Sure, The Big 4 released some of the greatest thrash metal albums ever recorded but what of those American thrash albums that fell largely by the wayside, those albums looked over in favour of Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax?
With that in mind, Worship Metal has selected 50 American thrash albums that deserved far more attention and should have been as successful (and sold as many copies!) as the likes of Slayer‘s Reign In Blood, Metallica‘s Master Of Puppets, Megadeth‘s Rust In Peace and Anthrax‘s Among The Living etc.….
Exodus – Bonded By Blood (1985)
One of thrash’s most legendary albums comes from a band who hovered on the periphery of The Big 4 without ever making that leap into the big league. It’s fairly common knowledge that Bonded By Blood was actually recorded in 1984, but was held back for a ridiculous 9 months due to record label wrangling and that lost time proved to be more than just significant.
Instead of spearheading the scene they helped to create, Exodus found themselves endlessly playing catch up and they simply ran out of puff; forever chasing the pack and never actually gaining ground. But, Exodus were at the forefront of thrash, capable of out-riffing their Bay Area peers and, pound for pound, they were the heaviest, most dangerous, most unpredictable and most ferociously adept outfit on the block.
“Bonded By Blood”, “A Lesson In Violence”, “And Then There Were None”, “Piranha”, and “Strike Of The Beast” are all thrash gold, tarnished by bad timing but true treasures in thrash’s trove. While many bands would try to tap into the virulent violence that positively oozes from each track, none could match the intensity conjured by Paul Baloff, Gary Holt, Tom Hunting, Rick Hunolt and Rob McKillop.
Overkill – Feel The Fire (1985)
Overkill‘s full length debut was an instantly satisfying fix for those thrash fans looking for an East-Coast band to rival the Bay Area’s dominance.
Feel The Fire is an absolute classic from a band who have spent the best part of 40 years defiantly thrashing their guts out for the metal masses. It’s fair to say that consistency and Overkill literally go hand in hand.
“Rotten To The Core”, “Hammerhead” and “Kill At Command” thrill with wild abandonment and earth-shaking riffs buffered by Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth’s shrill vocals.
If Overkill had only released this record they still would be revered as thrash pioneers, as it turns out we have a further 18(!) records to relish as well!
Possessed – Seven Churches (1985)
On their debut album, Possessed took a cut and paste approach to their music by incorporating the viciousness of Venom, the speed of Motörhead and the thrashing, atonal guitars of early Exodus and Slayer.
The result was an innovative and primitive thrash metal sound which came to define death metal. “The Exorcist”, “Burning In Hell” and “Seven Churches” were held together by Jeff Becerra’s unholy roar, simultaneously aping Lemmy from Motörhead yet producing a guttural tone that would go on to be the bread and butter of death metal as the late 80’s bled into the early 90’s.
Possessed take the honour of inventing death metal on their debut album. This is constantly up for debate but we’re standing by it; no Seven Churches, no death metal.
S.O.D – Speak English Or Die (1985)
S.O.D were completely devoid of tact, politically incorrect, full of humour (very black humour) and capable of thrashing your nuts clean off!
One of the first bands to throw hardcore punk and thrash into a blender, S.O.D were just some young punks letting off steam (Anthax’s Scott Ian and Charlie Benante reuniting with ex-bassist Dan Lilker and recruiting vocalist Billy Milano) but turned out to be one of the 80’s most influential bands.
S.O.D invented crossover thrash and systematically crushed your head in with heavy-hitters such as “Sargent D and the S.O.D.”, “Milano Mosh” and “Identity”. In hindsight, much of Speak English Or Die’s lyrical content is dubious at best but that doesn’t detract from the fact it remains a crossover thrash masterpiece!
Cro-Mags – The Age Of Quarrel (1986)
A legendary debut, The Age Of Quarrel saw the Cro-Mags define the hardcore movement in 15 easy lessons!
A sickle-sharp, metallic sound that was rooted to a blue-collar sensibility, the concise delivery of the hard-hitting “World Peace”, “We Gotta Know”, “Street Justice” and “Hard Times” brawled their way into your head, insistent, impossible to ignore and delivered with brass-knuckles on.
Few albums can capture pure rage and emotion as perfectly as this, the reality of street life rampaging through the very heart of each track and through each vocal frustration delivered by the incomparable John Joseph.
Consider The Age Of Quarrel the crossover equivalent of Slayer’s Reign In Blood….because it’s that influential and that genre-defining!