Complete control of a prized possession
To touch and fondle with no objection
Lonely souls an emptiness fulfilled
Physical pleasure and addictive thrill
An object of perverted reality
An obsession beyond your wildest dreams

-- Slayer - 213

SABBAT - History Of A Time To Come
United Kingdom 1988

1. Intro 2. A Cautionary Tale 3. Hosanna In Excelsis 4. Behind The Crooked Cross 5. Horned Is The Hunter 6. I For An Eye 7. For Those Who Died 8. A Dead Man's Robe 9. The Church Bizarre

From today's perspective Sabbat were easily the most original and innovative British thrash metal band of their time. Instead of following the standard thrash formula, Sabbat derived inspiration from old pagan legends and folklores which helped to create some unique imagery and feel in their music. The band's debut release History Of A Time To Come was already a strong demonstration of this style, thrash metal with a very distinctive sound and feel. Due to the rather ambitious songwriting, the music does get a bit ponderous at times although Martin Walkyier's stressed, rapid vocals breathe some extra life into the songs. Whether or not one actually finds Sabbat's style appealing, they were certainly not trying to copy anyone else.

SABBAT - Dreamweaver
United Kingdom 1989

1. The Beginning Of The End (Intro) 2. The Clerical Conspiracy 3. Advent Of Insanity 4. Do Dark Horses Dream Of Nightmares? 5. The Best Of Enemies 6. How Have The Mighty Fallen? 7. Wildfire 8. Mythistory 9. Happy Never After (Outro)

Sabbat's Dreamweaver is a true magnum opus, an epic concept album based on the novel The Way Of Wyrd which tells an intriguing, mythical tale that takes place in the pre-Christian England. The lyrics could easily fill two or three ordinary albums, but despite the extensive lyrical content this album doesn't feel tedious at all, thanks to the intense delivery. Here Sabbat refined their genuine style ever further and the result is no less than the pinnacle of British thrash metal. Martin Walkyier's rapid vocals are as solid as ever, and the hypnotic songs demand the listener's absolute attention, sounding like nothing else out there. Due to its complexity and strong thematics, Dreamweaver may not be an easily accessible album for most people, but those seeking something else than your standard thrash metal should find this one extremely rewarding.

SABBAT - Mourning Has Broken
United Kingdom 1991

1. The Demise Of History 2. Theological Void 3. Paint The World Black 4. Dumbstruck 5. The Voice Of Time 6. Dreamscape 7. Without A Trace 8. Mourning Has Broken

Sabbat's final album turned out to be quite different from the band's earlier works. Due to Martin Walkyier's departure and some other stylistic changes, the sound of Mourning Has Broken is unlike anything the band had previously done. The music is somewhat less thrashy than before, leaning towards power metal though the heavy riffs still give it a solid base. Ritchie Desmond's vocals are very grand, totally different from Walkyier's style, and they give this album a noble feel which is sort of likeable. However, it's the songwriting that makes this release particularly difficult. The first couple of tracks sound extremely disjointed and confusing, and despite some slightly more focused songs later on, the general disorienting feel of this album can make it very challenging for a casual listener to get into it. This and the great difference from Sabbat's original style probably led to the demise of this album and the band. Mourning Has Broken is not quite as bad as many like to suggest, but it can certainly take a very long time and a lot of patience to really learn to appreciate it.

SABRETUNG - Conquest
Australia 2011

1. Suicide Terror 2. Total Conquest 3. The Thing 4. Army Of Dead 5. Chainsaws 6. Barbarian 7. Bloodlust 8. For The Term Of His Natural Life 9. Eliminate The Weak

At first Conquest might seem like yet another standard addition to the contemporary scene. But it's the strong, emphatic and powerful sound of this album that ultimately makes a difference, no matter how small. Sabretung's first full-length release starts out quite effectively, as Suicide Terror is an impressive and memorable fast opening track, though unfortunately it also remains the catchiest song on the whole album. While there is nothing of unheard quality here, the presentation is bold and believable enough that some of the unexceptional characteristics of songwriting can be forgiven. Even the slowest tracks like Army Of Dead are fairly convincing heavy stompers, something that certain other bands with a thin and weak sound should take a note of. In the midst of the intense competition, Conquest benefits a lot from Sabretung's audible forcible attitude alone.

SABRETUNG - Collision
Australia 2012

1. An Offer Of False Hope 2. Deadline 3. Collision 4. Sadistic And Merciless 5. Endless Winter 6. The Return (Enthroned) 7. Martyr 8. Hedonistic And Merciless

To combine heaviness and speed in a satisfying way is not as easy as it may sometimes appear. But it became evident already on Conquest that Sabretung could be counted among the bands that have successfully managed to implement the theory in practice. Collision proves that this was not a mere accident either, adding another chapter to Sabretung's series of highly impetuous thrash metal releases. The basic formula has changed very little since their debut, resulting in some of the most credible and solid thrash metal heard today. Individual catchy compositions are not really this band's strength, it's more about the whole package making a noticeable impact. At the end of the day, all these positive aspects just make the strangely limited original pressing of Collision seem even more puzzling.

SACRAMENT - Testimony Of Apocalypse
USA 1990

1. Testimony Of Apocalypse 2. Slave To Sin 3. Hellfire Denied 4. Repentance 5. Valley Of Dry Bones 6. Mortal Agony 7. Conquer Death 8. Absence Of Fear 9. The Risen 10. Blood Bath

Whatever the motives, it is a fact that Sacrament delivered their music in the most impetuous manner imaginable. With Testimony Of Apocalypse there is really nothing more you could ask for as far as pure intensity is considered. Although the production is somewhat hollow, the heavy roar of this crushing steamroller easily reaches up to the level of an impenetrable sound wall that bands like Dark Angel managed to create at their best. It isn't until Absence Of Fear that you get something of a break, and even then it is only in a form of a short intro. Although the thoroughly religious lyrics can be pretty unreadable unless you are in the know, and the album more than occasionally sounds like the band are playing the same song repeatedly over and over, you can just let the music unload itself onto you and it will take care of the rest. Try and let a ton of bricks fall on your head, and you may notice that the experience is actually a tad lighter than Sacrament's offerings.

SACRAMENT - Haunts Of Violence
USA 1992

1. Haunts Of Violence 2. Carry The Corpse 3. Destructive Heresies 4. The Wicked Will Rot 5. Supplication Of The Destitute 6. Souls In Torment 7. Separate From Iniquity 8. Seared Consciences 9. Under Threat Of Death 10. Portraits Of Decay

Sacrament's second album Haunts Of Violence may deserve a nomination for the best thrash metal release that most people never heard of. From the opening title track to Portraits Of Decay, this album is an ultimate piece of American thrash metal of the highest order. With a different vocalist than on Testimony Of Apocalypse, the first moments of this recording may remind you of Forbidden, but Sacrament's sound is notably more forceful and gritty. The production is very good and sharp, and the shredding guitars and nasty vocals complement each other perfectly - how could you not like the combination of a positively rabid vocal performance and killer riffs like on Supplication Of The Destitute, for example. The style of songwriting is extremely consistent, to the point that some may complain there is little actual difference between songs, but if the formula is this excellent then why not use it. Just pay attention to details and you will find that few other albums can provide the same kind of wicked quality as this.

SACRARIO - Catastrophic Eyes
Brazil 2008

1. Catastrophic Eyes 2. Empire Of Lies 3. Drug Addiction 4. The Witness 5. Wise Words 6. To Die Is The End... 7. Lethal Step 8. Wasted Land 9. Extreme Unction 10. Into The Dark 11. Divine Existence 12. Spiritual Lobotomy 13. Septicemia

Another album long in the making, Sacrario's Catastrophic Eyes greets you with a well produced combination of heaviness and speed right at the beginning. To some extent, the style is comparable to Ritual Carnage's first two albums, with the same kind of intense and consistent attack. Sacrario tend to vary speed a lot more often, which is actually a welcome feature as almost exactly one hour of the same would be otherwise guaranteed to take its toll before soon. Although there are not too many individual songs that would stand out more than the rest, the general impetuous nature of this album is notable. The music can appear quite demanding at times, so much that those looking for a quick and easy fix may not find it immediately suitable for their liking, but in the long run the level of satisfaction may well exceed the usual expectations. Forceful, credible, and even stylish are all words that could be accurately used to describe this release.

SACRARIO - Stigma Of Delusion
Brazil 2010

1. Stigma Of Delusion 2. Reborn In Chaos 3. From The Ashes We Rise 4. Covenant 5. God Against God 6. Infernal Paranoia 7. Insane Meaning 8. Deliverance 9. Frozen Dusk 10. Back For Blood 11. Euthanasia 12. Trauma

There is indeed a drastic difference between bands who sound like they learned to play thrash metal just because it seemed a fashionable thing to do, and bands like Sacrario who already have a long history in the field and know the essentials thoroughly. Stigma Of Delusion is both technically and musically above the average, with the years of experience behind it clearly showing. Although there is no huge variation among the riffs, the performance is about as convincing as reasonably possible. On the downside, the vocalist appears to have adopted a certain grave-like tone since the band's previous release, and while this is not totally distracting, Catastrophic Eyes admittedly sounded better and more intelligible in this aspect. For other than that, this is a solid album of heavy thrash metal done in the right spirit.

SACRED REICH - Ignorance
USA 1987

1. Death Squad 2. Victim Of Demise 3. Layed To Rest 4. Ignorance 5. No Believers 6. Violent Solutions 7. Rest In Piece 8. Sacred Reich 9. Administrative Decisions

Released around the time when thrash metal had pretty much evolved into its best known and most typical form, the sound of Sacred Reich's debut album has aged very little over the years. Ignorance has a lot of sharp riffs, and an extreme amount of social and political commentary in lyrics. Together with the general cheerless feel, the overall impression can be quite depressing, maybe even uncomfortable to some listeners despite the decent average speed of these songs. It all shows that the band wanted to make a serious statement, and while you cannot deny the consistent quality of the output, it can take some time to get used to the bleak message that this album carries.

SACRED REICH - Surf Nicaragua
USA 1988

1. Surf Nicaragua 2. One Nation 3. War Pigs 4. Draining You Of Life 5. Ignorance (live) 6. Death Squad (live)

With this mini album Sacred Reich's music took an interesting direction after the band's nearly grave serious debut. Surf Nicaragua turned out brighter, more vivid and less gloomy than its predecessor. The title track is a fast and fresh sounding piece of thrash metal, the Black Sabbath cover song War Pigs is quite satisfactory, and even the live recordings of some older tracks sound somewhat more energetic than their original studio versions on Ignorance. Although Surf Nicaragua was basically just an intermediate release between full-length albums, it refreshed the band's style in a welcome manner.

SACRED REICH - The American Way
USA 1990

1. Love...Hate 2. The American Way 3. The Way It Is 4. Crimes Against Humanity 5. State Of Emergency 6. Who's To Blame 7. I Don't Know 8. 31 Flavors

The American Way was a culmination of the development of Sacred Reich's style and quite possibly their best piece of work. This album contains diverse thrash metal with a lot of nice details. Except for the light and experimental 31 flavors, these tracks are simply convincing performances. The lyrics are still quite heavy with their social commentary though mainly in an intelligent way, without an overly preaching tone this time. The American Way can appear fairly different in comparison to Ignorance, but it remains a fine thrash metal album, nothing like the band's later releases where more modern influences would start to prevail.

SACRIFICE - Torment In Fire
Canada 1985

1. The Awakening 2. Sacrifice 3. Turn In Your Grave 4. Homicidal Breath 5. Warrior Of Death 6. Infernal Visions 7. Burned At The Stake 8. Necronomicon 9. The Exorcism 10. Possession 11. Decapitation 12. Beyond Death

Together with Razor, Sacrifice are among the oldest and best known Canadian thrash metal acts. Considering their long career, the band's debut release may come across as quite a raw piece of work. Torment In Fire is a slab of some very keen and slightly chaotic thrash metal that could resemble a demo recording at the first listening. The band's style in the beginning was clearly something from the more extreme side of the genre, especially so when the time period is taken into account. Even the lyrics are so thoroughly satanic and violent that the outcome seems almost like a concept album. Although there are no notable memorable tracks (aside from Decapitation which is awfully cute), at least it is interesting to notice that Rob Urbinati's screams and growls sound fairly normal here when compared to his later grinding style.

SACRIFICE - Forward To Termination
Canada 1987

1. Forward To Termination 2. Terror Strikes 3. Re-Animation 4. Afterlife 5. Flames Of Armageddon 6. The Entity 7. Forever Enslaved 8. Cyanide 9. Light Of The End 10. Pyrokinesis

By the release of Forward To Termination Sacrifice had already refined their sound to a reasonable level, and the result is better controlled and more effective than their debut - not to forget about some decent production values this time. Musically this album is not exactly spectacular, but the tight execution gives it a life. The songs benefit from the fact that the band still played fast most of the time and had not yet started to wander into more ambitious directions which would add some drops of tediousness to their later releases. The most furious tracks like Terror Strikes, Re-Animation and Pyrokinesis still sound about as great as ever, even with some nostalgia attached. While there are usually no major musical differences between Sacrifice albums, Forward To Termination is one of the most recommended works from this band.

SACRIFICE - Soldiers Of Misfortune
Canada 1990

1. As The World Burns 2. Soldiers Of Misfortune 3. In Defiance 4. Existence Within Eternity 5. Pawn Of Prophecy 6. Lost Through Time 7. A Storm In The Silence 8. Truth (After The Rain)

With the frantic As The World Burns as its opening track, the third Sacrifice release starts off sounding very similar to Forward To Termination. However, the general feel of Soldiers Of Misfortune seems a tad more pondering, and the title track and the massive Truth (After The Rain) in particular must be some of the most diverse pieces Sacrifice ever made. Although a lot of the material is still pretty fast, this recording as a whole can make something of a dry and even dull impression at times. Soldiers Of Misfortune is not a bad album, but it seems to lack some of the fresh intensity that made the band's earlier releases stick out.

SACRIFICE - Apocalypse Inside
Canada 1993

1. My Eyes See Red 2. Apocalypse Inside 3. Flesh 4. Salvation 5. Beneath What You See 6. Incarcerated 7. Ruins Of The Old 8. The Lost 9. Freedom Slave

The next Sacrifice album continued the constant development of the band, from the rough and unrefined Torment In Fire to their heaviest and most ambitious release up to this point. Apocalypse Inside improves the approach taken on Soldiers Of Misfortune with a lot heavier production and more unified songwriting. Although many songs may seem even slower than before, this stomping output sounds very convincing, to say the least. Rob Urbinati's vocals can appear positively decayed here in comparison to some of the band's older works which is not too annoying, but the occasional distortion effects on a couple of tracks are completely unnecessary though fortunately also very brief. Despite some quibbles, Apocalypse Inside turned out to be quite a decent release, and it is actually among the most interesting Sacrifice recordings.

SACRIFICE - The Ones I Condemn
Canada 2009

1. We Will Prevail 2. The Ones I Condemn 3. Give Me Justice 4. The Great Wall 5. Tetragrammaton 6. Atrocity 7. Hiroshima 8. The Devil's Martyr 9. Ultimate Power Corrupts 10. Desolation Alive 11. The Devil's Martyr (Rob's vocals) 12. Burned At The Stake (2009 version) 13. The Entity (2009 version) 14. Forever Enslaved (live) 15. Necronomicon (live)

Sacrifice may be responsible for one of the most surprising comebacks in recent years. The positive thing is, The Ones I Condemn sounds like it could have been recorded only a couple of years after Apocalypse Inside at most. In other words, there has been no momentum lost over the long years of the band's absence, and except for some slightly more intelligible vocals than before, the musical style of Sacrifice has remained virtually the same. The sound of this recording is almost equally classy, gritty, and heavy, but occasionally also a bit tedious with all its thoroughly grim and oppressive feel. A definite quality release this is, even more so when you consider all the lightweight acts that attempt to pass for thrash metal these days. And yet the biggest virtue of The Ones I Condemn may be the renewed interest in the band's earlier works that this album is bound to raise.

SACRIFICIAL - Forever Entangled
Denmark 1993

1. Edmund, A Butler's Tale 2. I Fall In Temptation 3. Contents Of Logical Disbelief 4. Destitute Of Compassion 5. Acknowledged By Life 6. Thus I Cry 7. Conducted Strain

If you are not used to taking a hammer to your skull on a regular basis, the first moments of Sacrificial's Forever Entangled may come across as an unexpected full-scale attack on the senses. This Danish band's debut album hits hard and relentlessly with its ultra-heavy pounding and roaring guitars, complete with vocals locked to an aggressive tone like no tomorrow. Carrying a specific early 1990s tint with it, this release has a certain grim edge over its peers as far as pure energy goes. It is a highly entertaining and refined pack of fury, nevertheless. Some might accuse Sacrificial for sticking to an ultimately one-dimensional kind of presentation here, but sometimes the most obvious means give the best results. For those who are into pummeling thrash metal, Forever Entangled is essentially nothing short of mandatory.

SACRILEGE - Behind The Realms Of Madness
United Kingdom 1985

1. Life Line 2. Shadow From Mordor 3. At Death's Door 4. A Violation Of Something Sacred 5. The Closing Irony 6. Out Of Sight Out Of Mind

Among the British speed/thrash metal bands Sacrilege were a fairly original group with something of a style of their own. The band's debut Behind The Realms Of Madness is basically an underproduced and very rough but intense full-frontal assault. Even Lynda Simpson's harsh vocals are appropriate for the style and give the band's sound an original touch. Despite the raw production, a couple of the most memorable tracks like At Death's Door and A Violation Of Something Sacred are quite satisfying pieces. As a whole the album would still benefit from a better sound quality, though, as now the output is sometimes a bit too thin and hollow. Just look past the technical shortcomings and the music may turn out worth the time.

SACRILEGE - Within The Prophecy
United Kingdom 1987

1. Sight Of The Wise 2. The Captive 3. Winds Of Vengeance 4. Spirit Cry 5. Flight Of The Nazgul 6. The Fear Within 7. Search Eternal

In comparison to Behind The Realms Of Madness Sacrilege's second album Within The Prophecy is considerably less straightforward but also a lot heavier and more pounding. On this release the band's style of songwriting became clearly more ambitious with some particularly long and complex tracks, which is increasingly more evident towards the end of the album. Speed-wise these songs are notably less frantic than on the previous release, with more refined vocals and some mid-tempo riffs adding to the stomping feel, but it is still far from the ponderous doom metal sound that the band would finally adopt. Even though the more complex approach occasionally results in some loss of focus, at its best the music on Within The Prophecy can be strangely intriguing.

SACRILEGE B.C. - Party With God
USA 1986

1. Azmeroth 2. Crucified 3. Fun With Napalm 4. Born Of Hell 5. Time To Die 6. Skinned Alive 7. Cancer 8. Judge Death 9. Death Toll 10. Words Of God 11. Final Rites 12. Slaughterhouse 13. Victimized

Every now and then it is bound to happen that you will encounter an album where already the first couple of minutes are enough to blow the cobwebs off your head for good. That's the case with Party With God which makes a genuine example of non-stop thrash metal with no holds barred. This is probably some of the fastest stuff you can find without crossing over to blatant hardcore, and the approach is occasionally so frantic that it is almost surprising the result doesn't just fall apart due to the sheer speed. Despite the rapid-fire drumming and lightning fast guitar solos, everything remains coherent. While this kind of relentless thrashing makes it a tad more difficult to distinguish between individual songs, and the whole thing is certainly not something to play repeatedly for long hours, Party With God has some special rough charm which is not commonly found.

SACRILEGE B.C. - Too Cool To Pray
USA 1988

1. Cold 2. Where Are We Going 3. Snake Pit 4. Between 5. Revenge 6. Party With God 7. Ripping Apart 8. Silence Screams 9. Too Cool To Pray 10. Mistake 11. Feed Off Me 12. Front Seat Funky

For their second release Sacrilege B.C. obviously toned down some of their earlier unrestricted antics, although the riffs are slightly heavier this time. Too Cool To Pray appears rather typical for a minor thrash metal album of the time, passable but not terribly interesting for its musical values only. In comparison to the band's vicious debut, the biggest difference is that the general pace is a lot more restrained than on Party With God. It should be still fairly sufficient if you're not looking for something that constantly tries to break the speed record as the previous album did, but the output inevitably sounds somewhat more ordinary and a lot less riveting.

SACROSANCT - Truth Is - What Is
Netherlands 1989

1. Dimension Of Violence 2. Execrated (They Will Be) 3. Skin To Skin 4. The Sickened Thrill 5. Terminal Suicide 6. Disputed Death 7. The Die Is Cast 8. Catalepsy 9. Injured 10. Truth Is - What Is

Sacrosanct's debut didn't show much promise for this Dutch band. Truth Is - What Is is rather ordinary, technically adept but musically pretty boring thrash metal. The tracks basically seem to go nowhere and the album on the whole lacks direction and style. The riffs are way too fragmented to stick to your head, which makes the songs just become one stream of tracks totally undistinguishable from each other. The band have a good, heavy and thrashy sound with obvious technical influences and some powerful vocals, but the music is too bleak and dull. Truth Is - What Is cannot be called a totally failed attempt, but with practically nothing to make it stand out in the genre it's difficult to really like this album.

SACROSANCT - Recesses For The Depraved
Netherlands 1991

1. Like Preached Directions 2. Mortal Remains 3. Illusive Supremacy 4. Hidden Crimes Untold 5. With Malice Prepense 6. Enter The Sanctum 7. Astrayed Thoughts 8. The Silence Of Being

Compared to Sacrosanct's first album, Recesses For The Depraved is a lot better example of the band's music. With a more focused and, if possible, even heavier approach, this album features some awesome moments. Though still not entirely a memorable effort and some parts dragging a bit, this album gains momentum by the sheer intensity and convincing delivery of the music alone. Despite recycling some basic elements throughout the album, the massive, crushing songs are guaranteed to leave no one unresponsive, and the heavy, roaring vocals complement the band's powerful sound immensely. The lack of immediate hooks makes it at first a bit difficult to follow with the music, but after some continuous listening one can really start to appreciate the underlying strength of these songs. With Recesses For The Depraved Sacrosanct finally managed to create some fine results - if only the whole album was as strong as its best moments.

SADUS - Illusions
USA 1988

1. Certain Death 2. Undead 3. Sadus Attack 4. Torture 5. And Then You Die 6. Hands Of Fate 7. Twisted Face 8. Fight Or Die 9. Illusions 10. Chemical Exposure

Sadus were certain pioneers in the combined thrash/death metal field, actively developing their style from album to album. The band's debut effort Illusions is more straightforward than their later, more technical releases. This shows in a certain simplicity of these songs that play almost like faster versions of careless outtakes from early Slayer rehearsals. But while Sadus already in their early form were able to hit notes at absolute breakneck speed, the outcome ends up sounding very one-dimensional, near monotonic at times. Despite their frantic nature and the band's technical talent, these tracks simply tend to bore the hell out of me - not to mention those irritating, tense vocals that can seriously get on your nerves. Without its notable intensity Illusions might have been buried in the piles of countless minor thrash metal albums of the time without a trace, now the evidence of the band's early state is worth attention although definitely not among personal favorites.

Note: This album was later re-released as Chemical Exposure with different cover art.

SADUS - Swallowed In Black
USA 1990

1. Black 2. Man Infestation 3. Last Abide 4. The Wake 5. In Your Face 6. Good Rid'nz 7. False Incarnation 8. Images 9. Powers Of Hate 10. Arise 11. Oracle Of Obmission

Swallowed In Black was a seemingly chaotic follow-up to the debut album of Sadus, but underlying were already some hints of more complex elements that would be properly taken into use on the next release. The impression is still a bit lacking in depth, yet the thing as a whole is not nearly as tedious as Illusions at its worst. The band's message remains very oppressive even in comparison to the norm, with chaos and entropy prevailing through most of the imagery. Regarding individual audible characteristics, the vocals are as spiteful as ever and then some. Occasionally, like on Last Abide, their screeching tone goes seriously over the top although it can only be admitted that this extreme delivery appropriately matches the band's whole intense performance. For better or worse, it is exactly this kind of overall hateful sound that ensures that Swallowed In Black sticks out of the mass.

SADUS - A Vision Of Misery
USA 1992

1. Through The Eyes Of Greed 2. Valley Of Dry Bones 3. Machines 4. Slave To Misery 5. Throwing Away The Day 6. Facelift 7. Deceptive Perceptions 8. Under The Knife 9. Echoes Of Forever

The very first detail worth noticing about A Vision Of Misery must be the production quality which is very clean and analytical. Steve DiGiorgio's famous bass lines never before sounded as prominent as here though they are far from obtrusive. Musically this is easily the most technical Sadus release up to this point, and in a way the outcome reflects the period of time when it was recorded in the early 1990s. It wouldn't be too far-fetched to call the album downright progressive at times, without going completely overboard. While the experience may not appear quite as cold and nihilistic as Swallowed In Black, this kind of more controlled and refined implementation does add to a specific menacing feel of its own, just in a different way than in the past. Not to forget that individual songs like Through The Eyes Of Greed and Throwing Away The Day are simply some very well composed pieces. As strange as it may sound, A Vision Of Misery is not only the most complex Sadus album, it is also the most accessible one.

SARCASM - Crematory
Slovenia 1989

1. Road Warriors 2. Crematory 3. Sarcastic Reborn 4. Thrash Tonight 5. Love At First Sight 6. The Kruger Story 7. Fate 8. Runaway

Slovenia's gift to the old speed/thrash metal scene, Sarcasm's original debut release Crematory sounds genuinely dated from the very first notes. The band's performance does not really convince you immediately in the beginning, as it is not the thrashiest or heaviest kind of music that this album is composed of. The first couple of tracks can actually give something of a lackluster impression despite their speedy riffs. Fortunately there are also better examples of the band's more intense side later on, but even these are padded with some less inspiring pieces that effectively act as pure fillers. While there is room for albums like this in the genre, one can only imagine how much Crematory could have benefited from some more unrestricted energy and generally sharper execution than this.

SARCOFAGO - The Laws Of Scourge
Brazil 1991

1. The Laws Of Scourge 2. Piercings 3. Midnight Queen 4. Screeches From The Silence 5. Prelude To A Suicide 6. The Black Vomit 7. Secrets Of A Window 8. Little Julie 9. Crush, Kill, Destroy

Being one of the most respected black metal groups in Brazil, Sarcofago gradually refined their style further in the field, a development that culminated in The Laws Of Scourge. Possibly one of Sarcofago's most refined and best produced releases ever, especially considering their older and remarkably more raw albums, this blackened thrash metal epic is somewhat reminiscent of Sepultura's style at the time but with a notably heavier and darker tone, not forgetting the still apparent black metal touches. Whereas the title track and Crush, Kill, Destroy are some great, pretty straightforward thrashers, it's tracks like Piercings and Screeches From The Silence in particular that really highlight the strengths of this album. Although a couple of slower pieces drag a bit, the quality of the whole shines through. Some purists may consider The Laws Of Scourge a pop album in Sarcofago's discography, but that is no reason to skip the thing when the music is this good.

SAURON - Thrash Assault
USA 2004

1. Thrash 'til Death 2. Witch King 3. Demonic Invasion 4. Thrash Assault 5. Unholy Art 6. Tormentor 7. Total Death

For a slab of thrash metal with a pure brains-to-the-wall attitude, Sauron's Thrash Assault couldn't better fit the bill. For once, the title is a perfect description of the content which is a tight implementation of the familiar formula without going completely overboard. A notable aspect is the rough sound quality - intentional or not, it is very obvious that the album was recorded with less than state-of-the-art equipment. Miraculously, it all works out pretty well. Certainly the output is raw and edgy, and in case of some lesser band the effect would be probably just unbearable, but in Sauron's music the primal energy is so strong that it comes through unhampered, despite or because of the lacking production values. (The Kreator cover song at the end sounds just plain bad, though.) The longevity of this kind of constant havoc may be somewhat limited at best, but when you grab Thrash Assault you can be sure that every moment is going to be pure rage.

Colombia 2010

1. Intro 2. Scream Of Death 3. Thrash Command 4. Satan's Strike 5. Bruja Asesina 6. Thrash Metal Attack 7. Altar Of Sacrifice 8. Possessed By Evil And Hell 9. Necronomicon

No matter what you think about this band's music, it is obvious that they've got some nerve. Satan's Strike features some of the most blatant cliches in the genre and takes them even further. Not only the music is already quite a stereotypical example of thrash metal, even more so when you consider almost thirty years of history up to this point. There are also seriously non-subtle songs like Thrash Command and Thrash Metal Attack, as if you couldn't recognize the style by any other means. And then they top it all off by using some of the most laughable, not to mention explicit cover art in these circles, which pretty much guarantees that this album is not going to find its way to typical North American record stores in the foreseeable future. If Satan's Strike had been released in the mid-1980s, it would most certainly be a cult album today. As of now, it can appear somewhat more amusing than really convincing.

USA 1990

1. Acid Bath 2. Speed Or Bleed 3. Madman Marz 4. Eat 'em Raw 5. The Vice 6. Infected 7. Seed Of Demon

Savage Thrust's Eat 'em Raw is one cute speed/thrash metal album, and not only because of the cover. Except for the vocals that are rather high-pitched, bringing the John Cyriis era Agent Steel to mind, the band's sound is laudably heavy in a nice old-fashioned way. Actually the characteristics of this album suggest that maybe it was released a few years too late to gain more serious attention - which is a slight pity, as the music remains strong enough to make a favorable impression on anyone who is willing to give it a try. No matter whether playing fast or slow, Savage Thrust deliver their songs in a steady powerful manner, and even though most of these riffs may not appear too special, their potential is realized as fully as possible. Sometimes you cannot help but appreciate an album for its passionate spirit alone, and that's where Eat 'em Raw outshines many of its more calculated and cold counterparts.

SCHIZO - Main Frame Collapse
Italy 1989

1. Violence At The Morgue 2. Threshold Of Pain 3. Make Her Bleed Slowly 4. Epileptic Void 5. Removal Part 1 & Part 2 6. Psycho Terror 7. Sick Of It All! 8. Manifold Hallucinations 9. Behind That Curtain 10. Main Frame Collapse 11. Delayed Death

Among the limited number of Italian thrash metal releases Main Frame Collapse makes it fairly easy to understand why Schizo made some name for themselves with this album. There are several likeable features here, from powerful riffs to ripping vocals that pierce through your ears regardless of safeguards applied. Incidentally the music sometimes resembles Necrodeath, not least due to the vocals, even though Schizo's sound is simpler and also somewhat more immature in comparison. Although the style of these tracks varies from short striking thrashers to longer mid-tempo pieces, most of them manage to create something of a uniform feel throughout the album. Not to forget about individual tracks like Make Her Bleed Slowly that is quite memorable in all its nastiness. Compared to numerous more stagnant recordings out there, Main Frame Collapse gets its point across more promptly.

S.D.I. - Satan's Defloration Incorporated
Germany 1986

1. Quasimodo 2. Panic In Wehrmacht 3. Wanker 4. Absolute Banger 5. Young Blood 6. You're Wrong 7. Chainsaw Massacre 8. I Don't Care 9. Take Off Your Hands 10. I Wanna F..k Ya 11. Bullshit 12. Disappointment 13. Bloodsucker

With a name like this, one might wonder how serious the band's motives were in the first place. Compared to other German speed/thrash metal bands of the time, the debut album of S.D.I. appears quite unruly indeed. The opening track Quasimodo is so fast you'd be forgiven for thinking it's playing at the wrong speed at first. Not only is the presentation somewhat "unrestricted", with titles like Wanker, Chainsaw Massacre and I Wanna F..k Ya it would be too easy to label the thing as a total joke. But despite some obvious signs of bad taste, S.D.I. could also deliver some surprisingly classy moments, and at its best the band's energetic sound is simply uncomparable. Just take the wild Quasimodo, the cheery Absolute Banger, or the menacing Bloodsucker as examples of some fine speed metal. Better have a strong sense of humor when approaching this one, though - some of it is definitely of an acquired taste.

SENTINEL BEAST - Depths Of Death
USA 1986

1. Depths Of Death 2. Mourir 3. Dogs Of War 4. Corpse 5. Evil Is The Night 6. Sentinel Beast 7. Revenge 8. The Keeper 9. Phantom Of The Opera

Sentinel Beast's only release Depths Of Death provides an interesting dose of speed/thrash metal from the mid-1980s. Being one of the few groups with a female vocalist in the genre, their style is a bit more original and distinctive than in your average band. In fact, this might be one of the most atmospheric releases from the old scene, complete with a dark and warm sound where Debbie Gunn's husky voice fits in very well. These songs can appear quite old-fashioned in a charming way, tracks like Sentinel Beast being among the most absorbing examples of the band's dynamic style. There's inevitably something dated in this kind of music, but it cannot be argued that the result has some nice appeal of its own.

SEPTIC CHRIST - Infected Existence
Germany 2009

1. Infected Existence (Pre-Game) 2. W.D.W.F. (Wake Up) 3. Walls 4. Three Letters Called Hell 5. Stand Up Straight 6. Permitted By God 7. Thrashin' With Style 8. No Respect

As far as stripped-down thrash metal goes, Septic Christ's Infected Existence is a perfectly accurate representation of the style. At times the lack of any notable extra features is almost detrimental to the cause, though. The sound of this album is dry and terse, and most songs are not very inspiring - even though the riffs serve their purpose, it is difficult to find individual moments that you would continue to remember when the album has played through. Mainly this falls into the category of commonplace and rather standard thrash, something that doesn't come across as particularly noteworthy in either good or bad.

SEPTIC CHRIST - Guilty As We Were Born
Germany 2012

1. Guilty As We Were Born (Intro) 2. Starstruck 3. Screwed And Ill 4. Be A Man 5. The Legacy 6. Welcome To The Championship Of Corruption 7. Bomb Monte Carlo 8. Exile The Leaders 9. G.D.L.B. 10. Political Playground 11. Yearning For Salvation 12. Herd Instinct

In comparison to Infected Existence, Septic Christ's second release somewhat improved the matters, and the result is quite an acceptable product. Guilty As We Were Born sounds more coherent and even slightly more intense than the band's debut, and while the approach is still not the most striking, development towards a healthier direction is obvious. Although the music remains based on fairly simple grounds, the overall effect is not nearly as tedious as on the previous release. Most of the time the pace is laudably high and consistent, and as a whole this album plays out in an unsurprising but satisfactory manner.

SEPULTURA - Bestial Devastation
Brazil 1985

1. The Curse 2. Bestial Devastation 3. Antichrist 4. Necromancer 5. Warriors Of Death

In order to avoid hearing about Sepultura in the late 1980s, one should have been living permanently under a rock. But all bands have to start from somewhere, and in this case the beginnings were fairly humble indeed. Bestial Devastation has a raw production quality like no other, with songs that do not have too much in common with the band's more famous releases to come. For the most part the music can appear awfully crude, and the audible level of roughness could be only rivaled by a couple of other bands at the time of this release, which is something of a historical value in itself. That said, this mini album is not exactly unlistenable, just not comparable to Sepultura's best works either.

SEPULTURA - Morbid Visions
Brazil 1986

1. Morbid Visions 2. Mayhem 3. Troops Of Doom 4. War 5. Crucifixion 6. Show Me The Wrath 7. Funeral Rites 8. Empire Of The Damned

Sepultura's first full-length release Morbid Visions is something of a more streamlined effort than Bestial Devastation. While the competition was already starting to catch up in terms of extreme aggression at this point, this album remains one of the rougher recordings in the field. It cannot be denied that this constant high speed is kind of respectable, but even then the energetic feel is dampened by the mediocre sound quality. As a whole, the style bears a close resemblance to Sodom's Obsessed By Cruelty from the very same year, which should be probably more than enough to indicate whether Morbid Visions is worth your interest or not.

SEPULTURA - Schizophrenia
Brazil 1987

1. Intro 2. From The Past Comes The Storms 3. To The Wall 4. Escape To The Void 5. Inquisition Symphony 6. Screams Behind The Shadows 7. Septic Schizo 8. The Abyss 9. R.I.P. (Rest In Pain) 10. Troops Of Doom (bonus)

Drastically more advanced, stylish, and mature than Sepultura's earlier efforts, Schizophrenia is surprisingly effective for a release that preceded the band's leap into the major league. Already perfectly controlled and quite focused, the music may seem slightly more straightforward than on the band's later releases, yet it perfectly captures what would become the characteristic Sepultura sound. These tracks work well enough without any polished gimmicks, although the album on the whole is somewhat let down by the muddy production. Then again, the speed and intensity easily match and surpass any of the later releases. For friends of Sepultura's classic period, Schizophrenia is fully as essential as anything that followed.

SEPULTURA - Beneath The Remains
Brazil 1989

1. Beneath The Remains 2. Inner Self 3. Stronger Than Hate 4. Mass Hypnosis 5. Sarcastic Existence 6. Slaves Of Pain 7. Lobotomy 8. Hungry 9. Primitive Future

Beneath The Remains is generally considered to be a classic release. This could be partially due to the momentum that Sepultura had been building up over the years prior to this moment, but the finished product has merits of its own, too. Although the genre had already reached its natural saturation point by the time of this release, and the material here is not too different from Schizophrenia, this is unarguably the first Sepultura recording with a decent and sharp sound quality. The overall feel is kind of technical and dry, even repetitive at times. Of individual songs, Stronger Than Hate deserves to be highlighted for its wonderful riffs and clever structure, whereas Primitive Future is an effective and uncomplicated fast thrasher that goes straight to the point - therefore closing the whole thing in a satisfying manner.

Brazil 1991

1. Arise 2. Dead Embryonic Cells 3. Desperate Cry 4. Murder 5. Subtraction 6. Altered State 7. Under Siege (Regnum Irae) 8. Meaningless Movements 9. Infected Voice

The follow-up to Beneath The Remains was the most refined Sepultura release up to this point and the band's swan song in the traditional thrash metal scene. The sound of Arise is very heavy and polished but still aggressive. Among the most significant factors contributing to the listening experience must be the top-notch mixing work by Andy Wallace which resulted in a totally awesome, clear and very dynamic sound that few other recordings can match. While the music may be less straightforward and more technical than before, the riffs are generally more memorable and the album as a whole feels very complete and focused. The vicious opening track is easily one of the most impressive thrashers ever, whereas some more varied tracks like Subtraction and Altered State are among the other highlights. Altogether, Arise is simply an extremely well made piece of thrash metal.

United Kingdom 1990

1. Tormented Forever 2. The Charmer 3. Forbidden Desires 4. I Of The Needle 5. Expletive Deleted 6. Dr. Hatchet 7. Locked Up In Chains 8. Acoustic Interlude 9. Katie 10. Epilogue

Seventh Angel carried the flag of British thrash metal with such respectable intensity that the results are worth attention even many years after. The Torment is a notably heavy offering with a few moments of nearly medieval feel adding to the unique sound. The opening crusher Tormented Forever immediately goes for the throat with its gritty attack, effectively making the most memorable track of the album. Ian Arkley's vocals can be downright punishing and complete the band's dark and angry sound. While the lyrics touch some religious themes, the presentation is more mature than what most other similar bands used to practice. Heaviness may be the most important keyword of this album, and all songs share the same kind of grim quality. Although the outcome is a bit too ponderous at times, The Torment has some genuine touches of originality that simply cannot be ignored.

SEVENTH ANGEL - Lament For The Weary
United Kingdom 1991

1. Recollections Of A Life Once Lived 2. Life In All It's Emptiness 3. No Longer A Child 4. Full Of Blackness 5. Lament For The Weary 6. Woken By Silence 7. Falling Away From Reality 8. Dark Shadows 9. Passing Of Years 10. Secure In Eternity 11. Farewell To Human Cries

In a way Seventh Angel were comparable to their countrymen Sabbat in terms of originality, whereas thematically the bands were almost in the opposite ends of the spectrum. Seventh Angel's sophomore effort Lament For The Weary is, if possible, even darker and more melancholic than The Torment while the songwriting is more varied and interesting. The songs feature even some doomy slow passages combined with thrashing speed bursts in an effective manner. Following a theme of child abuse and its effects on life, the lyrics paint images of depression and despair with such emotion that the result makes most other albums with supposedly dark content seem only seriously immature in comparison. Add this to the fact that the overall sound is not in the least lighter than previously, and tracks like No Longer A Child and Woken By Silence become perfectly natural choices to play when shadows fall. With its awesome compositions and darkened feel Lament For The Weary is truly one of a kind, an album of majestic quality. Even if you couldn't care less about the band's underlying message, get this album still as musically it beats most others 11-0.

SHAH - Beware
Russia 1989

1. Total Devastation 2. Beware 3. Coward 4. Bloodbrothers 5. Save The Human Race 6. Age Of Dismay 7. Threshold Of Pain 8. Say 'Hi' To Anthrax

For a debut album from one of the few Russian thrash metal bands known also outside Russia, Shah's Beware is technically rather advanced while still fairly energetic. Although the production on the whole is decent, the outcome can appear a bit dry and unexciting. The songs mostly sound somewhat derivative, but some nice details ensure that the result does not become totally forgettable. In fact, even though the music may feel a bit tedious at times, towards the end it gradually wins you over. The massive tracks Age Of Dismay and Threshold Of Pain in particular are some of the better examples of the content. Even though Shah's style was probably not too fresh or original, Beware is not really a bad album in its class.

SHAH - Terror Collection
Russia 1991

1. Killing Machine 2. Overload 3. Damned Sinner 4. Age Of Darkness 5. Thrashing Metal Race 6. Terror Collection 7. Masdon Must Die 8. Mad Future 9. Ashes To Ashes 10. Metal Fight

Although Terror Collection was released after Beware, most of its material had been written already several years earlier. This actually shows in a positive way, as the approach is generally a lot more straightforward and effective and avoids much of the occasional dry sound of the previous album. It seems Shah were at their best when doing rather simple, fast thrashers - for example, Killing Machine is a classic rapid burst of riffs, with Mad Future coming close second. On the other hand, the slow and pounding Ashes To Ashes and Metal Fight sound extremely dated today, but that just adds to their nostalgic feel. Somehow the music on this album manages to create a positively cheerful atmosphere which is not too common in these circles. Filled with lots of healthy speed, Terror Collection can be recommended also to other than hardcore fans of Shah.

SHAH - Escape From Mind
Russia 1993

1. Escape 2. From Out Of Insane 3. Outside 4. No Return 5. Escape From Mind 6. Reason X 7. Under Grief 8. Lost In The Night

With another dose of re-recorded tracks from Shah's early days, Escape From Mind is interesting already for its non-musical values. The content is not unlike what you could have expected from almost any other late 1980s band, rather energetic if not vastly original, but the biggest surprise is how well thought-out these old tracks actually turned out to be. Many riffs are at least semi-catchy, and there is a consistent thrashing mood throughout the whole album. Despite some lengthy songs the music never gets too dull either. All this makes Escape From Mind quite a satisfying release and actually one of this band's better works.

Note: Be sure not to mix this album up with the 1987 demo of the same name which had an unofficial re-release in the 1990s.

SHELLSHOCK - Mortal Days
Japan 1989

1. Money 2. Cries Of Despair 3. I Wanna Get More Thrill 4. Balance Of Sosiety 5. Mortal Days 6. Killed By Myself 7. Face Realities 8. Danger Zone 9. The Cage 10. Go To The Front - Don't Ask For Your Life

While not every thrash metal band needs to stand out to be able to convince you with their music, Shellshock could be called quite ordinary even in their class of unsurprising basic thrash metal. The band's debut full-length Mortal Days is your typical effort in almost every sense, in practice not particularly hindered by anything else but the near total lack of truly memorable tracks. With the saturation of the genre being more than evident already at this point, there was little room for albums like this to become noticed in a grand scale. Technically Shellshock were competent enough for the time, but the level of detail is a bit too sparse and the band's sound too unimaginative that Mortal Days could be really interesting for anything other than some novelty value.

SHELLSHOCK - Protest And Resistance
Japan 1991

1. Slammin'... But Thrillin' 2. Poison 3. Raise Your Protest 4. The Answer Of Technology 5. Interruption 6. Death Comes Inside 7. Put 'em To Death 8. Animal Weapon 9. Indirect War 10. The Last Battalion 11. A 12. Virtual Image 13. Restless Fear 14. Mastered Gas

Protest And Resistance can be considered at least a slight improvement over Shellshock's previous release. The sound is sharper and somewhat more energetic, some of this effect due to the band's growing hardcore tendencies that started to show up on this album while still staying on the safe side, playing only a minor role on the whole. It still lacks appeal that would necessarily make you return to this album after the first couple of listenings or so, but the music does not feel quite as pointless as some moments on Mortal Days do. Of course, Shellshock still could have succeeded better in the songwriting department, but what you hear is what you get. Whether that is enough in the long run is a matter of personal taste, but better not solely rely on this album when you add items to your packsack before that half a year stay on a lone island.

SHOCK TROOPERS - Shock Troopers
Italy 2007

1. A Reason For War 2. Shock Troopers 3. Goodbye Liver 4. Allowed Submission 5. Slave Of State 6. O.P.A. (Obsolete Proud Attack) 7. Brainsucker 8. Nothing Remains 9. Stranglehold 10. Sunday Night Fever 11. Goodbye Liver (live) 12. Allowed Submission (live)

The self-titled debut release of Shock Troopers sounds fairly good-natured and upbeat. Every song is rather short, simple, and straightforward, and the appeal of the band's music must be largely based on this total avoidance of more complicated solutions. At times the terse and stripped-down approach brings some old, more hardcore-ish acts from the 1980s to mind, but this band's style is more firmly based on thrash metal as well as supported by a meatier production. It is on par with the fastest current thrash metal bands, but the sound of Shock Troopers is slightly more spontaneous and has a specific kind of live quality to it. In all honesty, there is not much about this album to make a permanent impression, but as a rare form of musical therapy Shock Troopers deserve an honorable mention.

SHOCK TROOPERS - Blades And Rods
Italy 2010

1. Intro (Metal Slug) 2. Competition 3. Take Your Eyes Off Me 4. Blades And Rods 5. Vice 6. Road Thrash 7. Toilet Show 8. Protection Money 9. Jail World 10. Waterboarding 11. The Rape

Blades And Rods is mostly an unsurprising continuation of the style that Shock Troopers established with their debut. It seems difficult to add any notable new commentary as the band's way of thinking has essentially remained unchanged, with exactly the same kind of compact songwriting in effect. Maybe the metallic edge is sharper than on the previous album, and the feel of music is a tad heavier and less lighthearted - that aside, the differences are mainly superficial. If possible, Blades And Rods appears even a bit more one-dimensional than its predecessor, but it's hard to say whether this is just due to imagination. While this album is still a good candidate for easy listening, any further releases from the band could benefit from some fine-tuning of the formula in order to avoid complete repetition.

SHRAPNEL - Hellbound
Australia 2010

1. Hellgrinder 2. I Am The Hell 3. Friday Night Thrash Attack 4. Trample The Altar 5. Hang On The Cross 6. Cynic Horde 7. Six Pack Attack 8. The Power Is Mine

Shrapnel's Hellbound is kind of refreshing, to some extent. This is straight-out no-frills thrash metal from the very first notes onwards, and the total lack of academic pondering or pointless twiddling is more than obvious. Despite the simple grounds that this music is based on, the execution is convincing and sharp, and boredom rarely has time to step in. With mostly rather compact and streamlined songs, there is a strong sense of continuity and a common theme. Great variation or highly intelligent lyrics are not the name of the game here, but the album stands on its own long enough so that the aftertaste is quite satisfactory. An exceptional recording Hellbound is not, but unlike the plethora of average and somewhat faceless releases in the scene, this album manages to raise its head above the rest by a small but important margin.

SHRINE - Perspective
Portugal 1994

1. Within You (It Hurts) 2. Luminous Green 3. The Masonry 4. In The Machine 5. Here M. G. R. 6. La Danse des Morts 7. Ophelia Dreamed 8. Ethereal

There is a certain niche of bands who kept clinging to the vanishing original thrash metal scene for one reason or another, and Shrine happen to belong to this group. Although the band's Portuguese origins raise some interest in their music in advance, and their only release Perspective starts out almost promising, you soon realize that there is nothing new under the sun. This album definitely has some style of its own, but it is another thing altogether whether much of this holds any great value in the long run. The band handle their instruments in a convincing way and the outcome is not weak at all, but no matter how close, it is not quite there to leave a mark. Only a few years earlier and Shrine could have made something of a name for themselves even with this kind of rather unsurprising delivery - at this point it was hardly an option anymore.

SILENCE - Vision
USA 1990

1. Vision 2. Echoes Of Damnation 3. Voice Of The Pariah 4. Pitbull 5. Living Hypocrisy 6. Path Of Uncertainty 7. Death By Womba 8. Dark Tide Rising 9. Necromantic

You got to give it to Silence, they must have put everything they had into this one. The first couple of tracks on Vision go straight to the point - there is no actual intro to speak of, the main riff goes off immediately and the vocals quickly follow. After such a direct initial attack you may start to wonder if the whole album is this eager, but in reality there is at least some variation to it. Almost an hour long, this recording includes everything that can be considered must-have in typical American thrash metal of the time, blending it together into a semi-successful riff-fest. The sound is sharp and clear and the band have the right attitude, and with some more creativity and memorable riffs they might have eventually made it. Even now the outcome is not totally without some limited appeal. For sure, if the sound and feel of it was the only thing that matters then this album would be a winner.

SILENT SCREAM - From The Darkest Depths Of The Imagination
USA 1992

1. Self Abuse 2. From The Darkest Depths Of The Imagination 3. Open Season 4. Theatre Of The Depraved 5. Matrix Of Madness 6. Distraction Of Thought 7. Rise And Fall 8. Prey Upon The Weak

Based on their name and general style, Silent Scream clearly draw their inspiration from bands like Slayer. Too bad that From The Darkest Depths Of The Imagination is so bleak for a full-length release. The production of this album is about the heaviest you can get, but it sort of goes to waste with these tracks that must be some of the most derivative and plodding pieces ever. Sure, the band sound extremely heavy and technically there is not much to complain about, but the lack of imagination combined with very dull delivery doesn't exactly make the music appeal to your senses. Especially the first half of this album is awfully boring and pointless, and the rest is actually better only by a couple of individual riffs. With its overly flattening feel, this one is just a perfect choice to play in the background when you're having a major depression.

SITHLORD - Labyrinth To The Gods
Australia 2000

1. Intro 2. Labyrinth To The Gods 3. Disinterred Faith 4. Angelique 5. Enslaved To Hades 6. Outro 7. Dawning Of The New Millenium In Darkness (bonus)

There is no danger of mistaking Sithlord for some modern-style group, as the band's sound is overtly old-fashioned and therefore pleasant. The initial feel of Labyrinth To The Gods is actually familiar enough to bring some old works of Destruction to mind, with a certain additional flavor of Sithlord's own. The band clearly had a taste for songwriting that would produce if not downright catchy tracks then at least songs that don't sound like the most stereotypical picks from the bottom of the recycle bin. Although a certain amount of nostalgia is a beneficial factor contributing to the response that this recording is likely to raise on a typical listener, the result does not sound like a mere rehashing of the old. Sithlord's music is simply quite stylish in its own right.

SITHLORD - The Return To Godless Times
Australia 2002

1. Dissection 2. Summoning Thy Master 3. Holy Virgin's Demise 4. Predator Moon 5. Dawning Of The New Millenium In Darkness 6. Condemned To The Grave 7. Grim Thoughts 8. Necronomicon Ex-Mortis 9. Advanced Australia Fair

The Return To Godless Times propelled Sithlord's sound into a more characteristic direction, enough so that it is not too easy to make direct comparisons anymore. There are several quite lengthy pieces on this album, but the music maintains a certain consistent charm of its own while none of the tracks really drags. With sufficient variety, most songs are fairly well distinguishable from each other - for example, Holy Virgin's Demise starts out sounding like an ominous spell that gradually draws you in, while Grim Thoughts sports some very catchy riffs that make it one of the more memorable tracks here. It is not that common to find a band with some genuine style, but in Sithlord's case at least a semi-original vision is evident.

Note: The CD release also contains all tracks from Labyrinth To The Gods as a bonus.

SIXTY NINE - Just For The Fun
Belgium 1988

1. Intro 2. Contamination 3. Fear 4. Sixty Nine 5. Crystal Eyes 6. You Gonna Die 7. Legal Violence 8. Eternal Life 9. Choose Death 10. Uniform 11. Help Me 12. Bullshit

Sixty Nine's little-known release can make almost any other album out there seem pompous and overpolished. Just For The Fun provides a string of rather straightforward splashes of thrash metal in a terse and slender format, and you can be sure that there is nothing progressive about these songs. Although the band certainly knew how to slow down for an occasional stomping break, the first and foremost feature is the keen attack that almost all tracks invariably employ. A couple of songs are nothing but minimal hardcore-ish bursts, but mostly it is just very plain and bare thrashing that this recording contains. There is no doubt that a full album of the same can appear a bit too dull and dumb to some, but in short snippets you may find it kind of refreshing every now and then, even though the long-time appeal is quite limited.

SKULLBREAKER - Total Thrash Terror
Germany 2005

1. Intro 2. Vulnerable Giant 3. Unleashing The Demon 4. Skullbreaker 5. Hypocritical Face 6. Mighty Hunter 7. Why 8. Commercial Filth 9. False Utopia 10. Thrash Solution

It is kind of convenient that you can often make an educated guess of the level of imagination (or the total lack of it) that blatant retro thrash metal bands have based on their album titles only, even taking into account some notable exceptions. Skullbreaker still have the same chances as everyone else to convince the listener with their actual music, but Total Thrash Terror does not exactly hit the mark. It really doesn't take too much time before it becomes too evident that another Fastkill this is not. And if someone still doesn't know what a run-of-the-mill album of rough thrash metal sounds like, then this one is not going to make a pleasant example, not least due to the terribly strained vocals that must be some of the ugliest out there. Total Thrash Terror is just so blunt and generic that it can make a typical Witchburner album seem almost novel in comparison.

SKYCLAD - The Wayward Sons Of Mother Earth
United Kingdom 1991

1. The Sky Beneath My Feet 2. Trance Dance 3. A Minute Piece 4. The Widdershins Jig 5. Our Dying Island 6. Pagan Man 7. Cradle Will Fall 8. Skyclad 9. Moongleam And Meadowsweet 10. Terminus

The Wayward Sons Of Mother Earth was a remarkable debut for the British folk-thrash metal masters Skyclad, at this early stage with more elements of forceful thrash metal than actual folk music. With the notable exceptions of the heavily folk influenced The Widdershins Jig (complete with a violin) and the affective Moongleam And Meadowsweet, plus a couple of short interludes, this album is about as heavy as anything Sabbat ever made and not much behind in speed. With Martin Walkyier's angry vocals remaining some of the best in the thrash metal history, there are some truly classic tracks on this album, starting with the captivating The Sky Beneath My Feet and ending with the incredibly heavy and menacing Terminus. Ridiculously much more original and memorable than most other albums out there, The Wayward Sons Of Mother Earth completes the righteous Sabbat trilogy of pagan thrash in a lot more satisfying way than Mourning Has Broken ever did.

SLAMMER - The Work Of Idle Hands...
United Kingdom 1989

1. Tenement Zone 2. If Thine Eye 3. Johnny's Home 4. Razor's Edge 5. Hellbound 6. Hunt You Down 7. Gods' Prey 8. Fight Or Fall 9. No Excuses 10. Born For War

Slammer's The Work Of Idle Hands... must be one of the most American sounding British thrash metal albums from the late 1980s. This is partially due to the professional, dynamic production by Mark Dodson, who also produced some Anthrax and Suicidal Tendencies albums, but in addition Slammer's style is very similar to most American bands of the time. On this debut Slammer played smooth thrash metal which appears somewhat generic and uncreative. The first few tracks actually manage to raise some serious interest and make you expect more from the album, but the music soon degenerates into pretty average thrash. The band appeared to be very capable and the production is top-notch, but in the end The Work Of Idle Hands... is rather generic although quite entertaining in its own way.

SLAMMER - Insanity Addicts
United Kingdom 1990

1. Insanity Addicts 2. Bring The Hammer Down 3. Maniac 4. I.O.U.

Apparently Slammer's debut, while well-produced, was not that successful to begin with as this mini album was released on a minor label. Not supported by such a top-notch production anymore, Insanity Addicts sounds simply bland and very generic. Whereas The Work Of Idle Hands... had at least a few tracks worth some interest, the songs on this mini album are nowhere close to even that level. The fairly neutral production of this release just emphasizes the relatively weak vocals and the general lack of power in the music. Without any particularly good points, Insanity Addicts is just another addition to the category of mostly forgettable albums in the scene.

SLAMMER - Nightmare Scenario
United Kingdom 1991

1. What's Your Pleasure? 2. Greed 3. In The Name Of God 4. Just Another Massacre 5. Architect Of Pain 6. Every Breath 7. I Know Who I Am 8. Corruption 9. Think For Yourself 10. L'Ultima

Slammer's final release is just every bit as insignificant as the band's previous albums and more. The production of Nightmare Scenario, while somewhat decent, is pretty bland especially compared to the debut, which makes this album seriously lack power. The music doesn't contain much real energy, and it goes through your head without a trace whatsoever. It's not that the band couldn't play fast and well, but a solid album needs more than that. The sound of this release on the whole is just totally emotionless and boring. If there's a couple of good riffs on Nightmare Scenario, they effectively get lost in the general dullness of the music.

SLAUGHTER - Strappado
Canada 1987

1. Disintegrator / Incinerator 2. Nocturnal Hell 3. F.O.D. (Fuck Of Death) 4. Tortured Souls 5. Parasites 6. Curse 7. Strappado 8. Maim To Please 9. One Foot In The Grave 10. Tyrant Of Hell 11. Death Dealer 12. Tales Of The Macabre

Slaughter were a real cult band already in their time. Strappado is a complete representation of this Canadian legend's original style, a piece of extremely gruff and pounding thrash metal. On average, these songs are not very fast except for a few tracks, and sometimes Slaughter almost manage to sound like a thrashier version of Celtic Frost, in both good and bad. While the approach is emphatic, some tracks can appear a bit too simple and plodding. But the best pieces like Curse and the title song are undeniably very nasty and effective, and the rest of material has some rough charm of its own as well. In the end Strappado just remains one of the more essential albums from the old times.

SLAUGHTER - Not Dead Yet
Canada 1990

1. Not Dead Yet 2. Flake 3. Threshold Of Pain 4. Timewarp 5. Death Comes Ripping Through You 6. The Dark 7. Astral Projector 8. Telepathic Screams

Not Dead Yet marked a change of pace after Strappado. After some line-up changes, the band's style became faster and more straightforward by a notable amount, and this album simply sounds more like typical thrash metal on all counts. But although the music might not be quite as original as on the previous release, these tracks remain fairly powerful even with some of their more formulaic tendencies. The roaring vocals, heavy riffs and high speed eventually make this album if not as memorable as Strappado then at least a well-done piece of work in its class of heavy thrash metal. It's not like Slaughter remarkably lost steam here, as Not Dead Yet would be a decent recording in almost any band's discography.

Note: This album was initially released under the moniker of Strappado, after the original Slaughter had disbanded. Later it has been re-released as a part of official Slaughter reissues.

SLAYER - Show No Mercy
USA 1983

1. Evil Has No Boundaries 2. The Antichrist 3. Die By The Sword 4. Fight Till Death 5. Metal Storm / Face The Slayer 6. Black Magic 7. Tormentor 8. The Final Command 9. Crionics 10. Show No Mercy

One of the most classic thrash metal debuts, Slayer's Show No Mercy is so effective and well controlled that it can be a bit surprising considering the age of this release. While there is a great stylistic difference between Metallica's Kill 'em All and Master Of Puppets, for example, Slayer's Reign In Blood is not too far removed from the ideals that were established on Show No Mercy. Except for Tom Araya's particularly raw vocals on this album, the band already sounded about the same as on their later releases in the 1980s. In fact, the production is amazingly decent - especially the guitar sound is very sharp and clear. Some of these songs may not seem too hot from today's perspective anymore, but generally the material is very satisfying. It is certainly a good thing that the band got rid of the eye liner soon after this, though.

SLAYER - Haunting The Chapel
USA 1984

1. Chemical Warface 2. Captor Of Sin 3. Haunting The Chapel 4. Aggressive Perfector (bonus)

With Haunting The Chapel Slayer took a darker and heavier direction in their music, leading the way for the whole genre. While there is some noticeable progression in songs, the result does not have quite the same uplifting appeal as Show No Mercy. One could go as far as to call some of these tracks downright depressive, as well as somewhat repetitive. Whereas the production of the band's debut release had a notably bright quality to it, this mini album sounds fairly gloomy. Worth a note, the bonus track Aggressive Perfector is supposedly the original version of this song and quite different (a lot less intense, that is) than the re-recorded piece found on some extended editions of Reign In Blood, for example.

SLAYER - Hell Awaits
USA 1985

1. Hell Awaits 2. Kill Again 3. At Dawn They Sleep 4. Praise Of Death 5. Necrophiliac 6. Crypts Of Eternity 7. Hardening Of The Arteries

Slayer's second full-length release turned out to be their most advanced piece of work up to this point. Hell Awaits can be seen as a dark and foreboding album (although the artwork might appear unintentionally comical to some) but it manages to combine the energetic approach of Show No Mercy with more methodical song structures as found on Haunting The Chapel, resulting in better success in the song department. Musically there are no big differences, for the most part the material is quite consistent and fine, even though the opening title track and Kill Again remain a lot more memorable than the rest of this recording. Overall, Hell Awaits was a definite improvement over the preceding mini album and a sign of even better things to come.

SLAYER - Reign In Blood
USA 1986

1. Angel Of Death 2. Piece By Piece 3. Necrophobic 4. Altar Of Sacrifice 5. Jesus Saves 6. Criminally Insane 7. Reborn 8. Epidemic 9. Postmortem 10. Raining Blood

It's amazing what a difference some concentration and good production can make - not to forget about a clear vision and the skills needed to implement it in practice. Gone is the murky and sometimes rather unattractive sound of the previous couple of Slayer releases, Reign In Blood is like an electric shock bound to raise anyone up from the dead. Despite the initial impression being one of screaming chaos, this is actually the most controlled and precise recording possibly ever created in the genre. The band play with absolute clockwork accuracy and never before did Tom Araya's vocals sound so clear and intelligible as on this album. The songs are short, controlled bursts of energy that hit you like nails in the head. Reign In Blood is faster and more intense than most other thrash metal albums together, like a perfect crystallization of what the scene was all about at its best. I must admit it originally took me some time to fully appreciate the intensity of this release, but listening to an untold number of generic, bleak albums that sound as interesting as watching paint dry surely gives you some perspective. Never a dull moment with this one.

SLAYER - South Of Heaven
USA 1988

1. South Of Heaven 2. Silent Scream 3. Live Undead 4. Behind The Crooked Cross 5. Mandatory Suicide 6. Ghosts Of War 7. Read Between The Lies 8. Cleanse The Soul 9. Dissident Aggressor 10. Spill The Blood

The eagerly expected follow-up to Reign In Blood introduced some remarkable stylistic changes in Slayer's music. Perhaps the most drastic "innovation" happened in the vocal department as Tom Araya started to sing almost in a literal sense of the word - not exactly in a highly melodic way, but the difference from his earlier direct barking is clearly audible on many tracks. In addition, the band intentionally slowed down a bit which led to several mid-tempo songs on this album. This additional variety is not necessarily a bad thing, but one cannot help feeling that some energy was evidently lost in the process. Nevertheless, there are still some excellent songs (the apocalyptic title track is actually one the most memorable pieces Slayer ever recorded, and Spill The Blood sounds totally evil) and the rest is not too bad either. A couple of tracks can appear notably weaker due to mellow vocals, and the cover version of Judas Priest's Dissident Aggressor seems like a total waste of time, but as a whole South Of Heaven remains a reasonably good if slightly experimental Slayer album.

SLAYER - Seasons In The Abyss
USA 1990

1. War Ensemble 2. Blood Red 3. Spirit In Black 4. Expendable Youth 5. Dead Skin Mask 6. Hallowed Point 7. Skeletons Of Society 8. Temptation 9. Born Of Fire 10. Seasons In The Abyss

By the recording of their fifth full-length studio album Slayer had matured considerably as a band, and the result was very heavy and convincing. Seasons In The Abyss must be one of Slayer's most balanced releases, representing a favorable blend of aggression and variety. The band had recovered some of their traditional energy and now continued with a new sense of memorable songwriting. The vocals are much stronger than on South Of Heaven and probably among the best performances on any Slayer album. As for individual songs, almost all of them are equally strong with only a few dragging moments, and the whole thing has a very consistent feel to it. Following the adventurous but not fully successful South Of Heaven, this album was a much more coherent demonstration of Slayer's direction after Reign In Blood.

SLAYER - Divine Intervention
USA 1994

1. Killing Fields 2. Sex, Murder, Art 3. Fictional Reality 4. Dittohead 5. Divine Intervention 6. Circle Of Beliefs 7. SS-3 8. Serenity In Murder 9. 213 10. Mind Control

In 1994 the original thrash metal scene was practically dead and buried when Slayer returned after a long absence. Divine Intervention mostly goes back to the fast and brutal style of early Slayer albums while still preserving a certain sense of more advanced songwriting. This album is not too different from the band's past efforts, in fact it sounds like it could have been released already a few years earlier. Lyrically the band explored some new grounds as Sex, Murder, Art and 213 combine twisted sexuality and violence, leading to some extremely nasty effects. Musically this recording is a refined, professional piece of work, and the only real nitpick is about the occasional distorted vocals that can really get on your nerves. In retrospective, Divine Intervention could have been an appropriate obituary for the classic thrash metal genre at this point.

SLAYER - Christ Illusion
USA 2006

1. Flesh Storm 2. Catalyst 3. Skeleton Christ 4. Eyes Of The Insane 5. Jihad 6. Consfearacy 7. Catatonic 8. Black Serenade 9. Cult 10. Supremist

Only the good news first - Christ Illusion must be the first proper thrash metal album from Slayer in more than ten years. Whereas the previous couple of releases during this period featured at most a couple of decent thrashers while the rest directly derived from modern metal, here the ratio is the other way round. Musically this album harks back to the days of Seasons In The Abyss and Divine Intervention in particular, and at least formally the band did succeed in re-inventing the wheel. In practice, most individual tracks from those older releases are more memorable than this whole thing. It's as if the band forgot about how to write a classic riff instead of just whacking out simple notes in a repetitive manner. One could say this album is like a zombie that tries to imitate the life it once had but is only partially successful in that. You got to give it to Slayer, though, at least they still try.

SLAYER - World Painted Blood
USA 2009

1. World Painted Blood 2. Unit 731 3. Snuff 4. Beauty Through Order 5. Hate Worldwide 6. Public Display Of Dismemberment 7. Human Strain 8. Americon 9. Psychopathy Red 10. Playing With Dolls 11. Not Of This God

It seems very hard to expect anything worth a special note from a modern-day Slayer album, but when the band's development since the mid-1990s is taken into account, World Painted Blood is something of a small positive surprise. This release has more variety than Christ Illusion and there are many distinctive individual moments on it. As a result, the outcome appears a lot less one-dimensional and tedious than its predecessor. The fastest attacks like Unit 731, Snuff and Psychopathy Red even restore some faith in the band's remaining capabilities. The production somehow does not fit the music in the best possible way, though, as if it was meant for a different kind of style altogether. As a whole World Painted Blood has its highs and lows. Certainly the album is quite uneven and sometimes outright disjointed, but it is nevertheless a fairly interesting offering from a band whose creative days were supposed to have passed a long time ago.

SODOM - In The Sign Of Evil
Germany 1984

1. Outbreak Of Evil 2. Sepulchral Voice 3. Blasphemer 4. Witching Metal 5. Burst Command Til War

Although Sodom are one of the oldest and best known German thrash metal bands, their beginnings were not necessarily an indication of things to come. With a fairly primitive and murky sound, the band's first mini album In The Sign Of Evil falls short of the standards set by certain other bands at the time. While the original version of Outbreak Of Evil has a nostalgic feel to it, the rest of this recording has not aged too well. The music brings memories of old Venom and Hellhammer to mind, and you can almost smell the mold when this album is playing. Bands who started the genre do deserve all respect, but In The Sign Of Evil is just one of those releases that time has left behind.

SODOM - Obsessed By Cruelty
Germany 1986

1. Deathlike Silence 2. Brandish The Sceptre 3. Proselytism Real 4. Equinox 5. After The Deluge 6. Obsessed By Cruelty 7. Fall Of Majesty Town 8. Nuctemeron 9. Pretenders To The Throne 10. Witchhammer 11. Volcanic Slut

It is debatable whether Obsessed By Cruelty was much of an improvement over In The Sign Of Evil. The production is seriously lacking, which really takes away from the listening experience. Musically this album might have a slight formal edge over its predecessor, as it tends to sound more energetic and standard albeit still rather poor for thrash metal. Listening to this release more than once over a short period of time may turn out to be quite a tiresome task for any other but the most hardened souls. Needless to say, neither of Sodom's earliest recordings can be recommended for demonstrating the genre to uninitiated folks, unless the purpose is to scare them off from the topic for life.

SODOM - Persecution Mania
Germany 1987

1. Nuclear Winter 2. Electrocution 3. Iron Fist 4. Persecution Mania 5. Enchanted Land 6. Procession To Golgatha 7. Christ Passion 8. Conjuration 9. Bombenhagel 10. Outbreak Of Evil (bonus) 11. Sodomy And Lust (bonus) 12. The Conqueror (bonus) 13. My Atonement (bonus)

After their rough beginnings, Sodom started to gain some serious momentum with Persecution Mania. This album is a remarkable departure from the band's earlier and more primitive stylings. The presentation has much more clarity than before, and everything sounds pretty sharp, consistent and focused. Arguably the fast and straightforward riffs can start to appear somewhat repetitive and simple after some point, and except for the instrumental Procession To Golgatha most of the individual songs are not terribly distinctive or memorable. However, it must be admitted that on Persecution Mania Sodom adopted a style that is very refined, almost analytical, and that alone makes a huge improvement over their past works.

SODOM - Agent Orange
Germany 1989

1. Agent Orange 2. Tired And Red 3. Incest 4. Remember The Fallen 5. Magic Dragon 6. Exhibition Bout 7. Ausgebombt 8. Baptism Of Fire 9. Don't Walk Away (bonus)

Obviously Sodom found their true calling on Persecution Mania, as the follow-up album Agent Orange continued almost directly in the same vein. The title track gives this release a raging start, but certain mid-tempo parts later on do not always flow in the most effective way. In comparison, Persecution Mania was a bit better at maintaining a constant pace through the whole album. There are some slightly more interesting tracks near the end - Ausgebombt is almost a cheerful holler, Baptism Of Fire a fine thrasher with a sharp edge, and the Tank cover song Don't Walk Away weird but sort of funny. Even so, in retrospective Persecution Mania seems to be the more stylish recording of these two.

SODOM - Better Off Dead
Germany 1990

1. An Eye For An Eye 2. Shellfire Defense 3. The Saw Is The Law 4. Turn Your Head Around 5. Capture The Flag 6. Cold Sweat 7. Bloodtrails 8. Never Healing Wound 9. Better Off Dead 10. Resurrection 11. Tarred And Fathered 12. Stalinorgel

Better Off Dead was a bit more rough around the edges than Sodom's previous couple of releases, almost predicting their mid-1990s punkish experiments to come. Two cover songs from Tank and Thin Lizzy certainly stand out among the rest, but otherwise they seem rather unnecessary. The best original pieces on this album are also the fastest ones - when the band slow down even slightly, the result can often become quite plodding and dull. Even though Sodom's sound never was overly polished, Better Off Dead unmistakably lacks some style and substance, especially so when compared to the streamlined form of thrash metal that was established on Persecution Mania.

SODOM - Tapping The Vein
Germany 1992

1. Body Parts 2. Skinned Alive 3. One Step Over The Line 4. Deadline 5. Bullet In The Head 6. The Crippler 7. Wachturm 8. Tapping The Vein 9. Back To War 10. Hunting Season 11. Reincarnation

The first couple of tracks from Tapping The Vein unarguably sound like some of the heaviest and most intense material in Sodom's history, with vocals that are surprisingly close to death metal growls. While the vocal style quickly reverts to a more traditional approach, this album as a whole does represent Sodom's most energetic releases and easily surpasses its predecessor Better Off Dead. The refreshing high speed is what makes tracks like Skinned Alive and The Crippler so attractive, whereas the slower but crushingly heavy Reincarnation takes its place among the better tracks on this album. Although the result does not necessarily compete with the band's late 1980s recordings, Tapping The Vein did breathe some new life into the tested Sodom formula.

SODOM - Get What You Deserve
Germany 1994

1. Get What You Deserve 2. Jabba The Hut 3. Jesus Screamer 4. Delight In Slaying 5. Die Stumme Ursel 6. Freaks Of Nature 7. Eat Me 8. Unbury The Hatchet 9. Into Perdition 10. Sodomized 11. Fellows In Misery 12. Tribute To Moby Dick 13. Silence Is Consent 14. Erwachet! 15. Gomorrah 16. Angel Dust

Anyone who was impressed by the ultra-heavy nature of Tapping The Vein must have been initially shocked by Get What You Deserve. This album redefines "raw", considering its cover, riffs, production, everything. More than pure thrash metal, this release appears like a twisted mixture of punk and thrash - at first this rather quirky sound is strangely refreshing, but it gets old really fast. Appropriate for the theme, most tracks are pretty short and only a few reach the magic three minute mark. But although it is not exactly a great piece of art and the musical values are really not that high, there's some almost perverse charm in this thing. Let's just say that if you ever have a bunch of unwanted visitors who don't get the hint, just play this loud and see them jump out the window in no time. The best track of the album? Tribute To Moby Dick, with whales singing. Now that's some of the creepiest and most hilarious stuff at the same time.

SODOM - Masquerade In Blood
Germany 1995

1. Masquerade In Blood 2. Gathering Of Minds 3. Fields Of Honour 4. Braindead 5. Verrecke! 6. Shadow Of Damnation 7. Peacemaker's Law 8. Murder In My Eyes 9. Unwanted Youth 10. Mantelmann 11. Scum 12. Hydrophobia 13. Let's Break The Law

Masquerade In Blood certainly starts off in an impressive way - the opening title track is a crushing, laudably heavy attack on the senses. Although there are some signs of more characteristic Sodom than on the previous attempt, the band were apparently still experimenting with a more loose sound. This time there are some obvious Motorhead influences, plus another couple of songs in German thrown into the mix. Not surprisingly, it is still more than sufficiently rough around the edges. Most songs are on the short side but easily more memorable than on Get What You Deserve, the title track and the genuinely catchy Peacemaker's Law being the best examples. That said, as a whole Masquerade In Blood follows the typical Sodom route in the mid-1990s - occasionally you can find a diamond in the rough, but most of the time it is something of an acquired taste.

SODOM - 'Til Death Do Us Unite
Germany 1997

1. Frozen Screams 2. Fuck The Police 3. Gisela 4. That's What An Unknown Killer Diarized 5. Hanging Judge 6. No Way Out 7. Polytoximaniac 8. 'Til Death Do Us Unite 9. Hazy Shade Of Winter 10. Suicidal Justice 11. Wander In The Valley 12. Sow The Seeds Of Discord 13. Master Of Disguise 14. Schwerter zu Pflugscharen 15. Hey, Hey, Hey Rock'n Roll Star

Whatever it is said about Sodom's releases during the 1990s, it cannot be denied that they have their moments, no matter how few. 'Til Death Do Us Unite opens like in the good old days, with a bit stereotypical but nonetheless fine thrasher Frozen Screams. Again, not the whole album is in the same league, and those familiar with the previous two releases pretty much know what to expect also this time - typically raw thrash metal with some punkish overtones, and a few songs with Tom Angelripper doing his best impersonation of Lemmy Kilminster. While the quality varies considerably, the best moments are quite entertaining. Fuck The Police is as catchy as the cover version of Hazy Shade Of Winter is amusing, and the slow and melancholic Schwerter zu Pflugscharen even shows hints of unpolished beauty never heard before. Seems like Sodom were developing their sound after all, slowly but surely.

SODOM - Code Red
Germany 1999

1. Intro 2. Code Red 3. What Hell Can Create 4. Tombstone 5. Liquidation 6. Spiritual Demise 7. Warlike Conspiracy 8. Cowardice 9. The Vice Of Killing 10. Visual Buggery 11. Book Burning 12. The Wolf And The Lamb 13. Addicted To Abstinence

Code Red marked Sodom's return to the heaviest form of thrash metal last heard on Tapping The Vein. Gone are slightly more unorthodox crossover ventures into punk and hardcore, this album is full of solid heavy thrash riffs with a good production from start to finish. Granted, there are no such inventive moments as occasionally on the previous albums, but the consistent speed and intensity make up for it. In particular, the first two tracks following the intro are prime examples of how things should be done. Expect no surprises or remarkable signs of originality, but everything you find here is done in a professional way throughout. While the quality of Sodom's releases has varied a lot, the band deserve respect for tightening their act again after all those years.

SODOM - M-16
Germany 2001

1. Among The Weirdcong 2. I Am The War 3. Napalm In The Morning 4. Minejumper 5. Genocide 6. Little Boy 7. M-16 8. Lead Injection 9. Cannon Fodder 10. Marines 11. Surfin' Bird

One of the few original thrash metal bands who made it through the 1990s, Sodom turned out to be surprisingly alive and well even on the verge of the new millennium. M-16 is certainly something else than an exercise on minimalism or a half-baked effort between punk and thrash. A concept album about the Vietnam war (not totally unlike Agent Orange), it features some of the strongest and most memorable songwriting ever found on Sodom's releases. Among The Weirdcong and I Am The War leave no doubt about the thrashing rage the band can best deliver, while Napalm In The Morning is the nastiest mid-tempo stomper one can hope to find. When the formula of these tracks practically applies on the whole album, it's no wonder that the result is among the better thrash metal platters released in the recent years. While Code Red was a fine return to form, M-16 is more like the next logical step up and forward.

SODOM - Sodom
Germany 2006

1. Blood On Your Lips 2. Wanted Dead 3. Buried In The Justice Ground 4. City Of God 5. Bibles And Guns 6. Axis Of Evil 7. Lords Of Depravity 8. No Captures 9. Lay Down The Law 10. Nothing To Regret 11. The Enemy Inside

With Sodom's self-titled offering at hand, you'd be hard-pressed to find deviations from the band's customary style. In fact, Sodom may appear even too ordinary at first, as most songs just seem to apply those same old ideas in a less absorbing manner. Wanted Dead and City Of God are possibly the most notable exceptions from this rule, the former with its killer execution and riffs and the latter with some melodic touches used for a good effect (the long guitar solo in particular deserves a special mention). There's a certain level of standard quality maintained through the album, but make no mistake, innovative or memorable as M-16 this is not. And although the band sound almost surprisingly tight, the production is too beefed-up. This is not really a bad album, but it seems rather plain when compared to the band's previous releases.

SODOM - The Final Sign Of Evil
Germany 2007

1. The Sin Of Sodom 2. Blasphemer 3. Bloody Corpse 4. Witching Metal 5. Sons Of Hell 6. Burst Command 'Til War 7. Where Angels Die 8. Sepulchral Voice 9. Hatred Of The Gods 10. Ashes To Ashes 11. Outbreak Of Evil 12. Defloration

Going back to roots for a while, Sodom chose to give their debut album In The Sign Of Evil a new treatment - but not in the most obvious manner. With more than a half of its tracks unreleased up to this point, and performed by the line-up of the original release, The Final Sign Of Evil is more than just a fashionable re-recording of the old. Taking all the added value into account, this release can be actually considered an independent product in its own right. While it can be a matter of opinion whether the sound and feel of it is really comparable to the original one, it must be admitted that the result is notably consistent and old-fashioned in a good way. The album is far from slick and overproduced, with a definite charm of its own. In fact, even those who usually cannot stand Sodom's oldest material might want to check this out - it can lead to a positive surprise, really.

SODOM - In War And Pieces
Germany 2010

1. In War And Pieces 2. Hellfire 3. Through Toxic Veins 4. Nothing Counts More Than Blood 5. Storm Raging Up 6. Feigned Death Throes 7. Soul Contraband 8. God Bless You 9. The Art Of Killing Poetry 10. Knarrenheinz 11. Styptic Parasite

There is no denying that Sodom's In War And Pieces is an imposing album. Instead of any simple and catchy hooks, these songs rely on a steady pummeling and stomping attack that keeps pushing forward, like an unstoppable heavy tank crushing the bones of fallen foes under its tracks. Throughout this recording a theme of physical and mental conflict remains all-embracing and prevalent, and the handling of the subject matter is totally on a different level than the products of many younger bands. It all shows that the juvenile days of Sodom are long gone in the past, but also that there is still some lasting power in this veteran group. It could be that some hot-heads consider this release too slowly progressing or just not snappy enough, however, they are probably much better off listening to the latest zero-day acts anyway. In War And Pieces requires patience, more than most other albums even, but in return it may give you satisfaction that is not so easily found elsewhere.

SODOM - Epitome Of Torture
Germany 2013

1. My Final Bullet 2. S.O.D.O.M. 3. Epitome Of Torture 4. Stigmatized 5. Cannibal 6. Shoot Today - Kill Tomorrow 7. Invocating The Demons 8. Katjuscha 9. Into The Skies Of War 10. Tracing The Victim

When you consider that Sodom originally started as one of the roughest sounding acts in the early scene, it is worth attention how they have evolved into one of the most robust and consistent performers over the years. Epitome Of Torture lacks any notable peaks which can make this album seem unsurprising and not quite as inspiring as the most memorable moments from In War And Pieces, for example. The general mood is balanced and somewhat pondering, possibly reflecting the weight of years and a certain notion of avoiding unnecessary risks at this point. You might be inclined to call the logic even routine-like at times, but that doesn't need to imply that this would be a bad choice to hear. It's just something of a more average yet worthy recording in Sodom's discography.

SOFISTICATOR - Camping The Vein
Italy 2012

1. Blasphemous Arrival 2. Camping The Vein 3. Burger Hell 4. Total Flatulence War (Beans Attack!) 5. Burn The Steaks On The Fire 6. Ivo The Woodman 7. Holidays in Hell 8. I Wa' Sborr' To Rock'n'Roll 9. Sofisticator 10. Thrash & Clean 11. Mantas (The Thrashmaker)

Although the initial image of Sofisticator's first official release might suggest your typical farm league thrash metal, Camping The Vein turns out not half-bad. The production is even surprisingly heavy when the album's lighthearted content is considered. These lyrics are really some of the silliest around as it should be already evident based on titles like Total Flatulence War (Beans Attack!). Except for the punishing title track that may be one of the most convincing recent thrashers out there, most songs are decent though not terribly memorable. The vocal department could use some more clarity, otherwise the band's performance seems quite fine. Sure, the focus on deliberately silly topics could have been toned down slightly, but that aside, this one is actually a bit better than you would think based on the first looks only.

SONICK PLAGUE - What's The Purpose
USA 1988

1. Intro 2. Misc. Bullshit 3. My Gun 4. One Swift Kick 5. A View Of Death 6. Street Wars 7. I Don't Wanna Relax 8. A. A. 9. N.R.G. 10. Extro

As a brief general description of Sonick Plague's What's The Purpose, "street thrash" couldn't be more fitting. The sound is rather energetic, even fresh, and the band appear to have been able to get it going when really needed. Most of it escapes memory very quickly, though, and despite some slight underground appeal there is hardly any reason for this album to gain wider recognition in the first place. It's the usual case with the band doing their part probably as well as reasonably possible, but on a bigger scale it is just not quite enough. At least Sonick Plague manage to avoid total dullness by incorporating some unruly touches in their music which is only a good thing. If that sounds fair enough then why not, just note that it is not the flashiest or most distinctive stuff that this album contains.

SOOTHSAYER - Have A Good Time
Canada 1989

1. Free Violence 2. Dig 3. Buzz Fly 4. The Game I 5. 101 6. Go Team Go 7. E.T. 8. The Game II 9. Pimple Sprayer 10. Together To Make A World 11. Changes 12. Rock 'n' Roll Forever

Based on the first track only you could mistake Soothsayer's Have A Good Time for any typical thrash metal album of the time, but soon after that it starts to get a little bit wild. In a way this album truly delivers what the title suggests, as these Canadian thrashers surely knew how to insert feelings of having a good time into their music. For example, if Dig doesn't put a smile on your face then you know you have become hopelessly cynical already. Needless to say, Soothsayer's sound is not the most serious you have heard, but when the band put even the slightest effort into it the result is as good as anything out there. If it weren't for a couple of particularly oddball tracks that break the good thrashing mood (reminiscent of Witchhammer's Mirror, My Mirror), this could have been really great. Nevertheless, if you don't mind some goofy bits then Have A Good Time is a good example about a thrash metal album from the funnier side of the genre.

SOUNDER - Hell Hymns
Brazil 2008

1. We Are The Killers 2. The Hell Is Here 3. Homicide 4. Tormentor 5. Sounder (Crucial Battle) 6. Kill The Raper 7. I Play With Hate 8. Death Messengers 9. Soldiers From Hell 10. The Thrash Metal Lives

In theory Sounder's Hell Hymns should have all the capabilities to make a good impression right at the start. At least this is what one would expect based on pure technical values only, as the ripping sound of this album leaves little to be desired as far as the characteristics of traditional thrash metal are considered. In practice, the outcome is probably nothing that would stick to your head even in the long run. Mostly this is due to the fact that these tracks lack pretty much all memorable touches, and ultimately the music feels rather homespun. The most distinctive moment must be the opening track that resembles a structurally reverse-engineered version of Slayer's Angel Of Death. That aside, other than die-hard fans of the genre may find this release quite monotonous and even dull for the most part.

SOUNDER - Praise Be To Death
Brazil 2010

1. Praise Be To Death 2. Madness 3. Fuck, Kill And Smile 4. A Friend To Lucifer 5. Who Needs Radio? 6. I Serve Satan 7. The End (Of Your Life) 8. Motherfucker Church 9. Extinguish The Humans 10. Drag You To Hell

Praise Be To Death makes a fair demonstration of Sounder's current state. It is quite straightforward stuff right from the beginning, as well as consistent to the point of having practically no highlights whatsoever that would deserve a special mention. While it is hard to say whether the result is actually notably better than its predecessor, the band's sound in general remains quite good, somehow even a bit more powerful and convincing than before. Although the material is not exactly of the most impressive kind, most of the time the output doesn't appear as pedestrian as on Hell Hymns, despite a perceivable notion that individual songs still don't necessarily do that much. As the band's second full-length, this is at least a slight improvement over their previous release and therefore a positive step forward with no doubt.

SPACE EATER - Merciful Angel
Serbia 2007

1. MCMXCIX 2. Bombs Away 3. Overkill 4. Deceitful Eyes 5. The One 6. Afterlife 7. Death From Below 8. Operaphobia 9. Merciful Angel 10. Space Eater

Space Eater's first full-length album is not such a bad release. It's just that Merciful Angel appears a lot more promising at the first sight than it actually turns out. The band's sound is consistent and has some stylish moments in the guitar department, but there is a definite lack of an original edge in it. Although there is nothing wrong with sticking to familiar grounds, some even slightly memorable elements would have been necessary to overcome the ordinary nature of songwriting here. If it wasn't for Operaphobia which is actually a pretty fine thrasher with funny lyrics, this recording would have ended up quite generic and forgettable with no exceptions. Merciful Angel could be a fair choice for background music as the album plays without causing much distraction, but very little of it can be called downright impressive.

SPACE EATER - Aftershock
Serbia 2010

1. Say Your Prayers 2. Abort 3. Divide & Conquer 4. Up On These Shores 5. FAA 6. Quantum Leap 7. No Retreat 8. Crush, Kill, Destroy 9. Anti-Psychiatry 10. Relationshit

Aftershock sounds generally faster than its predecessor. The higher tempo is quite notable already after a couple of tracks and undoubtedly makes this release appear a bit more energetic than Space Eater's debut. Dedicated to the band's deceased original vocalist, this album still features his singing on almost all tracks and thus acts like a logical sequel to Merciful Angel. While the style therefore remains pretty much unchanged except for increased speed, also the same kind of drawbacks persist as before. Space Eater's music simply doesn't have unique or even fairly distinct characteristics, hence some kind of a numbing effect is inevitable sooner or later. It is a slight pity, as technically there's probably nothing that would prevent this band from sounding awesome if they had better songs to play.

Netherlands 1993

1. Through The Night 2. Passed Away 3. Clear Brightness 4. Earth's Downfall 5. Misere 6. Overflow 7. A Voice Within 8. The Sea Floods 9. Balance

Opening with the captivating riffage of Through The Night, Spiralsea's Essence sounds interesting right at the start. The initial impression is not completely misleading, as this album contains some quality riffs coupled with a bit more diverse arrangements than usually. The band's music has a specific kind of cold, almost mechanical feel, and the vocals appear downright spiteful with an occasional hysterical tone. Sometimes the effect can seem calculated and even artsy, especially during a couple of tracks with short futuristic synthesizer parts, but it cannot be denied that this release has a certain cool edge to it. Arguably the most memorable moments are heard during the first few songs while the rest is a lot less inspired, but there is still something about Essence that should be enough to make most listeners give it more than one try.

STATUE - Statue Comes To Life
Finland 1990

1. Face The Life 2. Mr Crack 3. No Way 4. Political Pollution 5. Up And Down 6. For Your Country 7. Believe Or Not 8. Revenge 9. Easy With Money 10. A Statue Comes To Life

Except for some thinness in the overall sound, Statue's debut release appears much like any typical American production of the time, which is not a bad achievement considering the band's Finnish origins. Statue Comes To Life is a refined piece of speed/thrash metal with semi-complex riffs and some very consistent style. The vocals are not very heavy, but they are quite clear and fit the rest of the band well. Musically Statue would have been at home among the plethora of US west coast thrash metal bands, that's how familiar this thing actually sounds. This time the drawbacks are (again) due to the lacking content, as the general feel of this album is unarguably somewhat monotonic. It is far from being truly boring though, the band's sound is pretty cool and the riffs keep revolving in your mind even though they do not immediately stick to your head. Although Statue's effort didn't really open any new paths, it is not a bad release of its kind, easily worth another look.

STEEL FURY - Lesser Of Two Evils
USA 1989

1. Justice Day 2. No More 3. The Cage 4. This Old Man 5. Choose Death 6. Nowhere To Hide 7. Synchronized 8. Too Fast 9. Private Room

If a cult band status would be measured based on the relative obscurity only then Steel Fury would rank pretty high for sure. Lesser Of Two Evils features quite typical old speed/thrash with touches of power metal. The band's sound is pretty powerful though not exceptional by any means, other than the fact that the album actually sounds a few more years older than one could expect. This just indicates that the band's offering was probably a bit behind the times already upon its release. Steel Fury certainly had some genuine style, but unfortunately the result is pretty forgettable. For the most part this one gets just nostalgia points, though it must be admitted that the slower but heavier tracks Nowhere To Hide and Private Room are not too bad stompers, especially the latter deserves an honorable mention for its haunting impression. Still, a couple of fairly memorable tracks do not make this album too remarkable as a whole.

S.T.I. - Twen Two Visions
Brazil 1993

1. Time To Die 2. Undertown 3. Into The Waters Of Hate 4. Eternal Shit 5. Cx Cx Ox 6. That's All Folks 7. Deadly Watch 8. Nx Mx Px Lx Sx

Saucy, Tippler & Intoxicant were yet another proof that it is only a good thing that some bands did dare to bring some new ideas of their own into the scene, regardless of whether the outcome was actually successful or not. Twen Two Visions demonstrates a slightly different take on the typical thrash metal mix prevalent in Brazil, sounding once in a while more unruly and unconventional than one is really used to. It even appears kind of refreshing among most other bands who follow the same formula over and over, and you can only wish that this album as a whole didn't sound as light-headed as now. The guitar sound is quite good in a chainsaw-like manner, and the band effectively avoid making a dead-serious impression all the time, but musically this is far from a classic recording. Definitely good for an occasional listen, though.

STONE - Stone
Finland 1988

1. Get Stoned 2. No Commands 3. Eat Your Pride 4. The Day Of Death 5. Reached Out 6. Real Delusion 7. Brain Damage 8. Escape 9. Final Countdown 10. Overtake

When the prime Scandinavian thrash metal act Stone made their debut album, the result was quite a feat even on a worldwide scale. The album opens with the definite Stone trademark holler Get Stoned which is simply a stupendous piece featuring some of the heaviest riffs ever recorded. The songs are filled with youthful energy and played with unmatched intensity, not to forget about the immense speed that resembles a freight train on the loose. The heavy production is more than appropriate for the music, and with the heaviest vocals found in the scene and musicianship second to none even at this early stage, the outcome is just bonecrushing. Musically this is still Stone's most straightforward album, and even though the band would later reach some totally new levels in their music, the debut album has preserved its unique appeal.

Note: The American release of this album has different cover art than the original Finnish pressing.

STONE - No Anaesthesia!
Finland 1989

1. Finlandia 2. Sweet Dreams 3. Empty Corner 4. Back To The Stone Age 5. Concrete Malformation 6. No Anaesthesia 7. Light Entertainment 8. Kill The Dead 9. Meat Mincing Machine

After the furious debut, Stone continued to develop their effective formula even further. On No Anaesthesia! the music is no less intense than before, but the songwriting has reached a certain level of maturity with more complex and ambitious arrangements, supported by the band's extreme musicianship and skill. The individual tracks on this album are more distinctive than on the debut. Sweet Dreams is one of Stone's best tracks in the vein of Get Stoned, whereas the crushing Back To The Stone Age and the massive title track open some totally new dimensions in the band's music. All this is wonderfully supported by the painfully clear and accurate production. Actually the only beauty spot on this album is due to some particularly twisted lyrics. That aside, No Anaesthesia! is Stone's best release and one of those albums that still sound as fresh and good as when they were originally released.

STONE - Colours
Finland 1990

1. Stone Cold Soul 2. Another Morning 3. White Worms 4. Empty Suit 5. Spring 6. Storm Inside The Calm 7. Ocean Of Sand 8. Meaning Of Life 9. Friends (bonus)

Colours was the last Stone release to remain mostly faithful to the original high-speed antics before the band's sound took the final turn to a bit more experimental direction. Although the music here is not that much different from the previous efforts, this album has a slightly heavier feel, mainly due to the fact that the songs do not have quite the same amount of hooks as before and the production is a bit on the rough side. This is not to say that Colours wouldn't have its share of fine tracks in the traditional Stone vein. For example, the opening track Stone Cold Soul is yet another brilliant, crushing piece again not unlike Get Stoned on the debut. The first half of this album is unarguably stronger than the second as the tracks do get a little tedious towards the end. Still, despite lacking some qualities of the previous releases, Colours is a fairly solid Stone album.

Note: The Japanese release of this album has a slightly different (reddish) color variant of the cover.

Israel 2010

1. Dirty Blood 2. On The Aim 3. Terror 4. Sex Toy 5. Psycho Provocator 6. Prepare To Die 7. Buy The Flesh 8. Strident 9. Who Cares 10. To Beer Or Not To Beer 11. Fucking Army

On The Aim does raise some initial interest based on its geographical origins only. But as far as normal thrash metal conventions go, Strident's debut album follows the least surprising approach. The band's sound is certainly loud and eager enough, yet the appeal is somewhat limited at best. Most of the time it is hard to find anything worth a special note from these songs, and ultimately the album as a whole becomes just another minor addition to the ever-growing pile of similar basic recordings that are virtually indistinguishable from each other. On The Aim is certainly not a careless piece of work, but based on this album alone it would be too early to predict anything of a great importance from this band in the future.

STRIKE MASTER - Up For The Massacre
Mexico 2006

1. M.A.O.A. 2. Thrashing The Blind School 3. Ritual Killings 4. S.T.C. 5. Merciless Machine 6. A Drop Of Hell 7. Suicidal License 8. Rushed Death 9. Up For The Massacre 10. Redemption

Strike Master's debut release could be used as a case study about how to prepare a standard thrash metal album nowadays. Musicianship is usually not an issue anymore as most bands are sufficiently competent at handling their instruments, no exception here. As for compositions, rapid circulation of certain basic riffs can do the job if you don't mind some obvious repetition. Lyrics are often violent fantasies or socially critical, here mostly of the first kind. Then the sound quality, heavy and pummeling, or sharp and analytical. This album leans more towards the second option. Last but not least, if the intent is to keep the result also in other than die-hard collectors' minds for years to come, something of a characteristic style would be also necessary - and this is where Up For The Massacre finally slips and falls into the camp of plain ordinary thrash metal that most people probably know already too well.

STRIKE MASTER - Vicious Nightmare
Mexico 2009

1. Intro 2. Black Violence 3. Total Disposal 4. Inflexible Steel 5. Metal Fastkill 6. Rabid Abstraction 7. Prophetic Chemical Death 8. The Way To Na Trang 9. Violent Reivindication 10. S.B.U. (Special Bestial Unit) 11. Outro

To start with the conclusions, Vicious Nightmare is not very interesting. The same thing could be said with a lot more and different words, but the basic idea remains the same. This album could have been something more than just a direct sequel to Strike Master's debut, but as it turns out, there really hasn't been too much development since Up For The Massacre. Worth a minor note is the band's audible energy that helps to raise a couple of most ordinary compositions like Inflexible Steel to an almost passable level, but mostly the output can be pretty banal, even boring. Maybe a bit more fleshed-out production could have helped, now the album appears deceptively similar to countless others in both good and bad. With all its terse and stripped-down qualities, Vicious Nightmare is dangerously close to thrash metal straight out of a textbook.

STRIKE MASTER - Majestic Strike
Mexico 2011

1. Intro 2. Silver Or Lead 3. Death Will Be What Kills Us 4. Mother Hyena 5. Mechanic Morals 6. Majestic Strike 7. Supreme Insult 8. Thrashing The Blind School (2011) 9. Darkness Assault

Admittedly Strike Master's earlier albums didn't always make the best possible impression, but as Majestic Strike starts playing it becomes obvious that this release has definitely something better going for it. Already on Silver Or Lead you cannot avoid paying some serious attention to the brighter sound and somewhat more frantic as well as dedicated manifestation that continues to make violent waves throughout the recording, reaching a notable peak on the downright shattering title track. Although this band used to have quite an energetic style already early on, here it comes through much more effectively and is not unnecessarily dampened anymore. With some very keen songs combined with tighter arrangements than before, it is easy to approve this intense total assault. Even the band's message comes across as a tad more interesting in this optimized format. It seems that after a couple of fair but pretty forgettable releases, Majestic Strike is a certain positive surprise and clearly a major step in the right direction.

STYGIAN - Planetary Destruction
USA 1992

1. Planetary Destruction 2. Behind Death's Door 3. Cremation 4. Catastrophic Deed 5. Needful Things 6. Fall From Grace 7. Deadly Psychic Evil 8. Environmental Suicide 9. Preacher And The Politician 10. The Switch

As an example of speed/thrash metal of the most typical kind, Stygian's Planetary Destruction follows the formal requirements almost by the book. It's got a variety of tempos, straightforward but somewhat unmemorable riffs, and a pummeling sound that is probably the best part of this album. Musically it is often a bit dull, and you cannot help but feel that most songs are just repetition of the same. While Gary Golwitzer had a highly distinctive style of his own on Wrath's Nothing To Fear, here the man sounds like a lot more ordinary and typical vocalist in the genre. A couple of slow and mellow tracks make an exception from the general formula but that's about all to it. There is some consistent quality in Stygian's style and the production values are quite satisfying, it's just that Planetary Destruction is far from the most striking release out there.

SUICIDAL ANGELS - Bloodthirsty Humanity
Greece 2004

1. Destination... Battlefield 2. Hate And Torture 3. Bloodthirsty Humanity 4. Through My Eyes See Your Death 5. The Trial 6. Being Insane 7. Church Unrules 8. Ending... Death 9. Stateless 10. Hate Under Sacrifice

Based on contemporary bands like Suicidal Angels, conventional thrash metal is still nowhere near disappearing completely. Bloodthirsty Humanity contains some fully adequate thrashing with an unrelenting sound and songs flowing at a steady pace. The only problem is that the music does not arouse any particular interest or curiosity, something that just applies too often to this kind of releases that mainly follow the norm. When there are no redeeming features other than maybe the consistent feel of this album, the experience is unavoidably lacking a bit. While Bloodthirsty Humanity is not necessarily a let-down when you know what to expect, most of the time it can be rather difficult to get anything special out of it.

SUICIDAL ANGELS - Eternal Domination
Greece 2007

1. Quench Your Thirst With Christian Souls 2. Evil Attack 3. The Prophecy 4. Crematory 5. Slaughtering Christianity 6. Sacred Prayers To Expiation 7. Demon's Bloodwrath 8. Armies Of Hell 9. Screams Of Homicide 10. Vomit On The Cross 11. Eternal Darkness

With Eternal Domination the direction of Suicidal Angels appears to have become sharper and more focused. In comparison to the band's earlier works, the sound quality is cleaner and more analytical. Musically there is not that much difference, but this time the number of tempo changes seems lower and the overall pace is notably faster. One could say that this is high-speed thrash metal in the most literal sense, to the point of losing some of its refreshing quality to some very obvious repetition. As a side note, the lyrics could be straight from a black metal album, making Eternal Domination a strongly thematic release in both good and bad. Despite the increased speed this still cannot be called a superior thrash metal album, but at least it certainly shows some clear progress in the band's music.

SUICIDAL ANGELS - Sanctify The Darkness
Greece 2009

1. Bloodthirsty 2. The Pestilence Of Saints 3. Inquisition 4. Apokathilosis 5. ...Lies 6. No More Than Illusion 7. Atheist 8. Beyond The Laws Of Church 9. Mourning Of The Cursed 10. Dark Abyss (Your Fate Is Colored Black) 11. Child Molester

Suicidal Angels strike again, with the same kind of results as on their previous release. If it weren't for the cleaner vocals this time, the musical similarities between Eternal Domination and Sanctify The Darkness would be so strong that you could almost swap these albums by accident and not notice any change, especially when both have exactly the same length. It is again some very fast thrash metal that we are talking about, so much that it probably wouldn't be unfair to consider Suicidal Angels one of the fastest bands nowadays, at least when their highly consistent speed is taken into account. On the downside, the songs are generally pretty much alike although the riffs have enough of small variations so that they don't sound totally repetitive. Sanctify The Darkness is admittedly a coherent and even stylish album, yet something is missing from the final touch to make it a real success.

Greece 2010

1. Damnation 2. Reborn In Violence 3. Bleeding Holocaust 4. The Trial 5. Suicide Solution 6. Beggar Of Scorn 7. Victimized 8. Violent Abuse 9. The Lies Of Resurrection 10. Search For Recreation 11. Dead Again 12. Final Dawn

Unlike what the title suggests, Dead Again is quite a lively thrash metal album. Suicidal Angels clearly found their preferred formula already a couple of releases ago and have continued to apply it since then, with very few changes in the process. Some can be observed, though. By this album the vocal clean-up has become complete, with none of their original gravely tone left. Another detail is that the pace is not as deliberately and continuously up to eleven as it was on Sanctify The Darkness. Now there are actually several moments, even an occasional full track demonstrating mid-tempo or slow playing, something that naturally makes it a bit easier to navigate around this release although most songs still resemble each other to a great extent. The band's sharp sound remains as commendable as ever, but some loss of charm is already becoming evident. Which is another proof that an emphasis on speed without more creative ideas can take you only so far.

Greece 2012

1. Bloodbath 2. Moshing Crew 3. Chaos (The Curse Is Burning Inside) 4. Face Of God 5. Morbid Intention To Kill 6. Summoning Of The Dead 7. Legacy Of Pain 8. Torment Payback 9. Skinning The Undead 10. Bleeding Cries

By this point you may have already become accustomed to waiting for a new Suicidal Angels release to appear on a regular schedule, more or less. And Bloodbath surely does not disappoint. For the first couple of tracks it all sounds familiar rapid-fire thrash metal that we have come to expect from this band, with a sharp sound quality and very accurate playing. But then the menacing mid-tempo track Chaos (The Curse Is Burning Inside) kicks in - and suddenly the album gains some totally new levels of credibility. A development that was already started on Dead Again, these kind of tactically located breakpoints practically increase the effectiveness of fast follow-up tracks like Face Of God by tenfold. Bloodbath is still mostly a high-speed effort to the max, make no mistake about it, but there's also a healthy dose of variation in these songs which is not a bad thing at all. Not to forget that this whole album actually sounds like it could well be the strongest and most listenable piece of work from Suicidal Angels so far.

SUICIDAL TENDENCIES - How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today
USA 1988

1. Trip At The Brain 2. Hearing Voices 3. Pledge Your Allegiance 4. How Will Laugh Tomorrow 5. The Miracle 6. Suicyco Mania 7. Surf & Slam 8. If I Don't Wake Up 9. Sorry?! 10. One Too Many Times 11. The Feeling's Back

Of all the crossover bands of the 1980s who experimented with speed/thrash metal at some point, Suicidal Tendencies got it the most perfectly right with their brief entry into the genre. How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today is remarkable not only for its exceptionally lengthy title. From the very first track, this album pushes the limits of speed metal with simply stupendous songs supported by great production values. The guitar sound is especially top-notch and makes the excellent riffs and soloing stand out like never before. Not only that, but the lyrics of these songs are light years ahead of your usual standards. Although they deal with some dead serious topics like depression, suicide, and personal issues, there is some immensely uplifting quality in them. This is one of those rare albums where strict genre borders should not matter as long as the music is good - and the music on How Will I Laugh Tomorrow... is very good.

SUICIDAL TENDENCIES - Lights... Camera... Revolution
USA 1990

1. You Can't Bring Me Down 2. Lost Again 3. Alone 4. Lovely 5. Give It Revolution 6. Get Whacked 7. Send Me Your Money 8. Emotion No. 13 9. Disco's Out, Murder's In 10. Go'n Breakdown

If anything, it seems that Lights... Camera... Revolution paved the way for the mass appeal of Suicidal Tendencies. The first three songs continue nicely in the splendid speed/thrash vein of How Will I Laugh Tomorrow... and the well-known opener You Can't Bring Me Down must be one of the band's most delightful anthems. But this time there are also a couple of more diverse, in particular funky pieces that one could possibly have lived without. It all blends together still fairly well, and when the band get back to the right track and Disco's Out, Murder's In notably breaks the speed record, there is little reason to complain anymore. In all honesty, this may be the closest thing to a pop album that you can find in these circles, and in comparison How Will I Laugh Tomorrow... is clearly the more stylish and coherent release of these two. Nevertheless, this follow-up does still have some inimitable charm of its own that you are not likely to find from most other bands' productions ever.

SURREALIST - Unexpected Being
Switzerland 2011

1. Intro 2. Obliveon 3. Empty Planets 4. The Seer 5. Nature's Revenge 6. Spread The Black Wings 7. Planetary Suicide 8. Into The Twilight 9. Tools Of The Ghosts 10. Stone Garden Project

Based on the modern scene, one could easily conclude that authentic technical thrash metal has almost completely vanished in favor of more straightforward and sometimes very simplistic pounding. Surrealist's Unexpected Being proves that occasional exceptions still occur. Coroner must have been an obvious source of inspiration for this band, but not the only one. At first the album sounds like a mixture of short acoustic passages, brief vocal experimentations, plenty of tempo changes, and whatnot. But as it soon becomes evident, the core of it all is rather forceful and dynamic thrash metal. In fact, the fastest and most uncomplicated parts tend to work out better than some of the more ambitious compositions that end up sounding somewhat aimless. Thus Unexpected Being may not be a highly exceptional album after all, but at least it tries to differ from the norm, no matter whether it's completely successful in that.