Iconic thrash that turned an eye-watering 35(!) years of age in 2023….are you feeling old yet??!!
Megadeth – So Far, So Good… So What!
Renowned for being beyond tight – a weapons-grade, precision-tooled, nuclear-warhead of a band with insane technical ability – Megadeth sounded unhinged on their 3rd album; as if Dave Mustaine’s world was falling apart and his only response was to come out snarling, brawling and bound for self-destruction.
“Set The World Afire” ravages the ears like no other track in Megadeth’s arsenal. It’s simply pure thrash perfection, utterly feral and driven by a sense of derailing chaos led by the palpable pairing of Mustaine and ‘new kid’ Jeff Young. “In My Darkest Hour”, the most heartfelt track of Mustaine’s prestigious career, is a triumph that showcased another side to Megadeth’s talismanic figure and one that represented the heart and soul of this often misunderstood frontman. Torn apart by the news of Cliff Burton’s passing, you can still hear the crackle of emotion in this thrash ballad par excellence.
While So Far, So Good… So What! may not be as essential as Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?, it isan essential 80’s thrash album and one that should be revered as a challenging, yet bullish, minor masterwork from one of thrash metal’s greatest ever bands.
Metallica – …And Justice For All
Rightfully celebrated as a milestone in thrash history, Metallica would never be this expansive and this experimental again. …And Justice For All rivalled technical thrashers Heathen, Realmand Believer in the progressive thrash metal stakes, as Metallica recovered from the death of Cliff Burton by proving they could not only survive without his guidance, they could flourish! And, while itmayhave its flaws – bone-dry production and Jason Newsted’s mostly inaudible bass spring have been discussed endlessly – it remains a milestone of progressive thrash.
With a clinical approach bordering on maniacal obsession the likes of the epic “…And Justice For All” and “One” were the epitome of surgical precision and it was left to “Dyers Eve” to remind fans that this was the band that once penned “Whiplash”!
“Do you hear what I hear?”, snarled James Hetfield on the absurdly catchy, stop-start rifferama of “Eye Of The Beholder”. We did James, we loved it then…..and we still love it now!
Slayer – South Of Heaven
Given that Slayer have now departed our world – leaving a thrash hole that’s currently too big to even fathom – we’d be remiss not to include their 4th album, South Of Heaven.
Purposefully slowing down and experimenting like never before, South Of Heaven may ‘feel’ like the odd man out when sandwiched between both the genre defining Reign In Blood and the colossal Seasons In The Abyss, but Slayer arguably perfected their sinister groove on the likes of the title track, chugged harder than ever on”Behind The Crooked Cross” (with Tom Araya’s singing proving equally as effective as his familiar lion-esque roar) and thrillingly combined the old with the new on “Ghosts Of War”.
The pummelling “Silent Scream” may have reminded the world that this was still the same band who penned the unfathomably ferocious Reign In Blood just two years prior, but South Of Heaven was distinctly the sound of a band becoming stronger, more confident and ready to challenge pre-conceptions at a time when Reign In Blood Part II would surely have been the safer option!
Testament – The New Order
We maintain that The New Order is Testament‘s greatest album, a full-bodied statement of intent from a band who knew they had an opportunity to not only compete with The Big 4 but surpass even their accomplishments!
History tells us that Testament would never quite break through to the same level as Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer but their recorded output defies that fact, and The New Order remains one of the most potent and consistently thrilling thrash albums in existence.
When an album reads like a greatest hits set you know you’re on to a winner and with the title track, “Trial by Fire,” “Disciples of the Watch and the iconic “Into the Pit” making up the core of this legendary album, The New Order‘s credentials speak for themselves. Reeking of quality, Testament’s The New Order is mandatory listening for anyone with even a passing interest in thrash and epitomises why thrash dominated the 80’s like no other genre!
Vio-Lence – Eternal Nightmare
Quite simply one of the most fearless, ferocious and downright feral thrash albums ever recorded, Vio-Lence‘s debut, Eternal Nightmare, is the thrash connoisseur’s album of choice and ranks as high in both the aggression and sheer insanity stakes as Slayer’s Reign In Blood, Exodus’ Bonded By Blood and Dark Angel’s Darkness Descends!
Originally home to Machine Head men Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel (but you knew that already), just 7 tracks of thrash perfection was all it took to announce that a new breed of thrash maniacs were in town – that ‘town’ being, of course, San Francisco’s Bay Area – and with the likes of “Kill On Command”, “Bodies On Bodies” and “Calling In The Coroner” in their arsenal, Vio-Lence were on a collision course with underground notoriety and unending acclaim.
Sean Killian’s vocals remain an acquired taste but those ‘in the know’ understand that without him, Vio-Lence were nowhere near as unique nor as thrilling a prospect.
As great thrash debuts go, Eternal Nightmare still takes some beating!