2021 found THRASH METAL in rude health with old bands and new unleashing a torrent of high-quality albums for us hardened thrashers to feast upon.
Whether these albums embraced technicality and a modern approach or notably honoured the old-school pioneers of the scene, the results were the same – sheer head-banging nirvana!
Here’s our pick of the 20 Greatest Thrash Albums of 2021….
Dead Heat – World At War [USA]
Released: June 5th, 2021 via Triple-B Records
Following on from 2019’s decent debut album, Certain Death, came Dead Heat’s sophomore crossover shit-kicker World At War, a release which gave us more of the same crossover thrash but upped the ante in almost every department.
You know what to expect, right? The kind of frenzied hardcore-inflected 80s thrash which was the bread and butter of such luminaries as Leeway, Attitude Adjustment, Excel and Crumbsuckers (with more than a little Vio-Lence and Exodus thrown in for good measure).
Which is exactly what we got! Sharing a kinship with Power Trip’s almighty Nightmare Logic (2019), this monster of an album brought the free-thinking, mosh-pit-baiting, rebellious sounds of the 80s front and centre. Which means that Dead Heat were hardly breaking new ground but they were retro-fitting their noise for long time, rabid fans of the genre…..and they did it bloody well!
Witches Hammer – Devourer Of The Dead [Canada]
Released: December 17th, 2021 via Nuclear War Now! Productions
Band forms in the 1980’s. Band releases 1 EP, building a cult name for themselves. Band then does fuck all for the best part of 3 decades. Band then releases 2 full length albums in the space of 2 years. That band? Witches fuckin’ Hammer!
With no real desire to deliver a modern sounding album, Devourer Of The Dead simply rewinds the clock back to extreme metal’s infancy and lets rip with all manner of blackly thrashing, proto-death metal rage.
Gloriously lo-fi, raw and feral, Witches Hammer sound as if they’ve barely aged a day since those halcyon days of discovery back in the mid 1980’s and it’s to their credit that they sound this vital, vigorous and downright vicious, decades after they’d originally called it quits.
Home Style Surgery – Brain Drill Poetry [Finland]
Released: November 19th, 2021 via Metal On Metal Records
A schizophrenic experience, Home Style Surgery‘s Brain Drill Poetry seemed to squeeze over 35 years of thrash history into a whirlwind 33 minutes of progressive thrash extravagance!
With elements of Realm, Forbidden, Anthrax, Intruder, Voivod, Municipal Waste and Testament sneaking in, a sense of Home Style Surgery‘s true identity remained hidden behind a technically audacious set of songs that tried to take the best bits of the aforementioned bands and wring some sense out of it – unsurprisingly the results were hit and miss. But the hits, when they landed, were massive.
With a vocalist who skipped between John Bush’s gruff delivery, highs delivered in the style of Realm‘s Mark Antoni and a Chuck Billy-sized roar, these disparate styles were, again, not always easy to digest but when Home Style Surgery‘s Frankenstein’s monster of an album did come to life – such as on “Fade Into Grey” – the results were electrifying!
Violblast – Lazarus Abandoned [Spain]
Released: Independently on February 27th, 2021
Spanish thrashers Violblast blasted back in 2021 with Lazarus Abandoned, their blistering follow-up to 2019’s Theater Of Despair…..and it was clear that they were as rabid as ever!
Home to the kind of wall-of-sound thrash that threatened to engulf the senses, Lazarus Abandoned was as feral as they come, ably combining a modern metal sound with old-school thrash influences.
A slightly lacklustre production lessened its impact but, fundamentally, Violblast went for the throat; slashing and tearing until nothing but unrecognisable viscera remained. Lovely.
Eternal Evil – The Warriors Awakening Brings the Unholy Slaughter [Sweden]
Released: November 26th, 2021vi Redefining Darkness Records
These teenaged upstarts unleashed a vile tirade of the nastiest, old-school blackened thrash imaginable with their debut album, the fabulously titled The Warriors Awakening Brings the Unholy Slaughter.
With the best bits of Slayer‘s Show No Mercy, Destruction‘s Infernal Overkill and Sodom‘s Obsessed By Cruelty mercilessly mined for inspiration, Eternal Evil simply let rip with the kind of unrefined clatter that made the mid 80s such an exciting time to be alive!
The most violent of riffs, most maniacal of vocals and a suitably shite production made The Warriors Awakening Brings the Unholy Slaughter all the more authentic and while we’ve heard this shit a million times before….once more certainly won’t harm anyone.