Thrash Metal is one of the most popular genres to be recognised in the Metal music spectrum not only from a standpoint of metalheads in general but also in mainstream media and rightly so. With bands like the Big Four of Thrash popularising the genre in the 80s followed by the Teutonic Thrash bands, and many of the other Bay Area and East Coast Bands. The genre saw a decline in the 90s as the Grunge scene took over and quite a few of the bands who pioneered the genre in the first place either went with the flow and experimented with their sounds (Metallica, Anthrax, etc.) or the sales of most of the thrash metal bands was severely affected in some way or the other. However, at the turn of the century, Thrash Metal scene was witnessing a resurgence of sorts with bands like Slayer returning with an album like God Hates Us. All after a few detours into the Nu Metal waters with albums like Diabolus in Musica and Anthrax returning with a more Thrash tinged album in the form of their record We’ve Come For You All and while the classic bands were trying to return to their old form, new bands formed like Vektor, Havok, Evile, etc. who released some of the very best records this genre has to offer in this century. 2016, was a year where a metalhead could safely say that it was the year of thrash with not only the legends but also the modern bands coming out with some of the best, most potent albums in the genre which was brought back to life from the brink of obsolescence.
The following list of Ten Best Thrash Metal bands who have put out great material in recent years and are still going strong despite the odds being stacked up against them. We have included Thrash Metal bands from both the old school and new school category.
10. Overkill – Spearheaded by Bobby Blitz and D.D. Verni, Overkill, though one of the oldest bands in the Thrash Metal scenario (formed in 1980), they were always the lesser known band in comparison to the bay area bands and their east coast contemporaries as well. However, they never compromised on their playing and style and churned one phenomenal album after the other. With a vile blend of Punk and NWOBHM elements incorporated together, their brand of thrash always stood apart. Their latest offering ‘The Grinding Wheel‘ is once again the Overkill brand of Thrash Metal and the unrelenting speed and brutality is never a tiresome journey and we hope that the mammoths of Thrash continue to make great records for years to come.
9. Exumer – These German mammoths who reformed in 2001 briefly and then again in 2008 have been going strong. Two powerful records in the 21st century and it doesn’t seem like the band has any plans to look back. Their latest release ‘The Raging Tides‘ was a monster of an album and one which could easily put most of the new Thrash Metal bands to shame.
8. Anthrax – The most underrated of the Big 4 of Thrash, their 2003 record ‘We’ve Come For You All‘ was a record which redeemed the band in a way as it was a record which was a return to the more heavier spectrum of metal with a pinch of Thrash following their previous releases under the John Bush era but, it was not until 2011’s ‘Worship Music‘ which was the first album featuring Joey Belladona that the band really shifted its gears and put out a record which is arguably their best in a long time featuring some thrashers like Fight Em Till You Can’t, The Giant and more. Their latest release ‘For All Kings‘ was a more focused and cohesive offering which was a well balanced mix of some mid-tempo Thrashers like ‘You Gotta Believe‘ and ‘Evil Twin‘ to some of the more heavier tracks (Also featuring ‘Blood Eagle Wings‘ which is the bands biggest song in their entire discography) and a balls out finisher ‘Zero Tolerance‘ which could might as well be one of their fastest track alongside Gung Ho.
7. Havok – One of the bands which formed in the 21st Century. Havok plays a vile blend of thrash in the veins of Bay Area mammoths Exodus while adding its own unique touch. The band has put out some very strong releases the most critically acclaimed of which happens to be their sophomore effort titled, ‘Time is Up‘. That album paired alongside their debut full-length release ‘Burn‘ are some of the best thrash metal releases in the modern era. Their last offering ‘Unnatural Selection‘ was a more mid-tempo thrasher, it still was a very powerful record. The band is now gearing up for their 4th album titled ‘Conformicide‘ which is set to release in March this year.
6. Kreator – One of the most well known bands from the German thrash metal scene, Kreator has consistently been putting out records worthy of accolades with some of the best albums in this century like ‘Phantom Antichrist‘ and their latest Record ‘Gods of Violence‘ with the latter featuring some new elements (albeit very little) and it looks like Kreator is not going to stop the Thrash Metal madness anytime soon!
5. Death Angel – Ever since the band reformed in 2001, Death Angel has been releasing some quality albums each better than the last. With easily distinguishable vocals of Mark Osegueda and the phenomenal instrumentation, Death Angel had always been a band overlooked in the 80s, however, their revival was more than enough to create a buzz. Their latest offering titled ‘Evil Divide‘ is one of the best the band has made and it stands on par with with their classics. It also features Andreas Kisser from Sepultura in one of their tracks and it would be surprising if this band still does not get the respect it deserves.
4. Voivod – The most underrated band of its time, Voivod is the band which still releases quality Thrash. Their EP ‘Post Society‘ which was released in 2016 is a proof. The band released their full-length titled ‘Target Earth‘ in 2013 which was essentially the first to not feature Piggy (RIP) on guitars and even though the legend passed away years ago yet, the band has soldiered on bravely and it seems they are not keen on pulling the plug anytime soon.
3. Exodus – While Exodus had been existing even before most Thrash Metal bands, they never got their due as much as the Big 4 did, possibly because line-up changes and bad marketing decisions but that hasn’t stopped them from making some of the best Thrash Metal albums in this century and the last. With the the return of Steve Souza (his third outing with the band) and their first record with him (also their tenth full-length record) since ‘Tempo of the Damned‘ album titled ‘Blood in, Blood Out‘ which was released in 2014, was a breath of fresh air with more compact and relatively shorter tracks full of energy and piercing vocals Steve has always been known for and while Rob Dukes was handling the vocal department really well for the band, Steve was the vocalist for Exodus for the majority of the band’s fans. The band is working on their next full-length currently and it looks like this record will also be a blistering assault of thrash and brutality. Read our old interview with Steve from Exodus here.
2. Vektor – Vektor really upped their game by releasing possibly one of the best thrash metal albums in this decade titled ‘Terminal Redux‘. As of now, the only member left is the vocalist and guitarist Dave DiSanto but the three full-length albums the band has released are absolute gems and the very mix of thrash with progressive elements (something Voivod is also known for) and the Chuck Schuldiner-like vocals by DiSanto make this band stand apart from the sea of other thrash bands which have come to exist in recent times. While the future of the band now seems uncertain but the mark they have made is one which will stay for generations to come.
1. Testament – One of the most famous bands who were not part of the Big 4, the bay area legends have been on a roll since they released ‘Formation of Damnation‘ in 2008. The follow up to that release, ‘Dark Roots of Earth‘ was a step up from the predecessor as well containing some really great tracks and also consists of Alex Skolnick‘s most memorable solos in the song ‘True American Hate‘ and their recent release ‘Brotherhood of the Snake‘ just seems a step up from both the albums that Testament has released in the 21st century. The band has released some earth shattering albums, one after the other and each more cohesive than the other. While the band never made it as big as its bay area contemporaries in the Thrash Metal heydays, it’s Testament who are now coming out with the strongest old-school Thrash Metal material and hope so will continue to do so.
Honourable Mentions : Metallica, Slayer, Onslaught, Annihilator, Anvil, Destruction.
[PS: The original images belong to the rightful owners. No copyright infringement intended.]
Anirudh Gollapudi (Metaljesus Magazine)