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 3…. there’s plenty more to come!
Presented in alphabetical order as opposed to any kind of ranking….
Demolition Hammer – Epidemic Of Violence (1992) [USA]
The second album from violent New York City thrash metallers Demolition Hammer, Epidemic of Violence is a cult classic of the highest order and remains one of the most ferocious thrash albums in existence!
Having the nerve to release one of the meanest thrash albums of all time during a period when thrash was all but forgotten by the metal masses took guts, but these guys were blatantly unconcerned with the arrival of death metal and groove metal. Instead, they took the elements they admired from both sub-genres and shackled them, kicking and screaming, bloody and bowed, to their own thrash metal framework.
Arguably as sonically devastating as any death metal album of the era, this undisputed epitome of pure thrash brutality was propelled by the pummelling drumming of Vinny Daze who excelled himself here (those kicks are lightning fucking fast) and the aptly titled “Skull Fracturing Nightmare” sums this album up perfectly.
Riffs that were both technical and built around brute force may have been the showcase but Daze’s skill behind the kit and the larynx-lacerating vocals of bassist Steve Reynolds were equally as important.
Devastation – Idolatry (1991) [USA]
Only with hindsight has Devastation‘s third opus been revered as a 90’s thrash milestone but be under no illusion, Idolatry was one of the greatest thrash albums of the 90’s and should have been hailed as an instant classic upon release.
Carefully straddling the fine line between death metal and thrash, Devastation were abrasively aggressive, technically adept, lightning-fast and heavy as all hell and fans of Dark Angel, Sepultura, Demolition Hammer and early-Death need this album…..if they don’t own it already!
A suffocatingly dense album, this shadowy beast favoured lurking in the corners of thrash’s darkest spaces as opposed to gleaming like much of the early 90’s clean, technically-obsessed thrash albums and it’s all the more distinctive for it. Murky and malevolent, Idolatry benefitted from its dank atmosphere and remains a violent, visceral experience.
Merciless – The Awakening (1990) [Sweden]
If you’re after one of the finest examples of death-thrash imaginable look no further!
Merciless‘s debut, The Awakening, took Kreator‘s ferocity circa Pleasure To Kill and put a raw as fuck Swedish spin on it. In turn, Merciless walked a very fine line between a genre that had peaked (thrash) and a genre that was about to become the dominant force in metal (death). The result was an album that was hugely influential yet failed to break Merciless into the collective consciousness alongside their one-time contemporaries in Entombed, Dismember etc.
At just 27 minutes, The Awakening was a relentless and savage attack of extreme violence.
Merciless by name, merciless by nature.
Also check out: The Treasures Within (1992) and Unbound (1994) for more deathly thrashing goodness!
Num Skull – Ritually Abused (1988) [USA]
Ritually Abused may have been ritually ignored on release but there’s no denying its thrash pedigree and albums this savage rarely reared their snarling, slathering head in the late 80’s.
Redefining what it meant to be truly brutal, Num Skull‘s debut may have been neanderthal in essence but fans of Kreator’s early noise – and those fond of the ferocity of Reign in Blood era Slayer and Exodus circa Bonded By Blood – would undoubtedly offer themselves up to the kind of abuse Num Skull were dishing out.
Speed, aggression and unbelievably unhinged vocals characterised album highlights “The Henchman”, the Exodus-esque “No Morals” and the utterly merciless title track….true American hate performed by absolute maniacs!
Pestilence – Malleus Maleficarum (1988) [Netherlands]
Before they became a progressive death metal force to be reckoned with, Pestilence kicked thrash firmly in the a-hole with their debut album, Malleus Maleficarum!
A vicious onslaught of repulsive death-thrash, Pestilence were already on the path to hellish enlightenment when they recorded this astonishingly abrasive beast of a debut album.
Death metal classic Consuming Impulse may have been a year away but Pestilence were already barrelling their way in the right direction, keeping one foot in thrash metal’s comfortable and recognisable living quarters while the other made a bolt for the exit, heading into the unknown darkness of death metal’s fertile beginnings.
One of the crowning achievements of death-thrash and no mistake!
Warlord (UK) – Maximum Carnage (1996) [UK]
We’re pushing the old-school criteria here but 1996’s Maximum Carnage, the debut album from Warlord (UK), just about squeezes in and should have seen the band heralded as pillars of the UK death metal scene alongside the mighty Bolt Thrower, Benediction and Cancer.
Unfortunately, despite their obvious talents, Warlord (UK) arrived a little too late to the party to make a lasting impact. If released 4 years prior, an album that would have sent DM fans into a frenzy fell sadly by the wayside which is a considerable injustice.
A death/thrash behemoth that achieves more in 8 brutally succinct tracks than many death metal acts manage in their entire careers, this seriously ruthless shit came rammed with larynx-lacerating growls and more thrashy old school death metal riffs than you can fathom.
Building an insane amount of momentum, Maximum Carnage just gets better and better as the album progresses, culminating in the savagely sublime “Theatre Of Destruction” and “Race War”.
Also in this Series: