UK thrash has always been considered second-rate when compared to the output of Germany, Brazil and the USA. But, as these 5 outstanding UK thrash albums prove, rewind the clock back 35 years ago and us Brits were churning out high-quality thrash releases too!!
Deathwish – Demon Preacher
With opener “Death Procession” leading us on a morbid march through bell-tolling, doom-inflected pathways, the classic sounds of 70’s UK heavy metal soon meets the crunch of Bay Area thrash on the Slayer-esque title track and Deathwish‘s inspirations are immediately apparent.
A marriage made in heaven (or should that be hell), this juxtaposition of the UK’s world-conquering 70’s output and the equally successful US thrash sound pioneered by Metallica, Slayer et all is best exemplified on Deathwish‘s gritty thrashed-up reworking of Sabbath‘s all time classic, “Symptom Of The Universe”. Cover version’s by their very nature are generally disappointing but this updated version of Iommi’s classic riff-fest for a thrash audience remains recognisable but utterly feral.
However, the 70’s worshipping song structures weren’t all Deathwish had in their locker, “Wall Of Lies” and the unfathomably epic “Prey To The Lord” were a sonic boom of rabid riffing fulfilling the hype this underrated band had once generated. A nod to the future and a nod to the past in essence, Deathwish were happy to complete the circle by closing with the acoustic Zeppelin-esque instrumental “Past Life”, restoring balance and a sense of closure in the process.
Hydra Vein – Rather Death Than False Of Faith
Shit cover art aside, Hydra Vein were a ferocious and precocious late 80’s thrash band whose Rather Death Than False Of Faith debut deserves to be heralded as a minor classic.
Wallowing in the same dirty cess pool as early Onslaught and Venom, Rather Death Than False Of Faith stands toe to toe with the cream of late 80’s thrash metal. These guys could out slay Slayer when they put their filth-encrusted minds to it and the pure thrash carnage of “Crucifier” and “Rabid” (in fairness, this one’s a little too Slayer-esque for comfort at times) provides a welcome jolt to the system and may take newcomers by surprise!
Regardless of tempo – and Hydra Vein were as adept at blinding speed as they were mid-paced stomp – the key to Hydra Vein’s success (we use that term loosely) hinges on quality over quantity. Featuring just the 8 tracks, it’s notable that all 8 tracks have their moment, whether that’s a shout from the rooftops chorus, face-ripping solo or neck-wrecking riff , each and every song slams hard and features at least one highly memorable moment.
Pariah – The Kindred
These melodic thrash masters rarely receive their dues but with their debut, The Kindred (and especially 1989’s Blaze Of Obscurity) they fair whipped up a thrashin’ storm of technically-savvy, occasionally power-thrashy, Metal Church-esque noise that was as much indebted to the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal as it was the Bay Area.
With a convoluted history almost overshadowing the music – Pariah were basically Blind Fury in a different guise who, in turn, were cult UK legends Satan in all but name and would go on to donate Graeme English and Steve Ramsey to Skyclad – this UK band may not have become a household name but their thrashed up take on the classic sounds of early 80s British metal, replete with a savage twin guitar attack, certainly was good enough to endear them to thrash diehards.
With the likes of “The Rope” and “Scapegoat” offering high-speed blasts of shit-kickin’ no-nonsense thrash – with more than a little power-thrash in Michael Jackson’s vocals (not that Michael Jackson!) – Pariah‘s ability to meld the old with the new was practically second to none.
Sabbat – History Of A Time To Come
Regardless of geography, Sabbat were one of the most unique bands in thrash history and although short-lived, their overall contribution to the scene remains unparalleled. Propelled by the ingenious riffs of producer extraordinaire Andy Sneap (Arch Enemy, Nevermore, Testament) and Martin Walkyier’s uniquely unfettered and untameable vocals, Sabbat’s philosophically pagan take on religion was groundbreakingly raw and real; an honest summation of the world and it’s failings.
The opening tracks, “A Cautionary Tale”, “Hosanna In Excelsis” & Behind The Crooked Cross” are exemplary, an unholy triumvarite of trailblazing thrash that perfectly encapsulated Sabbat’s religion-baiting sound. However, it was the intelligence on display that truly ranked them as one of the genre’s greats. Here was poetry set to furious thrash, the likes of which has never been heard again.
History Of A Time To Come is mandatory listening for every thrasher on the planet and has barely aged…..its place in the thrash history books permanently set in stone!
Virus – Force Recon (1988)
Perennial underdogs of the UK scene, Virus proved their worth with their second album, Force Recon.
This punk/thrash overload from one of the UK’s most violent band of thrashers kicked even the most hardened thrasher square in the mush when it was released in 1988, with the arrival of guitarist Coke Finlay appearing to light a considerable fire up Virus‘ collective arse!
To say that Force Recon was an improvement on debut album Pray For War would be an understatement. Fast, savage and punky as all hell, the production may be shite but the songs shine through, with the likes of “Testify to Me” and “Viral Warfare” proving particularly potent.
Just a little good, friendly, violent fun….UK style!
Honourable mention: It’s only because Acid Reign‘s Moshkinstein is technically an EP that it doesn’t feature in this list. The track listing speaks for itself though, with classics such as “Goddess” and “Motherly Love” highlighting the quality on display!