5. Voivod – Killing Technology [Canada]
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 should be considered their pinnacle thrash release. That’s not to say that future albums wouldn’t usurp this title, but this is, arguably, the last time Voivod were 100% thrash.
Atypical and abstract, the riffs of Piggy and the vocal delivery of Snake remain were always utterly unique and otherworldly and this twisting, turning, tumultuous sci-fi fever-dream made flesh still sounds like absolutely nothing else on earth.
The likes of “Tornado”, “Ravenous Medicine” and “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.
4. Destruction – Release From Agony [Germany]
Destruction may have started life as a rough ‘n’ ready blackened thrash band but by the time their third full length album, Release From Agony, arrived in 1987, they’d transformed themselves into a technical thrash act par excellence.
The mad butcher didn’t just strike back with this album, it hacked and sliced its way through the competition and while (originally) the quality of Release From Agony’s production left a lot to be desired, the likes of “Sign Of Fear” and “Survive To Die” indicated that Destruction were now operating on a higher level than the majority of their peers.
A thrilling combination of insanely technical riffs and abstract song structures marks out Release From Agony as a true masterpiece of Teutonic thrash……and Destruction would, arguably, never be so wilfully obscure again!
3. Death Angel – The Ultra-Violence [USA]
Almost offensively talented, these teenage wunderkinds were a second-wave phenomenon who were 100% focused on thrashin’ your tits clean off!
Death Angel‘s debut release was a Bay Area revelation, shaking up a status quo that had only just been established. The Big 4 were forced to watch their backs as the likes of “Evil Priest”, the aptly titled “Thrashers” and the stunning 10 minute self-titled instrumental marked out The Ultra-Violence as an instant classic and it remains a beloved album from one of the most consistent bands in all of thrash metal.
Few albums in thrash made an immediate impact as forceful as this!
2. Anthrax – Among The Living [USA]
Among The Living is one of the greatest thrash records of all time, with all the ingredients that made Anthrax world-beaters coming together to form the perfect whole.
But what made it so good?
It was simple really. Joey Belladonna had truly bedded in and his melodic yet powerful vocals were exceptional throughout, while Scott Ian and Dan Spitz were now a lethal combination with Among The Living cementing their reputation as one of the most skilled guitar partnerships in metal. Finally, there was Charlie Benante’s stunning, highly influential bass drum work which propelled the band forward at breakneck speed throughout the entire album.
The songs contained within can still stand toe-toe with the best tracks thrash metal has to offer (“Caught In a Mosh” anyone?) and are as thrilling today as they were back in 1987!
1. Testament – The Legacy [USA]
The Legacy – Testament‘s debut and very nearly their greatest achievement – announced their arrival in an already crowded scene with considerable force.
It was already clear that Testament had the necessary skill to challenge the big boys of thrash with an eerie, ominous atmosphere thankfully making amends for a thin, tinny production. Most noticeably, the band had musicians in their ranks who could really play and a vocalist who could scream, wail, growl and (whisper it) actually sing!
The guitar pairing of Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick was also inspired, with Petersen’s solid, chugging rhythms complimenting Skolnick’s jazz influenced shredding skills perfectly.
The Legacy was just the start of a journey that should (SHOULD) have seen them become as big as Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax!
Honourable mentions: Artillery – Terror Squad / Coroner – R.I.P / Deathrow – Raging Steel / DBC – Dead Brain Cells / D.R.I – Crossover / Exodus – Pleasures of the Flesh / Heathen – Breaking The Silence / Holy Moses – Finished With The Dogs / Intruder – Live To Die / Kreator – Terrible Certainty / Living Death – Protected From Reality / Mekong Delta – Mekong Delta / Nasty Savage – Indulgence / Overkill – Taking Over / Target – Mission Executed / Sacrifice – Forward To Termination / Sepultura – Schizophreinia / Slaughter – Strappado / Vendetta – Go and live…stay and die / Whiplash – Ticket To Mayhem (and many more).
Also in this series: