Flames – Merciless Slaughter (1986) [Greece]
Horrific cover art + nasty as fuck sound. = Greece’s Flames; an unholy racket of lightning fast trebly riffs and barked vocals….in other words, awesome 80’s thrash!
Another record lost in the avalanche of outstanding titles from 1986, Merciless Slaughter still holds up as an intriguing time-capsule from an era when thrash was king and should seriously surprise those yet to hear its delights!
Tupperware drums aside, Flames picked up a (disembodied) head of steam and their dirty raucous sound still packs a killer, Possessed-inspired, punch with the likes of “Evil” neatly summarising all that was great about Flames’ classic proto-death metal leanings.
Gargoyle – Furebumi (1990) [Japan]
Absolutely bat-shit crazy. that’s the only way to describe Gargoyle‘s sophomore album, Furebumi.
This was a band who revelled in throwing everything into the mix and their contorted, constantly-evolving thrash remains a mind-fuck of kaleidoscopic proportions. Predictability was never in Gargoyle’s vocabulary and their seamless meshing of a multitude of disparate styles (funk, thrash, surf-rock, prog, folk, death, doom, black, speed) is nothing short of astonishing.
Sure, on paper that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen but Gargoyle’s off the wall creativity was tempered by their ability to somehow make this shit work!
Even those die-hard thrashers who are hardest to please will get their kicks out of the intense likes of “Execute” and “Halleluyah”, while the rest of us will be knocked sideways by the sheer number of maddeningly-conceived ideas on display.
Grinder – Dead End (1989) [Germany]
Beginning with “Agent Orange” (not a cover of Sodom’s classic but a classic of their own making), Grinder‘s stomping, militarised, rotor-riffs flow flawlessly into the kind of quality melodic thrash that should have adhered these German thrashers to millions.
Channeling the highly melodic noise of Flotsam and Jetsam and Anthrax, Grinder stillmanaged to create something a little different in the thrash world; no easy task by the time the late 80’s rolled around. Playing with structure and speed, Grinder’s skill lay in fluid bass lines and taking the turn least expected. The result? An album that remains unpredictable and surprisingly unique.
In particular, Dead End‘s title track is a thrash monster, a totally unique speed/thrash workout which traverses more moods and more terrain than most thrash albums manage in their entirety!
Hermética – Ácido Argentino (1991) [Argentina]
Hermética, Argentina’s premier thrash export, unleashed their pieza de resistencia when they released sophomore album, Ácido Argentino, back in 1991.
A huge record in the Argentinian underground scene, Ácido Argentino proved highly influential to countless bands who followed in Hermética’s wake. It remains a revered release in its native land and while it may not be well known outside of South America, that’s no reason to dismiss its charms now. Forged with speed metal riffs, Claudio O’Connor’s acid-tongued delivery (think Accept’s Udo Dirkschneider meets Artillery’s Flemming Rönsdorf) and a relentless percussive battery, Ácido Argentino may seem positively naive to modern ears but its initial impact should not be underestimated.
While opener “Robó un auto” was heavier on the ‘metal’ than the ‘thrash’ – with more than a little Accept informing their sound – it wasn’t long before these semi-melodic thrashers upped the ante with the high speed onslaught of “La revancha de América” and the aggressive stomp of “Predicción”. Allowing bassist Ricardo Iorio to step up to the mic on “Del camionero” may have been a mistake but there’s way more hits than duds on Ácido Argentino to balance out the odd misfire.
Hydra Vein – After The Dream (1989) [UK]
This swift follow-up to Hydra Vein‘s debut album, Rather Death Than False Of Faith (1988), may have been a little rushed – with only 6 songs making up its brief 30 min runtime – but that doesn’t detract from the quality on display throughout this often overlooked gem.
By upping both the aggression and the technicality some of the naive feral charm of Hydra Vein’s debut may have been lost but that’s not to say that After The Dream was without it’s own Slayer-esque appeal. Warbled intro shriek on opening track “7-U-S-C” aside, the tracks found here are uniformly engaging and thrashed up to fuck, resulting in a sophomore album that should have pushed Hydra Vein to the very top of the UK thrash pile.
Not quite in the same league as Rather Death Than False of Faith but undoubtedly one of the better UK thrash metal albums released at the tail end of the 1980’s!