Testament – Practice What You Preach (1989)
Practice What You Preach, the third studio album from American thrash metal royalty Testament, took these Californians to the next level as Chuck Billy and the boys attempted to crack the stranglehold The Big 4 held on late 80’s thrash!
This was the album that should have done it as well, with the likes of the title track, “Greenhouse Effect” and “The Ballad” showcasing a more mature band; one who were turning their attention away from occult themes to socio / political / environmental concerns instead.
Mediative they may have been but this hardly dampened the fiery thrash spirit that burned inside, and with a flurry of thrash anthems that bristled with raw energy and aggression, it’s unsurprising that Practice What You Preach has gone down in thrash history as one of Testament’s greatest ever achievements (and there’s been a few)!
Viking – Man Of Straw (1989)
A classic slice of technical thrash, Viking‘s Man Of Straw had all the necessary ingredients to propel them into the upper echelons of thrash’s hierarchy but would prove to be their last album before regrouping with Dark Angel‘s Mike Gonzalez and Gene Hoglan and Vindicator‘s Justin Zych to record 2015’s No Child Left Behind.
A massive improvement on their Do Or Die debut, the incendiary guitar work of Brett Eriksen (Dark Angel) and the improved songwriting and performances across the board marked outViking as a thrash metal band to be reckoned with.
From the barely in control thrash attack of “They Raped The Land” to the riff-fests of “White Death” and “Man Of Straw”, and the truly epic Sodom-esque “Winter”, Viking rarely faltered on an unsung classic custom built for fans of Vio-lence and Dark Angel. It speaks volumes that Brett Eriksen went on to ply his trade with Dark Angel and contribute massively to their classic album Time Does Not Heal as Man Of Straw is the perfect precursor to the exhausting number of riffs and vocal patterns found on Dark Angel‘s seminal 4th album.
Atrophy – Violent By Nature (1990)
The one thing Atrophy‘s Violent By Nature had that many thrash releases seemed to forget, is choruses….shit loads of the catchy buggers!
“In Their Eyes”, “Slipped Through The Cracks”, “Violent By Nature”, “Forgotten But Not Gone”; all contain huge hooks and memorable choruses that once heard are never forgotten. A rare commodity in a genre that often favoured blinding speed and all out assault over actual songwriting and one that enabled Atrophy to stand out from the majority of the thrash pack.
Unconcerned with unnecessarily lengthy compositions and progressive noodling, Violent By Nature took the core ingredients of thrash and refused to mess with a winning formula. The result was an album that hit with immeasurable groove, cunning melody and some of the catchiest, bounciest, mosh-pit friendly thrash anthems ever to be found on one album.
Believer – Sanity Obscure (1990)
Technical but still infused with riffs that crushed as well as confused, Believer‘s Sanity Obscuremay well be one of thrash metal’s more ‘obscure’ albums but it’s also a minor classic and should appeal to any fans of the wildly experimental and progressive stylings of Death, Voivod, Atheist and Coroner.
The all encompassing chaos on display throughout Sanity Obscure‘s 8 furious tracks is punctuated by dissonant riffs, unpredictable stop-start rhythms and arrangements so complicated they must have been a bugger to perform live.
Without sacrificing that all important moshability, Sanity Obscure impressed most with it’s sheer unconformity, accomplished musicianship and tortured vocals courtesy of vocalist/guitarist Kurt Bachman.
Morbid Saint – Spectrum Of Death (1990)
Morbid Saint‘s Spectrum Of Death is an unapologetically brutal and viciously violent attack on the senses and arguably the most brutal 100% thrash album ever recorded!
Clattering drums, rapid riffing and vocals belched from the gullet of a Satan-obsessed psychopath, Morbid Saint were the perfect combination of Dark Angel‘s all-encompassing power, Whiplash‘s speed and grit and the blackened riffing of those teutonic masters, Sodom and Destruction.
Few bands could compete with the intensity found on Spectrum Of Death and if your heart bleeds black for Venom, early Kreator and Darkness Descends era Dark Angel then tracks such as “Assassin” and “Beyond the Gates of Hell” are ample proof that Morbid Saint should sit proudly alongside these legendary purveyors of pure filth!