Nothing will stand in your way
Infected by the power that preys
On feelings driving you insane
And when it all becomes clear
That you must conquer your fear
No matter who or what's to blame

-- Holy Terror - Debt of Pain

HALLOWS EVE - Tales Of Terror
USA 1985

1. Plunging To Megadeath 2. Outer Limits 3. Horrorshow 4. The Mansion 5. There Are No Rules 6. Valley Of The Dolls 7. Metal Merchants 8. Hallows Eve

Despite the most amateurish artwork, Hallows Eve's Tales Of Terror is a classic release of early speed/thrash metal. While the style may seem almost overly antiquated today, this album is not really out of place when the original time period is taken into account. The opening track Plunging To Megadeath is the fastest and most direct assault while the rest of the songs are more diverse, especially including the eponymous and epic Hallows Eve. The vocals deserve an honorary mention as they clearly have more range and variety than usually found in the genre. Tales Of Terror might appear like an awfully old-fashioned affair nowadays, but it is also an album that can musically still hold on its own pretty well.

Note: All the first three Hallows Eve albums were remastered and re-released as a part of the History Of Terror box set. This is one of those rare occasions where remastered versions could be actually recommended over the originals due to the vast improvement in sound quality.

HALLOWS EVE - Death & Insanity
USA 1986

1. Death And Insanity 2. Goblet Of Gore 3. Lethal Tendencies 4. Obituary 5. Plea Of The Aged 6. Suicide 7. D.I.E. (Death In Effect) 8. Attack Of The Iguana 9. Nefarious 10. Nobody Lives Forever 11. Death And Insanity (Reprise)

When death and dying are mentioned more than one hundred times during the length of an album, the result cannot be half-bad. And Death & Insanity is not bad in the least, with the overall theme perfectly fitting in the musical style. Although the general pace appears somewhat more restricted than on Tales Of Terror, these songs are better composed and more memorable, and the band's performance is solid although they certainly wouldn't have scored too high in the speed contest that was already seriously starting to take off at this point in the scene. But it's actually some of the most mid-tempo songs like the forceful Lethal Tendencies or the melancholic Nobody Lives Forever that make the most mature impression even years after their original release. While the feel of nostalgia might be nearly overwhelming at times, Hallows Eve's sophomore effort is easily one of the better recordings from the era when "power metal" didn't mean gratuitous keyboards, guitar hero antics, or fairytale lyrics.

HALLOWS EVE - Monument
USA 1988

1. Speed Freak 2. Sheer Heart Attack 3. Rot Gut 4. Monument (To Nothing) 5. Pain Killer 6. The Mighty Decibel 7. The Righteous Ones 8. No Sanctuary

After the excellent Death & Insanity, Hallows Eve's last release in the 1980s was satisfactory but a bit less captivating. Monument seems more standard for the speed/thrash metal scene at the time, and the production is no doubt the cleanest and sharpest the band had so far even though it still sounds strangely unheavy. The fastest thrashers like Speed Freak and Pain Killer are quite entertaining after all, and generally the quality of songs is acceptable. Among the main drawbacks must be the pointless cover version of Queen's Sheer Heart Attack which is merely a filler song, and some of the lyrics can appear so dumb that it hurts. That aside, Monument is a fair piece of work, just not nearly as impressive as the band's best moments in the past.

HAMMER - Shermann
Poland 1990

1. Shermann 2. Camp 3. The Oddest Dream 4. Different From Me 5. For Her My Nut 6. Destroyer 7. Rage

Hailing from Poland, Hammer had a sound pretty typical for most thrash metal bands at the time. Except for a rather thin production, Shermann is almost a stereotypical example of old speed/thrash metal in every sense. Despite having some fairly intense moments, the band's sound is not only about constant pounding at the same tempo all the time, but there is a fair amount of variety in it, too. So basically everything should be fine and all, but the problem is that nothing in the music really draws your attention. Somehow this album is like a result of a standard formula used for creating every other thrash metal album out there. You can listen to it without much trouble but then again, why really bother. Although it is hard to blame any individual faults in the music, Shermann appears so mediocre that it's almost strange.

HAMMER - Terror
Poland 1992

1. Terror 2. Streetfighter 3. Shut Up 4. Inside Looking Out 5. Monsters 6. Angel's Wrath 7. This Is A War 8. Old Man 9. Stick The Banner Up Your Ass

Hammer's second offering was better produced than the debut, but otherwise there's little actual difference in the music. The band's delivery still sounds a bit strained (which is to a large extent due to the vocals) and not too appealing, although based on technical merits only it should meet any usual requirements. Again, the songs are fairly energetic but not really memorable in any way. Actually the most distinctive piece must be the Animals cover Inside Looking Out which is quite a slacker and fortunately just a single experiment here. Hammer were already starting to show hints of more ambitious directions, but the lack of character on this album can still be quite frustrating, to say the least. With less competition around, Terror might have turned out a bit more interesting, now it's just not quite there.

HAMMERHAWK - Welcome Home, We Expected You
Netherlands 1991

1. Intro / If You See Kay 2. Love Song, Oh No! 3. Kill The Enemy 4. Lady Bike 5. Blow Up Doll 6. Hit It 7. The Unknown 8. Deep Sea Tragedy 9. Marked For Life 10. F.M.C. 11. Doom Of Pleasure 12. AIDS II (The Warning) 13. To Be Continued

Despite the fact that Hammerhawk were long-timers in the Dutch metal scene, their discography is somewhat limited at best, with Welcome Home, We Expected You representing the band's thrashiest moment in every sense. While their traditional roots still show here and there, this release fits the need for a decent amount of speed/thrash metal. After a fairly powerful start the album gets somewhat more stale for the rest of its first half or so, then the songs start to catch up again. There is hardly any truly classic material here, but the vintage sound is sort of appealing and the snappiest tracks like Hit It and Marked For Life are not too bad at all. One got to admit that even though Hammerhawk's antics can get rather tiresome at times and especially some of their lyrics are plain silly, there is some inimitable rudimentary charm in Welcome Home, We Expected You that makes it easier to forgive some of these shortcomings.

HAMMERHEAD - Shadow Of A Time To Be
Brazil 1992

1. Time Bomb 2. Warning 3. Razor In Your Back 4. I Wish 5. Within 6. And Still You Can't See 7. Brain Wash 8. Nazi Hunter

Never judge an album by its first song only - a fact that couldn't be more relevant when Hammerhead's Shadow Of A Time To Be is considered, although in this case it eventually works against the band. The ripping opener Time Bomb raises high expectations with its plain but riveting riffs and sharp sound quality, not to forget about more than sufficient speed. Unfortunately the rest of this recording does not meet the same standards, and ultimately Hammerhead fall in the same bucket of average bands as many others before and after them. On the surface, the band's sound is pretty good and this album surely can provide a fair dose of thrashy background music when needed, but except for one or two tracks most of it escapes memory faster than really necessary.

HAMMERWHORE - Hammerwhore
USA 2005

1. Victim Of Psycho-Toxin 2. Devotion To Violence 3. Heavy Metal Destroyers 4. Possessed By The Mosh 5. Long Live Metal 6. Evil Command 7. Onward To Oblivion 8. Outlet Of Lust 9. Mercy To None 10. Scream Bloody Rock & Roll 11. Hammerwhore 12. Slave To Hell (bonus) 13. Curse Of The Living Dead (bonus) 14. Loyal To War (bonus) 15. Mercyless Brutality (bonus) 16. Raise Hell (bonus)

Hammerwhore's debut release is full of old school mentality, to such extent that the first three tracks sound very much like Sodom probably would have sounded in the 1980s if they had been an American band in the first place. A couple of short hardcore-ish bursts and one pointless rocker briefly break the mood, but for the most part this album features thrash metal firmly in an old-fashioned vein. Fortunately it is done with a good taste, in fact there is some genuine appeal in Hammerwhore's music and the output is far from the most simplistic thrash metal offshoots out there. The bonus demo tracks are a nice addition although their production leaves a lot to be desired. While the quality of this album is inevitably varied and the band's style is not yet completely balanced, the effort as a whole sounds spontaneous and unstrained enough so that the existence of this recording can be justified.

USA 1990

1. Death Bells Of The Apocalypse 2. Human Hell 3. Last Temptation 4. Culture Decay 5. Slaves Of Conformity 6. Thugs Against Drugs 7. Message From God 8. Symbol Of Hate 9. Nuclear Attack 10. Let The Sleeping Dogs Die

With several members of Nuclear Assault involved in the making of this album, it is not surprising that Harter Attack's sound is not too different from Nuclear Assault if a bit more terse. Human Hell essentially features some very straightforward bare bones thrash metal without any attempts at more diverse directions. This lack of finesse is not exactly a weakness as the result is pretty satisfying. The tracks are compact and intense bursts that have a slight edge over many of the more complex productions out there. The vocals are very plain shouts but do well enough in this context. From today's perspective, some of Harter Attack's antics feel slightly exaggerated and some moments on this album can appear unintentionally amusing, but this just adds to the rough appeal of it all. Despite not being a vastly original piece of work, Human Hell makes a nice example of no-nonsense thrash metal.

HATCHERY - Birth Of A Bomb
Germany 2007

1. Crushing Bones 2. Brotherhood 3. Above The Law 4. Birth Of A Bomb 5. War 6. Wake The Dead 7. Trail Of Blood 8. Blood And Guts 9. Weekend Warriors

Even today there are not too many bands that are capable of composing good riffs that quickly stick to your head. In this sense Hatchery could have something going for them, as Birth Of A Bomb demonstrates some notably memorable songwriting for a debut album. In particular, the first couple of tracks Crushing Bones and Brotherhood with their ingenious catchy riffs almost make you recall the time when you heard the first snippets from bands like Overkill and Exodus. Add some hilarious vocals, and the package is formally complete. On the downside, there are not quite enough of thrills for the whole full-length, and after the first half the band tend to follow increasingly more ordinary and less distinctive trails - to the point that this album almost ends on a dull note. Birth Of A Bomb shows some definite promise at this stage, now the quality is just a bit inconsistent.

HATCHERY - Forced To Fight
Germany 2010

1. Genocide 2. Little Brother 3. Under One Flag 4. We Are The Disease 5. Forced To Fight 6. Nothing 7. Song 2.0 8. Thrash Metal Union 9. Tongues Of Decay 10. Final Escape

Hatchery's debut offering was a fairly promising treat, therefore the follow-up release already had some expectations to meet. Forced To Fight starts off with Genocide that successfully recycles some of the better ideas from Birth Of A Bomb, but after that it becomes less easy to find moments of similar inspiration. It seems that for the most part this album is on the average side, and while the band's sound and technical quality remain good, there is not much real catchiness among these tracks. Vocally Hatchery may still be one of the more distinctive bands in the current scene, with an unrefined yet somehow fitting raspy tone, but in the long run the music would need more than that. While Forced To Fight is not exactly a bad album to pick up, Birth Of A Bomb arguably gave a bit more fun for the money.

HATCHET - Awaiting Evil
USA 2008

1. Darkening Skies 2. Frailty Of The Flesh 3. Sealed Fate 4. Frozen Hell 5. Attack Imminent 6. Morlocks Tomb 7. Storm The Gates 8. The Dead Will March 9. Awaiting Evil

It is hardly in any band's best intentions to produce a mere textbook example of thrash metal when they enter the recording studio, but sometimes things just seem to happen that way. Hatchet's Awaiting Evil could be seen as yet another example of such output. While the production quality is technically quite fine, most of these songs don't appear very spontaneous or inspired, and the vocals come across as somewhat forced more often than not. In general the band's sound is a bit more polished than on average, to the extent that some moments on this album seem almost tame. When even the fastest tracks appear quite generic and superficial, one could say that Hatchet's music simply lacks depth. Apparently there is still some room for this kind of releases, but in the end Awaiting Evil is rather unessential for a thrash metal album.

HATCHET - Dawn Of The End
USA 2013

1. After The Dark 2. Silenced By Death 3. Screams Of The Night 4. Fall From Grace 5. Revelations Of Good And Evil 6. Signals Of Infection 7. Dawn Of The End 8. Sinister Thoughts 9. Welcome To The Plague 10. Vanishing Point

With apparently not much left of the line-up that recorded Awaiting Evil, Hatchet were probably in a favorable position to improve things after their mediocre debut. As it turns out, Dawn Of The End does indeed better manifest the band's capabilities. This release sounds pretty tight and confident, the flow of songs is generally rather smooth and natural, and although most of it might not appear too catchy right away, the riffwork is of consistent quality and guitar leads are often quite classy. Maybe a couple of slower tracks are a bit on the plodding side but that aside, Dawn Of The End surely beats expectations and could be actually called a slight positive surprise.

HATEFUL AGONY - Existence Is Punishment
Germany 2000

1. Psycho Killer 2. Existence Is Punishment 3. Life? 4. Off With Their Head 5. Nothing's Changed 6. Violent Domination 7. Hell On Earth 8. Merciless Death

Hateful Agony's Existence Is Punishment established the band's regular stream of unpretentious thrash metal. The style is a bit on the rough side but very coherent and downright street-credible. Although the most distinguishable feature on this release may be the cover version of Dark Angel's Merciless Death, the band's original ideas come across as fairly convincing on forcible tracks like Off With Their Head and Hell On Earth. There is no real variation to speak of, then again an album like this would probably benefit very little from such deviations from the rule. Existence Is Punishment could be considered a working man's thrash metal, often quite plain and lacking in distinction but altogether sporting a very honest approach - something that cannot be always taken for granted in the industry.

Germany 2003

1. Silent Night 2. Prayer Of Hatred 3. Black Hole 4. Reach Out 5. Future/Past 6. Crown Of The Whore 7. Liar 8. Humanimal 9. Spit On Your Grave

The sound of Black Hole is maybe a bit darker than on Hateful Agony's debut release, for other than that it is the same kind of hammering that one is already familiar with. Although the music is pretty much the total opposite of cheerful, the persistent tempo of most songs here drives the message home. For one thing, it becomes clear that fast tracks are what this band should stick to - a couple of slower pieces like Future/Past do not come off that well. This time the ending cover song (Whiplash's Spit On Your Grave) does not actually differ too remarkably from the band's original material. While it may appear too ordinary and even dull to some, Black Hole is a safe choice of thrash metal at the grass roots level if you're not looking for any special characteristics.

Germany 2006

1. War 2. Pinhead 3. Gothic Slut 4. Eaten From The Inside 5. Total Control 6. Slave 7. Soldier Of Fortune 8. Payback In Blood 9. Obey Society 10. Shoot You In The Back

The first impression of Obey is that the vocals have gained a certain frantic tone when compared to the band's previous works. It is hard to say if this is better or worse than their earlier sound, but the actual difference is quite small, and it is good to have some minor variety between albums after all. Without this development, these songs could be almost regarded as interchangeable with any of those from Hateful Agony's earlier recordings, that's how uniform their music has remained over the years. Nevertheless, if one absolutely had to consider the slightest differences between this band's recordings, Obey could be labeled as their most consistent release to date. Even then there would be only a very tiny edge over the older albums.

HATEFUL AGONY - In The Name Of God
Germany 2008

1. Son Of Sam 2. Erase Your Hope 3. Prophets Of The Hollow 4. In The Name Of God 5. Richard Took Their Breath Away 6. Fear Of The Unknown 7. Mother, Creator, Destroyer 8. Ashes Will Rain 9. For The Love Of The Profit 10. Black Guards 11. Spit In The Face Of Destiny

As yet another typical release from Hateful Agony's productive line, In The Name Of God will hardly surprise anyone who already gained an idea of the band's style based on their past recordings. There is something trustworthy in this kind of steady workmanship, even if only for the fact that you can be sure about what to expect from every track on this album. On the surface it is quite rugged and bare with very few decorations to think of, but the music sort of grows on you over time. Arguably the boundaries of Hateful Agony's sound seem to be getting increasingly evident on every release, and In The Name Of God can appear a bit too long especially towards the end of it, but at least this time the band still manage to pull it through with dry feet, more or less.

HATEFUL AGONY - Forward Into Doom
Germany 2012

1. Twisted Mind 2. Salvation Through Destruction 3. Guides Of The Dead 4. Cult Of Sickness 5. Fit Of Rage 6. Forward Into Doom 7. Last War 8. Non Believer 9. Twilight Urban Life 10. Shallow Existence

It often happens with many of less known yet persevering groups like Hateful Agony that you can accurately predict what their releases hold. Continuing the band's tradition of churning out a new album every couple of years or so, Forward Into Doom is again far from a radical departure although this time there are some noticeable audible differences as well. The output seems slightly more strained than in the past which is possibly due to the production, and for one thing the vocals came out a tad better on older albums. Probably at least partially influenced by the line-up changes, the impression is a bit more straightforward than previously while also strangely uneasy to ears. Only their future works will tell for sure whether this is for better or worse, but for the time being Forward Into Doom looks more like a transitional release for this band.

HATEWORK - Madbent For Disaster
Italy 2002

1. Madbent For Disaster 2. Tomahawk 3. Hellsquad From The Airways 4. Total War 5. Pleasure Of The Blood 6. Deeds Of Hate 7. (We Are) Alcoholic Abusers 8. Thrashers' Attack 9. Dawn Of The Dead 10. All Hell Breaks Loose

Start with thrash metal, add some Motorhead, inject a general rocking vibe, and mix everything with a punkish attitude. At least in theory this could be the recipe that Hatework used for their first two albums. As it should be evident by now, the band's debut release is nowhere near the keenest or fastest representations of thrash metal. Pleasure Of The Blood and Deeds Of Hate may be the most consistent thrashers on this release, and even them probably wouldn't stand a chance against the output of some more intense bands in the scene. This doesn't mean that Madbent For Disaster would be a pointless listening experience, just a bit tiresome and dull. The outcome is undeniably more easily distinguishable than an average album, but not necessarily in the best possible way.

HATEWORK - Thrash 'n' Roll
Italy 2004

1. I.D.T. 2. Thrash 'n' Roll 3. XXX 4. Heaven's On Fire 5. Devil Eye 6. I Don't Care 7. War Again 8. Gateway To Hell 9. Radio Madness 10. Get Off 11. Blast From Below 12. Rip The Hush

The title of Thrash 'n' Roll pretty accurately describes Hatework's style on their second full-length release, too. At first it seems like the band did catch up with the speed, at least to some extent, but as it turns out this album is not without its fair share of lightsome parts either. As such, it is probably again something in the love-it-or-hate-it category. Some folks might even enjoy this kind of less strained approach to thrash, for others it could be merely a so-so substitute for better stuff. Even as an occasional amusement, Thrash 'n' Roll doesn't sound that bad, provided that you are willing to lower your expectations a bit in advance.

HATRIOT - Heroes Of Origin
USA 2013

1. Suicide Run 2. Weapons Of Class Destruction 3. Murder American Style 4. Blood Stained Wings 5. The Violent Time Of My Dark Passenger 6. Globicidal 7. And Your Children To Be Damned 8. The Mechanics Of Annihilation 9. Shadows Of The Buried 10. Heroes Of Origin

People who remember the days of Steve Souza in Exodus are surely going to find Hatriot an interesting band. Of course, the famous singer is probably a major reason for many to pay attention to Heroes Of Origin anyway, but it's not necessarily the only one. Naturally it can be difficult to avoid making some direct comparisons right away, yet the whole thing is not without some style of its own. It must be said that the riffs found here are nowhere near as catchy and twisted as what Exodus could offer at their best. On the other hand, Souza's vocals remain excellent, and the album is more listenable and easier to approach than either part of The Atrocity Exhibition ever was. A landmark recording Heroes Of Origin is not, but it definitely fulfills certain baseline requirements for entertainment value which just about guarantees a safe pick.

HATRIX - Hatrix
USA 1993

1. It's Not Hard To Hate 2. Bad Religion 3. No One 4. Status 5. Sick Of Myself 6. Joyride 7. My Asylum 8. Dick's Night Out 9. Donate 10. Attitudes 11. Electric Shock 12. Unnatural Rip

The self-titled debut release of Hatrix has some style. The album starts with a super-heavy stomper It's Not Hard To Hate that establishes a solid general mood for the whole record. With the exception of the odd No One that could be almost compared to Led Zeppelin (if they had utilized heavier guitars and double-bass drumming, that is), the sound of Hatrix is laudably strong and you cannot blame the band for a lack of effort in any area. While many other tracks are faster than the opening piece, the initial impetuous feel remains pretty much intact up until the closing moments. Most songs have little variation, though, and considering the notable length of this recording there is a slight risk of growing tired of it in the medium run. That aside, for an occasional heavy load this is no doubt a strong contender.

HAVOC MASS - Killing The Future
USA 1993

1. Intro 2. Scarred For Life 3. Burned 4. Prime Directive 5. All That Is Evil 6. Distant Signs 7. Pools Of Blood 8. Mark My Words 9. Into Nothingness

At the very end of the classic period of thrash metal, meet Havoc Mass. Almost surprisingly powerful for a late debut album, Killing The Future is about as good an example of the characteristic sound of the genre as any older release. Something particularly worth noting about the band's style is the focused and compact songwriting approach - even though this means that quite a few tracks sound somewhat samey, it doesn't matter too much when the original formula is good enough. As everything else including production, musicianship, and vocals appears to be quite fine, it's hard not to find this album likeable, even considering the obvious lack of truly new ideas. Although the entry Havoc Mass made in the scene is probably not too well known, the result is certainly worth another look.

HAVOK - Burn
USA 2009

1. Wreckquiem 2. The Root Of Evil 3. Path To Nowhere 4. Morbid Symmetry 5. Identity Theft 6. The Disease 7. Scabs Of Trust 8. Ivory Tower 9. To Hell 10. Category Of The Dead 11. Melting The Mountain 12. Afterburner

Havok's debut release is interesting. Burn is nicely produced, and the music seems to manage to capture the spirit of the genre to some extent better than on average. You could say that Havok even have something of their own sound at this stage, even though the band may still be seeking the most optimal direction. At least there is always something going on, and the album does not sound dull. The compositions feature a lot of hints of genuine ideas although many of these are eventually left hanging in the air, as if the style was not yet properly formulated for the best effect. Also, depending on your taste, the vocal tone can grow a bit tiresome after a while. In the end Burn is surely worth a look but hopefully also a sign of something better to come - as of now, this album shows some definite promise but does not really go beyond that.

HAVOK - Time Is Up
USA 2011

1. Prepare For Attack 2. Fatal Intervention 3. No Amnesty 4. D.O.A. 5. Covering Fire 6. Killing Tendencies 7. Scumbag In Disguise 8. The Cleric 9. Out Of My Way 10. Time Is Up

Time Is Up is a bit problematic album. The band's performance is about as energetic as before, and the delivery of songs is quite focused. But it seems that Havok's sound has become less captivating than on Burn - while the outcome is rather consistent, it is far from compelling. Most of the time this album plays in a fairly basic manner, with a solid instrumental base and little else. These days it would be pretty much a minimum requirement to present some genuinely distinctive features in order to make an album stand out. Or when everything else fails, take the speed deliberately over the top and see if the output is any good. As Time Is Up has nothing to offer in those categories, it ends up sounding somewhat too commonplace and predictable.

HEAD ON COLLISION - Ritual Sacrifice
USA 2008

1. Arise From The Wreckage 2. Violence And Aggression 3. Electrocutioner 4. Enemy Lines 5. Godhand 6. Permanent Damage 7. Fear 8. Retaliate 9. Reap The Weak 10. The Flames Of Aggression 11. Ritual Sacrifice

Sometimes an album that is musically not too interesting may still catch some brief attention if it sounds consistent enough, especially in the case where the production leans towards heavy and pummeling. Head On Collision's Ritual Sacrifice is certainly heavy and then some. In fact, the aural effect that this release creates is almost too tightly packed as the result can have a certain kind of tiresome effect on a casual listener. When every track starts and ends almost on the same note, the thing quickly becomes too repetitive despite its thoroughly gritty sound. It is sort of commendable that the band were able to achieve a continuous oppressive feel in their music, but the lack of anything else that would go beyond standard pounding by the numbers eventually renders this album quite insignificant in the long run.

HEADCRASHER - Nothing Will Remain
Italy 1989

1. Blood From The Sky 2. Live Or Die (W.C.W.C.) 3. Waiting 4 An Answer 4. F.F.W. 5. Bath-Man 6. The Cemetary Of The Lost Cross 7. Overlook Hotel (Winter 1921) 8. Sk8 Life 9. Good Morning, Amazzonia! 10. Dead In The U.S.A. 11. The Final Attack 12. Flebo's Country

It's difficult to find any strong arguments for or against Headcrasher's Nothing Will Remain. The music is lightsome speed/thrash metal that plays smoothly in the background, not the heaviest or most intense for its kind. The general feel is cheerful though most songs are rather forgettable, and there's even enough time for an occasional complete joke like Bath-Man. Maybe it's the run-of-the-mill quality of music that makes this album appear only average at best, despite the band's relaxed sound that has some slight appeal of its own. As such, the whole thing lacks a definite "wow" factor that would keep you interested - it's pretty harmless stuff and all, but also quite unmemorable and probably notable only for its relative rarity nowadays.

HEADHUNTER - Parody Of Life
Germany 1990

1. Parody Of Life 2. Ease My Pain 3. Plead Guilty 4. Kick Over Your Traces 5. Force Of Habit 6. Caught In A Spider's Webb 7. Cursed 8. Crack Brained 9. Trapped In Reality

Having been established as Schmier's new project after his departure from Destruction, Headhunter's sound was to become more power metal oriented later on. This didn't apply to the band's debut, yet, as Parody Of Life is filled with fast and heavy thrash metal. The style is somewhat different than on the preceding Destruction albums, even the vocals sound slightly more normalized here, but the music has some appeal of its own. For example, the title track, Ease My Pain, and Force Of Habit are some very hard-hitting thrashers that do not pale in comparison to even Destruction's achievements. While the album as a whole is not too distinctive, it has a slightly more energetic as well as positive feel than on average, and the band's sound has a lot of nice little touches in it. Even though Parody Of Life may not be one of the most memorable albums from the German scene, it definitely has its moments.

HEATHEN - Breaking The Silence
USA 1987

1. Death By Hanging 2. Goblin's Blade 3. Open The Grave 4. Pray For Death 5. Set Me Free 6. Breaking The Silence 7. World's End 8. Save The Skull 9. Heathen

Heathen were basically one of the numerous speed/thrash metal bands to surface on the US west coast in the 1980s. Not surprisingly, their debut Breaking The Silence is pretty standard speed/thrash, somewhat melodic but heavy. On the downside, the vocals sound a bit tame for this kind of music and the songs are not very distinctive or creative. Except for the cover version of Sweet's Set Me Free and some intros (like on Open The Grave and World's End), no tracks are particularly memorable. Still, the musicianship in the band is quite good, and as a whole Breaking The Silence is sufficiently listenable if just a bit too much on the dull side at times.

HEATHEN - Victims Of Deception
USA 1991

1. Hypnotized 2. Opiate Of The Masses 3. Heathen's Song 4. Kill The King 5. Fear Of The Unknown 6. Prisoners Of Fate 7. Morbid Curiosity 8. Guitarmony 9. Mercy Is No Virtue 10. Timeless Cell Of Prophecy

Years after their less impressive debut, Heathen returned with a remarkable release. Victims Of Deception features an extremely classy sound, not unlike Metallica's Master Of Puppets though not quite as dry. Especially the guitar sound on this album is almost identical to Metallica's customary style. With improved vocals, the band now sound a lot more credible than before and essentially succeed in creating some very good music. Except for yet another cover song (Rainbow's Kill The King), these tracks are lengthy, massive pieces that still manage to avoid any dullness and plodding. The excellent musicianship only does justice to these songs. Whatever praises you may have heard about this album, they are all true - Victims Of Deception has an inimitable touch of class not present on most other recordings.

HEATHEN - The Evolution Of Chaos
USA 2009

1. Intro 2. Dying Season 3. Control By Chaos 4. No Stone Unturned 5. Arrows Of Agony 6. Fade Away 7. A Hero's Welcome 8. Undone 9. Bloodkult 10. Red Tears Of Disgrace 11. Silent Nothingness

Heathen's comeback album must be one of the most keenly awaited releases in many years. With such high expectations there is a danger that the result fails to fulfill the promise, and while The Evolution Of Chaos is a stylish product on its own, some aspects dilute the impression. The first couple of tracks on the album are quite speedy affairs despite their length, but from No Stone Unturned onwards many songs tend to drag more than necessary. As far as compositions are considered, Victims Of Deception arguably flowed more naturally whereas The Evolution Of Chaos sounds more forced and slightly overdone. The production in particular appears unnecessarily compressed, with all the usual modern tendencies to make everything sound loud regardless of whether it is for any good. It cannot be denied that the quality of Heathen's music remains high with a lot of polished touches, and the band's instrumental prowess is evident. But it is probably not unfounded to claim that this pales in comparison to their best works in the past.

HELGRIND - Religious Persecution
United Kingdom 2008

1. The Confession 2. Death Squad 3. Back From Hell 4. Mass Graves 5. Religious Persecution 6. Cry For The Angels 7. Violation 8. Forbidden Lust 9. Altar Of Hate 10. Suicide Pact 11. Heretic 12. Witchery 13. Baptised In Hate

There are numerous well-known examples of a thrash metal band abandoning the traditional sound and adopting a more modern style, but in Helgrind's case the direction seems to have been reversed. Following a couple of more mixed efforts from this group, Religious Persecution features solid and consistent thrash metal with a noteworthy degree of heaviness. The presentation is very emphatic and the band sound quite dedicated to the matter. Occasionally the punishing nature of this music can lead to a momentary sensation of weariness, but most of the time the impression is on the positive side. While you could wish for some more distinctive moments on the whole, this is still quite a strong offering, especially from a band whose past recordings might not have promised too much in this aspect.

HELGRIND - Inquisition
United Kingdom 2011

1. Burn 2. Hurt 3. Evil Inside 4. Revenge 5. Break Out 6. Black Rain 7. In The Name Of 8. No Tomorrow 9. Second Sight 10. Subhuman 11. Prophecy Of Destruction

As a follow-up to Religious Persecution, Helgrind's Inquisition does not present any significant changes in the band's style. Even though the music remains heavy and impetuous, somehow this album appears slightly less impressive in a direct comparison with its predecessor. This might be at least partially due to a few more ponderous moments than before. Also, while the band's forceful sound on the previous recording was even sort of refreshing when heard for the first time, the novelty of this kind of approach does not necessarily last over several subsequent albums. In this case, Inquisition turns out to be just a satisfactory release from one of the heaviest bands in the contemporary scene.

Russia 2010

1. Injection (Intro) 2. Black Label 3. My Last Resort 4. Global Genocide 5. Stop The Corruption 6. Razor's Edge 7. Nuclear Attack 8. Death Sentence 9. Rifle Shots 10. Abomination 11. True Lies 12. Kill Fucking Bitch

In the pool of generic thrash metal, Hell's Thrash Horsemen would be almost completely indistinguishable from everything else if it wasn't for their name. Going Sane is by no means a sluggish album, quite the opposite - the band appear energetic and the production quality is satisfying. And yet the final impression is very forgettable and even dull. It's simply a question about whether this album differs from hundreds of other releases in the same league, and the answer is that it doesn't. It's like a well manufactured industrial product that meets all standards and specifications but provides nothing of advantage over competition. Although Going Sane may look semi-interesting at first and even tempt you to grasp it for closer inspection, eventually the music can turn out to be rather featureless and void.

HELLBASTARD - Natural Order
United Kingdom 1990

1. Interrogate Them 2. I Beg In Blood 3. A Minor Point 4. Justily Executed 5. Natural Order 6. Enslavers 7. Black Force 8. Neon Storms 9. There Is No God But Man (Or Woman) 10. T.A.F.

Hellbastard may be better known for their more hardcore-ish works, however, Natural Order is almost a perfect prototype of a British thrash metal album with some additional street credibility. The band's strong thrash attack is completed by some diverse instrumentals and generally a very tasty guitar sound which gives this album some extra boost. Although these tracks mostly follow the same basic formula, the right attitude shows in a positive way. Especially the first few songs really go straight to the point with their great energetic feel that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Only some obvious repetition near the end and a lack of more original style prevent Natural Order from becoming more impressive as a whole. Even now, any fan of powerful thrash metal with a good taste should find this album worth interest.

HELLBRINGER - Hellbringer
Australia 2011

1. Intro 2. Hellbringer 3. The Banished 4. The Rapture 5. Spawns Of The Void 6. The Hammer 7. Screams From The Catacombs 8. My Fist Your Face

The style of Hellbringer's debut is not totally unlike that of the band's countrymen Shrapnel. In other words, this is mostly an album of forceful no-nonsense thrash metal with no major technical leanings to speak of. In principle this kind of down-to-earth approach is always respectable, but too much of the same can become slightly tiresome after a while. As Hellbringer's music does not introduce any significant variation in the basic formula, the result can eventually sound a bit too ordinary and even generic. The lengthy Spawns Of The Void must be the most ambitious track on this whole album and therefore a worthy exception from the rule, but the rest is generally less distinctive. Which is still not too bad for a debut release of this kind.

HELLBRINGER - Dominion Of Darkness
Australia 2012

1. Dominion Of Darkness 2. Sermon Of Death 3. Deceiver's Chamber 4. Necromancer's Return 5. Bell Of The Antichrist 6. Satanic Destructor 7. Hellbringer 8. The Rites Of Evil 9. Demon's Blood

With little difference from its predecessor, Hellbringer's Dominion Of Darkness provides just another dose of grim but honestly quite repetitive thrash metal. The sound of this album closely resembles certain recent retro-oriented German thrash acts, and in a blind test you could easily make a wrong guess about the band's origins. Everything has been kept faithful to the 1980s style and for the first few minutes the promise is intriguing enough, then dullness unavoidably creeps in. There is always room for practitioners of tried and tested routines, but in this case the output is hardly varied enough to rise above the average even for a second.

HELLIAS - Closed In The Fate Coffin
Poland 1991

1. Closed In The Fate Coffin 2. Dark Exile 3. The Pray I 4. Empty Cry 5. Beat Of Flame 6. The Pray II 7. Mind Deformity 8. The Pray III 9. Golgotha 10. Sentence Of... 11. Queen Of Death

With their debut full-length release Hellias made a stab at dark, atmospheric thrash metal. Featuring several songs on the slow, stomping side, it seems that Closed In The Fate Coffin was probably meant to be a lot more menacing experience, but the mediocre production quality seriously eats away some of the effect. A few high-speed tracks fortunately bring some necessary energy to the mix and prove that the band could easily handle material at varying tempos. There are many attempts at distinguishable riffs, occasionally with success, and the album as a whole has something of a consistent and even characteristic sound. Despite its faults Closed In The Fate Coffin shows a lot of promise, and possibly the only major reason for the lack of bigger recognition was just that the band aimed higher than their limited facilities really allowed.

HELLISH CROSSFIRE - Slaves Of The Burning Pentagram
Germany 2006

1. Intro 2. Conquerors Of Black Souls 3. Eternal Tyranny 4. Desecrate / Glorify The Sin 5. Demonic Sacrifice 6. Shadowcurse 7. Claw Of The Reaper 8. Hallowed In Fire

As if there hadn't been enough of bands who continue to delve into the dark corners of thrash metal like the 1980s never ended, Hellish Crossfire decided to give it a try as well. Luckily, Slaves Of The Burning Pentagram is not too bad at all. The sound of this album is forceful and a bit rough as only appropriate, and just by looking at the track titles it is easy to see what kind of bands Hellish Crossfire drew their main inspiration from. Although these songs are hardly of the most distinctive kind, the production has a certain live quality that makes the band's output sound better than it might appear with a more sterile approach. This may not be an album that one would like to pick up very often, but at least it is not utterly boring in the same way as some more sophisticated or just tame bands sometimes end up sounding.

HELLISH CROSSFIRE - Bloodrust Scythe
Germany 2010

1. Night Of The Possessed 2. Black Injection 3. ...Of Slaying Grounds 4. Into The Old And Evil 5. Orgasmic Rush 6. Speed Hunter 7. At The Edge Of Total Chaos 8. Too Tough To Die

Apparently Hellish Crossfire were not just another one-album wonder, as the release of Bloodrust Scythe proves the band capable of producing more of the same kind of energetic output as on Slaves Of The Burning Pentagram. It is still not highly memorable, far from it, and some of the primitive charm seems to fade near the end of this recording, but for a good dose of no-frills thrash metal it is not without merits. Everything sounds quite spontaneous though also somewhat undistinctive, and the number of really irritating points is practically nil. Again, the biggest virtue of albums like this must be their total opposite nature when placed next to certain overengineered releases that sound like too much time was spent at the drawing board. In this regard, Bloodrust Scythe could have ended up in a lot worse company than now.

HELLRAISER - We'll Bury You!
Russia 1990

1. Rockets In The Air 2. I Got A Power 3. Dark Side Of You 4. I Wanna Be Free 5. Danger Zone 6. Win The Battle 7. Snakes In The Kitchen 8. ? (bonus)

Hellraiser's brand of speed/thrash metal had a fairly happy-going feel to it, definitely something of an exception among many more serious and dark releases of the time. We'll Bury You! should catch some of your attention based on its uplifting spirit alone, and the first couple of tracks of the album are semi-catchy at least. However, you cannot avoid noticing the simple grounds that the music is ultimately based on, and towards the end this album just gets a bit too dull and pointless. The quality of production is slightly rough but still adequate, and there is some undeniable enthusiastic attitude in the band's approach. As Hellraiser's first release, the outcome is decent enough to gain sympathy, but it surely leaves some room for further development.

HELLSTORM - The Legion Of The Storm
Italy 2003

1. The Coming Of Shadows 2. Killed Equilibrium 3. Under A Stormy Sky 4. Across The Lands Of Grey 5. Shadows Of Unknown 6. The Cursed Circle 7. Doomed By The Moon 8. The Dark Side 9. Fire Of Terror 10. Song Of Twilight 11. The Legion Of The Storm

Hellstorm's The Legion Of The Storm is a pleasant surprise, a lot more than just another unimaginative thrash metal album straight to the bargain bin. Fast and furious thrashers like Killed Equilibrium and Under A Stormy Sky may be already convincing enough to most people, but the band's sound has more to it than just speed. With songs that are both vicious and stylish at the same time, not to forget about some very appropriate aggressive vocals, this album carries a specific kind of dark and captivating tone that gives the music at least a semi-original feel. Some extra effort was obviously put into the lyrics that follow an ambitious storytelling approach, and although individual pieces don't always make great sense, there is a clear and consistent theme through the whole thing. Maybe Hellstorm's style is nothing that hasn't been heard before in some form or another, but it is hard to deny that there is much to like about this album.

HELLWITCH - Syzygial Miscreancy
USA 1990

1. The Ascent 2. Nosferatu 3. Viral Exogence 4. Sentient Transmography 5. Mordirivial Dissemination 6. Pyrophoric Seizure 7. Purveyor Of Fear

Whereas most bands in the underground scene didn't really do much to improve the sometimes stagnant field of thrash metal, Hellwitch actually brought in some ideas of their own. Syzygial Miscreancy lays down a load of hammering thrash metal with an unruly attitude and some obvious death metal influences in the rhythm department. The instrumentation on this album is varied enough to draw your attention for good. After a haunting intro, Nosferatu blasts off with some of the most unrestrained guitars since the old Slayer albums, and as a whole this thing sports a continuous restless feeling that is bound to keep you on your toes most of the time. Although the approach taken by Hellwitch is not too exceptional from today's viewpoint and, in all honesty, a whole album of this kind can become quite tiresome after a while, you got to give it to the band for putting their effort where it shows.

HELLWITCH - Omnipotent Convocation
USA 2009

1. Vicious Avidity 2. Sought To Beguile 3. Opiatic Luminance 4. Neolithic Journey 5. Mysteria 6. Mythologicalies (Enlightened Paganus) 7. Irreverent Salvation 8. Final Approach 9. Days Of Nemesis 10. Epitome Of Disgrace 11. Infernal Death

In their original days Hellwitch seemed like a curious exception from the standards of thrash and proto death metal. After a long wait, their second full-length release Omnipotent Convocation proves that the band were not a one-album wonder after all, and that Syzygial Miscreancy was not a mere accident to happen. In times like these when the most typical thrash metal bands appear too predictable and stale for their own good, it is kind of refreshing to hear this kind of unorthodox and somewhat chaotic rhythms still played. On this album the band's music sounds maybe a bit more refined but also even more deadly than in the past, and the fun factor is definitely high. While it can require something of an acquired taste to fully appreciate this musical anarchy, there is no denying that Hellwitch can be trusted to deliver the goods with a maximum effect.

HEXENHAUS - A Tribute To Insanity
Sweden 1988

1. It... 2. Eaten Alive 3. Delirious 4. As Darkness Falls... 5. Incubus 6. Death Walks Among Us 7. Memento Moris - The Dead Are Restless 8. Requiem

Hexenhaus were most likely the most original Swedish speed/thrash metal band in their time. On A Tribute To Insanity the characteristics of more inspired songwriting were already quite obvious right from the beginning. While there are some straightforward and fine thrashers like Eaten Alive and Incubus, most songs are more ambitious than one would expect to find from an average album. Regardless, there is a strong sense of consistency and continuity on this release, and with harsh vocals and heavy riffs the intensity never really drops. On the negative side, most of the featured songs tend to blend together in an indistinguishable manner except for a couple of already mentioned tracks. While the debut of Hexenhaus had some definite style of its own, the experience on the whole was not yet the most memorable.

HEXENHAUS - The Edge Of Eternity
Sweden 1990

1. Prelude 2. Toxic Threat 3. Prime Evil 4. Home Sweet Home (Ward Sweet Ward) 5. The House Of Lies 6. A Temple For The Soul 7. The Eternal Nightmare - Act One 8. At The Edge Of Eternity

For their second album Hexenhaus chose to exercise some more controlled and dry style than on their debut. The Edge Of Eternity actually sounds strikingly similar to Target's Mission Executed, complete with sarcastic and somewhat irritating vocals by a new vocalist. The production of this album is quite refined, even to the extent that the music could have benefited from some additional rough edge. The complex guitar arrangements are almost a trademark feature here, but that only helps to build the characteristic Hexenhaus sound. While the music is fairly interesting in its own right, the band occasionally sound a bit too shallow as if no one had to really break a sweat when this recording was made. Nevertheless, except for the last track that gets a bit lost in technicalities, The Edge Of Eternity is not a bad album in its class though not too exceptional for an example of the style, either.

HEXENHAUS - Awakening
Sweden 1991

1. Shadows Of Sleep 2. Awakening 3. Betrayed (By Justice) 4. Necronomicon Ex-Mortis 5. Code 29 6. The Forthcoming Fall 7. Sea Of Blood 8. Paradise Of Pain 9. The Eternal Nightmare Act II 10. Incubus

With their third album and third vocalist, Hexenhaus reached their most streamlined production yet. Musically Awakening is somewhat in the same class with A Tribute To Insanity but done in a more mature style. Thomas Lundin's vocals are very smooth and sound more professional than those on the band's previous albums although they obviously lack some strength in comparison. But even though this release tends to sound almost overproduced at times, it is no less powerful than its predecessors when you consider how fine-tuned the result is. Most of the time the music flows almost in a dream-like fashion, much more effortlessly than it did in the past. Even the new version of Incubus sounds less strained than the original. In some way this album is comparable to Annihilator's Never, Neverland though with more technical arrangements and less hard edges. Maybe Awakening is not something to listen to on the same day with Slayer and the like, but it is a fine album nonetheless.

HEXX - Quest For Sanity
USA 1988

1. Racial Slaughter 2. Sardonicus 3. Fields Of Death 4. Mirror Of The Past 5. Twice As Bright

Having started their transition from conventional metal to a more extreme sound base, Hexx made themselves known in the pure thrash metal territory with this mini album. Quest For Sanity is not too remarkable for any other reason than maybe the notable level of intensity in the music. Hexx sound convincing in their delivery, but without knowing the performer it would be just too easy to be mistaken about the band as the music sounds pretty much the same as what almost any other less known band of the time was putting out. With raw vocals and sufficient energy, it's your very average thrash metal. Quest For Sanity is perfectly fair for an old thrash album but nothing in it really stands out.

HEXX - Morbid Reality
USA 1991

1. Morbid Reality 2. The Last Step 3. Birds Of Prey 4. Blood Hunter 5. Fire Mushrooms 6. Persecution Experience 7. Watery Graves 8. Spider Jam

With their last album Hexx reached a certain level of musical maturity that makes the result more convincing and memorable than the band's past efforts. Morbid Reality has quite a technical but very heavy feel with some death-ish touches. The vocals are a bit more extreme than earlier, which together with the more technical sound makes this album appear slightly different from Quest For Sanity. But the music is generally pretty interesting in its own way, and the title track, Birds Of Prey, and Fire Mushrooms are some particularly cool tracks while the rest are not too bad though a bit indistinguishable in the long run. With a fairly distinctive sound and even a few original ideas, Morbid Reality is probably the best album Hexx managed to create during their heavier period.

HIRAX - Raging Violence
USA 1985

1. Demons - Evil Forces 2. Blitzkrieg Air Attack 3. Guardian Protector 4. Bombs Of Death 5. Defeat Of Amalek 6. Raging Violence 7. Call Of The Gods 8. Warlords Command 9. Suicide 10. Executed 11. The Gauntlet 12. Destruction And Terror 13. Destroy 14. Bloodbath

If there ever was a righteous cult band in the thrash metal history, Hirax it must be. Raging Violence is a vivid collection of some of the most terse thrash metal tracks, their generally quite short length being the most obvious hardcore-ish influence on this album. Although the band manage to present almost everything you can expect in a compact format, some tracks still tend to end rather abruptly. Probably the most characteristic trademark of the Hirax sound must be Katon W. De Pena's clean and rather high, almost boyish vocals that make quite a difference from ordinary thrash metal shouts and grunts. The style has a refreshing quality to it, although some may find that it requires an acquired taste. While Raging Violence is not one of the most memorable productions, these tracks are not dull ones indeed, and one would have to be extremely cynical in order not to like some of this album's ageless feel.

HIRAX - Hate, Fear And Power
USA 1986

1. Hate, Fear And Power 2. Blind Faith 3. Unholy Sacrifice 4. Lightning - Thunder 5. The Last War 6. The Plague 7. Imprisoned By Ignorance 8. Criminal Punishment

Hate, Fear And Power continued in the typical Hirax vein except for slightly better and heavier production. Music is still as hastily executed as on the previous release, but it's hard to really complain when much of its appeal comes from this compact style as well as really unique vocals. In general, the song structures have possibly changed closer to the norm although they by no means still follow the most stereotypical thrash formula. Maybe the biggest drawback is that due to their shortness these tracks tend to sound alike but then again, you may choose not to pay special attention to this fact as the album works as a whole in the same convincing manner as Raging Violence did. More like a mini album than a full-length release, Hate, Fear And Power is hardly an album of great innovations but what is contained serves its purpose pretty well.

HIRAX - Barrage Of Noise
USA 2001

1. Murder One 2. Barrage Of Noise 3. Walk With Death 4. Broken Neck 5. Jade 6. Mouth Sewn Shut 7. Beyond The Church (Part One) 8. French Pearl

Becoming active again after a long hiatus, Hirax had something of a second coming in the form of Barrage Of Noise. The initial impression may be a mixed one, particularly due to the guitar sound that is boosted so much that at first it seems to stick out like a sore thumb. While it is just a matter of getting used to this, it has a tendency to draw your attention more than really necessary. Also, De Pena's voice is generally lower than in the old days which again is not such a bad thing. Add the fact that the compositions are a lot more varied and ambitious than earlier, and the album sounds quite different from the band's original releases in the 1980s. The music still has its strong moments, and the title track and Broken Neck are as good as anything Hirax recorded in the past. While Barrage Of Noise is undeniably somewhat unfocused, it is no less a worthy contender on its own.

HIRAX - The New Age Of Terror
USA 2004

1. Kill Switch 2. Hostile Territory 3. The New Age Of Terror 4. Swords Of Steel 5. Into The Ruins 6. Massacre Of The Innocent 7. Hell On Earth 8. Suffer 9. El Dia De Los Muertos 10. El Diablo Negro 11. Unleash The Dogs Of War

With The New Age Of Terror Hirax reached a certain level of quality that makes this album one of the more memorable productions in recent years. As the most mature Hirax release to date, this is a fine piece of thrash metal with a high number of catchy riffs and very good production that results in a warm, appealing sound that is nowhere to be found on many other over-produced and sterile modern day recordings. Songs are generally longer than on older Hirax albums, and this combined with good songwriting leads to several great tracks like Kill Switch, the title song, and El Diablo Negro, to name just a few. In fact, The New Age Of Terror may be the band's most accessible release when compared to their old, much more stripped-down style. This one just oozes pure old school approach to thrash metal done in the right way.

HIRAX - Assassins Of War
USA 2007

1. Lucifer's Inferno 2. Summon The Death Dealers 3. City Of The Dead 4. Invasion 5. Assassins Of War

Assassins Of War is guaranteed to provide the same kind of experience as any other Hirax release to date. The sound of the band has changed very little if at all since The New Age Of Terror, although this mini album might not appear as striking as its predecessor. In comparison, these songs tend to sound more unsurprising, even ordinary at times, and the music on the whole does not necessarily raise any great enthusiasm over it. Mostly it is nothing that hasn't been heard before, in fact you may even notice some obvious repetition of old patterns here. But Hirax never made a bad album in the past and they did not start with this one either. Even though Assassins Of War does not present anything new, it continues in the familiar Hirax vein at least well enough.

HIRAX - El Rostro De La Muerte
USA 2009

1. Baptized By Fire 2. Flesh And Blood 3. Eradicate Mankind 4. Chaos And Brutality 5. El Rostro De La Muerte (The Face Of Death) 6. Blind Faith 7. Horrified 8. Battle Of The North 9. The Laws Of Temptation 10. Death Militia 11. Broken Neck 12. Violent Assault 13. Cuando Cae La Oscuridad (When Darkness Falls) 14. Satan's Fall

Over the years Hirax must have become one of the most trustworthy bands in thrash metal. The release of El Rostro De La Muerte should just make this point even more obvious, as you will be hard-pressed to find the slightest signs of a pretentious attitude or gimmicky show-off mentality here. This album is nothing short of traditional, with a customary Hirax sound and aggressive lyrics that fully fit in. Even the production manages to appear natural in a pleasant old-fashioned way, despite the modern times. The quality of songwriting may not be comparable to the best Hirax albums from the past, and Katon W. De Pena's voice has arguably lost some of its original appeal, but the catchiest thrashers like Eradicate Mankind and Satan's Fall are positively fool-proof. Despite the lack of anything new in the musical department, this album should be capable of winning people over based on its likeable down-to-earth feel alone.

HOBBS' ANGEL OF DEATH - Hobbs' Angel Of Death
Australia 1988

1. House Of Death 2. Satans Crusade 3. Lucifers Domain 4. Marie Antoinette 5. Jack The Ripper 6. Crucifixion 7. Brotherhood 8. The Journey 9. Bubonic Plague 10. Cold Steel

Peter Hobbs' project gained some early fame as the other remarkable Australian thrash metal band besides Mortal Sin. The classic debut of Hobbs' Angel Of Death is notably heavier than Mortal Sin albums, something very much in the vein of Slayer. But although the band are quite convincing in their delivery, musically this album is far from being innovative or comparable to even Slayer's lesser efforts. The riffs are there, it's very heavy and all, but in the end the songs fail to impress by any other than nostalgic reasons. Basically this album is lacking some character, and in comparison to Mortal Sin it is not as entertaining or enjoyable. Except for a couple of more inspired tracks like Jack The Ripper, Hobbs' Angel Of Death didn't provide too much of interest on this release.

Australia 1995

1. Depopulation 2. Skeptics 3. Revenge 4. Ashes 5. Catalepsy 6. Tutankhamen 7. Dream Killer 8. Final Feast 9. Misled Fortune 10. Forced Fed 11. I Am What I Am 12. Lost Faith 13. Destiny

Seven years between Hobbs' recordings didn't seem to have much effect on the outcome as Inheritance sounds like it could have been released already in the 1980s. Compared to the band's debut, this album appears slightly less strained, which makes it more pleasant as a listening experience. Especially the first couple of tracks are quite above the average with some energetic riffs although that doesn't apply to the whole thing. With its massive length of 70+ minutes, this album starts to drag a bit in the middle but picks up again near the end. The songwriting is still not too original or memorable, but it maintains a decent level of quality through all these tracks. While Inheritance is not an unreserved favorite, the general sound is fairly satisfactory and gains a careful "thumbs up" for this album.

HOLOCAUSTO - Blocked Minds
Brazil 1988

1. KKK (Ku-Klux-Klan) 2. Injectable World 3. Eighteen Years Old 4. Hunger 5. Funny Face 6. Lies 7. Tribute To Cicciolina 8. Who Am I? 9. Sleep... Have A Dream?

While Holocausto's earliest and more extreme works allegedly gained some notoriety with their brutal elements, by the release of Blocked Minds the band's style had evolved into an ordinary and clean form of thrash metal. The most noticeable feature must be the vocals that sound totally emotionless and even careless, as if the singer just read the lyrics from a sheet during the actual recording session. This and the reoccurring restrained feel in the music contribute to an audible lack of energy in the end. For other than that, there is not much to say about Blocked Minds - the album is passable but very plain and unmemorable.

HOLOCROSS - Holocross
USA 1988

1. Wolf Pak 2. Bombardment 3. Warpath 4. B Hive 5. Seizure 6. Manslaughter 7. Murder Cycle 8. Drill 9. Ptomaine 10. Battle Stations

Another underground thrash metal group on New Renaissance Records, Holocross were pretty short-lived as a band but at least they managed to release one quite interesting album in the 1980s. The self-titled Holocross features some energetic and rather straightforward thrash metal that is made slightly more notable by the powerful vocals. The first couple of tracks in particular are bound to catch your attention, as the way in which the vocals follow the drums is something that can be rarely heard. The style of songwriting is slightly more original than usually and gives this album a certain edge over many others, too. While the music does get a bit repetitive near the end and this album on the whole is not overly distinctive after all, Holocross deserve some respect for their intense and powerful style.

HOLOCROSS - Hypercaust
USA 2005

1. Painful Reminder 2. The Bludgeoning 3. Guidance In Violence 4. Intro 5. Ded Bolt 6. Incoming 7. Hollenlarm / Death Rattle 8. Body Bag 9. A.I.M. 10. Hypercaust

Even if Holocross didn't make a world record for the longest time between their first two releases, they must have got pretty close. Although it was apparently recorded already soon after the band's debut album, Hypercaust is a living proof that some of the old antics die hard. The album starts with a bang, as Painful Reminder is a highly effective and bouncy attack right in your face. If you survive that one, the second track only adds more rounds to the machine. Overall, the music is performed in the same style as on the band's debut though maybe in a bit more punctual form. It is a fact that there is hardly anything novel or exceptional in this thing, but when the songs are played with this kind of dedication, you just cannot bother with negative remarks. In the old days Hypercaust might not have been worth a special note, but nowadays it serves as a good example of what real thrash metal used to sound like.

HOLY MOSES - Queen Of Siam
Germany 1986

1. Necropolis 2. Don't Mess Around With The Bitch 3. Devils Dancer 4. Queen Of Siam 5. Roadcrew 6. Walpurgisnight 7. Bursting Rest 8. Dear Little Friend 9. Torches Of Hire

Although Holy Moses were a notable band in the early scene for having a female vocalist, most people at the time might not have expected Queen Of Siam to spark a long and productive career that only a few other groups could match. The band's debut release is passable and mildly interesting, but there are not too many signs of the things to come. Many tracks are only moderately paced, and the most stand-out feature must be Sabina Classen's vocals that have some rough and undeveloped charm - at its worst the style almost adds certain unintentional humor to the music, at its best her output becomes nasty enough to put many male vocalists to shame already at this early stage. Apart from a few worthy riffs here and there, this release did leave room for improvement, though.

HOLY MOSES - Finished With The Dogs
Germany 1987

1. Finished With The Dogs 2. Current Of Death 3. Criminal Assault 4. In The Slaughterhouse 5. Fortress Of Desperation 6. Six Fat Women 7. Corroded Dreams 8. Life's Destroyer 9. Rest In Pain 10. Military Service 11. Road Crew (bonus)

With the release of Finished With The Dogs, Holy Moses left pretty much all the primitive artifacts of their debut behind and took a giant leap to the front row. This album got it all - hyperactive drumming that sounds like a horde of rabid Duracell bunnies running rampant, painfully accurate chainsaw-like guitars, and on top of it all, Sabina Classen's positively electrifying vocals from beyond. The amount of energy stored in this recording is immeasurable. The screaming Current Of Death is close to an ultimate thrash metal song, and the amusing Military Service must be one of the merriest thrash hollers ever written. You would have to be dead as a rock not to be moved by this frenzy, and even then the first ten seconds into it should be enough to raise anyone up from the dead. Although Finished With The Dogs might not be recommended to the most serious people out there, it is among the most beautiful and absolutely funniest moments ever created in the genre. They simply don't make things like this anymore.

HOLY MOSES - The New Machine Of Liechtenstein
Germany 1989

1. Near Dark 2. Def Con II 3. Panic 4. Strange Deception 5. Locky Popster 6. SSP (Secret Service Project) 7. State: Catatonic 8. The Brood 9. Lost In The Maze

After the wild and frantic Finished With The Dogs, the next release of Holy Moses took the band into a more refined direction. The New Machine Of Liechtenstein is a concept album that tells an ambitious but sometimes rather vague sci-fi horror story. The production is fairly dark and suits the subject matter well. While these songs are not nearly as furious as on the previous album, the general feel is focused enough, even stylish at times. Among the best tracks are Near Dark (with its clever rip-off of the original Halloween movie theme), and the menacing Lost In The Maze. Maybe the whole thing isn't quite as strong and memorable as you would have been entitled to expect, but The New Machine Of Liechtenstein still remains a fairly cool Holy Moses release.

Note: The original limited edition vinyl release came with a black and white comic supplement that clarified several aspects of the story.

HOLY MOSES - World Chaos
Germany 1990

1. World Chaos 2. Diabolic Plot 3. Blood Sucker 4. Education 5. Guns N' Moses 6. Too Drunk To Fuck 7. Summer Kills 8. Deutschland (Remember The Past) 9. Permission To Fire 10. Jungle Of Lies 11. Dog Eat Dog 12. (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) (bonus)

Having released a couple of albums that demonstrated noticeable and welcome progression, Holy Moses made something of a return to a more straightforward and simple style. In comparison, World Chaos sounds more ordinary than the band's previous efforts, occasionally bringing even Queen Of Siam to mind. The music has more of a rough edge than The New Machine Of Liechtenstein, but for the most part it doesn't raise any great excitement. In fact, a lot of the time this album can appear awfully similar to many average bands' typical recordings from the same period, and the two cover songs just sort of complete the whole generic and unenthusiastic impression.

HOLY MOSES - Terminal Terror
Germany 1991

1. Nothing For My Mum 2. Two Sides Terror 3. Theotocy (Terminal Terror) 4. Creation Of Violation 5. Pool Of Blood 6. Distress And Death 7. Adult Machine 8. Malicious Race 9. Tradition Of Fatality

For Holy Moses Terminal Terror was a much needed return to the level of consistent high quality that was last observed on Finished With The Dogs. The opening track Nothing For My Mum may start off sounding like a cheap imitation of Current Of Death at first, but it quickly becomes evident that this release has a completely original feel of its own. Initially the most surprising thing must be about the vocals that are often closer to death metal growls than ever before, however, after you get used to this style, it only seems appropriate considering the totally evil mood of this album. The dark and depressing lyrics focus on real-life terrors, and some eerie and unnerving arrangements on songs like Creation Of Violation and Pool Of Blood create a lot more menacing atmosphere than The New Machine Of Liechtenstein ever did. Complete with some of the heaviest riffs around, Terminal Terror is one of the most striking Holy Moses albums ever and effectively restores a lot of credibility that the band already seemed to have started losing before this release.

HOLY MOSES - Reborn Dogs
Germany 1992

1. Clash My Soul 2. Decapitated Mind 3. Welcome To The Real World 4. Reborn Dogs 5. Fuck You 6. Third Birth 7. Deadicate 8. Five Year Plan 9. Process Of Pain 10. Reverse 11. Dancing With The Dead

The last Holy Moses album with Sabina Classen on vocals before a long break was a remarkably energetic piece of work. Reborn Dogs can be quite different from the dark and stylish Terminal Terror, but it is pretty satisfactory in its specific category of most relentless and raw thrash metal. The vocals are as extreme as ever and then some, and on the whole this must be among the most brutal recordings from this band. It may not appear quite as strong as Finished With The Dogs, but the absolutely merciless nature of these songs makes the output fairly enjoyable after all. Despite the varying quality of their albums, Holy Moses more than proved their worth as one of the most interesting German thrash metal acts, and Reborn Dogs remains a solid demonstration of a certain side of their characteristic style.

HOLY MOSES - No Matter What's The Cause
Germany 1994

1. Upon Your Tongue 2. A Word To Say 3. Step Ahead 4. Acceptance 5. Just Because 6. What's Up 7. Senseless One 8. Denial 9. Hate Is Just A 4 Letter Word 10. On You 11. I Feel Sick 12. No Solution 13. Bomber

No Matter What's The Cause must be something of a bastard child in the discography of Holy Moses. With the band at the end of their classic era, lead vocal duties were handled by Andy Classen in the most over-the-top vein while Sabina's role was reduced to occasional background vocals. Although Reborn Dogs already sported a very extreme sound, this album takes the approach even further and it is probably the band's roughest effort to date, with more hardcore-ish touches than on any other Holy Moses release. The result is not quite a total abortion but definitely way too unrefined and plain ugly for its own good - it is revealing that the most interesting tracks are actually all cover songs. If No Matter What's The Cause hadn't been published under the name of Holy Moses, there simply wouldn't be much reason to pay even the slightest attention to it.

HOLY MOSES - Master Of Disaster
Germany 2001

1. Master Of Disaster 2. Taste My Blood 3. The Hand Of Death 4. Feel The Pain 5. Down On Your Knees

After a long period of inactivity, Holy Moses returned to the thrash metal genre with a notably good mini album. Master Of Disaster is extremely faithful to the band's original style, as if no time at all had passed since Reborn Dogs (excluding the hardcore-ish No Matter What's The Cause released in between). One cannot help but notice some strain on Sabina Classen's vocals that sound quite worn-out at first, but fortunately they become stronger towards the end of this release. As a whole the band's sound is very close to their early albums, with even some successful hints of Finished With The Dogs clearly audible - just witness the relentless Taste My Blood and you will get the idea. Although everything in the songwriting department is based on familiar grounds, the riffs are very memorable and the feel of this album couldn't be more right. Master Of Disaster is a fine proof that some of the original thrash metal spirit never loses its appeal.

HOLY MOSES - Disorder Of The Order
Germany 2002

1. Intro 2. We Are At War 3. Disorder Of The Order 4. Break The Evil 5. Deeper 6. Hell On Earth 7. I Bleed 8. Blood Bond 9. 1000 Lies 10. Princess Of Hell 11. Verfolgungswahn 12. Heaven Vs. Hell

It could be argued that after their reformation Holy Moses have repeated almost every stage of development as in their original heydays. While Master Of Disaster successfully derived elements from the band's most prominent early albums, Disorder Of The Order bears a close resemblance to World Chaos, and that's not a positive thing. The production is somewhat thinner than previously and the general sound is more raw, but most importantly the riffs are much duller here. It almost appears that the band put most of their regained energy into their comeback release, as this album has little of that charm left. The cover art is nice in a cartoonish way and the gothic intro is very atmospheric, but most of everything else is something that one could easily live without. Disorder Of The Order is not a total disaster, but at this stage you should be able to expect a lot more.

HOLY MOSES - Strength Power Will Passion
Germany 2005

1. Angel Cry 2. End Of Time 3. Symbol Of Spirit 4. Examination 5. I Will 6. Space Clearing 7. Sacred Crystals 8. Lost Inside 9. Death Bells II 10. Rebirthing 11. Seasons In The Twilight 12. Say Goodbye

Strength Power Will Passion showed some improvement over Disorder Of The Order. The style of this album is closer to Master Of Disaster, with the exception of some pretty blatant death metal vocals this time. What the preceding release lacked in memorable songs is compensated almost to another extreme here - most tracks are very catchy although somewhat similar to each other, and the riffs tend to stick to your head almost immediately with their simple hooks. A bit more inventive approach to songwriting could have given the result some longer lasting appeal though, and the one-dimensional vocals can get quite tiresome after a while. Although Strength Power Will Passion is technically more than satisfactory, in the end this album promises a bit more than it really can deliver - after the initial impression wears off, you are left with a collection of decent but, in all honesty, quite repetitive songs.

HOLY MOSES - Agony Of Death
Germany 2008

1. Imagination 2. Alienation 3. World In Darkness 4. Bloodbound Of The Damned 5. Pseudohalluzination 6. Angels In War 7. Schizophrenia 8. Dissociative Disorder 9. The Cave (Paramnesia) 10. Delusional Denial 11. The Retreat 12. Through Shattered Minds / Agony Of Death (Outro)

It's been many years since there was truly a noteworthy new Holy Moses album, but after a long wait Agony Of Death delivers. In short, this must be the band's most ambitious and refined release since Terminal Terror. The compositions are generally a lot less simplistic and more powerful than on Strength Power Will Passion while the riffs still share a great number of memorable hooks. Most of these songs combine strength and style in a way that one couldn't seriously hope to hear in this day and age anymore, and the result does not sound like a mere throwback from the old times. Worth a special note, on the complete full version of this album all songs are connected by short instrumental passages that have a consistent sci-fi theme. While some of them may border on cheesy, it is hard to deny that this solution makes the recording sound like a seamless soundtrack of the apocalypse and, in combination with the massive total length, gives it a serious magnum opus feel. It appears that after all these years Holy Moses managed to create an album as good as or even better than in their original days.

HOLY TERROR - Terror And Submission
USA 1987

1. Black Plague 2. Evil's Rising 3. Blood Of The Saints 3. Mortal Fear 4. Guardians Of The Netherworld 6. Distant Calling 7. Terror And Submission 8. Tomorrow's End 9. Alpha Omega - The Bringer Of Balance

Holy Terror were an interesting exception in the rather homogenous thrash metal field. The band had a strong essence of conventional heavy metal inserted in their music, and somehow they managed to create a credible and enjoyable mix that still sounds quite original compared to most other bands of the time. Terror And Submission occasionally sounds like a thrashier version of the new wave of British heavy metal, with emphasis on harmonic guitars and Keith Deen's vocals that were pretty atypical for a speed/thrash metal band, a mixture of clear singing and low growls. For example, Guardians Of The Netherworld is very close to the conventional style while Mortal Fear goes to another extreme, being one of the fastest tracks on this album. Although the band incorporated rather diverse elements in their music, Terror And Submission is a pretty enjoyable album with some fairly thrashy moments.

USA 1988

1. Judas Reward 2. Debt Of Pain 3. The Immoral Wasteland 4. A Fools Gold / Terminal Humor / Mind Wars 5. Damned By Judges 6. Do Unto Others 7. No Resurrection 8. Christian Resistance

Holy Terror's second release continued their customary speed/thrash metal style with a strong sense of melody and influences from conventional metal. This time the production is heavier and somewhat more clear whereas the music is generally slightly faster but still remarkably melodic. In the company of thrashier pieces, The Immortal Wasteland really jumps out as the song could be directly from some Iron Maiden album with its galloping guitars and traditional melodies. Again, the band sound pretty much unlike most other thrash metal acts out there at that time. Mind Wars has a certain oldfashioned feel which is strangely captivating at the same time. Holy Terror were probably not everyone's cup of tea, but they surely were a lot more original than many others in the genre.

H.O.S. - The Beginning
Italy 2011

1. Intro 2. Fallout 3. Annihilation Of Society 4. Road Madness 5. The Haunt 6. No More Traitors 7. The Last Will 8. Ready To Fight 9. Earthquake 10. We Are H.O.S.!

Although the band's name may have been inspired by Metallica's classic Harvester Of Sorrow, H.O.S. don't sound like their role models from the late 1980s at all. Instead, The Beginning is quite an unimaginative and stale piece of traditional thrash metal. The initial impression is already kind of a letdown, with the opening track Fallout containing only short speed bursts scattered among a bulk of more subdued parts. The album does pick up some speed after that, but there are still a bit too many and tedious periods of mid-tempo or slow crawl where nothing interesting seems to happen. Even the faster segments lack inspired moments and do not really help the cause. Almost exceptionally average and unmemorable, The Beginning certainly leaves a lot of room for improvement in the future.

HOTOPSY - Follow The Light
France 1992

1. Legend Of Nowhere 2. Master Of The Beyond 3. Holy Cross 4. The Land Of Oblivion 5. Psychic Dependence 6. Follow The Light 7. Into The Labyrinth Of Dream 8. Lost In My Mind 9. Crystal Ball 10. Schyzophrenic

With some albums you cannot avoid a feel that everything was already said and done long before that particular release and now it is just a matter of going through the motions. This is not to say that Hotopsy were totally out of order with Follow The Light, but it probably wouldn't have made that much of a difference if this album had remained at a demo stage. Playing thrash metal from France, Hotopsy seem to have followed faithfully all the most usual standards and tricks but ultimately failed to reach even the average line. The music sounds just typical and generic - you could argue that it is not awfully boring but very close. Of course, some may still find it worthwhile to give this one a try even if the expected value is not that high, but bear in mind that sometimes enough is enough.

HOWLIN' MAD - Insanity
Germany 1990

1. Into The Void 2. Assasinated Nature 3. We Live Like We Will 4. Insanity 5. Fanaticism 6. Dread Of Nightmare 7. Wordless Attack 8. Drunk 'till Emptiness 9. Fatality 10. Why This Actions 11. Too Blind And Deaf 12. Total Dependence 13. "Ach Gottchen"

Howlin' Mad represented quite typical, heavy German thrash metal with a customary sound not unlike Holy Moses. Incidentally, Insanity features Sabina Classen making a guest appearance on Drunk 'till Emptiness. Although this album initially may sound a bit dull and repetitive, it sort of gets better over time. While the music doesn't sound too distinctive except for occasional interesting moments like on Fatality, the band's style is consistent enough even though it does not exactly result in memorable songs here. In this sense Insanity is more like a promise of something greater to come, a fair debut album which shows that Howlin' Mad were not completely without talent but would have needed time to develop their style further in order to produce some more convincing results.

HUMAN HEAD - Inside The Head
Mexico 2010

1. Extraordinary Madness 2. Amnesia 3. Bad Pains 4. Days Of Schizophrenia 5. Inner Tyrany 6. Insomnia 7. Mental Retardation 8. Panic 9. Senile Dementia 10. The Head

Without any advance information about this release, it was comforting to find that Human Head's Inside The Head is a piece of some well-built thrash metal. Although the thick production is at times almost in danger of choking individual instruments, it cannot be denied that the general feel benefits from this sound wall. Most riffs may be a bit too simple to become really catchy, but that doesn't decrease the value of tracks like Extraordinary Madness and Inner Tyrany that are simply some fine thrashers. On this album speed is the key although even the slowest tracks don't sound too forced or strained. With some more easily distinguishable songs, this album might have been a small gem. Even now it is not too hard to appreciate the level of solid workmanship here.

HYADES - Abuse Your Illusions
Italy 2005

1. No Man's Land 2. Smart Bombs, Dumb War 3. Hyades 4. Liars 5. Picture Of A World 6. Blameless In The Deathrow 7. September, 11 8. Shut The Fuck Up 9. Abuse Your Illusions 10. Fight For Your Right

When a rap cover song turns out to be the most distinctive track on a full-length album, it is safe to say that Hyades could have done much better than Abuse Your Illusions. There is not exactly any notable lack of effort, and it is quite possible that the band had a good deal of fun during the making of this recording, but the amount of downright boring moments is simply too great. The album opens with No Man's Land which is not too bad with its semi-catchy, closely Exodus-like riffs, but after that it becomes a difficult task to find anything remotely interesting. Most of the songs seem to run at a restrained pace, at their worst repeating the same unmemorable riff over and over. Maybe some healthy trimming of material could have helped, but unfortunately Abuse Your Illusions is on the lengthy side which ultimately makes it one of the more tiresome releases out there.

HYADES - And The Worst Is Yet To Come
Italy 2007

1. And The Worst Is Yet To Come 2. Buried In Blood 3. Unconform #756 4. Megamosh 5. Disposable Planet 6. Pharmageddon 7. New World War 8. EZLN 9. Skate Addiction 10. Valley Of Tears 11. Wops Still Thrash

Without knowing any better, the title of And The Worst Is Yet To Come could be taken as an innocent phrase without any deeper meaning. In this album's context it becomes almost a sinister hint of the quality of things to come. On average, there may be fewer lethargic tracks than on the band's debut release, but that doesn't help much when the music drags equally badly. At least Abuse Your Illusions started with something slightly interesting, now you actually have to wait until the very end of this album to find anything worth a similar note. Luckily, Wops Still Thrash might have some of the best riffs on a Hyades album up to this point, and the lyrics indicate that the band are honest and even serious about what they do. But that doesn't hide the fact that this is essentially a poor man's Exodus at best, without genuinely catchy riffs or other redeeming factors.

HYADES - The Roots Of Trash
Italy 2009

1. Long Way Back Home 2. I Belong To No One 3. A.F.M.S. 4. United In The Struggle 5. The Problem Is You 6. The Great Deceit 7. Still In The Trash 8. Alive But Dead 9. Worse Than The Silence 10. The Moshing Reel 11. Come Out And Play

By the time you reach The Roots Of Trash in the Hyades discography, the expectations must be either very high or completely nil depending on personal likings. Musically this album is like a summary of the band's earlier works. But while the previous releases had at least one highlight, more or less, here the ratio between somewhat good and plain forgettable tracks is completely in favor of the latter type. As far as the production quality is considered, And The Worst Is Yet To Come was already worrisome due to its tendencies towards a modern distorted sound, and The Roots Of Trash seems to continue in the same vein which can make it a fatiguing experience in no time. Frankly, if the band were going to make it bigger than this then it would be better not to wait for three full albums before showing the right cards.

HYDRA VEIN - Rather Death Than False Of Faith
United Kingdom 1988

1. Rabid 2. Crucifier 3. The House 4. Right To Die 5. Rather Death Than False Of Faith 6. Misanthropic 7. Harlequin 8. Guillotine

If there ever were bands who would have deserved better in the first place, Hydra Vein must have been among them, at least when the band's debut release is considered. Rather Death Than False Of Faith may not be too extraordinary for a British thrash metal album with some Slayer-ish touches, but unlike so many others in the field Hydra Vein actually had a few really memorable tracks. At their best the band combine some positively fool-proof riffs with high speed antics in such way that the result is almost second to none. With more songs like Rabid, Crucifier, and the title track, this album could and should have received a lot more attention back then. Unfortunately the whole thing is not equally strong, and in the end you are left with a satisfactory album with occasional highlights. But although all tracks are not of the same killer quality, the band's overall effort on this album is definitely worth respect.

HYDRA VEIN - After The Dream
United Kingdom 1989

1. U.S.C. 2. Pro Patria 3. Born Through Ignorance 4. Passed Present / No Future 5. Turning Point 6. After The Dream

Hydra Vein didn't radically change their style for their second album, in fact After The Dream sounds very much the same as the band's debut. The quality is not quite up to the level of the previous effort, though - while most characteristics of the band's music are pretty much intact, the result obviously lacks some of the creativity that made the best moments of Rather Death Than False Of Faith so memorable. At least a few tracks on the previous album featured some truly classic riffs, here the content is more formulaic and, except a couple of impetuous choruses, less distinctive in many aspects. After The Dream is not too bad for a typical thrash metal album of the time, but it falls a bit short in the songwriting department.

HYPNOSIA - Violent Intensity
Sweden 1999

1. Funeral Cross 2. Haunting Death 3. Undead 4. Perpetual Dormancy 5. Mental Terror 6. The Storms

Violent Intensity shows why Hypnosia must have been among the most hardened thrash metal bands in Sweden. This mini album is far from the more sophisticated moments of Hexenhaus or the most amusing antics of Cranium. Although not all of the music is equally effective, Hypnosia's sound is very grim yet highly enthusiastic, and at their best the band sound like Kreator on steroids. If some more tracks were like Perpetual Dormancy with its positively captivating riffs then this recording would be a potential candidate for the top row, but already now the intense delivery combined with frequent flashes of competence results in a promising release. As it eventually turned out, even this was only meant to serve as an introduction to something more extreme to follow.

HYPNOSIA - Extreme Hatred
Sweden 2000

1. Extreme Hatred 2. Circle Of The Flesh 3. The Last Remains 4. Operation Clean-Sweep 5. Comatose 6. Act Of Lunacy 7. Gates Of Cirith Ungol 8. Hang 'em High 9. Traumatic Suffering

Hypnosia's final full-length release is, if possible, even more aggressive than Violent Intensity. In practice, the title of Extreme Hatred couldn't better describe the content. While the band's essentially Kreator-like sound remains the base of it all, one could also include Demolition Hammer in the comparison, with some slight death metal influences thrown in the mix. It is still a highly traditional approach, and the only major drawback is that a whole album of this kind of full intensity can simply have a deadening effect before the end. This concern is particularly valid as the band tend not to vary their riffs too much over multiple songs, resulting in a mass of tracks that are hard-hitting as a whole but really not too distinctive as individual pieces. If you are looking for a total no-frills assault then Extreme Hatred must be one of the better choices for the purpose, just be sure to note certain reservations about its long-term appeal.

HYSTE'RIAH G.B.C. - Snakeworld
Sweden 1991

1. Confess A Lie 2. Land Of Democracy 3. Cafe Of Hope (Slowly...) 4. Is The Coffee Ready Yet 5. Snakes 6. How Does It Feel 7. Rope For Rape

When you encounter a band with a name like Hyste'riah G.B.C., thrash metal is not necessarily the first thing that you would expect to hear from them. In this sense Snakeworld can provide a slight surprise, with the band throwing in a fair offering of Swedish thrash metal with heavy riffs and matching production values. Except a couple of slower but equally pounding tracks, high speed is plentiful enough here. As it's often the case with such albums, however, the music tends to lack real identity, and this release simply does not sound terribly original to average ears. Although powerful on the surface, the outcome lacks the final stretch to make it really jump out of the wall of noise patterns that is formed by a horde of similar bands trying to get their voice through. While still a reasonable effort most of the time, in the end Snakeworld is actually nothing to lose sleep over.