While the 1990’s ultimately sounded the death knell for the genre…. these obscurities prove that thrash still had plenty to say!
Assorted Heap – Mindwaves (1992) [Germany]
Assorted Heap‘s second album is a minor masterpiece. Pure and simple.
Hitting the prog ramp at high speed, Assorted Heap finessed their already impressive sound (1991’s far more aggressive The Experience Of Horror is also well worth checking out) and delivered an unsung classic of progressive thrash; the kind of calling card that should have seen them attain more than mere ‘cult’ status.
Transcending genre trappings with ease, Assorted Heap mirrored the wholesale changes and ‘anything is possible’ mentality of Sarcofago circa The Laws Of Scourge, ultimately delivering an album that lived and died by its palpable atmosphere and unique, often ornate, clarity of sound.
A distinctive moment in thrash….German or otherwise
Cyclone – Inferior To None (1990) [Belgium]
Suffering from severe underexposure dented Cyclone’s chances of ever escaping the underground but Inferior To None (a convincingly apt title if ever we’ve head one!) should have been the album to achieve it.
Four years on from their relatively meat n’ potatoes debut, Brutal Destruction, and these guys had used the time well; finding their groove and improving on every aspect of their sound with universally stunning results. Embracing a technical thrash aesthetic, Cyclone had upped their game considerably with some of the tightest playing around and a gamut of ear-pleasing solos in their back pocket.
Inferior To None is practically perfect thrash.
Why isn’t it more well-known? Go figure!
Dearly Beheaded – Temptation (1996) [UK]
A hulking, crushing slab of mid-90s thrash /groove akin to Machine Head, Skinlab and Overkill (during their most obvious groove era), Dearly Beheaded‘s debut album, Temptation, should have seen these UK bruisers rise above the ranks of mere also rans.
Home to some colossal riffing and a penchant for wringing necks with brute, mid-tempo force, Temptation was a case of right album at the right time with the right producer at the helm (Colin Richardson)…but ‘fame’ was to be short lived. One more album followed, 1997’s Chamber Of One, and then the band imploded; full potential never quite fulfilled.
Some may balk at Dearly Beheaded being described as thrash but if they were ‘thrash’ enough to be included in Ian Glasper’s almighty tome, Contract In Blood: A History of UK Thrash Metal….then they’re ‘thrash’ enough for us!
Deathblow – Meanless Propaganda (1991) [Japan]
Beautifully executed acoustic intro? Check! Ferocious opening track? Check! Mildly diverting mellow breaks between the hardcore thrashing? Also, check! Baffling concept based on the Lebanese Civil War? Um….check!?
That’s right, Deathblow‘s mildly technical debut album has a concept so absurdly bewildering, that you could be forgiven for looking past the fact they generally follow the de-rigueur rules of thrash to the letter. Which is no bad thing, Deathblow were a decent – if occasionally unremarkable – thrash act with just enough variances to their style to maintain attention, and the likes of the multi-faceted “The Distorted Symbol” and the epic chug of the ludicrously titled “Seventh Angel Blows A Bugle…” are worthy of merit.
Meanless Propaganda‘s crazy concept is worth checking it out for alone!
Thought Industry – Songs For Insects (1992) [USA]
As ‘obscure’ as they come, Thought Industry‘s debut album, Songs For Insects, arrived a little late in the day to make the impact it deserved, but the same can be said for many a thrash band who tried to twist thrash into new forms as the 90’s marched on!
An experience that blurs the lines of what ‘thrash’ was legitimately ‘allowed’ to achieve, Thought Industry‘s stream of consciousness approach may result in a hyper-speed blur of seemingly unconnected ideas but, dig deep, and Songs For Insect‘s fearless approach and mesmerising musicianship soon reveals itself.
Suffice to say, fans of the often unwieldy Deathrow‘s Deception Ignored, Dark Angel‘s Time Does Not Heal and Anacrusis‘ Manic Impressions should get a kick out of Songs For Insect‘s labyrinthine song structures and off-kilter time signatures.
Wolf Spider – Kingdom of Paranoia (1990) [Poland]
A cult band of considerable skill, Poland’s Wolf Spider may not be anywhere near a household name but their late 80s / early 90s output was the envy of many a technical / progressive thrash band and Kingdom Of Paranoia (1990) is, arguably, their finest moment!
One of the ‘Big Four of Polish technical / progressive thrash’ – nestling in nicely next to Turbo, Astharoth and Acrimony (more on those bands at a future date) – Kingdom Of Paranoia found Wolf Spider improving immeasurably on debut album Wilczy Pająk, with the band further embracing schizophrenic time changes and all manner of obscure references.
The likes of “Sickened Nation” may have offered a more accessible road to thrash nirvana but Wolf Spider truly shone when they fully gave in to their esoteric tendencies – such as on the exhilarating “Pain”.
Check out The Worship Metal Podcasts’ throughly entertaining chat about thrash:
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