propelled by the ingenious riffs of producer extraordinaire Andy Sneap (Arch Enemy, Nevermore, Testament) and Martin Walkyier’s uniquely unfettered and untameable vocals, Sabbat‘s philosophically pagan take on religion was groundbreakingly raw and real; an honest summation of the world and it’s failings.
The opening tracks, “A Cautionary Tale”, “Hosanna In Excelsis” & Behind The Crooked Cross” are exemplary, an unholy triumvarite of trailblazing thrash that perfectly encapsulated Sabbat‘s religion-baiting sound. However, it was the intelligence on display that truly ranked them as one of the genre’s greats. Here was poetry set to furious thrash, the likes of which has never been seen again.
History Of A Time To Come is mandatory listening for every thrasher on the planet and has barely aged; its place in the thrash history books permanently set in stone!
Also more than worthy of a mention: Detritus – If But For One / English Dogs – Forward Into Battle / Hellbastard – Natural Order / Pariah – Blaze Of Obscurity / Sacrilege – Behind The Realms Of Madness / Seventh Angel – Lament For The Weary / Skyclad – A Burnt Offering For The Bone Idol / Virus – Lunacy
Check out our other related thrash features in this series:
German Thrash: The 10 Greatest Old-School Albums
Belgian Thrash: The 10 Greatest Old-School Albums
Canadian Thrash: The 10 Greatest Old-School Albums
Japanese Thrash: The 10 Greatest Old-School Albums
American Thrash: The 10 Greatest Old-School Albums
Australian Thrash: The 10 Greatest Old-School Albums
“God’s Gift” by Toranaga (1990) would definitely make my top 10. But not a bad list, not bad at all.
Energetic krusher great British thrash band
Good call Martin, another great British Thrash band! \m/
Slammer was a crackin call . Loved that album . Lawnmower deth just awesome and needed to be above number one amongst the outer planets !
Thanks Paul. Good to see British Thrash getting some much needed love \m/
Virus Force Recon 1988 was better outsold Lunacy
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/
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.
Unquestionably awesome pretty much sums that album up perfectly. Thanks for reading and commenting Simon\m/
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/
Couldn’t agree more \m/
Great list of great bands I grew up to, forgot some of these albums. Defo will be back on the turntable.
Thanks Davy. All the albums mentioned have aged remarkably well. Enjoy listening to ’em again! \m/
Some great albums in there. Own several of those myself. I would have included albums by Deathwish, Arbitrater and Pariah as well.
Thanks Kris. Deathwish’s At The Edge Of Damnation very nearly made it in, consider it placed at No.11 \m/
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….
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/
Deathwish-Demon Preacher..top album
Followed `Virus’ from Pray For War too, Saw Lawnmower Deth in a small pub in Derby..Excellent!
Top album indeed! \m/
Remember this lol http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B007W0FJ7A?pc_redir=1413737077&robot_redir=1
Sacrilege, Virus, Re-Animator, Acid Reign, Lawnmower Deth….that compilation sounds awesome!
Can’t believe I forgot to mention DAM as well. Love their Human Wreckage album.
Human Wreckage and Inside Out are both right little rippers!
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!
Thanks Steven, some great albums, the majority of which are truly underrated. Thrashist Regime get my vote, looking forward to some new material! \m/
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.
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/
Sabbat – History Of A Time To Come Is A Thrash Masterpiece!
Damn right it is! \m/
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.
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/
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!
Cerebral Fix are still going strong and Xentrix are back! Probably better than Metallica nowadays as well 😉
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.
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/
Erm…anyone heard of a band called Venom?
Borderline Thrash (at best) but a good shout Chris \m/
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.)
Seventh Angel are/were exceptional Nickolaus….check out Ian Arkley’s current Doom Metal project My Silent Wake….amazing stuff! \m/
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
Cheers Matthew. We love a bit of Slammer here, underrated indeed!
My next suggestion:
Canadian Thrash: The 10 Greatest Old-School Albums
It shall be done!
Just thought I’d put a mention in for
Gomorrah – Reflections…
Holosade – Hell House