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30 Cult Classic Metal Albums That Turned 30(!) Years Old in 2022

Happy 30th birthday you brilliant bastards!

Despair – Beyond all Reason [Germany]

Despair – Beyond All Reason (2016, CD) - Discogs

Released: January 1992 via Century Media Records 

Genre: Technical Thrash Metal 

Technical German thrash doesn’t come much better than Beyond All Reason, the 3rd album from Despair and a milestone of the genre!

Superlatives come thick and fast when describing this unsung classic with Despair shredding with maximum intensity one minute, delivering keyboard-laden atmospherics the next and delivering nothing but virtuoso guitar work throughout.

In fact, it’s a crime that Beyond All Reason isn’t discussed with nearly as much enthusiasm as it should. This is a staggering piece of work; dazzlingly complex and rife with an advanced sense of barrelling chord progressions and off-kilter time changes.

There was something in the water in Germany during the late 80’s and early 90’s and Despair were blatantly drinking from the same inspirational pool as technical thrash icons DeathrowMekong DeltaSieges EvenVendetta and their ilk!

Epidemic – Decameron [USA]

Epidemic - Decameron | Références, Avis, Crédits | Discogs

Released: August 3rd, 1992 via Metal Blade Records 

Genre: Death / Thrash 

Arriving rather late on the scene, Epidemic’s fusion of thrash and death was understandable as by 1992 death metal had already begun to ensnare those fans looking for ever heavier sounds. 

With complete disregard for the level of melody the majority of mainstream metal bands had been playing with – this was around the time of Testament’s ultra-melodic The RitualDeath Angel’s next-level Act III and the behemoth that was Metallica’s Black Album – Epidemic’s death/thrash was relentless in its attack and rivalled the sounds emanating from the likes of Ripping Corpse and Baphomet!

An often forgotten gem from the early 90’s, this incensed body of work shunned the expected formula of the day and went straight for the jugular, with quick-fire bursts of pure rage slashing and hacking

Exhorder – The Law [USA]

Exhorder - The Law | Releases, Reviews, Credits | Discogs

Released: March 15th, 1992 via Roadrunner Records 

Genre: Groove Metal / Thrash Metal

Exhorder‘s follow-up to their blistering debut Slaughter In The Vatican found the band harnessing grooves like no other band on earth (and we ain’t gonna go into the Panteracomparisons, right!).

Quite simply, you cannot fuck with the likes of “Unforgiven”, “I Am The Cross” and “Un-Born Again”, as Exhorder’s groove-heavy thrash set about removing your spleen via your asshole. Ferocious and unpredictable, Exhorder fully utilised their unique gut-punch grittiness to drive home serrated grooves at a mostly ferocious pace. Mostly? By its very nature, Exhorder’s stunning cover of Sabbath’s “Into The Void” momentarily slowed things down but Vinne LaBella and the boys still found time to ‘crunch’ it up and make it their own!

With Kyle Thomas sounding as furiously feral and as expressive as ever – spitting out a series of vignettes over more caustic riffs than should be humanly possible – for a short while there, Exhorder were the most exciting band on earth.

Incantation – Onward To Golgotha [USA]

Incantation – Onward To Golgotha (1992, CD) - Discogs

Released: May 5th, 1992 via Relapse Records 

Genre: Death Metal 

Dark, evil and deliciously demonic, Incantation’s debut was the sound of descending into the wretched bowels of hell made flesh; unrelenting, extreme and as disturbing as a pit full of contorted, flesh-stripped bodies.

Just a cursory glance at the song titles unveils the bands intentions: “Blasphemous Cremation”,  “Rotting Spiritual Embodiment,” “Christening the Afterbirth”. Revelling in sludgy, misanthropic malice, Onward To Golgotha is a masterpiece of doomy, dirge-ridden disease and should go down in history as one of the dirtiest sounding death metal records to be released.

If Incantation’s modus operandi was to disturb and disgust then they should consider themselves 100%  effective. In the annals of death metal few can live up to this sick blast of grandiose extremity and in a genre where it can be notoriously difficult to stand out from the pack, Incantation’s diabolical debut elevated them to the upper echelons of the scene.

Kreator – Renewal [Germany]

Renewal - Album by Kreator | Spotify

Released: October 26th, 1992 via Noise Records

Genre: Industrial Metal / Thrash Metal 

Renewal was a complete u-turn for thrash legends Kreator, culminating in an industrial metal flavoured racket which all but jettisoned thrash entirely; settling instead on clanking, clattering grooves and Mille Petrozza’s harsher sounding vocals.

Harsher? Yep, with Mille’s rasp reaching a pitch that should be considered hazardous to health, Kreator were now achieving heightened levels of sonic devastation!

Unfortunately, Renewal‘s new noise lacked the creative spark delivered just two years prior on Coma of Souls, and fans were left confused and, ultimately, a little disappointed. However, time has been kind to Renewal (the punchy one-two of “Zero to None” and “Europe After the Rain” sound better than ever), and while Renewal can hardly be considered an essential Kreator release it has become a cult curio deserving of a second chance! 

About Chris Jennings (1986 Articles)
I love metal. Always have. Always will. As editor of Worship Metal - a site dedicated to being as positive about metal and its myriad of sub-genres as possible - my aim is to 'worship' metal through honest reviews, current news and a wide variety of features; offering the same exposure to underground bands as we do to mainstream/well known acts. Our mantra; the bands are partners and we exist to serve the bands \m/

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