Second albums. Difficult for some. But not for these talented bastards.
And remember, this is just Part 3….there’s more in this series to come!
Presented in order of release as opposed to any kind of ranking….
Destruction – Eternal Devastation (1986) [Germany]
Hot on the tails of the US thrash elite were Germany’s own teutonic terror’s and Destruction’s Eternal Devastation was a bestial invasion that let the world know that the Germans were coming!
Perhaps not quite hitting the heights of 1985’s Infernal Overkill, Destruction were still conjuring greatness and classic thrashers can be found here. From the all-time great that is “Curse The Gods” to the still surprising folk-thrash opening of “United By Hatred” and the air-raid siren soloing of “Life Without Sense”, Destruction sounded confident, brash and capable of anything on only their second full length release.
Early European thrash that consolidated Germany’s importance alongside the Bay Area acts, Eternal Devastation remains beloved by thrash fans the world over and for bloody good reason; it’s as devastating as ever.
Hallow’s Eve – Death & Insanity (1986) [USA]
Dialing down the frantic nature of 1985’s Tales Of Terror (a little), Hallow’s Eve‘s sophomore effort was a prime slab of power thrash and the finest of their three albums released in the 80’s.
Upping the ante from production to songwriting, all element of Hallow’s Eve‘s sound were finessed on an album that arrived just a mere year after their debut. Take the scuzzy stomp and aggression of “Lethal Tendencies” as a prime example of their controlled rage….a mid-tempo wrecking ball that’s lost none of its heft!
Hallows Eve may not have been the fastest, they may not have been the heaviest but, with Death & Insanity, they contributed an unsung classic to the scene.
Megadeth – Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? (1986) [USA]
In terms of musicianship and compositional skill, Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? represented a monumental leap forward from the previous years Killing Is My Business… album. This time around, Dave Mustaine’s assembled posse of musicians (Ellefson, Poland, Samuelson) were truly matching his knack for melody and dead-shot metal marksmanship and the results were uniformly stunning.
The first four tracks on this album remain untouchable (tracks 5-8 ain’t bad either). “Wake up Dead” kicked off proceedings with enough riffs and tempo changes to pad out an entire album, while “The Conjuring” was a devilishly diabolical ode to the power of black magic. However, it was on track 3 where Megadeth stamped down their mark on the thrash scene. ”Peace Sells” was the colossal hit that slapped the mainstream round the face with its badass bass line, heavy yet accessible approach and sneering, snarling lyrics spat out by Mustaine using his inimitable delivery. In stark contrast, “Devil’s Island” was a state of the art thrash showcase of predatory power and scintillating speed.
Over 35 years on and Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? remains a thrash metal milestone and a highpoint in Megadeth‘s incredible career!
Metal Church – The Dark (1986) [USA]
Combining traditional metal with thrash, Metal Church had a powerhouse frontman in the shape of David Wayne and riffs most bands would skin their own mothers for. Their self titled debut is an undisputed classic and follow-up, The Dark, hit those same heady heights.
Featuring all-time ‘Church’ classics “Ton Of Bricks”, “Start The Fire”, the intimidating power ballad – and minor hit – that was “Watch The Children Pray” and its creepy title track, The Dark may have been one of the more melodic thrash releases of ’86 but it was also one of the finest and the most accomplished.
Side 2 may have failed to maintain the velocity of the ‘5 for 5’ hit rate of side 1 but there’s no escaping the fact that Metal Church and The Dark were a monumental influence on the then burgeoning thrash scene.
Voivod – Rrröööaaarrr (1986) [Canada]
A huge step up from their relatively primitive debut, Voivod‘s Rrröööaaarrr was still a thrash album but the seeds were already being sown for the progressive metal majesty that was to come.
“Thrashing Rage”, “Ripping Headaches” (the two go hand in hand, right?) and “Korgull The Exterminator” have rightfully gone down as Voivod classics, unashamedly raw, sonically abrasive and totally unique in construct; futuristic thrash personified while the genre was still finding its feet.
Rrröööaaarrr – the first sign that Voivod were to become a truly progressive global force – may be an abrasive experience but its merciless, mechanised and monstrous sound remains an enthralling and engrossing listen.
Sepultura – Schizophrenia (1987)[Brazil]
Two Sepultura albums feels gluttonous but then Max Cavalera is a ‘big chap’ and Sepulturawere leaders of the Brazilian thrash scene for one bloody good reason – they were the fuckin’ best around!
Schizophrenia was already more than hinting at the genius to come (we refer, of course, to Beneath The Remains and Arise) and here was a band maturing quickly and packing a hefty arsenal of songs in their back pocket to boot. The arrival of guitarist Andreas Kisser bought with him a better sense of dynamics and the band were fast finding their feet and making waves on the international scene.
Their growth when compared to the primitive clatter of Morbid Visions truly was remarkable and just one listen to riff-fests “From The Past Comes the Storm” and “Escape From The Void” (not forgetting their re-worked version of the apocalyptic “Troops Of Doom”) signalled the arrival of a new dominant force in thrash. From here, Sepultura would simply go from strength to strength.
Sodom – Persecution Mania (1987) [Germany]
Sodom‘s second full length album marked a notably drastic change of sound from the clattering black metal of 1986’s Obsessed By Cruelty, to the kind of thrash metal that continues to define Sodom’s persona 35+ years later.
Opening with the vicious “Nuclear Winter”, Persecution Mania instantly set out its stall as Tom Angelripper (vocals and bass), Frank Blackfire (guitars) and Witchhunter (drums) looked to political, social and war themes for inspiration. This would become a consistent motif as time went on but was arguably perfected at the first time of asking with “Electrocution”, the title track itself and, particularly, “Bombenhagal” delivering the goods as Sodom went about delivering the tightest, meanest, leanest, collection of songs in their career.
However, for all the plaudits and notable progression in maturity, Persecution Mania would be considered Sodom‘s greatest achievement if it weren’t for the arrival of the outstanding Agent Orange just 2 years later…. but, as sophomore albums go, Persecution Mania still takes some beating!
Intruder – A Higher Form Of Killing (1989) [USA]
Intruder‘s second album was an aural assault that blew conceptions of thrash apart. Instrumental “Time of Trouble” aside, opener “The Martyr” had not one but three intro riffs before we even got to the meat of the piece, and each one ramped up the urgency and the expectancy like a catholic priest watching the new choir boys march in. And the pace did not let up. Shit, it’s heavy, even in 2023.
Guitarists Arthur Vinett and Greg Messick played their hearts out on this record, with their down-picked, string skipping madness played so fast your left hand will look like a Taiwanese prostitute giving a 30 second handjob. Anthrax were famous for the left-hand speed (picking, not handjobs. Well….) but this was another level.
There was humour too. “Mr Death is here!” exclaimed Mr. Death on the last track (Did he get paid for his guest appearance?). And we can’t speak about AHFOK without mentioning the awesome Monkees cover “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone” in which John Pieroni growled his way through a great Mickey Dolenz pastiche….but it’s the chorus harmony vocals that still make you sit up and take notice!
Protector – Urm The Mad (1989)
A full-on death / thrash onslaught, Protector’s 2nd album, Urm The Mad, remains a shockingly visceral experience….but one that comes laced with groove and an endless parade of often mid-tempo, skull-crushing riffs.
“Sliced, Hacked and Grinded” perfectly encapsulated Protector’s deathly leanings, while “Nothing Has Changed” indicated a propensity for death / doom’s oppressively heavy approach. However, Protector were still a thrash band at heart and when the hyper-speed of “Quasimodo” hits, you’ll still be left reeling.
Urm The Mad is quite simply one of the greatest death / thrash albums you’re ever likely to hear!
Mortal Sin – Face Of Despair (1989) [Australia]
The greatest Australian thrash band to ever have thrashed ™ fully deserve a inclusion here and, with their second album Face Of Despair, Mortal Sin fair gave us a second wave classic!
Opening with an absolute all-time thrash monster is always a good thing and “I Am Immortal” was a thrash fuckin’ behemoth! Rammed with hooks, tempo changes and all manner of thrashy goodness, Mortal Sin should have gone down in history as one of the greats by virtue of this one track alone.
However, Face Of Despair is no one-trick pony, with the crunch of “The Infantry Corps” (very …and Justice For All in construct) and the more experimental rhythms of “Martyrs Of Eternity” (with its strong Sacred Reich vibe) proving equally as incendiary.
It’s fair to say that Face Of Despair is the greatest old-school Aussie thrash album in existence and Mortal Sin were Australia’s premier thrash act. Arguments against this opinion gladly received.
Also in this Series: