Dark Angel – Leave Scars (1989)
Sitting in between 2 monstrous, all-time classic thrash albums such as Darkness Descends and Time Does Not Heal is no easy task but then Dark Angel‘s Leave Scars is no easy album in the first place!
An album that’s as claustrophobic as it is brutal, Dark Angel were clearly beginning to embrace a more progressive aesthetic (particularly on the labyrinthine “The Promise of Agony) while maintaining the ferocity that marked out their debut as one of the all-time great thrash albums (get a load of “Never to Rise Again”).
The result was an uncomfortable experience (not least due to its muddied production) that was extreme in every sense of the word. In fact, for the time, Leave Scars was one of the most overwhelmingly aggressive thrash albums on the market and its impact has not diminished in the intervening years.
Evildead – Annihilation of Civilisation (1989)
These L.A. thrashers were just as capable as Anthrax and Slayer etc at penning some seriously shred-heavy crossover thrash and Annihilation Of Civilisation is a second-tier, stone-cold classic!
“Annihilation Of Civilisation”, “Future Shock” and “Living Good” indicate the high level of thrashin’ prowess this band held in abundance and serve as accomplished aural evidence that for a short while Evildead stood toe to toe with the greats of thrash metal’s second wave; Sacred Reich, Forbidden and Vio-Lence.
Although in 1989 Annihilation Of Civilisation practically broke Evildead into the thrash mainstream, its obvious qualities seem to have been largely forgotten in the preceding years. Evildead’s direct approach to the fundamentals of thrash and consistently varied, and consistently catchy, song structures conspired to create a high calibre thrash album that still sounds formidable today.
Gammacide – Victims Of Science (1989)
Gammacide‘s only album, Victims Of Science, may not be well known (except to the thrash die-hards, of course) but it’s a late 80’s release far more deserving of simply also ran status!
Fans of Vio-lence and Exodus will appreciate Gammacide’s technically skilled but aggressively direct approach and their no nonsense attitude elevates Victims Of Science to a level which far surpasses the majority of their peers. Built around that age-old thrash chestnut of nuclear war and falling victim to mankind’s technological ‘progress’, Gammacide were the thrash equivalent of armageddon and their ripping, snarling vocals, high-speed riffs, outstanding solos and whip-crack tempos were refreshingly direct and as remorseless as a nuclear winter.
Mankind has always been doomed…..and Gammacide’s Victims Of Science will always provide the soundtrack!
Lȧȧz Rockit – Annihilation Principle (1989)
While Lȧȧz Rockit may have lagged slightly behind the likes of Exodus, Testament, Death Angel, Heathen, Forbidden and Vio-lence, their back catalogue represented the sheer wealth of talent that resided in the Bay Area….and Annihilation Principle was arguably their finest hour!
Despite starting out as a relatively pure metal band on their 1984 debut, City’s Gonna Burn, each successive release found Lȧȧz Rockit moving into ever thrashier waters and by the time their 4th album, Annihilation Principle, rolled in, their brand of high energy and melodic thrash had reached its zenith.
Opener “Fire In The Hole” was provocative and combustible – a sure fire way of gaining attention and building momentum from the outset – while the increasingly catchy likes of “Chain Of Fools” added a Metal Church-esque power/thrash aesthetic to Lȧȧz Rockit‘s overall tuneful yet powerful sound.
Powermad – Absolute Power (1989)
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 full length remains 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. However, ample moments of speed metal frenzy are ably balanced with the kind of controlled yet expansive dynamism that Queensrÿche excelled at in the late 80’s.