It’s common knowledge that 1986 was one of the greatest years in thrash metal and while the big hitters (Metallica, Slayer etc) were already onto their 3rd albums, there was still a huge number of bands bursting onto the scene with outstanding debut albums in hand!
Not ranked, just presented in alphabetical order…..
Angel Dust – Into The Dark Past [Germany]
Before they fully embraced power metal, Germany’s Angel Dust had a pop at thrash and as debuts go, Into The Dark Past was a fast, frantic, thrill ride! Resolutely obsessed with speed over finesse, these 8 ripping tracks were less Sodom and Kreator and more Iron Angel; a thrilling hybrid of speed and thrash that was equal parts melody and barbarity.
Romme Keymer’s vocals may have received a bit of stick over the years but they fit the music perfectly. Ugly, forceful, yet furnished with glimpses of power metal harmony, Keymer was actually an unorthodox yet perfect match-up.
Fans of Agent Steel, Grave Digger and Helloween should already be aware of Angel Dust‘s early output. Those who missed out the first time round should applaud the recent re-release of Into The Dark Past on No Remorse Records as this relatively unsung contribution to early German thrash is ripe for rediscovery.
Carrion – Evil Is There! (1986) [Switzerland]
The perfect encapsulation of underground thrash in 1986, Swiss thrashers Carrion – you might know them better as Poltergeist(!) – released just one album before changing their name to the titular spectral house-wrecker.
Noticably less technical than the output of Poltergeist, Evil Is There! is a bare bones thrash release with any ‘frash-fat’ picked clean to leave a pure, straightforward and relentless experience.
Brutally simplistic and simply brutal, Carrion could still showcase a little melody from time to time – check out the intro to “The Avenger” – but it’s the lightning-quick riffing found on the the likes of “Demon’s Child” that retains its edge.
Cro-Mags – The Age Of Quarrel [USA]
A legendary debut, The Age Of Quarrel saw the Cro-Mags define the hardcore movement in 15 easy lessons!
A sickle-sharp, metallic sound that was rooted to a blue-collar sensibility, the concise delivery of the hard-hitting “World Peace”, “We Gotta Know”, “Street Justice” and “Hard Times” brawled their way into your head, insistent, impossible to ignore and delivered with brass-knuckles on.
Few albums can capture pure rage and emotion as perfectly as this, the reality of street life rampaging through the very heart of each track and through each vocal frustration delivered by the incomparable John Joseph.
Consider The Age Of Quarrel the crossover equivalent of Slayer’s Reign In Blood….because it’s that influential and that genre-defining!
Détente – Recognize No Authority [USA]
The late, great Dawn Crosby’s (1963-1996) unhinged vocals lift this cult curio into the realms of cult classic and Détente’s ferocious punk/thrash/hardcore hybrid marks out Recognize No Authority as a must hear thrash album from 1986!
Détente may be renowned for housing nu-metal producer extraordinaire Ross Robinson (guitars) but in ’86 it was all about the breakneck blue-collar thrash. Storming through the likes of warp-speed slug-fests such as “Losers”, “Shattered Illusions” and the sublime “Holy War”, Détente could never be accused of world-changing originality but they did whip up one hell of a storm on their only 80’s release.
The world would wait a further 24 years for a follow up (2010’s faithful but ironically titled Decline) but it’s Dawn Crosby’s raw shriek that elevates Recognise No Authority above the also rans of 1986.
Dawn Crosby and Détente; gone but certainly not forgotten.
Exumer – Possessed By Fire [Germany]
Exumer’s Possessed By Fire is a perfectly executed exercise in bestial devastation and should have elevated these Germans to superstar status.
Completely unpredictable, Exumer’s sound is defiantly thrash but not as intimidatingly raw as the albums produced at the time by their peers Destruction, Sodom and Kreator. In fact, at this stage in their career Exumer were the more accomplished musicians; each track running the gamut of time changes and mood-swings and exhibiting an addiction to attention deficit that still makes Possessed By Fire nigh on impossible to resist.
A legendary cult item, Exumer’s debut is one outrageously ornate thrash album that will continue to attract new fans, its schizoid attitude and countless charms are just too damn addictable!