With a rich history of underground classics and a devastating array of tech / prog thrash masterpieces toiling away in the background, it’s high time those forgotten / semi-forgotten albums in German thrash history had their day.
Assassin – The Upcoming Terror (1987)
Düsseldorf’s Assassin were vastly underrated in the late 80’s, with the lion’s share of German thrash talk revolving around Kreator, Sodom, Destruction and Tankard.
Admittedly, these crazed speed freaks weren’t quite in the same league as The Big Teutonic Four but they could riff up a frenzied riff storm when they wanted to and their debut, The Upcoming Terror, would prove to be their finest ever moment!
A true cult classic, Assassin got straight to the fuckin’ point on their debut with the likes of “Bullet” and “Nemesis” proving particularly aggressive and while we’re not in technical thrash territory, it’s Assassin‘s hardcore punk approach that actually adds another level of dirt to this incendiary album.
Violent Force – Malevolent Assault Of Tomorrow (1987)
Something of a cult curio, Malevolent Assault Of Tomorrow deserves to be revered instead of forgotten and it’s high time this agonisingly aggressive and frantic thrash gem was rediscovered. Opening with the Motörhead-indebted “Dead City”, Malevolent Assault Of Tomorrow noticeably improves after this bout of hero worship is finished with. Settling into a groove of their own, it’s on “Sign Of Evil”, “Vengeance And Venom” and “S.D.I” where Violent Force really prove their mettle.
100% committed to thrashing you senseless, their salaciously filthy riffs and demented drumming may be highly reminiscent of comrades Kreator, but Malevolent Assault Of Tomorrow is straight-to-the-face thrashing with absolutely no effort to confound tradition or break new ground. That can be taken as a compliment by the way!
Sometimes thrash should be simple, brutal and without remorse and on their one and only full-length album, Violent Force ticked all three boxes and lived up to their name perfectly.
Minotaur – Power Of Darkness (1988)
Shrouding metal fans in nothing but complete darkness was Minotaur, a blackened thrash band capable of nothing but the most hideously raw thrash imaginable.
Minotaur should have gone down in history as one of the proto-death bands, as important to the rise of death metal as Possessed, Slayer, Death Strike, Repulsion and Hellhammer. The fact that Minotaur are often not uttered in the same breath is a crime as Power Of Darkness was also at the forefront of changing trends. Hell, they released a single titled Death Metal in 1990…..of course, by then it was too little, too late for Minotaur to truly be noticed!
Featuring a Mille Petrozza-like vocalist in the form of Anti Richwein, his untamed black metal-esque shriek was just a part of Minotaur’s early embrace of unhinged chaos, with the fast and frantic likes of the appropriately monikered “Apocalptic Trials” and “Necromancer” backed by dynamically varied, brutal blasts of untamed musicianship.
Necronomicon – Escalation (1988)
Retaining the necro-sound pioneered by Sodom and Destruction on their early releases Obsessed By Cruelty and Sentence Of Death, Necronomicon’s raw, dirty riffs and barely contained malevolence may not be as well known as The Teutonic Three….but it sure does compete!
Escalation‘s 8 tracks masterfully cave your face in with alarming frequency. “Death Toll”, “…and the Night Will Be Silent” and “Mosh The ABC” ring the tempo changes and even introduce Helloween-esque levels of power metal melody to an otherwise insanely fast and unyielding mix.
“Dirty Minds” is the one track doesn’t quite fit but it’s hard rock stylings are admittedly fun and there’s nothing wrong with writing catchy, up-beat thrash ditties; just ask Tankard!
Lo-fi and frenetic, Escalation remains an absolute blast.
Risk – The Daily Horror News (1988)
Roll up, roll up, read all about it….daft Germans in excellent speed/thrash shocker!
With a pedigree 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 carried the Faithful Breath moniker 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 played 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; a more cohesive and intelligent late 80’s speed/thrash album you’d be hard pressed to find.
Ridiculous artwork, cracking album!
Vendetta – Brain Damage (1988)
They don’t come more unique than Vendetta‘s Brain Damage, an album that retained the required thrash crunch of the era while significantly maturing and offering unparalleled diversity to the discerning thrash fan.
This was the sound of a band that should have left the underground, seriously skilled and home to such consistently impressive songwriting that a breakthrough seemed inevitable. Alas, it just wasn’t to be. But, that’s no reason to overlook its merits now as Brain Damage‘s fiendishly catchy melodies and exquisite guitar work are as impressive now as they were back in 1988!
On a par with the awe-inspiring work found on Coroner and Deathrow‘s 80s technical output, Vendetta’s prowess and crystal clear clarity showcased a band whose merits were writ large. After all, Brain Damage truly is an unsung masterpiece from the golden era of thrash!