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5 Must Hear Thrash Metal Albums

Updated on January 5, 2018

How Can You Listen to this Crap?

I still think it's funny, how even today a decade and a half into the 20th Century, I hear the bitter cliches saying thrash and speed metal music is nothing more than pure noise without any real musicianship.

To each his own I say. Music as abrasive as this is not easy listening, but to say it hasn't any musicianship is not true. Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

I listen to many diverse genres of music, but this was the music I cut my teeth on, the music of my youth, and I will always return to it.

It is ironic that thrash metal music was priming my ears for music I would discover later in life. Avant-garde and free jazz also suffers from the same "noise" criticism from the mainstream critics.

Today I enjoy progressive bands like Mastodon and Opeth that utilize elements of thrash. The early bands like Metallica, Motorhead, and Megadeth were breaking new ground, the early 1980's was a breathtaking time to be discovering hard rock music.

Below I have compiled a list of my 5 favorite thrash/speed metal albums. Some of these are a little more progressive for pure speed/thrash metal, but it's my list.

Sepultura: Chaos A.D.

Chaos A.D. was a big change from Arise, the beginning of groove metal some believe. I love the album, has plenty of thrash metal fury, yet they were not afraid to experiment.

Many tracks have a Much Slower pace and also incorporate their native Brazil into the music.

The drums at times are startling, and that's something that really adds a power to the music. They actually add an even more primitive and ominous feel to the music.

Some staunch fans of the band still mark this album as the point where Sepultura jumped the shark. Imagine, just because they broadened their scope, they were deemed sell-outs... meh? I like the album.

Megadeth: Rust in Peace

Rust in Peace in my opinion is Megadeth's masterpiece: Right before following in the footsteps of Metallica's more commercial sound, the band made an album that was the perfect combination of the heavier and more commercial style, Rust in Peace is it.

"Holy Wars Punishment Due" is the centerpiece of this album, and one of the greatest and most technically sound pieces in thrash history, released in 1990 and produced by Mike Clink, the first producer not fired before the finish of an album.

It also features Shred Guitarist Marty Friedman as second Guitar, and old Dave holds his own next to Friedman pretty well. Dave always could make those simple power chords do things variety wise the average guitarist couldn't.

Rust in Peace has a more commercial sound than previous albums, but does not sacrifice any of the classic thrash sound.

The albums to follow would be much more radio and MTV friendly, and they sold millions. But I believe Rust in Peace is Megadeth's masterpiece. Peace Sells But Who's Buying could have been the choice here, but I just like the progressive vibe on Rust in Peace a tad more.

Slayer: Seasons in the Abyss

The title track's intro to Seasons in the Abyss might be the most evil sounding intro I have ever heard, Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi would be very proud.

Seasons in the Abyss is quite simply one of the best of the best. As much as I love the Album at number 1 on my list, I have really grown to appreciate this album. "War Ensemble" , Dead Skin Mask, and the title track are classics of thrash metal.

I have always liked the thrash metal groove tracks, "Expendable Youth" and "Skeletons of Society", the rhythm does sweep you up into a frenzy of machismo. The title track is incredible the way it builds and builds until it explodes, Seasons in the Abyss is one invigorating listen.

As a side note: I could do without the completely preposterous and over the top Satanic imagery of Slayer. I know it's a perfect way to upset the bible thumping ministers. I always wondered if bands like this realized that the fact they champion the cause of the Devil, they then validate the existence of God?

I am sure it created a lot of buzz, "the imagery", that otherwise wouldn't have been there? So just wondering, isn't that in and of its self selling out? Black Sabbath for instance, did the darker imagery more subtly.

You know what would be an even bigger seller? What if Slayer denounced Satan, and decided to conform to Christ? You have to admit, you'd probably create a heck of a buzz? I know, I know, I am a cynical S.O.B.

Pantera: Vulgar Display of Power

Nothing could clear a parking lot of loitering teenagers listening to New Kids on the Block at high volume better Than Vulgar Display of Power.

Many of my friends and I did clear a parking lot a time or two back in '92. Vulgar may be the album with the most swagger of all time, and is every bit as angry and heavy as anything recorded in the genre.

Vulgar Display of Power oozes with a Macho chip on the shoulder attitude, It's in your face, and makes not one apology.

Every single track is fantastic, my favorites are "By Demons be Driven", "Hollow" and "Mouth for War". "F#$king Hostile" Might be one of the fastest and most maniacal tunes ever created.

"Hostile's" lyrics by the way are the perfect "up your ass" to any establishment proselytizer trying to brain wash you into their fold, what ever fold that happens to be, religious or political.

Metallica: Master of Puppets

So here it is, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Metallica's Master of Puppets. Really could it be anything else? The sound is so thick, so heavy, and unadulterated thrash, with just enough progressive sounds to put this into the stratosphere.

To think the record has sold 6 million units is incredible, no doubt a by-product of Metallica's More commercial Black Album, M.O.P was certified gold at the time, selling 500,000 units, an almost unbelievable accomplishment considering, no radio airplay and no music videos.

Metallica did it on their own terms, I never complained when they "sold out", because as mentioned, millions of fans were ushered into Metallica through those more commercial albums.

Those same fans went back and bought the first 4 albums by the millions, and no doubt, the other members of the big 4, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth benefited greatly by the exposure to such heavy music.

Master of Puppets totally deserves its reputation as the heaviest album of all time. My personal favorite track is " "The Thing That Should Not Be": That clean underwater sound, then followed by the fattest grungiest power chords every played, Just an unbelievable track for 1986.

The harmonized guitar interlude on the title track and the bass interlude leading to the harmony on the instrumental Orion are breath-taking for such powerful music. I love Master of Puppets and always will.


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    • Paul Garand profile image

      Jake Clawson 10 months ago from Kazakhstan

      While that's a good list. I would like to recommend a great overlooked thrash band. Razor. Fast, loud and sharp; influenced by Motorhead and vigilante-ism.