Part 1 of our under-appreciated classics of UK thrash highlighted the likes of Pariah, Seventh Angel and D.A.M among others but there’s plenty more quality thrash from good ol’ Blighty still knocking around, collecting dust at the bottom of the thrash pile….which is tantamount to sacrilege!
In actuality, the UK thrashed just as hard as Germany, Brazil and the States and we’ve has selected another 6 unsung classics of UK thrash that deserve to be re-evaluated, re-assessed and re-played at eardrum bursting volume!
Thrash it up, UK style!
Slammer – The Work Of Idle Hands (1989)
Must Hear Track: “Hellbound”, it’s like thrash nirvana (a transcendent state, not Kurt Cobain and his flannel-shirt whining). A classic acoustic run-in meets the wallop of prime late 80’s crunch, resulting in a rip-tide of thrash!
Slammer’s debut, The Work Of Idle Hands, has aged considerably well with its professional production and solid foundations belying it’s semi-lost status. Plastered with a street-smart atmosphere that pervades throughout, the heavy use of gang-vocals and Paul Tunnicliffe’s convincing raspy vocals give each track an urbanised edge and a sense of credibility that still holds true. “Tenement Zone” and the aforementioned ‘must hear’ track “Hellbound” stand-out from the feral pack but the entire album is worthy of a clued-up thrashers undivided attention.
Dripping with more venom than a particularly pissed off rattle snake, the likes of “Razor’s Edge”, “If Thine Eye” and “No Excuses” strike hard and fast, showcasing a level of aggression and precision that still impresses. While Slammer’s sound may not have been original come 1989, they proved they could still hold their own amongst the second tier acts that followed in the wake of Death Angel, Exodus, Testament and The Big 4 etc.
Besieged by a hostile press, it’s actually unfathomable that this quality release wasn’t received with arms wide open by the British public. Highly reminiscent of Testament at their most accessible, Slammer had a sound that was tailor-made for both the UK and American market and should have lead to significant album sales and worldwide recognition. It didn’t. But that was the sorry situation for the majority of the UK’s thrash contingent.
Liked that? Try this: Insanity Addicts, 1990’s 4 track EP picked up where The Work Of Idle Hands left off but added some early 90’s Anthrax bounce to their already powerful oeuvre.
Toranaga – God’s Gift (1990)
Must Hear Track: “The Shrine”; borderline hit single featuring obligatory doomy intro, a tempo shift into thrash heaven and a chorus designed to impale you to the nearest wall!
The UK’s answer to perennial thrash overlords Overkill, Toranaga‘s God’s Gift remains an undervalued mix of classic metal, NWOBHM influences and power metal bombast, bolstered by the bands flirtation with doom tempo’s and thrash’s shrill vocals and chug-heavy riffs.
Frontman Mark Duffy certainly had Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellesworth’s delivery down pat but Toranaga were certainly no carbon copy of those New Jersey noiseniks, their grasp of melody also distancing them from the more abrasive sounds of Virus, Anihilated and Onslaught.
Originally released on major label Chrysalis, the future in 1990 appeared decidedly bright for Toranaga and God’s Gift certainly had the quality and diversity to propel them to the upper rungs of the UK thrash ladder. “Execution”, “Food Of The Gods” and “Psychotic” were the de rigour energetic up-tempo thrashers while the epic and multi-layered “The Shrine” and the oddly beguiling “Black Is The Mask” provided a thrilling counterbalance to the heads-down neanderthal bludgeoning of their peers.
Unfortunately, Toranaga‘s bright future would fade to black pretty damn quick. The band failed to capitalise on their major label backing while Chrysalis let a potentially great band slip through their fingertips, with Toranaga imploding relatively soon after God’s Gift‘s release.
Liked that? Try this: Debut album Bastard Ballads (1988). This 6 tracker may be short and sweet but its power/thrash milieu retains its charm.
Virus – Lunacy (1989)
Forming in 1986, Virus would go on to release an album a year over the next 3 years culminating in 1989’s Lunacy, their greatest achievement and an album that deserved far wider acclaim.
If you’re a fan of frenzied riffs, killer gang-vocals and hooks that’ll snag you square in the chops, then Virus are your band and Lunacy could become your new favourite album. Capable of matching any of the 2nd tier American thrash bands, their bass-heavy, gritty and hyper-fast thrash should have reached a wider audience; a case of British thrash being overlooked in favour of the American contingent.
Virus were a band with a fearsome live reputation and had the clout to make some serious noise within the thrash metal scene. They called it a day in 1990 but since their reformation in 2008, Virus have gone from strength to strength and a new album is imminent!
As infectious as ever, Virus are very much active and fans of Vio-lence and Defiance will find much to love, check ’em out!
Liked this, check out: Force Recon (1988), pure ferocity and a UK companion piece to the feral likes of Dark Angel’s Leave Scars and Kreator’s Pleasure to Kill!