Canadian thrash may have been left riding the coattails of the US scene in the late 80’s and early 90’s but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t home to some truly outstanding thrash!
With that in mind, Worship Metal has selected the 10 greatest old school Canadian thrash albums.
Dyoxen – First Among Equals (1989)
Taking the Voivod path to obscure-town, Dyoxen were a surprisingly melodic yet highly skilled set of technical thrashers.
While the Voivod comparisons are semi-apt, Dyoxen actually had more in common with Peace Sells-era Megadeth; such was their penchant for unveiling skilful and sickle-sharp, complex and caustic blasts of sophisticated thrash, replete with umpteen tempo changes and a shed-load of killer riffs.
These guys sure had the chops, but they just didn’t have the clout to shit them into the big leagues. Which is a crying shame, as First Among Equals was the equal of anything Annihilator, Megadeth, Forbidden etc. were serving up in the late 80’s!
Disciples Of Power – Power Trap (1989)
One of those more obscure thrash albums (and bands) who had everything, Disciples Of Power were already sucker-punching the majority of their peers with debut full length Power Trap; a release which showcased this outstanding band’s ability to meld primal thrash aggression, death metal tendencies and progressive thrash structures into a satisfying whole.
The production may be shite but there’s no denying the talent Disciples Of Power clearly had in spades and the merciless nature of their attack – coupled with Watchtower-esque levels of technicality – marks Power Trap out as one of the best thrash albums you’ve probably never heard!
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.
Obliveon – From This Day Forward (1990)
A thrashier version of Death circa Spiritual Healing / Human, Obliveon’s debut album was an immediate game-changer upon release and has become an all-time technical thrash classic from the golden era of forward-thinking thrash.
Obliveon were part of the natural Canadian evolution that first began when Voivod crawled from the primordial swamp before, over time, casting aside the shackles of conformity and entering cyberspace. While they weren’t alone on embracing the more technical side of thrash, Obliveon’s take on Voivod’s early-doors experimentation was undoubtedly heavier than most; informed as much by death metal as it was traditional thrash.
As far as debut albums go, From this Day Forward was leagues ahead of the competition and you’d be hard pressed to find a more technical old school thrash album which delivers on so many levels. Speed, technicality, atmosphere, diversity, aggression….Obliveon’s From This Day Forward has the lot!
Razor – Shotgun Justice (1990)
Canadian thrash’s answer to Slayer’s all-conquering Reign In Blood, Razor’s Shotgun Justice (and yes, some people are gonna be pissed we haven’t included their favourite Razor album but tough shit, it’s our list) is as potent as ever and is a balls-to-the-fucking-wall shotgun blast of ultra-aggressive, high speed thrash!
Fuck your technical/progressive thrash bollocks, Razor specialised in working man’s thrash that hit hard and hit fast and not only were they plenty pissed, they were operating at the top of their game. It’s no stretch to suggest that the likes of the relentlessly abrasive “Meaning Of Pain and “Parricide” should be considered career highlights.
Beloved original frontman Stace “Sheepdog” McLaren may have departed but the throat-shredding shouts of the incoming Bob Reid were more than capable of delivering the goods and Razor were arguably never as hostile as they were here.
Entropy – Ashen Existence (1992)
A progressive and technical thrash/death colossus, Entropy’s debut album, Ashen Existence, may not be as well-known as it should be but that just means that when you do discover it, you’re in for one hell of a welcome surprise!
With Ger Schreinert’s vocals swiftly alternating between death growls and raspy screams and wails, Entropy’s genius lay in their ability to hop between sub-genre at will, with changes in tempo and time signatures throwing endless curveballs throughout each and every, lengthy, track.
This was ambitious thrash, buoyed by technicality and hell-bent on challenging the notion of what thrash could be.
While, at times, Ashen Existence may sound like Entropy crammed 3 albums of material into the one song (never mind the one album!) – and the sheer number of ideas thrown around with wild abandon can often be overwhelming – if you dig a little deeper it’s abundantly clear that Ashen Existence was the Canadian answer to Dark Angel’s Time Does Not Heal…..and praise doesn’t really get any loftier than that!
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, Infernal Majesty meant serious business…..the devil’s business!
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!
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 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, 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.
Honourable Mentions (remembering that a one album per band mantra applied in the above list): Aggression – The Full Treatment (1987) / Annihilator – Never, Neverland (1990) / Anonymus – Ni Vu, Ni Connu (1994) / Beyond – Quantum Bummer (1990) / Chronical Disturbance – Foggy Creek (1990) / D.B.C – Universe (1989) / Deathamin – Mass Of What (1992) / Disciples Of Power – Ominous Prophecy (1992) / Disciples Of Power – Invincible Enemy (1993) / Eudoxis – Open Fire (1991) / Obliveon – Nemesis (1993) / Overthrow – Within Suffering (1990) / Razor – Evil Invaders (1985) / Razor – Malicious Intent (1986) / Razor – Violent Restitution (1988) / Sacrifice – Torment In Fire (1985) / Sacrifice – Soldiers Of Misfortune (1990) / Sacrifice – Apocalypse Inside (1993) / Savage Steel – Do or Die (1988) / Slaughter – Strappado (1987) / Soothsayer – Have A Good Time (1989) / Voivod – Rrröööaaarrr (1986) / Voivod – Dimension Hatröss (1988)
Check out our other related thrash features in this series: