Heavy. Heavier. Heaviest. The age old argument of which metal albums – in this case THRASH – were the heaviest rumbles on. We’ve weighed in with our 15 of the heaviest old-school THRASH METAL albums….pop yours in the comments below….
Dark Angel – Darkness Descends (1986)
Unbridled ferocity, technical supremacy and relentless aural battery….is there a more succinct description of what is arguably the greatest thrash metal album of all time?
Featuring the likes of the rampaging “Merciless Death”, the incendiary “The Burning Of Sodom” and the progressively minded “Black Prophecies“, the first indication of the 100+ riffs per song and epic song length mentality the band would explore on later releases was writ large on Dark Angel‘s terrifyingly tenacious, genre-defining, sophomore effort.
The eerie yet elegant bass intro to the aforementioned “Merciless Death” aside, moments of respite were few and far between on Darkness Descends, as Dark Angel focused on thrashing harder, faster and with more gritted teeth malevolence than any other band on the planet…..and that includes the mighty Slayer!
Demolition Hammer – Epidemic Of Violence (1992)
Having the nerve to release one of the meanest thrash albums of all time during a period when thrash was all but forgotten took guts, but Demolition Hammer were blatantly unconcerned with the arrival of death metal and groove metal. Instead, they took the elements they admired from both sub-genres and shackled them, kicking and screaming, bloody and bowed, to their own thrash metal framework.
Arguably as sonically devastating as any death metal album of the era, this undisputed epitome of pure thrash brutality was propelled by the pummelling drumming of Vinny Daze who excelled himself here (those kicks are lightning fucking fast) and the aptly titled “Skull Fracturing Nightmare” sums this album up perfectly.
Abject aggression in musical form!
Devastation – Idolatry (1991)
Only with hindsight has Devastation‘s third opus been revered as a 90’s thrash milestone but be under no illusion, Idolatry was one of the greatest thrash albums of the 90’s and should have been hailed as an instant classic upon release.
Carefully straddling the fine line between death metal and thrash, Devastation were abrasively aggressive, technically adept, lightning-fast and heavy as all hell and fans of Dark Angel, Sepultura, Demolition Hammer and early-Death need this album…..if they don’t own it already!
A suffocatingly dense album, this shadowy beast favoured lurking in the corners of thrash’s darkest spaces as opposed to gleaming like much of the early 90’s clean, technically-obsessed thrash albums and it’s all the more distinctive for it. Murky and malevolent, Idolatry benefitted from its dank atmosphere and remains a violent, visceral experience.
Exhorder – Slaughter In The Vatican (1990)
Slaughter In The Vatican’s furious thrash and groove-metal establishing credentials rank it as an absolute thrash classic and one of the fiercest thrash albums ever released.
Stripped down to the raw basics, Slaughter In The Vatican‘s 8 tracks never once came up for air, with a low-end rumble, buzzsaw riffing and Kyle Thomas’ ravaged vocals culminating in a primal thrash experience that came perilously close to utter perfection. One of the most unique thrash albums in existence, Slaughter should be revered as a landmark in metal. At the very least it should be spoken about with the same reverential tones reserved for Pantera’s Vulgar Display Of Power (an ironic yet unfortunately necessary comparison and not, we repeat not, a thrash album!)
Alternating between fast and slow tempos (the true ‘groove’ element of their sound), Exhorder‘s Slaughter In The Vatican still has the power to make thrash fans shit their pants!
Exodus – Bonded By Blood (1985)
Rewind the clock back to 1985 and Bay Area bruisers Exodus were at the forefront of thrash, fully capable of out-riffing their peers and, pound for pound, they were the heaviest, most dangerous, most unpredictable and most ferociously adept outfit on the block.
“Bonded By Blood”, “A Lesson In Violence”, “And Then There Were None”, “Piranha”, and “Strike Of The Beast” are all thrash gold, tarnished by bad timing perhaps (Bonded By Blood should have been released in ‘84 if it weren’t for record label wrangling) but they remain true treasures in thrash’s trove.
While many bands would try to tap into the virulent violence that positively oozed from each track, none could match the intensity conjured by Paul Baloff, Gary Holt, Tom Hunting, Rick Hunolt and Rob McKillop.
Murder in the front row!