Sabbat – History Of A Time To Come (1988)
There are too few superlatives to convey the true majesty of Britain’s finest ever thrash album. Sabbat were one of the most unique bands in thrash history and although short-lived, their overall contribution to the scene remains unparalleled.
Propelled by the ingenious riffs of producer extraordinaire Andy Sneap (Arch Enemy, Nevermore, Testament) and Martin Walkyier’s uniquely unfettered and untameable vocals, Sabbat’s philosophically pagan take on religion was ground-breakingly raw and real; an honest summation of the world and it’s failings.
The opening tracks, “A Cautionary Tale”, “Hosanna In Excelsis” & Behind The Crooked Cross” are exemplary, an unholy triumvirate of trailblazing thrash that perfectly encapsulated Sabbat’s religion-baiting sound. However, it was the intelligence on display that truly ranked them as one of the genre’s greats; here was poetry set to furious thrash, the likes of which has never been seen again.
History Of A Time To Come is mandatory listening for every thrasher on the planet and has barely aged; its place in the thrash history books permanently set in stone!
Sabbat – Dreamweaver (Reflections of Our Yesterdays) (1989)
The second full-length album from British pagan thrashers Sabbat swiftly followed their outstanding debut, History of a Time to Come, and this all-time classic follow-up ventured ever further into singer / lyricist Martin Walkyier’s strong interest in Wyrdism, Celtic mysticism, Anglo-Saxon spirituality and paganism.
Dreamweaver – a concept album based on the 1983 book The Way of Wyrd: Tales of an Anglo-Saxon Sorcerer by British psychologist Brian Bates – ably demonstrated the sheer poetry conjured by this most unique of thrash bands. Not least in Walkyier’s expansive lyricism but in Andy Sneap’s ability to conjure magic from his epic and progressively technical compositions.
“The Clerical Conspiracy”, “Wildfire”, “Do Dark Horses Dream of Nightmares?”….. all solid gold (but then you know that already)!
Exceptional doesn’t quite do this album justice.
Seventh Angel – Lament For The Weary (1992)
The UK seemed to enjoy experimenting with thrash, often combining seemingly disparate sub-genres to create an entirely new thrash experience. Sabbat and Skyclad incorporated pagan and folk influences, Cerebral Fix and Energetic Krusher embraced death metal while Seventh Angel chose to throw doom metal into the mix. The result was an original sound showcasing the finest moments of doom legends Candlemass and the technical meets traditional heavy metalthrash of Sanctuary, circa Into The Mirror Black.
Often impenetrably dark and yet morbidly melancholic, Seventh Angel‘s lumbering doom passages merged seamlessly with bursts of aggressive speed, fully ensconced in projecting pain and despair. Not an easy ride but a rewarding one, Lament For The Weary remains a weighty tome, relentless and remorseless and akin to gourging on the great works of literature; not for the faint-hearted in other words!
The UK may have been largely forgotten for its contribution to thrash but albums as brave, bold and brilliant as this will always attract the open minded. Lament For The Weary is a one of a kind album fully deserving of classic status and should be spoken about with the same reverence as the greats of thrash, UK or otherwise.
Slammer – The Work Of Idle Hands (1989)
Slammer‘s debut, The Work Of Idle Hands, has aged considerably well, with it’s professional production and solid foundations belying it’s semi-forgotten status. With a street-smart atmosphere pervading throughout, and Paul Tunnicliffe’s convincing raspy vocals giving each track an urbanised edge, the likes of “Tenement Zone” and the expansive “Hellbound” stand-out from the pack….but the entire album is worthy of your time.
Slammer‘s sound may not be original, but they were damn good at what they did and if consistently impressive and aggressive guitar work is your bag, you’d do well to hunt down a copy. But beware, this really is a lost classic and hard to track down at a reasonable price!
Highly reminiscent of Testament at their most accessible, Slammer had a sound that was tailor-made for the American market and should have lead to significant album sales and worldwide recognition. As it turned out, Slammer were just another British thrash band who should have made a big splash on both sides of the pond but failed to make more than a ripple; only with hindsight can we see they had much more to offer.
Xentrix – Shattered Existence (1989)
Xentrix arrived with an almighty bang when Shattered Existence exploded onto the UK thrash scene back in 1989. Here was a band that could go toe-to-toe with the 2nd wave thrash bands from the United States and they were our’s (if you’re British, of course) to savour!
Home to some serious big-thrash-hitters – “No Compromise”, “Crimes”, “Balance of Power” and “Dark Enemy” – Shattered Existence was a winner from the get-go. With Chris Astley’s dry, Chuck Billy-esque bellow, a strong ear for melody and some killer riffs in their arsenal, Xentrix were capable of thrashing as fast as any of their peers while incorporating groove, technicality and a sense of urbanised menace.
For a short while there, Xentrix appeared to be the one British band who would infiltrate the big leagues.
Should. Have. Been. Huge.
Also mandatory: Xentrix‘s second album, For Whose Advantage?, is a 90s thrash classic!