Habitual Mood

Eight thrash metal albums

I've been listening to a lot of 80s thrash, and my attempt to compile a list of the good stuff was getting out of hand. To keep things brief, I decided to list eight albums that I particularly enjoy, one for each year of the classic era (1983-1990).

Slayer - Show No Mercy (1983) The ugly twin to Metallica's (respectably ugly in its own right) Kill 'Em All from the same year. Metallica came out of the gate with incredible songwriting chops, but what Slayer lacked in refinement they more than made up for with sheer unhinged intensity. For years I only listened to Reign In Blood, South of Heaven, and Seasons In the Abyss, with occasional dips into the later records, but eventually I woke up to the awesomeness of early Slayer. Show No Mercy isn't their best work, but it laid down the blueprint for Slayer's subsequent career and the darker side of thrash metal as a whole. Track to sample: "The Antichrist"

Celtic Frost - Morbid Tales (1984) Speaking of dark, Celtic Frost's debut is evil, with its weird, churning riffs and Tom Warrior's gruff bark. I like most of CF's albums, but this is the one I return to most. Track to sample: "Procreation of the Wicked"

Destruction - Infernal Overkill (1985) Incredibly satisfying thrash by this important German band, a huge influence on the development of black metal. Their 1986 album, "Eternal Devastation", is even better. Track to sample: "The Ritual"

Cro-Mags - The Age of Quarrel (1986) Hardcore punk + thrash metal = crossover thrash, and this is one of the best albums to come out of that unholy blend. Unlike many later crossover albums, this retains more than a superficial relationship with the hardcore side of the equation, in both style and lyrical content. Track to sample: "Seekers of the Truth"

Nuclear Assault - Game Over (1987) The "ironic" offensiveness of gun bassist Dan Lilker's other band S.O.D. hasn't aged well, but Nuclear Assault's debut remains one of crossover thrash's high points. The band's next two albums are great too. Track to sample: "Radiation Sickness"

Hobbs Angel of Death - Hobbs Angel of Death (1988) As far as I can tell, thrash wasn't especially prevalent in the Australian metal scene in the 1980s, but Hobbs Angel of Death stand out as one of the more prominent local bands. This is very much in the Slayer lineage, with the blistering speed metal assault leavened by sections of ominous chugging riffage. An album that deserves to be better known. Track to sample: "Crucifixion"

Sepultura - Beneath the Remains (1989) The band's second album, Schizophrenia (1986) was a vast improvement on their earlier releases, and things only got better with Beneath the Remains. I may be in the minority with this, but I prefer it to 1991's Arise. Track to sample: "Stronger Than Hate"

Morbid Saint - Spectrum of Death (1990) I hadn't heard this until a few days ago, and it knocked me out. One of the most unrelenting, brutal thrash albums out there, up there with Reign In Blood and Darkness Descends. Track to sample: "Assassin"

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