If the mixing of my words makes you scared
They're just that, words that you could not bear
If it's that horrible, hide it so no one will know
It is the coward's way that lets this terror go
And it goes on

-- Vio-lence - Killing My Words

VACANT GRAVE - Life Or Death
USA 1990

1. Deadly Assault 2. Widespread Affliction 3. Room For 1 More 4. Graven Scripture 5. I.O.H. 6. Killer Instinct 7. Behind Bars 8. Premature Burial 9. Street Queen 10. Supernatural Force 11. Evil Deceiver 12. Vacant Grave

Talk about a major surprise. With most no-name bands, any pondering over the quality of their output in advance couldn't be more pointless as you can only expect average stuff at best. In Vacant Grave's case, Life Or Death proves such initial assumptions outright wrong, for once. Potential worries over lacking production values are still not undeserved here, but the music firmly holds on its own despite some technical disadvantages. It is not only due to an ultimately harsh sound that this album carries a close resemblance to Burnt Offering's debut, but in the end Vacant Grave sound less disjointed and more forceful by a fair amount which is just enough to make a noticeable difference in quality. Despite their seemingly basic appearance, most of these tracks are seriously addictive. One could still wish for some more clarity in the sound department, for other than that Life Or Death is a solid package of honest, unrelenting thrash metal with no artificial gimmicks to ruin the fun.

VALKYRIA - Valkyria
Russia 1993

1. Introduction 2. Ravens 3. Mystical Mass 4. Gala Drama 5. Fear Of The Night (Beast) 6. Scream From Hell 7. In The Heart Of Darkness 8. Valkyria 9. The Hangman's Dance

Valkyria's self-titled debut release successfully combined progressive aspirations with some serious touches of originality. The classical intro can only hint at the ambitious music to follow, therefore the effect may be puzzling at first. The closest comparison would be Mekong Delta, with a lot of intriguing fast riffs and somewhat unconventional yet elaborate arrangements, but the regular use of keyboards every now and then adds a twist of its own. The impression that comes from all of this can be quite melodramatic and flamboyant - almost like Van Halen playing thrash metal, if you could imagine that kind of thing. Although the sound quality is generally satisfactory, the songs do appear a bit underproduced at times, especially the vocals could have come out stronger. Worth a note, the fantasy-like lyrics almost make this seem like a thematic album, which is not a bad thing at all. Maybe Valkyria's style is something that the most hardened street punks would not touch with a ten-foot pole, but when you consider how rare some true high-quality progressive thrash metal can be, this is an album to grab without thinking twice.

VECTOM - Speed Revolution
Germany 1985

1. Speed Revolution 2. In Nomine Satanas 3. Damned Love 4. The Exterminator 5. Loudness And Speed 6. Black Viper 7. Day Of Execution 8. Open The Coffin 9. Satan's Colours 10. Too Fast For Hell

As an authentic early example of speed/thrash metal, Vectom's Speed Revolution is about as old school as reasonably possible. Although the general feel is very nostalgic, many songs seem to follow the same formula which is kind of simple and far from revolutionary. The most intense tracks like In Nomine Satanas and especially Satan's Colours are worth attention, but while the rest of this album remains quite consistent, the music can be a bit too much on the repetitive side. While Speed Revolution has a certain edge over the band's later and less energetic works, the value of it all may be a matter of taste.

VEKTOR - Black Future
USA 2009

1. Black Future 2. Oblivion 3. Destroying The Cosmos 4. Forests Of Legend 5. Hunger For Violence 6. Deoxyribonucleic Acid 7. Asteroid 8. Dark Nebula 9. Accelerating Universe

Vektor's Black Future starts like Destruction on steroids, with an outburst of some positively intriguing riffs and frantic shrieks similar to the output of Schmier at his best. The opening title track is simply one of the most gripping and eerie pieces of thrash metal in the recent memory. But this album turns out to be a lot more complex the further you get into it. Based on the general science fiction theme and occasionally almost existential pondering, Voivod may be an inspiration, but Vektor's sound is a lot faster, more accurate and better controlled. Needless to say, the compositions and arrangements can appear increasingly complicated though somehow there is always a common thread to follow. Most of the time, speed is not sacrificed for progressive aspirations, and even with several ten-minute epics the massive total length of this recording does not seem completely excessive. It must be admitted that a whole album of this kind can leave you exhausted for a while, and Black Future is not something to be played as a piece of easygoing background music. But as far as actual innovation is concerned, Vektor appear to be a band at the top of the game.

VEKTOR - Outer Isolation
USA 2011

1. Cosmic Cortex 2. Echoless Chamber 3. Dying World 4. Tetrastructural Minds 5. Venus Project 6. Dark Creations, Dead Creators 7. Fast Paced Society 8. Outer Isolation

If it weren't for those few bands like Vektor who actually bring some genuinely interesting and even kind of novel ideas to the table, the landscape of the current thrash metal scene would be hopelessly drained of all effectiveness by now. So what if the vocals on Outer Isolation can sometimes notably put a stress on your ears with their shrieky tone, or that some of the most complex parts might make people with a limited attention span feel uncomfortable. This is still sci-fi thrash of the highest order. Just try to find another album with a ten-minute opening song as memorable as Cosmic Cortex, and the competition will turn out seriously lacking indeed. Maybe the biggest advantage for this band is simply that they don't blatantly underestimate their audience by attempting to release the most commonplace thrash schlock as if several decades of thrash metal never happened.

VELLOCET - Captive Of Reality
Germany 1986

1. Suicide Thoughts 2. Assassin On Attack 3. Captive Of Reality 4. Die Till Dawn 5. Brain Zombies 6. Armageddon 7. Silent Death 8. Forbidden Districts 9. Nightmare

Sometimes you are almost inclined to swear that all these most obscure bands must have had a hidden nest somewhere in the 1980s. Vellocet's Captive Of Reality is yet another one of those rare items that occasionally still pop up out of nowhere, an album of German speed/thrash metal in the most old school vein. The band's maneuvers tend to resemble the style of Vectom and old Tankard to some extent, with constantly fast songs and a sound that is not too heavy to begin with. One must admit that there is some long lost charm in this kind of unstrained and even uplifting speedy attack, at least in small doses. To consider also the other side of things, the music on this album is about as dated as it gets, therefore the final value of it may largely depend on the listener. But if the sound of the mentioned bands appeals to you, Vellocet should easily meet the same requirements very well.

VENDETTA - Go And Live... Stay And Die
Germany 1987

1. Suicidal Lunacy 2. Go And Live... Stay And Die 3. Traitor's Fate 4. System Of Death 5. Drugs And Corruption 6. Revolution Command 7. On The Road 8. And The Brave Man Fails

Vendetta's brand of thrash metal was a bit more stylish than what many of their German competitors put out at the same time. Go And Live... Stay And Die has a crisp sound which supports the fast riffs very well. Technically the band lacked nothing, and although the songwriting on this debut album is not too original, even the fastest parts are handled with style. On the downside the band's output is a bit generic despite all the fresh and enthusiastic attitude that can be heard from the music. Though not too distinctive, the band's sound is very energetic and this compensates for some lack of stronger material. With some additional nice touches in songs, Go And Live... Stay And Die is a pretty satisfying album after all.

VENDETTA - Brain Damage
Germany 1988

1. War 2. Brain Damage 3. Conversation 4. Precious Existence 5. Never Die 6. Love Song 7. Fade To Insanity 8. Dominance Of Violence 9. Metal Law

Brain Damage continued in the same style that was established on Vendetta's debut release - quite fresh sounding thrash metal with some nice details thrown in. Again, it is really nothing spectacular but succeeds fairly well in its class. The direction had been developed a bit further from the debut, high speed not being the only thing that matters anymore. Instead, there's some additional variety in songs like the title track and Precious Existence, not to forget the lengthy instrumental Fade To Insanity that is not exactly a complex piece but provides some welcome change from the more straightforward vocal tracks. Vendetta's two albums prove that the band not only were quite skillful but also managed to create some interesting music in the crowded scene.

VENGEANCE RISING - Human Sacrifice
USA 1989

1. Human Sacrifice 2. Burn 3. Mulligan Stew 4. Receive Him 5. I Love Hating Evil 6. Fatal Delay 7. White Throne 8. Salvation 9. From The Dead 10. Ascension 11. He Is God 12. Fill This Place With Blood 13. Beheaded

Vengeance Rising were probably one of the best known religious thrash metal bands in their time, and with a good reason. Human Sacrifice starts off sounding quite ordinary, but when you encounter the first of a few tracks with bluesy guitar licks, you cannot avoid a puzzled feeling. Add a couple of hardcore-ish bursts, and the result is far from one-dimensional. Fortunately these kinds of crossover elements are used rather sparingly, but they surely add an original touch to the band's sound that is not dead-serious. Not to forget Roger Martinez and his over-the-top vocals that you will never forget after hearing them for the first time - the man's throaty output actually adds a fair dose of comical appeal to some of these tracks, though only in a good way. This is not to say that Human Sacrifice would be all funny bits, actually it is quite a decent thrash metal platter in its own right. Even if you have doubts about the lyrics, give it a try anyway as the music may eventually win you over.

USA 1990

1. Warfare 2. Can't Get Out 3. Cut Into Pieces 4. Frontal Lobotomy 5. Herod's Violent Death 6. The Whipping Post 7. The Wrath To Come 8. Space Truck'in 9. Out Of The Will 10. Arise 11. Into The Abyss 12. Among The Dead 13. Interruption

While Once Dead introduced certain refinements in Vengeance Rising's sound, most of the familiar elements remained unchanged. Roger Martinez still sounds like he's about to puke over the microphone at any moment, and combined with some blatantly bluesy guitar licks like on Can't Get Out the outcome is so hilarious that only the most hardened cynics could pass it without a smile. The only problem is, after the first few tracks this album starts getting quite tedious in comparison to its predecessor. Even though the band didn't exactly hold back, the novelty of this style had worn off, and overlong and somewhat plodding tracks like The Whipping Post and Into The Abyss just tend to leave you bored and make it harder to follow with the band despite their good intentions. It's still not half bad, but Human Sacrifice gave a bit more fun for the money.

VENGEANCE RISING - Destruction Comes
USA 1991

1. You Can't Stop It 2. The Rising 3. Before The Time 4. The Sword 5. He Don't Own Nothing 6. Countless Corpses 7. Thanatos 8. You Will Bow 9. Hyde Under Pressure 10. Raegoul

After some radical line-up changes Vengeance Rising were back with only Roger Martinez left of the original group, which probably had a serious impact on the new album. Destruction Comes demonstrates a much more streamlined sound with very little of the previous variety left. It is unarguably quite a lot more one-dimensional in comparison to the old, even considering that the new band were able to maintain a constant speed in a respectable way. Everything pretty much follows the same formula, complete with nearly identical tempo and vocals on almost every track. After the first couple of songs have passed you effectively fail to notice any real difference between the rest, and by the end of the album you've probably given up paying any attention a long time ago. Maybe Destruction Comes is not a total loss after all, but it can be surprisingly tiresome to listen to it even halfway through.

VENGEANCE RISING - Released Upon The Earth
USA 1992

1. Help Me 2. The Damnation Of Judas And The Salvation Of The Thief 3. Released Upon The Earth 4. Human Dark Potential 5. Instruments Of Death 6. Lest You Be Judged 7. Out Of Bounds 8. Bishop Of Souls 9. Tion 10. You Will Be Hated

Vengeance Rising's last album Released Upon The Earth brought back some of the variety known from the band's first releases, which undeniably did improve the situation quality-wise. This time you could actually distinguish the songs from each other and a lot of this album is fairly memorable enough. With the help of the chilling Help Me and the rampaging Tion that are great tracks even considering the band's whole discography, the result is more interesting and versatile than Destruction Comes. Occasionally the vocals appear to experiment with a typical death metal tone, but that's pretty much the only exceptional detail. Despite a haunting sense of bitterness that may be noticeable on a couple of songs, most of the lyrical content is still no less heavy in trying to hammer the word down to your skull. In all honesty, Released Upon The Earth may be far from perfection, but for some reason it is the Vengeance Rising release that has got the most spins from me so far.

VIKING - Do Or Die
USA 1987

1. Warlord 2. Hellbound 3. Militia Of Death 4. Prelude / Scavenger 5. Valhalla 6. Burning From Within 7. Berseker 8. Killer Unleashed 9. Do Or Die

Viking's debut album is certainly an amusing affair. The production is absolutely muddy, the drummer sounds like he's leading his own show separate from the rest of the band (or vice versa), and on top of this wonderful mash come the barking vocals with lyrics about ancient warriors, endless war and death. But even though Do Or Die is not exactly an exemplary piece of good music, one got to recognize the great energy of the band. After the first few songs you cannot help but be already amazed at the relentless speed and intensity. Against all odds, the band manage to create something of an original sound with a primitive, almost tribal feel to it (very suitable for the theme). In the end, even the mediocre production somehow seems to fit the music perfectly. This is by no means a great album, but it surely can provide some entertaining moments if you're in the right mood.

VIKING - Man Of Straw
USA 1989

1. White Death 2. They Raped The Land 3. Twilight Fate 4. The Trial 5. Case Of The Stubborns 6. Winter 7. Hell Is For Children 8. Creative Divorce 9. Man Of Straw

Compared to Do Or Die, Viking's second album is technically like from another planet and shows how much the band had matured since their debut. The production is clear and sharp, the lyrics are more versatile, the songs are more complex and still well structured, and the musicianship in general has improved immensely. As a result, Man Of Straw is a piece of some very cool thrash metal. Although none of these songs is really extraordinary, the riffs throughout the album are good and the band play like never before. Even the cover song Hell Is For Children is not too bad though one could certainly do without it as well. There is much to like about this album, really - too bad they called it quits after this one.

Canada 2011

1. Welcome To Arabland 2. A.L.I.S. In Arabland 3. I Bomb New York 4. Der Arabische Bosewicht 5. Terrorist Metal 6. The Aftermath 7. Eye The I In Kill 8. Terrorplane 9. Lockerbomb 10. Ta3ala Bei Nana 11. Post Bombem (A Song For Osama)

If anything, I Bomb New York must be the favorite thrash album at the National Security Agency. Appropriately touted as "terrorist metal", the good thing about Villainizer's full-length release is that it proves there's no topic in this world that couldn't be satirized. The bad thing is that although the whole effort seems interesting already based on the face value only, the execution could have used a bit more work. Apart from a couple of instrumental tracks that are a neat addition, most songs are somewhat one-dimensional and occasionally appear rather hastily crafted, down to some shameless rip-offs of certain classic works. As such, the impression is not of the best possible quality. While I Bomb New York had potential to become a real riot, this promise was not fully realized in the finished product.

Note: The CD release also contains the band's very first mini album The Villainizing EP as remastered bonus tracks.

VILLAINIZER - Reign In Terror
Canada 2013

1. Chant 2. Turbanator 3. Bomberman 4. Random Act Of Violence 5. Twin Tower Two-step 6. The Magic Lamp 7. Terror Abraxas 8. Re-Bomberman 9. Raining Bombs

Reign In Terror much better demonstrates the possibilities that I Bomb New York only hinted at. This album is simply pretty well composed, performed and produced, and the reoccurring brief pseudo-Arabian touches in the music give it a unique flavor. Although the handling of the subject matter is still far from dead serious, the effect is more polished than previously, and the lyrics are actually fairly cleverly written if you look past the surface. While titles like Turbanator and Twin Tower Two-step may seem silly, the actual songs are not half-bad at all. Maybe this release could have ended with something more original than a re-interpretation of Raining Blood, but then again, the cover art was already a direct indication of nothing being too sacred. It's not like Villainizer's music would have suddenly reached outstanding levels, but the enjoyable characteristics of Reign In Terror ensure that a mere curiosity item this album is surely not.

VINDICATOR - There Will Be Blood
USA 2008

1. Fresh Outta Hell 2. New Clear Assault 3. Deathfront Demons 4. Hallow's Eve 5. Pain And Suffering 6. Shrapnel 7. Thrash And Destroy 8. Vindicator 9. Gore Orphanage 10. There Will Be Blood

Maybe it could not be helped, but the cover of Vindicator's There Will Be Blood is simply nothing short of laughable. Fortunately the music on this album is a lot better than that, very traditional speed/thrash metal that sounds surprisingly similar to the most typical old recordings of this kind. The production appears so naturally old-fashioned that in a blind test you would almost need to perform a careful comparison to some authentic 1980s release to reveal the truth about this album's origins. The same approach is followed in songwriting, and while the result is hardly a new masterpiece in thrash metal, all these tracks are fairly entertaining pieces. The band's namesake song Vindicator is a prime example of material that successfully recalls some nostalgic feel of the old days. Usually you cannot expect anything special from releases done in blatant retro fashion, but There Will Be Blood is actually a worthy piece of work above the average level.

VINDICATOR - The Antique Witcheries
USA 2010

1. Gates Of Inequity 2. Beneath The Guillotine 3. Fearmonger 4. Sewn To The Flesh 5. Quarry Rats 6. The Antique Witcheries 7. Raze The Dead 8. Communal Decay 9. Dead In The Water 10. Pit Of The Shoggoths 11. Strange Aeons

As a proof that Vindicator's take on vintage sounding thrash metal can span more than one album, The Antique Witcheries serves its purpose well. Arguably the production is not anymore as blatantly retro-oriented as on There Will Be Blood, but it can be hardly called modern either. More of a disadvantage is that there appears to be less variation and distinctive moments. The songs sound more consistent on this second release and the album has a coherent style for sure, yet in comparison it's still the band's debut where the catchiest tracks can be found, despite some rougher corners. From a pure technical point of view this follow-up release shows clear progression, however. And it is certainly a good thing that they used a proper cover artist this time.

VINDICATOR - United We Fall
USA 2012

1. Global Warning 2. Gears Of Fate 3. Man Undone 4. Bastards Of Noise And Aggression 5. Fatal Infection 6. Hail To The Thief 7. End Dependence 8. Divided We Stand... United We Fall 9. At War With Thy Neighbor 10. Fire Escape 11. Nationwide Ruination 12. Obsoletion

It seems that despite all technical progress, Vindicator's style is becoming more dry and less appealing on every release. The most notable element of United We Fall must be the lyrics that essentially make this a strongly thematic album, a manifestation of political and environmental consciousness to such extent that Nuclear Assault's classic albums from the 1980s come to mind. The problem is, these songs are not nearly as catchy or imaginative, and even the most delightful moments of There Will Be Blood are nowhere to be found. This just makes United We Fall a fairly advanced but easily forgotten release of contemporary thrash metal that carries a serious message, yet fails to present it in an absorbing format.

VIOLATOR - Violent Mosh
Brazil 2004

1. Let The Violation Begin 2. Thrash Maniacs 3. Artillery Attack 4. The Plague Never Dies 5. The Shadow Of Death 6. Killer Instinct

Following on the heels of Bywar, Farscape and the like, Violator must be one of the better known names from Brazil recently. The band's first proper release Violent Mosh is basically a slab of middle-of-the-road thrash metal with all the usual genre antics in place. The result sounds almost too familiar, though, and it seems that there was not too much creativity lost in the making of this recording. Nevertheless, the band sound credible enough so that their mostly ordinary style of songwriting does not totally negate the effort. The production quality is pretty good, solid but not overwhelming, and Violator end up sounding fairly heavy and tight. One could still hope for some more distinctive output from the band, now there is little incentive to return to this album after you have heard it a couple of times already.

VIOLATOR - Chemical Assault
Brazil 2006

1. Atomic Nightmare 2. UxFxTx 3. Destined To Die 4. Addicted To Mosh 5. Brainwash Possession 6. Ordered To Thrash 7. Toxic Death 8. Lethal Injection 9. The Plague Returns 10. After Nuclear Devastation

Although Chemical Assault could be considered to have introduced slight improvements in Violator's sound, the album is mostly a direct sequel to Violent Mosh with the same kind of unexceptional compositions and stereotypical lyrics. What really contributes to something of a positive impression in the end is that the band never let off the speed pedal. Their music remains so consistent and relentless through this whole full-length that it starts to gradually win you over, a little bit of surprise actually. Maybe in the late 1980s an album like this would have disappeared in the crowd without much fuss, but in its current state Chemical Assault is not a completely lost case after all. Not to forget that the ending of UxFxTx (aka United For Thrash) is mad funny, too.

VIOLATOR - Annihilation Process
Brazil 2010

1. Poisoned By Ignorance 2. Uniformity Is Conformity 3. Give Me Destruction Or Give Me Death 4. Apocalypse Engine 5. Deadly Sadistic Experiments 6. Futurephobia 7. You'll Come Back Before Dying

Violator's releases may be among the safest picks in the contemporary scene, in other words, you can be perfectly sure about what to expect every time and not be surprised in the least. Annihilation Process is a bit on the short side, but otherwise this album fully complements the band's previous full-length release Chemical Assault. As usual, there is no great amount of variation in these songs, no matter whether you would actually wish for some, and without better knowledge even the Executer cover song at the end could be easily mistaken for Violator's original material. Which just brings the whole thing as close to true thrash metal as anything that's been recorded over the years.

VIOLATOR - Scenarios Of Brutality
Brazil 2013

1. Echoes Of Silence 2. Endless Tyrannies 3. Dead To This World 4. Respect Existence Or Expect Resistance 5. Waiting To Exhale 6. Death Descends (Upon This World) 7. Colors Of Hate 8. No Place For The Cross 9. Unstoppable Slaughter

Scenarios Of Brutality does not really differ from Violator's earlier works, in other words, this is fast thrash metal in the most traditional sense. There isn't much diversity among these riffs and songs, and in some other hands the result could have turned out a lot less appealing - but boy, can this band play or what. Their presentation on this release is about as eager and relentless as ever, without going totally overboard. This somehow makes even the most basic compositions worth listening and effectively prevents serious boredom from occurring too easily. While it is hard to escape a feeling that Violator's material so far hasn't quite fulfilled the band's full potential, this album continues to demonstrate that sometimes a devoted performance is enough to overcome lacking qualities elsewhere.

VIO-LENCE - Eternal Nightmare
USA 1988

1. Eternal Nightmare 2. Serial Killer 3. Phobophobia 4. Calling In The Coroner 5. T.D.S. (Take It As You Will) 6. Bodies On Bodies 7. Kill On Command

I remember the very first time when I was listening to this album. After the first minute or so, I couldn't help but start laughing - not because of the vocals or anything like that, it was just the sheer intensity of the music that really struck me hard. Except for maybe Slayer's Reign In Blood, I had never heard anything so hilariously violent in thrash metal before. In my opinion, Eternal Nightmare is one of the best thrash metal debuts ever and a nearly perfect album. It starts off with furious speed and keeps it up until the very end, no slowdowns between. The songs are such wonderful riff-fests that to find another full-length album with anything similar you really need to try. I know many people disliked Vio-lence because of Sean Killian's vocals, but at least on this album his howling voice sounds just fine to me and helps to create the distinguishable sound of Vio-lence. If you want to take a really good nostalgia trip to the heydays of thrash metal, this is definitely one album to pick up.

VIO-LENCE - Oppressing The Masses
USA 1990

1. I Profit 2. Office Nice 3. Subterfuge 4. Engulfed By Flames 5. World In A World 6. Mentally Afflicted 7. Liquid Courage 8. Oppressing The Masses

After their furious debut Vio-lence adopted a lot drier sound for their second album, which was a bit disappointing. The songs are slightly more diverse and the lyrics more serious, but as a whole the album is somewhat dull. Sean Killian's vocals actually got worse here (more whiney, that is) and on some tracks he sounds downright irritating at times. Nonetheless, Oppressing The Masses is still an interesting effort and there are some excellent individual songs like Officer Nice and World In A World on it. The whole thing just does not quite have the unique charm of its predecessor. While there were expectations for a lot more from this album, sadly the outcome fell a bit short.

VIO-LENCE - Torture Tactics
USA 1991

1. Torture Tactics 2. Officer Nice (live) 3. Gutterslut 4. Dicks Of Death

The sole purpose of this mini album was to release the infamous title track that was dropped from Oppressing The Masses by the band's record company when the album was already finished. It might have been better indeed if the song had been included there since Torture Tactics is pretty useless as a separate release. The title track is fast and crunchy with brutal lyrics, but musically it's really nothing special. Officer Nice is a great song in its original form, but the "live" version of it is just a filler track, and the last two pieces are the poorest jokes with their over-the-top sexist content. Except for being maybe an interesting item for collectors, Torture Tactics provides little value to any serious listener.

VIO-LENCE - Nothing To Gain
USA 1993

1. Atrocity 2. Twelve Gauge Justice 3. Ageless Eyes 4. Pain Of Pleasure / Virtues Of Vice 5. Killing My Words 6. Psychotic Memories 7. No Chains 8. Welcoming Party / This Is System 9. Colour Of Life

The last Vio-lence album showed some interesting development in the band's approach to songwriting. Basically it's still the same aggressive Vio-lence but with some additional twists in the music. Considering the general style, there are not too radical differences from the earlier efforts - for example, the fastest tracks Twelve Gauge Justice and Colour Of Life could be directly from Oppressing The Masses, while Pain Of Pleasure is a good example of a new style where the song starts slowly before building up full aggression. But although many songs are very powerful, the hollow sound quality makes the album appear somewhat sloppy. Musically Nothing To Gain is slightly stronger than a couple of preceding releases, the band sound more mature than before, and the vocals are now more balanced, therefore it's a real pity that the production values leave a lot to be desired.

VIOLENT FORCE - Malevolent Assault Of Tomorrow
Germany 1987

1. Dead City 2. Soulbursting 3. Vengeance And Venom 4. M.A.O.T. 5. What About The Time After? 6. Sign Of Evil 7. Violent Force 8. The Night 9. Destructed Life 10. S.D.I.

Violent Force may well represent the least known German thrash metal bands of the 1980s, which must be partially due to the poor availability of their only official release. Malevolent Assault Of Tomorrow certainly lives up to its name as far as speed and energy are considered. The album is given a great start with the somewhat Motorhead-ish Dead City, and from then on it continues in the same frantic vein without the slightest drop in intensity. One could call the band's style rather simple which it may well be, but it is also very effective and doesn't waste time on unnecessary attempts at some more complex or refined output. Complete with great aggressive vocals, this album is simply quite refreshing and straight to the point. It is actually a great shame that Violent Force never had any better distribution for their music, as the band were clearly very good at what they did.

VIOLENTOR - Violentor
Italy 2011

1. Too Loud 2. Awakened In Death 3. My Stomach Strong And Fit 4. Genocide 5. We Hate All 6. Dismiss The Evil 7. Sycophant 8. F.Y.I. 9. Go To Hell

The opening of Violentor's debut release is possibly one of the best tracks that Motorhead never recorded. Like the band put it on Too Loud, "It's loud - it's just too loud for you!" A complete cliche, but rarely it has sounded as good as here. As the rest of the album proves, Violentor can also shift to high gear more than adequately enough although the utterly delightful spirit of the first song may not be quite fully met on later tracks. A noteworthy aspect of Violentor's speed/thrash metal is the total opposite of the uptight and tense feel that some other modern recordings feature. This album sounds like it was a fun one to produce, and this time also the listener can honestly enjoy the output. Extra points for the vocalist's strong hollering that appears both natural and highly convincing in this context.

VIRUS - Pray For War
United Kingdom 1987

1. Pray For War 2. To The Death 3. Malignant Massacre 4. TNT (Thermo Nuclear Thrash) 5. Night Siege (Intro) 6. Risen From Death 7. Scarred For Life 8. Neo Warlords 9. Cannibal Holocaust

Based on their early albums Virus were clearly below the average of the British thrash metal genre in the beginning. Pray For War is easily less than impressive, a collection of primitive and somewhat messy thrash with hardcore-ish vocals and only passable sound quality. One could say that this album represents the underground scene in its most undeveloped form. Sure, it's as good a proof about what once lived so brightly as any other, but as a musical statement this is just another minor entry in the history of thrash metal. With no memorable tracks to speak of, Pray For War only fits into a true collector's list of curiosity items to hunt for. Some recordings do get their point through despite all their seemingly lacking qualities, but this one just falls flat on its face.

VIRUS - Force Recon
United Kingdom 1988

1. Testify To Me 2. Viral Warfare 3. Force Recon 4. Release The Dead 5. No Return 6. B.S.S.D. 7. Hungry For Blood

Although there's some even slight improvement over the band's debut release, Force Recon sounds strangely plain and unimpressive. This album simply seems to have no definite opening or ending, it's practically just a collection of tracks that appear very alike and uninteresting. Most of the time it is like repeating the least required formula over and over again, and in the end you are left scratching your head and trying to remember what the whole thing was all about. Actually, the instrumental piece Viral Warfare must be the best track of the album, as at least the lifeless vocals do not distract you on that one. For the most part Force Recon appears just too uninspiring and dull that you would want to spend any more time on it than what is absolutely necessary.

VIRUS - Lunacy
United Kingdom 1989

1. Seeing Is Believing 2. Lunacy 3. Bad Blood 4. The Pain Will Pass 5. State Of The Art 6. My Life 7. A Sense Of Freedom 8. Don't Get Even...!

Compared to the earlier efforts by Virus, Lunacy showed some definite improvement in both production and songwriting. The sound of the album is very heavy and the general feel much more varied than previously. This time the plain vocals are more emphasized and sound quite peculiar yet very original, although they are a bit too weak and unclear and almost get buried under the bass-heavy production. The music is still not overly distinctive except for the title track that has a great, nasty main riff accompanied with some scary sound effects. However, there are a lot of intriguing, genuine touches on the songs, which makes this album on the whole fairly interesting. In retrospective, Lunacy is a fairly nice recording from the heydays of British thrash metal, but that's about all there's to it.

VOIVOD - Rrroooaaarrr
Canada 1986

1. Korgull The Exterminator 2. Fuck Off And Die 3. Slaughter In A Grave 4. Ripping Headaches 5. Horror 6. Thrashing Rage 7. The Helldriver 8. Build Your Weapons 9. To The Death

Sometimes you cannot help feeling that something in Voivod, the original cult band from Canada, defies all definition. After the awfully primitive and sloppy speed/punk mixture of War And Pain, Voivod's Rrroooaaarrr was a certain improvement towards speed/thrash metal although it's still a lot messier and sloppier than you would expect from even a minor band in the genre. Snake's vocals sound positively drunken, and "precise" is by no means a word to describe the early Voivod. Still, this album has a fair share of rude charm that helps it to overcome some shortage of finer qualities, and tracks like Korgull The Exterminator and Ripping Headaches are not such bad thrashers at all even though more of similar intensity wouldn't have hurt. At this point Voivod were still far from typical speed/thrash metal standards but Rrroooaaarrr gives at least a fair snapshot of their status in the process.

VOIVOD - Killing Technology
Canada 1987

1. Killing Technology 2. Overreaction 3. Tornado 4. Too Scared To Scream 5. Forgotten In Space 6. Ravenous Medicine 7. Order Of The Blackguards 8. This Is Not An Exercise 9. Cockroaches

Killing Technology is possibly the closest thing to pure technical speed/thrash metal ever released from the chaos engine called Voivod. The first few tracks are actually enough to give this album a good name - if you survive the quirks of the opening title track, it doesn't get any worse after that. Although this may be one of Voivod's most focused moments and certainly their most notable expedition in the thrash metal field, some song structures and arrangements here are still pretty much far out from an ordinary listener's perspective, and those accustomed to a typical Slayer-ish sound probably don't get much out of the whole thing without an extensive period of concentration. While this kind of disorientation can be a definite put-off, one must admit that Overreaction and especially This Is Not An Exercise are some very cool pieces. For a peek into Voivod's world, Killing Technology might be one of the better choices to start with, although those who cannot stand the slightest experimentation in their music should stay far away.

Brazil 1991

1. Darkness 2. To Die Is Not To Die 3. Pet Sematary 4. That's My Victory 5. Descent To Hell 6. Scratch Noise 7. War? Where My Enemy Lies 8. Silence City 9. Hide 10. Volkanas

Almost completely a band of females, Volkana were probably quite an exception not only in the Brazilian thrash metal scene but also worldwide. Then again, except for vocals the band sound much like most others in the genre on their debut. The music is actually well above the average with some good, heavy riffs and quite a decent production, resulting in somewhat more creative presentation than usually. Sometimes the vocals could be heavier, though - the powerful low range used in Descent To Hell, for example, might have improved many other songs as well. Whereas most tracks are quite heavy and crunchy, the Ramones cover Pet Sematary appears surprisingly lightsome and uplifting. Although Volkana's style is far from novel, somehow the band's energetic and rich sound makes this album more enjoyable and effective than one might expect - a little surprise, actually.

Note: This album was released on CD as self-titled and with different artwork.

VOMITORY - Catastrophical Expectations
Germany 1990

1. Dr. Speed 2. Satanic Madness 3. Vicious Circle 4. Black Messiah

If anything, Vomitory's Catastrophical Expectations is fast, unpretentious, and credible. This is little more than a compact example of straightforward and energetic thrash that still works out surprisingly well, especially so when the band's later and more stale productions are taken into account. The ideal of "short and sweet" applies here perfectly, and although this is far from a great milestone in thrash metal, it is simply an entertaining piece of history with its relatively fresh sound even from today's perspective. Not exactly extraordinary, but easily Vomitory's best release that can make their subsequent recordings appear seriously lacking in spirit.

VOMITORY - Hour Of Truth
Germany 1991

1. F.T.A. 2. Weekend Madman 3. Witches & Demons 4. The Bringers Of Faith 5. Hour Of Truth 6. Pull The Plug 7. Future Shock 8. Catastrophical Expectations 9. Royal Rumble 10. Foolsway

Although Hour Of Truth is not one of the most pointless releases around, it's certainly not too significant either and pales in comparison to Vomitory's first release. Mostly this is some very unsurprising thrash metal with all the most familiar elements - the vocals are quite strong, the band's general sound is fairly satisfactory and all, but there are no memorable riffs to speak of and the whole thing sounds just too generic and bland for its own good. A couple of songs with some quirky rhythms may draw your momentary attention, but for the most part you'd be forgiven for having difficulties to remember what you just heard. In the end Hour Of Truth is just one of those albums that come and go without a notice.

VOMITORY - Baschlasophobic
Germany 1993

1. Warchild 2. Free From Hair And Brain 3. The Most Effective Vomitory 4. Baschlasophobic 5. Sexjunks 6. A Little Song About Dying 7. One Step To The Abyss 8. Hour Of Death 9. Prophecy 10. Pornos In The Parsonage 11. Tribute

Following its less impressive predecessor, Baschlasophobic manages to raise only some minor interest with its more varied sound which still lacks any serious momentum. With this album the band headed for a bit more technical direction in their music, a choice that is not unreservedly a good thing as the mostly straightforward nature of Hour Of Truth at least made it fairly tolerable. Now the tracks still do not seem to have much point in them, but in addition they can occasionally become almost irritating. To some extent, the unfocused feel of this recording makes it appear worse than it might have been with more unsurprising but consistent pounding. Here the unrefined vocals, totally unmemorable riffs, and a couple of unfitting funky moments just result in an overlong and very dull album. The emotional A Little Song About Dying is sort of novel for a song, but that is a major exception. Although Baschlasophobic may not be a total loss, it is difficult to say anything really positive about this album.

VOX MORTEM - The Worst Creature
Brazil 2008

1. Labirinto 2. Scream God 3. Southern Raiders 4. Blessed Trinity 5. False Redemption 6. F.M.R. 7. Veias Abertas 8. The Worst Creature 9. Sensacoes De Decadencia 10. Do Principio Ao Caos

Vox Mortem's The Worst Creature is an interesting though somewhat incoherent thrash metal release with some crossover tendencies. The vocals vary from occasional deep growls (on Scream God in particular) to more common plain shouts that arguably sound much better. The latter half of this album also contains a couple of tracks in the band's native language. But it's the most straightforward and traditional thrashers where Vox Mortem make their most successful demonstrations. Songs like Blessed Trinity, F.M.R. and the title track are all quite effective pieces even though not really unique of their kind. Despite some experimentation here and there, for the most part this release quite safely delivers what you would expect from a typical thrash metal album in the Brazilian scene.

VULCANO - Bloody Vengeance
Brazil 1986

1. Dominios Of Death 2. Spirits Of Evil 3. Ready To Explode 4. Holocaust 5. Incubus 6. Death Metal 7. Voices From Hell 8. Bloody Vengeance

The debut studio album by a legendary band in Brazilian black/thrash metal circles, Vulcano's Bloody Vengeance demonstrates a raw style typical for its time. Featuring relentless thrashing from start to finish, this album doesn't offer any great surprises although it must be admittedly one of the most extreme releases from the period. The sound quality is passable for this kind of early effort, not the clearest around but still sufficiently intelligible and heavy. Worth a special note, this recording is actually almost closer to a mini album than a full-length release due to the generally very short length of these songs. Altogether, while the band's energetic approach is respectable and rather convincing, in the end the output is not too memorable except for its general intensity which is not such an uncommon feature after all.

VULCANO - Anthropophagy
Brazil 1987

1. Red Death 2. Death Angel's Armies 3. Brainwash 4. F.T.W. (Fuck The War) 5. Fallen Angel 6. Anthropophagy 7. Anyone Can Kill 8. Stirring 9. (Am I Crazy?) 10. Megathrash 11. Upright

Anthropophagy was a direct sequel to Vulcano's debut, extreme thrash metal played with respectable intensity and attitude. But while the music should sound quite familiar to your ears, some other aspects can lead to a less positive impression. The recording quality is somewhat clearer but also way thinner than on Bloody Vengeance, and although the sound there was slightly muddy it supported the music better than on this album. Here the listening experience is severely hampered by the near complete lack of production values. As there was already a significant number of thrash metal releases around in the genre at this point, the characteristics of a poor demo tape probably didn't exactly help this release to stand out. Anthropophagy is yet another fair example of Vulcano's consistent and extreme style, but the sound quality is simply not up to even moderate standards.

VULCANO - Who Are The True?
Brazil 1988

1. The Next 2. Who Are The True? 3. Different Lands 4. Fuck Them 5. Witch's Sabbath 6. Never More 7. Flies Around The Shit 8. Do You Remember 9. Hercobulus

Continuing in the vein of Vulcano's established style, Who Are The True? features the same kind of rough and primitive thrash metal that was introduced already on the previous albums. It is not radically different from Anthropophagy, for example, maybe a bit more playful here and there, but still with a consistent sound. These songs would never get voted into the top ten of the genre, but then again, it is probably not reasonable to expect catchy riffs from this kind of release anyway. Occasionally you may observe moments of semi-inspired songwriting, more so than in the immediate past actually, but those are just tiny bits that will get erased from memory before long. As for the general sound quality, it is almost typically mediocre for the band at this point. Another unrefined release from Vulcano, Who Are The True? is likely to serve the band's true fans only.

VULCANO - Ratrace
Brazil 1990

1. White Violence 2. Last Day 3. Blind Science 4. Welcome To The Army 5. Time To Change 6. Ratrace 7. The Lungs Of The Earth 8. Just A Matter Of Time 9. In The Mirror

Ratrace is possibly Vulcano's most stereotypical thrash metal release to date. The most notable feature that separates this album from most others is the incredibly weak guitar sound. While the drums and almost totally incomprehensible vocals are tolerable, the guitar is quite ridiculous to say the least, as if toy guitars had been used during recording. Either that, or the band's equipment must have been extremely poor. If you can look past the glaring technical shortcomings, the music is just typical for the time, fast and energetic but not too memorable. Even with such an unexceptional output, the band do manage to sound genuinely enthusiastic at times, which is not a bad achievement at all. Although one cannot help but feel some sympathy for Vulcano's continued efforts, Ratrace is way too far behind the more impressive albums in the genre.

VULCANO - Tales From The Black Book
Brazil 2004

1. Gates Of Iron 2. The Bells Of Death 3. Priestes Of Bacchus 4. From The Black Metal Book 5. Devote To The Devil 6. Fall Of The Corpse 7. Face Of The Terror 8. Guerreiros de Sata 9. Troubled Mind 10. The Sign On The Door 11. Obscure Soldiers 12. Total Destruicao 13. Bestial Insane

Joining the ranks of veteran bands who have returned to the attack with a comeback album, Vulcano made quite a faithful re-rendition of their classic style with Tales From The Black Book. While the band's brand of intense thrash metal remains essentially the same as before, possibly with a bit more focused approach than in the past, the result is certainly better produced. It cannot be emphasized enough what a difference even a passable production quality can make - here it may be still a bit rough around the edges, but there is nevertheless a definite improvement over the band's older releases. Other than that, the years passed don't actually show in the music in the least. From an average listener's perspective, Tales From The Black Book is a fairly strong album in itself, and you might actually count it among Vulcano's better releases to date.

VULCANO - Five Skulls And One Chalice
Brazil 2009

1. Messenger From Hell 2. Hide Your Hate 3. The Harvest 4. Holocaust (The Second Assault) 5. Five Skulls And One Chalice 6. Witchcraft Act 7. The Seventh Seal 8. Minister 9. Steed Of Steel 10. Riding In Hell 11. Legioes Satanicas

Coming out as something of a surprise, Five Skulls And One Chalice is almost guaranteed to shake a casual listener up a bit with its rough sound. Although this is surely nothing exceptional in Vulcano's scale, it seems to take some time to adapt to this kind of imperfection after you've got used to the sterile modern production standards, no matter how artificial they really are. But this is one thing that this album actually benefits from, as the impression is a lot more honest than the norm. The content is the same kind of raw thrash metal that we've come to expect from Vulcano, this time with some particularly hoarse shouted vocals. Actually, it's pretty useless to add any other remarks, as those people who already know the band can trust in their current opinion, and those who don't should rather start from the beginning of Vulcano's discography and see if they want to continue from there. Either way, Five Skulls And One Chalice is another logical addition to the sequence.

VULTURE - Fatal Games
Netherlands 1990

1. S.O.S. 2. You're Invited (To My Chainsaw Party) 3. I Stand Apart 4. No Romance 5. Psycho 6. Coitus Tormentus (Hard Love) 7. Fatal Games 8. Don't Pray 9. They're Here 10. Not Six But Seven Dead

Despite the vast amount of middle-ground thrash metal released in the late 1980s and early 1990s, some of the albums even in this category were quite solid releases after all. Vulture's Fatal Games may not be the most distinctive album of its kind, but it carries a consistent stomping feel with a fair deal of variety and even some originality. Not to forget about the production that is very heavy and full, resulting in a warm and organic sound that you can rarely find nowadays. Musically it is an appealing effort, with fine full-speed thrashers like I Stand Apart accompanied by some ultra-heavy stompers like No Romance which must be actually among the best in its class. The vocal performance is laudably intense, and despite using a fairly high range at times it fits the general dark sound very nicely. All this considered, it is no surprise that in the end Fatal Games manages to stand out even in the crowded scene.

VULTURE - Easier To Lie
Netherlands 1992

1. Hatred At First Sight 2. Near Death 3. Remember Me 4. Backwards 5. Easier To Lie 6. Alter Ego 7. Kicked From Both Sides 8. Greater Cause 9. Forgive Us

Vulture's second release Easier To Lie is another piece of full-fledged thrashing in all aspects, even though a bit more on the usual side than the band's distinguishable debut. The sound of this album is slightly colder and more typical for the genre than Fatal Games, but it is obvious that the band still had an eye for characteristic songwriting which is supported again by a good stomping sound quality throughout. While the songs may not feature quite the same kind of hooks as on the previous album, Vulture certainly knew how to put enough energy even in basic riffs in such way that the outcome remains pretty effective. Easier To Lie may not be a masterpiece of thrash metal, but it pulls the right strings to eventually win you over.