Whats New

The 10 Greatest Thrash Releases Of 2015

2015 saw thrashing rage come of age once again!

Source // Anihilated

Another year almost over and another end of year list! Well this one’s for the thrashers and while The Big 4 were relatively quiet (Slayer withstanding), the underground – and particularly the UK – were releasing quality new material at a rate of knots. Bands reformed, bands solidified their position as genre legends and modern thrash could once again lay claim as being the single greatest sub-genre in metal!

Instead of trying to cram these exemplary releases into an all genre encompassing ‘best of 2015’, a countdown celebrating nothing but thrash seemed prescient and so – with much squabbling and general disagreement as to what should make the cut – these 10 releases were considered the greatest thrash releases of 2015.

Disagree? Pop your alternatives in the comments below. Let’s thrash!

10. Angelus Apatrida – Hidden Evolution [Spain]

Must hear track: “Architects”, gloriously choppy riffs don’t come much choppier! Overflowing with Angelus Apatrida‘s reliable intensity, album number 5 from Spain’s finest thrashers remained on Worship Metal‘s playlist for nigh on a year and if that doesn’t stand as testament to it’s quality then nothing will!

Playing with a fierce technicality and proficiency that recalls genre greats Artillery, Heathen and Forbidden, the Spanish thrash metal titans have plyed their power-thrash metal trade for 15 years now but, if anything, Hidden Evolution is an indication that they’re just getting started.

Like overly polished metal, there’s a sheen, yet deadly sharpness, to Angelus Apatrida‘s songwriting. The tech thrash havoc caused by “Immortal” and “Serpents On Parade” gleaming incessantly yet operating with a serrated edge that satisfyingly scratches that thrash itch that just won’t quit.

In fairness, Hidden Evolution is how the latest Annihilator album should have sounded, melodic yet never ‘soft’, its groove element adds to the overall feel that Angelus Apatrida have settled in to a ‘groove’ of their own; content to vary their considerable array of styles within each song, producing highly memorable tracks in the process.

Ending on a Testament-styled high with the epic semi-balladry of the 9 minute title track, Hidden Evolution is an exceptional album from a band who appear to know when they’re onto a good thing, neither slavishly mimicking their past or pushing too far from what their fans love.

9. Gama Bomb – Untouchable Glory [Ireland]

Must hear track: Opener, “Ninja Untouchables/Untouchable Glory”, sums up the entire album. Fast, fun and postively dripping with unparalleled entertainment.

Gama Bomb have never failed to inject some much appreciated fun into their thrash and Untouchable Glory was a grin inducing delight for more than one reason. The lyrics hit with their usual level of humour – the ironic observations of “Tuck Your T-shirt In” proving particularly chucklesome – but the biggest reason to head-bang with a shit-eating grin on your face is that Gama Bomb are now beyond mere parody, they are a modern thrash act par excellence!

Operating at ridiculous speeds throughout, the Gama Bomb sound of old appears to be amped up to new, ridiculous, levels; their mantra of “no clean guitars, no ballads, and no synths allowed” resulting in a quick-fire burst of glorious thrash that’s over in a heartbeat….you’ll still need medical attention to re-start that overworked heart once Untouchable Glory is over of course.

Packed with insanely memorable choruses – “Ride the Night” features a vocal hook so catchy you’ll need inoculating if you want to dig it out of your memory box – the sprint-to-the-finish nature of each track still finds time to imbed something memorable while furiously and frenetically thrashing you senseless along the way.

12 songs, 31 minutes and not a second wasted. One thing’s for sure, these boys ain’t no joke!

8. Viking – No Child Left Behind [USA]

Must hear track: “Eaten By A Bear”; one hell of a great name for a song and an insane entry into the annals of thrash!

The return of any classic 80’s thrash band is a reason to celebrate and this particular reformation, of a perennially overlooked mob, was manna from heaven for hardcore thrash fans!

All but consigned to the history books after splitting in 1990, Viking – resurrected by original members Ron Eriksen and Matt Jordan in 2011 – have slowly but surely turned people back on to their brand of Bay Area crunch and No Child Left Behind was the thrilling result. Rounding up a few old buddies in the formidable shape of bassist Mike Gonzalez (Dark Angel), Justin Zych and drumming legend Gene Hoglan (the atomic clock handling recording purposes only) the frenetic and classic sound of Bay Area thrash was back with an almighty bang!

The question true thrashers may have asked themselves was does No Child Left Behind stand toe to toe with their late 80’s classics Do Or Die and Man Of Straw? The answer was simple, too fucking right it did! Expertly channeling the finest moments from each to create something resolutely old-school – while still sounding like a modern exercise in showing the young guns how it’s done – Viking took the unhinged edge of Do Or Die and the more refined nature of Man Of Straw and forged a whole new rampaging recording from both.

No Child Left Behind was one release that made you glad to scream “the viking’s are coming!”

7. Hatchet – Fear Beyond Lunacy [USA]

Must hear track: “Dead And Gone”, thrash melodies to sell your kids for!

Hatchet squeezed their way into out thrash lovin’ hearts fairly late in the day – Fear Beyond Lunacy landed just 7 weeks ago – but its memorable hooks and sly way around the classic Exodus sound found on the “Zetro” fronted classics Fabulous Disaster and Impact Is Imminent – with a little Destruction also thrown into the mix – made it an instant hit!

Opening with a de rigueur semi-acoustic intro, Hatchet are dab hands at ramping up the tension and when “Living In Extinction” explodes with all the immediacy of the greatest opening tracks in thrash history, any doubt that they could surpass 2013’s excellent Dawn Of The End were laid to rest.

These guys have found their sound and it’s a joy to hear them hone their insistent melodies and ingenious hooks to such a degree. Hatchet have clearly gourged themselves on the bay area sound we all adore and then regurgitated it for a modern audience, keenly adapting and contorting something comfortably familiar without once sounding passé.

From the aforementioned “Dead And Gone” to the mid paced pummelling of “Killing Indulgence”, Fear Beyond Lunacy has something for everyone; an album true thrash fans will appreciate for its faithful adaptation of a formula that never fails.

Modern thrash needs these guys and you’d be hard pressed to find a purer thrash album in 2015!

6. Acid Reign – Plan Of The Damned (Single) [UK]

Must hear track: “Plan Of The Damned”….obviously!

We were careful not to call this feature the 10 greatest thrash ‘albums’ of 2015 for good reason, as to ignore the return of Acid Reign and their first ‘release’ in over two and a half decades would have been sacrilege!

That release came in the comely shape of brand new single “Plan Of The Damned” and it’s relatively unexpected arrival was a joyous occasion to behold; one that prompted involuntary square-dancing amongst the UK thrash faithful and beyond.

With frontman ‘H’ commanding his newly assembled legion of metal veterans, any concerns that Acid Reign‘s sound may have become somewhat diluted over the years were quickly confounded. “Plan Of The Damned” satisfyingly picked up exactly where Acid Reign’s unsung classic Obnoxious left off as if the last quarter of a century had passed by in only 25 minutes!

Kicking off as a Sabbth-esque exercise in elephantine riffing before segueing into an all-out thrash-fest, the timing of Acid Reign‘s return was instantly vindicated and more than whets the appetite for the full-length album we pray is in the works.

Welcome home boys!

5. Slayer – Repentless [USA]

Must hear track: “Repentless”, vintage Slayer that relentlessly (and apparently repentlessly) showed the new kids how this thrash game was to be played.

Slayer‘s 12th album – and first without the sadly departed Jeff Hannman – was never going to be taken on its own merits. The shadow of thrash classics Hell Awaits, Reign In Blood and Seasons In The Abyss loomed too large and with 50% of the classic line-up now gone (we certainly don’t see Dave Lombardo returning to the kit anytime soon) all eyes were on Kerry King and Tom Araya to deliver something special.

As it turned out, anyone who doubted if Slayer circa 2015 was even Slayer anymore were forced to eat their words as Repentless relentlessly thrashed you back to the 80’s! Sure, this is not a record to match the genre-defining Hell Awaits or Reign In Blood but it more than matches anything released post Divine Intervention and that is a reason to celebrate in itself.

As for the new boys, Exodus mainman Gary Holt pulls double duties and seems to have seamlessly immersed himself into Slayer’s world – it’s almost impossible to think of anyone other than Holt who could have filled the cavernous shoes of Jeff Hanneman – and new/old drummer Paul Bostaph has seen it all before; his credibility never in doubt.

As for the songs, they were prime Slayer. “Implode” does the exact opposite, exploding into life while the title-track proves that time has not dulled Slayer’s attack. Every facet that combines to make Slayer such an institution is present and the Hanneman penned “Piano Wire” – which has that unnerving Slayer sound we’ve all experienced before on the chill-inducing likes of “Dead Skin Mask” and “213” – keeps one foot safely in their prestigious past.

All told, Repentless was a huge relief, a solid Slayer album released after some truly dark times for this all-time classic thrash band. Their relevance to the scene remains unquestionable.

4. Reign Of Fury – Death be Thy Shepherd [UK]

Must hear track: “The Love Of A Dying God”; those riffs….addictive!

The UK’s burgeoning thrash renaissance continued unabated with the release of Reign Of Fury’s sophomore album back in February and those looking for a dose of relative originality – in an otherwise overcrowded and plagiaristic scene – were rewarded with a melodic thrash masterclass.

Overflowing with mammoth choruses and an endless array of choppy riffs and tempo changes, Death Be Thy Shepherd swiftly positioned Reign Of Fury at the top of the ‘ones to watch’ list. Fearless and epic and one for the purists, Death Be Thy Shepherd stands up to lofty yet worthy comparisons, with the likes of Metallica’s …And Justice For All, Onslaught’s In Search Of Sanity, Testament‘s The Ritual and Dark Angel’s Time Does Not Heal proving ideal companions.

Just like those all time classic albums, the all-out riff-fests and lengthy compositions found on Death Be Thy Shepherd prove the quality and confidence this band have in spades. From “Gates Of Sanity” – replete with minimal yet satisfying use of Chuck Billy-esque death metal growls – to the staccato riff nirvana of the phenomenal “The Love Of A Dying God”, this is one thrash album that must be experienced wholesale for maximum satisfaction.

Don’t just dip in, immerse yourself. Death Be Thy Shepherd‘s rewards are endless!

3. Harlott – Proliferation [Australia]

Must hear track: “Systematic Reduction”; the greatest, most ferocious, 1min 35secs of thrash you’ll find all year!

Holy fucking thrash! The second album from Australia’s Harlott was a welcome kick to the throat when it rampaged across the globe back in April. Harnessing the aggression and no bullshit nature of classic Slayer, Razor, Morbid Saint and Dark Angel, this kind of thrash album in 2015 was a rare beast indeed.

Disregarding virtually all notions of melody for a no-nonsese approach, Harlott are tighter than a nun’s chuff and warp speed thrashing – performed with simply outstanding technical proficiency – was the order of the day.

While Australia has been known to produce some quality thrash bands ever the years (Mortal Sin, Hobb’s Angel Of Death & Mortification spring immediately to mind), Harlott are a new breed of thrashers altogether. With the bit clenched firmly between their bared teeth, this unrelentingly vicious excursion into classic heads-down thrashing never lets up, never gives in and never takes a breather. In other words, thrash how it’s meant to be played!

“Restless” accurately sums up the agitated and edgy feel of Proliferation. Each track pushes harder than the last and when “Cross Contamination” kicks in you’re left grinning inanely at the superhuman delivery of frontman Andrew Hudson. Threatening to veer into death metal levels of speed at any moment, it’s the riffs of “Legion” that resemble the bastard son of thrash the most, particularly recalling the work of early Deicide; perhaps that explains the song title?!

This is a band to keep an eye on. Slayer reborn!

2. Intrinsic – Nails [USA]

Must hear track: The whole album is a revelation but “Denial” is the cream of an exceptional crop!

A release of an album long thought lost, Intrinsic‘s astonishing Nails finally reached an audience this year and those who have experienced this unsung gem know just how lucky we are to finally have it available!

An exquisite melding of genres that unites the sounds of Savatage, Nevermore, Iced Earth, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Iron Maiden, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, Intrinsic‘s sophomore album was originally recorded between 1991 and 1992 but never released….until now. Inconceivably ‘lost’ for nearly 25 years, Nails is so much more than just a mere curiosity, it’s a fucking revelation! With an uncanny knack for bridging progressive thrash with the grunge sound that ironically sounded thrash’s death knell, this album literally has everything.

The thrashers are kept happy with the ferociously intelligent “State Of The Union”, “Die Trying”, “Pillar Of Fire” and “Too Late But Not Forgetten” while “Fight No More” channels a classic Maiden vibe and “On Gossamer Wings” perfectly straddles the disparate sounds of mid 70’s Judas Priest and the histrionics of danish thrash kings Artillery.

Sound like a confusing mess of styles? Don’t fret, this shit really works….and it gets refreshingly weirder.

“Inner Sanctum” and “Mourn For Her” are a mix of classic Led Zeppelin and mid-80’s Rush – minus the keyboards (thankfully) – and are prime examples of the sheer talent Intrinsic had/have at their disposal. Songwriters par excellence, as adept at thrashing hard as they are composing 7 minutes flights of epic grandeur, Intrinsic‘s skill is no better served than on Nails’ undoubted highlight, “Denial”. An astonishingly versatile track that is undoubtedly the missing link between thrash and grunge – with Alice In Chains styled melody contrasting with intermittent thrash tempos and a kick-ass, heads-down ending – this song can only be described as a progressive thrash classic.

A truly outstanding release that was well worth the 25 year wait, Nails is the kind of album you tell your friends to buy at all costs….and they tell their friends and they tell their friends. Just like the kind of ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing we all lived by over two and a half decades ago!!

1. Anihilated – Anti-Social Engineering [UK]

Must hear track: “Thrashing Crew” is an old-school call to arms and an all time thrash classic in the making!

Almost 8 months after release and this intelligent, inspired and prescient masterclass in modern thrash is still the unequovable thrash highlight of the year.

Anihilated, one of the UK’s most revered and vital thrash bands, may have marked their return with 2010’s Scorched Earth Policy and 2013’s iDeviant but Anti Social Engineering upped the ante considerably; the introduction of master-of-all trades Danny B on guitar appearing to chrystalise Anihilated‘s sound, ultimately leaving the ‘UK Slayer’ comparisons redundant. In any case, Anti Social Engineering shits all over Repentless!

If anything, the songs contained within have only improved as 2015 progressed. Proving particularly politically accurate, their power is palpable. The title track, featuring the guttural delights of Anton Reisenegger (Criminal/Pentagram [Chile]/Lock Up) on dual vocals, was a Testament style death-thrash face-pounder which took just two and a half minutes to leave indelible scars; aggressive thrash at its finest.

Stripped back and bloodily raw, “Zombie 13”, “A Vile Congregation” and “Torn By The Tooth” were mid-album killers, all continuing the savage thrash attack and avoiding the dreaded status of ‘filler’ but it was on “Thrashing Crew” where Anti Social Engineering reached its zenith. Take it from us, “Thrashing Crew” can officially be added to the list of ultimate thrash anthems; a call to arms to rival Megadeth’s “Rattlehead”, Testament’s “Into The Pit” and Exodus’ “Bonded By Blood“. Featuring guest vo-kills from Sy Keeler (Onslaught), Coke Finlay (Virus) and Jason McLoughlin (D.A.M.), the burgeoning reputation of UK thrash could not have be better represented and “Thrashing Crew” was a pit-inducing whirlwind of lacerating riffs and larynx-ripping vocals.

Closing with the epic “I Am The Beholder”, a suffocatingly crushing blast of 80’s thrash which builds and builds in intensity as the speed increases and Si Cobb’s vocals become ever more feral, this immense track was the perfect way to close an old-school thrash album that fearlessly embraced a modern audience’s desire for face-melting riffs and 100% committed performances.

If you need a frighteningly accurate snapshot of modern life in the UK (and beyond) – set to a backdrop of blistering, seething thrash, of course – then look no further than Anti Social Engineering.

About Chris Jennings (1986 Articles)
I love metal. Always have. Always will. As editor of Worship Metal - a site dedicated to being as positive about metal and its myriad of sub-genres as possible - my aim is to 'worship' metal through honest reviews, current news and a wide variety of features; offering the same exposure to underground bands as we do to mainstream/well known acts. Our mantra; the bands are partners and we exist to serve the bands \m/

10 Comments on The 10 Greatest Thrash Releases Of 2015

  1. Morti Viventi – The day the dead returned
    Distillator – Revolutionary Cells
    Best two for mine

  2. Hellbastard – Feral.

  3. Forgotten Horror, Aeon of the Shadow Goddess. Does it for me. I am enjoying discovering some of the bands on this list. Great job!

  4. Intrinsic #2!!! That is so awesome! We are so grateful. Thanks!

  5. Two of my favorite thrash albums this year are:

    Best: Inculter – Persisting Devolution
    2nd Best: Division Speed – Division Speed

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.