Second albums. Difficult for some. But not for these talented bastards.
Presented in order of release as opposed to any kind of ranking….
Metallica – Ride The Lightning (1984) [USA]
Released almost a year to the day after their genre defining debut, Kill ‘Em All, hit the shelves, Metallica’s monumental progression was palpable and Ride The Lightning should be revered as Metallica’s greatest achievement (Yes, we rate it above Master Of Puppets).
From the misleading medieval acoustic intro to “Fight Fire With Fire” – which culminates in one of Metallica’s most neck wrecking songs – to “Creeping Death”, a song that deserves its place in the metal hall of fame, Ride The Lightning remains virtually untouchable.
This album slayed the competition during the genre’s formative years and laid down an insurmountable challenge to their peers; this is thrash, Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett and Burton roared in your face…..can you beat it? Unsurprisingly, not many could!
As electrifying today as it was nearly 40(!) years ago.
Anthrax – Spreading The Disease (1985) [USA]
Spreading The Disease is an undeniable thrash classic. Sophisticated and controlled – yet bouncy and energetic enough to get any mosh-pit jumping – it was on this album that Anthrax found their melodic yet crunching sound; a sound that catapulted them to the forefront of the then fledgeling thrash metal scene.
Benefitting from Joey Belladonna’s relatively unique-to-thrash singing style, Spreading The Disease is home to some of Anthrax’s greatest tracks with “A.I.R”, “Madhouse”, “Medusa” and “Gung Ho” still registering high on the thrash richter scale.
If 1985 was renowned for anything it was for Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth making their mark on the thrash scene and Spreading The Disease was an undeniably important release. Metallica had some serious competition to contend with and The Big 4 were upon us!
Razor – Evil Invaders (1985) [Canada]
Canada’s Razor released 2 albums in 1985 but with its sharp riffing and bone-crushing songs, sophomore effort Evil Invaders just edges Executioner’s Song as the better of the two.
Thrash metal doesn’t come thrashier – or more metallic for that matter – than this auditory assault on the senses that can literally strip skin from bone (or endo-skeleton, if the cover art is anything to go by).
“Tortured Skull” and “Instant Death” are the highlights but the whole album hits warp speed for the majority of its running time so you may as well just sit back, crack open a beer and consume it all (beer and album)!
Slayer – Hell Awaits (1985) [USA]
Slayer‘s Hell Awaits was conceived to shock and awe…..and it worked, perfectly!
In 1985, Hell Awaits was the sound of pure evil filtered through squealing feedback, archaic chanting and progressively technical dark-thrash odes to Satan and his happy home. The ghastly and terrifying title-track remains one of Slayer’s defining moments while “Necrophiliac” and “Kill Again” foreshadowed Reign In Blood‘s oncoming speed and ferocity.
Slayer were arguably never this progressively minded again and Hell Awaits has stood the test of time as a cornerstone in thrash metal and extreme metal’s development.
Dark Angel – Darkness Descends (1986) [USA]
Unbridled ferocity, technical supremacy and relentless aural battery….is there a more succinct description of what is arguably the greatest thrash metal album of all time?
Featuring the likes of the rampaging “Merciless Death”, the incendiary “The Burning Of Sodom” and the progressively minded “Black Prophecies“, the first indication of the 100+ riffs per song and epic song length mentality the band would explore on later releases was writ large on Dark Angel‘s terrifyingly tenacious, genre-defining, sophomore effort.
The eerie yet elegant bass intro to the aforementioned “Merciless Death” aside, moments of respite were few and far between on Darkness Descends, as Dark Angel focused on thrashing harder, faster and with more gritted teeth malevolence than any other band on the planet…..and that includes the mighty Slayer!