Outrage – Black Clouds (1988) [Japan]
Black Clouds was the 1988 full-length release from Japanese thrashers Outrage…..and what an album it was!
Indebted to the Bay Area (and particularly Megadeth), Outrage were adept at writing crunchy thrash numbers which were both satisfyingly heavy and catchy as fuck. Opener “Curtain Of History” is an absolute triumph (and also recalls the stomp of prime Xentrix, replete with Chris Astley rasp) as it bulldozes its way through the rough terrain.
The ‘obligatory’ thrash ballad is present and accounted for in the formidable shape of the “In My Darkest Hour” esque title track, but it’s the satisfying Bay Area crunch you’re here for, and Outrage provide it in spades.
Sure, the majority of the songs on Black Clouds sound much the same but when they’re this good, who really gives a shit!
Risk – The Daily Horror News (1988) [Germany]
Roll up, roll up, read all about it….daft Germans in excellent speed/thrash shocker!
With a history dating all the way back to 1967(!), Risk took the relatively safe gamble of updating their hard rock/prog rock sound – originally finessed when they were known as Faithful Breath – and went hell for leather with ‘debut’, The Daily Horror News.
With precise riffing and unruly speed, the raw nature of this obscurity may prove to be a shock to those expecting something a little cleaner from a band who had originally plied their trade two decades prior.
As it turned out, Risk proved more than adept at out-riffing the majority of their peers and seemed to have thrash flowing through their veins…. and a more cohesive and intelligent late 80’s speed/thrash album you’d be hard pressed to find.
Ridiculous artwork, cracking album!
Taramis – Stretch Of The Imagination (1991) [Australia]
Australian progressive / power / technical thrashers Taramis may be the least known act on this particular list but their distinct brand of histrionic metal deserves to be remembered!
Featuring exceptional bass playing and a penchant for frantic, frenzied arrangements, Stretch Of The Imagination was a vast improvement on 1987’s Queen Of Thieves with Taramis fully embracing their progressive mettle.
“Behind These Eyes” truly hit the technical thrash sweet spot but the whole damn thing reeked of ambition and a complete lack of care for convention.
The overly-dramatic, occasional squeaky vocals will ruffle the feathers of non-believers, but fans of Realm, Agent Steel, ToxiK and their ilk will love ’em!
Target – Mission Executed (1987) [Belgium]
Utterly obscure yet teeming with raw talent, Target‘s debut album, Mission Executed, was a technical blast of feral thrash that, in 1987, was way ahead of the pack in terms of ideas and execution.
Drawing on the likes of Artillery, Mekong Delta and Living Death for inspiration, a welcome dose of intensity backed Target’s technical verve as these Belgians went about destroying ear-drums over 8 tracks of nerve-shredding THRASH!
Although Mission Executed lacked anything approaching filler, it was actually the opening one-two of “Mission To The Andes” and “Hordes Of Insanity” that hit the hardest; a double-whammy of fiendish grooves and whip-crack time changes that marked Target out as potential world-beaters.
Viking – Man Of Straw (1989) [USA]
A classic slice of technical thrash, Viking‘s Man Of Straw had all the necessary ingredients to propel them into the upper echelons of thrash’s hierarchy but would prove to be their last album before regrouping with Dark Angel’s Mike Gonzalez and Gene Hoglan and Vindicator’s Justin Zych to record 2015’s excellent No Child Left Behind.
A massive improvement on their Do Or Die debut, the incendiary guitar work of Brett Eriksen (Dark Angel) and the improved songwriting and performances across the board marked out Viking as a thrash metal band to be reckoned with. From the barely in control thrash attack of “They Raped The Land” to the riff-fests of “White Death” and “Man Of Straw”, and the truly epic Sodom-esque “Winter”, Viking rarely faltered on an unsung classic custom built for fans of Vio-lence and Dark Angel.
It speaks volumes that Brett Eriksen went on to ply his trade with Dark Angel – and contribute massively to their classic album Time Does Not Heal – as Man Of Straw is the perfect precursor to the exhausting number of riffs and vocal patterns found on Dark Angel’s seminal 4th album.
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