By the time 1985 rolled around, thrash metal was already off to a more than healthy start but it could be argued that 1985 was the year when thrash truly broke through, delivering a series of genre-defining albums in the process.
Here’s OUR pick of the 10 greatest thrash metal albums of 1985…..
Opener, “The Metalian”, kickstarts the tempo and Iron Angel never once drop the pace from then on in, unleashing merry hell in the name of real metal and peeling off riffs like the end of the world was truly nigh.
These Germanic, bullet-belt strewn boys made one hell of an entrance when their full-length debut detonated in 1985.
Sounding far more evil and malevolently sinister than their American counterparts, Destruction would go on to define the Teutonic thrash scene…..but it all began here!
Miraculously, a rejected genius with a spiralling drug addiction – and a mouth that refused to stay shut – led to auspicious beginnings! Dave Mustaine’s Megadeth were a recipe for disaster but the result gave us one of the most technically gifted thrash bands on the planet.
Killing Is My Business… is undoubtedly Megadeth at their most unrefined and unrestrained with “Rattlehead” and “Mechanic” particularly endearing the band to slathering thrash fans the world over.
This may be lacking the precision pummelling of later releases but any short comings are balanced by boundless energy and a determination like no other; Metallica’s loss was the world’s gain.
7. Razor – Evil Invaders
Canada’s Razor released 2 albums in 1985 but with its sharp riffing and bone-crushing songs, Evil Invaders just edges Executioner’s Song as the better of the 2.
Thrash metal doesn’t come thrashier – or more metallic for that matter – than this auditory assault on the senses that can literally strip skin from bone (or endo-skeleton, if the cover art is anything to go by).
“Tortured Skull” and “Instant Death” are the highlights but the whole album hits warp speed for the majority of its running time so you may as well just sit back, crack open a beer and consume it all (beer and album)!
6. S.O.D – Speak English Or Die
S.O.D were something else; completely devoid of tact, full of humour (very black humour) and capable of thrashing your nuts clean off!
One of the first bands to throw hardcore punk and thrash into a blender, S.O.D were just some young punks letting off steam (Anthax’s Scott Ian and Charlie Benante reuniting with ex-bassist Dan Lilker and recruiting vocalist Billy Milano) but turned out to be one of the Eighties most influential bands.
S.O.D invented crossover thrash and systematically crushed your head in with heavy-hitters such as “Sargent D and the S.O.D.”, “Milano Mosh” and “Identity”.
Speak English Or Die was no joke, it was a crossover thrash masterpiece!
5. Overkill – Feel The Fire
Source // music.ya.net
Overkill‘s full length debut was an instantly satisfying fix for those thrash fans looking for an East-Coast band to rival the Bay Area’s dominance.
Feel The Fire is an absolute classic from a band who have spent the best part of 40 years defiantly thrashing their guts out for the metal masses. It’s fair to say that consistency and Overkill literally go hand in hand.
“Rotten To The Core”, “Hammerhead” and “Kill At Command” thrill with wild abandonment and earth-shaking riffs buffered by Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth’s shrill vocals.
If Overkill had only released this record they still would be revered as thrash pioneers, as it turns out we have a further 18(!) records to relish as well!
4. Anthrax – Spreading The Disease
Spreading The Disease is an undeniable thrash classic, sophisticated and controlled, yet bouncy and energetic enough to get any mosh-pit jumping and it was on this album that Anthrax found their melodic yet crunching sound, catapulting them to the forefront of the then fledgeling thrash metal scene in the process.
Benefitting from Joey Belladonna’s relatively unique-to-thrash singing style, Spreading The Disease is home to some of Anthrax’s greatest tracks with “A.I.R”, “Madhouse”, “Medusa” and “Gung Ho” still registering high on the thrash richter scale.
If 1985 was renowned for anything it was for Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth making their mark on the thrash scene. Metallica had some serious competition to contend with and The Big 4 were upon us!
3. Possessed – Seven Churches
On their debut album, Possessed took a cut and paste approach to their music by incorporating the viciousness of Venom, the speed of Motörhead and the thrashing, atonal guitars of early Exodus and Slayer.
The result was an innovative and primitive thrash metal sound which came to define death metal.
“The Exorcist”, “Burning In Hell” and “Seven Churches” are held together by Jeff Becerra’s unholy roar, simultaneously aping Lemmy from Motörhead yet producing a guttural tone that would go on to be the bread and butter of death metal.
Possessed take the honour of inventing death metal on their debut album, this is constantly up for debate but we’re standing by it; no Seven Churches, no death metal.
2. Slayer – Hell Awaits
Slayer‘s Hell Awaits was conceived to shock and awe…..and it worked, perfectly!
In 1985, Hell Awaits was the sound of pure evil filtered through squealing feedback, archaic chanting and progressively technical dark-thrash odes to Satan and his happy home. The ghastly and terrifying title-track remains one of Slayer’s defining moments while “Necrophiliac” and “Kill Again” foreshadowed Reign In Blood‘s oncoming speed and ferocity.
Slayer were arguably never this progressively minded again and Hell Awaits has stood the test of time as a cornerstone in thrash metal and extreme metal’s development.
1. Exodus – Bonded By Blood
Exodus should have had it all; the fame, the fortune and their fair share of thrash metal’s spoils. As it turned out, one of thrash metals most legendary albums comes from a band who hovered on the periphery of The Big 4 without ever making that leap into the big league.
A bullsh*t situation, quite frankly.
It’s fairly common knowledge that Bonded By Blood was actually recorded in 1984, but was held back for a ridiculous 9 months due to record label wrangling and that lost time proved to be more than just significant. Instead of spearheading the scene they helped to create, Exodus found themselves endlessly playing catch up and they simply ran out of puff; forever chasing the pack and never actually gaining ground.
However, Bonded By Blood‘s title-track, “A Lesson In Violence”, “And Then There Were None”, “Piranha”, and “Strike Of The Beast” are all thrash gold, tarnished by bad timing but true treasures in thrash’s lock-up.
Bonded By Blood was the greatest thrash album to be released in 1985 and 35 years later the band are still going strong!
Honourable mentions: Onslaught – Power From Hell / Kreator’s – Endless Pain / Sacrilege – Behind The Realms Of Madness / Artillery – Fear Of Tomorrow / Hallows Eve – Tales Of Terror