In the 1990’s, thrash metal’s well was running particularly dry when it came to new bands making a mark on the scene. However, while thrash did die an uncomfortable death in the 1990’s, there were still bands releasing debut albums of considerable worth…. as this list should hopefully prove!
10. Faustus – …and Still We Suffer (1996) [USA]
…and Still We Suffer may have arrived a little late in the day but there’s no denying that this semi-obscure effort from Seattle’s Faustus was a brave, complex and, ultimately, highly rewarding slab of progressive thrash metal. This was thrash made for the true fans, those committed souls who had continued to fly the thrash flag in the face of death metal, grunge and groove metal and …and Still We Suffer was their well-deserved reward!
With more than a hint of Nevermore informing their sound, Faustus were undoubtedly looking to push thrash into ever more expansive realms; unleashing a tirade of ingenious riffs, multi-faceted vocals and ever-shifting time signatures in the process. While “Erosion” had an Atheist vibe – which removed the majority of the death metal elements but retained that recognisable free-form nature – it was “The Hell We Make” which provided the most succinct summation of Faustus‘ skill.
While at times Faustus‘ approach may have appeared scattershot (which can be attested to their abundance of ideas), it was actually their undying commitment to challenging trends, their obvious technical ability, their go-for-broke mentality and high octane performances which marked them out as a band with plenty to offer.
9. Pyracanda – Two Sides Of A Coin (1990) [Germany]
Pyracanda‘s debut full length remains somewhat of an oddity but it’s an album that deserves accolades, not just for its melodic sensibilities – which ably recalled the majesty of Mike Howe-era Metal Church and fellow countrymen and label mates Grinder – but for its technical aptitude and supreme songwriting skill.
Unfavourably discarded in favour of the big guns of teutonic thrash, Pyracanda’s Two Sides Of A Coin actually holds up just as well as the early 90’s output of Kreator, Sodom et all. In fact, with their occasional speed metal tendencies, huge vocals and galloping riffs, Two Sides Of A Coin arguably delivers a timeless sound; easily fitting in with the current trend for trad metal/speed metal, making Pyracanda more relevant than ever.
These melodic thrashers were absolute class, pure and simple!
8. Entropy – Ashen Existence (1992) [Canada]
A progressive and technical thrash 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!
This was ambitious thrash, buoyed by technicality and hell-bent on challenging the notion of what thrash could be. 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-genres at will, with changes in tempo and time signatures throwing endless curveballs throughout each and every, lengthy, track.
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!
7. Aftermath – Eyes Of Tomorrow (1994) [USA]
Aftermath may have first turned heads with the full-throttle, thrash assault, of their speed-of-light demo Killing The Future but it’s their only full length album to date that showcased this undervalued bands full potential and proved to be a total reinvention of their sound.
Eyes Of Tomorrow was technical/progressive thrash incarnate and its off kilter rhythms and mind-boggling complexity jostled with infectious melody, ingenious hooks and heads-down thrashing. Creatively eccentric and filled with fluid leads, accomplished solos and dark ambience, the incredible technicality and progressive nature of Eyes Of Tomorrow remains clear for all to hear.
After the likes of Heathen, Anacrusis and Coroner had given up the ghost, it was down to Aftermath to carry technical/progressive thrash into the mid 90’s!
Aftermath‘s new album, No Time To Waste, will land in 2023.
6. Witchery – Restless & Dead (1998) [Sweden]
Arriving very late in the day, Sweden’s Witchery helped breathe new (blackened) life into a thrash scene that was virtually non-existent in 1998.
Go looking for Exodus and early Metallica corpse-paintin’ it up and throwing even more ‘venom’ into the mix and you’ll find Witchery‘s fuckin’ fantastic debut, Restless & Dead. Suitably evil and unapologetically feral, Witchery simply stripped thrash back to its purest essence, charred the life out of it and released it, twitching and screaming, onto an audience starved of such tasty, burnt-end morsels! Witchery were as much restless and wild as they were restless and dead and with opener, “The Reaper”, ably setting the undead scene, one of the greatest thrash albums of the late 90’s was unearthed from the grave.
In thrash terms, 1998 was a barren wasteland so we hail Satan for Restless & Dead; a thrash gift sent directly from the fiery bowels of hell itself.