It’s no secret that thrash metal is back in a very big way. It seems that almost any given day can see a new release from a new band from any part of the world. It’s gotten to the point where the scene has become overcrowded and a lot of bands, unfortunately, get passed over in an all out melee of new releases. These bands struggle to be heard, and claw and fight to bring their music to the forefront of the dedicated underground following.
Alex Deathslyzer of Thrash Till The Death Podcast and I have teamed up to cut through the crap, bringing you an honest and unbiased peek into the thrash metal world. We have compiled two Big 4 lists, one consisting of the more prominent acts and the other comprised of underground hopefuls.
This is our view into the thrash metal realm, and our opinion on the bands that deserve the coveted title. It’s time for a changing of the guard in the thrash metal world, and Axis Of Metal and Thrash Till The Death Podcast are going to usher that in for you right now.
****THERE IS NO SPECIFIC ORDER TO THESE LISTS****Click To Enlarge Logos****
“Above Ground” Big 4
Vektor – Well, where to start? Let’s rewind a bit, well a lot actually – all the way back to the late 80’s and early 90’s. In this time period Thrash Metal had a “coming of age” of sorts [stay with me here]. At this time, we had bands like Toxik, Realm, Coroner, Artillery, and lesser known Russian act, Aspid [amongst other underground gems] running amok, playing highly technical thrash metal with progressive flares. This sort of a sound was unheard of back then, and only lasted a handful of years – but by god, was that some of the most unique sounding and forward thinking music that I’ve ever had the pleasure of passing through my ear holes. It was new, it was fresh and most of all – it was different. At that point in thrash’s history, it was at its peak stylistically speaking. So bearing all this in mind, how does Vektor fit into all of this? Well, it is 2012 and their hot off the heels of their 2011 release, Outer Isolation and for anyone that’s heard that album and the previous, Black Future, then you know that Vektor does indeed draw influence from that whole movement. Now, if you’ve been following the thrash revival with any sort of diligence then you would know that Vektor is currently, and has been for quite some time, the choice of obsession for many thrashers. Ever since Black Future was released, it was a steady growth in popularity and then once Outer Isolation dropped, Vektor-mania was in full swing.
Now with Earache acquiring the Heavy Artillery roster, I personally believe Vektor is destined to be the next big thing in metal. They’ve already got the thrashers in their pocket, and mark my words; world domination is in the cards for these boys. Their addition to the Big Four of the New Wave was a no brainer. [Paul]
Havok – So here we have Havok, just another new band in the thrash revival, eh? One could think so at first, but it’s definitely not the case when it comes down to it. Their first release, Burn, wasn’t all that great of an effort, in my opinion of course; but it definitely showcased some variety and their creative take on thrash metal. One thing in particular I’d like to say, is that the vocals are one of the high points of this release, as Sanchez showcases both harsh vocals and more melodic singing, truly showing his incredible range.
Their second release, Time Is Up, cemented their presence in the scene and proved to the world that this was a band destined for greatness. Time Is Up showcased the bands forward thinking mentality as they chose a more modern sounding production value; this set them apart from the strictly retro-worshipping bands (the drums in particular were especially well done). Time Is Up felt powerful and engulfing – a quality most bands these days lack, it was truly a treat for the ears.
But barring all of that, there is no way they should be in the big four, right? Yeaaaaaaa … [Alex]
Toxic Holocaust – Oh Toxic Holocaust, how thee treat my ears. But fanboy wankery aside, Toxic Holocaust is the real deal. Joel Grind has been grinding away since 1999, long before the New Wave was even a jar in the water.
Toxic Holocaust, in the early days, swung more to the blackened side of things, and then evolved as each album passed. Many complain about missing the old Toxic Holocaust and others prefer the new sounding Holocaust. Personally, I think it’s all good. It’s a solid discography with many anthemic songs that will cause mayhem and carnage in the live realm – believe me, I’ve seen two live Toxic Holocaust shows.
Either way you choose to sway, Toxic Holocaust’s career is an impressive one, and with no signs of stopping anytime soon, their place in the New Wave Big 4 is mandatory. [Paul]
Warbringer – “Born with the Soul of a liar” – Oh how that line echoes in my being. I remember the first day I heard Jackal, I was sleeping over at a friends house, and whilst browsing the internet aimlessly, I had discovered that Warbringer had released a new album. As we listened to this song something struck a chord. It’s hard to explain, but I felt it.
Warbringer may not be my favorite band, but a lot of their material has a lot of worth to it, and it’s no surprise as to why they are as big as they are. I remember not long ago when I was looking forward to Worlds Torn Asunder, and I was not disappointed even though the band decided to go in a very slightly more modern direction.
It’s obvious as to why they are included in this Big 4 list, due to the reactions from the scene and how they’ve toured tirelessly and proven themselves time and time again. Again, Warbringer may not be my favorite band, but their worth is high and their place in the resurgence is more than welcomed. [Alex]
Underground Big 4
Lich King – Lich King and I got off on the wrong foot admittedly. First LK song I ever heard was the infamous, Black Metal Sucks. Sure it’s a fun listen, but barring that, it’s not something that would fit into my regular rotation of listening. Luckily after that sour encounter, I forgot about the band for a while. Then, one day, after doing one of my “thrash metal” YouTube searches, low and behold, I was confronted with LK once again.
I can’t remember which song it was that set me back on this righteous path, but whatever track it was, I had been made a LK fan. Quickly diving through their discography like a raccoon on meth, I was hooked. Recently, in September of this year, LK released their newest offering “Born Of The Bomb”. Barring all their other stellar work, this is THE defining LK album. I won’t go into great detail about it here, but if you click here, you can read my full review of it. But what you do need to know is that, LK has been DIY since 2004 and have gotten progressively better with each new release.
Maybe next time round, they’ll be in the above tier. LK rules and their spot on the Big 4 is rightfully deserved. [Paul]
Angelus Apatrida – Believe it or not, I discovered Angelus Apatrida five years ago, and they’ve been there since the beginning of the resurgence and are still there. At first, they were just another band to me – thrown in with the rest – but then, in 2010 they released their third album, Clockwork. This was the defining moment for me personally. This was the point that meant something and proved something to me, but still didn’t garner my elusive “top spots” when it came to favorites.
When The Call was released this year, they broke through, and became my absolute favorite thrash band. This release truly proved the bands capabilities, and showcased for the right ears, their dynamic approach to thrash metal.
Overall, Angelus Apatrida is a band that has been digging away in the underground, and in my opinion, in the years to come, more people will catch on to their unique and dynamic brand of thrash metal. This is modern thrash with a taste of the old school purveyed by a band that is now at the top of their game. Be on the lookout for these guys. [Alex]
Violator – Everything about Violator rules – from their classic sounding name, to their album covers, and their no bullshit approach to thrash metal. They make no bones about what they want to do, and that’s thrash – thrash fucking old school.
Things really started to heat up for Violator after their 2004 EP, Violent Mosh, and the buzz on message boards was electric. After that in 2006, and 2010 Violator released two full lengths, Chemical Assualt and Annihilation Process respectively, and both of those releases once again were taken extremely well by the thrash community.
Personally, Violator is one of my favorites for their absolutely no bullshit approach to thrash metal. This is ten-thousand mile an hour buzzsaw thrash metal that could easily cause mass murder in the live arena. Violator is also one of the originating bands of the movement, and given their precision in execution, their spot on the Big 4 is obligatory. [Paul]
Rezet – Rezet, is a Teutonic thrash metal band that mildly mirrors Vektor with their technical and progressive flares – but not forgetting about their teutonic roots, and then even throwing in some traditional metal influence … you have Rezet.
Rezet is not your normal retro-thrash band; they bring much more to the table with their songwriting. Their debut, Have gun Will Travel, sent a message of uniqueness to the thrash scene. The follow up, Civic Nightmare, continued on this same path, and furthered their creative take on thrash.
These two albums made them an obvious choice for the underground Big 4. Rezet is a band that any and all thrashers need to consume in mass quantities. [Alex]
About the Author
Anyway I'm one of the co-founders of Axis Of Metal, which I created out of a love for all things heavy. Admittedly my first foray into music wasn't so heavy. At twelve i developed a love for grunge music, which then lead to a love of classic rock, and punk. Then as I consumed almost every piece of music in said genres I needed something with a bit more intensity, and something more extreme. One day I was walking through the halls in my high school, and i heard music blasting out of someone's headphones, and it was exactly what I was looking for. So after I found out that it was Slayer's "Disciple" I went home that day, and listened to every song Slayer had ever released, and that's how it all started.
So that's my story, so why not go out and listen to me blabber on, on the podcast or go and read what the Axis Of Metal's writing team has to say. Axis of Metal is created by metal heads, for metal heads.