Top 10 Thrash Metal Albums of 2014
There’s just something about a good thrash album to set your teeth on edge and make your neck tense with anticipation. 2014 offered up an onslaught of great new thrash albums from iconic heroes of the genre to a brood of up-and-coming fresh talents. We finally got our long-awaited and tragically final Rigor Mortis record, as well as some new thrash and groove from Cavalera Conspiracy. Iron Reagan delivered a solid bit of tongue-in-cheek, riff-mangling mayhem this year as well, and Savage Messiah pushed the envelope of thrash and power metal with its latest offering. Finally, Hirax also delivered the goods with its newest effort. Honorable mentions, one and all.
It was a tough call narrowing down our Top 10 for the year. Each staffer kicked in their suggestions and the fans got a chance to vote as well. What lies below is the cumulative effort of our thoughts and your votes–and here you have it…
The Teutonic terrors of alcoholic thrash are at it again. There is nothing new here: Tankard is not looking to reinvent the wheel, besides if they did they’d just drive it into a tree anyway. R.I.B. is just a pure, unadulterated thrash party—beefy, ugly, and leering. Groundbreaking—no, infectious and addictive—hell yes!
Finland’s youthfully furious thrashers return only one year after their lauded 2013 debut with an even more impressive sophomore effort. Terror Hungry takes the band into even darker territory without sacrificing blistering riffage or neck-snapping drum work (or their sense of humor). This record is oozing menace and a somewhat hostile attitude. Boot-to-teeth thrash. You’re welcome.
Brazilian thrash trio, Nervosa dropped one of the most intriguing albums of 2014 with Victim of Yourself. Most people will notice foremost that they are an all-female act, but beyond the aesthetics is where the true beauty can be found. Nervosa deliver up an album of muscular and brutish metal that encompasses the best of all that thrash is from American retro the likes of Slayer to Teutonic elements the likes of Kreator and Destruction.
Spain has been dishing out some amazing thrash talent of late (see Reek below), and Exodia brings it hard, fast, and frenzied on its sophomore effort, Hellbringer. Rampaging riffs riding the back of furious drum work. Much of the album is built for mosh tilts and sweat inducing mayhem. One is thankful for the moments where they let up long enough to allow the listener a quick gasp of breath.
Bring on the annihilation, Germany’s Dust Bolt is back with its sophomore album, and its a bruiser. Fans of both the Kreator and Slayer ilk receive plenty to sink their teeth into here. Awake the Riot is a sonic wrecking ball; impossibly heavy while equally aggressive and driving. The future is bright–and terrifying.
Spain’s Reek teased us in 2012 with its debut EP, but Necrogenesis lives up to the promise of that first offering. The band’s sound combines elements of retro Bay Area thrash with innovative and progressive modern elements. The blitzkrieg attack is balanced by intelligent performances, and technical dexterity. An unassuming debut that is not to be overlooked.
The Teutonic messengers of progressive technical thrash have delivered another superbly crafted gem. The band’s first full album of new material since 2010’s Wandering on the Edge of Time, continues the same journey, taking different roads to reach a similar destination. In a Mirror Darkly is one of the most unheralded and intelligent thrash metal albums of the year.
The habitually overlooked and underrated, Overkill dropped its 17th neck-snapping album this year. White Devil Armory is one more pulverizing piece of evidence that this band should be in the Big 4 of American Thrash. Bobby Blitz Ellsworth and company continue to deliver top-notch thrash in their unapologetic, leave-no-skull-uncracked way.
Perhaps less thrash than it is “war metal”, the SoCal cranium crushers eschew labels for triturating riffage and sternum-caving rhythms. Still, the relentless and driving fretwork speak of the band’s thrash forefathers even as they dabble in death, power and technical elements. A muscular and beastly album that makes one want to choose up arms and charge into battle.
The legendary purveyors of Bay Area thrash metal delivered a bludgeoning hit this summer with the release of Blood In Blood Out. It marks the return of the quintet’s most notable vocalist, Steve “Zetro” Souza, who brings his unabashed intensity to the mix. Exodus has seldom sounded so relentless. With Souza back in the fold, Exodus reclaimed its vintage thrash devastation and trademark aggression on Blood In, Blood Out. Easily the band’s most complete effort in a decade. Blistering fretwork, and pulverizing rhythms combined with Zetro’s caustic vocal attack to create a slab of neck-snapping mayhem. Credit guitarist Gary Holt with keeping Exodus among thrash’s most potent and relevant bands.