Top 10 Thrash Metal albums of 2015
As we wrap up the year and look around at the various “best of” metal lists piling up across the World Wide Web, there seems to be a glaring absence of thrash albums. I’d like to say this is something new, but our much beloved Thrash continues to get the shaft from the hipster metal elitist critics. Critics = heretics. Pffft.
For the second year in a row, Metalholic threw up this year’s list via nominations and voting from fans around the globe. The results were a mix of the expected and the surprising. Having now allotted a solid amount of time for your votes followed by the staff sitting around with no small amount of Colorado brownies and more than a few bottles of Jack and PBR, we have carved out our Top 10 picks for 2015.
Be forewarned, if you’re looking for Slayer on this list, you will be sorely disappointed, (as were most Slayer fans when they heard Repentless): Perhaps one of the year’s biggest disappointments. Other notable thrash albums that came very close were Deathhammer’s Evil Power and Gama Bomb’s Untouchable Glory. Sound off below with your thoughts on this year’s list.
Honorable Mention: Mörti Viventi – The Day the Dead Returned…
To start it all off, we have to throw up massive horns for Mörti Viventi and all of their/his loyal and devout followers whose votes counted for more than half of all the votes combined. This could easily be hailed as the best Thrash album of the year, and most of us did not get our ears on it until early 2015, but alas it was released in October 2014, so it technically did not qualify. However, if it did, it would be wrestling for the #1 spot this year, for sure. Adrian “Aidy” J. Heathershaw, who IS Mörti Viventi, as he handles all instruments and vocals, has created a fucking beastly masterpiece, and if you haven’t heard it yet get your ass over to his Bandcamp page and give it a listen and a purchase.
10. Angelus Apatrida – Hidden Evolution (Century Media) Voter Rank #11
Thrash metal bands are often stereotyped as being predictable and painfully restrictive in their approach towards making music. Not so for Angelus Apatrida who mince no words while expressing their views on social and political issues plaguing our society, whether its war, media propaganda or even age-old national traditions like bull fighting. With Hidden Evolution, they continue in the same vein right from the artwork to the last lyric on the album. The reader’s #11 pick lands at #10 on our Top 10 list for 2015.
9. Distillator – Revolutionary Cells (Empire) Voter Rank #10
Hailing from the Netherlands, Dutch trio Distillator dropped an amazing debut album on old school thrash fans this year. Revolutionary Cells is steeped in the energy of thrash metal’s forefathers, but done in a manner that bespeaks respect rather than rip-off. There is also a fresh infusion of modern thrash to be found as well, but it is all blended together then bulldozed through your cranium. The band plays with attitude and urgency, and they somehow manage to set themselves a part from the crowd with riffs that feel fresh and a sense of purpose. The reader’s #10 pick lands at #9 on our Top 10 list for 2015.
8. Ultra-Violence – Deflect the Flow (Candlelight) Voter Rank #7
Italy’s Ultra-Violence unleashed its sophomore album this year, making a decisive statement in the process. The album is packed with rumbling chuggers and whiplash inducing riffers that attack mercilessly. The band’s Clockwork Orange obsession remains intact on Deflect the Flow, as does its passion for retro, Bay Area machinations. Solid production and mature individual performances from each member add weight to the album’s success. The only flaw might be the records lengthy running time. Sometimes less is more. The reader’s #7 pick lands at #8 on our Top 10 list for 2015.
7. Black Fast – Terms of Surrender (eOne Music) Voter Rank #5
If you are looking for the best of technical thrash this year, look no further. Terms of Surrender marks the sophomore full-length release for St. Louis progressive thrashers, Black Fast. The new album finds the quartet taking a solid leap forward, while remaining rooted in its death-thrash moorings. A furious blend of neck-snapping riffs and relentless rhythms, Black Fast prove its highly acclaimed 2013 Starving Out the Light was not a fluke. The reader’s #5 pick lands at #7 on our Top 10 list for 2015.
6. Taipan – Straight From the Underground (Dead Sea) Voter Rank #6
One of the last entries onto this year’s list is the debut album from Taipan, a collective project featuring the talents of Aaron Rossi (Ministry, Ankla), Tony Campos (Soulfly, Static-X), Michael Black (Black Oil, Stone Faced), Sergey Lazar (Arkona), Sergey Tabachnikov (Nobody One), Chris Poland (Megadeth), Diana van Giersbergen (Xandria), Andrey Nova (Crimson Blue), and more. Straight from the Underground features some of 2015’s best crossover thrash, and is easily one of the year’s best collaborative metal projects. The reader’s #6 pick also lands at #6 on our Top 10 list for 2015.
5. Viking – No Child Left Behind (Metal Blade) Voter Rank #2
Los Angeles-based thrash contingent, Viking resurfaced in 20122 after a 20 year hiatus. It took a few years to get all the parts in place, but the band’s first album in a quarter century is a monster. No Child Left Behind finds founder Ron Eriksen back in the 80s thrash groove. Legendary drummer Gene Hoglan (Testament, Dark Angel, Death) added his own dynamic crush to the record. The band certainly recaptures the old school Bay Area feel, with bassist Mike Gonzalez (Dark Angel) guitarist Justin Zych bringing a fresh perspective to the Viking sound. A vicious, vertebrae destroying album. The reader’s #2 pick lands at #5 on our Top 10 list for 2015.
4. Battlecross – Rise to Power (Metal Blade) Voter Rank #3
The appropriately titled Rise to Power finds Michigan’s Battlecross on top of their game, delivering a record that is equal parts aggression and melody, bludgeoning heaviness and ass-kicking hooks. Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala’s guitar pyrotechnics are simply infectious. Rise to Power is statement album for Battlecross who continue to demonstrate growth and confidence in their songwriting, and it shows in their ascension up the ranks of metal’s most promising talents.The band has planted its flag and its ready for war. The reader’s #3 pick lands at #4 on our Top 10 list for 2015.
3. Bio-Cancer – Tormenting the Innocent (Candlelight) Voter Rank #1
Where so many other thrash speedsters have been getting it wrong these last several years, Greek upstarts, Bio-Cancer have stepped to the front of the line. The Athens based quintet put the thrash community on notice with its 2012 debut, Ear Piercing Thrash, but they have made good on their bold claims with an even worthier sophomore record, Tormenting the Innocent. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Bio-Cancer‘s newest record is the depth one might not have expected after seeing the old school cover. Every bit of Tormenting the Innocent is jammed with surprising nuances that the casual listener might not catch or appreciate, at least not consciously. The reader’s #1 pick lands at #3 on our Top 10 list for 2015.
2. Sylosis – Dormant Heart (Nuclear Blast) Voter Rank #8
Sylosis is a band that often gets overlooked when the topic of thrash comes up. Some might consider them a thinking man’s (or woman’s) thrash, and they blend in death metal and some core elements as well. With Dormant Heart, Sylosis have continued the band’s ability to deftly craft baleful thrashy riffs with fantastic melodic subtext. Josh Middleton‘s vocal work is inspired. As always, Sylosis has incorporated a good degree of technical and progressive elements here, and it all culminates in a record that is consistent throughout and exciting to experience. The reader’s #8 pick lands at #2 on our Top 10 list for 2015.
1. Nuclear – Formula for Anarchy (Candlelight) Voter Rank #4
While casual thrash fans might have expected Slayer to top this year’s list, our top pick is a band that managed to out-Slayer, Slayer. With its fourth full-length studio effort, Formula for Anarchy, Chili’s Nuclear has built the best thrash beast of 2015. Formula for Anarchy mixes traditional thrash elements with an infusion of hardcore that steps on your throat from the opening riff and drum barrage. This is one meaty and brutal affair, and an open invitation to start a pit right in your own bedroom. It has taken Nuclear a decade or so to refine its signature, but make no mistake the band has indelibly made its mark with this record. The reader’s #4 pick lands at #1 on our Top 10 list for 2015.