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6 Under-Appreciated Classics Of American Thrash (Pt.3)

6 more overlooked classics of U.S Thrash Metal that thrashed as hard - if not harder - than The Big 4!

Source // 1.bp.blogspot.com

Picking up where Parts 1 and 2 of our Under-Appreciated Classics Of American Thrash Metal left off, we have selected another 6 unsung classics of American thrash that are deserving of further praise.

As we trawled through the vaults of thrash history it came as no surprise that the sheer wealth of quality American thrash releases over the years was simply staggering.

If there’s a particular thrash classic you feel has been lost to the annals of time then pop it in the comments below and we’ll look to include it in future articles.

Let’s get thrashed! \m/

Aftermath – Eyes Of Tomorrow (1994)

Eyes of Tomorrow | Aftermath | Shadow Kingdom Records

Aftermath may have first turned heads with the thrash assault of their speed-of-light, full-throttle demo Killing The Future but it’s their debut full length album that showcased this undervalued bands full potential and proved to be a total reinvention of their sound.

Eyes Of Tomorrow is progressive thrash incarnate. Off kilter rhythms and mind-boggling complexity jostling with  infectious melody, ingenious hooks and heads-down thrashing. Creatively eccentric, it’s the likes of “Being” and the epic “Experience” that still surprise the most. Filled with fluid leads, accomplished solos and dark ambience, the technicality and progressive nature of Eyes Of Tomorrow is clear to hear and stands as the perfect counterpoint to the moments of up-tempo thrash and staccato riffing that remind the listener that this is still a thrash record after all.

While Kyriakos Charlie Tsiolis’ vocals may prove to be an acquired taste – although we challenge anyone to try spitting out lyrics at a pace that matches the frenzied patterns Aftermath conjure – the borderline spoken word nature of his delivery is actually the perfect fit for the schizophrenic aural battery his words accompany. Conventional structure be damned! When music is this undeniably accomplished and genuinely thrilling, the tried and tested formula’s seem relatively passé; the technicality and individuality of Aftermath proving infinitely more rewarding than the meat ‘n’ potatoes thrash trotted out by far too many bands in the early 90’s.

If the likes of Heathen, Anacrusis, Coroner and Voivod float your boat then Aftermath are your next port of call….if you haven’t discovered them already of course!

Powermad – Absolute Power (1989)

Powermad – Absolute Power (CD) - Discogs

With a sound that marries well with that of Metal Church, Flotsam & Jetsam and Forbidden – particularly in Joel Dubay’s powerful vocals – Powermad‘s debut is a strangely alluring hybrid of thrash, speed metal, power metal and core traditional metal values that sucks you in with humungous hooks, unforgettable melodies and a clear, concise sound that’s impressively executed.

“Slaughterhouse” may be a title that conjures images of a typical horror-show bloodbath but – just like the majority of Absolute Power – there’s a refreshing ‘light’ touch and upbeat, bouncy feel to this storming opener that defied the standard unbridled aggression of the day.

That’s not to say that these guys didn’t know how to thrash!

The high tempo and satisfyingly crunchy staccato palm-muted riff-fest of “Test The Steel (Powermad)” stands as testament to their thrash credentials. Ample moments of speed metal frenzy are ably balanced throughout with the kind of controlled yet expansive dynamism that Queensrÿche excelled at in the late 80’s.

An unsung classic, Absolute Power may not be the most aggressive, in-your-face 80’s thrash release but it’s one of the most consistent.

Hirax – Raging Violence (1985)

Hirax “Raging Violence” | Metal Blade Records

An anorexic production job does little to dent the ferocious nature of Hirax‘s powerful debut released during thrash metal’s infancy. A blistering crossover thrash / speed metal exercise in full-throttle riffing, Hirax may have been a little rough around the edges but their often undervalued contribution to the scene is actually undeniable.

With one of the most distinctive voices in thrash – as an ambassador for the genre as well as a vocalist – frontman Katon W. De Pena is a thrash icon. His melodic John Cyriis (Agent Steel) meets Eric A.K. (Flotsam And Jetsam) wail was the perfect foil for his bandmate’s hardcore punk infused bouts of maddening metal.

14 tracks in just over 30 minutes signals just how fast these guys actually played and precious few could match them for speed in ’85! Trading finesse for brute force, the likes of “Bombs Of Death” – an all time thrash classic – still managed to drip-feed a little melody into the mix, enabling Hirax‘s barely in control barbarity to warrant repeat listening.

It’s raw, it’s passionate, it is thrash circa 1985 and Raging Violence still relishes using your head as a punching bag nearly over 35 years later!

About Chris Jennings (1986 Articles)
I love metal. Always have. Always will. As editor of Worship Metal - a site dedicated to being as positive about metal and its myriad of sub-genres as possible - my aim is to 'worship' metal through honest reviews, current news and a wide variety of features; offering the same exposure to underground bands as we do to mainstream/well known acts. Our mantra; the bands are partners and we exist to serve the bands \m/

8 Comments on 6 Under-Appreciated Classics Of American Thrash (Pt.3)

  1. Love your lists and in-depth analysis!

  2. I still have my original Exhorder Get Rude demo from 1986 where most of the songs from Slaughter In The Vatican came from and it is the most raw and brutal examples of how the songs came together for Slaughter in the Vatican.

  3. I love Exhorder. But I like the Law a lot more than Slaughter in the Vatican. I think the Law was revolutionary and is what influenced Phil Anselmo to take Pantera to that ‘groove metal’ direction that got Pantera all of the credit. But Exhorder should be the ones that get all the credit.

    • Chris Jennings // October 4, 2015 at 9:57 am // Reply

      The Law is yet another underrated classic but leans a little too heavy on the groove to qualify for a list like this I feel. Slaughter In The Vatican is a thrash album with groove elements, The Law is a groove metal album with thrash elements but the fact that Exhorder deserve way more credit is undisputed! Thanks for reading and commenting Paul \m/

      • Mike Reseigh // October 4, 2015 at 5:53 pm // Reply

        I like the law very much. Chris Nail actually played my drum set when we opened for them at Blondie’s in Detroit. But I think as much as they influenced pantera, They were being influenced by pantera for the law. Like it had switched around because of pantera’s popularity. Those guys were really cool dudes and played very well. Chris is a super cool dude and great drummer. it was an honor to have him jam on my stuff. I do like Slaughter better. I like the Scott Burns production better and it’s faster and more aggressive. But both albums are killer so it’s all good

        • Chris Jennings // October 4, 2015 at 6:53 pm // Reply

          Couldn’t agree more Mike. The Law is a beast of an album but Slaughter – from production to songwriting – is the superior record. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂 \m/

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