5. Candlemass – Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
One of those precious albums where each and every track demands to be savoured, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus practically defined the doom metal genre in just 6 tracks. Mournful, overwhelmingly bleak and utterly immersive, the pure pain of human existence seeps from every vocal utterance and lumbering riff.
Universally heavy without sacrificing melody, the darkened heart musings of “Solitude” and the achingly beautiful “Crystal Ball” suffocated the soul and were masterpieces of unparalleled emotional power.
Epic doom metal indeed!
4. Megadeth – Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?
In terms of musicianship and compositional skill, Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?, represented a monumental leap forward from the previous years Killing Is My Business… album. This time around, Dave Mustaine assembled a posse of musicians who could match his knack for melody and dead-shot metal marksmanship and the results were uniformly stunning.
The first four tracks on this album remain untouchable (tracks 5-8 ain’t bad either). “Wake up Dead” kicked off proceedings with enough riffs and tempo changes to pad out an entire album, while “The Conjuring” was a devilishly diabolical ode to the power of black magic. However, it was on track 3 where Megadeth stamped down their mark on the thrash scene. ”Peace Sells” was the colossal hit that slapped the mainstream round the face with its badass bass line, heavy yet accessible approach and sneering, snarling lyrics spat out by Mustaine using his inimitable delivery. In stark contrast, “Devil’s Island” was a state of the art thrash showcase of predatory power and scintillating speed.
35 years on and Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? remains a thrash metal milestone and a highpoint in Megadeth‘s incredible career!
3. Dark Angel – Darkness Descends
You can consider this landmark album interchangeable in its placing in this list, as many thrash fans will argue Dark Angel‘s Darkness Descends betters the albums ranked at numbers 1 & 2 with its unbridled ferocity, technical supremacy and relentless aural battery.
Album highlights include the rampaging “Merciless Death” 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.
Moments of respite on this colossal album are few and far between, the eerie yet elegant bass intro to the aforementioned “Merciless Death” being one of them but for the most part Darkness Descends simply thrashes harder, faster and with more gritted teeth malevolence than any other album on the planet.
An immortal entry in the history of thrash metal!
Trying to write a ‘fresh’ review of this metal masterpiece would be virtually impossible as everything has already been said – and argued over – time and time again. Suffice to say, 1986 is remembered as the greatest year in thrash because of Reign In Blood and because of the album nestled at number 1 (have you guessed what it is yet?).
So, what we will say is this…..
29 frantic minutes, 10 blistering tracks; this peak of thrash perfection was created by a band who epitomised the scene like no other. Dave Lombardo’s aggressive and revolutionary drumming, Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman’s piercing, puncturing riffs and Tom Araya’s growling bass and vocals somehow merging to create an extreme metal benchmark which transcended genre and solidified Slayer‘s position among the thrash elite.
1. Metallica – Master Of Puppets
A definitive release.
A game-changing collection of songs.
A band arguably at their peak, revelling in inexhaustible inspiration.
A passionate, progressive moment in thrash history that proved once and for all that thrash was going to change the face of metal as we knew it.
Metallica‘s Master Of Puppets is simply one of the finest metal albums in existence, regardless of sub-genre…..but you already knew that!
Honourable mentions: Black Sabbath – Seventh Star / Cryptic Slaughter – Convicted / Fates Warning – Awaken The Guardian / Griffin – Protectors Of The Lair / Holy Moses – Queen Of Siam / Iron Angel – Wings Of War / Judas Priest – Turbo / Kat – Metal and Hell / Manilla Road – The Deluge / Omen – The Curse / Ozzy Osbourne – The Ultimate Sin / Racer X – Street Lethal / Razor – Malicious Intent / Savatage – Fight For The Rock / Sepultura – Morbid Visions / Sodom – Obsessed By Cruelty / Stryper – To Hell With The Devil / Tankard – Zombie Attack / Vulcano – Bloody Vengeance / W.A.S.P – Inside The Electric Circus / Whiplash – Power and Pain