Who doesn’t love some thrash? When you need to let out some aggression and the traditional stuff just isn’t enough, you need something a little more powerful, a little more energetic and little bit faster, right? Well, that’s how it started at least, borrowing the gallop from the NWOBHM, stripping away some of the melody and tossing in some punk attitude and rhythm work.
There were primitive rumblings of this new style’s formation around the world with radically different styles between the Bay Area, the East Coast of the U.S., Brazil and Germany primarily. The Bay Area was undeniably the most potent as Metallica, Exodus, Testament dominated the circuit with this ferocious new brand of metal with Slayer and Megadeth not far from reach elsewhere in California.
On the East Coast, Anthrax and Overkill had a decidedly different sound, especially as Anthrax leaned on crossover, hardcore and punk more than their contemporaries, while Overkill stuck to their own vision, wavering very little throughout their career, putting attitude first and foremost.
Outside of the United States, a number of acts were mucking up thrash’s sound, shoveling dirt on it as they walked the line between thrash and proto-death metal. The Teutonic 4 (Kreator, Sodom, Destruction, Tankard) ramped up the intensity, playing far faster than any of the stateside acts in the earliest days. Meanwhile, Sepultura put Brazil on the metal map, also balancing on the extreme metal tightrope.
As the ’90s approached, groove saturated heavy metal entirely as Pantera carried the torch, keeping the spirit of metal lit throughout the decade. Thrashers were quick to adapt, but most of them failed to contribute much of note, half-heartedly trying to keep pace as the style nearly went extinct.
Fortunately, the new millennium brought a massive resurgence as old school fans were either sick of groove, pining for the old days and a new generation of headbangers clung to the classics, inspired by thrash’s originators and heaped not-so-subtle praise unto their heroes. The neo-thrash movement yielded an entirely new crop of thrash acts that have continued to keep this beloved genre alive as the godfathers roared back with new age classics of their own, ensuring there was plenty to go around after that mostly bereft dark period.
With the history out of the way, it’s time to look at the best thrash has had to offer since 1983, the year the genre was firmly established. What are you waiting for? Turn to the gallery at the top of the page and start scrolling through the Best Thrash Album of Each Year Since 1983!
PLAYLISTS: Follow Loudwire’s ‘Early Thrash’ and ’21st Century Thrash’ playlists on Spotify, featuring 150 genre-defining songs each!
The Best Thrash Album of Each Year Since 1983
A history of the best thrash metal albums, year by year.
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