Thrash not heavy enough? Death metal too heavy? Fear not! Death/thrash met you in the middle…. and in the late 80s and early 90s this fusion of the two genres gave us some incredible albums!
This is just part 2…. there’s plenty more to come!
Presented in alphabetical order as opposed to any kind of ranking….
Abomination – Tragedy Strikes (1991) [USA]
Paul Speckmann may be revered as one of the Godfather’s of death metal but the great man also turned his attention to thrash in the early 90’s and while Abomination‘s debut was solid, its follow up, Tragedy Strikes, was a different beast altogether. Raw, real and utterly remorseless, Tragedy Strikes cut deep with political diatribes, powerful compositions and a sincerity rarely head in thrash.
Abomination’s hate, bile and utter contempt for the world as they saw it bleeds profusely through album highlights “Pull The Plug”, “Will They Bleed” and the still apt “Blood For Oil” (the meaning of this one shouldn’t come as a surprise for those who remember the first Gulf War).
Death / thrash rarely comes loaded with this much gravitas and while Tragedy Strikes may not be friendly, it’ll sure as hell earn your respect!
Chemical Breath – Fatal Exposure [Belgium] (1992)
Precious few bands can match the intensity and skill of these awe-inspiring Belgians and anyone with a penchant for labyrinthine song structures, baffling tempo shifts and the pioneering spirit of early 90’s technical death/thrash will fall in love with Fatal Exposure, Chemical Breath’s exquisite debut.
Admittedly, Fatal Exposure does have more than just a little thrash coursing through its veins – and squeezing it on to this list may prove to be divisive – but any opportunity to wax lyrical about this astonishing piece of work should be grasped with both hands. After hearing it, you’ll thank us for it!
Chemical Breath were incredible and you’d also do well to check out 1994’s follow up, Values.
Energetic Krusher – Path To Oblivion (1989) [UK]
Aside from full on flirting with early-doors death metal, Energetic Krusher‘s only release is an overlooked thrash monster that showcased a brutal sound at odds with the ‘chirpier’ nature of many of their contemporaries.
Adept at a good gallop – accompanied by a gargling growl – Energetic Krusher’s heavy, heavy death/thrash assault maintained an impressively oppressive atmosphere throughout, propelled by some of the most fearsome vocals in late 80’s thrash. Sharing a kinship with such underground greats as Cerebral Fix, Napalm Death and the almighty Demolition Hammer, what the band lacked in subtlety and song differentiation was counteracted by the repeated deathly blows struck by each pummelling track.
The total opposite of fellow UK thrashers Acid Reign and Lawnmower Deth – who instilled a distinctly British sense of humour into proceedings – Energetic Krusher had more in common with the death metal bands emanating from Florida than perhaps they even realised.
Malevolent Creation – The Ten Commandments (1991) [USA]
A perfectly executed balancing act between thrash and death, The Ten Commandments remains a transitional milestone and one as instrumental in bridging the thrash/death divide as Pestilence’s Consuming Impulse and Sepultura’s Beneath The Remains. Malevolent Creation may have evolved into an even more potent death metal machine in the preceding years but this outstanding debut arguably remains their finest moment; feral, unpredictable and fearless.
With no jazz influences, no classical interludes and no experimental or technical showboating, The Ten Commandments simply let rip with ten tracks of direct and clinically efficient hammering and herein lay the key to The Ten Commandments‘ success; consistent songwriting.
Carried over from thrash’s heyday – with Malevolent Creation distancing themselves from death metal’s penchant for blasting away just for the sake of it – catchy choruses were paramount (check out “Thou Shall Kill”), groove initiated and confidence in ‘their’ sound flowed with abundance, a band content to let the quality of the songwriting speak for itself
Protector – A Shedding Of Skin (1991) [Germany]
Protector’s 3rd album, A Shedding Of Skin, experimented wildly with daringly diversified dynamics and pacing while still remaining resolutely committed to stripping skin from bone! Comprised of 13 snarling, slashing tracks originally produced by master Producer Harris Johns (famed for producing classic albums by Kreator, Voivod, Sodom amongst many others), A Shedding Of Skin may sound slightly antiquated over thirty years later but, in 1991, Protector had harnessed the perfect blend of thrash heaviness and death metal intensity…..resulting in an album of considerable force.
If Testament’s dalliances with death metal on the underrated Demonic caused you to suffer from involuntary liquid explosions then A Shedding Of Skin will require you to be hospitalised with dehydration. Barring a few moments of slower-paced bruising on tracks such as “Death Comes Soon” and “Thy Will Be Done” this blasts harder than ten-tonnes of dynamite down a mine-shaft and should be revered as a progressive death/thrash masterclass from one of the most consistently reliable bands in German thrash history.
With very little variety or subtlety on display, A Shedding Of Skin simply skinned you alive. Fans of Kreator, Sodom and Destruction who haven’t experienced A Shedding Of Skin‘s delights will undoubtedly salivate uncontrollably upon getting their claws on this often under-appreciated classic
Revenant – Prophecies Of A Dying World (1991) [USA]
A death/thrash colossus, Revenant‘s one and only full length remains a fast and frantic, technically audacious slab of semi-forgotten brilliance!
These New Jersey boys were a class act and they somehow managed to conjure an album that perfectly encapsulated the forward-thinking nature of early-90’s metal, while – at this stage – also giving Chuck Schuldiner a run for his money in the ‘progressive’ stakes.
Revenant would stop and start on a dime, toying with pace and tempo at will and embracing crushing doom passages when they weren’t slashing and thrashing their way through hyper-speed death metal.
Precious few bands could match such a dark, multi-layered, multi-faceted work of ever-changing tempo and arrangement, making Prophecies Of A Dying World an absolute meisterwerk; under-appreciated or otherwise!
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