Years before and years ahead
War will rule your lives of dread
Run from hell or so you try
But there's nowhere to hide
Life born into a war
This war will not end

-- Blessed Death - Eternal War

Germany 2009

1. Thrashers In Uniform 2. My Source Of Power 3. Power Of The Dead 4. Insane 5. Multiple Death 6. Alienation 7. Fanattick 8. Life In The Haze 9. Load The Flak 10. Thrash Revolution 11. Banished Force 12. Karlsberg UrPils

To enumerate the number of middle-of-the-road thrash albums out there would be a laborious task already, yet releases like Banished Force's Alienation keep adding to the count. As appropriate for a self-produced recording, the sound quality is sort of homespun but at least the material is on a certain basic satisfactory level albeit rather undistinctive on the whole. Admittedly the band's rhythm section can appear quite powerful which might be just able to draw your attention every now and then, and there is no lack of audible effort here. It's just that none of these songs is able to impress in such way that Alienation would suddenly seem like something worth keeping around.

BAPHOMET - No Answers
Germany 1991

1. Median 2. No Answers 3. Past And Present 4. The Fence 5. Act Of Jealousy 6. Elm Street 7. Time Has Come 8. Identified 9. Rise Of Baphomet 10. Terror Of Thoughts

During the shift in emphasis from thrash to death metal in the early 1990s, Baphomet were one of the better bands to incorporate elements from both genres in their music. While the style of this German band later became more ordinary death oriented, their debut No Answers features some great thrash metal riffs that would put many other bands to shame. The title track, Elm Street and Identified are just some examples of the evil but impressive sound of this album. The guitar is very well done, with highly memorable riffs and stylish solos. The vocals are not really your typical death metal growls but rather hysterical, sarcastic, and plain nasty, sometimes also unintentionally funny, but fit the songs pretty well. There is something really nice about the feel of this album - it's like a more extreme variation of the traditional thrash metal sound but without losing too much of its familiar base. Whether this was intentional or not, the result is quite convincing and makes No Answers one of the best in its class.

BAPHOMET'S BLOOD - Satanic Metal Attack
Italy 2006

1. Satanic Commando 2. Blood, Vomit And Satan 3. Nightstalker 4. Satanic Beerdrinkers 5. Kill The Monk 6. Speed Metal Warriors 7. Satanic Metal Attack 8. Heavy Metal Forces

It is hard to remain indifferent when you encounter an album called Satanic Metal Attack that was released by a band going under the moniker of Baphomet's Blood. With signs like that, it would be easy to expect a total hit-or-miss affair, but the final experience is actually quite uplifting though musically rather forgettable. This is high-speed metal in a literal sense, played with such a thoroughly jovial attitude that the recording constantly sounds like Motorhead running at a higher tempo than usually. With most track titles featuring "satanic", "metal", or both, it should be evident that this band's message is far from serious, too. The general feel of songs like Satanic Beerdrinkers is really much more lighthearted than some of the lyrics suggest. It is by no means first-rate, and the lyrical content is indeed very dumb, but there are times when albums like this fit just perfectly in the background.

BATTALION - Underdogs
Switzerland 2010

1. Thrash Maniacs 2. Headbangers 3. Running Alone 4. Wings Of A Demon 5. T.F.F.M. 6. Bullets & Death 7. Stalingrad 8. Interlude 9. Beggars Right 10. Dictators Of Stone 11. Defenders

Battalion's Underdogs seems like some kind of a transitional album for this band. The content is a combination of quite speedy thrash metal and more conventional heavy metal, maybe reflecting the band's earlier works or just a lack of confirmation for a definite direction at this point. The fastest thrashers like Thrash Maniacs and Running Alone are satisfactory if somewhat unimaginative, whereas the generic and a lot more plodding songs like Headbangers and Wings Of A Demon can become terribly dull already after a couple of minutes into them. If some time was spent on separating the worthy pieces from filler tracks, there could be enough material for one mini album with a better focus. Now Underdogs is a mixed bag, and too uninteresting as a whole.

BATTALION - Set The Phantom Afire
Switzerland 2012

1. Buried Nation 2. Dead Men Tell No Tales 3. Bomber 4. Set The Phantom Afire 5. Underdogs 6. Drifting Towards Insanity 7. Cursed In The Smoke 8. Possessed By Satan 9. Oppression Department 10. Mullet Head

Apparently the mixture of fairly fast speed/thrash and traditional metal on Battalion's Underdogs was not merely a temporary phase, as Set The Phantom Afire continues in the same vein. Although there are enough tracks with a sufficiently high tempo, this album is not necessarily the most coherent effort out there. Some of the slower moments can be admittedly quite atmospheric and convincing on their own, whereas the speediest pieces often seem kind of forced and lack spontaneousness - which almost suggests that this band could be more successful if they solely focused on moderately paced songs. In its current form their music is more like the middle ground of everything, with not much that could be called genuinely attractive.

BATTLECREEK - Wake The Plague
Germany 2011

1. Atomic Holocaust 2. Beyond The Bombed Ruins 3. Slaughter In The Water 4. Dawn Of Aggression 5. Psycho Torture 6. Commercial Brain Shredding 7. Pestilence 8. Stormtroopers Of Thrash

If this was a typical review, it would start by saying that Battlecreek are a band playing thrash metal and, well, you fill in the blanks. Basically Wake The Plague is awfully average for a modern-day recording, meaning that it sounds decent both technically and musically - but damn if there's a single detail about this release that would miraculously make it more distinctive than a billion others in the same league. All right, so the vocalist likes to deliver frenetic vocal expressions sometimes, but that's not solely a bonus. There are also several tracks that drag way too long for their own good - instead of sticking to the point, the band took a scenic route. What Wake The Plague effectively fails at is assuring you that this thing would be somehow more worth the time than, say, listening to any Fastkill or Vektor album once again, and that's not even mentioning the old classics.

BATTLEFIELD - We Come To Fight
Germany 1987

1. We Come To Fight 2. Nuclear Death 3. Knock On Your Door 4. Grave Of The Unknown 5. Possessed Preacher

Standing out as a curious exception in Battlefield's more power metal oriented release history, the band's debut We Come To Fight is a decent but also quite ordinary mini album of German speed/thrash metal. This vintage offering is just slightly atypical because of the female vocals that are still strong enough to meet your expectations about the intensity of this kind of music. It plays rather nicely and all, but the overall impression is somewhat banal and not terribly inspirational. Most songs flow almost exactly in the same tempo with not much practical difference between them, and it is not until the last track Possessed Preacher that there is finally even some brief variation of the theme. We Come To Fight is certainly not too bad for Battlefield's first release, but as it turns out there is no real reason for big praise either.

BEAST - Infernal Hangover... Wrecked In Space
Spain 2013

1. Hangover Side 2. The Astrobastard (From Outer Space) 3. Hollywood Disaster 4. Nukes For Food 5. Black Death 6. Wrecked Side 7. Nuclear Devastation 8. Atomic Nightmare 9. Infernal Hangover 10. Thrill Killer

While many bands like to try to break the speed record again and again, Beast's Infernal Hangover... Wrecked In Space represents speed/thrash metal that sometimes proceeds rather leisurely when compared to the norm. This is not to say the album would be a slug, there's just a moderate side to it as well, and actually the most memorable piece must be the slow but emphatic Black Death that works well enough to stick out among the faster but less unique tracks. In general, Beast's output has a sympathetic feel, and this album sounds like it was recorded without much strain or anxiety which is worth a note in today's scene. It is all pretty harmless stuff, but at least you can listen to it without great pains and possibly even find the music enjoyable in a relaxing manner.

BELIEVER - Extraction From Mortality
USA 1989

1. Unity 2. Vile Hypocrisy 3. D.O.S. (Desolation Of Sodom) 4. Tormented 5. Shadow Of Death 6. Blemished Sacrifices 7. Not Even One 8. Extraction From Mortality 9. Stress

One of the few thrash metal bands with strong religious themes, Believer delivered in quite a typical thrash metal fashion. Extraction From Mortality does not exactly set itself apart from the usual standards of the genre, and while the band's sound is fairly powerful it is difficult to grasp finer details as most tracks are only semi-interesting at best. Although the songs mostly flow without major headaches, the album on the whole sounds somewhat forced and tedious and it probably wouldn't be a great injustice to call it downright dull at times. Here and there you may notice a riff or two worth a second listen but whole memorable songs are not so easily found, not to forget about the one-dimensional shouting that seriously lacks depth. Extraction From Mortality fits into the typical thrash metal formula almost by the book, but the near complete lack of actually noteworthy music does not really help this album to get further than that.

BELIEVER - Sanity Obscure
USA 1990

1. Sanity Obscure 2. Wisdom's Call 3. Nonpoint 4. Idols Of Ignorance 5. Stop The Madness 6. Dies Irae (Day Of Wrath) 7. Dust To Dust 8. Like A Song

Sanity Obscure was a proof of Believer's increased maturity after their less impressive debut. The result is slightly more technical but also better composed and more interesting. Unfortunately, the quality of the album as a whole is a bit too uneven. From the title track to Idols Of Ignorance you get a continuous stream of great raging thrashers with catchy riffs and generally a more focused and refined direction than previously. Everything fine and well up to this point, but the second half of the album loses almost all of the momentum built up so far. Dies Irae (Day Of Wrath) is a highly experimental operatic piece that you are guaranteed to either love or hate, and Like A Song is something of a failed attempt at a U2 cover song. That said, the band's growing progressive tendencies are still kept in a good control for the most part, and the outcome is certainly worth hearing. It's just that this album may still leave you slightly disappointed in the end, despite the fact that the first half of it is near excellent.

BENEFACTOR DECEASE - Massive Spreads Of Death
Greece 2008

1. Intro - Massive Spreads Of Death 2. Confessions Of An Isolated Life (Saga Pt.1) 3. Ferocious Of The Dismorphed (Saga Pt.2) 4. Violent Reprisal 5. Thrash Lessons 6. Subliminal Crime Of Forgiveness

If you had to summarize Benefactor Decease's debut release with a couple of words, "loud" and "aggressive" would be among the most fitting adjectives. As Massive Spreads Of Death starts to roll after the short but atmospheric intro, it quickly becomes evident that there is no need to fear that this album would suffer from being overproduced or overpolished. While the compositions are nothing special, the material and presentation sort of complement each other in such manner that the result does not end up terribly boring. The female vocals are more than sufficiently rough and direct and they actually add to the music by a fair amount, making it appear a bit less ordinary than it might otherwise be. As a whole, this thing is a respectable splash of violent thrash metal, far from extraordinary but at least sufficiently entertaining for a while.

BESIEGED - Victims Beyond All Help
Canada 2010

1. Internal Suffering 2. Death 3. Buried Alive 4. The End 5. Victims Beyond All Help 6. Trapped Inside 7. Black

Sometimes albums are described as "intense" in a rather careless manner when in reality their amount of energy is barely above the average level. That's not the case with Victims Beyond All Help though, as this release sports a definite punishing sound of its own. To some extent Besieged's style on this recording is reminiscent of Sepultura's works from the late 1980s, but Ritual Carnage's first two releases in particular easily come to mind, too. With a limited but carefully weighed number of tracks, the structure and direction of this album seem to be fully under control. While the relentless attack is not terribly varied, steadily and surely it gets the job done. It's like experiencing a nailgun massacre in a victim's role - kind of overwhelming, piercing, and inconvenient at first, but you'll quickly submit to the warm numb feeling that takes over the senses.

BETRAYAL - Renaissance By Death
USA 1991

1. Renaissance By Death 2. The Invitation 3. Fallen Deceived 4. More Faith Than Me 5. Escaping The Altar 6. Assassins In The Midst 7. Mortal Flesh 8. Stroll Thru A Wicked Age 9. Prophets Of Baal 10. Plead The Blood

Betrayal's Renaissance By Death comes across as highly technical and unorthodox speed/thrash metal with cross-genre influences of mixed quality, comparable to Death Angel's more warped-out moments. Some gothic touches especially in intros are nice, but on the other hand there are a few too many throwaway tracks to go through. Chris Ackerman's bare, barking vocals may initially sound a bit strange but actually they are one of the most consistent elements on the whole album. Most people would probably do fine without giving a second thought for this release if it weren't for one true gem in the crop; Escaping The Altar is an excellent composition in its entirety, combining frantic and totally hilarious thrash bursts with a great dramatic middle part and an amusing moral story. Despite its length of nine minutes this song never gets boring or tedious. Still, except for one absolute highlight and a couple of other satisfactory tracks, Renaissance By Death is quite a peculiar mismash of things and it might have been better in a half of its current length, without all the unnecessary quirks and filler material thrown in.

BETRAYAL - The Passing
USA 1993

1. Renouncement 2. The Usurper 3. Carnival Of Madness 4. Ichabod 5. Forest Of Horrors 6. Race Of Hypocrisy 7. As I Turned Away 8. Whispers Of Chaos 9. Strength Of The Innocent 10. Retaliatory Strike 11. Frantic

In retrospective The Passing is a lot more coherent release than Betrayal's debut. The band sound more focused and intense than before, and unlike the previous album there is a consistent style of songwriting audible on every track. It does no harm that this album sports a better and heavier production than Renaissance By Death that sounds rather weak in comparison. While the finished product is not entirely of the most memorable kind, it has a nice feel of uniform quality, and there are some quite fine individual pieces like Renouncement and As I Turned Away on this album. Also noteworthy are the surprisingly dark lyrics despite an obvious religious tint in many of them. For a thrash metal album from the early 1990s, The Passing is quite a satisfying release - definitely it is a lot less likely to leave you cringing your teeth in frustration in the same way as Renaissance By Death might do.

BETRAYED - 1879 Tales Of War
Chile 1990

1. Fight For Your Land 2. The Real Me 3. Good Bye, Friend 4. The First Desillusion 5. Human Madness 6. 1879 7. Love And Pain 8. The Message 9. Critical Situation 10. Betrayed

Not necessarily a common example of this kind, Betrayed's 1879 Tales Of War turned out to be a thematic album with a twist of its own. The lyrics derive inspiration from the War of the Pacific in South America, with a critical insight into war and politics. Despite not presenting any great innovations over the standard thrash metal antics, the sound of this album is quite fresh and energetic and the production is fully appropriate for the music. The vocals sound somewhat careless in comparison to the band's otherwise tight performance, but this is not entirely a bad thing as they still add to the result in a peculiar way. With a consistent output and some notable ambitions on the instrumental side, 1879 Tales Of War is a neat little package that successfully avoids the most tenuous moments.

Note: The cover layout and colors are different on the original tape and the later CD release.

BETRAYER F.T.M. - No Life Till Fury
Colombia 2010

1. Machine 2. One Day Of Fury 3. To Kill Or Die 4. La Orden Del Caos 5. Midnight Poison 6. No Life Till Fury 7. Infernal Metal 8. Caught By Hatred 9. The Burning Road (Bikes, Bullets And Rock N Roll)

Although the first sight of No Life Till Fury is enough to suggest that the cheese factor of this recording would be quite high, the actual situation is not that bad. Despite sporting a cover that Cannibal Corpse would not have been proud of, this is a decent minor thrash metal album. As a slight deviation from the norm, many songs seem to proceed somewhat leisurely, and especially the first half of this release often has a curious laidback rocking vibe. From the title track onwards, the pace becomes generally faster and more like what you would expect from an average band. Even then the result is so ordinary that it can be rather easily forgotten. Like it or not, it is this kind of albums that make the majority of the genre, regardless of their limited individual impact.

Australia 1989

1. Take All 2. Yours Subliminally 3. Against The Grain 4. I Lost 5. Halloween 6. Dawn Of The Dead 7. The Finest Cut 8. Turn From The Light 9. Fall 10. The Kill

Bezerker's Lost is an interesting album. For an act of technical thrash metal, the band had something of a distinguishable sound of their own, like a cross between Mortal Sin and Hexenhaus for a lack of better comparison. The singer has a fairly distinctive clean voice, and there are a couple of notably effective, semi-tricky but memorable tracks like Yours Subliminally and Against The Grain. The music is not terribly fast, though, and some of the slower compositions around the middle of this album tend to feel like filler material while waiting for something more exciting to happen. But mostly the impression is rather positive, there's some audible good drive in the music, and the result is not just another nameless release lost in the crowd.

BIO-CANCER - Ear Piercing Thrash
Greece 2012

1. Ear Piercing Thrash 2. Your Punisher 3. Backstabbed Again 4. Get Cancered... Now 5. Spread The Cancer 6. You Scream You Die 7. Killing Habit 8. Anthem Of Violence

At the very least Bio-Cancer's Ear Piercing Thrash can be commended for revealing its cards right at the first sight. Musically this album is more akin to your typical thrash metal, in other words, not too notable or striking even though the band's sound often leans towards the more frantic end of the spectrum - the vocals in particular contribute to this impression with their consistent spiteful tone which sometimes does go a bit over the top. Despite the respectable level of energy, the result comes across as a tad pointless and has only limited variety at best. All this can make the album appear even dull at times, and the most exciting thing may be to observe whether the drums manage to keep their beat and not go haywire during the most rapid moments.

BLACK FIRE - Burning Aggression
Peru 2011

1. Intro 2. Bloody Torture 3. Real Thing 4. Thrash Patrol 5. Salvation Ammunition 6. Alcoholic Trance 7. Respect The Man 8. Thrash Till Death 9. Fist Of Steel

For an album titled Burning Aggression, Black Fire's first full-length surely starts off somewhat leisurely, and it isn't until after a couple of minutes into Bloody Torture that the music actually takes off. Even then we are certainly not talking about a landmark of thrash metal here, more like a typical, sort of adequate but completely unsurprising representative of its kind. The sound quality is rather sharp and supports the band's energetic flavor of thrashing well, but honestly, it would have been difficult enough to distinguish an ordinary album like this from a multitude of other similar ones already in the late 1980s, even more so in today's world when the original rebel spirit of the genre has worn off a long time ago.

BLACK RIDER - The Gate To The Unknown
Mexico 2013

1. Multiple Possession 2. Born In Sin... Come On In 3. Violent Poltergeist 4. Orders Of Massacre 5. Rise From Your Grave 6. Myth Mind Creator 7. Antihuman 8. Armed Forces From Hell 9. Full Metal Madness 10. The Gate To The Unknown

Let's see, thrash metal from Mexico. Actually the last part is not very noteworthy, as based on the sound of it all The Gate To The Unknown could have originated practically from any part of the world. The music carries some echoes of the early Kreator with Ventor's blunt vocals, and the execution is at times even laudably energetic - though not to such extent that it would catch any special attention, that's how high the standards have become over the years. The songs come and go without much fuss, maybe the lengthy instrumental Myth Mind Creator being among the most distinctive moments as it has no apparent need to follow any pre-defined formula. Other than that, this album plays almost in the most typical manner for eager but commonplace thrash metal.

BLACK SHEPHERD - Immortal Aggression
Belgium 1988

1. Immortal Aggression 2. State Of Decay 3. Make Love War 4. Corpses 5. Preacher Of Death 6. Trash 7. Another Day To Die 8. Kill The Priest 9. Animal 10. Lord Of The Darkness 11. I Am God 12. Evil Revenge

For those who value rawness and unrest over everything else in thrash metal, Black Shepherd's Immortal Aggression must be a true gem. This Belgian band provide a continuous stream of some of the most disorganized and frenzied music that you can find - indeed, control and precision are not the words here. Then again, you probably cannot call it downright sloppy either, it just sounds as if the band did not exactly spend any great lengths of time on rehearsals before putting out this release. The first couple of tracks can appear such a mess that you don't even know where to start, although the band actually tone it down a bit after that. Regardless, the vocals often sound so amateurish you wouldn't believe, and tracks like I Am God are little short of laughable. If a punk band of the late 1970s had tried playing thrash metal, it could have resulted in something like this. Immortal Aggression may at first sound rather surprising, then almost funny, but eventually you might consider it just plain stupid.

USA 2008

1. Submit To Satan 2. Black Wizard Spell 3. Blade = Death 4. Revenge 5. Here Comes The Knife 6. Cold Flesh 7. Blade On A Cold Dark Street 8. Nightmare In A Damaged Brain 9. Turn The Cross 10. Baphomet's Call

Taste The Blade must contain one of the most captivating build-ups ever heard on a speed/thrash metal album. The intro to Submit To Satan has such a genuine old school feel that it is hard to resist continuing with the flow only after a few short moments, and the rest won't disappoint either. The sound of this recording is a balanced mixture of most traditional thrash and heavy metal, and somehow the result is positively charming as well as immensely credible. This band might not score in a modern-day speed contest, not necessarily in heaviness either although the latter is on a completely satisfying level. The point of this release is somewhere else, mainly in proving that it is possible to continue certain traditions in the new millennium in a successful manner while retaining all their strengths and weaknesses. People who have already been spoiled by the most hyperactive thrash metal acts may not get much out of this album, but others, especially those who witnessed some of the original 1980s scene, should be able to find Taste The Blade quite appealing.

BLASPHEMER - Executioner
Colombia 2008

1. Executioner 2. Night Of Laments 3. Mental Torture 4. No Compassion To Destroy 5. Dead Killer 6. Recorded Prints 7. God Slave 8. Soul Hunter 9. True Existence

Let's randomly select an ordinary thrash metal album out of approximately 5.89824e37 in total, and the next thing that happens is that Blasphemer's Executioner is drawn. Briefly put, the quality of this recording couldn't be any more unsurprising - it is your basic thrash metal, adequately performed but far from innovative and not very inspirational. The production has an appropriate rough "live" feel which fully fits the scheme. Some of the guitar lines are admittedly well done, but that aside, there is not much to remember about this effort. On the other hand the whole thing is quite short, so no serious boredom should occur in any case. Maybe in some different circumstances this release could have turned out to be a lot more exciting, now it is not exactly captivating enough to warrant another listening round too soon.

BLASTHRASH - No Traces Left Behind
Brazil 2005

1. Psychotic Minds 2. Nudity On T.V. 3. No More Apathy 4. Assassin 5. When Will They Fall 6. Beer & Mosh 7. ...And Then All My Hope Is Gone 8. Empty Words 9. Collapse Is Near 10. The Lament / I.M.F.

Although "innovation" is hardly what Blasthrash had in mind when the band entered the studio to record their debut album, No Traces Left Behind is simply not half-bad in its class of traditional thrash metal. The production can be described as organic and heavy, and there is a nice contrast between instruments and vocals that sound somewhat thin but still very fitting. While there are no actual masterpieces or even particularly memorable tracks, the band appear spirited enough so that it is hard to remain indifferent to this album. Honorary points must be given for lyrics on selected songs like Nudity On T.V. with some more thought than on average in this genre. No Traces Left Behind is far from classic, but the effort is noteworthy and the result does not sound like a total carbon copy of the old.

BLASTHRASH - Violence Just For Fun
Brazil 2008

1. Freedom Lies Dead 2. Violence Just For Fun 3. Possessed By Beer 4. Collective Suicide 5. F# 6. Radiation Death 7. Fear The Holy Cross 8. Brain Dysfunction 9. Like A Living Dead 10. Thrash Or Die

Violence Just For Fun starts on a familiar note, sounding just like you would expect Blasthrash to sound based on their first release. With absolutely no stylistic changes, this album is fast, energetic and generally decent - again, the band deserve more credit for their frantic approach than any noticeable creativity in songwriting. Although it is far from a great exercise in individuality, you cannot really put the result down. Most of the time it just works in a satisfactory manner, and the fastest tracks running at breakneck speed should be enough to make your head spin for a while. Maybe No Traces Left Behind had some slightly more memorable aspects on the whole, but this follow-up release will hardly disappoint anyone who found the band's debut album worthwhile.

BLATHUDAH - Spawnography
Australia 1995

1. Terror Australis 2. Bleatin' 3. Portrait 4. Spare Hell 5. Alemeant 6. Freedom Of Choice

The intro to Blathudah's Spawnography repeats the trick of Slayer's Ghosts Of War, sounding like a demo recording before letting out the full blast. And a powerful blow it is - this album must contain some of the most energetic thrash metal released in the mid-1990s. The performance sounds inspired and spontaneous, lacking all pre-calculation and routine-like motions that many other bands unfortunately fall into. Filled with brisk and colorful songs, Blathudah's output sports almost a cheery feel, even though one of the most memorable pieces is the haunting Portrait that mainly consists of some chilling movie dialog mixed with brooding riffage. If it wasn't for the lightsome, somewhat unfitting ending, the drawbacks of this release would be practically nonexistent.

BLESSED CURSE - Blessed Curse
USA 2012

1. Bleeding Cross 2. Hellraisers 3. Demon Dance 4. Slaughtered Like Pigs 5. March Of The Wicked 6. Carpathian Mist 7. Rise Of The Undead 8. Feasting Witch 9. The Devil's Mark 10. Something Evil 11. Eternal Hate / Blessed Curse 12. Burn The Beast

Among the most prominent features on Blessed Curse's debut full-length album must be the production which is laudably heavy in a good old-fashioned way. This certainly helps in making the outcome stand out among many contemporary releases where it sometimes happens that more emphasis is put on sheer speed than anything else. While these songs are far from sluggish, they admittedly have more diversity than what the most stereotypical works in this genre are able to demonstrate these days. Actual individual highlights may be difficult to pin down, but the album as a whole is quite a solid offering, and only its massive total length could be something of a hindrance to those people who have a limited attention span.

BLESSED DEATH - Kill Or Be Killed
USA 1985

1. Meltdown 2. Pig Slaughter 3. Omen Of Fate 4. Into The Ovens 5. Knights Of Old Bridge 6. Eternal War 7. Blessed Death 8. Napalm 9. Kill Or Be Killed

Blessed Death surely were among the early starters in the scene, but unlike some other releases of the time, the band's debut Kill Or Be Killed seems to have almost an excessively antiquated feel to it nowadays. A lot of this impression comes from the absolutely hazy low-key production - if thrash metal had been invented already in the 1970s, it could have sounded like this. This album is not without its moments, the slow and foreboding first half of Into The Ovens and the deeply melancholic intro to the eponymous Blessed Death are worth a note, but the most significant feature must be Larry Portelli's vocals that demonstrate nearly an exceptional range from low growls to melodramatic high screams with seemingly very little trouble. While years may have eaten away at the potential this album had, it has enough merits to overcome some apparent weaknesses as long as you don't mind the overly old-fashioned style.

BLESSED DEATH - Destined For Extinction
USA 1987

1. Digital War 2. Pain Killer 3. 10,000 Days (Of Bloodshed) 4. Incoming Wounded 5. Pray For Death 6. Death In The Sky 7. Curse Of Weapons 8. Alien Impregnation 9. Destruction's Eve

In comparison to Blessed Death's debut release, Destined For Extinction turned out more vicious and energetic by tenfold, often sounding very similar to Slayer's output in the same period. The vocals are notably on permanent overdrive which can appear slightly exaggerated but only appropriate as the material here is most furious, too. Tracks like Incoming Wounded, Pray For Death and Death In The Sky are prime examples of the total intensity of this album. Most songs essentially succeed in making a strong impact, and the final effect is only lessened by somewhat mediocre production values again. Destined For Extinction is still a definite improvement over Kill Or Be Killed and contains some quite fine thrash metal even from today's perspective.

USA 2006

1. Fallen Walls 2. You Are Nothing 3. Shadows Of The Living 4. Hour Of Pain 5. Black Snow Sky 6. Resurrection Earth 7. Atomic Fear 8. Global Confusion 9. Terminal Rage 10. Born Dead 11. Out Of The Void

Better late than never, Blessed Death's third album is a perfect reminiscence of the past. Released fifteen years after the actual recording took place, Hour Of Pain can be described as a cross between Kill Or Be Killed and Destined For Extinction, owing much of its old-fashioned feel to the band's debut album while still maintaining sufficient pace and heaviness. The grand opener Fallen Walls gives way to speed/thrash metal in the most vintage vein - if it is even remotely possible to think of thrash metal bearing a true 1970s feel then Blessed Death's style must be the most prominent candidate for that. With very natural sounding instruments and Larry Portelli's versatile vocals, Hour Of Pain is a welcome trip to the original sound of the genre and beyond. It doesn't get much closer to the old days than this.

BLOOD FEAST - Kill For Pleasure
USA 1987

1. Menacing Thunder 2. Kill For Pleasure 3. Cannibal 4. Vampire 5. Blood Lust 6. Suicidal Mission 7. Venomous Death 8. The Evil 9. Darkside 10. R.I.P.

Together with At War, Blood Feast may have been among the better known acts on New Renaissance Records. The band's debut release Kill For Pleasure is an acceptable piece of underground thrash metal although the effect is seriously dampened by the primitive sound quality. While it might be a bit rude to call the production awfully cheap, it cannot be helped that more than occasionally this album sounds like an equivalent of the earliest low-budget gore horror movies, which is sort of appropriate as the band's name could be considered a direct homage to the works of H.G. Lewis. If you can ignore the total lack of polish, the music itself is constantly and utterly fast and sounds fairly satisfactory though not terribly original or remarkable. Worth mentioning is Gary Markovitch's nasty vocal delivery that adds to the wicked feel of these songs - something that remains pretty evident despite all the technical shortcomings.

USA 1988

1. Face Fate 2. Blood Lust 3. R.I.P. 4. Vampire

With only the title track being a new song and the rest three inherited from Blood Feast's debut album, Face Fate is probably not too significant as a stand-alone release. What makes it worth obtaining is the fact that the band re-recorded the older tracks for this mini album, giving a tight performance, and together with much sharper production values the result becomes a healthy improvement over Kill For Pleasure. For example, the new version of Blood Lust greatly benefits from this more refined presentation which actually makes it one of Blood Feast's best songs ever. As such, Face Fate might not be particularly noteworthy but at least it manages to have some raw appeal of its own.

BLOOD FEAST - Chopping Block Blues
USA 1989

1. The Last Remains 2. Hunted, Stalked & Slain 3. Chopping Block Blues 4. Hitler Painted Roses 5. Dropping Like Flies 6. Born Innocent 7. Turn To Dust 8. The Chemically Imbalanced 9. Spasmodic 10. Remnants

After a couple of quite straightforward releases, Chopping Block Blues must have appeared almost drastically different to Blood Feast's original fans. The sound of this album is heavier and more emphatic than the band's past works, with certain morbid overtones. The vocals are now effective plain shouts and the music has a lot more variation than before, maybe getting closer to the typical output of other groups at the time but still quite interesting in its own right. The band's style had clearly matured to some extent, yet without losing too much of its customary speed or aggression - selected pieces like the title track and Turn To Dust are convincing and nasty thrashers with some grim riffage, and Remnants makes a bold and amusing closing track. Despite its more controlled presentation, Chopping Block Blues can be safely counted among Blood Feast's better albums.

BLOODCUM - Death By A Clothes Hanger
USA 1988

1. Happily Married 2. Son Of Sam 3. Live To Kill 4. Good Hearted Man 5. Treatment Of Death 6. Death By A Clothes Hanger 7. Belligerent Youth 8. Harrassment By Farm Animals 9. First To Die 10. Sike-O-Path 11. Testing My Doorknob

Although Bloodcum's Death By A Clothes Hanger is seemingly a standard package of street-level thrash metal of the most compact kind, there is some genuine value in it after all. The album has a fresh "live" sound that suits the songs very well without appearing downright sloppy - the impression is definitely not the most refined around, but after a while you'll hardly mind anymore. In other words, if Slayer had recorded their albums with a lesser focus and a shoestring budget, the result might have sounded similar to this. It is still a nice demonstration of pure high-speed frenzy, and tracks like Son Of Sam and Live To Kill are pretty cool pieces no matter what, short but vivid bursts of nasty spirit. Probably it's not exactly high production values that this release is best remembered for, but then again, the result is more than funny enough to justify its existence.

BLOODLUST - Terminal Velocity
USA 1988

1. Terminal Velocity 2. City Of The Forgotten 3. C.T.R. 4. Semper Fi / Guilty As Sin

In all fairness, Bloodlust's Terminal Velocity is very much like your basic example of old speed/thrash metal, somewhat effective with its plain energy and typical raw sound. Bloodlust's style is pretty banal though, even clumsy at times, and except for a couple of short moments during the latter half of this mini album you are not likely to remember too much about the whole thing even after giving it several spins. Let it be said that really bad this is not, just too ordinary and unsurprising. In the big scene of thrash metal, albums like Terminal Velocity have more collector's value than actual importance to the genre.

BLOODROCUTED - Doomed To Annihilation
Belgium 2013

1. Doomed To Annihilation 2. Violent Vortex 3. Venom Of Hate 4. Whispering Death 5. Excision Of The Past 6. Screams At Night 7. War Chronicles 8. A Genocide Awaits

Innovation or originality are not the values that Bloodrocuted's debut release represents, but that doesn't make Doomed To Annihilation a bad piece of work. The album is a tad on the short side, which is fine as the band's style is pretty basic and therefore probably not at its best in a longer format anyway. The production is very clear although some lack of heaviness is evident, and speed is not an issue in the least. What does eventually bring the outcome down is that despite the audible energy, almost every song sounds the same and the final product does not seem as fully developed as it could have been. Doomed To Annihilation gives you just a dose of undistracting but really quite forgettable thrash metal.

BLOODY CROSS - Coming Again
Germany 1990

1. God Hates It 2. Coming Again 3. Kids Of God 4. Nightmare 5. Descent 6. Choose 7. God's Love And Rage 8. Fire 9. Ultra 10. Defy

Bloody Cross were surely not the most notable performer of their kind, but as usual the band's offering comes across as at least fairly acceptable even though it is left short of truly satisfactory. A staple of German speed/thrash metal with a certain rough edge and all but subtle religious lyrics, Coming Again has basically everything that is deemed necessary in this class, but something about the whole thing can still leave you cold. Maybe it's just the fact that this music goes only so far without actually reaching its mark. Despite the band pushing a dedicated message, the album feels somewhat pointless, not to mention goofy at times, and the songs don't really feature anything that would help to distinguish them from all the other contenders' efforts in a notably positive way. Bloody Cross just seem to have been one of those groups who were bound to stay below the fine line between obscurity and recognition.

Canada 2009

1. Mad Dog 2. Black Holocaust 3. Panterrat 4. Discontent 5. Drunk In Control 6. Nuclear War 7. Tsar Bomba 8. R.I.P. Mankind 9. Predator 10. Economic Meltdown 11. Conspiracy Buried 12. Human Scum 13. War Unlimited 14. Corrupt Democracy 15. Unit 731 16. Pre-Nuclear Moose 17. (Post) Nuclear Moose

If no-nonsense thrashing sounds appealing, Bombnation's H.A.Z.M.A.T. won't disappoint. As it often goes with this style, the tracks are short and concise and most of them sound quite similar to each other, but the speed and energy compensate for it to some extent. The riffs are arguably on the simple side but in general there is a good emphasis on the guitar, and the production is more than sufficiently heavy and sharp. The vocals deserve a special note, evidently the singer put his heart into it and this shows in the convincing output. The terse format of H.A.Z.M.A.T. could have easily become tedious very quickly, but Bombnation have managed to make it listenable, with even something of a fresh tint to it. At least one album of this kind can be quite a refreshing experience once in a while.

BONDED BY BLOOD - Feed The Beast
USA 2008

1. Immortal Life 2. Feed The Beast 3. Psychotic Pulse 4. Necropsy 5. Mind Pollution 6. Another Disease 7. The Evil Within 8. Tormenting Voices 9. Civil Servant 10. Self Immolation 11. Vengeance 12. Theme From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

One must admit, it takes a lot of guts from a band to choose their name based on the canonized Exodus debut. Somehow, Bonded By Blood manage to pull it off without a total embarrassment. Feed The Beast does not seem too promising at the start, as the first couple of tracks sound quite disjointed and lack a clear direction. But when the fast and intense Psychotic Pulse starts running, the music immediately gains something of a more favorable impression. Although far from highly memorable, it is this kind of frantic and straightforward thrashers that make the band's best asset at least on this release. Some of the less coherent moments only highlight the same problem that many others in the field have, in other words, the level of technical skill goes way beyond the amount of creative talent. Feed The Beast is a slight positive surprise in the sense that it is a lot more than just background music for modern hyperactive Sunday morning cartoons, but hopefully there is still something better in store as well.

BONDED BY BLOOD - Exiled To Earth
USA 2010

1. 600 AB (After The Bomb) 2. Episodes Of Aggression 3. Prototype: Death Machine 4. Prison Planet 5. Genetic Encryption 6. Blood Spilled Offerings 7. Exiled To Earth 8. Parasitic Infection 9. Desolate Future 10. Sector 87 11. Cross-Insemination

It cannot be denied that the promise of Exiled To Earth is intriguing. With a sci-fi story about aliens invading the Earth that spans the whole album length, Bonded By Blood's second full release is an ambitious theme album that conceptually resembles the classic The New Machine Of Liechtenstein by Holy Moses. In the musical department these ideas are not realized that well, though. Most songs recycle some very ordinary sounding riffs, and while the guitar solos occasionally feature inspired moments, in the end this release is quite a dry and mechanical experience. The vocals stick out with their constant whiney tone that takes irritation to the next level. Even the background story seems just a gimmick that ultimately leads nowhere, with no incentive to care about what happens next. It could make a decent video game narrative coupled with a thrashing soundtrack, but in this genre the impression is inevitably lacking.

BONDED BY BLOOD - The Aftermath
USA 2012

1. I Can't Hear You 2. Shepherds Of Rot 3. The Aftermath 4. Crawling In The Shadows 5. In A Wake 6. Repulsive 7. Among The Vultures 8. Show No Fear 9. Restless Mind 10. Left Behind 11. Killing In The Name

If anything, Exiled To Earth showed that Bonded By Blood were at least willing to take risks, no matter whether the results could be considered successful or not. In comparison, The Aftermath is a lot less surprising for a slab of semi-technical thrash metal. Despite or due to major line-up changes, several aspects make it look like the band had started running out of steam. Fast tracks are not in the minority, but the actual enthusiastic feel is missing. Although the vocal tone is now less irritating than on the previous release, it still doesn't sound quite right, and the production in general somehow appears a bit off. With very little that could be really called interesting, this album is prone to being left in the shadow of much more prominent releases.

BRAINDEADZ - Hang 'em Highschool
Germany 2005

1. Hang 'em Highschool 2. Servant Of The Flesh 3. Tortures Of Me 4. Violator 5. Killer 6. Devil In Disguise 7. Labyrinth Of Death 8. Shattered Youth 9. Thrash Attack

When the probability of making a distinctive impact in the thrash metal scene must be getting lower all the time, at least it helps to perform the usual tricks as well as reasonably possible. Although Hang 'em Highschool is practically no more than yet another unsurprising thrash metal album in a familiar style, Braindeadz deliver the goods in quite a satisfactory manner. The title track in particular makes a snappy opener though it also gives away already most of what this album has to offer. The band's sound is precise and relaxed at the same time, a combination that gives these songs a curious laid-back feel even though there are a couple of tracks on this album that seem almost too easygoing for the genre. As a piece of unobtrusive thrash metal for easy listening, Hang 'em Highschool definitely serves its purpose.

BRAINLESS - Brainless World
Germany 1992

1. Scientific Lie 2. Mind Bitch 3. Death Patrol 4. Brain Manipulation 5. Silent Scream 6. Victim 7. Saddam Satan 8. War In The Nursery 9. Bang Your Head And Dive

Another little known band in the German scene, Brainless sound so typical for their time that it's not too easy to find any really distinguishable features from this music. Brainless World is rather consistent and focused for a minor thrash metal album but most of the time also quite dull and unimaginative. In a way this is just another example of decent production values and adequate technical abilities while the actual content never really catches on. Despite a few good moments on the lead guitar, the riffs here are mostly quite unremarkable and the songs in general do not provide much highlights to talk about. For completionists Brainless World probably fits the bill as well as any other, but better not expect anything truly noteworthy from this one.

BREATHLESS - Thrashumancy
Spain 2011

1. Faceless Perspective (intro) 2. Nuclear Seas 3. Thrashumancy 4. Slavery Of The Masses 5. El 5º Mafioso 6. Among Two Worlds Of Lies 7. Anoxia 8. Pastors Of Hell 9. Penelaster 10. Arrass Attack!! 11. Ramiro Has A Gun 12. Storming For Vengeance 13. Deadly Sessions (outro)

It is sort of against the odds that albums like Thrashumancy can still result in a small positive surprise these days. The debut release of Breathless is supported by some nice, crunchy production quality that sounds just about right. The songs are mainly guitar-driven, with appropriately bitter-sounding vocals and woven riffage which is usually credible enough for the purpose. Everything sounds pretty tight and well performed, and although this recording lacks clear highlights, it is hard to remain indifferent to the general good mood of it all. It is only the fact that there is not too much audible variation in these compositions that prevents this album from making a stronger impression in the end - just based on the first couple of tracks from it, you could be entitled to higher expectations.

Italy 1987

1. IX 2. Desert! 3. Ilona The Very Best 4. Misogynists 5. Heaven's Jail 6. Rob "Klister" 7. The Derby 8. No-Way 9. The Vision Never Fades

From their early days with a Motorhead/Venom influenced sound, Bulldozer had a long presence in the Italian metal scene. On IX some of the band's legacy is still audible, but as a whole this album contains more than a sufficient amount of thrash metal. Today some of these songs might seem more nostalgic than really effective, although many tracks are quite cheerful and provide enough amusement. Maybe the best piece on the whole release, Misogynists is actually a great thrasher despite its comical lyrics. In comparison to your average thrash metal album, IX may be something of an acquired taste, but it should not be too difficult to learn to appreciate its rough charm.

BULLDOZER - Neurodeliri
Italy 1988

1. Overture / Neurodeliri 2. Minkions 3. We Are ... Italian 4. Art Of Deception 5. Ilona Had Been Elected 6. Impotence 7. Mors Tua - Vita Mea 8. Willful Death / You'll Be Recalled

Probably Bulldozer's most advanced release ever, Neurodeliri starts with a dramatic pipe organ intro that quickly evolves into the massive title track. Although this album still features many of the band's familiar traits, the result is considerably more focused, intense and memorable than IX. Despite some more serious touches, the music on the whole remains strangely uplifting and captivating. Highlights include the awesome title track and Art Of Deception, not to forget about Ilona Had Been Elected which appears to be another amusing song about the band's favorite Ilona Staller. These compositions are not without their rough edges, but eventually all the pieces fit together quite nicely and you can't help really liking some of this release. It seems that with Neurodeliri Bulldozer finally refined their style to the maximum effect.

BULLDOZER - Unexpected Fate
Italy 2009

1. Unexpected Fate 2. Aces Of Blasphemy 3. Salvation For Sale 4. Use Your Brain 5. Micro VIP 6. Bastards 7. Buried Alive By Trash 8. The Counter-Crusade 9. The Prediction 10. In The Name

For one more contribution to the continuing trend of original 1980s thrash metal bands coming back from the dead, Bulldozer's Unexpected Fate is not even too much of an unexpected event anymore. But it may still catch you unprepared that the output sounds like the twenty years between this and Neurodeliri never happened. If it weren't for the improved production values that can remind you of the technical advantages of modern times, the time machine effect would be almost complete. Many of these songs are actually surprisingly strong and energetic, and the music still carries obvious elements of Bulldozer's original style from the late 1980s. The result may not be the same kind of magnum opus as Neurodeliri, but it is quite an entertaining release with memorable tracks too numerous to list. Definitely the biggest underlying positive aspect of Unexpected Fate is simply that, unlike some of the most generic and unimaginative modern-day imitations of thrash metal, this album has a genuine spirit and soul of its own.

BURNT OFFERING - Burnt Offering
USA 1989

1. Kick Your Dirt 2. Leatherface 3. Prisoner Of War 4. Snow Death 5. Power Of Death 6. Beware The Axe 7. Desecration 8. Slaughterhouse Grizzle 9. Black Blasphemy 10. Graphic Violence 11. Pure Fuckin' Death

There is a strong feel of sticking to absolute core values on Burnt Offering's debut album. The sound is harsh and unpolished, guitar solos are ascetic at best, and the near total lack of technical finesse is self-evident. But you know, in the end it works to some extent, some of the time. With a couple of exceptions, most tracks last no longer than three minutes which leads to a certain lack of continuity, not to mention kind of a rushed feel in the band's performance every now and then. When Burnt Offering do stay within reasonable speed limits, they prove themselves capable of handling heavy basic riffing in a fairly convincing way, and the band's blunt and honest output does have its good points no matter how few. There is some moderate appeal to be found here, but it may require that you survive through the most chaotic rhythms featured on this album to really appreciate it.

USA 1998

1. Hell Is Yours 2. Thou Shall Not Kill 3. With All The Blood 4. Nailed 5. Walk Of The Dead 6. Black Metal 7. The One 8. Mother's Shallow Grave 9. Time To Close Your Eyes 10. Snow Deadlier 11. Burnt Offering

Released a little short of ten years after the band's debut album, Burnt Offering's Walk Of The Dead carries the rough and unforgiving tone of its predecessor almost unchanged. Most notably, the sound quality is better than in the late 1980s, which adds to the more controlled feel of the music this time. Nearly one hour in length, this album is still a heavy and forceful experience like no other. It is essentially a hammering thrash metal attack with overwhelming primal power, and if anything, the vocalist deserves a medal for his relentless efforts. At some point this kind of strict adherence to bare-bones rules inevitably starts to get old, but you cannot deny that this album makes a perfect example for those people who don't know what "integrity" means. While Walk Of The Dead is still hardly something that a casual listener would be comfortable with, it is at least a bit more accessible than the band's first release and may turn out to be a pleasant small surprise to those who really care to dig into it.

BYWAR - Invincible War
Brazil 2002

1. Intro 2. Thrasher's Return 3. Broken Witchcraft 4. Killing The Pharisee 5. Enslaved By Dreams 6. Death Of The Immortals 7. The Conquest 8. Near Of Madness 9. Outro

Bywar's Invincible War did not really bring anything new to the genre, but the album has enough of some fairly strong qualities that it eventually deserves something of a formal approval. In some way this could be compared to Witchtrap's warm traditional approach although here the songwriting may not flow quite as freely. Bywar's style is very consistent, actually so much that none of the individual songs really stands out. Nevertheless, the band's sound is nicely inspired by (and positively reminds you of) Destruction's snappiest recordings from the 1980s, with a lot of simple yet effective hooks. Admittedly Invincible War belongs to the class of inherently derivative thrash metal works, but it must be said that the catchiness of Bywar's music is well above the average level.

BYWAR - Heretic Signs
Brazil 2003

1. Into The Curse 2. Heretic Signs 3. The Twin Of Icon 4. Subconscious Death 5. Frozen Deadly War 6. The Last Life 7. Inquisition 8. The "Hole" Grail 9. Cerebral Death... Almost Decreted 10. Void (Another Dimension) 11. At Trance With Metal

Heretic Signs developed Bywar's style further by small but refined steps. The band's sound is still highly reminiscent of the original days of Destruction with few tweaks, and in a blind test you could be at times led to believe that it's Schmier himself on the microphone. In comparison to Bywar's debut album, Heretic Signs actually features some more distinctive individual moments on the whole. The title track in particular may be one of the best songs that Destruction never recorded (and the bonus video included on the CD release is pretty neat, too). Granted, musically this album still quite faithfully follows the formula established on the first release, and originality is hardly this band's strongest asset. But Bywar succeed in where many others fail, namely writing songs that routinely manage to sound fairly interesting and worth the time.

BYWAR - Twelve Devil's Graveyards
Brazil 2007

1. The Passage 2. Stranded In Dark Zone 3. Face The Impaler 4. Violent Greed 5. Hellbotic Sentence 6. Debt Of War 7. The Unconscious 8. Way Of Agony 9. Monotheistic Slander 10. Past... Present... Annihilation 11. Blackned Voyage 12. Graveyard (Final Demise)

You would think that a third album of the same could get old real fast, and there is some truth to this idea even though Bywar manage to avoid some of the most obvious pitfalls. Twelve Devil's Graveyards continues to show no side-steps from the conventional thrash metal realm, but generally the result feels slightly more worn-out than the previous recordings. On occasion the band's performance appears a bit tighter and more impetuous than earlier, which leads to a couple of fine scorching thrashers like Violent Greed and Debt Of War. On the other hand there are several pieces that just sound rather tedious this time around, and "dull" is certainly not a word you would like to use to describe a thrash metal album. Twelve Devil's Graveyards is by all means a fair effort, but Bywar's earlier releases already set the bar higher than this.

BYWAR - Abduction
Brazil 2011

1. ...The Fourth Kind 2. Poltergeist Time 3. Abduction 4. Toward The Unreal 5. Another Crusade 6. Handful Of Evil 7. Ragnarok (The Final War) 8. Starchildren - Alien Concept 9. Behind The Pain 10. Black Spirals Of Death 11. Consciously Dead (Part III)

Probably Bywar's most ambitious release to date, Abduction sounds like a mature yet reasonably energetic thrash metal album. In comparison to some more half-baked efforts out there, this band's long history makes an audible difference in the steady and reliable delivery of these songs. The general tempo is quite fast and the compositions are fairly listenable, and it's only the lack of real distinction between most tracks that prevents the output from making an essentially stronger impression. Even though Abduction is a competent performance without a doubt, it appears that Bywar's catchiest riffs were already heard on Invincible War and Heretic Signs several years earlier.