10 Best thrash metal albums of 2013
While 2013 was not the richest year for thrash music, it certainly served up some neck-snapping gems. Some of our choices below have some crossover impact, but all are thrash at heart. Some Honorable Mentions go to the likes of Annihilator, Revocation, Havok, Hatchet and Warbringer. You can check out our 2012 list if you feel like reminiscing a bit.
10. Sodom – Epitome of Torture (Steamhammer/SPV)
When the going gets tough, the tough get thrashing. That seems to be the key to success and the sheer awesomeness that so many old thrash bands have stuck to. Sodom is not excluded. Sodom, sweet Sodom, ever so reliable and happily predictable. They’re the thrash equivalent of your favorite concert t-shirt. It’s always there for you, it’s comfortable, beer soaked and you go way back together. “Epitome of Torture” is an extremely guitar-oriented album, if there ever was one. Sodom is a band that have never been too proud or overconfident. They have always followed a pragmatic approach, and that is what makes them good! This is yet another slab of righteous, riotous thrash with tons of hooks, and it demands the horns be raised high in homage. And yes, those Germans are still around and are still releasing devastating stuff. – Owais ‘Vitek’ Nabi
9. Power Trip – Manifest Decimation (Southern Lord)
Dallas metal desecrators bring their own brand of hardcore thrash to the table. A notable debut record that will strain your neck muscles and shred your sinews. There is plenty of muscular riff and chug combined with rapid fire bursts of tasty solos from Blake Ibanez and Nick Stewart. Riley Gale’s dominating vocals are dynamic and beastly. The dual Chris’s, Whetzel (bass) and Ulsh (drums) lay down a solid rhythmic foundation for the band’s aggressive attack. One could complain about some of the cavernous production values, but this is in fact some of what makes the album stand out. This is an album that makes you want to get in the pit and hit some shit. Let the decimation begin.
8. Megadeth – Super Collider (Tradecraft/Universal)
You can deride this album all you want for its relative lack or thrashiness, but Mustaine and company have put together a hell of an album here. Why all the hate? It seems the majority of people out there expect Mustaine and Megadeth to template its sonic signature and release slightly modified copies every few years for public consumption. Super Collider is one of the best Megadeth offerings in years precisely because the band has taken some risks and shown the ability to step outside the thrash and speed box they helped pioneer. Megadeth is more than a one-riff pony, and the variety displayed here is perhaps long overdue from these metal icons who no longer have anything to prove. Let the elitists pass over one of the band’s finer moments so they can languish in their limited comfort-zones. Super Collider delivers on every level and those who take the time to soak it in will hear its magnitude.
7. Voivod – Target Earth (Century Media)
With “Target Earth” Voivod not only keep Denis “Piggy” D’Amour’s memory alive but breathe new life one of metal most iconic legacies. The spirit of Piggy soars onward through equal parts emulation, respect, and enthusiasm. “Killing Technology“ (1987), “Dimension Hatröss” (1988), “Nothingface” (1989) and “Angel Rat” (1991) are arguably Voivod’s best and most seminal works, and “Target Earth” fits right into that mix as if it were born of that era. The vocal performances are among Denis “Snake” Bélanger’s best in over two decades, while his lyrics continue to intrigue. Michel “Away” Langevin remains one of metals elite and most overlooked skinmasters, and the distorted rumble of Jean-Yves “Blacky” Thériault’s bass marks a welcome return. New guitarist, Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain performs with soul and emotion, paying homage to the departed D’Amour, while staying true to his own heart and style. All of these elements come together on “Target Earth” in an inspired, freakishly weird, imaginatively wondrous, and oddly beautiful album.
6. Death Angel – The Dream Calls for Blood (Nuclear Blast)
Bay Area thrash lords, Death Angel, have long been one of metal’s more overlooked bands. Barely out of high school and pimples when the band broke onto the scene in 1982, they return some three decades on with a most impressive follow-up to 2010’s brutal, “Relentless Retribution“. Still driven by guitarist Rob Cavestany and vocalist Mark Osegueda, the band’s fiery riffage and highbrow lyrics continue to set them apart. Less experimental than its previous effort, “The Dream Calls for Blood” is simply an aggressive, throat-ripping, skull-crusher that bleeds violent intent. Osegueda in particular shines here with some intense and menacing vocal work. This is a full-scale thrash barrage of the highest caliber.
5. Hatriot – Heroes of Origin (Massacre Records)
While Steve “Zetro” Souza has never really left the metal scene, Hatriot feels like a return for the singer nonetheless. One listen to “Heroes of Origin” and I’m reminded of the title to one of the records Zetro did with his former band, Exodus: “Impact is imminent“. The album hits hard, and drives the rage home with relentless aggression. Not that this comes as much of a surprise as we got a taste of the album with the band’s four track EP in 2012. The full record simply extrapolates the blistering attack over 10 full tracks. Hatriot has encapsulated with its debut album a neoteric rendering of classic Legacy and Exodus. The band adds occasional blast beats and even death metals elements in places, but stripped down this is retro Zetro, with a twist.
4. Skeletonwitch – Serpents Unleashed (Prosthetic)
Skeletonwitch plays a unique style of blackened thrash that also mixes in some of the 80’s flair as well as an old school doom metal vibe. Not only have these guys been consistent over the years, but they have also kept to their roots and only get better at their craft as the years pass by. Every song, every melody, every note just screams metal and everything good about it. I may be exaggerating this a little, but in all honesty, you don’t see many bands carrying on as strongly as Skeletonwitch does. In “Serpents Unleashed“, there isn’t much progression in their sound from the previous record, but you can’t help notice the subtle changes that differ. The solid production, tightened instrumentals, and effective songwriting are the elements that elevated this opus to one of the top albums of 2013. – Jeffrey Allee
3. Violator – Scenarios of Brutality (Kill Again)
There exist many metalheads out there who say the last of the great thrash bands died out in the 80?s and early 90?s. Those that claim this have clearly not heard of Brazilian metal masters, Violator, the forerunners in this “New Wave of Thrash Metal” trend, who, with their new release “Scenarios of Brutality“, show that thrash is still a viable force in metal. After listening to this record, one thing is clear, the band’s main focus has always been to produce a 100% pure aggressive, in-your-face traditional thrash metal album. Another important factor which shines in this album are the arrangements, bucking the ‘one riff, one song trend by stuffing every track with at least four or five riffs. Simply put, this is a phenomenal sounding metal record. – Owais ‘Vitek’ Nabi
2. Battlecross – War of Will (Metal Blade)
Battlecross play a style of “blue collar thrash metal” that can easily be described as a mix of melodic thrash and death metal, saturated with influences from both American and European metal. This marks the band’s sophomore effort, and the growth is noticeable from the band’s stellar debut, “Pursuit of Honor“. The album was produced by Mark Lewis (Trivium, DevilDriver, Chimaira) and Jason Suecof (Whitechapel, Motionless in White, Job For a Cowboy). The latter also laid down a guest solo. Joey Vera (Armored Saint, Fate’s Warning) mastered the album. With “War of Will” the guys have forged a brutal effort. Kyle Gunther‘s beastly vocals lead the charge, and the guitar duo of Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala shine like the diamond tip blade of a buzzsaw. Don Slater‘s low end rumble fits perfectly into the mix and plays a perfect rhythmic counterpoint to guest drummer Shannon Lucas‘ (The Black Dahlia Murder, All That Remains) stick and pedal work. Check out our interview with Tony Asta.
1. Warbeast – Destroy (Housecore)
The Texas thrash titans return with a blistering scorcher of an album after a nice split, “War of the Gargantuas” earlier this year. Bruce Corbitt and company have bloodied our collective ears with this menacing slab of retro-thrash nirvana, making a “Destroy” a poetic title. As one fan put it: “This album will te raar off your face then use it for a floor mat!” I concur. The band’s 2010 debut, “Krush the Enemy” was powerful, but “Destroy” is much heavier, more technical, and far more brutal. Housecore Records founder and former Pantera frontman, Phil Anselmo produced the album if that gives you any indication of how raw and neck-wringing this album is. Every instrument is allowed to shine: The drums and bass are teeth-rattling and the guitars crush. Corbitt’s vocals are corrosive and ferocious. Plenty of speed and groove to go around. A+ Check out our interview with Bruce Corbitt.