By the time 1985 rolled around, thrash metal was already off to a more than healthy start but it could be argued that it was also the year when thrash truly broke through, delivering a series of genre-defining debut albums in the process.
Presented in no particular order as they’re all mandatory….
Artillery – Fear Of Tomorrow [Denmark]
Denmark’s Artillery have often found themselves criminally ignored and although 1990’s By Inheritance is their masterpiece, it’s Fear Of Tomorrow that deserves to be revered for its contribution to thrash metal’s ascendancy.
Insanely-fast tremolo picking and machine-gun drums provide the battery while Artillery’s penchant for settling into mid-paced groove counterbalances the speed; no more so than on album highlights “The Almighty” and “King, Thy Name Is Slayer”.
If this gem is collecting dust in your collection it’s time to unearth it’s intricate treasures, thrash this good deserves to be heard!
Destruction – Infernal Overkill [Germany]
These Germanic, bullet-belt strewn boys made one hell of an entrance when their full-length debut, Infernal Overkill, detonated in 1985.
Blackened thrash was the order of the day and Infernal Overkill came out charred, scorched and searing; the heat generated from this trio of tormentors manifesting itself as feverish thrashers such as “The Ritual”, “Thrash Attack” and “Antichrist”.
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!
Destructor – Maximum Destruction (1985) [USA]
With band members christening themselves Matt Flammable, Pat Rabid, Dave Overkill and Dave Holocaust, you’re not looking for subtlety when you blast Destructor’s 1985 debut Maximum Destruction….. you’re looking for unadulterated THRASH with a side order of POWER!
And guess what? That’s exactly what you get!
Maximum Destruction’s riotously rudimentary nature may sound antiquated to modern ears but these guys were at the forefront of extremity in 1985, matching Slayer in the ferocity stakes and unleashing all manner of merry thrashin’ hell in the name youthful abandonment. An often overlooked release, Maximum Destruction was every inch the equal of Slayer’s Show No Mercy and Anthrax’s Fistful Of Metaland Destructor fully deserved to reach a wider audience with their reprehensibly raw racket.
Exodus – Bonded By Blood [USA]
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.
Hirax – Raging Violence [USA]
An anorexic production job does little to dent the ferocious nature of Hirax‘s powerful debut released during thrash metal’s infancy. A blistering crossover thrash / speed metal exercise in full-throttle riffing, Hirax may have been a little rough around the edges but their often undervalued contribution to the scene is actually undeniable.
With one of the most distinctive voices in thrash – as an ambassador for the genre as well as a vocalist – frontman Katon W. De Pena remains a thrash icon. His melodic John Cyriis (Agent Steel) meets Eric A.K. (Flotsam And Jetsam) wail was the perfect foil for his bandmate’s hardcore punk infused bouts of maddening metal.
14 tracks in just over 30 minutes signals just how fast these guys actually played and precious few could match them for speed in ’85! Trading finesse for brute force, the likes of “Bombs Of Death” – an all-time thrash classic – still managed to drip-feed a little melody into the mix, enabling Hirax’s barely in control barbarity to warrant repeat listening.