Belgium; famous for chocolates, biscuits, fries and mayonnaise and the best damn beer in the world…..but not, unsurprisingly, for thrash metal!
Which is a crying shame, as those Belgians could thrash up a storm when they wanted to. So, we’ve handpicked 10 of the greatest old-school albums of Belgian thrash to highlight that very fact.
Sixty Nine – Just For The Fun (1988)
A band who couldn’t have given two shits about finesse, Sixty Nine‘s hardcore thrash was a precursor to Belgian groove metal kings Channel Zero but shared none of that band’s penchant for polish and panache. Instead, Just For The Fun was, as the title suggests, plain raucous fun!
Smashing their way through 12 short and savage cuts, Sixty Nine‘s amateurish assault still manages to weave its way into your good-books simply by virtue alone….these guys didn’t give a fuck and this attitude bleeds through every raw shout and every bulldozing riff.
Far from essential, Just For The Fun sneaks in primarily due to the timing of its release – and its proximity to Channel Zero – but that’s not to dismiss its antediluvian allure!
Black Shepherd – Immortal Aggression (1988)
A complete clattering cavalcade of brutal satanic thrash, Black Shepherd‘s Immortal Aggression may borderline on unlistenable at times but its naive charms lay in its indefatigable allegiance to the dark lord!
Ironically, Black Shepherd‘s bestial aggression aligns them with the barely controlled noise emanating from Brazil in the 80’s as opposed to the sounds crawling out from Europe’s thriving underground. Recalling the primitive splendour of early Sepultura, Vulcano, Mutilator etc, these fuckers were destined to thrash harder, faster and with more diabolical intent than anyone else…..and they delivered on that promise.
Feral, haphazard, raucous and completely unhinged, Black Shepherd were the sound of pure fuckin’ evil made flesh!
Evil Sinner – Evil Sinner (1989)
A frenzied thrash-fest to rival the likes of Exumer and Baloff-era Exodus, Evil Sinner‘s debut is another unjustly ignored highpoint in Belgian thrash history!
Opening with the call-to-arms of “Thrashers”, the scene is set for Evil Sinner to cave in your face with each well aimed blow. These are pummelling anthems, rampaging through your system with dexterous efficiency and devastating effect and there’s barely a pause for breath before the whole thing comes to a crashing end.
“Fate” and the title track are high-speed killers but Evil Sinner slowed down enough on the dynamic “The Gang” to introduce a melodic longeur, providing a break from the blast-beat propelled thrash attack that surrounds it.
As far as Belgian thrash is concerned, Evil Sinner‘s one and only release is an underground classic in every way!
Channel Zero – Channel Zero (1992)
Fundamentally known for their groove metal output, Channel Zero‘s debut was actually a full on thrash affair, featuring Metallica-sized riffs and no end of satisfying chug!
In awe of the melodic crunch favoured by Forbidden, Defiance etc, Channel Zero were equally as dept at delivering massive thrash tunes laced with groove and a progressive edge, and no more so than on infectious opener “No Light (At The End Of Their Tunnel)” and the tech-savvy “Painful Jokes”.
Being in awe of the 80’s certainly didn’t hamper Channel Zero‘s prospects, as you’d be hard pressed to find a more consistent thrash album in ’92. And, while they would become a more mainstream proposition as the years rolled by, their self-titled debut stands tall as one of Belgian thrash metal’s greatest achievements.
Cyclone – Brutal Destruction (1986)
Belgium’s Cyclone weren’t particularly active – just 2 albums in a 9 year career – but they were the instigators of some distinctive riffage and Brutal Destruction remains an underrated collection of tenacious, tightly focused and terrorising thrash anthems.
Admittedly, Brutal Destruction may sound antiquated to modern ears but this semi-forgotten title had some clout in 1986! Slightly dubious title aside, “Incest Love”(?!) remains one hell of a closer while the razor-sharp riffs and unrefined shrieks found on “Long To Hell” and “Fall Under His Command” still leave scars!
One of those albums that belongs in a true thrashers collection – even though it may not receive a regular airing – Cyclone’s sound was more mid-level American than European and for this reason alone, Cyclone were up against it; they were never going to make an impact in the US when bands of this calibre were already ten a penny.
Regardless, Cyclone had much to offer and no more so than on the outstanding Inferior To None that followed 4 years after….and there’s more on that particular album later!