Happy 35th birthday you beautiful bastards…..
Anacrusis – Suffering Hour [USA]
Genre: Progressive Thrash
The only album in Anacrusis‘ formidable back catalogue to be classifiable as true ‘thrash’, Suffering Hour remains an often overlooked moment in thrash/progressive thrash history.
Joining the likes of Watchtower, Voivod and Mekong Delta in constructing complex arrangements which flowed through dozens of exhilarating tempo changes, Anacrusis’ youthful exuberance, and disjointed clamour, exhibitied an alluring charm and a focused desire to challenge thrash metal’s boundaries.
Suffering Hour had it all; intelligence, alarming momentum, hollowed-out groove, fiendish rhythms, atonal experimentation, a forebodingly dark and dense sound and a character all of its own. Precious few albums are capable of surprising the listener with each repeat listen but Suffering Hour still manages to startle and astonish 35 years later!
Angel Dust – To Dust You Will Decay [Germany]
Genre: Power / Thrash
To Dust You Will Decay may have signalled a slight change in direction from the speed metal of their debut but Angel Dust were still very much thrashing…. just with a little more nuance. As happy in the company of Helloween as they were their Bay Area influences, Angel Dust were well on their way to becoming a 100% power metal act but, for now, they were power/thrash personified and operating at the peak of their powers.
While the full on power metal majesty of “Into The Dark Past (Chapter II)” was a strong indication of what was to come, it was the likes of “The King” and the title track that thrashed hard and fast and with plenty of grit and determination. While the aggression of old was notably dialled down, in its place was a burgeoning maturity and a more memorable set of mostly melodic songs, with the satisfying chug and soaring solemnity of “Wings Of An Angel” superbly straddling the fine line between full-on power metal and old-school thrash.
With personnel changes reaping rewards – out went guitarist/ vocalist Romain “Romme” Keymer and guitarist Andreas Lohrum and in came Stefan K. Nauer, Vinni Lynn and ex-Scanner vocalist S.L.Coe – To Dust You Will Decay stands tall as Angel Dust’s undisputed masterpiece!
Bathory – Blood Fire Death [Sweden]
Genre: Black Metal / Viking Metal
Bathory‘s Blood Fire Death fully embodied the idea of attaining perfection while taking extreme metal to new heights on its release in 1988. Featuring tension filled orchestral arrangements which provided a thrilling contrast and unheard of depth to Quorthon’s banshee wail and rasping malevolence, Bathory’s crowning achievement completely changed the face of black metal in one stride.
Featuring high fidelity production, complex arrangements, melody(!), unparalleled atmosphere and a sense of scope and execution rarely heard in metal, Quorthon was already re-shaping the genre he single-handedly invented with Bathory, The Return….and Under The Sign Of Black Mark.
The sound of galloping roughshod into battle made flesh, this truly epic album is as revelatory today as it was 35 years ago; the work of a man who envisaged ‘bigger’ (in every sense of the word) things for black metal.
Blind Illusion – The Sane Asylum [USA]
Genre: Progressive Thrash
Blind Illusion‘s debut is a cult item of considerable aplomb, growing in stature as the years roll by and claiming its place as one of thrash metal’s unsung gems!
Featuring guitarist Larry LaLonde (Possessed) and bassist Les Claypool (before they went on to form Primus) and produced by Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, The Sane Asylum is one of those unique recordings which practically defies categorisation, such is its idiosyncratic nature and distinct lack of conformity.
An alchemic brew of jazz-influenced, progressive time changes and abstract song structures, The Sane Asylum was conveniently wrapped up in a technical thrash bow, a description which doesn’t even come close to describing the sheer madness at work here.
Quite unlike anything recorded before or since.
Bolt Thrower – In Battle There Is No Law! [UK]
Genre: Death Metal / Grindcore
Crusty ol’ grinders Bolt Thrower certainly laid down the law with their uncompromisingly raw debut, In Battle There Is No Law!
A crushing mix of crust punk, grindcore, hardcore and death metal, Bolt Thrower‘s debut was vicious, implacable, socio-politically charged and noticeably faster, and certainly less polished, than the albums that followed it…but it was no less convincing because of it. In fact, In Battle There Is No Law! was a sonic storm of unparalleled brutality and savagery when compared to much of what called itself ‘death metal’ in 1988. Just give the title track a spin and try denying that Bolt Thrower, for a short while there, were the heaviest band on the fuckin’ planet.
1989’s Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness, 1991’s War Master and 2005’s Those Once Loyal may take all the plaudits (let’s be honest, Bolt Thrower never put out a bad album but these are most definitely highlights) but In Battle There Is No Law! was where it all began. And it began with one hell of a bang.
Hail Bolt Thrower!