The UK continued to churn out high calibre thrash in 2020 and Worship Metal have selected the 5 releases we feel are most worthy of your attention.
Worship Metal’s 5 Greatest UK Thrash Releases Of 2020…..
5. Gama Bomb – Sea Savage
Released: 4th December 2020 via Prosthetic Records
In 2020, Norn Iron’s Gama Bomb re-emerged, sopping wet, from the Irish Sea with a new album in their mushy, damp, seaweed-bedraggled grasp; Sea Savage were its name and setting into motion a white squall of frothing, churning metal were its game!
As resolutely bonkers as ever, Sea Savage found this reliable thrashing crew turning their attention to the tides and shrieking their way through a concept which had them setting sail on the S.S. Gama Bomb in search of the “Gamabominable” snowman….and going nuts along the way.
As you do.
What this concept has to do with the likes of “Miami Super Cops” and “She’s Not My Mother, Todd” is unfathomable, but when the thrash is this much fun, who gives a fuck?!
4. Shrapnel – Palace For The Insane
Released: 15th May 2020 via Candlelight Records
Shrapnel left indelible scars with their 3rd album, the incendiary Palace For The Insane; an album that covered all the bases. Ferocious, feral and fuckin’ fantastic, Palace For The Insane proved once and for all that Shrapnel are still one of the greatest hopes for the future the UK thrash scene currently has to offer!
On the whole, this album ripped like a muthafucker but Shrapnel were sure to offer some much needed diversity to the thrashing onslaught by adding layers of groove and, particularly on “Begin Again”, slowing things down and embracing a little doom. The introduction of Aarran Tucker on vocals – whose aggressive barks added a welcoming grit to proceedings – proved decisive in gifting Palace For The Insane the title of most consistent and most impressive Shrapnel album to date.
Welcome to the thrash palace!
3. Solitary – The Truth Behind the Lies
Released: 23rd October 2020 via Metalville
Solitary should now be considered vanguards of the UK thrash scene, having plyed their trade since 1994 and releasing some incendiary material during thrash metal’s more fallen periods. Gaps in between albums had been relatively long in the past but it was a delight to see them back in 2020 with a follow-up to 2017’s The Diseased Heart Of Society and hopes of a ball-crushing exercise in UK thrash brutality were high, such was the quality of previous releases.
With plenty of variety and a true sense of purpose and focus the likes of the title track delivered a pummelling experience, and one which gets better with each spin. That being said, The Truth Behind The Lies could hardly be labelled a ‘grower’, it’s an immediate thrash fix which speaks volumes for Solitary’s songwriting and performances across the board.
Together with producer Simon Efemey (Amorphis, Napalm Death, Paradise Lost etc), Solitary pushed themselves to the limit and released the most consistent, most convincing album of their career to date. A bold statement considering how damn good The Diseased Heart Of Society was but it’s clear that The Truth Behind The Lies is Solitary’s magnum opus; an undiluted thrash album with plenty to say and the songs to back it up!
2. Virus – Evilution Apocalypse
Released: 14th August 2020 via Combat Records
This was the album we all hoped Coke Finlay and Virus were going to make!
Old-school thrash at its finest, Evilution Apocalypse is as honest as they come; a 100% grassroots thrash album which both honours Virus’ past (and their influences, which include classic Exodus and Vio-Lence) while defiantly signalling a future which deserves to be brighter than their somewhat chequered past.
Full of ideas, this restless savage of an album lives and dies by its dexterity, devilish sense of humour and direct approach and Virus sure as hell can’t be accused of playing it safe with this one. The reboots of old classics “Force Recon” and “Release The Dead” aside, this new material ticked all the thrash boxes as Coke and the boys bought both technicality and brutality to the fore.
Highlights? We’d single out both the scathing rhetoric and satisfying crunch of “Goat (Father, Scum and Unholy)” and the classic thrash sounds of “Multiple Wargasms”; songs that are, potentially, the best of Coke’s and Virus’ career.
Evilution Apocalypse was the only virus in 2020 that was a welcome one!
1. Onslaught – Generation Antichrist
Released: 7th August 2020 via AFM Records
Onslaught are a UK thrash institution. Scratch that. Onslaught are a thrash institution regardless of geography. From seminal 80’s release The Force (an album that, at the time, rivalled Slayer in the ferocity stakes) to the divisive, but blatantly brilliant and mainstream-courting In Search Of Sanity (1989), and onto their 3 albums post 2004 reformation, Onslaught have delivered nuthin’ but thrash gold!
Which brings us neatly to album number seven, Generation Antichrist, an album NOT fronted by renowned and instantly recognisable frontman Sy Keeler. Gulp. A new singer is always a difficult sell but, if Onslaught’s savage reputation is anything to go by, they surely adorned themselves with a reliable replacement? We’ll come back to this particular point later as for now we’re moving onto the music.
Short, sharp and savage opener “Rise to Power” was as crushing as you’d expect, with these dogs of war seeking to re-build their army and march on to modern metal glory with thrash ringing in their ears. It worked. Perfectly. Seguing effortlessly into “Strike Fast Strike Hard”, whose opening riff recalls Sepultura’s “Arise” (in a good way), we’re already heading into pure thrash nirvana. This was blatantly an updated, modern Onslaught but it’s still unmistakably the band who gave us 1986’s The Force and 2004’s Killing Peace (our favourite Onslaught albums if you’re wondering why we’ve picked them)
At this point, are we missing Sy Keeler? Surprisingly, no.
Dave Garnett (Bull-Riff Stampede – the band that just keeps on giving) equips himself remarkably well, honouring the tones of Sy Keeler while avoiding mere mimicry. This could have been a thankless task but much in the same way as Xentrix’s Jay Walsh (thanks again Bull-Riff Stampede) has ably filled the shoes of Chris Astley, so Dave rises admirably to the occasion. In this aspect, the relief is tangible because it meant we could concentrate less on a new band member and more on the actual music; music which, we are more than thrilled to say, was as caustic and as nihilistically thrilling as ever.
Simply put, Generation Antichrist contained 9 tracks of blistering old-school thrash, with a modern sheen, delivered in the manner we have continued to adore and respect ever since ‘comeback’ album Killing Peace floored us in 2007. “Bow Down to The Clowns” ripped and tore its way through your earholes, while the scathing title track – in all its blasphemous beauty – threw stones at organised religion, and the seething “All Seeing Eye” and the self-explanatory “Strike Hard Strike Fast” all stung with their anti-establishment rhetoric.
Perhaps surprisingly, Generation Antichrist was back-ended with its best tracks with “Empires Fall” reaching a new level of righteous indignation, the impious “Religiousuicide” acting as the perfect companion piece to Killing Peace’s title track and “A Perfect Day To Die” bringing the curtain down as the finest song on the album. As closing salvos go, these 3 songs are unbeatable and offer up exactly what you crave from these seasoned professionals.
As previously mentioned, Dave Garnett’s vocals are admirably seamless in their transition but, in particular, Nige Rockett deserves to be singled-out, not just for his exemplary work here, but also for his overall contribution to thrash over nearly four decades; such is his unwavering dedication to the cause and his innate ability to pen riffs that pin you to the wall.
In recent years, Anihilated’s Anti-Social Engineering, Xentrix’s Bury The Pain and Acid Reign’s The Age of Entitlement have considerably raised the old-school UK thrash bar, and it’s left to Onslaught to pole-vault clear over it.
Sy Keeler may be gone but with Generation Antichrist, Onslaught live on!