There was a time
When I called the night my friend
And felt no pain
Only a child
And the light of innocence
Burned bright as day

-- Laaz Rockit - The Omen

LAAZ ROCKIT - Annihilation Principle
USA 1989

1. Fire In The Hole 2. Mob Justice 3. Chain Of Fools 4. Shadow Company 5. Holiday In Cambodia 6. Bad Blood 7. Chasin' Charlie 8. Mirror To Madness 9. The Omen

Laaz Rockit were something of a cult band in the speed/thrash metal genre, partially because of the relative rarity of their original works. On Annihilation Principle the band abandoned most of their traditional heavy metal idiocies that prevailed earlier. As a result, this album is quite a consistent and controlled release, not to forget about the fact that the music is now a lot faster and can really be called thrash metal. The band's sound is much tighter and even the vocals are nastier than before, feeling just about right this time. The material is pretty well-balanced, the funny Dead Kennedys cover Holiday In Cambodia and the surprisingly subtle The Omen being more distinctive from the rest. Somehow it feels that Annihilation Principle is still missing some character to be really outstanding, but it is definitely a fine thrash metal album and unarguably Laaz Rockit's best release.

LAAZ ROCKIT - Nothing$ $acred
USA 1991

1. In The Name Of The Father And The Gun... 2. Into The Asylum 3. Greed Machine 4. Too Far Gone 5. Curiosity Kills 6. Suicide City 7. The Enemy Within 8. Nobody's Child 9. Silence Is A Lie 10. Necropolis

The last album of Laaz Rockit turned out to be the heaviest and thrashiest release from the band ever. Nothing$ $acred has a cold and nasty sound, and although the songs are not as memorable as before, this album is quite effective with some special raw appeal. The guitar work is particularly convincing and helps to save even some less impressive tracks. On the other hand, the vocals sound fairly hollow and underproduced. Highlights of this album include In The Name Of The Father And The Gun... and Curiosity Kills, both totally crushing killer tracks. As a whole, Nothing$ $acred is a good release though undeniably a bit one-dimensional, especially when compared to Annihilation Principle.

LAST RITES - Silverball
Germany 1995

1. Silverball 2. In Rage 3. Sands Of Time 4. Isolation 5. Ignorance 6. Pathetic State 7. Lost Identity 8. The Falling (Separate Ways)

For starters, this German band picked a fine name for themselves and the album cover is sort of creepy. That's where the originality mostly ends, though. Last Rites played fast and fluent albeit quite unsurprising thrash metal with no extraordinary features to speak of. It sounds competent and very consistent, with an audible dose of youthful energy that adds to the music nicely. You probably still cannot say much about this album afterwards, except for a couple of tracks with experimental touches that feel just totally unnecessary at least from a subjective viewpoint. However, even though Silverball may not be the most memorable release out there, it is almost fantastic in its class when the time frame is considered - pick any "thrash metal" album from the mid-1990s, and you are already far more likely to end up with anything else except the real thing. At least Last Rites had it formally correct for the most part.

LAWSHED - Let Us Not Talk Falsely
Japan 1991

1. Bonds - A Beginning 2. Go It Blind 3. Faces 4. Dumb Millions 5. The Worst Disease 6. Skid Talker 7. Lowbrow 8. Feigned Red Blood 9. Don't Urge Disorder

Among the group of Japanese speed/thrash metal bands in the early 1990s, Lawshed managed to sound more consistent than some of their contemporaries in the local scene. Despite being a mixture of sufficiently high-speed tracks and some slower pieces, Let Us Not Talk Falsely gives a fairly coherent impression right in the beginning. There are still a couple of pounding but strangely unenergetic tracks too many that could have been better with a higher tempo, and in its current form this album is more like a neat package of competent but not really distinctive basic riffage. It is not the worst flavor of speed/thrash metal that you can find here, but even then this music is hardly striking enough to make any difference on a global scale. While Let Us Not Talk Falsely may be nearly a mandatory collector's item, musically it lacks a certain edge that you have learned to expect from a typical album in the genre.

LEEWAY - Born To Expire
USA 1988

1. Rise And Fall 2. Mark Of The Squealer 3. Be Loud 4. On The Outside 5. Defy You 6. Enforcer 7. Tools For War 8. Born To Expire 9. Marathon 10. Self Defense 11. Catholic High School (Girls In Trouble) 12. Unexpected

Thrash metal may not be the first thing that comes to mind when Leeway is mentioned, but the band's debut release is practically nothing short of a stereotypical album in the genre. Born To Expire features full-fledged thrash metal, with almost no hardcore tinge whatsoever if the general compact length of songs does not count. The vocals must be the weakest part of this album, somewhat whiny and irritating - with some more forceful vocal delivery the band's output could have been stronger by a fair notch. The riffs and guitar leads are solid though quite typical and not too captivating. Still, except for the vocals and one notably off-kilter song Catholic High School (Girls In Trouble), this recording is not all that different from any other run-of-the-mill thrash metal band's performance. Whether it provides anything worth special attention in the long run, that's a different story.

LEGACY - Metallic Assault
Colombia 2009

1. Intro 2. Winds Of Destruction 3. Hellcommand 4. Time To Kill 5. The Beast 6. Banging Till The End 7. Witchhammer 8. Seek, Destroy 9. Sentence Of Death 10. Thrashing Fast And Loud

Metallic Assault seems to have a lot going for it at first, but somehow it fails to fulfill the initial promise. Legacy's overall sound is nicely old-fashioned, the vocals have a specific kind of wicked tone, and the instruments mesh together in a pleasant way. However, one quickly starts to notice how unvaried the bulk of this material is in practice, with most of the songs resembling each other to a great extent. When the whole album essentially consists of a string of tracks that faithfully repeat the same patterns with no real highlights anywhere, it is guaranteed to leave a more or less disappointing aftertaste. While it could have been so much more, ultimately Metallic Assault is nothing but a clever pastiche of the old. And in the long run you don't seriously get very far with that.

LEGION - Lethal Liberty
Spain 1989

1. Lethal Liberty 2. Rhythm Rider 3. Possessed 4. Mili K.K. 5. Young Soldier 6. Dark Force 7. If You Cross The Line 8. Live For Today 9. Acid Wrath

Legion's Lethal Liberty is a fairly rare example of thrash metal from Spain, maybe not too common in the old days. The band's debut album does not deviate too much from the usual standards except for some notably positive overall feel which is not a bad thing at all. There seems to be more emphasis on heavy riffs than sheer speed, though this album is by no means a slug. At best the formula results in some fairly nice tracks like Rhythm Rider and Possessed, at worst the output is a bit too much on the dull side. Other than the slightly untrained sounding vocals, the band appear sufficiently competent and all, and the main gripe is just about the lack of more memorable and emphatic songs. Although Lethal Liberty has some promising ideas floating around, the thing as a whole could have used some more work.

LEGION - Mind Training
Spain 1990

1. Long Hair 2. Life Means This 3. Feel The Pain 4. Eternal Youth 5. We Will Rock You 6. Circus Of Fear 7. Unsensitive Skin 8. Nowhere To Run 9. Shit In Your Veins

Mind Training shows Legion playing in a more streamlined and consistent style than on their debut. You could even call it one-dimensional at times, but in practice the difference is not too huge. The band's sound is certainly more uniform than in the past, and the general feel is more serious and not quite as uplifting as on Lethal Liberty. It may represent some more ordinary side of thrash metal, but the music is still not too bad even though no riffs really stick to your head. The Queen cover We Will Rock You is a total filler track, though. For the most part, Mind Training can be considered just a standard piece of work, no radically better or worse than that. Even though this album can occasionally appear quite formulaic to your ears, on the whole it is listenable enough if you don't expect too much.

LETHAL - Annihilation Agenda
Sweden 2007

1. March Through The Gate (Intro) 2. Sinister Salvation 3. Buried Alive 4. Infernal Warfare 5. Blade Of The Reaper 6. Ceremonial Death 7. Pay For Your Sins 8. Lethal Injection 9. Lord Of War 10. Reborn In Blood

Opening with some carefully selected samples from the infamous Jonestown death tape, Lethal's Annihilation Agenda must have one of the most unsettling intros ever recorded - hopefully it will remain that way, too. After such a sinister start, the familiar characteristics of the band's music almost come as a relief. The riffs are not too catchy but getting close, and especially the first two vocal tracks Sinister Salvation and Buried Alive are bound to catch attention on their own. Like it often goes, the initial impression does not quite last through the whole album, but there is some consistent quality in this thing. The band's keen sound is helped by suitably frantic vocals, and it's only a certain cold edge of the production that causes some reservations in the end. To put it simply, Annihilation Agenda has promise - maybe the result is not quite there yet, but the attempt is worth a notice.

Brazil 1989

1. The Last Supper 2. Live Free or Die 3. AIDS 4. Bred To Die 5. Echoes From The Past 6. Pilgrimage To Insanity 7. Pimponetta 8. Spanish Blood

Developing the honorable traditions of Brazilian thrash metal further, the style of Leviaethan's debut album Smile! is not quite as rough and frantic as some earlier releases in the local scene. With some generally satisfactory riffing and a fairly focused approach, this album plays in a nice and effortless manner throughout - and that's basically the best of it. It is not hard to appreciate the jumpy riffwork on Echoes From The Past, for example, or the almost relaxed way in which many of these songs are performed, but for the most part this album is not really the catchiest kind of stuff. Smile! demonstrates even a refreshing departure from the most typical antics of its counterparts, it just does not possess too many of the qualities needed to punch through the average level.

LEVIAETHAN - Disturbed Mind
Brazil 1992

1. Seeds Of Violence 2. Facing Reality 3. Drinkin' Death 4. In Search Of Life 5. My Cat 6. Visions Of A Distorted Path 7. The Evil Within 8. Philip VII 9. Time For Lies 10. Disturbed Mind

Leviaethan's second release Disturbed Mind is practically no different from Smile! which means mildly entertaining but somewhat forgettable thrash metal. Somehow Leviaethan's music remains even hard to grasp, and although this album plays in a nice and smooth manner in the same way as the band's debut, there are no highlights to speak of afterwards. One could say that this is easily some of the best music in its class to be played in the background when you want to have a specific kind of soundscape during other activities, but as a focus of close attention it may not be that successful. In any case, there are really no actual defects here, other than the lack of real substance that would make it worthwhile to spend great lengths of time hunting for this album.

LICH KING - Necromantic Maelstrom
USA 2007

1. Lich King 2. Caveman Aggression 3. Mascot War 4. Reavers 5. Bleeding And Screaming 6. The Werewolf 7. Thrashssacre 8. Kill Your Guts Out 9. Bodies On Bodies 10. A Lesson In Violence

Lich King's Necromantic Maelstrom is something of an acquired taste. For starters, the production is inconsistent at best, and some tracks sport a nasty piercing tone that can really strain your ears. Not to forget that the vocals sometimes sound a tad "raw". Imagine a Neanderthal man trying to rape a modern microphone, and you should start to get the picture. And those two cover songs seem plain unnecessary. On a positive note, the band's brand of twisted thrash metal is fairly interesting even for the face value only. It's just that the humor appears kind of forced and the presentation does not come across as naturally funny in the same way as Fastkill, for example. But if you get your kicks from watching low-budget action movies, wrestling, and car accidents live on the street, then this album could fit in. Just be sure to clear the house of women, children and pets before playing it out loud, for they might not approve.

LICH KING - Toxic Zombie Onslaught
USA 2008

1. Cheesy Metal Intro 2. Attack Of The Wrath Of The War Of The Death Of The Strike Of The Sword Of The Blood Of The Beast 3. Office Politics 4. Thrash Resurgence 5. Black Metal Sucks 6. I Destroy 7. Predator 8. Cold Steel Machine 9. Toxic Zombie Onslaught 10. Lich King II

The Muppet Show was remarkable in the way it mixed all kinds of hilarious and colorful elements into a cohesive and often extremely funny musical program. Who could ever forget Kermit, the neurotic frog who frantically tried to keep everything together and running every night. The famous Animal who would put most real drummers to shame as far as pure maniacal energy goes. Those two old grumpy commentators who always made punching wisecracks about the show. And the nutcase Swedish chef whose ideas of chocolate mousse and chicken basket were quite radical, to say the least. Certainly it was often more than just a bit silly, not to mention outright cheesy, but good fun nevertheless. Of course, none of this may have anything to do with Toxic Zombie Onslaught, but one can only imagine that Lich King would have been perfectly at home creating havoc in that show.

LICH KING - World Gone Dead
USA 2010

1. Intro 2. Act Of War 3. ED-209 4. A Storm Of Swords 5. Waste 6. Terror Consumes 7. Grindwheel 8. Behaver 9. Aggressive Perfector 10. Lich King III (World Gone Dead)

World Gone Dead must be one of the biggest surprises in recent times. While Lich King's first two releases were more or less hit-or-miss affairs with parts that honestly appeared like a complete parody, there is nothing laughable about the band's third offering. The first thing to notice is that the new album is easily the best sounding Lich King release to date, very heavy and crunchy. It cannot be emphasized enough how much this improved and above all consistent production quality really helps the songs. Not only that, but this recording features a nice collection of powerful riffs that are put into good use on most tracks. Although it is still far from dead serious, the whole thing now sounds a lot more mature and feels like a real band playing instead of someone's bedroom project. It tells a lot when a cover version of Slayer's Aggressive Perfector, of all things, turns out to be a fully professional take that blends rather smoothly with other songs. Maybe this is not quite the best thrash metal album of all time, but it is definitely among the best Lich King albums so far and a commendable release in its own right.

LICH KING - Born Of The Bomb
USA 2012

1. All Hail 2. We Came To Conquer 3. Wage Slave 4. In The End, Devastation 5. Fan Massacre 6. Agnosticism 7. Combat Mosh 8. Axe Cop 9. Agents Of Steel 10. Lich King IV (Born Of The Bomb)

Lich King really hit their stride on World Gone Dead. Fortunately, Born Of The Bomb does not deviate from the successful path. The riffs are still heavy and mostly adequate for the job, the sound quality remains satisfying, and even the cover version of Agents Of Steel fits in pretty nicely. Most notably, this release contains a couple of the longest Lich King tracks to date. Among them, Agnosticism is a forceful stomper that works very well despite its massive length, whereas Lich King IV (Born Of The Bomb) continues the saga that was started on Necromantic Maelstrom. From a subjective point of view Born Of The Bomb may not sound quite as fresh as the previous release in its day, which is possibly just due to the lacking surprise factor this time, but the album is still heads above most of its modern-day competition even for the band's bold attitude alone.

LIVING DEATH - Metal Revolution
Germany 1985

1. Killing Machine 2. Grippin' A Heart 3. Rulers Must Come 4. Screaming From A Chamber 5. Intro 6. Shadow Of The Dawn 7. Panic & Hysteria 8. Road Of Destiny 9. Deep In Hell

Living Death were among the most legendary groups in Germany due to their pioneering work in the local thrash metal scene. Metal Revolution represents the band's early style which was a mixture of fast thrashing and slower, more conventional metal. The opening song Killing Machine is particularly striking, and a couple of other fast tracks are close to the same level. A characteristic feature of Living Death's sound was Thorsten Bergmann's nasty vocals which give this music a very distinctive feel. Even though one could wish for some more speed on this release, the combination of heaviness and blatantly catchy riffs works out pretty well. With some respectable intensity and a great attitude, Metal Revolution is a fine album of old speed/thrash metal.

LIVING DEATH - Back To The Weapons
Germany 1986

1. Nuclear Greetings 2. Bloody Dance 3. The Way (Your Soul Must Go) 4. Child Of Illusion

On their mini album Back To The Weapons Living Death truly hit the top gear. With this release the band's approach to thrash metal started to become remarkably frantic and intense, complete with some of the nastiest vocals ever heard in the genre. The creaky vocal output really catches your attention, but it perfectly supports the general mood of this album. As for the music, it might not be too original but the energetic and seamless execution makes the songs appear distinctive enough - not to forget about the fact that the band can make even simple riffs fly. Despite containing only a few tracks, Back To The Weapons makes a fair demonstration of Living Death's fastest take on thrash metal.

LIVING DEATH - Protected From Reality
Germany 1987

1. Horrible Infanticide (Part One) 2. Manila Terror 3. Natures Death 4. Wood Of Necrophiliac 5. Vengeance (Horrible Infanticide Part Two) 6. Intruder 7. The Galley 8. War Of Independence 9. Eisbein (Mit Sauerkraut)

Protected From Reality is every bit as hectic as Back To The Weapons and then some. Possibly Living Death's most consistent release, this album sounds for a large part almost as fast as thrash metal can reasonably be. All this without sacrificing any accuracy in the process, and the results are technically quite impressive indeed - you certainly cannot mistake it for any other band's output for a second. For some reason a few of these tracks may leave you somewhat cold in the long run, even if just for the subjective feel that the extreme speed makes it less easy to distinguish between songs. No matter what, Protected From Reality is a definite quality release and one of Living Death's better efforts.

LIVING DEATH - Worlds Neuroses
Germany 1988

1. Last Birthday 2. Die Young 3. Schizophrenia 4. On The 17th Floor 5. Down 6. Worlds Neuroses 7. Bastard (At The Busstop) 8. The Testament Of Mr. George 9. Sacred Chao 10. Tuesday

Quite different from Living Death's previous recordings, Worlds Neuroses contains some of the most versatile material the band ever produced. Several tracks actually carry strong echoes of Mekong Delta, which of course is not an accident since both guitarists played also in that cult band. Some of the unorthodox feel of this release must be due to the vocals that appear very ordinary in comparison to the band's earlier albums. Despite all these changes, the music manages to remain reasonably coherent. In addition to more diverse songs, there are still powerful great thrashers like the macabre Last Birthday and the rampant Schizophrenia. In Living Death's discography Worlds Neuroses may be the most unusual release, but it has its good points as well.

LIVING DEATH - Killing In Action
Germany 1991

1. Killing In Action 2. Hang'em High 3. Dire Weak Up 4. Hearteater 5. Polymorphic 6. World Weariness 7. Die For (For What We Lie For) 8. Stand Up 9. Tribut Of Gutter 10. Daily Life

Living Death's final release was a heavy and pounding affair. Killing In Action is a lot more straightforward than the preceding album, and the result is quite effective indeed. Despite a new vocalist, the singing sounds very similar to Thorsten Bergmann's style before Worlds Neuroses. Except for a couple of more experimental instrumentals in the middle, the music is solid thrash metal with a good number of memorable riffs and hooks - somehow this approach works better than the band's more technical efforts. As for individual songs, the raging title track and Tribut Of Gutter may be the best of the bunch, although most other tracks are by no means dull ones either. Killing In Action is not really too innovative, but the basic elements have been recycled well enough so that everything sounds convincing.

LIVING SACRIFICE - Living Sacrifice
USA 1991

1. Violence 2. Internal Unrest 3. Second Death 4. Obstruction 5. Walls Of Separation 6. Phargx Imas 7. No Grave Concern 8. Dealing With Ignorance 9. The Prodigal 10. Anorexia Spiritual

Living Sacrifice have varied their style a lot over the years, but the band's self-titled debut release is a solid example of pure thrash metal that is as free of any gimmicks as practically possible. The result is almost a perfect kind of dry but sharp thrash metal that really goes deep to the essentials of the style. At its best this can be some real fun to listen to, although you cannot completely avoid some dull moments either. One trademark of the album that you will immediately notice is the plain and very hardcore-ish vocals that may feel a bit annoying at first, but after a while you'll hardly mind them anymore as the band's sound is not the heaviest either. In fact, musically this album is like a perfect double of The Horde Of Torment's Product Of A Sick Mind and vice versa, complete with the similarities in production values and almost identical vocals. As amusing as this may appear, it is certain that if you like one then the other will surely fit the need as well.

LORD CRUCIFIER - The Focus Of Life
Italy 1988

1. Earthquake 2. The Scarecrows 3. Dope (Off The Ground) 4. The Focus Of Your Life 5. Deserter To Freedom 6. Skullfucked 7. Dead 8. A Weird Guest 9. Family Crime 10. Epitaph For A Dead Soldier 11. Mind Of A Child Murderer

For better or worse, Lord Crucifier's The Focus Of Life got something of an original sound. Of Italian origins, this band's output is restless and often more than just a little chaotic. The arrangements actually sometimes bear a close resemblance to death metal of the 1990s. The overall sound is nervous and lacks a clear direction, as if the band were still seeking their true formula. Regardless, you cannot fail to notice that while the presentation and structure are rough and raw, there are some obvious ambitions behind it all. There is probably nobody out there who would be left cold by Lord Crucifier's style, but it is a different thing altogether if the impression is favorable or not. While The Focus Of Life has some potential, most of it is not quite realized here - despite the energy, the music does not really flow.

LORDES WERRE - Demon Crusades
USA 1999

1. Intro / Earthen Lake 2. The Lordes Werre 3. Apocalypse 4. Disguised Seduction (Chant Of Making II) 5. Welcome To Your Death 6. The Old Thing In A Ground 7. Absorbed Into Obscurity 8. Nightmare

Lordes Werre may have been an unknown group for many, but Demon Crusades shows no lack of qualifications as far as heavy music is considered. This album features dark and rather oppressive thrash metal that in some way sounds timeless and therefore does not appear terribly out-of-date even today. At some point it may be observed that the grim approach can audibly remind you of Nocturn's Estranged Dimensions from the beginning of the decade. The effect is complete with similarly distressing vocals, although the overall tone may not be quite as menacing here. Even then, this is certainly not the catchiest stuff around, but the presentation is very consistent. The album as a whole has some specific kind of charm that only comes naturally - or more commonly, not at all. In this case, Lordes Werre had what it takes to create a worthy though not exactly joyful release.

LUNACY - Face No More
Switzerland 1992

1. Play Your Game 2. Homo Sapiens Burger 3. P.M.R.C. 4. Front Page News 5. Inexcusable Misdeed 6. Brontofrohn 7. Up In Smoke 8. Merciless Pictures 9. Shithead 10. Face No More 11. Exit

If you are prepared to consider Face No More just another demonstration of semi-tricky Swiss thrash metal then Lunacy's offering is not bound to shock you with any unheard qualities. Except the feel of lacking real purpose, this full-length debut of the band is not a terrible let-down, neither does it shine at any specific area. The band's vocalist sounds eager enough to deserve a careful nod of approval, the rest of their music is better left for imagination as it surely is not going to raise any heated arguments for or against it. Often this album can be described as just a little dull which is not too unusual for the time. No one will probably find Face No More too distracting, and from a genre-savvy point of view it is at least head and shoulders above their later recordings with more alternative leanings.

Netherlands 1989

1. Crystal Lake 2. L.W.S. Inc. 3. Die A Violent Death 4. 1428 Elm Street 5. Count Your Blessings 6. Mental Weakness 7. Go Song 8. A Prayer For The Dying 9. Pieces Of Human Waste 10. Curse Of The Creeps 11. Chop Till Death (bonus)

Excluding their particularly amusing name, L.W.S. Inc. were not too distinguishable from most other bands in the thrash metal scene. This Dutch band's debut Welcome To The Asylum is more interesting for featuring several songs with lyrics about horror movies (Crystal Lake, 1428 Elm Street, Curse Of The Creeps) than the music itself. With a constant high speed and fairly lighthearted sound, the songs flow rather easily in the background as long as one doesn't try to pay any serious attention to them, otherwise it soon becomes too apparent that in the end this album is an awfully boring piece of work. The horror-themed 1428 Elm Street is about the only track with hints of original ideas and memorable touches in it, the rest sounds pretty much the same from start to finish. Probably only the most fanatic nostalgia freaks can get something special out of this one, for others Welcome To The Asylum is likely to appear just too formulaic and uninspiring.