Considering the UK invented heavy metal, it’s always frustrating to reflect on how ‘seemingly’ unsuccessful we were at thrash metal! Predominantly an American phenomenon, UK thrash always rode the coattails of our Transatlantic cousins when, in retrospect, British thrash bands actually had much to offer.
Presented in alphabetical order as opposed to any kind of ranking….
Anihilated – The Ultimate Desecration (1989)
Anihilated‘s second album is a British thrash milestone, incorporating Exodus‘ brash brutality and Slayer‘s knack for intimidating menace and groove to form an album worthy of serious attention.
The grisly grooves of instrumental “Desolation” set the scene as Anihilated‘s malevolent, sickle-sharp riffing crunches straight into high gear on “Into The Flames Of Armageddon”. The album never lets up from here on in; quality track follows quality track with raspy, sandpaper vocals, wall-of-sound drums and Hell Awaits era Slayer riffs combining furiously to thrash your face clean off.
The Slayer comparisons can be a little too familiar at times but if you’re gonna be inspired, be inspired by one of the best and if being the British Slayer is a bad thing, then we’ll be damned!
Of all the bands to arise during thrash’s recent re-birth, Anihilated truly showcased the breadth of talent the UK have to offer, culminating in Anti Social Engineering, one of the finest UK thrash albums ever recorded….and we ain’t fuckin’ kidding….this album absolutely slayed the competition in 2015!
Liked that? Try this: Anihilated’s debut album, Created In Hate; one of the most furiously feral thrash albums to ever emerge from the shores of the UK.
D.A.M – Inside Out (1991)
D.A.M may have only released two albums during their initial stab at this thing we call thrash but they were damn (pun completely intended) fine albums and 1991’s Inside Out was their greatest achievement.
Mid-paced, nuanced and blessed with a confident sense of control that steered them away from the fiendishly frantic metallic onslaught of contemporaries Anihilated and Virus, D.A.M‘s sense of eerie harmony replete with the necessary crunch instead nestled them nicely next to the likes of Xentrix and Slammer.
With an almost indescribably sinister edge – check out the shiver-inducing “House Of Cards” – D.A.M were unafraid to turn the screw while embracing the suitably epic. Album highlight, “Winter’s Tear”, was a Nevermore meets Metal Church excursion into dramatic thrash territory; part ballad, part nightmare made flesh and if Testament has seen fit to include this outstanding track on The Ritual the world would have paid far more attention.
Liked that? Try this: Check out Jason McLoughlin’s killer guest vocals on Anihilated‘s thrash anthem, “Thrashing Crew”.
Hydra Vein – Rather Death Than False Of Faith (1988)
Shit cover art aside, Hydra Vein were a ferocious and precocious late 80’s thrash band whose Rather Death Than False Of Faith debut deserves to be heralded as a minor classic.
Wallowing in the same dirty cess pool as early Onslaught and Venom, Rather Death Than False Of Faith stands toe to toe with the cream of late 80’s thrash metal. These guys could out slay Slayer when they put their filth-encrusted minds to it and the pure thrash carnage of “Crucifier” and “Rabid” (in fairness, this one’s a little too Slayer-esque for comfort at times) provides a welcome jolt to the system and may take newcomers by surprise!
Regardless of tempo – and Hydra Vein were as adept at blinding speed as they were mid-paced stomp – the key to Hydra Vein’s success (we use that term loosely) hinges on quality over quantity. Featuring just the 8 tracks, it’s notable that all 8 tracks have their moment, whether that’s a shout from the rooftops chorus, face-ripping solo or neck-wrecking riff , each and every song slams hard and features at least one highly memorable moment.
Hydra Vein may have been left in the thrash wilderness but fans of Onslaught’s The Force, Sacrilege’s Behind the Realms Of Madness, Venom’s Black Metal and Slayer’s Hell Awaits need this album…. and that’s despite the cover art which looks like it was painted by a partially sighted 4 year old!
Liked that? Try this: Hydra Vein’s sophomore effort, After The Dream, almost matched the intensity of Rather Death Than False Of Faith.
Onslaught – In Search Of Sanity (1989)
Onslaught‘s In Search Of Sanity may be a UK thrash anomaly – in that it’s unrecognisable in comparison to the material that preceded it – but despite the fact that the satanic slayer-isms of 1986’s brutal The Force had been jettisoned entirely, In Search Of Sanity still stands proud as a cult item well deserving of high praise for its performances and ambition!
While In Search Of Sanity was more Metal Church than Slayer – and cleaner than a Nun’s saintly undercarriage in the process – its go-for-broke mentality should have been applauded; thrash was huge in ’89 and Onslaught shouldn’t apologise for wanting their own large slice of the thrash pie. The introduction of Grim Reaper’s Steve Grimmett on vocals may have upset the purists (and let’s be honest here,Onslaught aren’t really Onslaught without a gravelly-throated ‘screamer’ behind the mic) but the man lent a polished sheen to proceedings which few thrash bands (UK or otherwise) could match!
Quite possibly the finest commercial thrash album ever produced by a UK band, Onslaught were aiming for worldwide recognition when they released this melodic thrash masterclass at the tail end of the 80’s and ut should have led to greater things!
Pariah – Blaze of Obscurity (1989)
A classic sounding thrash band before the term could even be applied, there was something inviting about Pariah’s thrashed up New Wave Of British Heavy Metal based output; of which Blaze Of Obscuritywas their finest hour.
Formed from the ashes of NWOBHM heroes Satan, Pariah would go on to donate Graeme English and Steve Ramsey to Skyclad but first came this magnificent slice of melodic thrash magnificence. The perfect companion piece to Onslaught’s equally ambitious In Search Of Sanity, Pariah’s astonishing array of complex riffs and expansive song writing should have found them beloved the world over.
As it transpired, Pariah were treated in a manner befitting their name and split after just two short years.
However, Blaze Of Obscurity is so ridiculously accomplished that it deserves nothing less than total reappraisal and should be considered a benchmark for 80’s speed metal and thrash metal guitar work.